Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Gear List

Although some will deviate from the below gear list in one way or another, this serves as an excellent template for thru-hikers, with some products we recommend below.

Shelters

Hammock

Pack

Sleeping bag

Sleeping liner (Silk; optional)

Sleeping pad

Footwear (Quality brand with good replacement policy)

Insole

Baselayer (Synthetic: Polyester, Capilene, Merino-wool blend)

Midlayer

Insulating Layer

Rain / Wind Jacket

Rain pants

Umbrella

Socks

Hiking (Medium weight merino wool)

Camp (Heavy weight merino wool)

Underwear (2 pairs: 1 camp, 1 hiking)

Camp pants (Leggings; Wool, polyester, synthetic)

Hiking bottoms (1 pair synthetic)

Gloves

Hat (Light weight)

Camp shoe (Comfortable, light-weight; Crocs common camp shoe)

Stuff sacks (5, Strong, waterproof)

Cup/bowl/mug/pot

Spoon

Water reservoir (2-3L; Playpus and CamelBak common bladders)

Water bottle (Light weight)

  • Gatorade Bottle
  • SmartWater Bottles

First aid kit 

Toiletries (Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, Vaseline)

Sunscreen

Insect Repellent

Stove

Guide book

Water purification (Aquamira Chlorine Dioxide drops, Steripen)

Head lamp (Lightweight)

Luxury/comfort items (Pillow, mascot, journal, instrument, electronics, etc)

Hiking Poles

Trowel

GPS

Misc.

What gear do you recommend?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

featured image via Mellanie

Comments 110

  • Bushy : Feb 4th

    First aid kit I include a pill Ziploc baggie (Walmart 50 for $1.89) with Neosporin squirted along the bottom and Qtips broken in half with the cotton swab in the Neosporin for blisters. Baklava for windy summits. Sewed loops on gloves bottoms to attach to clip on pack.

    Reply
  • raine : Feb 5th

    i am a section hiker day hiker at a place in life to start 10 day sections in 2015….question…I have seen many hikers on trails now with poles. I’m not sure if that is me…What do you think the pro’s and con’s are?

    Reply
    • Mtnbob : Feb 24th

      Pros–They are great to help pull you up the mountains a bit, and work out your upper body. On the downhills it is nice to take some pressure off of your knees, and to help with stability. I also use mine as the structure for my tent.
      Cons–Extra weight if not being used to support your tent. Takes a while to get used to them and use them properly.

      Reply
      • Heather : May 30th

        Also good for stream crossings. I never backpack without them.

        Reply
  • Chrissy : Mar 10th

    Whomever made this list is clearly a male. Can we get some more female gear links please? Most of the clothing links directly to mens.

    Reply
  • Soggy : Mar 18th

    Poles can really save your hide. Multiple times I still ended up like a turtle on his back but no serious injuries. Mainly useful for keeping your balance in rocky areas or crossing streams/logs, In bogs like Mass has they kept me from stepping in boggy areas. I went with the Black Diamond Cork Alpine Trekking poles others go with Leki. I would recommend graphite because of my first night hiking in a thunderstorm. Hope that helps.

    Reply
    • Linda Vance : Sep 15th

      Just for the record: graphite is a dandy lightning conductor. So don’t imagine graphite poles are any safer than aluminum ones. Plenty of anglers have been struck by lightning conducted by their fishing poles. That said, it is a myth that lightning is “attracted” by metal objects. The anglers who got hit, like the mountaineers with ice axes and so on, got hit because they were in the middle of open water or open mountain tops. Lightning tends to strike open areas. That’s what you need to stay away from, not some specific material.

      Reply
  • heather : Apr 5th

    Hammocks are becoming increasingly popular. Any suggestions for brands that are good?

    Reply
    • K Dogg : Apr 8th

      Heather
      Im a 56 yo and doing the North half this year from Harpers. Bought a Hennesy Hammock and will not go back to a tent. Useful in rocky terrain and you can useally find 2 trees far enough apart to hang.

