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

Your tent is one of the most important—if not the most important—piece of gear for your long-distance hike. It’s literally your home away from home. So how do you choose the right one? How do you avoid staring at a screen or walking around the same store for hours on end if you’re the indecisive kind or just a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choice available on the market?

What you shouldn’t do is jump on the ultralight wagon because it’s the hip new craze, or grab the most recommended six pound, three-person mansion just to stick it to the fad- you’ll be running to the nearest outfitters (probably in tears) in search of a lighter upgrade faster than you can say Appalachian Trail.

Most thru-hikers look for a lightweight, durable tent with enough livable space and features to stay comfortable for the duration of weeks (or months) on the trail. That’s what you should be looking for too.

When looking at a tent, ask yourself:

-Can you live in this tent night after night, for weeks or months at a time?
-Can you set it up quickly in the dark or rain? Both?
-Is there enough room to comfortably sit up without brushing the sides of the tent with your shoulders? Does your sleeping bag hit the wall of the tent?
-Can you crawl in and out of the tent without getting the floor soaked?
-If there is enough room in the vestibule to comfortably stash your gear?
-If you’re hiking with a partner, do you want two doors for entry/exit?

Here are our top tents for an Appalachian Trail thru-hike. 

Hammock

Pack

Your gear list needs to go hand-in-hand with your pack. Are you an ultralight fastpacker or do you carry everything but the kitchen sink? Choosing the wrong pack for your base weight can lead to discomfort or even injury so being honest with yourself is important.

Frameless UL packs have pretty hard lines for weight capacities, which means more than just considering volume—you also need to be aware of support and weight distribution. Unless all of your gear is ultralight, don’t opt for an UL pack.

If you carry everything but the kitchen sink, you need to be wary of padding and endless pockets. While added comfort and organization can be tempting, a more featured pack means your base weight can increase by several pounds. That might not seem like a lot while you walk around the store, but the weight adds up over hundreds of miles. It’s all about the balance. Some food for thought–if you’ve got a larger capacity pack (65-70 liters), you’re more likely to fill it with things you don’t need.

Top Picks

Sleeping bags and Quilts

enlightened equipment revelation quilt 20

While sleeping bags are a simple concept, there are several variables to keep in mind when choosing one. Size, weight, and temperature ratings can make or break base weight and comfort level. You’ll want to choose your bag based on your ideal combination of temperature rating, fill power, weight, packability, and price.

A good warmth-to-weight ratio is the most important aspect of your bag. Unless you’re planning for a consistently warm-weather hike, choose a bag rated to at least 20 degrees, or grab a liner for colder sections if you opt for a bag rated to 30-degrees and up. Make sure your bag is durable enough for the long haul, compresses so it doesn’t take up too much room in your pack, and if you are worried about it getting wet, a bag with a treated fabric or treated down will a good choice.

A note to prospective NOBOs: many of your predecessors choose to start with a 10-degree bag for the early spring / Smokies section.

Top Picks

Sleeping liner (Silk; optional)

Sleeping pad


Do you want to be warm and comfortable? If you answered yes, you need a sleeping pad. Sleeping pad types are pretty straightforward. The options are foam, inflatable, or combination/self-inflating pads that have a thin layer of foam and also rely on air for comfort. Combination/self-inflating pads are durable and generally considered an easier set up than inflatable pads, but the added comfort comes with some extra weight. Inflatable pads are lightweight and compress well, but will need love and care–they’re a little fragile and when their hearts gets broken they tend to pop. Foam sleeping pads are durable, less expensive, and serve many purposes, but they are bulky and don’t provide the same cushioning as inflatable varieties. These things should be kept in mind when making your decision/budgeting.

Top Picks

Footwear

altra lone peak

Hiking boots, shoes or trail runners? Although trail runners are the popular choice and what the majority of thru-hikers finish the hike wearing, there is no one size fits all–each hiker has individual needs. If the continuing popularity of Solomon and Altra have you one click away from ordering the latest model and stowing them away until your hike, ask yourself–would I buy a car without taking it for a test drive first? There’s only one way to make sure they’re the perfect fit and that’s by trying them on.

