(Partial) Gear Review
All right kids. I’ve hiked 861 miles of the AT and have developed some strong feelings about some of my gear. Now, bear in mind I’m typing out this post on my phone while sitting in a Panera in Waynesboro, so let’s be forgiving of a few errant typos please. Also, try as I might, I can’t get photos to upload right now. Sorry for a post sans photo, but do see my Facebook for a wide assortment of recent pics from trail life!!
1. REI UL 1 Big Agnes Fly Creek. I love this tent. If it’s not raining. Like many double-walled tents though, the rain fly goes up last and, in a downpour, the inside can get quite wet in the time it takes you to put it up. Just north of “The Priest” I got caught in a massive and never ending downpour. I found a lovely (or it would’ve been if it had been dry) camp site and asked myself, “Self. How do I pop up my tent most effectively?” I answered that perhaps I could lay out my rain fly, stick my tent itself under the rain fly and pop them up together.
No. The rain fly fell off to one side, then got tangled in the poles. The tent got so wet I had puddles of water inside and the fly also ended up soaked in both sides. Perhaps this particular incident speaks more to user error than rain problems, but given my choice, I’d get a single walled tent or a tarp/tent set up in for the future.
2. Oboz boots. I think they are Ridge Runners? Something along those lines. Shoes are hard to review. They need to fit your feet and what works for me and what works for you may be totally different. However, I have never hated shoes as ardently as I hate those Oboz.
My boyfriend brought my (previously broken in) Oboz to me in Pearisburg. When he drove off, I took approximately ten steps down the trail and realized these shoes were bad news. Within 10 miles I had roaring blisters on both feet, pain in my insole, and toes on my left foot were going numb. Given the ability to get to an outfitter, I had to wear these monsters for 65 miles. I thought my feet were going to fall off.
I will never buy or recommend these foot death traps again.
*Side note. A man has just sat down absurdly close to me at Panera and is loudly slurping coffee and reading out loud to himself. Sometimes I do not miss civilization.
3. LL Bean hiking pants. Some clever designer said to herself, “Well, we know you’re going to lose weight while doing your outdoor activities, so let’s put buttons and elastic in the waist band of your pants such that you can adjust their size without a belt!” Sounds great buddy, until you throw on a 30lb pack and realize those buttons are right under your hip belt!
After wearing a couple of button shaped scars into my hips, my buddy Alon finally took a knife to the offending buttons. Now these pants are awesome. They could stand to have a cargo type pocket on the left side (as there is one on the right side), but they’re otherwise great. The longs fit my 5’7″ frame, they dry quickly, and the pockets(such as there are) are big enough to actually be useful.
4. LL Bean 850 puffy coat. I’ve already reviewed this product once, but now that it’s field tested, I want to reiterate how much I love this thing. Recently, I sentiment all my winter gear – except this. I love having it to snuggle into at night and in the very early morning. Important note – as promised, it is effective even when wet. Love this thing.
5. LL Bean sweater fleece. I wore this every day until Pearisburg, VA. It’s a little heavy (as in it weighs a lot when you stop wearing it and put it in your pack), but it’s a wonderful layering piece for when it’s quite cold.
6. Let’s talk about true love. My LL Bean merino wool base layer is my go to everything. I have worn it for at least a few minutes every day of this hike. Keeps me warm even when it’s wet (I learned a lot about my gear while hiking through a week of rain), keeps me warm when it’s dry. Downside – the sleeves are stretching a bit at the wrists and one of the thumb holes is tearing a little. Having said that, can I reiterate that I wear this one shirt every day. So I’m not complaining and am in fact impressed by how well this thing is wearing.
K. I could review more, but now I’m sitting awkwardly close to an awkward first (blind?) date. Time to run away.
*Please note I am (or was when I was gearing up for my trip) a part time employee for LL Bean.This explains why so much of my gear is awesome Bean gear, but please know that I do not represent the company in any way and all my reviews are just honest opinions from a thru hike.
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.