Here is a list of the gear and explanations for what I have selected for my Appalachian Trail adventure. Feel free to ask questions on the gear and why I am using a particular piece or brand.
- Pack: Gregory Z55, the first piece of gear that I purchased. Due to my height and torso length, my options for a pack were limited. This one was adjusted at the store for my torso. It has worked well for me on all of my practice hikes and AT Section Hikes since 2007. It carries about 3700 cubic inches or 61 liters of gear. It has an open-air suspension to keep the weight on the hips and lets air cool the back.
- Hammock: Warbonnet Blackbird 1.7mil, double layer. I switched from a tent to a hammock for two reasons. 1. No matter how much padding I slept on in a tent, I always was stiff and sore in the morning. 2. It was difficult for someone as tall as I am to get in an out of the tent easily, especially in the middle of the night for nature’s call. Sleeping in a hammock has solved both of those issues. Modern hammocks are not like you remember seeing in the movies or experienced in the old navy. Modern hammocks allow you to sleep almost flat, whether on your back or side. There are no hard spots at your shoulders or hips. For me, all I have to do to exit is sit up and step down. It’s that easy. It does take some getting used to for the first two or three nights. After that, hammock sleeping is the most comfortable rest I have had when camping. The double-layer model allows for a sleeping pad to be inserted for extra insulation alone or in concert with an Underquilt. Over the hammock is stretched a tarp for protection against the weather. I have the ¾ length Yeti model that provides warmth down to 20 degrees or so. If it’s going to be colder, I would use an inexpensive and light foamcore pad in the insert pocket.
- Sleeping Bag: I have ditched my sleeping bag in favor of a quilt - a Jacks-R-Better Hudson River Quilt, designed for use in a hammock. It is lighter than my old sleeping bag, yet is rated 5 to 10 degrees colder. When the temperature really warms up, I will switch to a very light weight Thermarest quilt style sleeping bag. At some point on the trail, after I pass Damascus, I will have the Thermarest shipped to me and send the JRB Quilt home. Later, as I near Maine, I will have to reverse the process to finish the trail. September and October in the mountains of New Hampshire and Maine can get cold quickly.
- My Cooking System will include an MSR Pocket Rocket stove. It uses a gas fuel mix known as Isobutane. The cooking pot sits on top of the tripod stand as the Pocket Rocket is screwed into the can of fuel.
- A Titanium cooking pot will be all I need to boil water to mix most of my hot meals. Light and virtually indestructible.
- To eat out of, I carry a Squishy bowl and cup, using a Spork to eat with.
- Most trail meals are one-pot meals consisting of boiling water in order to cook noodles, soups, oatmeal, or rehydrate dried foods and packaged meals. Of course there’s coffee and hot chocolate too.
- There are several available methods to purify water on the trail. Some hikers use chemical purification, while others use pump filters. A few brave souls don’t bother and take a greater chance of contracting Giardia – Giardiasis is an infection of the small intestine caused by a microscopic organism (protozoa), Giardia lamblia. Symptoms: Abdominal pain; Diarrhea; Gas or bloating; Headache; Loss of appetite; Low-grade fever; Nausea. I will be using a pump filtration system – the Katadyn Hiker Pro to make sure I don’t come down with Giardia from foul water.
- I will carry my water in a bladder secured in or on my pack – a Camelback, holding 100 ounces of water. I will also carry two Nalgene bottles within easy reach – each holding about 18 ounces. Water is the heaviest of the ‘extra’ weight. It will be important to drink as much as I can when I stop to refill in order to carry less while hiking. It’s going to take some practice in order to save weight while avoiding running out of water on a hot day.
That's the Big Four: Carrying, Housing, Sleeping, and Eating. Here's the rest of the most important pieces of gear
- Shoes on my Feet: My hiking shoes will most likely be a pair of Salomon XA-Pro
Trail Runners. These are some great
shoes. I have already broken in two
pairs that I have had custom ordered for my foot size and width. Wearing tight dress shoes over the years has
given me a Morton’s Neuroma in the right foot.
It’s an inflammation of the nerve that runs under the ball of the foot
to the 3rd and 4th toes.
In my case, the primary cause was tight shoes. A special order from Salomon now has me
wearing a wider shoe. Hopefully, the
neuroma won’t be too much of a problem for me.
Just as I carry my home on my back, my transportation is my feet. It’s a concern of course.
As the AT goes through the State of Pennsylvania, the dirt trail is replaced by rocks. I am considering having an alternate pair of hiking boots with greater sole protection ready to go. Hikers call it ‘Rocksylvania’ through this section of the AT. The trail maintenance crews joke about sharpening the rocks to irritate the hikers. Are they really joking?Two pair of socks at all times – polyester liner sock under a wool hiking sock. This helps to avoid blisters and prevent bacteria growth and odor. Both are easily washed and dried.I am trying to decide on a camp shoe – perhaps a pair of Crocs or even simple flip-flops. I have never liked sandals or slippers. We’ll have to wait and see how this one goes.
- Clothes on my Back:
- Exofficio brand anti-microbial underwear
- UnderArmour brand short sleeve tech shirt
- Nike brand long sleeve tech shirt
- Columbia brand nylon long sleeve shirt
- Columbia brand nylon convertible pants.
- (eventually I will end up with only a tee shirt and jogging shorts during the warm weather part of the hike)
- Cold weather gear will include:
- Patagonia brand polypropylene base layer (long underwear) top and bottoms
- A Balacava (head/face/neck fleece cover)
- Gloves – Swany brand, a full fingered glove to above the wrist
- Columbia brand Fleece Jacket
- North Face brand rain shell
- Marmot 850 Down Filled Puffy Jacket to wear around camp.
Electronics – My connection to the real world. I am debating my camera options at this time. I want to do a good job of visually recording my time on the trail for my own enjoyment and to help others better understand the journey and the beauty of the trail. So, I will start with
- Camera - Olympus Tough TG-610 for still shots and some video – shock and water resistant.
- Camera - GoPro Hero2 for high definition video, slow motion, time lapse, rapid sequence shots, and some still shots. (As I get better with the GoPro, I will probably send my Olympus back home or decide not to take at all.)
- Cell phone - Casio Commando with Verizon coverage. This phone is designed for military use and is resistant to water, wind, dust, and sudden impacts. We’ll see.