Katniss Neverclean’s Before and After Thru-Hike Gear List

During my 2014 thru hike I made a lot of changes to my gear. I had a decent set up to start out but ended up replacing most of my older gear with lighter weight versions along the way.  Before leaving I was able to get a lot of my new gear at a discount because I was working at REI.

My initial packweight was about 25 pounds without food. That’s pretty darn good to start when compared to other starting pack weights. I soon found, however, that if I wanted to hike big miles and keep my body in one piece, I would need to go lighter. I ended my trip with my base weight at about 16 pounds. Still not ultralight but my final set up worked really well for me.

This is a comparison of the gear list that I started out with, what I ended with and what I would do differently in the future.

→ = Changed from this to that
strike = Gone within the first few weeks
* = Kept the whole time
( ) = Seasonal

Fully packed a few days before heading to Springer


Eastern Mountain Sports Trail 50 → REI Flash 45

Somewhere in Virginia I was lucky enough to aquire a lightweight pack from a friend who no longer wanted it. The Flash 45 was at least 2 pounds lighter than the Trail 50. The difference in weight made a huge difference, and by that point I could fit all of my belongings into a smaller bag.


REI Quarter Dome T2 → Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1 with footprint

I originally shared the Quarter Dome T2 with my hiking partner in order  to save money. By the time we hit Virginia we had both decided it was worth the money to have our own sleeping space. Dear god the smell. This tent worked really well for me. I liked having a space to organize my things in the morning, especially if it was raining. It was also nice to have a little space all to myself. The trail is a very social place and sometimes after a tough day, I just needed to be alone.


Home sweet home

Sleeping System

I thought long and hard about my sleeping system. I figured that I would be spending almost as much time sleeping as I did hiking, and I wanted to be comfortable. I am a cold sleeper so I stuck with the Joule Sleeping Bag the entire way. Try as I might I just couldn’t justify getting rid of the pillow. It was so comfortable and only weighed a few ounces. Some people would use their clothes bag, but when you start pairing down your clothes to just the essentials, there isn’t much leftover.


I started out with way too many clothes. I was afraid of being cold, but ended up being over prepared. In the summer months I sent even more home like my rain and insulated jackets, and had them sent back to me in Killington, VT.

Look how big it looks!


Trail runners worked great for me. I added the Superfeet because I tended to roll my feet inwards. The arch support in the Superfeet helped my feet deal with a heavy pack and lots of miles.


I am surprised to say that the stove that I made out of a Coke can lasted the whole trip and is still quite functional. This is one of the lightest weight stove options. Hot meals (and coffee) are important to me.

Coffee time


MSR Hyperflow Water Filter Sawyer Mini Water Filter

3L Platypus Hoser bladder and 1L Platypus Soft Bottle → 2 Smartwater bottles

The cost of the repair kit for the Hyperflow was the same as a brand new Sawyer Mini. Hard bottles work best with the Mini. Smartwater bottles are super light, made of more durable plastic than cheaper waterbottles and their thin and tall size fits well into packs.

Toiletries/First Aid

  • Contacts*
  • Glasses with case*
  • Contact Solution*
  • Advil*
  • Body butter
  • Gold bond (Harpers Ferry-Killington) Seriosuly at one point I considered writing a love poem to Gold Bond. I found the solid stick deodorant style worked best.
  • Dr Bronners soap*
  • Inhaler*
  • Toilet paper*
  • Tweezers*
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush*
  • “Girl Stuff”
  • Extra headlamp batteries*
  • Sleeping pad repair kit
  • Chapstick*
  • Deodorant
    HA! Gone by Fontana Dam. I once read that putting deodorant on a thru hiker is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Ahh that looks better


What I would Change

If I were to do another thru hike, here are some additional changes I would make:

  • Lighter and smaller sleeping pad such as the NeoAir Xlite
  • Lighter and more waterproof rain jacket such as the Marmot Minimalist
  • I would get Lasik eye surgery. Having to haul around contact solution and glasses was a real pain and I would probably toss at least 8oz.
  • Warmer Jacket in the fall. September in Maine was very cold.

Alright kids, that’s everything! Feel free to poke fun at me in the comments!

Related reading: AT Thru-Hiker’s Suggested Gear List

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Comments 17

  • Phillip : Feb 19th

    Great article. It was interesting to see the changes you made.

  • Michael Hoffmann : Feb 20th

    Did you use the water bags for your Sawyer Mini, I have had trouble getting them filled. Or did you use a “dirty” and “clean” smart water bottle? Or drink straight from the filter?

    • Ashli Baldwin : Feb 23rd

      I used the Sawyer mini bags for a bit but they always fell apart. Terrible quality. I used a clean and dirty smartwater bottle. The best part was, you could sit on it to filter!

      • Michael Hoffmann : Feb 23rd

        Thanks for the info! I’ll try that out next time I am on the trail!

  • Dana Feldman : Feb 20th

    Super helpful article. Thank you for posting.

  • Christy : Mar 5th

    Thanks for posting this! I love reading gear lists, but this is especially helpful because you listed the things you decided to send home.

  • billjank : Sep 9th

    Thanks! I’ll be going through my stuff this winter, and printed this as stuff to think about.

    What did you do for coffee? Instant?

    • Ashli Baldwin : Oct 7th

      I used starbucks via packets

    • Shannon : Aug 21st

      I like to steal hotel coffee. It’s like a tea bag but for coffee. Or if I’m out I pack a tiny siv like a fine mesh tea ball and just filter my coffee in the siv

  • Mishdip : Dec 30th

    My question is about sleep pads, I have read a lot about inflatable being noisy for others but really like the idea of the smaller volume. On the trail do you feel like the inflatable was worth the weight (I know you say that you would go lighter) would you ever swap to foam? I am nervous that the inflatable might pop or slow leak which I feel is the last think you want. Also on the topic of inflatables, do you think the self inflating pads are worth the few extra ounces compared to the manual ones? Thanks for sharing your list!

  • Debra Lloyd : Aug 26th

    Thank you for sharing! One of the best posts I’ve read about hiking and what to pack.

  • Paul Orr : Mar 13th

    Did you use Gators?

    • Ashli Baldwin : Mar 13th


  • Cliff : Nov 1st

    Good pack list, first time I have seen Lasik surgery on a pack list 🙂

  • Catherine : Jun 21st

    Great article, I was curious if you could link us to a tutorial for the coke can stove you made? I’ve been looking into a lot of cooking methods for the backcountry and this really caught my eye!

  • Janis Valdes : Jul 19th

    Love this list & your sensibility the most, after obsessively reading AT gear lists for several months now. Packing a balaclava? Brilliant, even tho I first read it as “baklava” & thought it’d be crazy sticky for your pack. Love the balance between light & comfort. Thanks so much for sharing. Happy trails…


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