Top Picks

Insole

Baselayer (Synthetic, Polyester, Capilene, Merino, Blend)

It’s just a base layer, won’t any old thing do? Thru-hikers sleep in them, hike in them, and since they’re always wearing them, the clothes get washed less than they should. On top of being worn 24/7, base layers need to keep you comfortable in a range of conditions, from cold nights camping or sitting static to wicking sweat on a tough ascent… all without stinking to high heaven.

Going back to the original question–any old thing really won’t do. Here are some durable options that are not only keep you comfortable, but help keep the smell at bay.

Midlayer

Insulating Layer

Down vs Synthetic–that old chestnut. Down fill has a higher warmth to weight ratio but is generally more expensive, and you have to be careful to not let it saturate as down loses insulating properties when wet. However, there are now many choices for water-resistant down. Synthetic fill, while heavier and less compressible than down, maintains insulating properties when wet, which can be a literal lifesaver on humid or wet trails.

Note for the girls: opt for women-specific jackets (down or synthetic)–the fit will be better and you’ll have less empty space to heat up, which saves energy and keeps you warmer longer!

Rain / Wind Jacket

Good rain gear can make or break your outing, and it’s something absolutely worth investing in. While you might be tempted to look for jackets and pants that are less expensive than their lightweight counterparts, paying for the higher-quality construction, materials, and performance is well worth it. You’ll want gear that’s quick drying, wicks sweat during periods of high exertion, keeps the rain out, and doesn’t take up too much room in the pack.

Rain pants

Umbrella

Socks

Consider durability, breathability, comfort, and warmth. You want socks that won’t slip, bunch up, or have you wincing in pain as you tape over raw blisters. Hiking socks should help regulate temperature, keeping you cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather.

Hiking (Medium weight merino wool)

Camp (Heavy weight merino wool)

Underwear (2 pairs: 1 camp, 1 hiking)

Whether or not to wear underwear during a long-distance hike is a personal preference. For those who choose to go the way of the undergarment, ExOfficio has been a longtime staple of the thru-hiker. With smooth seams and the EGIS Microbe Shield antimicrobial treatment, these stay comfortable, chafe-free, and you have to wash them significantly less than you would a normal pair of underwear.

Camp pants (Leggings; Wool, polyester, synthetic)

Hiking bottoms (1 pair synthetic)

You might hate pants and be more comfortable in shorts, or perhaps you’re a fashionista who wants to turn heads in the latest trendy hiking skirt. Choosing the right type of hiking bottoms is all down to personal preference. You should make your bottoms will be comfortable for hiking over an extended period of time. If you’re rolling with ultralight, breathable shorts with a full range of movement, you’ll want to make sure you have a good base layer you can throw on underneath when it gets cold. Whatever your preference, durability and breathability should be considered.

Gloves

Keeping warm in wet and cold conditions is a morale booster, and investing in a good pair of gloves won’t be a decision you’ll regret. You’ll want to look for gloves that are lightweight, warm, and maintain insulating properties when wet. Tech savvy? You might want to check out sensor gloves!

Hat (Light weight)

Camp shoe (Comfortable, lightweight. Crocs are a common choice)

Camp and comfort both start with the letter ‘c’–a coincidence perhaps? Probably not. When you’re strolling around camp after a long day of hiking your feet will be screaming out for a little R&R. Camp shoes will provide just that. They should also be lightweight. Crocs are the most popular choice and are also great for fording.

Stuff sacks (5, Strong, waterproof)

Cup/bowl/mug/pot

Spoon

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

Water bottle (Light weight)

  • Gatorade Bottle
  • SmartWater Bottles

First aid kit 

  • Antiseptic Wipes (2)
  • Triple Antibiotic Cream (tiny tube)
  • Ibuprofun (avoid consuming in high doses)
  • Sewing Needle
  • Duct tape
  • Leukotape
  • Emergency Fire Starter (Cotton wool balls in Vaseline) (2)

Toiletries (Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, Vaseline)

Sunscreen

Insect Repellent

Stove

Who doesn’t love coffee or hot chocolate in the morning? When choosing a stove you should be looking at weight, boiling time, fuel efficiency and versatility.  

