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Gearing up for the Appalachian Trail next spring
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Matthew Stenger
(MatthewStenger) - F

Locale: its flat but its home
Gearing up for the Appalachian Trail next spring on 10/30/2013 22:38:55 MDT Print View

This will be my first ever thru-hike, so give me your thoughts on this set up.

I will be starting April 1st, NoBo.

Base weight is just under 15 lbs. I am 6'5" and super skinny, maybe a slightly cold sleeper.

Details in the gear list in my profile.


Edited by MatthewStenger on 10/30/2013 22:56:00 MDT.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
very similar.. on 10/31/2013 02:54:46 MDT Print View

Hey there. I'm also a tall, skinny guy from the PNW attempting a thru-hike of the AT NOBO in the spring. Only starting May 1st, not April 1st. Strange world we live in :P

It will also be my first thru, so I can't offer any specific gems in that way, but the discussion of the gear list a couple threads below yours is pretty good.

A few small nit-picky things, mostly because I prefer to carry fewer items where I can-

A pack cover seems redundant with the pack liner
A polycro groundcloth can save you a couple grams over the tyvek, and packs smaller
I figure my phone doubles as my camera and my journal, you could leave those at home as save yourself some hassle.
Extra underwear? Where's the commitment!?
A "mini knife" and a multitool seems redundant
Use a tent stake, ditch the trowel. Lots of privies on the AT anyhow
I hate rain pants, and prefer to just hike in shorts if it's really raining, but if you must.
Do you need a long sleeve synthetic shirt, a "camp shirt" and a windshirt?
I'm not sure how much use you will get out of a compass. I'll probably end up wanting one because I'm not taking one.
Same with the emergency blanket, they just seem to disintegrate when you open em.
It looks like you have "wallet", "wallet pouch" and "interior pocket". Seems like you could either ditch them all for a ziplock or just use the mesh pocket alone.
Is the extra 2L platy for a certain dry section of the trail? I haven't heard about a really dry stretch, but then again I'm not the one to ask either. I figure if need be I can pick up an extra water bottle along the way and just toss it in recycling when I'm done.
You know how people around here feel about camp shoes....
FAK seems on the heavy side, have you looked through it to see what you really might use?
I'm going to go with the Data Book all the way through as opposed the the Guide book, that way I don't have to deal with any resupply boxes. We'll see if that actually works
That is a heavy beanie... ok now I'm just scraping the bottom of the UL barrel.

Edit- I need to learn how to read.

All of this, of course, is trivial stuff that will be sorted out as you go anyway. But it's a nice way to pass the time while we wait for spring.

On a side note, how do you like the pillow?

Edited by PorcupinePhobia on 10/31/2013 03:44:31 MDT.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: very similar.. on 10/31/2013 07:48:49 MDT Print View

Ozzy.. AWOL's book is pretty much the bible of the AT. you could cut it in half and have a friend send it to you in PA or something. there is also a kindle version i believe. or you could get Guthook's AT app.

also suggest picking up this when you get to NH. the AT squiggles (nobo's go south for a day) a bit and it is a great map to have.

I bet you will pick up camp shoes if you don't start with them. I've only done the Long Trail but even after 1 week i found a pair of sandals in a hiker box and was really happy about it. the last thing you want on your feet is what you've worn all day.

having a 2L pouch extra is nice for at camp too. sometimes the sources aren't as close to the shelter as you'd want so taking just one trip is nice. definitely places in VT and NH where you'll want more than 1L capacity between sources.


definitely skip the trowel, you could probably make the whole AT without digging a hole
heavy sleeping socks.. you don't need cushioning to sleep haha
skip pack cover
could probably skip the houdini if you have a long sleeve. use the rain jacket for wind jacket too.
skip the knife if you think you need a multitool
would maybe carry a 4oz canister vs the 8oz. i boiled 2c/day for 18 days on mine
journal seems heavy.. could do small notebooks and send them home on occasion.

