AT Thru-Hike, 2009
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Ed Barkowski
(edbarkowski) - F
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

AT GEAR LIST

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?

Chris

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

Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com
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

Ed,

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

Russ-

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
(edbarkowski) - F
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
(edbarkowski) - F
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!

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: start date on 01/03/2009 08:31:26 MST Print View

I think most people start in March from what I remember but you're likely to run in to snow storms in the SE mountains at least through the middle of April and your 30 degree bag probably won't be warm enough. Generally something in the 20 degree range is recommended for 3 season use here and you're probably better off with 2 bags. Something around 10-15 for your start and then something around 50 for spring/summer as you move up the coast (VA, etc).

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Bags on 01/03/2009 10:05:04 MST Print View

If you used quilts, you could stack them, and stay pretty warm with shared bodily warmth. Which is pretty fun too....and if you take too much, it's pretty easy to fix. Kind of hard to pull something you don't have out of your behind though.

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: start date on 01/03/2009 10:19:33 MST Print View

First: great, great list. Ditto the best move would be a switch to a lighter pack if you can/desire. An easy savings of 2 lbs; food opportunities are frequent, and I think you'll find your pack won't get filled too often. Ditto considering leaving the nice sunglasses at home.

Additional gear comments:
-The extra underwear seems superfluous to me, but you're not me :) To each their own.
-I think the Suunto watches are a bit overkill, unless you're really attached to the HR monitor functions. The AT is easy to navigate. A basic watch and compass will suffice.

If you start in March or April:
-I strongly suggest a pair of windpants or rainpants, maybe long underwear as well.
-A pair of simple fleece or liner gloves would be a smart addition.

On the AT, I've seen 30s in Virginia in late May. It could easily snow when you hit the Smokies in March or April. Also consider stopping by www.whiteblaze.net if you haven't already. Hundreds of AT enthusiasts there.

-Mark

Patricia Combee
(Trailfrog) - F

Locale: Northeast/Southeast your call
Gear stuff on 01/03/2009 15:39:03 MST Print View

I hiked through GA in late April. The weather went from 80 degree day and 50 - 60 degree nights to 40 degree days and nights in the mid-30s with lots of wind, so be prepared for some extremes, even in April. Definitely use sunscreen or a use a bandana under your hat to cover your neck and ears. The trees in the higher areas are not leafed out yet, even in late April. Beware of the poison ivy in GA in mid to late April, it lines the trail in places, so be careful where you sit down or place your pack or "take care of business".
I like a pack with some kind of frame, but carry the lightest pack you can. A GG Mariposa is good for milder weather when winter gear is not needed, but might not have the capacity for winter gear. I saw quite a few Granite Gear and Osprey packs during my section hike this year; most folks were happy with them.
An extra Platy can be nice. Sometimes you might want to camp between water sources, and it is good to have a way to carry extra water. It is also nice to only make one trip to a spring a 1/2 mile down a steep side trail.
Whatever you decide, have fun and enjoy every minute, even the not so pleasant ones!

russ kinder
(rusty075) - F
Re: Re: re: AT Thru-Hike, 2009 on 01/04/2009 12:31:13 MST Print View

@Peter:

No, you're right, the weight savings are pretty big between those two packs - we're not about "drilling holes in your toothbrush" insanity yet. My point was more that at some point before a trip you have to say, "that's it, I'm going with what I've got" I think that the bigger the piece of gear, and the bigger the trip, the earlier that point needs to be. But of course its all a personal judgment call: People have thru-hiked the AT carrying alice packs and wearing bluejeans - at some point it's no longer about the gear. (actually, considering the 70+ years of AT thru-hiking, I bet that more bluejeaners have thru-hiked than ultralighters. Oh how times have changed)

As for bears: I just hang the food in a WB sack. Plenty of trees. And probably a third of the shelter locations have bear cables anyway.



Ed,

Where abouts are you guys now? Might be a good idea to take your current gear and do an overnight someplace with comparable to the expected N. Georgia weather in March. Maybe find someplace with some elevation that will get you nights down into the teens?

Edited by rusty075 on 01/04/2009 12:37:15 MST.