Guide book

Water purification (Aquamira Chlorine Dioxide drops, Steripen)

Giardia is not a party–so unless you want to risk catching the infamous gem or other waterborne illnesses, you should treat your water. There are a number of ways you can do this. Filters like the Sawyer Squeeze are a popular choice for their simplicity–fill a bottle, attach your Squeeze and you’re good to go. (We compare the Micro and the Squeeze here.)  No waiting required. Gravity bags take a little more effort but are great in camp and worth checking out too. Chemical treatments and tablets are also options but be sure to look at wait times when making a decision. Devices like the SteriPEN are also on the market. They use UV rays to treat water, although it’s worth noting that batteries are required. 

Headlamp (Lightweight)

Your headlamp is something you can throw in your pack (preferably in an accessible place) and forget about… then be really, really glad you have it. From night hiking, to bathroom breaks, to searching in your pack for your bear-bag rope, this is an indispensable piece of gear for thru-hikers.

You want your headlamp to be easy to figure out/change the settings, comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and serve your purpose with high range and visibility. There are tons of options out there, but a simple, lightweight choice with a long battery life is what you should be looking for. A bright option around 200 lumens plus a red light setting is ideal.

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

Hiking Poles

There are three types of hikers when it comes to trekking poles, those who swear by them, those who aren’t fussed by them, and those who channel their inner Gandalf by using a sturdy stick found somewhere along the trail. You’ll have to decide which type of hiker you are but before making a decision, it’s worth noting that trekking poles aid balance, make your knees happier on descents, and can help with climbing. Here are few recommendations if you decide you’re the hiker who swears by them.  

Trowel

GPS

Misc.

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

featured image via Mellanie

Comments 163

  • 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
    • Chris : Feb 17th

      Does baklava taste better on windy summits?

      Reply
    • Uncle Dave : Mar 13th

      Hey Bushy, I really enjoyed meeting you. I had a small set back, my 1996 pack went belly up and died and as you know my filter bag ruptured. So I took the weekend off to regroup. If you see Broke-down tell him thanks for the gift it meant a lot to me…see y’all soon should be at neels gap monday …Uncle Dave.

      Reply
      • Bushy : Mar 14th

        Hi Uncle Dave, Sparks and I really enjoyed meeting you too! Sorry to hear about your backpack and filter bag! I will certainly pass on your thank you to Brokedown; we should see him tomorrow when the shuttle takes us all back to Woody Gap to get back on the trail; we are taking a zero day in Dahlonega. Hopefully, we will see you again in Neels Gap! Bushy & Sparks

        Reply
        • Cami : Jul 17th

          Wow! This gear list is the best one I’ve seen yet! It will definitely aid me and my mom on our future thru hike. Thank you!

          Reply
    • Danielle : Jun 23rd

      I think he means balaclava, I highly recommend!

      Reply
    • The Dude : Dec 17th

      How about when you literally post “thru-hiker gear list” you actually make a gear list rather than a 6-page article…

      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
    • Grateful Tom : May 15th

      I would say poles are essential for the AT.

      Reply
    • Uesque : Jun 30th

      They’re a huge help getting through the rocks. I usually hike with one unless it’s a tricky section and then I keep a second where I can just unhook and grab it.

      Reply
    • mummified : Nov 3rd

      ehhhhh…. they help to a point. i’m old school, one staff. learn to use them correctly or you’ll double your chances to trip.

      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
    • max : Dec 23rd

      Maybe they updated the list since you have seen it. Looks like a lot of links for women’s clothing are given.

      Reply
      • Chrissy : Aug 16th

        YES! they have made many improvement to provide more female options since I last posted this comment. I’m happy they have 🙂

        Reply
        • Leon Chriscoe 5 : May 16th

          62 male going to attempt it next year . Takinbut TVg this year to get in shape and knee surgery. Going to be walking and camping parts of AT in N.C with 5 day trips .

          Reply
    • Wild bill : Aug 1st

      Tampons. There, done.

      Reply
      • Tracy : Aug 12th

        Not yet a hiker, but how about something along these lines, Ladies? There are also multiple non-disposable options, Wild Bill, if that’s important to you. 😉

        https://www.amazon.com/Instead-Hour-Feminine-Protection-Cup/dp/B0000533CC/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1471044813&sr=8-2&keywords=instead+softcup

        Reply
      • Ash : Jul 28th

        Mmmm, I’d personally go with a diva or luna cup rather than tampons or pads. Less waste and grossness.

