My Hiking Essentials

Over the past two years, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the best gear to bring with me on my thru-hike. I’ve read numerous blogs, websites, gear reviews, and have asked for advice from fellow hiker-friends, and what I’ve learned is that everyone has their own opinions: some swear by good ol’ fashioned leather hiking boots while others prefer trail runners, some prefer hammocks over tents, some say to leave the rain pants at home – no matter what, you will get wet (all agree on this) – while others say they’re a necessity for protecting yourself against the wind. However, despite all of the different opinions, it seems that all agree on one thing: the lighter the gear and overall pack-weight, the happier the hiker will be.

This leads to some complications, though. For one, light-weight gear tends to be more expensive, and sometimes spending an extra $100 on a tent that’s only a couple of ounces to a pound lighter can be hard to justify (the same goes for the pack). Also, while it’s good to keep your pack-weight down, it shouldn’t be at the expense of leaving something important behind just to shave off a couple of pounds. On a cold March night somewhere in Georgia, it might payoff to have that extra set of warm clothing specifically for sleeping in, or the 15 degree sleeping bag that weighs just a tad bit more than the 25 or 30 degree bag you decided to bring instead for the sake of keeping your pack-weight down.

Buying the right gear – that is to say, the most efficient, versatile, light-weight, and reasonably priced – can be rather time-consuming, but it’s also (at least in my opinion) the most enjoyable part of planning a thru-hike. That, and testing the gear out ;-).

Below is a list of the gear I’m planning on bringing with me when I start the trail in March. I’m still working out the kinks, so this list is only a tentative representation of what I’ll be bringing. If I make any changes, I’ll be sure to update this list with the new gear.

Tent/Sleeping

  • EMS Velocity 1 Tent and footprint
  • EMS Women’s 15 Degree Down Sleeping Bag (I may switch this out in the summer – I haven’t decided yet)
  • Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme Liner (when the temperature warms up, I’ll send this home)
  • Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite Pad, Regular
  • NEMO Fillo Pillow (I’m allowed some comforts :-))

Pack

  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Pack
  • 3 Liter Water Reservoir

Cooking/Water

  • MSR Pocket Rocket Stove and fuel
  • GSI Pinnacle Soloist Cookset
  • Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter
  • 2 Liter Platypus Hoser Reservoir (to use with my water filter)
  • Nalgene bottle

Clothing

Top

  • EMS Techwick T-shirt
  • Under Armor Women’s ColdGear Fitted Long Sleeve Mock
  • EMS Women’s Thermo 1/4 zip
  • Montbell Down Jacket
  • EMS Rain Jacket (I’m not sure what the product name is – it was a gift for my birthday a couple of years ago)
  • Cuddl Dud ActiveLayer Long Sleeve V Neck (for sleeping)
  • 2 Bras (I’m still figuring out which brand I want to bring with me – stay tuned)

Bottom

  • Mountain Hardware Women’s Pacer 2-in-1 Shorts
  • Under Armor Women’s ColdGear Compression Leggings
  • Under Armor Women’s Base 3.0 Leggings
  • EMS Rain Pants
  • 2 pairs of Patagonia’s Women’s Active Boy Shorts
  • 3 pairs of SmartWool Socks (2 for hiking, 1 for sleeping)
  • 1 pair of SmartWool Hiking Liner Crew Socks

Shoes

  • Merrell Women’s Moab WP Low Hiking Shoes (for early spring)
  • Brooks Cascadia (7 and 8) Trail Running Shoes (for the remainder of the hike – I already own both pairs and plan on swapping them out when the weather improves/they begin to wear)
  • Crocs (for camp and fording rivers)

Extras

  • SmartWool Beanie Hat
  • Buff
  • EMS Women’s Altitude 3-in-1 Mittens

Toiletries

  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Chapstick
  • Toothbrush
  • Small hair brush
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Face wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Eyeglasses/case (needing to wear glasses while hiking is the MOST inconvenient)
  • Contacts (will most likely only wear when it’s raining)
  • A couple of hair elastics and bobby pins
  • Nail clippers (I can’t tolerate long nails, and long toenails are way too painful to hike with)
  • Ear plugs

First Aid (subject to change, but it’s going to be very minimal)

  • A handful of Band-aids
  • Moleskin
  • Benedryl
  • Ibuprofen
  • Neosporin
  • Duct tape
  • Safety pins
  • Floss and needle

Accessories

  • Hiking poles
  • Headlamp
  • Lighter
  • Small PackTowel
  • Small Swiss Army knife
  • Waterproof watch
  • Rope for bear bagging
  • Pepper spray
  • AWOL’s AT guide and map
  • Small compass
  • Phone/iPod/Nook and accompanying chargers
  • Small journal/pen

*Everything will be stored in stuff sacks. Once I have all of my gear purchased, I’ll decide how many and which sizes I need.

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