      Reply
      • Berzerkel : May 15th

        I swear by my Hennessy. I have 2, both asym side zips one ultralight and one with the super shelter for winter. I have a big Agnes UL tent and others, but unless I’m packing in treeless land, I’ll take my Hennessy thank you. (You CAN use it on the ground with hiking poles to convert to a tent/bivvy of sorts in a pinch.)

        Reply
      • Sue : Jun 24th

        I was wondering what do you do with your pack if it rains

        Reply
        • 2 Samuel 22 : Jul 15th

          For keeping your pack dry in the rain you can hang your pack from your hammock ridgeline or from your hammock suspension under your tarp. Some folks bring a small gear hammock for their pack and/or boots, others just use their pack cover and hang it from a tree or put it under the hammock on a tarp. Check out HammockForums.net for more a deep dive into hammock camping. As WhiteBlaze is the go-to for all things A.T., HF is the go-to for all things hammock-related.

          Reply
      • Nicorette : Feb 21st

        I recommend a cottage company like Dream Hammocks. A lot more bang for the buck and offers a lot of customization. That being said I made all my gear with no prior experience and it outlasted all my purchased gear. Head over to hammock forums for all you could ever want to know about hammocks.

        Reply
      • Jeff Hiestand : Jul 12th

        Geez, this is going to unleash the cult of hammocks…….for those who have not drank the hammock kool aid….or those who have, and just prefer tents….It’s ok!

        Reply
    • mPalozzola : Jun 9th

      They are heavier then many camping hammock brands but I swear by my Clark Jungle Hammock and will gladly sacrifice the weight for the comfort, reliability, and quality.. not to mention the all in one ease of set up

      Reply
    • Mark Stanavage : May 15th

      A year late sorry. Use an ENO Double nest. Hammock Gear makes light fantastic underquilts and top quilts. I used to get cold in my hammock, now I sleep as sound as a baby in mommy’s arms!

      Reply
      • Sheep Dog : May 18th

        I use my Combat hammock! Ok so its not actually called a combat hammock, but a multi-purpose net from Quartermaster. it weighs a few ounces and strong enough so it has held me in all my body armor during my field exercises.

        Reply
    • Derek Baralt : Jun 22nd

      Warbonnet Blackbird and Blackbird xlc. a little pricey and heavy but very comfortable and made in the good old U. S. of A.

      Reply
      • 2 Samuel 22 : Jul 15th

        I agree, I love my Warbonnet Blackbird XLC, the shelf storage is extremely convenient to me. There are many great cottage hammock vendors to choose from: Warbonnet Outdoors, Dream Hammock, Dutchwaregear, Simply Light Designs, Bearded Hanger, Wilderness Logics, etc. All outstanding craftsmen and all made in the USA.

        Reply
        • Lex : May 9th

          I was an avid mountain camper & I perfected what size & type of tent to have a teach time of the year. In the last 2 years, I have transitioned from a camper to a hiker; and I have to say that a hammock is the way to go!! I bought a cheap hammock & fly, but I still use them to this day. I had a WARBONNET, but went back to the cheap hammock & fly; FREE SOLDIER. It’s double stitched, has surprising strong loops, and very spacious & comfortable. I had to buy better riggings, but the hammock & tarp work great. The FREE SOLDIER tarp is huge & very light. I make different configurations depending on the weather. I was surprised as you are reading this post, but I have taken it on 7-10 day hiking trips & it has been perfect. I am about to thru-hike NoBo in March 2018. I’ll let you know how it holds up.

          Reply
    • Katherine : Dec 10th

      Warbonnet blackbird

      Reply
    • Benjamin (aka T-minus) : Dec 22nd

      Cheap and light and ships out fast, Dutchware gear ”half-wit”. Standard out the box perfection, Warbonnet “Blackbird XLC”, and if you have time and money on your side and want a custom built to your specifications: Best comfort and value IMO is Dream Hammock “Raven”. These are all made by Cottage vendors. For a more in depth source of info to all things hammock, I suggest diving into the forums like http://www.hammockforums.net .

      Reply
  • Jasmine : Apr 6th

    Anyone have size recommendations for the dry sacks needed? Looking at the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil sacks, but there are a lot of options there.

