View Full Version : Need help with gear

08-29-2010, 23:22
Going to be doing my first thu-hike in 2011 and need help with gear. Im probably going to be leaving around the 1st of March, and dont know all that much about gear.

I need suggestions for tent, backpack, boots, sleeping bag and jacket, all for one person.

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

08-29-2010, 23:29
This site has good information on gear and AT hiking:


08-30-2010, 02:04
What's your budget?

M1 Thumb
08-30-2010, 06:26
For footwear the best advice I have is go to an outfitter that has someone who can fit you properly and start trying on different shoes. For me its not so much of a certain shoe style but its overall fit and comfort. I have tried on highly recommended shoes before but they did fit my foot correctly. If it is uncomfortable in the store its going to be miserable on the trail.

08-30-2010, 06:28
Since you do not already own a backpack I would start at your local REI store. They have a good selection of backpacks you can try on. The idea here is to figure out what style of suspension your back likes. I would reccomend starting with Granite Gear, Osprey, Arc Teryx, Gregory, and the REI store brand. Load them up evenly with about 30 lbs of their stuff bags. Try them all on and pay attention to which ones feel the best on your shoulders back and hips. Pick up a copy of their backpack specs sheet. Then I would take what I learned from that outing and drive to the other REI and do it all over again because there are different backpacks and different salespeople at each store. Your back is really going to like one or two of these packs. From there you do more research..checking out the different features. Try adding 40 lbs and walking around the store for awhile. After doing this you will know alot more backpacks and this will help you to choose what pack you want to buy.

08-30-2010, 09:45
In Nashville?
The REI is good, has at least one thru hiker on staff.
Cumberland Transit is the Best local store. Knowledgable staff (including thru-hikers)
Check them both out.

08-30-2010, 09:51
Thanks for the tips. There is just so many options, I dont know where to begin.

For instance down or synthetic sleeping bag? Temp?
Should i shoot for trying to use 1 pair of boots or multiple?

again thanks for the input

Tipi Walter
08-30-2010, 11:37
There are sort of two schools of thought: Do I go ahead and get the multi-tool One-Kit-Does-It All, or do I do the specialized(and Ultralight supported)One-Tool-For-The-Job? The One-Kit solution is cheaper but heavier, the UL solution is more expensive and requires more home "storage space" i.e. where am I gonna stash all this stuff.

When I started living out, I decided to go the One-Kit route and got gear that could take me from -10F in January in the mountains of NC to summer 100F's hitching around the southeast US. One kit does it all. So, I got the warmest down bag I could find(rated -10F), a big 5500 cubic inch pack, and a fine 7 lb four season tent(along with a beefy 4R Theramest Standard pad).

Matthew Thomas on BackpackingLight.com posed this same question(7/8/10): "What I am talking about is that as a potential customer, with no gear at all, buying the lightest possible gear choice is not practical because of the limitations that come from it. For instance when looking for a pack, if I want the lightest pack possible I could go with say 30 or 40 liters, but since this is my only pack it seems like I'm jipping myself by not getting a larger pack, because I may potentially need the extra space at some point(say if I'm winter camping, or I am going without resupply for an extended period)."

You get the idea. I'd go and get the One-Kit. No one ever suffered in a 4 season tent or a zero bag in July or August(just sleep without the bag until you need it). And such a kit gives you the Freedom to go out all thru the year. Once you decide on the One-Kit, then you can either go Cheaper or Expensive, Campmor down bag vs Western Mountaineering down bag, Frogg Toggs vs Arcteryx Pro Shell rain jacket, etc. Depends on wallet size.

08-30-2010, 12:05
Go to the articles section of this web site and start with the How to Dirtbag like a Professional article before you spend any money.

08-30-2010, 19:55
Go get a good backpacking book, it will have discussions about all these topics. The Complete Walker is the classic, and the 4th edition is pretty good still.

08-31-2010, 11:47
I'll take some time to share what I think I've learned that works for me on my section hikes...even though I've never done, nor do I plan to do a thru...this is what I would do...its all opinion, my opinion. You'll have to form your own...

