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
There 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.
Western Mountaineering (a few different bags for different seasons.)
Homemade silk liner
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
I don’t use one, but I do carry a few pouches for my Sawyer water filter.
Plastic Gatorade bottle
Camera and phone
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.
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