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Need Female (or knowledgable male) Input: 2013 AT NOBO Female Thru-Hiker hopeful needs advice on gear
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Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Need Female (or knowledgable male) Input: 2013 AT NOBO Female Thru-Hiker hopeful needs advice on gear on 01/03/2013 16:06:37 MST Print View

Greetings BPL -- I'm helping a friend of mine try and get together a fairly inexpensive gear list (probably won't spring for Cuben, etc. as typical thru-hiker finances are limited).

INFO: Young 5'8" fit and slim built woman who is in shape, looking to do a hike starting around the first week of April, likes to hike more than camp so will be trying for a bit higher end of average mileage. Has some backpacking experience and some gear and has tarping experience - but will want a good combo to be light/bugproof/and reasonably priced...I will be looking over her gear myself at some point and trying to get an idea of what needs to be replaced and/or purchased. I think that the cookset/water tx/trekking poles/guidebook type stuff I can share with her...

--> HERE IS WHAT I'D LIKE TO KNOW FROM THE WOMEN of the forum (or men experienced in purchasing women's gear) <--

1) Top Backpack Recommendations : She has a larger daypack that I have not seen, but I was thinking along the lines of a ULA Circuit or Ohm with S-straps... Looking mostly at Women Specific models unless there is a strong recommendation for a unisex. Also considering Granite Gear packs....not sure if she'll want to try the MLD Prophet style pack..mostly looking at light framed packs right now. Would like to keep it to 2.5 lbs or less.

2) Top Sleeping Bag Recommendations: I have to look at what she has (synthetic 20* and I think a synthetic 50*). Wants one bag to stay warm but can be unzipped and quilted in warmer weather. May have to look at 6' bags if she is 5'8" (thats my guess). My guess is a standard cut women's bag should be great. My hope is to keep this purchase to $200 or less via a used bag on the forum.

3) Top Tents/ Tarp & Net Combo's: She may be staying in it frequently - and not in the shelters that often, so livability is a factor. She likes the idea of a trekking pole set-up...and I'm sure to convince her to bring some.

4) Any great gear that women have used on long hikes that I may not think of. She will also be browsing the this forum under my direction, so any help would be much appreciated.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Packs and other ideas on 01/03/2013 16:23:40 MST Print View

My mom is a similar size and loves the Osprey Exos 46. The good thing is your friend can probably find one in a local outdoor store to try out. For the AT this pack should be more then adequate.

I have not tried hammock camping but the AT is a great place for it so she might want to explore that idea. I would caution her to try it out a few nights BEFORE the trip because some of my friends didn't like hammocks.

If not hammock camping I would bring some kind of inflatable pad. I have had good results with the Prolite Short. Its cheap, weighs 11oz. and its durable.

Andrew Skurka's website has some tips on long distance hiking and some stuff on hammock camping.

Edit - I have not done the entire AT but my experience on the CT was that I ended up eating more and staying in hotels a bit more often then I expected. This is important because the trip ended up being quit a bit more expensive then I expected. I suggest a discipline plan for how many town stops she can take and some "luxery" items to make trail time more comfortable.

Edited by Cameron on 01/03/2013 16:26:14 MST.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Thanks Luke! on 01/03/2013 17:15:03 MST Print View

Appreciate the info Luke!

I've hiked the AT, LT, and New England Trail so I have a bit of long trail experience to impart to her - my main interest is in comments and ideas like the Osprey Exos 46 to get specific item ideas. I think the tarp/tent idea is pretty much her main thought right now, so not really looking at hammocks. Thanks so much and keep them coming !

Logan Bowling
(bowlingl25) - F

Locale: Almost Heaven
Keep the input coming! on 01/03/2013 18:33:23 MST Print View

Not trying to hijack the thread but I am also planning for a 2013 Northbound thru hike of the AT and would love to hear the thoughts people have about tarp/tent options.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Tents and packs on 01/03/2013 19:00:11 MST Print View

The Exos has the mesh backpanel and its in the weight class you are looking for. Unless she is going really light (8-9 pound baseweight max), I think a frame is worth the weight.

I can't tell you much about tarp tents because I almost always use a tarp but here are some general ideas.

1. Budget - Knowing how much she can spend will eliminate a lot of options and simplify things.

2. Privacy - Does she want a tent that is more or less completely enclosed to have some privacy? Not all tarp tents do this so it narrows things down a bit more.

3. Floor - I'm sure she'll encounter the AT's torrential rains at some point so a silnylon floor with questionable water resistance may not be ideal. Trouble is most tarptents have such floors. I'd suggest packing along a Gossamer Gear ground cloth. If its a really wet night you put that down inside the tent with the sides pushed up on the edge of the tent. Anything that leaks through should run under the ground cloth.

