View Full Version : Appalachian Trail 1980 Post Hike Gear Review

Gambit McCrae
11-15-2018, 09:36
I found this to be extremely cool


11-15-2018, 10:16
Brings back memories. I used have one of those Optimus 8R stoves. Wish I still did, but sold it to a friend years ago. Don't think I ever hit 65 pounds with my pack, but it was in the high 40's a lot of the time. It was nice to have a picnic table to lift it onto and then back into it to get it on!

Tipi Walter
11-15-2018, 10:42
Thanks for this great video.

I was literally living out of my old North Face external frame backpack (The BackMagic!) in 1980 and really enjoyed looking at all his stuff.

It must be a northern thing but here in the mountains of North Carolina we pronounce it "App-a-Latch-tion" and NOT "App-a-LAY-tion". Minor point.

I notice he was carrying a Sigg fuel bottle in a pocket of his Jansport D2 pack---it was how I carried my fuel too---plain Sigg aluminum bottle.

Good comment on trekking poles as none of us used them back in 1980.

His old water bottle at 6:50 brings up memories as it was exactly what I used too. Here's a pic---


Good leather boot picture on his video. "A heavy pack means bigger boots but better support". Amen, brother.

His blown out boots reminds me of a guy I met on the trail using shoe laces to hold his boots together---


His comment at 9:15---"1970s . . . Age of Cotton" is very correct---as all I wore were cotton army pants with the thigh pockets and various cotton shirts. But I did have the old blue polypropylene tops and bottoms---thermal underwear. They stank and melted in the dryers.

And yes, none of us carried water filters back in 1980. "I just drank right out of the springs---everybody did." Correcto.

He used an Optimus 8R stove---I used a similar Svea 123 white gas stove.

Remember when we used film canisters for everything? And his tiny can opener--the P38---was a mandatory item in 1980 because we often bought and carried canned foods.

"My electronics" at 16:27 is good. NOTHING. I didn't even carry a camera in 1980 so sadly I don't have any pics.

We all carried Mallory duracell flashlights---and then upgraded to Mini Mag 2AA flashlights when they came out.

11-15-2018, 14:25
I first went back packing in 1976, so all that gear looked familiar. Still have my Optimus 88 cookset with svea 123.

Tipi Walter
11-15-2018, 14:47
I first went back packing in 1976, so all that gear looked familiar. Still have my Optimus 88 cookset with svea 123.

State of the Art back in 1976---


11-15-2018, 15:03
The entire AT without filtering water, and he survived.

Dan Roper
11-15-2018, 15:14
Hey, Tipi, it's divided in the South, too. Down here in Georgia, at least my corner of the state, we say "App-uh-lay-shun."

"App-uh-latch-in" grates on the ears!

My favorite all time AT book is David Brill's As Far as the Eye Can See
, about his 1979 thru. To me, the '70s seems like the end of the "early era" of the AT, while the '80s forward seems like the modern era.

In the '70s, backpackers were still encountering the aging, original families tending their livestock on the balds, working their apple orchards, and collecting ramps and ginseng. At least, some of the time.

The gear in the '70s was so much different - like the aluminum canoes of the '70s compared to Kevlar and other compounds of the '80s and '90s. Just totally different.

11-15-2018, 15:36
My favorite all time AT book is David Brill's
As Far as the Eye Can See

for what it's worth----he is still around and writing books............published one earlier this year on deaths in GSMNP....

and has done a bunch of presentations on the book all over the area....

Time Zone
11-15-2018, 17:06
Thank you for sharing that!

I can't remember the last time I smiled for 20 minutes consecutively. He looks like the epitome of a small LAC history professor, about as avuncular as you can find.

My too-brief time on the AT was just a few years later, so some stuff looked familiar (pack, waffle stompers, and electronics!), though some didn't (stove, tent). That's something that he kept it all. I can't remember what I had for a stove, but I do recall my tent was a bivy-style, a precursor to the Eureka Solitaire. Could not sit up in it - not so fun for the arms/elbows when trying to read.


11-15-2018, 20:51
I gave my son my old whisper lite from the 80s. I gave it to him with a repair kit and it still works great, just a little heavy.

11-15-2018, 23:05
Wow, a trip down memory lane. I found much in common with the fellow in the video. I hiked ME to VA in 1976 and GA to Elk Park in 1977. Completed the trail in 1981. Wore cotton, drank from the streams and springs. Had the same type water bottle along with a GI canteen. Carried halazone tablets and only used them twice. Used a Svea 123 stove which I still have. The only time I weighed my pack was leaving Monson and it was 50 pounds. We carried about a weeks worth of food at a time. Used travelers checks. We carried the guide books and maps. Also had a publication that was called "Mileage Fact Sheet." Closest thing to a Companion at the time. I couldn't afford a Nikon but carried a Kodak 110 camera and took slides exclusively. The quality of the slides reflects that.

