You might be planning an upcoming thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. If you are then I imagine that your gear is one of the things that you are probably busy planning. When I was planning my trip I enjoyed seeing detailed gear lists of past hikers. The list below is my Appalachian Trail gear list and I’ll explain all the mistakes I made along the way!
I could write a review on almost every piece of gear I used because I feel that I got to know it so well down to the smallest detail. That isn’t going to be the discussion for this post though, I’ll keep each of the item discussions relatively short and leave the detailed reviews to other posts. My base weight came in right under ten pounds. It was down below 9 lbs during the Mid Atlantic but I added back some cold wear for New Hampshire and Maine.
My backpack was a highly modified flash 45 and you can read the full review of it over here. Now that I’ve hiked the trail, I would get a new pack but the Flash 45 was a very solid pack and never really considered switching during the trail mostly due to how much it would cost vs how much it would save in weight.
For my next trip I’m looking into the KS Ultralight KS 40 which is on my list of ten backpacks under a pound which you can find over here.
I had a quilt on my trip instead of a mummy bag, this is the current ultralight standard. I recommend a quilt to anyone who hasn’t tried it, they save a lot of weight and don’t sacrifice anything for 3 season backpacking. The Hammock Gear Burrow 20 was my quilt of choice, which held up great. My sleeping pad was a closed cell Thermarest cut down to 8 panels. It takes some time to get used to sleeping on one but once you do you will love the simplicity and weight savings.
My tent is one of my most regretted pieces of gear. It held up great and was quite comfortable. The problem was with the weight the thing weighed over two pounds! I would have switched to a tarp and bug bivy setup especially for the Appalachian Trail where you have shelters scattered all over the place. Unless you actively expect to be using your 2 person tent for 2 people then I suggest going for the one person.
The most popular tents on the trail were from Big Agnes, with a decent showing from cottage companies such as Tarptent and Zpacks.
I could easily dedicate a whole post to clothing and the methods I found to work best. Regardless, I went pretty minimal on clothing compared to a lot of people. During the summer months the only extra clothing I had was my rain jacket. Said rain jacket ripped badly in Pennsylvania and I ended up tossing it out leaving me with no extra clothing at all until Hanover, NH. That’s when I got my leggings, puffy jacket, extra socks, and hat sent to me. I also got a rain poncho at this point for cold rain. I didn’t end up touching it but better save than sorry.
Doing laundry was often interesting without any extra clothes, most of the time I would sit in a towel or opt to not wash my shorts. I didn’t have any situations where I wish I had more clothes, if it rained then I would sleep naked or in just my shorts so everything could dry out.
The longer you hike the shorter your shorts get.
My cooking setup was about as simple as it gets, I didn’t cook. The Appalachian Trail is near town so often cooking was not much of a necessity and more of a luxury. Some will argue that having a stove is lighter than no cook because of the weights of the food. Ultimately, I wasn’t no cook for weight, I was no cook because it is easier. I would rather eat and laying down because the cooking crew started eating. I did not carry a bear line and slept with my food on most occasions.
My luxury items are also partly necessity depending who you ask. My phone was my guidebook and I needed a charging block and cable. So those are necessity but the rest I would say is really luxury. On something like the Appalachian Trail you could easily get away with a 5000 mAh battery bank but yet I had a 20,000 due to a lack of trust in the information I had before the trail. I was using my phone for basically everything so I didn’t want to risk it being dead. If you are worried then I suggest a 10,000 mAh battery bank. If you want to know more about battery banks then go right ahead.
My pillow was my second luxury item. Since I didn’t have many extra clothes I opted to go for a two ounce pillow. I highly recommend a standalone pillow as it is miles ahead of your food bag or packed clothing. If you are interested in the Aeros Ultralight then you’re in luck because I reviewed it.
This was my catch all category. Stuff that was in my pack and yet didn’t fit any other category. If you ask other thru hikers about all the random stuff in their pack the list is usually pretty long. I tried to keep as little as possible with me throughout my hike. The key pieces of gear are detailed below.
- Water Filter, everyone needs something to treat water.
- I would get the Katahdin BeFree if I were to do it again.
- Headlamp, most people had these.
- I would move from the fancy Reactik to a simple Nitecore light to save 3oz
- Stuff Sack, singular. I had one in which my quilt, electronics, and other dry items stayed inside.
The rest is rather self explanatory. I had body glide for the inevitable days where chafing would happen. It didn’t happen often but occasionally on long stints without laundry, high humidity, and big miles I would chafe. My first aid kit was rather minimal, maybe too minimal that I could even recommend. I had some duct tape, a mini Swiss army knife, benadryl, and ibuprofen. Simple, yes. Effective, yes.
Hopefully you learned something from Appalachian Trail gear list so that you don’t end up making some of the same mistakes I did. Overall, I had rather good gear starting as I saw some of my friends go from having hardly functioning gear to switching and being lighter than me. The key is to how much you are willing to spend. If you buy right the first time then you’ll save in the long run. And always remember, if it ain’t light it ain’t right.