What does an experienced thru-hiker have in their pack? Well, everyone has a different style, and you’ll find your own once you’re on the trail. I’ll tell you what gear I ended my hike with so you have an idea of what to shoot for.
The Big Three
For my hike, I went with the Osprey Aura 65. It was an awesome pack with great features, and it lasted my whole hike. If you want to read my entire review for this pack, click here.
I used an ENO Double Nest Hammock for the second half of my hike. It was so comfortable to sleep in. Click here, for my thoughts on hammocks. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to purchase a bug net, tarp, and rope to string it up with. You can also go with a Hennessy Hammock and get everything you need in one purchase.
For my cold weather sleeping bag, I used the Marmot Trestles 15 Degree Bag. It kept me warm during the cold nights. For the summer months, I used a 40 degree bag.
I used the Black Diamond Storm Headlamp. This headlamp is really bright. Other hikers would compliment the brightness of my light. It doesn’t kill the batteries either. My batteries would last at least a month.
I used REI Traverse PowerLock Trekking Poles for women with cork hand grips. I liked the cork grips because they don’t get too sweaty. They’re also a good price. I don’t think I would purchase them again though. After about 1000 miles, they started collapsing while I hiked. This was not only annoying, but it was unsafe for rocky or steep terrain. Other options? Black Diamond is known to have power locks that will not collapse. You can also opt for a non-adjustable style, because you probably won’t adjust them often anyway. Or just pick up a stick in the woods.
The best guide book for the trail is The AT Guide by David Miller. It’s updated every year and it includes elevation maps, town maps, road crossings, and little icons that say what amenities are at certain places.
Food and Water Items
As far as backpacking stoves go, I like the MSR Pocket Rocket. It’s lightweight and comes with a hard case to keep it safe. This stove is very durable. There were multiple times that my pot boiled over and got sauce inside of my stove. I just let it dry out for a day, and it still worked. It also boils water very fast. Keep in mind that you have to purchase fuel canisters separately, but they usually only cost about $5.
GSI Pinnacle Soloist Cookset is very reliable and durable. I used it both on my camp stove and on fires. The spork is kind of useless, and I left the bag at home. Everything else is great though. Just don’t use the plastic lid while cooking on the fire. It will melt.
Light My Fire Sporks are lightweight and cheap. You can find them at lots of outfitters along the trail. They do snap in half easily, but they’re also easily replaceable. You can also just use a metal spoon from home.
As far as water storage goes, I like the Platypus 3 Liter Resevoir. I personally prefer to have a water container with a hose because the water is easier to get to so I drink more. You will need a plastic bottle to fill it up with.
For a list of suggested clothes, go here. I’ll just recommend my personal favorites here.
First of all, get a dry bag to store your clothes in. You can also use it as a pillow at night.
For a baselayer top, I went with Columbia Omni-Heat Long Sleeve Top. It has little dots that reflect your body heat back at you. The downside with all of Columbia’s Omni-Heat line is that the dots fade with heavy use. It is really warm though.
For baselayer pants, I went with Nike Running Tights. They’re warm, comfortable, and lightweight.
I went through around six or seven pairs of SmartWool Socks. I like the thin pairs because they give my feet extra room. They come in really cool colors and designs.
I’ll have a list of suggested First Aid and personal hygiene items later.
I love all of your articles, very helpful! I was wondering how much your “big three” weighed in at. And a rough estimate of all your gear together weighs. Looking to do the AT with my husband in July. (SOBO)
Hey Sammy. Sorry, I missed this comment earlier. My total base weight was about 20 pounds, sometimes more if I was carrying my cold weather gear. At first, my Big 3 weighed about 11 pounds because I was carrying a 2 person tent (I already owned it, and I didn’t want to buy a new one). Eventually, I dropped the tent and bought a hammock set-up, and that plus my summer bag took me down to about 7 pounds for my Big 3. Definitely go as light as possible.