44061White Cap Mt Lean to. No longer exists. If you look closely you can see the heavy Galibier boots in the foreground.

11-16-2018, 00:12
With my apologies for drifting from this great thread, I just feel compelled to throw out this comment on the whole pronounciation thing:

Coming from the north, I learned to pronounce it as "app-uh-LAY-shun" -- in fact, I never heard anyone ever say "app-uh-LATCH-in" until I met a couple of guys from South Carolina when I was hiking in Maine. It seemed pretty odd, but I just chalked it up to North/South differences and figured we were both right. However a year or so ago I was reading about the Appalachee people -- a Native American tribe who are now almost extinct, but who once lived in the area of the Florida panhandle, Alabama, and somewhat north. Of course it never occurred to me to pronounce that as "app-uh-LAY-she", so it was kind of a relavatory moment: the southerners are right! Now I find myself saying it both ways...which probably just confuses everyone. ;)

Tipi Walter
11-16-2018, 00:30
When I attended Appalachian State everyone there said App-a-latch-in. We visibly frowned when some tourist said App-a-lay-shun.

11-16-2018, 07:59
I grew up hiking the App-uh-Lay-Chin trail in the white mountains of New Hampshire but graduated from App-Uh-Latch-in Stay-Et in Boone. Never quite sat with me right, but all the southern tier said it like that and well yanno easier to go with the flow than to swim against it. Can’t believe that guy didn’t break his back carrying all that weight. Or is it way-yet?

11-16-2018, 08:55
I was digging around and found a few travelers checks I had bought years ago. One of the claims was that they were "good forever". I brought them over to the local credit union to cash them in, the teller looked at them and had no idea what they were. She brought over the head teller who also had no idea what they were. The finally called the branch manager down from her office and she recognized them and approved the teller to cash them.

I met an "ultralight" backpacker in the early eighties at Speck Pond Shelter. He had been sponsored by Coleman to use Peak 1 gear. I think the only Coleman gear left was the peak 1 stove and the backpack which was a external frame pack that used an injected molded plastic flexible frame. He was hiking the trail with his large dog. He had a large shallow metal bowl that was used for cooking and eating. After he cooked and ate his dinner, he would put the dog food in it and the dog would finish it off and lick it clean and then put away for the next meal. He didnt wash it and figured the dog licking it got it clean enough. He had a spoon and that was it. I think he just had a sheet of plastic for the nights he didnt use shelters. He had hiked from Georgia to Mt Washington using a pair of Limmer boots. When he got down to Pinkham he hitched down to Limmers and bought a new pair of the stock versions and then hitched back to the trail and starting hiking north. Limmers are notorious for long break in and even he commented that it was taking awhile.

11-16-2018, 17:46
I grew up in PA and learned to call the mountain chain the "App-a-lay-chins" and even after moving to the South I had a hard time converting. Finally when my daughter went to Appuh-latch-un State, I was able to get my head around it. Now anything else sounds funny :)

I started hiking around 1990 after Army service and 65 pounds seemed reasonable. Maybe even "ultralight." :eek:

11-16-2018, 17:57
I've been in VA for 27 years and TN/TX before that. It doesn't bother me to hear "Appuh-latch-un", but it's never felt natural to say it that way. "App-a-lay-chin" for me.

11-16-2018, 19:07
Speaking of sleeping bags, the first time I ever went camping was with my Boy Scout troop back in 1956. My scoutmaster sent me up in our scout cabin attic to throw down the ‘bags’.

We unrolled them and, now looking back, were WWII army surplus. They still were printed with ‘U.S.’ on the side.

These were nothing more than a sewn up heavy wool blanket inside a canvas outer layer. The things weighed a ton.

We slept on the ground under the pines in late October at Mohican State Park in Southern Ohio, and nearly froze. But we had a great time. We thought that’s what sleeping bags were supposed to be.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

11-16-2018, 22:18
I've been in VA for 27 years and TN/TX before that. It doesn't bother me to hear "Appuh-latch-un", but it's never felt natural to say it that way. "App-a-lay-chin" for me.

After seeing "Deliverance" I figured that maybe it was best to say it the same as the locals do... whatever locale that might be. :-?

11-16-2018, 22:41
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto, pecan, pahcan, Appuhlatchun, Appalaychin. HYOH, and TYOT.

