View Full Version : Gearlist for a NOBO Thru, late Feb start

09-24-2009, 14:32
My current gearlist for an Appalachian Trail NOBO thru-hike is at
http://tinyurl.com/mjurzb (http://www.backpackinglight.com/backpackinglight/forums/gear_lists/67fe0ded6ca475f01b01ecc540a5d632.pdf)
(pdf file)
Thanks in advance for any sort of feedback on this; I have some decent backpacking experience, but virtually none in the Eastern U.S.

I plan to start on the trail in late Feb, and thus have nearly 2 pounds (30.3 oz) of additional clothing that I'll start with and mail home from Pearisburg (NOBO 625 or so, after Mt. Rogers etc). It's possible that I'll mail some of these things home sooner, and I'll get at least some of them back just before entering the Whites in New Hampshire. In addition to clothing I'll swap sleeping bags at Pearisburg, saving a bit over 10 oz there. FWIW, I plan on five resupply boxes (Fontana Dam NC, Pearisbug VA, Harpers Ferry WV, Kent CT, and Glencliff NH).

My focus with this gear list isn't just about weight, but on getting the right balance between weight and safety/comfort/happiness that feels best to me personally. This seems to currently fall out at a 16.3 pound base weight to start, dropping to about 13.5 pounds for the middle 1000+ miles or so. Ideas to bring this down will be gratefully received (whether implemented or not ...).

I've tried to be very complete with this list; toilet paper isn't listed (a consumeable), though I will carry it, something on the order perhaps of 1 - 2 oz (lots of pit toilets along the AT). Rather than "glacier glasses", I might just carry cheap drugstore sunglasses for the AT. But apart from the occasional minor tweak like that, it should really cover everything.

The "Electronics" category is somewhat high for me; I reckon my personal luxuries are that category, plus perhaps comfortable padding at night (sparkling new 72" long Neo-Air ... cushy ...). The smartphone represents no "necessary" functionality, but a host of "nice to have" stuff --- to include on this trail the only maps that I'll carry --- and the bluetooth keyboard makes it easy to type up a daily journal entry.

I'm mixed about the Ursack; not that many bears, but lots of rodents as I understand it, and the Ursack (which I already own) is about the same weight as an Outsak (which I don't). One less thing to worry about or fiddle with at the end of the day. I've walked into town hungry with a thru-hikers hunger, and it's not pleasant.

A couple of items are tough to categorize: the GG "Nightlight" no-longer-torso-length pad (I carry 2/3 of one) is both thermal & abrasion/puncture protection under part of my Neo-Air at night, as well as back padding for my pack during the day (a 1/8" thinlight goes under the rest of the Neo-Air). The Gatewood Cape is both floorless tent and raingear. I've listed both of these in the "sleeping" category.

I'm not sure if I'll keep the gravity filter or not; it's a tough trade-off. I was originally thinking of the filter because of anticipated cold temperatures (chlorine dioxide takes longer in the cold). But in fact, even in warm weather the water I treat is typically pretty darned cold anyway, and you have to worry that water that remains in the filter element will freeze.
The filter has other advantages, however: I might carry one less platypus if I didn't have to deal with a treatment time lag. In general it can be nice --- and perhaps mean less water needs to be carried --- if I can start drinking almost immediately upon reaching a water source, but a 15 - 30 minute treat time isn't that long, so ...
I might end up ditching the filter early on and going with just A.M. throughout. For most of my backpacking in the past I've been happy with A.M.

Anyway, thanks in advance for any feedback on this, and particular thanks for specifics (URLs or unambiguous searchable text for gear suggestions, etc).

09-24-2009, 14:51
I didn't have time to look over your whole list right now, but if you're starting baseweight on 2/25 is 16 lbs, you're in great shape. You should be right around 25 lbs with food and water which is excellent.

Again, I didn't look extremely carefully, but you appear to have way too many clothing items. What is the purpose of a warm hat, a balaclava and earwarmers? Make things multiple use.

I started 3/1 and esentially followed the principle of long underwear top and bottom for camp, warm top layer (fleece or down jacket), rain jacket and pants and a warm hat, gloves and a designated warm pair of dry camp socks. That's it.

Wearing: shorts, t-shirt, alternate 2 pairs of socks (low cut)

Sorry I couldn't give more detail about your products but you did your hw and are way ahead of the game for February.

Last thing: There is no hard and fast rule for switching out winter gear and bag for starters as early as you. My year, summer really never came (literally it was northern VT in late June when it was "warm"). I would wait and see and make a call to a support person when you know you're in the clear.

09-24-2009, 15:12
Super, much appreciated! Indeed, Pearisburg is a guess, I'll mail warm clothes home when/as it makes sense, though I do plan to swap to a lighter bag there (easier for my wife if this is pre-planned).

Hats: in fact, I also have a baseball type hat. The earbags are for use with that; might mail them home soon, but in certain conditions any sort of warm hat can be too warm to walk in, but my ears can be (sometimes painfully) cold. Balaclava plus other warm hat are layers; not super light at 4.7 oz total, but I like the ability to tune my warmth level like this. The fairly thin balaclava is also good to keep my nose from being too cold at night. I'm certainly happy to hear about alternative approaches, however!

I'm not a fan of long underwear tops and bottoms because it can be a bit of a PITA to have to undress to put those on or take them off, and I find that I rarely want to walk in them, though the capilene-1 long sleeved top is dual use as both "in town" shirt when washing my other shirt, or I can layer those in that way.

