White Mountains Direttissima FKT Gear List

Because I had to average over 40 miles and 13,000 feet of elevation gain per day, the White Mountains Direttissima was the first time that I made a concerted effort to shave as many ounces as possible. Much of my weight savings came from the unique way that I went about getting nutrition, which is vastly different from what I normally do on backpacking trips.

**Disclaimer** – I am not sponsored by any of these companies, and I was not given any of this gear.

The Big Stuff

The frame of my HMG Windrider broke at about mile 1,800 of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike last year. HMG worked with me to get new stays as quickly as possible, but I covered a couple hundred miles prior to receiving them. During that time, I realized that for me the pack is more comfortable without the stays, provided the weight is kept relatively low. I have not used the aluminum stays since then.

You’ll also notice that I am carrying two packs, the second being a Salomon hydration vest. There are many sections (about 15%-20%) of the Direttissima that allow for out-and-backs; I dropped my HMG pack during those sections and carried only the hydration vest.

Cooking/Water

I got the vast majority of my calories (80%) from a total performance nutrition powder from a company called Infinit. The rest of my calories were from power bars, eliminating the need for a cook system.

Electronics

  • iPhone 7
  • Garmin Instinct GPS Watch
  • SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS
  • a couple of short chords for charging (phone and watch)
  • standard Apple EarPods
  • Anker PowerCore 15000 Redux
  • Zpacks Electronics Bag
  • Energizer Headlamp
  • extra AAA Batteries for Headlamp and SPOT Device

I consider the 15,000mAh battery to be my biggest luxury item for this trip. Podcasts and music were a huge asset for morale, and I needed to charge my Garmin Instinct twice per day for tracking purposes. The large battery pack allowed me to listen to as much media as I desired without worrying about running out of battery in my devices.

Clothes

First Aid and Toiletries

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • shit tickets
  • hand sanitizer
  • needle/thread
  • Leukotape
  • tweezers
  • iodine pads + alcohol pads
  • 3 in 1 antibiotic ointment
  • Ibuprofen
  • Body glide
  • trowel

Miscellaneous Stuff

What Worked

Most of my gear setup worked great, but here are a few highlights!

This was the first big trip for which I ditched my Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 in favor of a trekking pole tent. My Gossamer Gear The One was quite nice and spacious for a one person ultralight tent. I experienced very few condensation issues, granted I did not get any rain at night and was able to keep the vestibule open.

With a current price point right around $200, I’m an incredibly big fan of the value that I’ve gotten thus far out of my Garmin Instinct GPS Watch. It tracked me reliably throughout the Direttissima, needing only one short charge in the middle of the day to continually track me for 15-17 hours per day. It also has a barometric altimeter with storm warnings. Moreover, prior to heading out, I was able to download maps for each day to aid in navigation. The one major downside I’ve found so far is that the maps are “breadcrumb” maps (a black line on a white screen), not full topographic maps like the more expensive Garmin watches. That said, it’s tough as nails and the price point is unbeatable.

Powering myself mostly off nutrition powder worked much better than I anticipated. Staying relatively satiated while not eating solid food is a strange feeling for sure, but I never felt undernourished. I was able to save lots of time and weight by making this change from my usual food setup. Plus, this strategy ensured that I kept myself properly hydrated throughout the day.

My footwear setup combines Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion socks, Injinji Nuwool Crew sock liners, Altra Olympus 3.5s, and Altra Trail Gaiters. This setup works incredibly well for me. Outside of one toenail turning black, I experienced very few foot problems; blister tape was never needed.

What Didn’t Work

Gear is incredibly personal, and just because these specific strategies didn’t work for me doesn’t mean that they couldn’t work for you or that they are not good gear.

Generally my sleeping pad of choice is either a Therm-a-Rest Neoair Uberlite or Nemo Tensor Insulated. For the Direttissima I decided to try a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite foam pad (with the bottom third cut off) to save the time and effort involved with an inflatable pad. I do not know if my body disagreed with the pad or if it was simply a result of putting 40-45 miles per day on my body, but my hips and knees were screaming regardless of my sleeping position.

SPOT devices do not work particularly well under tree cover. I know this is common knowledge at this point, but I must add my voice to the chorus. As only an emergency beacon I bet that it would work fine, but as a tracking device it is unfortunately rather spotty under the tree cover of the White Mountains.

The cork on both handles of my trekking poles was cracked and in danger of falling off by the end of the Direttissima. I think this is likely because they were never able to dry out: I was hiking from before dawn until after dusk, my sweaty hands made the cork wet all day, and then the handles were immediately inserted into my trekking pole tent at the end of the day. I do not consider this to be the fault of the pole, but perhaps cork is not the best choice of handle material for this sort of endeavor.

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Comments 5

  • Zachary Robbins : Aug 14th

    I wonder if foam handles would’ve had the same issues as cork, maybe rubber is the only possible solution but that seems like it would be really uncomfortable for that much hiking. Have you ever worn fingerless gloves? I don’t know if I could do 40 miles a day holding handles without my gloves. Also completely agree on the SPOT Gen3, I gave up on the device 3 years ago after using it for 2 years. In North Carolina almost half of my check-in messages would fail under tree cover. It’s a waste of money if you live on the East Coast in my opinion.

    Reply
    • Steven : Aug 16th

      Interesting what you write about the tracking. I never consider tracking a well know path, at least you don’t read much about tracking a thru hike.

      Reply
    • Will Peterson : Aug 23rd

      Yeah Zach definitely a fair point, I’m not sure that I could do fingerless gloves every day though. But yeah man totally in agreement on the SPOT it’s suspect at best.

      Reply
  • John H : Aug 23rd

    Re the poles, I had the same issue so now use rubber handles with a bandana wrapped tightly around. I found it gives a thicker grip, which I prefer, and works equally well wet or dry. An informative post. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Will Peterson : Aug 23rd

      That definitely checks out, maybe I’ll try that strategy next time! I think Zach’s comment above is definitely correct that foam could likely have the same problem, but I don’t think I could wear gloves so I like your idea!

      Reply

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