    Reply
    • Brad : Jan 28th

      My dry bag is the super lightweight Sea to Summit Air Stream Pump Dry Sack. I got it because it is also a pump for my Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated Sleeping Pad. This pad is far better than the neoair ultralight pads. They delaminate because of the moist air used to blow them up. The pump sack attaches easily to the pad, and then it’s 2-1/2 pumps, and the pad is inflated. The pad also is more comfortable. They have several different ones from no-insulation to enough insulation for winter camping.

      I get all of my clothing and my sleeping bag in the dry sack. used on the PCT, Tahoe Rim Trail, and fast-packing trips.

      Reply
  • Bill : Jun 14th

    The mention of Permethrin is a good idea . Sprays on gear in either areosol , or pump spray . Good for 6 washings , or all summer ?!? .Keeps bugs off gear , kills them while they creep . Good Tick stopper ! . I would also recommend using Picaridin as a replacement for DEET . No smell , non oily . Won’t ruin nylon gear . IT WORKS . We experienced the swarming flies each day and evening on our 8 day AT section hike in late May this year . They stayed away completely . Reapplied it after mid day as perspiration ,wore down its effect .
    Great articles . Great Blog !

    Bill
    ‘Two Dogs’

    Reply
  • Marrenby Cole : Aug 20th

    Hello everyone! I’m new to hiking and have never done an overnight hike, but plan to do so in the future. I’ve heard about people using bear proof containers for food. What are your recommendation for those? Thanks!! Happy trails!!

    Reply
    • Barbara Cerafici : Jan 6th

      Hi Marrenby. Did you ever do your over night hikes? I am so new to the concept of hiking the AT and am actually taking a year and few months to plan. I’m so excited about the thought that at times I find it hard to sit still. I have so much to learn but so eager.

      Reply
    • TrippleCheck√√√ : Jun 30th

      Dear Marrenby Cole, Don’t bother with the bear proof container! Them bears is smart, oh ya! I’m pretty sure they can figure out how to remove the top to any container – especially when there is food inside the container! Don’t underestimate them varmints! In fact, if you are ever approached by a bear and they are eyeing you up-and-down, just give them your food and remember not to panic and run! Happy Trails………

      Reply
      • Mike C : Sep 14th

        Ahhhhh, no. Bear cans are great but you can also use bear bags out of Kevlar which are lite weight and keeps all the varmints at bay. And never, ever run from a bear. It kicks there instincts into second gear and they will run you down. Its best to make noise so that they are not surprised that you are there. They almost always run for the hills. If not, raise your hiking poles up make your self big and if you are in a group even better. They will then take off. Last but not least, never ever feed the bears. You really don’t want them to associate people with food.

        Reply
  • Frito : Dec 15th

    Just finished our thru-hike and found that a good sense of humor is a most valuable asset, and ultra-lite weight too!
    On a more materialistic note, a trash compactor bag as a pack liner was much more effective than pack covers (although we used both..wet year!) Also, good zip bags in various sizes will serve you well for a multitude of unexpected situations. They’re light weight and easy to store.

    Reply
  • Jonathan Necco : Jan 1st

    I’m currently planning my 2016 thru-hike and I’m heading to an REI garage sale tomorrow morning to see what gear I can get on the cheap. I’ve seen people buying tents there before and was thinking this would be a great pickup. What do you folks think? Is there anything I should stay away from at these garage sales?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Avery Gibson : Jan 3rd

    If I have the Patagonia Nano-Air, but not a down insulating layer, would I survive with a few layers under the Nano-Air? The Nano-Air is warm (not as warm as the ultralight) but still warm. Is it necessary to have both? or one or the other? Thanks

    Reply
  • Sascha : Jan 26th

    For my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail I was thinking to buy the Primus Spider Stove Set. But I`m not sure if suitable gas will always available along the AT. Do you have any experience or suggestions to me?

    Reply
    • Berzerkel : May 15th

      Jetboil! And gas is readily available IMHO. The jetboi lid also way more efficient with the heat (and therefore the gas). My Peak stove went through 2x the gas as my buddies for the same meal count, so I switched. Plus compact for all meal gear in one lightweight container. Hard to sauté something if your are a trail gourmet, but for Mountain House, Coffee and Tea it can’t be beat.

