Thru-Hiker Gear List
Here is a list of specific gear that was hand selected by Appalachian Trail thru-hikers keeping weight, durability, and comfort in mind. Keep in mind that every hiker is different and there is no list which can fit the needs and desires of every hiker. This list attempts to cover the essentials items needed for a long distance thru-hike and offers well thought out reasons for each item chosen based on experience.
Water Filter: SAWYER SQUEEZE. Filtering water along a thru-hike becomes a very different routine than on a short weekend hike. Speed and efficiency becomes a high priority. Because of this, pump filters and chemical treatments fall short of the Sawyer Squeeze. With the Sawyer Squeeze you can fill up at the source and have drinkable water right away. Care for the Sawyer is easy. Back washing the filter every time you are in town ensures your flow will never slow and dirty water will never leak through. One drawback of the Sawyer Squeeze is that during freezing temperatures, you must pay close attention to the filter freezing. This means hiking with the filter close to your body in a pocket and sleeping with the filter inside your bag. The weight and cost efficiency of this filter triumphs over other filter types. 3 ounces and a filter that lasts up to one million gallons is a fantastic deal.
Sleeping Pad: THERMAREST NEOAIR X-LITE. This pad provides not only incredible comfort but astonishingly high insulation for its weight and size. At 12 ounces, 3.9 R value, and the size of a Nalgene bottle this is the lightest, warmest, and most packable full length mat.
Tent: BIG AGNES FLY CREEK UL1. Knowing that a thru-hiker needs a light weight, bombproof and versatile shelter the Fly Creek UL1 is the best answer to these requirements. At 1 pound and 11 ounces the UL1 does not sacrifice any comfort or protection. Check out the RRT Gear Review here for further details on the tent.
Sleeping Bag: SEA TO SUMMIT MICRO III. Temperatures range widely along the Appalachian Trail. If you hike North Bound starting in March or April you will experience temperatures of 80 degrees to subfreezing during the night. Instead of having two different bags to fit your needs, the Micro III is a highly versatile bag that will match any temperatures along the way. This sleeping bag can be fully opened into a blanket for warm evenings and cinched tight for the colder nights. The Micro III only weighs 1 pound and 8 ounces making it the lightest and most compressible sleeping bag at that temperature rating.
Backpack: OSPREY EXOS 58. Over 2,000 miles you and your backpack will become very close. The pack goes everywhere you go and just like a friend you want them to be good company. A pack that digs into your shoulders and rubs your hips will quickly sour the relationship. But the Osprey Exos 58 is a perfect partner with comfortable shoulder straps and hip belt. Your friend, the Exos 58 has a suspension system strong enough to handle your baggage, as long as its under 40 pounds. The Exos 58 will listen to you and change to suit your needs. If you find that 58 liters is more room than you need then the top lid of the pack can pop off to become a 48 liter pack.This pack doesn’t have unnecessary bells and whistles that weigh you down, but still has all the features a thru hiker requires.
Stove: JETBOIL FLASHLITE. Like all other gear there is not one stove that fits the preferences of every hiker. With weight, volume, boil time, fuel consumption and fuel availability taken into consideration the flash light is the best balance of all. Without fuel the stove weighs 11 ounces and has a volume of 0.8 liter. That 11 ounces includes the burner, igniter, and pot. The boil time is 2 minutes and 30 seconds for every half liter of water. The fuel efficiency of this stove is fantastic with 12 liters of water boiled ever 100g of fuel. This stove uses white gas which is readily available along the entire Appalachian Trail.
Headlamp: BLACK DIAMOND SPOT. Whether you are rolling into camp a little late, cooking a midnight snack, or fumbling around a snoozing shelter, you need a headlamp that can serve all functions. With a 130 lumen max power capability you will have plenty of light to go out on a night hike. The Spot also has the red light option so you don’t disturb others while leaving the shelter early in the morning or to answer natures call while at a hostel. A super simple lock system on the Spot headlamp makes sure the light will not turn on in your pack during the day leaving you with a dead light source.
Trekking Poles: BLACK DIAMOND DISTANCE FLZ. Choosing the Distance FLZ was not an easy choice amongst all the trekking pole options in the market. What is best about the FLZ is how durable they are for their weight and the awesome pack down size. Including trekking poles with all this gear is crucial for a thru hike. This is because trekking poles save you energy. It’s a very small amount, but over the distance of 2,000 miles that amount becomes noticeable. Your legs will be spared some of the abuse from walking down the harsh trail and will use less energy stepping up the steep climbs that you encounter.
Shoes: SALOMON XA PRO 3D. Just like your backpack, the shoes on your feet can either be your best friend or worst enemy. A shoe that can match all terrains and temperatures along 2,000 miles of trail is hard to find. The XA Pro is a flexible but durable, non-water proof, low top trail runner. By wearing a trail runner you spend less energy each step and move more naturally. See RRT’s blog “Trail Runners Dominate Long Distance Hiking” here for an in depth look at why trail runners are the best choice for the Appalachian Trail.
For more information on thru-hiking prep, feel free to visit us at RRT as we offer thru-hiking assistance and planning help. Refer to some of our other blogs: