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AT Thru-Hike, 2009
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Ed Barkowski
AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 14:27:43 MST Print View

Hi forum,

Just looking for good feedback. Finace' and I are hitting the trail in March (list is for both of us).

Items missing, items unnecessary, alternative gear suggestions. And of course, I'm looking to lighten up, so fire away! Thanks


Edited by edbarkowski on 01/02/2009 14:28:44 MST.

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
AT List on 01/02/2009 14:48:37 MST Print View

Hi Ed,

1. I wonder if the ground cloth is necessary, unless you are planning to use it for the shelters, as I think most people use the tarptents without - I know I have without problems.

2. What about a bandana (great multi use item) instead of the towel? I use mine to wrap my camera against damage.

3. A MLD exodus pack with your 3/4 nightlite would cut your weight by 2.5+ pounds, if you are comfortable going frameless.

4. The titan could always be replaced by a pot in the 3oz range, if you want to shell out money for titanium.

5. What about cutting down on stuff sacks? I use my packs optional hipbelt pockets for some of the smaller items, thus reducing the weight to the back even further. This also allows easier access to these items.

6. You can repackage your aquamira in mini dropper bottles to reduce a few oz.

7. Are the snow peak mugs necessary? Could you use ziplock bags, or perhaps a solo party cup?


Edited by ChrisMorgan on 01/02/2009 14:49:58 MST.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 14:55:17 MST Print View

It looks like a great list. Only thing I noticed was that the packs both of you are using (especially the Nimbus Meridian) are more substantial than you might need. The Nimbus Meridian has a capacity of 3800 cu in and a load capacity of 40 lbs. The Vapor Trail has a capacity of 3600 cu in and a load capacity of 30 lbs. Since the initial pack weights for you guys are both below 22 lbs, you could probably get away with a lighter pack or maybe even a frameless pack? Otherwise, you guys picked out some great gear.

Edited by pedro87 on 01/02/2009 14:56:44 MST.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 15:14:01 MST Print View

Nice list. It's clear you've been doing some thinking. I too would cut down on the number of stuff sacks. I’d lose the Chamois for a large bandana, larger than those in camping stores which you can find elsewhere online. I’ve found a bigger bandana is more useful in a lot of areas and it is a more releastic size for an arm sling or something similar if you had to make one. I’d lose the Patagonia stuff not because it isn’t good but because I’d worry about smell and cleanliness issues. I’d go with something in the Merino Wool line. I’d lose the Tikka and replace it with something like the eLITE if you want a headlamp or just a clip-on like the Photon Micro-Light II. I’d make sure you’ve got a good plastic bag for your bear sack since it is otherwise just mesh. I’d consider switching to something like the Western Mountaineering Caribou MF for the bag which you could also use as a quilt (if you can get your hands on a quilt instead…use it). Personally, because I think it is warmer (although I’m not sure it would be absolutely necessary), I’d switch to something in the BPL Cocoon line instead of the Montbell U.S. Down jacket even though the Montbell is a good jacket (hard fit with some people though). Even though it won't rain much (not to mention you'll be covered by "the green tunnel", I didn’t see any rain pants (unless I missed it). I’d consider the ULA rain wrap and maybe a top from DriDucks or similar to lighten more. The wrap is great for modesty and “airing out” when showering or cleaning up, and in a pinch it could be used as an impromptu ground cloth. Many people on this site also use SmartWool Adrenaline socks. In most cases, I love SmartWool stuff…but not with these socks. They pill and wear very easily. Consider one from the Darn Tough line. Although I think your packs are a bit big, I wouldn't go with a frameless option. I doubt the folks suggesting a frameless pack have ever done a thru-hike, or if they have, they didn't carry the weight required for multiple days without resupply. Flatly put, food is heavy. The 100 mile wilderness in Maine is a good example of where I'd like to have a frame, even if minimal. In these situations, you'll want something to bring the load to your hips. I use a ULA-Circuit, but for the AT I would either use the ULA-Circuit or ULA-Conduit as others have said. You won't need sunglasses as you'll always be under a green canopy and a hat is always great to cut down on whatever gets through, wick sweat, and be a good first line of defense against spider webs. I also wouldn't put much faith in the comment by someone who said not to carry more than 2 litres. In summer especially, water isn't necessarily that available as many of the smaller sources do dry up...although you are never more than a few miles away from it..but a few miles may be too much. Either way, personally, I'm a big fan of water and I'd consider 2-4 litres. One great resource I never hear people talk about it a simple nylon mesh to serve as a prefilter for the bigger water stuff so you could easily get by with just AquaMira. I've found great luck in the tiny and inexpensive nylon bags found at Walmart in the wedding section (like the kind you put chocolates in and place at each table setting). They work amazingly. Consider gaiters too. There is little more annoying than having something in your shoe.

