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2014 AT NOBO gear list
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Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
bugs? on 10/25/2013 01:41:13 MDT Print View

no bug protection in your shelter/sleep system? I've heard too many AT tick/spider stories to go sans-bivy.

Allen Butts
(butts0989) - F - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies
Re: bugs? on 10/25/2013 07:50:36 MDT Print View

For now I am not going to bring a bivy, although i have been considering it. I have had a couple of friends do it with just a tarp and be ok, but maybe picking up a misquito headnet wouldnt be a bad idea....

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
re: 2014 AT NOBO gear list on 10/25/2013 09:13:08 MDT Print View

I don't see that it's worth switching backpacks, but the options you're using seem great to me. I bought a ULA Circuit about halfway along the AT when my old backpack was wearing out and had it mailed to me --- that worked fine and that's still my go-to pack now.

I don't recall specs on the thermarest xlite but wonder if that's enough R-value for a March 15th start. It really depends on the snow year. I started in late Feb in 2010, a high snow year in the south, and used a combination of first generation neo-air plus two GG thinlight pads (one 1/4", one 1/8"). That allowed me to mail home thinlight pads as appropriate, and was warm enough, but just barely on the nights when temps were down into the teens. Similarly a WM 20F rated down bag was just enough combined with down booties and a MB down parka.

There's a big difference in what you need when stopped, in camp, vs. what you need when walking, though this will certainly vary by the individual too. I used a thermawrap vest plus windshirt and that was enough when I was walking. Do prepare for cold wind. Earbags were good for me. I didn't use rain pants, nor want them, but again, metabolisms and "style" vary. I strongly suggest that you get beefy MITTENS, not just gloves. Glove liners are a fine thing in combination with good mittens. Gloves just suck, IMO, when the weather is cold, and for whatever reason I found few to no decent mittens for sale in gear shops along the AT (I lost a mitten along the way and so was looking). Dachsteins if you want the best, PL 400's are good. But something.

I disagree with some earlier comments about pack covers. Where I live, a pack cover is only useful in combination with other stuff, so a poncho works fine. But often on the AT (NOT in the first month or so) it was warm enough that I didn't want any raingear on my upper body, but a lightweight pack cover was nice for the pack itself. Some pack covers are pretty heavy, however; I wouldn't want one of those in any event (and yes, do use a pack liner regardless). But you have a question mark next to pack cover in the second half; if you have a cuben pack cover, keep it for the "second half".

Speaking of "second half", I found that Pearisburg was the right point to swap. I too had an Alpine light parka, and I too swapped to a thermawrap jacket. Worked great. Similarly I swapped to a 32F sleeping bag and was fine with that. Getting into Virginia, out of snow and a whole lot of blowdowns AND then being able to significantly lighten up --- Christmas. Very nice. Once out of the snow my pack was lighter on the AT than anywhere else; less food to carry, less water, pretty warm out so not too much "stuff".

Best of luck! A friend is planning on an early AT start in 2014 and if he heals up and does this, I might be out there hiking the first month or so with him (a month or so of backpacking is my favorite annual weight loss plan ...).

Logan Bowling
(bowlingl25) - F

Locale: Almost Heaven
Re: bugs? on 10/25/2013 18:19:06 MDT Print View

I second the question about bug protection under a tarp. On my thru hike this year the mosquitoes were absolutely terrible from the delaware water gap until about dalton mass. My tent was the only place I was safe from them. There will be periods where it will be to hot to have your quilt on you while you are sleeping so your body will be exposed. Also, they will bite through a head net while you are sleeping.

But honestly your list looks awesome, dont sweat the little details. Its not hard at all to send things home or pick things along the way.

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
re: on 10/29/2013 10:49:54 MDT Print View

If you swap out your pack midway, you'll end up with TWO nasty, sweaty packs that you'll want to throw in a bonfire when you're done. I would just choose one to sacrifice and stick with it.

I only use a pack cover during hunting season--a blaze orange one from Etowah. Pack covers may keep rain from soaking into your pack fabric and save some oz. that way, but IME you always end up with a big sloshy puddle of water pooled somewhere in the pack cover, which totally negates the theoretical weight savings.

I don't think I could do late spring/early summer on the east coast without bug netting. Maybe plan on adding a mesh inner or bivy around May... I think the extra ounces are a fair price to pay for sanity.

Have fun!

Allen Butts
(butts0989) - F - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies
Bugs and packs on 10/29/2013 17:09:44 MDT Print View

Kate I have been leaning towards just carrying the Circuit the whole way and I think you may have convinced me. As far as bugs go I'm leaning towards a tarptent possibly... I owned a contrail for years and absolutely loved it. I'm thinking the notch might be a good choice for this year. Has anyone tried out the goretex socks in trailruners combo? Its what I'm relying on if there is snow, but I'm just not so sure how well the combination actually works.

Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
Re: Bugs and packs on 10/29/2013 17:29:36 MDT Print View

Goretex socks and trail runners is a wonderful combo. For more on cold weather shoe systems, check out this article BPL put out 6 years ago:

I used my rocky goretex socks over medium weight wool socks inside roclite 320s sunday/monday, and it worked really well for tromping through a bit of snow in higher elevations and then walking through an intermittently submerged trail. The socks can definitely wet out (mine are a couple years old, too), but they provide a wonderful buffer that keeps new, cold water from hitting your feet every time you submerge your shoe in an unavoidable puddle.

The only thing I'd do differently with them is get a larger pair/larger shoes for when it's really really cold out, and wear a thicker wool sock inside. Constricting your feet (or hands, for that matter) can make them get cold much faster. These have done right by me below freezing numerous time though, so by really really cold I'm talking <20f.

hope this helps!

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
goretex socks, and swapping packs on 10/30/2013 00:07:54 MDT Print View

I agree about sizing up goretex socks to fit decent wool socks under them. Goretex socks are okay in snow, but it's the wool socks that are critical in the equation. A pair of breadbags makes for a cheap backup VB sock system, and/or to allow wearing dry socks in wet shoes in camp.

We each have different takes on things; FWIW, my experience is different from what's expressed here:
"If you swap out your pack midway, you'll end up with TWO nasty, sweaty packs that you'll want to throw in a bonfire when you're done. I would just choose one to sacrifice and stick with it."

I've got a lot of miles on packs I've thru-hiked with; my current go-to pack (ULA Circuit) has perhaps 4000 miles of hiking and I expect to get quite a bit more out of it. At the end of a long trip I just wash it in the bathtub and then it's no longer nasty and sweaty. If you go with a really ultralite pack that doesn't wear well, then maybe that's a reason to throw it away after a couple of thousand miles.

The closest I've come to wearing out a pack is a Mariposa Plus that's gotten wonky from overwear in various ways, but even then --- I brought it along on a 500 mile Camino hike in Spain that I just finished earlier this month, because I figured that with the light load I'd be carrying there it would hold up fine. And it did.

All that said, I just use my ULA Circuit for everything now, and am happy with it, but if you already own the packs and are swapping other gear anyway --- I'd do it if it makes sense to you otherwise. Washing a pack isn't that big of a deal.

Shoes now --- sometimes shoes do get a degree of funk and stink that's hard to truly eradicate. I'll agree on that one (sometimes).

sco jo

Locale: Upper Midwest
Suggestion from a non ATer on 11/02/2013 10:28:46 MDT Print View

Sorry wrong thread.

Edited by scojo on 11/02/2013 10:30:07 MDT.