        Reply
        • Searlaid : Feb 26th

          Bear in mind that your hands will never be clean enough to avoid bacteria where you least want it

          Reply
      • Snow Cream : Aug 26th

        I never use tampons. I’m a dude.

        Reply
        • FaZe_Adapt : Nov 20th

          You can use it as a instant clot, like if you get shot, or fall and puncture ur self with a rock/stick.

          Reply
      • OldMarine : Oct 2nd

        You said Tampon’s as if tongue in cheek. They are an essential item, ( I’m a guy) in my first aid kit’s, and we keep them in our hunting camp first aid/survival gear. The obvious use not withstanding, they work great for puncture wound’s, and, as a civilian, have seen one used for a gun shot wound. Their absorption qualities are far better than a typical gauze pad. Happy Trails!!! Roger

        Reply
        • Lucas : Mar 8th

          Please, do not ever use tampons for wound packing. They absorb blood, they do nothing to stop the bleeding. Direct pressure is the best way to stop all bleeding, proper wound packing and a pressure dressing will work for areas that a tourniquet can not get too for life threatening hemmorage. I can site numerous resources that says we have learned that painful lesson in the GWOT. As a combat medic I’m always more than willing to offer free advice you need just message me.

          Reply
          • GoldenWolf : Jul 20th

            That’s what I thought that when i heard they can be used for GSWs! Any advice on improvised clotting? (To be used in conjunction with medical gauze and pressure application)

            Reply
        • HikerJohn316 : May 20th

          So true about tampons and gunshot wounds.

          Reply
    • NoID : Nov 17th

      Go to REI. Since 2017 they cater almost solely to females. Check out their Instagram and web pages

      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
      • Rich : Dec 7th

        actually lightning hits the highest object often a fishing rod or an ice pic or walking stick held in the air lol..Lightning looks for the quickest ground. So in a wooded area ..yes it is still hitting just you may not see the strike because of the cover. people think a car is the safest place to be in a lightning storm because of the rubber tires insulate the car from being grounded. That’s not true..the lightning just traveled through a few miles of air to hit the car..do you think that tiny bit of rubber is going to protect it? no it wont..what makes the car a safer place is the lightning is grounded through the car and not your body

        Reply
        • Scot : Dec 9th

          Tires are not made out of rubber. I was in a pu the was struck by lightning. All my hair stood and man did sparks fly as it hit the hood.

          Reply
          • Mike : Dec 29th

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tire. “The materials of modern pneumatic tires are synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric and wire, along with carbon black and other chemical compounds.” I’d say tires are made of rubber + other items.

            Reply
            • Stupendous Bob : May 21st

              Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. While metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railings, bridges, flag poles, etc. during a storm.

              Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. If you lean on the car doors during a thunderstorm, you will get shocked.

              Reply
        • HikerJohn316 : May 20th

          The static electricity of a lightening strike will jump past the insulation of tires to the ground. Sometimes through the air is “the easiest route.” Sometimes the car will act as a “Faraday Cage” and what is inside won’t be hurt. It is not a myth that lightening is attracted to metal objects. Lightening rods continue to be used because they work. That said, electricity can be very fickle. 25 years ago at Ft. Benning, GA a group of soldiers were on a training exercise during a severe thunderstorm. Some of them took shelter from the rain under a large tree while another group went to an open area and stood in the rain. Lightening struck the tree knocking down everyone under it and traveled along the ground to the group standing in the field. Two died but about ten more were saved because of CPR by fellow soldiers and IVs stuck in by the medic that was with them.

          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
        • vernon : Aug 15th

          I use a gear hammock (one I made about 1/3 the size of my Blackbird) and adjust it to ride under my main hammock. It makes my stuff easier to reach and it provides some (not much) of an insulating quality also. The gear hammock can be rigged to be a chair of sorts in camp also. My sources for my DIY gear hammock are: theultimatehang.com and ripstopbytheroll.com.

          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
      • vernon : Aug 15th

        Love mine….. bought two a couple of years ago along with cloudburst tarps, one standard Blackbird and one mirror reverse. Mr. Waddy was too cool in helping me with that reverse project and said that he was working on making a version that would unzip the bug net all the way off and just flip the hammock to have a reverse.

