appalachian_trail_mapAround about now, it seems it is obligatory to post a gear list. Because that’s what everyone else who writes up a trail journal does, and I like being part of the herd. Harder for the wolves to get you that way.

I have a sleeping bag, and a tent and a bag to put them in, so I’m all set.

The end.

Details, you say? It’s a really big bag and a small tent. The sleeping bag is actually a quilt.


The fact is, I started out being obsessed with hi-tech materials, researching the latest developments in backpacking gear, and so on, and so forth. I made a spreadsheet (and boy, did I get a lot of mocking laughter from a certain significant other about that) with all the gear I had, and the new gear I bought. I obsessively weighed it and entered it into the spreadsheet (more sniggering). I spent a lot of time agonizing over whether the pack I had was good enough, or whether I should get something newer and lighter. And if I got a better pack, then I should probably get a lighter tent. And if I had a lighter tent, maybe I could shed some more weight by buying some new ultra-lightweight sleeping pad. And at this point, it’s pretty easy to see the very nicely paved path to madness that lies just ahead, if you’d only just step back for just a moment.

One day, a week ago, I said the hell with it. I went down the list, collected all the gear I wanted to take, put it in my favortist backpack, and weighed it. Twenty three pounds, without food and water, and with enough cold weather gear to get me through an Antarctic summer, perhaps even an early fall. And I should know, now.

So I’m set. I have enough other stuff in my life to obsess about, so I think I’m going to let the gear thing go. For now, because I’m a guy and I’ll start obsessing about gear all over again, sometime in the future. Because that’s what guys do, along with scratching and belching.

So yes, I have a Katabatic Palisades sleeping quilt. It is a 30°F bag, which some people might consider problematical, as the temperature can drop into the 20’s even in late March or early April. On the other hand I sleep really, really hot, I have some extra layers I can add to sleep in, if necessary, so I’m not terribly concerned. The biggest issue is that from late spring on, this will probably be too much bag. But if I end up sleeping on top of it, or getting a lighter weight bag while I’m on the trail, so be it. I like the quilt. It’s much more ideal for a side sleeper like me. Normal mummy type sleeping bags always make feel like I’m a burrito.

The shelter part of the gear is a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, a one-man tent. I heard arguments about upgrading up to a two-man tent for the extra room, but I decided that I’d wait and see how I feel about it later. The Fly Creek is also mostly free standing, so I can move it easily if needed.

And finally, for my pack I’m going with an Osprey Aether 70L. I like the pack, a lot, it fits me well, and it’s certainly spacious enough to carry everything I can envision. I very deliberately wanted a pack that could hold everything I’m bringing, internally. I know my own predilections fairly well by this point, and if I had any gear hanging off the outside of the pack, I’ll invariably lose it somewhere. So nothing will be attached to the outside of the pack. Which also means less stuff to snag on trees, rocks, and other hikers. And less stuff hanging from the pack, means I’ll be more streamlined, and will have less wind resistance when I’m running from bears, dogs and jealous boyfriends.

Other than that, the rest of my gear is fairly typical from what I’ve seen listed in other people’s trail journals. I’ll cook on a Jetboil Flash, mainly because I like the simplicity, and was willing to trade off some weight for that. One insulated mug for hot drinks, and a fork and spoon, and I shall dine like it’s a Michelin three star.

Waterproof stuff sacks for clothing and food.

A ditty bag with all the necessaries for hygiene in the woods. Toothpaste and brush, toilet paper, sunblock, DEET, and a razor, just to be different. I won’t be shaving out in the field, but when I get into town I’ll shear off the scrubbies.

A first aid kit with most of the basic supplies. This is one area where I’m willing to take a little more weight, even though a lot of kit contents will, with any luck, never be used.

I’ll be using a Sawyer water filter, which from what I’ve read, is the most common water treatment equipment on the trail. There’s also a water bottle, and a Platypus reservoir which fits inside my pack. I love Camelbak type hydration systems, I can take a drink from the hose while I’m walking, and don’t have to grope around trying to get a water bottle out of a backpack pocket.

I have an iPhone for navigation, calls, texts and so on. My iPad is for writing, reading at night, and when in town surfing the intertubes, and posting to this blog.

And finally – clothes. I will have the near universal standard of convertible cargo pants. Because more pockets are awesome, and who doesn’t like to switch from long pants to shorts, and back again, whenever they want?

To complete this year’s fashionably attired thru-hiker ensemble, we have a Dri-Fit t-shirt, with a lightweight long sleeve trail shirt over it. Completing the outfit are Smartwool boxer briefs, worn yes, conventionally, under all the other clothing. Oh, and Darn Tough socks.

Winter gear includes a set of thermal base layer, and a puffy jacket. For wind protection I’ll add the rain jacket and pants. Fleece gloves, wool beanie and shell mitts will keep me warm and relatively protected from cold, wet weather.

And finally, my pair of Oboz Firebrand II hiking shoes. Yes, shoes, not boots. I love boots, but an attack of Achilles tendonitis a couple of years ago forced me to switch to shoes over boots. And I will stick with the shoes, as I find the currently popular trail runners just don’t give me enough stiffness through the sole as well as being somewhat lacking in grippiness on rock surfaces.

So that’s pretty much it, except for odds and sods, like a Swiss Army knife, a lighter, a head lamp, and so on. Oh, and my trusty set of Black Diamond hiking poles that I’ve had for several years.

I didn’t detail everything, with make, model, and weight, because at this point I’m going to get out on the trail with what I have, and if something doesn’t measure up, I’ll switch it for something that does. When, and I mean when, I finish the hike, I’ll probably go through and detail what I did carry, what worked and what didn’t.

So onwards, ever onwards!




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