By the way, nice website. Keep thinking big and clearly.

Edited by regultr on 01/03/2009 11:22:42 MST.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
AT / 2009 on 01/02/2009 15:24:12 MST Print View

Looks awesome!

Stick with it, don't be tempted to "sneak" in any extras...

THe comments above are right on. You'll save a tiny bit if you use all their advice. But the big overall picture looks really good.

Edited by mikeclelland on 01/02/2009 15:25:54 MST.

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 15:49:55 MST Print View

A couple of suggestions:

1.) Think about leaving the sunglasses and sun hats at home. The number of times you're above treeline are minimal, especially starting from the south. I carried these without using them for about a month before I sent them home and never missed them. Bandana or warm hat can be used for sun protection if absolutely necessary.

2.) Four 2L Platys between the two of you might be a little overkill. Water is pretty plentiful. Never needed to carry more than 2 liters at a time.

3.) As suggested above, ground cloth might be unnecessary. I carried a Squall II and never used one. Never sustained any damage.

Enjoy the trail!

Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
AT Gear List on 01/02/2009 16:14:31 MST Print View

1. I would not take both a down bag and a down jacket. You need backup synthetic insulation. I live less than 1 mile off the trail and trust me on this it rains alot and hard in VA. I always take a synthetic vest or jacket with me.
2. Don't kid yourself you need a framed pack. Frameless maybe ok as day packs or for weekends but on the AT you need a frame. ULA Circuit and Catalyst are great as is the Golite Odessey. Most people I see use Gregories and I kind of agree with that as I have 5 of them. I am going to give my ULA Circuit some more time this year and see how that thing works for a 50 mile hike I am leading. You want to make sure you can carry enough food and water without pain. (And so you don't end up in my yard wanting water and being chased by my idiot neighbers dog when it is about 98 degrees and humid as hell). Injury is the most common reason I see people leaving the trail. I give lots of people rides and I never see anyone complaining about say a Gregory Shasta even a guy with a Bora 95 who thought it was great last year when I gave him a ride. The same is not true of some Golite and GG frameless packs.
3. have back up plan for water filtration/decontamination. It get's very very hot in VA you do not want to run out of water. Carry extra so I don't find you passed out in my yard.
4. I agree with james about using a bag that can be used as a quilt. I have a WM Alder it can be used as a quilt or as a bag. I love it. JRB quilts are nice as well and very flexible.

Edited by glad777 on 01/02/2009 16:20:04 MST.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"AT Thru-Hike, 2009" on 01/02/2009 16:52:08 MST Print View

Just a thought. Frame or frame-less is a very personal decision. If you really want the truth about whether or not your pack will work start living with it for the next three months. Take it to work, in you car, on the bus, to the grocery store, everywhere. I lived out of a frame-less pack on a multi year trip half way around the world in both directions and I can tell you your load will get lighter and smaller PERIOD! Good luck and enjoy your new found freedom. Ali

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
yet another pack comment: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 18:08:40 MST Print View


Do you have the Nimbus Meridian yet? Reason I ask is that I have trouble filling a GG Virga (3200 CI)with a load filling about the same needs as yours and with my 2X size, most of my items are likely bulkier than yours ... except that my 48" Prolite 3 pad is much more compact than your Nightlite.

Even if you do need the volume, I'd be inclined to think that a GG Latitude Vapor would handle the weight of your load just fine ... and save almost a pound ... and IMO it has a better compression system.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: yet another pack comment: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 19:07:41 MST Print View

And the Vapor Trail, with that silly extension cut down to size, is way lighter, and carries great.

Take your gear to a store and stuff it.

I have have done generous 5 days trips and would have no problem with 7 in my Vapor Trail.(air mattress, cyclone chair, book, binos, camera, tent, and mini-Snickers)

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Re: yet another pack comment: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 19:30:15 MST Print View

I spend a fair amount of time on the AT since it's the closest trail to me. Generally I take trips with my GF so we split weight and even on longer stretches manage to carry < 20 lbs each. That includes a double-wall tent. I've settled on the ULA Conduit for my pack and it works like a champ with my usual loads. I even carried about 8 liters of water (empty pack otherwise) in it yesterday afternoon and while I wouldn't advise that normally the pack carried fine even with the weight unevenly distributed. I agree with wearing wool base layers over synthetic on the East coast and I don't think you need more than one outfit. Rain pants would be debatable but something like the GoLite Reed is probably worth it during most seasons. During summer I choose to just get wet.

