Inside the Pros Packs: Jennifer Pharr Davis

Assuming you’ve heard the words “Appalachian” and “Trail” used together at any point, then our following backpacking pro needs no introduction.

Jennifer Pharr Davis (trail name: Odyssa) holds the record for fastest Appalachian Trail thru-hike time (at 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes; averaging 47 miles per day!), and is the author of a pair of popular AT books: Becoming Odyssa and Called Again.  She is a noted speaker, has been featured on CNN, Fox and Friends, and the CBS Early Show, and guides treks in North Carolina through her hiking organization, Blue Ridge Hiking Co.

Odyssa has traversed many of world’s most popular trails, including Mt. Kilimanjaro, Machu Picchu, Colorado Trail, GR20, and GR11.  It was during her travels when Phar Davis met her husband, Brew (who wins the “Appalachian Trials Name of the Century” Award).  Brew would go onto to assist Jennifer during her record setting 2011 thru-hike.

“I thought that marriage would slow me down; it’s funny because the exact opposite happened,” said Phar Davis during a talk at Calvin College.

So what does the Appalachian Trail’s fastest thru-hiker carry? Appalachian Trials caught up with Pharr-Davis to find out.  Because with an ocean of gear information available to you, sometimes the smartest way to pack your pack, is to mock the pros.  Enjoy.

Inside the Pros Packs with Jennifer Pharr Davis

Favorite AT story

jennifer pharr davisThere are too many to chose!!! I have lots of favorite A.T. Stories and almost all of them are described in detail in either Becoming Odyssa or Called Again. Since I haven’t written about my PCT hike, I’ll list some of the highlights of that hike: Loving the Desert, seeing my first bear, having to self-arrest on Mt. Whitney, eating way too many blueberries, Passing out at Crater Lake, my first 40 mile day, a wildfire and reroute in the mt. Washington wilderness, a visit from my dad in the Columbia gorge, meeting Scott Williamson, hiking solo through the closed Glacier Peak Wilderness, sneaking past a security checkpoint at Stehekin to call my mom, and charting my own route to the border because the official trail was closed.

Gear / packing philosophy

I’m a lightweight hiker. I’m not detail oriented, organized, or ingenious enough to be ultralight (wish I was). Basically, I just don’t take what I don’t need.


McHale Custom Pack. Love it!

Tent / Shelter

Depends. Definitely a cottage industry tent. Tarptent, Lighthearted, etc… I also have a couple of homemade tarps with bug netting.

Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering (a few different bags for different seasons.)


Homemade silk liner

Sleeping Pad

Ridgerest… Or any thin foam pad

Footwear (hiking + camp)

Zamberlan crossers. They are so comfy that I don’t need/want camp shoes.


  • Socks F-I-T-S. FITS! FITS! FITS!
  • Underwear: No thank you
  • Base layer: Lightweight synthetic tank
  • Mid layer: Fleece or wool
  • Outer/heavy layer: Down jacket
  • Shorts: Running shorts
  • Pants: Just rain pants
  • Gloves: My extra pair of socks
  • Hat: My mom sewed a fleece hat for me ; )
  • Rain jacket: I had some good lightweight salomon and north face jackets that I wore on the AT and PCT, but lately I have been going back to the good ol plastic poncho


None, unless I am camping with my husband. Then I take a snow peak and canister.


Whatever is on sale or in our closet

Hydration reservoir

I don’t use one, but I do carry a few pouches for my Sawyer water filter.

Water bottle

Plastic Gatorade bottle

Hiking poles

Leki, Black Diamond, or old ski poles ; )


Camera and phone

Luxury items

Journal or book


Gold Bond powder and duct tape

Any other notes you’d like to add: check out the Sawyer Mini. It is an awesome 2 oz. water filter.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 28

  • Bill Randall : Dec 15th

    I dont think, I KNOW that you are one tough lady.


What Do You Think?