Frank Deland
(rambler) - M

Locale: On the AT in VA
AT Hiker on 01/16/2009 07:14:23 MST Print View

Here is a site on weather averages along the AT:
http://www.trailquest.net/weather.html
The Great Smoky Nat. Park website has weather averages for the Park.
Two years back GA had snow and its coldest weather since 1940s.! I was also surprised from a comment from Central VA about not much rain. I have experienced several days straight of rain hiking the AT in VT in August! But, I met a thru-hiker in Maine who said he had so much rain hiking through the spring that rain did not bother him any more. Needless to say, it was raining that July day.
As for your list. You are well prepared. Eventually you might replace the Montbelle UL with a light fleece 100wt., or a lightweight wool sweater and a windshirt, like a Golite Wisp that you can stuff into a pocket when your not wearing it. Do not worry about the Cap 4 smelling. If you are sweating in it, take it off. Golite DriMove t-shirts, however really do not smell, at least for several days, unlike Caps and other polypro. I assume the MH Quark Shell is your rain gear.
Many do not use rain pants, but I use them as long pants for warmth as much as for rain. I added a 12" or so zipper ion the lower cuff of the Golite Reed, so they can be put on or off over footwear. I do nopt carry any other long pant.I also use the Packa as rain gear and it hangs down over my shorts (Rail Riders)
As for head lamps, the ones that are smaller than the Titka are great for around camp and I have used them to hike. But, not any more. They are great looking at the trail near your feet or just ahead, but not for looking long distances, for example if you are looking for a trail marker. Those colored light Photons are great, but be warned that they change the color of white trail blazes!
I like small stuff sacks for different gear/clothes. It makes things easier to find, adding a little organization. I use a floorless tarp, but having a floor cover just a bit larger than my sleeping bag is a big help when the ground is wet. It also keeps the dust from shelter floors off my bag.
# Liters of water in my platypus at night is enough for dinner and a start for the next day. Murphy's Law has most water sources down a long hill fropm the shelters!
The only gear I do not see is something for your hands. At least I would suggest liner gloves and a waterproof shell. My hands get cold quickly. I have had my fingers in a spring rain too numb to open zippers or tie laces or hold a match. You will need them in September in Maine.
The main advantage of a frame in your pack is the lifting of the weight off your shoulders. It helps to have another option of carrying the weight toward the end of a long day, but be lightweight about it. Golite or GG. Frameless can often sag down over your butt, but I use them even in winter (Golite Odyssey) and often use a fanny pack to help with lift. The Gregory Shasta has a frame that is macho, but too heavy! Anyway go with what you have. You will figure out what works. (I swithced out of my Golite Breeze for a GG Virga half way through the Smokies!) Although you might you might want to carry 10 days worth of food sometimes just to avoid towns, you rarely have to carry more than five, and often just 2 or 3 days worth as the trail goes right by food supplys. Have fun. You are in for a great experience.

Edited by rambler on 01/16/2009 07:22:20 MST.

Ed Barkowski
(edbarkowski) - F
A few more Q's on 01/17/2009 12:10:21 MST Print View

THANKS to all who have posted! The feedback means so much.

I have a few nit-picky questions left:

1. I've added food, water and fuel (alc) weight estimates to my gear list. Could someone take a look to check accuracy. On the AT, I'm GUESSing restocking occurs an average of every 3-4 days. Have I guessed too much weight?

2. Trekking poles: Mine are heavy. I've never used UL poles, and I certainly love Gossamer Gear's options. Should I switch to them, or are poles less of a real concern?

3. Regarding my pack (Nimbus Meridian): It's a good-looking, well-built pack...but heavy! If I have the option to switch to the Vapor Trail or (more enticingly) Gossamer's Mariposa Plus, should I? I'm leaning toward the Mariposa, but I've never used a "frameless" pack. I think the volumes are all fairly comparable, and I've heard "I NEED a framed pack for the AT" - I just don't quite believe it.

4. For the cup/bowl...has anyone used a cut-down Platy or Nalgene bladder to extended trips? I read that Carol C uses this method with success on shorter voyages. Maybe just ditch cup altogether and both eat directly from cookpot?

5. Lastly - and perhaps least importantly - socks. How many pairs do each of us take? 2 or 3? Details, I know.

THANKS AGAIN.