Matthew Stenger
(MatthewStenger) - F

Locale: its flat but its home
Re: very similar.. on 10/31/2013 11:42:40 MDT Print View

- I really don't want to carry a pack cover myself, I had just done some research and it seemed that when your pack gets wet it would be even heavier than the 1.2 oz, thus worth carrying. Is that true with ULA bags?

- never heard of polycro, thanks for that suggestion.

-yeah, not sure about carrying the camera and journal. there is a reason they are listed as luxury items.

- I was on a week long trip with my friend in Utah and he **** his pants. So yeah, I think I will take the underwear :)

- yeah, I may just go with the multi tool.

- I really don't want to carry a trowell, so I may just use my ground hogs.

- I have heard the argument against rain pants, but they are so light I figure I will test them on the trail before making my mind up. Also, I think I may convert them into shorts, they only cost me $30, so its not that big of a deal to mod them.

- I probably do not want both the long sleeve and the synthetic. The camp shirt is for me to sleep in (along with the extra underwear). I'd rather not wear stinky clothes to bed.

- The compass is probably less than an ounce actually, has a thermometer which is good just so I can get some satisfaction out of knowing how bloody cold it got the night before, and I have heard that a compass is good on the AT just to make sure you are walking on the right direction if you go off trail and return.

- I imagine I will dump the mylar blanket almost immediately. However I want to take it at first just for peace of mind more than anything, WHAT IF its really really cold.

- I may not use the mesh pocket, cause the thing is, its OUTSIDE of the pack liner. The "wallet" is probably mislabeled, cause its actually just the weight of my ID, credit card, and cash.

- I definitely want the platypus, for just 1.3 oz it carries 2L of water... if I ditch anything it will be one of the plastic 1 L bottles.

- I may not carry camp shoes. I was thinking maybe use plastic baggies as liners to keep your socks dry if you have to walk around camp? I dunno.

- I probably do need to trim my FAK down. Its from REI, been on a trip with me before and never touched.

- Its not an accurate weight on the beanie, I weighed that and the face cover together and couldn't be bothered to re-weigh when I made this list. Their combined weight is accurate.

- I actually do not have the pillow yet. Some of this gear is on my wish list.

Matthew Stenger
(MatthewStenger) - F

Locale: its flat but its home
Re: Re: very similar.. on 10/31/2013 11:53:00 MDT Print View

spatula? - yep,spatula. I use it to spread peanut butter/nutella, to scrape out those containers when I am done, and to clean my dishes. Its worth the ounce for that much convenience. Also I will probably trim its size and drill it, making it lighter.
definitely skip the trowel, you could probably make the whole AT without digging a hole - Noted.
heavy sleeping socks.. you don't need cushioning to sleep haha - My feet get cold. As the season warms up, I will switch them out... or just switch them now. I plan to test the limits of my gear this winter in the Northwest, if lighter socks cut it, I will go with them.
skip pack cover - like I said, I'd like to... Just worried that my ULA will take on weight from rain.
could probably skip the houdini if you have a long sleeve. use the rain jacket for wind jacket too. - The wind jacket is actually my most recent addition to my gear list, it just seemed like a lot of people recommend them.
skip the knife if you think you need a multitool - will probably do this.
would maybe carry a 4oz canister vs the 8oz. i boiled 2c/day for 18 days on mine - well, this will be something I figure as I go. or again, figure out now. I plan to do a week long trip this winter, I will see if the 4 oz is enough. I cook a LOT. Oatmeal and tea in the morning, cocoa and dinner at night.
journal seems heavy.. could do small notebooks and send them home on occasion. - Torn on the journal... this one has sentimental value, it would be cool to take. Dunno.

Thanks for the replies, Ozzy and Jake!!

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: very similar.. on 10/31/2013 12:58:56 MDT Print View

Cool.. practice hikes are definitely key. it helps you get into a rhythm of packing, unpacking, cooking etc so you're efficient.