      Reply
  • Brad : Jan 28th

    For beginners I would recommend two important gear choices: 1) footwear, 2) tent.

    I wear homemade huaraches and go barefoot. I hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail in them (even through some snow now and again). With huarches/sandals your feet don’t get hot. And that saves you from blisters. A friend of mine did the whole PCT in Chaco Unaweep sandals last year (2015) and no blisters. He did bring calf-high waterproof socks to wear with them when it was cold or snow.

    The second important thing is the tent. Get a free-standing tent like the Fly Creek UL2 or the new REI quarter dome. Both weigh about 2-1/2 pounds with everything.

    The two reasons I noticed people bailing from the first couple hundred miles of the PCT were from blisters upon blisters on their feet, and from a couple of really stormy nights where tent poles broke and sleeping bags got soaked.

    Finally, keep your TOTAL weight of gear, food, and water under 20 pounds. My base-weight is now under 10 pounds (with 3 days of food the total weight is under 15 pounds with carried water). This allows me tor hike fast, and then I can enjoy a couple of long lazy breaks in the day by a lake or something and still manage 18-23 miles a day.

    Secret tip: I carry a tiny 1/2 ounce bottle filled with bleach for my water purification. Just 2 drops per liter, and wait 1/2 hour. 1/2 ounce of bleach can filter 300 liters of water. That’s one gallon a day for over two months. “Walking with wired” uses the bleach method and she is an expert through hiker (AT, PCT, TRT, CDT, …)

    Reply
    • Berzerkel : May 15th

      Holy crap! That’s some real lightweight gear/minimalist sacrifice. Good for you. I am 26lbs with 3L water for warm weather and 29lbs cold weather..

      Reply
    • sherril "one step" : Feb 11th

      never hiked 72 yrs young do you wnt me to go on??

      Reply
  • Chris : Jan 28th

    hey Brad! what water proof socks did your friend use with his huarches? I wear shamma sandals made in Santa Cruz and realize I will need some neoprene insulated socks that work for that type of shoe when I hike the AT this spring. thanks for the informations

    Reply
  • Cecily : Feb 21st

    In 2013 I went on a 24 mile weekend hike up near Aspen CO. Towards the end of our first day it started raining so I put on my Frogg Togg jacket. Within 15 minutes the jacket had soaked clear through and I was drenched. Frogg Toggs are quite tempting because of the low price but I definitely suggest spending a bit more money on a jacket that will work better.

    Reply
  • Jane Daneils : Feb 25th

    Hand knit socks are my favorite hiking socks , but they are a recent must haves. Wish I had them when I section hiked the AT (1992-2007).

    Reply
  • Bunyan : Feb 25th

    Recent studies have found the Steri Pen as effective as your flashlight. I witnessed one in use by my buddy in Nepal. Next day antibiotics were deployed to area concerned. I have a steri pen. Won’t use it.

    Reply
    • Bunyan : Feb 27th

      Turns out I fell victim to content marketing and the SteriPen is more reliable than I stated. Link https://www.snewsnet.com/news/blurry-lines/ Friend did get violently ill but may not have been the SteriPen’s failure to do it’s job.

      Reply
      • Berzerkel : May 15th

        Prefer filters to additives or electronics like the pen. Have tabs for backup if filter clogs, but I like the platypus system – one dirty water bag, one clean water bag, gravity feed in camp. No more crouching at the stream pumping. First Needs water filter system is great for home/travel/bug out, rock solid, but weighs like a rock too…

        Reply
  • cheeny : Mar 2nd

    EAR PLUGS!!!!

    Reply
  • Calvin : Mar 9th

    If you haven’t tried the USGI “waffles” for thermal/camp pants, save the $120 for the name brand and pick up a better pair that the local surplus shop

    Reply
  • Fred : May 15th

    I did not read anything about a completely reliable lighter. What do folks do if the bic lighter doesn’t work?

    Reply
    • Berzerkel : May 15th

      Ultra light, ultra cheap: Chapstick and dryer lint and a flint/steel. Plus you have Chapstick too… Bonus.