11-16-2018, 23:23
thanks for posting that. I enjoyed it.
I too had that same water bottle at some point. Funny how things like that fade from memory. I have no idea where I bought that thing, how long I had it, or what ever happened to it....but seeing that photo is extremely familiar. Wow.
Had a very similar candle lantern too, but mine was a bit different....and the external framed pack and "matching" sturdy boots too. Yep.
....and how did we ever get by lugging all those electronics around with us? ;) love it!!

11-16-2018, 23:43
When I attended Appalachian State everyone there said App-a-latch-in. We visibly frowned when some tourist said App-a-lay-shun.


App-a-lay-shun is just ignorant

The mountains were named by explorers after indians they were the home of, mistakenly thought to be the app-a-latch-ee indians, same as app-a-latch-i-cola florida.

However, they were later found incorrect in thinking the indians were part of app-a-latch-ee tribe.

There is no debate as to correct pronunciation. Zero.

11-17-2018, 00:51
My first 1000 mile hike on the AT was in 1974 (Md to ME), but I can relate to this more modern description from c1980. Things in the early 70's were even a bit more primitive. Svea stoves, I don't remember much Primus. Lots of Army Surplus gear including fatigue pants with cargo pockets, and olive drab ponchos that we often used as tarps. Standard packs were Kelty frame packs, although I remember seeing some Camp Trails packs and being impressed. They seemed to be sturdier. Saw many JanSport packs with the tiny tubular construction; which were expensive but seemed easily broken. About 50 lbs was standard weight, yet we handled it OK and did some big miles now and then. My biggest was 34 miles, crossing Cumberland Valley in PA. I had to keep going to the next shelter since there was no place to stop on the roads and heavily populated farmland. Yes we drank from springs mainly. Still do... If we had doubts we boiled the water.

Something rarely discussed is the solitude and the incredible feeling of freedom back then. Few people did it, and when you entered a town you felt more like a vagrant than hiker celebrity. People stayed away, and Police eyed us suspiciously as we made our way to the grocery store, the laundry, then back out to the woods (which was always a relief). I don't remember staying in any motels, although I ate in a few restaurants (including Bear Mountain Inn) if I had the money. I remember that I could live on a $20 bill for weeks. One funny food item that I remember is the "jam sandwich". You get a huge loaf of Wonder Bread, or similar and smash it between two hands. Then peel off the compacted bread as a strange kind of food. Very cheap (30 cents or so) and saved a lot of space! We also cuddled up to Boy Scout hiking groups because they always gave us food. They always brought too much, and we were always starved.

And I can get nostalgic about the quiet in the shelters in the evening. Just the sound of stoves, then eating, then sleep. Some talking but in fairly low volumes. So peaceful and real. Crowds with digital gadgets have changed this in many cases.

I remember once in Mass we bought a pack of hot dogs and then cooked the whole pack over a fire, one after the other. Then we put on our packs and did some of the strongest hiking I can recall, like kicking out 15 miles in an afternoon! Prior to that we had been mainly carb fueled and ate little meat. We learned the value of fat as excellent fuel. Like jet fuel when you hadn't eaten any for a few weeks. Yes, an incredible feeling of power from eating hot dogs.

I remember my 1000 mile hike at age 17 like it was yesterday. It was a defining experience of my youth, if not my life. Later I finished up the trail. Much later. Like 2014, 40 years after starting.

Tipi Walter
11-17-2018, 11:20
RockDoc---great post. One reason for the feeling of solitude you experienced is because the US population back in 1974 was 214 million---now it's 330 million. Vast difference---and now with a crapload more motorcycle noise pollution on AT-adjacent roads and the complete saturation of the sky with overhead jet traffic noise.

But you bring up neato items and memories---Svea stoves, fatigue pants with cargo pockets---all I used for years when backpacking. Army rain ponchos (two kinds---heavy rubberized version and light nylon version). Kelty and CampTrails. $20 lasted weeks---so true. I lived on $40 a month for several years backpacking on and around the AT.

Plus, "back in them days" we used white gas stoves and bought raw lentils and brown rice---CHEAP---and actually sat around camp cooking up rice and beans from a raw state---which took at least an hour of cook time. Why? So we could eat hearty and live cheap. Nobody today cooks up lentils and rice or carries the big pot to do so---and wouldn't do so anyway on their fancy alcohol stoves or propane/butane pocket rockets. Back in them days we didn't think twice about carrying a quart or so of white gas for long cooking times.

11-17-2018, 15:39
Walter, that's right. So true. I think my main meals were rice (generally Uncle Ben's instant) or pasta noodles with a can of tuna added. I think that Top Ramen appeared later, maybe in the 80's. But fueling is not so important for a 17-18 year old. They have probably the greatest metabolic flexibility of any human. This is why governments use 18-19 year olds to fight wars. It's a good age to go on a long hike too.