        Reply
      • Slack Packhiker : Mar 25th

        My new WB Blackbird weighs exactly 0.8 lbs.

        With the customary shelf and footbox, this hammock is the ultimate in comfort. Strong too, made with 40D nylon.

        My entire sleep system; the hammock, quilts, tarp, and stakes, is 3.75 lbs.

        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
      • LouAnn : Mar 16th

        I’m new to hiking. I will need a lot of mentoring. can we train prepare together. I want to hike with a group. what are your plans. I live in near Sharon Conn. in New York.

        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
    • vernon : Aug 15th

      I would recommend watching a couple of you tube videos by a young lady (trail name Dixie) who is on the CDT right now finishing up her Triple Crown …… She has done it all….. and has several (many, many) videos describing her trips and any subject you could possible think about asking. Her videos are listed under the name of > Homemade Wanderlust < and are very good and informative. She is not sponsored by anyone, and if she talks about a product its because she used it ….. Including bear proof containers ……, and the three primary manufactures of them (pros and cons)

      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
    • vernon : Aug 15th

      Visine bottle re-named for the bleach (way easier to get the right amount out)

      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
    • vernon : Aug 15th

      sealskins

      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
    • vernon : Jul 25th

      I carry two or three of them, as they hardly add any weight.

      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
      • Vernon : Jul 25th

        Dixie (Jessica Mills) is now a Triple Crowner….. She and “Perk” finished the CDT and she is going back on trail with her mom and puppy to do all the fire closure areas that they had to detour around the first time (just for fun). Dixie has (lord knows how many) videos out now about almost everything hiking related under the YouTube title of Homemade Wanderlust. (2019)

        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
    • Amanda Meyer : Dec 19th

      Hi still in the planning stages let me know how it goes.

      Reply
    • vernon : Aug 15th

      You will not be alone for very long at any given time on the AT. especially if you’re leaving in Feb. AND …. as for the 57 …… SO WHAT, it just means you’re smarter than half the folks out there already.

      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
    • vernon : Aug 15th

      They say that the average cost works out to about $1000.00 a month. I think this is for equipment and all (when everything is said and done average).

      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
      • vernon : Aug 15th

        Tripplecheck,
        AMEN brother!

        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
    • Murphyhadnofriends : Nov 15th

      THANK YOU!

      Reply
  • Swathhiker : Oct 14th

    You need to link to a version of the Euroschirm Liteflex Swing Umbrella (same one) that has the silver metallic coating since that is the one everyone uses. No point in carrying the extra weight if it is only good for the rain and not also for blocking the sun in the early spring before the forest has leafed out.

    Reply
  • Murphyhadnofriends : Nov 14th

    i’ve only ever gone on week long trips, but there was a three month period of time when all i had was my backpack and the guys around me. maybe this’ll fall on deaf ears, but i’ll say it anyway. we had a regular old tarp, a cheap sleeping bag, a pot, a spoon, a foam pad, two extra layers, and fifty feet of p-cord. you don’t need all this shiny, high tec bull, just go to Walmart with 200 bucks and you’ll be fine.

    Reply
  • Mamakrista : Nov 22nd

    My husband and I are taking our 5 kids on a 100 mile section hike in NC/TN in June. We are all runners, so trail runners are much more appealing than bulkier boots. Boots don’t seem necessary for that time of year. Yet I’m open to suggestions…esp want to protect my kids’ feet. I’m also thinking one pair of pants and one pair of shorts (baggies or zip off), lighter base layer, very light down layer, and lighter accessories (hat, gloves, etc) are all that we’ll need that time of year. Is 5 day food supply too much? We would only have to stop once for drop that way. Or should we carry 3 days and stop more?

    Reply
  • Stephen Robert Marsh : Dec 2nd

    I started section hiking with the MSR stakes, but I’ve moved on to a real trowel (deuce of spades) and haven’t looked back.