      Reply
      • Berzerkel : May 15th

        Just remember to get dryer lint from a friend in a pet-free home. My 50% dog hair/cotton mix stinks…

        Reply
  • robert culll : May 21st

    I always suggest an extra bottle cap, you never know.

    Reply
  • john : May 22nd

    so how entirely sponsored content is this page exactly because REI’s site says that you can find “our recommendations here” and its a hyperlink to here.

    https://blog.rei.com/hike/how-to-pack-for-an-appalachian-trail-thru-hike/

    Reply
  • Mark : Sep 15th

    In the wilderness, you’ll find no handrails, no courtesy phones, no attendants, no flush toilets, no water fountains, no snack bars. It’s a potentially dangerous place.

    Reply
  • Annette Rocher : Sep 24th

    Hi all, this is great reading. I will be heading over to do the AT in mid Feb 2018. I know its a long time away but I need to prep and gather info as I live in Victoria Australia. Thank you every one for the information as its a different type of hiking than I am use too. I love the Himalayas but over there I have a porter! My intention is to hike -thru in 6 to 7 months on my own (I will be 57) so any tips re hiking alone will be greatly appreciated. I intend to stalk this site! 🙂

    Reply
    • Tommy : Oct 24th

      Hi I’m tommy I’ll be hiking the AT in march2017 I’ll be 60 and going solo I’ll keep you informed

      Reply
      • Annette Rocher : Nov 20th

        Hi Tommy,
        Thanks that would be great!

        Reply
      • Linda : Mar 31st

        I am 73 and very active w/o health problems. Hoping to do the AT. Any suggestions/helps?

        Reply
    • Chris : Nov 26th

      Annette, I found the videos at Homemade Wanderlust youtube very very helpful. Dixie has 44 videos about her travels and travails plus 12 or so about equipment, bears, etc. Btw, she is contemplating the Pacific Coast Trail as well. Be sure to visit DC during Independance Day. If you trekked in the Himalyas, I hear Killomanjaro is easier. –Chris in Virginia

      Reply
      • Annette Rocher : Dec 23rd

        Hi Chris, thanks for the reply. I looked up Dixie on utube. Loved her videos!
        I did Base Camp 4 years ago and the full Annapurna circuit last year. Both in winter as I love winter trekking.
        I was in Africa 3 years ago and still kicking myself for not doing Kilimanjaro. Oh well looks like there are plenty of mountains on the AT!

        Reply
    • Elaine O : Dec 4th

      Hi- I am planning thru hike in 2018 as well. I will be 61. Mid February might be a little early to start? Someone correct me if I’m wrong?

      Reply
      • Annette Rocher : Dec 23rd

        Hi Elaine, yes your right. I didn’t express myself well.I will be arriving mid Feb from Australia. Will need a day or two to get over jet lag and then I will need to finish buying gear etc and get the feel of everything. March 1 is my start date depending on weather.

        Reply
    • MAURICE A CAULEY : Mar 31st

      I’m planning on going Feb 1. 18. I ll be 62. Starting training maybe next week when more of my gear arrives. Army Vet.

      Reply
    • Debby : Jun 16th

      Hi, I’m 56 and hoping to hit the ATT trail too. I’m looking at starting late but I don’t have a set schedule so to me it will be not the miles I make but the miles that take my breath away

      Reply
      • TrippleCheck√√√ : Jun 30th

        Right ON Debby!!! Love your attitude! I’m a section hiker (61) and have learned to slow down and enjoy the views……….. very rewarding!

        Reply
    • Vanessa : Jul 12th

      Hope to see you on AT. I also will be hiking in 2018. Best wishes

      Reply
  • Angelica : Dec 8th

    I’ve always been interested in hiking the AT, and with recent issues I’m even more determined to do it. I’m a 20 yo female. I’ve hiked several mountains and trails, but I’m no every day hiker. I’d love to do the trail on as minimum of a budget as I can. Roughly what does it cost between gear and travel expenses?

    Reply
  • Richard : Dec 11th

    Planning to thru-hike the AT in 2017. I’ll be doing a flip-flop, starting in Roanoke in May and heading NB, then Amtrak back down around Labor Day and heading SB. I’m 60.