"I'd rather not wear stinky clothes to bed." you will smell like a thru hiker.. aka smelly dog. pretty much no matter what you do. you stop noticing.

i see that you're cooking in the pot instead of freezer bag.. that will burn more fuel so you might need to resupply them more regularly but who knows. can always switch once you're going. i thought i'd cook breakfast and after 2 days i switched to non cook breakfast to make mornings faster. but i normally eat cold cereal for breakfast normally so that is more natural.

oh and i'm sure you know but don't get Nutella until it warms up.. would be REALLY frustrating to have a jar of nutella that was a frozen block you can't eat.

re: pack cover. you carry the cover all of the time, raining or not. overall that probably adds up to more weight carried than the days of rain. plus the most absorbent parts of your pack - shoulder straps and back pad are going to get wet regardless.

definitely adjust the first aid kit. moleskin, duct tape, band aids, gauze, safety pin. a few meds of your choice and some steri strips/butterflys in case you get a good size cut. Most problems you can solve yourself are soreness and blisters. repack it in a freezer bag, those nylon FAK with zippers and crap weigh as much as the contents.

instead of thinking of 2000mi think of it as a whole lot of 4-6 days between resupply. lots of flexibility. in 4-5 months you can try all kinds of things out and if one idea sucks then don't do it again.

Edited by JakeDatc on 10/31/2013 13:23:17 MDT.

Logan Bowling
(bowlingl25) - F

Locale: Almost Heaven
gear list on 10/31/2013 13:42:30 MDT Print View

As far as clothes are concerned you could probably do without the long sleeve shirt if you have a wind jacket. The houdini was the most versatile piece of clothing I carried. There might be a day or two where you want the rain pants but I would imagine you would send them home within a couple of weeks. Most guys on the trail did not wear underwear at all. I did wear them but did not carry an extra pair. Im not sure what you meant with your pant system but I would recommend some kind of long wool or synthetic underwear.

You could definitely ditch the spatula and the mug from your cook system.

I would keep the camera you will definitely want pictures.

You could do without the trowel and pack cover

You probably dont need a multi tool and a the end I wasnt carrying either. If you do need to cut something use fingernail clippers or someone else will have one.

Im all for an inflatable sleeping pad and I know lighter weight options become expensive but you could save a few ounces with a different pad.

I never used camp shoes but I was one of the few that didnt and looking back I should have afforded myself that luxury. I was jealous when other people could slip on other footwear especially in towns.

Also, truly getting the weight down is about doing without things as opposed to getting lighter things. Once you are out there for a couple of weeks you will realize what you really need.

Sorry, looking at the list again, how are you carrying almost 18 pounds of food?

Edited by bowlingl25 on 10/31/2013 13:51:20 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Gearing up for the Appalachian Trail next spring on 10/31/2013 13:43:17 MDT Print View

Good advice and considerations noted above. I would also skip any sleeping bag liner. You will stink. And your bag will smell some too. With that quilt and the jacket you have, you should be plenty warm too.
I would also consider using a Sawyer Squeeze instead of drops. You won't have to carry nearly as much water that way. It's my preference for ease too. Others feel differently.
I would also prefer an alcohol stove too. Its easy to resupply with just what you need and no more. Again, others prefer your option.
You should know that the driducks/O2-type material rips VERY easily on the pants. I have no problems with the jacket though.
Overall, you look pretty set to me. You will work out some of the other issues as you go.

Matthew Stenger
(MatthewStenger) - F

Locale: its flat but its home
Re: Re: Re: Re: very similar.. on 10/31/2013 14:02:28 MDT Print View

I plan to boil water in the pot, then drop the pot in the cozy to cook. If I need to, I can put the pot back on the heat.

As far as my pant system, I have pants with removable legs so the pants become shorts. I listed the weights separately cause in the summer I will send the leggings home.

The mug has a dual use of re-hydrating meals during the day. I may ditch that if its not necessary.

I really like the Big Agnes pad, way better than the X-lite in my estimation. Worth the extra 3 ounces.

As far as the 18 pounds of food, that would be for an entire week, the most I could ever need.