    Reply
  • Sprout : Jan 4th

    I thru-hiked the AT in 2013 and would recommend the journal system I used, as it was perfect for a thru-hike! I’m in the process of making more journals to share with fellow thru-hikers (called Trailbooks). They’re lightweight, customizable, and made out of recycled materials. A protective cover secures a collection of small blank booklets with elastic cord. The booklets can easily be inserted and removed, depending on how many are desired for a particular trail section, and mailed home as you progress along your hike for safekeeping (and to keep your pack light :). Over the course of my thru-hike, I filled up 15 booklets (usually at night by headlamp in my tent or in lean-to’s). For Trailbooks, I’ve redesigned the journal cover I used on my thru-hike to be lighter, use less materials, and to better secure the inserts. etsy.com/shop/theopenwild

    Reply
  • Stephen Robert Marsh : Apr 8th

    I was curious on the Feathered Friend’s choice. http://featheredfriends.com/swallow-nano-down-sleeping-bag.html seems more popular.

    Reply
  • Kurt McCadden : May 25th

    Cascade Mountain Tech makes really nice (and inexpensive) carbon fiber poles.

    Reply
  • Ida : May 28th

    All links to BackCountry.com do not work in Europe from the 25th this month. This means none of us from Europe are able to see the products 🙁
    I hope you update the links or write the products’ names so we are able to see the products as well 🙂 thanks

    Reply
  • Norm Y : Jun 19th

    I am 80 yo and will be thru-hiking the AT- cannot believe a 20# pack, including tent, sleeping bag,clothing and food for the 100 mile wilderness in Maine

    Reply
  • Fritz : Jun 29th

    Just a thought but you can use Neosporin ointment with the cotton balls for emergency fire starter and wound treatment.

    Reply
  • Mouser : Aug 3rd

    Great list. I have a few things to add.
    Komperdell poles, ultralight compact. The best I’ve used.
    Hyperlite Mountain Gear tarp, Echo tent or Ultra mid. The lightest + best stuff out there and made in Maine!
    Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs and stuff sacks. Have used them for years and they are super light, waterproof and durable.
    Platypus gravity filter, great when you have a few people especially (use the 4 later one).
    ZPack cuben fiber poncho. Don’t leave home without it. Doubles as a ground sheet too.
    So glad to see Esbit stoves mentioned. Have used them for years and find them the lightest and easiest of all stoves to use.
    I never use toothpaste in the woods. At first I struggled with this, but after trying it, find it works fine. Plus you can spit anywhere.
    Snow peak titanium cup and spork. Love the snowflake logo too.
    Birkenstock Arizona EVA sandals–lighter than crocs and easier to hike in if necessary, if the trail isn’t too rough.
    Finally, if I plan to use shelters/leantos, I bring an Intruder Mousetrap loaded with peanut butter. In a zip lock. (NOT an inferior Victor trap)
    Easy to empty, only an ounce, and you sleep much better if mice aren’t running all over you. Sometimes you’ll need to empty it several times, but you usually get most of them by midnight. The best trap for home use too.

    Reply
  • vernon : Aug 15th

    God bless you Mouser for the traps ….. I would really be mad if I woke up and had holes chewed in my stuff.

    Reply
  • samtruth : Mar 30th

    Just tossing out a budget option for a cold weather base layer: Uniqlo’s Heattech long sleeve shirts retain warmth, don’t really retain odor, are easy to wash, and very durable. They’re not quite as light as Icebreakers or Patagonia, but we’re talking about 0.5-0.8oz weight savings. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the Airism base layers, which are for warm weather, do retain odor, stain easily, and the material wears out a lot faster than Heattech.

    Reply
  • Myron Carter : Apr 12th

    This is a good list, but there are cheaper choices on many of the items that do not sacrifice quality. Don’t get me wrong. I have some of the brands on this list, but some specific choices seem to just represent status symbols.

    Reply
  • Tony Hawkins : Apr 12th

    There’s a new inflatable insulating layer on the market now, the Exotogg, that uses air to keep you warm. It’s more insulating than down, kinder to animals, and still works if it gets wet. You can wear it to keep warm, but also use it as a pillow or a sleeping pad. Or even a float if it came down to it! It weighs 9oz, and it just won the ‘Best Clothing’ award from the UK Outdoor Industry Association – well worth a look! https://exotogg.com

    Reply
  • HikerJohn316 : May 20th

    What a great resource and great comments! Thank you!
    Please include Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet backpack on your list. I’ve had one for two years and have seen several on the trail.
    They are great!

    Reply

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