I *heart* BPL

Edited by edbarkowski on 01/17/2009 12:34:30 MST.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: A few more Q's on 01/17/2009 12:38:37 MST Print View

With an inital pack weight of 28 lbs, you may want to stay with a frameless pack. However, everyone has very different preferences on how much weight they can carry w/o a frame. Some have little trouble carrying up to 30 lbs comfortably, while others cannot stand carrying 20 lbs w/o a frame. If you are set on frameless packs, make sure to check out the MLD Exodus pack. It is a little smaller than the Mariposa Plus (3,600 cu vs 4000 for the mariposa), but it weighs less, is more durable, and is made with the legendary MLD high quality craftsmanship.

On trips up to a week I have happily used 2 pairs of socks - one pair for sleeping and one for hiking. Once I get to camp, I take off my hiking socks, soak them in water (when available), and hang them up overnight to dry and air out. However, I don't have any experience on trips longer than 1 week, so I can't comment how well that strategy would work in the long term. I would guess it would be fine considering you would be stopping in towns fairly frequently to was clothes on the AT.

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: A few more Q's on 01/17/2009 13:24:06 MST Print View

1.) I'll comment on your fuel estimate. Seems way high. I've got a full 12 oz. bottle of Heet sitting next to me and it only weighs 11.7 oz. in the original packaging. Depending on what and how often you're cooking, that alone could last 6-10 days. Denatared alcohol or Heet was available at almost every resupply in '05.

2.) I used Lekis. Not ul but worked fine. Have never used anything lighter so can't comment.

3.) Used a Nimbus Ozone on my thru-hike and enjoyed it. However, that was pre-ul days so I was carrying ~25-35 lbs. fully loaded.

4.) Eat directly from the cookpot. Unless you're going to make coffee/tea/hot cocoa, cup is unnecessary.

5.) I was happy I had three pairs. Your feet are going to get wet no matter what. Sometimes you'll get good weather and can dry out one pair while hiking in the other, sometimes you won't. I always kept one dry pair stuffed away in my sleeping bag to use in camp/shelter. Some might consider it a luxury, but it was well worth the 1.5 oz imho.

Frank Deland
(rambler) - M

Locale: On the AT in VA
gear list on 01/21/2009 06:32:22 MST Print View

Ditto on #5 above. I also recommend low-cut socks for two of your three pairs. The super low cuts are too low for me, but the styles that just reach the ankles are my favorites. Less sock means they dry out faster. I have a regular length sock for camp. I have a couple of large locking safety pins (made for diapers) to hang wet clothes off my pack. Smaller pins work, too.

For hiking poles I have used both Leki Ultra Lights and the Gossamer Gear fixed Light poles. You might not notice any difference unless you are holding one of each. The Leki poles feel heavy! Over a thousand miles, swinging the lightest pole might make a difference. Both are strong. Both companies replace broken poles fast. The Leki tips fit on the Gossamer Gear poles, so replacement parts are available from outfitters along the trail. The continually shock of poles striking the ground can cause "tennis elbow", so keep that in mind if you start to develop forearm or elbow pain. I did break a pole once, but quickly adapted to using just one.

Although I do eat out of the cooking pot, carrying another container can be useful. You can have a bowl of soup cooling as you are cooking dinner. I like flexible bowls like the Guyot Squishy Bowl and the Orikaso Folding bowls. The Squishy can be folded inside out for easy cleaning, the Orikasos can be lain flat so are easy to clean and store in your pack. When a water source is very low in the summer, like a small puddle, flexible bowls make it easy to scoop up the water. Sea to Summit makes flexible bowls, the "X bowl". Snow Peak makes a solid lightweight titanium bowl.

Once you decide on the volume pack you want, go for the lightest model. The more weight you shed, the better. A frame pack means sore shoulders and sore hips. Frameless packs means only sore shoulders. You just have to weigh (no pun intended) the advantages of both and decide. Remember, however, if you load up your pack with ten days worth of food, you only have to carry that extra weight for one day! I agree that Osprey packs are popular. One model has a ridged mesh pocket holding the pack off your back. A hiker carried his water bottle in it. The pack was large in volume, yet compact. Outfitters I've visited along the trail ( in GA, NC, VA, Harpers Ferry, PA, NY, MA, NH, ME) all carry Granite Gear models. Apologies from a gear nut!