Maybe I will ditch the sleeping bag liner. Probably try it out and ditch it if need be.

rain on 11/02/2013 06:16:26 MDT Print View

The O2 rainjacket and pants isnt going to hold up. They are great for short trips,or for places it doesnt rain, not for thru hikes on the AT where you will wear for a week straignt in the spring. You will need better raingear.

sco jo

Locale: Upper Midwest
Suggestion from a non ATer on 11/02/2013 10:32:07 MDT Print View

I have not done the AT, but do quite a bit of other hiking. The single trekking pole looks heavy at over 11oz. Consider getting 2 carbon fiber poles. From everything I read many people end up using double poles by the time they are through with the AT. The AMK kits are pretty good. I would just make sure to keep it waterproof it you lighten it up.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Thoughts from a thru-hiker on 12/02/2013 11:37:14 MST Print View

Overall looks great - just be sure to actually go out and do overnights with your gear set-up. See what works and how you pack it all. You may find some things just don't make sense when you're actually out there. KNOW from your own practice hiking that your sleeping bag + insulation clothes will get you to 20* in decent comfort (not every night, but when I started on March 29th 2011 I had at least 4-6 nights that got to around 25*).

REMEMBER: the AT is the easiest trail to send stuff or get stuff while you're hiking it. DONT STRESS OUT - IT WILL ALL BE FIGURED OUT IN THE FIRST WEEK OR TWO. Just start with what you think you'll need -- and if you don't use it then just send it home. The key is to get good lightweight major items to start (tent, pack, bag) so you don't have to buy them later.

COOKING: if you really are cooking a lot, I'd actually recommend the Jetboil Sol Ti (a personal favorite) if you do mostly Boil-in-a-bag freezer bag cooking. Oatmeal can be eaten right out of the little package they come in, and hot cocoa could be drunk from the jetboil with a HotLips protector. I mostly went stoveless, but cooking a lot is great motivation.

CLOTHING: again layering is a great thing. I think your idea of starting with good warm socks is well thought out. I'd do the same. Nothing is worse then shivering all night long because you "saved a pound" off of a word document that nobody will care about after you start. Go light - but remember you can always try a few extra things and then send them home (as early as mountain crossings I think).

BIGGEST THING: get out and start walking with your pack. The more you do it now, the less soreness you'll get hit with those first few weeks. TREKKING POLES ARE USED BY ALMOST EVERYONE that finishes the AT...many don't start with them, but they figure out quickly that if you're not hiking uphill, then you're hiking downhill. Poles saved my face (literally) and my knees and actually helped me hike faster since I could rely on them when needed as extra points of contact on slippery trail.

I WOULD BRING A PACK COVER -- as well as a liner -- since I think a few articles here have shown that the ULA type packs will gain a fair amount of water weight. I brought one and was happy I had it -- just saved the hassle of wet stuff all the time.

Good luck and enjoy the walk!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
My 2 cents on 12/02/2013 18:47:42 MST Print View

You're getting lots of good advice. I haven't done the AT but I used to live near it and hiked on it a lot. Couple ideas

-Keep the camera. It will probably take way better pictures then your phone and if it doesn't I'd buy a better camera! You don't need a DSLR but this is a big hike, you want some quality pictures. Depending on your budget waterproof cameras are nice but not quite as good as regular cameras (although the newer models come much closer).

-Keep the rain pants at first. You may have some very cold spring rains. Sometimes when its not raining I wear rainpants because the grass and bushes are so wet they'll soak me in a few minutes if I don't where them. When its warm you might be okay hiking in just your raincoat or even no rain gear. But my experience has been that even a summer rainstorm can get rather chilly in the mountains, especially in the evening.

I do like the idea of turning your rainpants into shorts. I did that with a pair of 5 oz rain pants and now they weigh 3oz. I made them more like caprees so my legs are a bit more protected. I haven't used them much but they seem to work.

I like a pocket knife but I don't see the need for a multitool. However I always carry nail clippers on long hikes. Not keeping your toenails trimmed can cause nasty blisters.

Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Re: Re: Re: very similar.. on 12/03/2013 12:29:19 MST Print View

For sleeping socks AND camp shoes check out down booties/socks. Goosefeet has some nice ones and I just ordered some baffin goose slippers from backcountry. They are much warmer than regular socks and the goose feet ones weight only a couple ounces.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
AT List on 12/04/2013 21:27:34 MST Print View

Good list. Since you are using a Burt's Bees product and heading for Maine, you should read about Roxanne Quimby.

IMO. Tyvex has small hook like fibers that catch leaves, small twigs and other debris that are a pain to brush off. If your tent has a bottom, tape the corners of a thin painters plastic drop cloth to the corners. Don't bother with anything thicker. Or for a ground cover (with a floorless tent), I just use a piece of coated nylon that is just the size of my sleeping bag. This helps keep dirt off the bag and dust from shelter floors.

One advantage of the AT is there are plenty of opportunities to switch out gear as you go. In several towns, the trail goes right in front of outfitters who service thru-hikers every day. You won't need bug protection until summer, if then. DEET does it for me. No head nets! (I am from New England and have completed section hiking the entire AT)

Matthew Stenger
(MatthewStenger) - F

Locale: its flat but its home
Re: Gearing up for the Appalachian Trail next spring on 12/04/2013 21:32:11 MST Print View

Thanks for your continued insight everyone.

Jeremy, I would be real interested to know your opinion on those baffin slippers when you start using them.

$20ish for slippers is something I feel good about, $65, not so much.

Anthony Huhn
(anthonyjhuhn) - F - MLife

Locale: Mid West
Leave it all behind on 12/05/2013 01:17:50 MST Print View

I'd ditch the pack cover (1.2oz), sleeping bag liner (6oz), trowel (1.8oz), mug (1.25oz), keychain light (1.5oz), mylar blanket (1.7oz), knife(1.1oz), part of the firstaid kit (1.5oz), part of the bronners (1oz)and platypus (1.3oz)

Saved 18.35oz!

The gaiters, ground cloth, sleeping socks, and trekking pole seem heavier than I would expect...

I think the dirty girls are supposed to be <2oz. I if you re-weighed the ground cloth I don't think it wouldn weigh 5oz either.

Maybe saved 5oz with accounting?

I personally like the idea of tyvek for the footprint. If you stay in shelters it seems like it is more protective than polycro against punctures to the semi fragile pad. I know I liked having tyvek between my neo-air and the wooden floors/sharp rocks.

Fleece socks for sleeping? I've been considering switching since I too like sleep socks. should be lighter/warmer for the weight than shaving a mammal and putting the result on your feet.

+1 The trekking pole seems heavy for a single pole... I personal like having two anyways

+1 Going with the sawyer squeeze

I agree with you about liking rain pants, it makes a huge difference in the cold and wet. And if they do get holes patch em! Its light gear, they may need patches, but that sounds way better to me than carrying bomber heavy gear.

Good luck!
Seems like a great set-up, and I'm sure it will be one of many amazing experiences. You meet great people and experience some crazy stuff.


Edited by anthonyjhuhn on 12/05/2013 01:19:20 MST.

Matthew Stenger
(MatthewStenger) - F

Locale: its flat but its home
Updated my list. on 12/05/2013 02:45:37 MST Print View

Lots of changes, got my weight just over 12 pounds now.

Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Re: Re: Gearing up for the Appalachian Trail next spring on 12/05/2013 07:36:21 MST Print View

I got them in the mail yesterday. Thus far I have worn them every time I go back to my dorm room. They are synthetic fill, but mine, in XL, weight around 5.6 ounces for a pair. I am going to carry them on my 140 trip in two weeks and I will post some comments about them. I hope to test if they work well as warm sleeping socks and camp shoes. The temps at camp will be around 20 F, which is the temp. limit given by the manufacturer. If you want to check out the results of the trip check out my blog

Matthew Stenger
(MatthewStenger) - F

Locale: its flat but its home
Re: Re: Re: Gearing up for the Appalachian Trail next spring on 12/05/2013 08:48:24 MST Print View

Whoa, crazy, I was at your blog yesterday, but I got there from Stick's Blog.