In general, though, it does seem like I have a lot of clothing; I'm not completely happy going in either direction there as I have no personal experience with early spring conditions in the Smokies. In general it seems to me that if I just keep moving, I'm warm enough, then be efficient in camp and crawl into the sleeping bag, so hopefully I will be sending some clothes home early on. It also sucks, however, to be uncomfortably (much less dangerously) cold!

Thanks, A-Train.

09-24-2009, 19:13
Good list. Here are a couple of random comments based on my hiking style. YMMV.

I would take either a warmer sleeping bag, or a warmer insulated jacket to start. The Montbell UL Thermawrap is fine down to freezing or so, at least for me, and the Ultralite is good down to its rating, but the combo would not be warm enough for me in late February. It's common to have a few nights in the single digits, especially up high, and I want to *know* that I will be warm at night. (I carry a WM Antelope.)

Is the smartphone your journal device? I noticed the keyboard, and all the spare batteries. It's cool and all, but at 22 ounces total it weighs as much as my beloved Thermarest. My personal preference is for a small notebook, a pencil, and a prepaid calling card, but that's just me.

You might have some issues with the Platy hoser in cold weather. My tube kept freezing. Very annoying. I just carry a couple of 1-litre soda bottles now. (Though in warm weather, I see the appeal of the hose thing.)

Good luck. I love being on the trail in late winter in the South -- a great time to hike. Awesome views from the ridgelines, no bugs, perfect daytime temps for hiking.

09-24-2009, 19:18
In general, though, it does seem like I have a lot of clothing; I'm not completely happy going in either direction there as I have no personal experience with early spring conditions in the Smokies. In general it seems to me that if I just keep moving, I'm warm enough, then be efficient in camp and crawl into the sleeping bag, so hopefully I will be sending some clothes home early on. It also sucks, however, to be uncomfortably (much less dangerously) cold!

Thanks, A-Train.

Yeah the Smokies can certainly be a concern, but the cool thing is you are never more than about a long day away from town with the option to bail in Gatlinburg if the weather gets crappy.

I only say that about the clothing as someone who carried way too much weight in clothing, though I think it takes each individual to figure out what you are comfortable in, in certain degree ranges.
I carried 3 long sleeve shirts, a TNF Denali fleece (2 lbs), a neck warmer and toe warmers (the ones in the plastic package) when I left Springer, so the fact that my pack was 38 lbs isn't so much of a mystery.

By the time you hit Damascus you'll know exactly what you're comfortable carrying and can make the slight alterations as the weather turns.

09-24-2009, 20:34
To BigCranky: Thanks! My theory with the Thermawrap jacket is that it will be sufficient in mornings until I get up and start walking (for which it will be too warm), and similarly in the evenings it will be enough to get me through dinner and then I'll crawl in the bag (very possibly eating dinner in the bag). If too cold, I reckon I'll adjust at first opportunity, but I'm pretty sure I won't be in mortal danger at least. Of course on the AT another option if it's too cold/stormy/whatever is to just go into town and wait it out. Not an option I want to plan on, but a trade-off against additional clothing weight.

Good point on the platy hose freezing --- I hadn't considered that. The plastic bottles I carry will work if that does happen; I would guess it's only an issue at night typically (?).

Smartphone is indeed my journaling device, as well as serving several other functions (it makes a dandy paperweight ...). Sort of my personal "luxury"; not truly needed but sufficiently "desired". On the PCT last year I literally typed up an entry for every trail day, and with a level of detail that helps me remember the trip in a way that I would never have done with pencil and paper.

I very much appreciate your feedback on both the warmth and playpus issues. I have a size large thermawrap vest that can layer nicely over my size medium thermawrap jacket. I brought that into the Sierras last year but virtually never used it. If I'm getting cold that will be my first thought (get that mailed from home pronto). I suppose I could go the other way and start with it, and mail it home if I'm not using it. Hmm ... it's another 5.9 oz ...

09-24-2009, 20:41
To A-Train: Hey, you two are starting to confuse me here! :-) I was already a bit conflicted over the "stay warm enough" vs. "too much clothing weight". On reflection I'm actually now inclining towards the "bring the vest too" option as I can always mail it home. Thermawrap jacket plus layered vest sum to about 15.8 oz, but a good down jacket can get up near to, or even more than that weight, and I'd prefer a synthetic for my jacket, and like the layering flexibility.

Anyway, thanks again to you both.

09-24-2009, 20:56
Platy hose: I've had mine freeze during the day in mid-April on Roan Mountain. Like I said, more annoying than critical.

Journal: I totally understand. I would do a lot more writing if I could type instead of use a pencil.

Warmth: Late Feb through March I would plan for nights around 20, and highs around 50 on average. Then I'd be prepared for the occasional night in the single digits and daytime high below freezing. (I'd also expect some warmer weather, too -- in March my partner and I did the Georgia section, and it never got below 35, with some days in the 70s. Go figure.) Hope that helps.


09-24-2009, 21:36
What is an ETEN Glofiish M700?

09-25-2009, 01:15
"What is an ETEN Glofiish M700?"

It's a smartphone, about the latest in technology a couple of years ago (I wouldn't recommend it today ...). At the time I bought it, it was one of the few options that had the complete set of functionality that I wanted in a phone to include a true GPS with a good chipset (SiRF Star III).

FWIW, after the experience of working with this, I put together some thoughts on selecting a smartphone for long backpacking trips. For anyone it's at