My Appalachian Trail gear choices were 37 years in the making.
I have hiked more than 5000 kilometres over 4 decades, and my gear has changed massively as I learned and technology evolved. In the early 80s, my pack base weight was around 20lbs… over the next decade, it ballooned to a crippling 40lbs. Today it’s generally sub 10lbs and my knees, heart, and soul love my “new” light and lean gear!
Although I have lots of hiking miles, I have never thru-hiked more than 15 consecutive days. So I want to briefly discuss what I believe are some of the unique needs of a long-distance thru-hiker and why I made my choices.
On shorter trips, you carry all you need for whenever you need it. Resupplying is relatively new for me. During my thru-hikes of the Bruce Trail and Rideau Trail, there were plenty of re-supply options within 4 days of hiking and thus my loads never were more than 5 days of grub!
To satisfy my planning instincts and reduce anxiety, I completed an AT spreadsheet identifying mail drop points, hiker hostels’, and grocery stores. This homework helped my mental health. I now know (if my research is accurate), I never have more than 7 days between resupply points (only twice) and in most cases, it’s less than 3 days.
This spreadsheet is ever-evolving and will be coming with me on the AT.
My clothing and gear will change with the seasons and eco-systems. I will be starting with cold-weather clothing and gear in Georgia, and as the summer arrives, much will be mailed home or “hiker boxed”. If all goes as planned, I will be at Katahdin by September and will no longer need cold-weather gear for the remainder of the adventure.
I have been testing pads, sleeping bags, and quilts in all sorts of temperatures and weather. This is important for most folks because we all sleep differently and have unique metabolisms. Not all 30ºf quilts/bags provide the same insulation and will work for everyone. Plus not all sleep pads work as claimed, nor do they all couple with quilts as needed. Personal testing is the best way to know!
Gas, canister, alcohol, cold soak. There are so many options. The best way to know is with experience. I have gone stoveless for the last year and lovin’ it. So I have chosen to cold soak and “east coast dry soak” all 3500 kilometres. What is East-Coast-dry-soak you ask?… stay tuned for my self-discovered next level in UL camping!
This deserves a full post. However, in short, each piece of clothing has been tested for hundreds of kilometres during very conditions. They should work for me unless there is a weather apocalypse!
Dudley’s AT Gear 2020
✓ List created using lighterpack