Edited by simplespirit on 01/02/2009 19:31:19 MST.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Re: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 20:17:16 MST Print View

"Although I think your packs are a bit big, I wouldn't go with a frameless option."
"I use a ULA-Circuit, but for the AT I would use the ULA-Conduit as others have said."

James -

Isn't the ULA Conduit a frameless pack?

russ kinder
(rusty075) - F
re: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 20:19:32 MST Print View

Hi Ed,

Fellow March '09 A.T. NOBO!

I'll disagree with some of the above advice on packs. At this point, if you've already got the GG's, and they're working well for you, don't switch them out for just a few ounces of saved weight. We're going to be wearing these things for 180+ days....comfort trumps ounces.

Other than that, it's all little stuff that you can adjust as you go. If it were my kit, I'd leave home:
-bear bag & sacks (not needed...mice are your big worry)
-two of the 2L platy's
-the mugs (I carry an empty 20oz soda bottle for mixed drinks or coffee)
-that's a lot of Dr. B's. Half a hotel-size bar of soap works well, and it's free to resupply it further on up the trail.
-but I'd keep the sunhats, even in the beginning. There's no leaf cover in March, and you can sunburn the heck out of your ears and nose. Trust me, I did exactly that back in '06.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: re: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/02/2009 20:32:33 MST Print View


You could be right about going with the beefier, framed GG packs. You obviously have more experience than me. But I only brought it up b/c the weight is significant - a ULA Conduit is 17 oz vs. 56 oz. for a GG Nimbus Meridian. That's almost 2 and 1/2 pounds of weight saved.

Also, how have you managed to leave bear bags behind? Do you sleep with your food to keep it safe from various critters (and bears)? I know that the AT near where I live in NJ is packed with bears and I would not feel comfortable sleeping with my food. I have had numerous encounters with bears both on the trail and in camp. Though I do admit that all of them were very short in duration and ended with the bear scampering away into the woods.

Edited by pedro87 on 01/02/2009 20:33:04 MST.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Water bags on 01/02/2009 21:50:45 MST Print View

On the AT, I usually came into my shelter for the night out of water or nearly so. I'd filter 3-4 L of water into a 4-L bag, and that was generally enough for getting rehydrated, dinner, brushing my teeth, breakfast, and 2 L leftover to hike out with. If you only have 2 L of capacity, you might be looking at 2 trips to the water source each night (and some of those water sources are WAY downhill from the shelters).

On top of that, there are a few stretches with limited access to water, and the South is still in a drought. So, my advice would be to stick with 4 L of capacity per person. At 1.1 ounces each, carrying 2 platy bottles should be worth the weight.

Have a great trip--I might be sectioning Georgia and NC in March, so maybe I'll see you out there.

Edited by sschloss1 on 01/02/2009 21:53:07 MST.

Ed Barkowski
list on 01/02/2009 22:04:45 MST Print View

Thank you all for your advice! More is always welcome! To answer a few, I already have all the gear listed and arrived at the current decisions through plenty of forum browsing (just like this) and sale shopping. A few of my regrets are not investigating quilts and GG frameless packs (Mariposa, etc). I think that in the future, I'll end up investing in these as - at least - options.

My remaining concerns are over warmth (during the fringes of the hike), rain bottoms (take them or not), and water treatment (health concerns over using AM drops for 5 straight months). If anyone would like to take a swing at these, I'd really appreciate it.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Water Treatment on 01/02/2009 23:29:30 MST Print View

An alternative to AM drops which is still fairly lightweight is using the Steripen Adventurer. It's 3.6 oz, and well, really cool. No chemicals whatsoever, and with clean water in 30 seconds, it's really fun to use. My favorite piece of gear, hands down.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: list on 01/03/2009 06:08:11 MST Print View

My remaining concerns are over warmth (during the fringes of the hike), rain bottoms (take them or not), and water treatment (health concerns over using AM drops for 5 straight months).

When do you plan on starting?

Simon Winchell
(simonwm) - F
frameless on 01/03/2009 07:26:37 MST Print View

another vote for frameless, I started the pct this year with a vapor trail and finished with a cut down virga. If your loads are sub 20 pounds 80% of the time, I really think heavy framed packs are unnecessary. A word of warning on the Granite gear packs, it seems like all of the straps start to slip after 500 miles give or take. I've seen alot of jury rigged knots in the straps of all the granite gear packs.

Ed Barkowski
start date on 01/03/2009 07:34:03 MST Print View

Chris W -

We start either the last week of March or first thing in April. Up for suggestion on start date, as well. I've never hiked in the Southeast before and don't know the weather patterns. Would a week or 2 make a difference?

Thanks again, everyone!