My Long Trail Gear Review
My Long Trail thru-hike is just under two weeks away, yay! As I’m starting to pack in earnest, it feels like the perfect time to share my gear list and gear reviews. So, here goes!
The Big Three: Shelter
My shelter is the Nemo Hornet Elite 2P Ultralight backpacking tent. It was more than I planned to spend ($499.95), but I saved 25% during REI’s Annual Anniversary Sale. The Hornet Elite weighs in at 33.6 ounces, has double vestibules, and is a semi-freestanding tent. It is equipped with no-see-um mesh, a single pole, and five stakes.
I chose a two-person tent for both breathing room and the option to have a companion. I’ve used my tent a couple of times now and I love it. It’s light, durable, and easy to set up. While the footprint is separate ($49.95), I’m glad I purchased it. In short, I love my tent and I’d buy it again.
The Big Three: Pack
My pack is a Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider. I opted for the 55L which can still roll down to the size of the 40L. However, it will give me room to carry extra supplies when hiking with my 5-year-old. As with my tent, I made my decision based on versatility. The 3400 weighs in at 31.82 ounces (vs. 30.04 ounces for the 2400), has three outside mesh pockets and one mesh hydro-pocket inside the pack. There are also two hip belt pockets and I purchased the shoulder pocket separately ($40). The pack set me back $345, and while on the pricey side, I love it.
It is comfortable and light, and I like the mesh on the outside, which is surprisingly durable. It fits like a glove; sometimes I forget I’m even wearing it. As with my tent, I love my pack and I would buy it again.
The Big Three: Sleep System
My sleep system consists of a Nemo Men’s Disco 30 bag and an REI Co-op Flash 3-Season Sleeping Pad. Because I spent some dough on two of my Big Three, I went with what I already owned for my sleep system. I sleep warm (fine, hot) so I chose a men’s bag. They tend to be cooler and a little bigger. I also chose the Disco because it’s not a mummy bag and I am uber claustrophobic (see two-person tent choice). The bag has 650-fill-power with hydrophobic down, weighs 36 ounces, and costs $259.95 for the regular length. Again, I got this puppy on sale.
After sleeping on a thicker inflatable pad and then rolling off it all night, I’m content with the Flash. Although I don’t love the inflation process. If I can’t muster my ninja-speed to close the valve as soon as I remove my mouth, it loses air pressure. The Flash weighs in at 16 ounces and costs $99 for the regular size. Of my big three, I will probably upgrade my sleep system at some point. But for now, I like my bag and the pad works just fine.
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Pods are awesome. They run $50 to $60 depending on the size and are shaped to fit the inside of a pack perfectly. I have four, two large (1.31 ounces) and two small (1.1 ounces). I use one large pod for clothes, which doubles as my pillow, and one for my sleeping bag. The two small pods are used for my tent and my kits (privy, medical, tech, etc.). Because of how they fit and compress perfectly into my pack, they work much better for my sleeping bag and tent than their original stuff sacks. Plus, they’re lighter. Win, win and I would 100% buy these again.
I have a Zpacks Ultralight Bear Bagging Kit for my food. It costs $50 and weighs 3.4 ounces. It comes with a rock sack and 50 feet of 2mm Z-line slick cord. I really like this bag and would buy it again (although this one was a gift).
My gaiters are Dirty Girl and they are great! They are cute, light, easy to use, and effective. There is a metal hook to attach the front of the gaiters to your laces and a sticky velcro strip to attach the back to your shoe. They cost about $20 and weigh 1.25 ounces for a size small pair. I love these and would buy them again in a heartbeat.
I have a LiteAF Fanny Pack that is divine ($50 with an inside pocket). While my pack has hip pockets, I need a separate and more easily accessible place for my snacks and phone. This fanny pack is (again) hella cute (because I got rainbow), light (2.2 ounces), and highly functional. I went through two other fannies before settling on this one and couldn’t be happier with it. The biggest wins for this fanny pack are that 1) it clips up front, which is very convenient when also wearing a backpack, and 2) this motherfucker does. not. move. I was constantly retightening my other fanny pack and it was unbelievably annoying. This guy is light but roomy enough for all my salty snacks.
I hike in HOKA ONE ONE Stinsons. As a person with very cranky knees, these babies have changed my life. They are both plush and stable, and by far the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn (slippers excluded). I find they run a little large, so I went down a half size. They have a fantastic return policy so when I decided to size down and switch models, it was a breeze. They are 9.8 ounces with 5mm drop and cost $160. I love these trail runners and will keep hiking in them. Probably forever.
I have a SPOTX Bluetooth tracking device ($249.99), again purchased on sale. I don’t love it. It requires a computer to update and a clear view of the sky to actually work. The website isn’t great and location sharing is not intuitive. I’m glad I’ve had over a month to fiddle with this thing before hitting the Long Trail. While I don’t love it, it felt like a necessity. And from my research, it seems that all GPS tracking devices have their shortcomings. The SPOT was cheaper than the Garmin models and I do like that I can send unlimited preset text messages. So that’s a plus. I will likely stick with it since I already own it and (finally) know how to use it.
Overall, I’m really happy with my gear. I’ve used everything on trail and had the time to figure out exactly what I like. While this is the gear that’s had the biggest impact on my trail experience, let me know if you have questions or want to know about anything I didn’t share! Happy trails, my friend.
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