4. Entrance in wet weather - Look at what a tent is like with the door opened. Now imagine doing that in a pouring rain. Some tents can take in a lot of water with the door open.

My guess is these ideas will narrow her choices down considerably. With all these factors in mind here are some options

1. Tarp Tents - Lots of options

2. Six Moons Designs - Not sure how well their more pyramid shaped tarps would handle condensation.

3. Big Agnes Fly Creek 1 - Not technically a tarptent but a very light double walled tent. Its not cheap but they are more common so occasionally you get a good deal (I've seen them on Gear Swap in the $200 range).

4. MLD Doumid - Lots of people like this one but I wonder if condensation would be a problem given the humidity along the AT. I've had some condesation in my Shangri La 1 when it wasn't all that humid.

5. Tarp with bug net - A bug net like the MLD Serenity Shelter could be paired with pretty much any kind of tarp. It might have a bit less room but if bugs aren't a problem she can skip it and just use the tarp. This is probably the lightest option with the exception of a tarp/bivy.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Tents and packs on 01/03/2013 19:13:25 MST Print View

Lightheart Solo is pretty roomy for a single person.

Hover's blog and Youtube videos are pretty good from a women's point of view

her "after" gear review

Video blog

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Need Female (or knowledgable male) Input: 2013 AT NOBO Female Thru-Hiker hopeful needs advice on gear on 01/03/2013 19:13:56 MST Print View

No particular pack recommendation from "women's packs", but yes to the 6' size bags for 5'8" (my height exactly); I like the WM bags, and they have full zip so can be used quiltish if desired.

For tents, consider a Lightheart Solo or Solong along with those mentioned above.

Edited by dkramalc on 01/03/2013 20:10:23 MST.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Need Female (or knowledgable male) Input: 2013 AT NOBO Female Thru-Hiker hopeful needs advice on gear on 01/03/2013 20:02:17 MST Print View

No really long thru-hike experience and I'm a short (5'2") woman but here are my gear opinions for what they're worth.

1) I've been hiking with a ULA Circuit for a few years now and love it. Very versatile. Have had up to 35lb loads but normally hover in the 20-25lb range. I have the S-straps and it comes with a GREAT hipbelt.

2) My 3-season bag is a Feathered Friends' women's 30* bag (Grouse). This was my one big-ticket purchase and I've never regretted making the investment. It's the first Women's cut bag I've had and I really appreciate that it 'fits'; makes for even warmth throughout.

3) I have a few different shelters that I use depending on conditions but for a long hike, livability and easy setup, it would be my Lightheart Solo.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Need Female (or knowledgable male) Input: 2013 AT NOBO Female Thru-Hiker hopeful needs advice on gear on 01/05/2013 20:25:19 MST Print View

Some ideas based on the experiences of my wife and daughter:

Osprey makes terrific women's packs. Make sure she tries the Exos for a while with weight in it - it seems to be made for very slim athletic people, which should work for her, but that external frame can dig into some odd places. My wife has an older Ariel 55, which is great but the newer ones are heavier. (Ugh) The ULA Circuit is my favorite pack, so of course I'll recommend it. +1 on the idea of some sort of frame for the pack, even if it's just a hoop frame like the Ohm.

Bag: My wife likes her Montbell UL super stretch down bags, the older model that doesn't have the diagonal thing. It has pockets to hold the down in place, not continuous baffles, so it stays in place above her hips when she sleeps on her side. (New one has cont. baffles.) Also, it lets her thrash around and moves with her. Early April calls for a 20 or 25F bag in my experience, with a full zip for summer use. Possibly available used? Otherwise look for a Marmot Helium on sale, just saw one at for $250 or so.

She'll likely want a puffy down jacket for use in camp and inside the bag for cold nights. My wife brings her Montbell UL Down Inner from May through October. Might not be quite enough for April, but that depends on your friend.

I've been using Tarptents since 2004, and I really like the looks of the new Notch, a solo trekking-pole tent. As I already have a Moment, I don't know that I'll buy one for myself, but it seems pretty slick. Or perhaps a used Contrail would be a better bargain, though I'm not a fan of the top-entry.

Not sure of the things you won't think of... 8^)

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Another Pack and Sleeping bag idea on 01/05/2013 20:49:55 MST Print View

I just learned about the REI flash 45 pack recently. Its 2 lbs. 2 oz and $129 so its a similar to the Osprey and a bit cheaper.

Golite should be releasing a new line of quilts soon. Not sure how much they will cost but sometimes there are good deals there. I'd at least check them before you spring for anything pricey like WM.