    Reply
  • Reggie Storey : Jan 13th

    Hello! I’m doing the Georgia section the beginning of February and then starting back up in NC in late March. I’m excited about my first solo winter hike and would appreciate any advice or opinions regarding economical GPS devices and services. Or any winter hiking/camping suggestions for that matter.

    Reply
    • MAURICE A CAULEY : Mar 31st

      Check Wilderness innovations ponchos and Sierra chaps.
      I’m using Keen waterproof boots and gaiters. Poncho covers you and your pack. Can also get a Polartek liner and other options. I plan on staying dry.

      Reply
  • Ben Cerise : Jan 25th

    Here’s another awesome gear list! https://bencerise.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/ultralight-backpacking-gear-list/
    Check it out.

    Reply
  • Michael Natt : Feb 2nd

    I am planning for my first AT Thru Hike next year. You have several shoe suggestions in your gear list. All of them are trail shoes rather than hiking boots. Do most hikers use trail shoes or hiking boots on the AT? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Michael Natt : Feb 2nd

      I noticed the Keen Targhee Mid II hiking boot in your gear list. However, I am still looking for a recommendation for whether to purchase a trail shoe or a hiking boot. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Mike Murphy : Mar 24th

        Go with trail runners. They are lighter, they dry faster, and they’re more flexible. I love the Altra Lone Peak 3.0s, but I know people with narrower feet prefer the La Sportiva Ultra Raptors or Saloman Speed Cross 4s. Summer 2017 Altra will release a trail runner mid that won’t be waterproof and will have better ankle support (worth thinking about for Pennsylvania). But no waterproof/goretex. Once it gets wet inside, and it will… takes forever to dry. And I think three pairs of hiking socks are worth the weight. Make the third pair your “wet” socks…choose ones that are thinner (lighter) with less merino to dry the fastest and breathe the best while soaking wet.

        Reply
  • Rick Coulon : Mar 28th

    I also suggest getting the guthook app for your smart phone, it uses GPS (works when there is no cell service available) to provide an accurate location. I also have the AWOL guide to get the scoop on the towns, etc.

    Reply
    • MAURICE A CAULEY : Mar 31st

      I too will use both.

      Reply
    • TrippleCheck√√√ : Jun 30th

      First, I want to thank all you hikers that DO carry cell phones on the trail with you! Second, that guthook app really, truly works great! I highly recommend it! Any time I inquire as to “where in the hell am I?” or “where is the next water source?”, invariably those that consult the guthook app are spot on ALL the time! Now, as an old timer, I never carry a cell phone, to much bother…….. and besides, asking the previous two questions is a good ice-breaker for opening a conversation…… Happy Trails!

      Reply
  • Rod : Jun 17th

    Great site with lots of good information ! I am tentatively planning a 2018 thru-hike of the AT … I am 68 , and plan on going Northbound , starting in March or early April . Hope to see some of you on the trail !

    Reply
  • Vanessa : Jul 12th

    Hope to see you on the trail, I’m so excited to be planning my hike in 2018 AT.

    Reply
    • Steve Curry : Jul 14th

      I’m planning my hike for start in March, 2018! I’ll be 58 and can’t wait to get started. See you on the trail!

      Reply
  • Tracy aka Mystic : Jul 17th

    Loved the site, the recommend list and the comments. Hoping to get going NoBo 2018.

    Reply
  • video leads : Jul 30th

    I got this site from my buddy who informed me about this web site and now this time I am browsing this web page and reading very
    informative posts at this place.

    Reply
  • Leki-Less '04 : Aug 10th

    Two things missing from this list that I found essential on my hike, and both weigh next to nothing:

    (1) Earplugs. I thought there was no point when someone suggested then. I purchased them at Neil’s Gap. When you find yourself in a shelter with snorers, you’ll be glad you brought these.

    (2) Immodium AD. Didn’t pack them at first. Now I won’t go hiking without some. You don’t want to be stuck in the woods in a condition where you wish this was in your first aid kit. Trust me.

    Reply
  • James : Aug 21st

    Jesus…what is this? THe list for yuppie IBM’ers? Who the fu*k would spend $300 on a sleeping bag??

    Reply

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