My Rule #1: No pack should weigh more than 3 pounds unless you aren't serious about cutting weight or plan to hike with Tipi Walter for a few weeks (he's amazing and provides endless enjoyment for us armchair packers through his eloquent trip reports). Most REI sales people will not agree with that. Many posters here will argue vehemently against that statement. I'm not going to argue, just share what many, who's opinions I respect, have shared. 3800 cubic inch or roughly 60-65 liters...bigger if your gear is bulky. You'll likely not need near that space after a month cause you'll have gotten rid of most of the stuff you thought you needed but didn't. As others have said, fit and feel are important, but no more than 3-4 pounds!!!

Sleeping Bag: for March - 20 degree or lower. Down. Campmor 20 degree down bag is fine (as so many here have said). Others you can get may be more expensive and lighter. You decide how much you want to spend.

Shoes: trail runners or light boots. Must be light. Non-waterproof is my choice. Again, most of those who I've learned to respect here seem to agree. You'll go through several pair.

Tent: something that weighs less than 3.5 pounds. Preferably less than two. Study up here on WB. There's lots to choose from and you need to figure this out.

Jacket: study up on this. The jacket doesn't stand alone, but is simply one of several layers you'll be using to manage your body heat. You'll probably switch out various combinations as you proceed through the seasons. For March, in GA, I'm not sure what I would be carrying. You don't need a big honkin jacket though cause you'll probably have one or more base layers on, and can use your rain jacket or wind shirt as a wind stopper on top. Its been 35 years since I backpacked in temps like that. Collin Fletcher's book is a great source on this and there really is no substitute for experience. Read up, get some basic "layers" and then get out and see how they work. You've got time to practice. Its not really about staying warm while hiking, but staying warm sitting around in camp. Remember, you'll also have your sleeping bag for when its really cold. You'll be plenty warm while hiking.

Pay attention on WB when someone posts their gear list. People will suggest changes. They'll argue the finer points of one choice over the other. Pay attention and learn.

You'll likely spend a lot of money over the next few months and if you're anything like me, you probably won't get it right the first time. Use the search function here and start reading up. Its not just about getting the right gear and going on a thru. You should try to learn as much as you can from the discussions on WB and elsewhere and practice before you get there. The most important piece of gear you'll have is the knowledge of how to use the gear you're carrying.

Base weight is all your gear, including pack, but minus fuel, water, food, and the clothes you're wearing. Keep it at about 20 pounds or less for a March start and you'll not be too far off.

08-31-2010, 13:27
Can you leave a car at Telico Gap overnight or for a few days.
We are hiking Rock Gap to NOC and may need to get off at Telico.

08-31-2010, 14:18
Pyroman has it right, don't spend any money right now, spend time at this site and others, read, read, read, make notes, you will get the information that will lead to smart purchases. IMO, spend the most on your bag, assuming you want to use it for a long time. If so, buy HQ down, you won't be disappointed.

good luck.

Raul Perez
08-31-2010, 17:28
Going to be doing my first thu-hike in 2011 and need help with gear. Im probably going to be leaving around the 1st of March, and dont know all that much about gear.

I need suggestions for tent, backpack, boots, sleeping bag and jacket, all for one person.

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

I'm a lightweight section hiker but I did a video on my gear for my 5 day section hike in June 2010. I hiked in March and here in NY it got down to the mid-high 30's F and highs around 65-73*. In that I added my montbell UL down jacket and my Montbell thermawrap pants and I was fine. I'm a hammock camper so that may give you another option for a shelter. Not lighter than a tarp but definitely more comfortable and a light weight alternative to a tent.







And here are some gear revisions I made after the trip:



Hope this helps and good luck on your thru-hike.

08-31-2010, 18:34
These were the only two articles I needed to prep for my 2009 thru:

10 page Backpacker Magazine article on hiking the AT (http://www.backpacker.com/november_2008_american_classic_hiking_the_appalach ian_trail/destinations/12530)

Mountain Crossings Method Gear List (http://www.backpacker.com/november_08_pack_man_/articles/12659?page=4)

Good luck!

09-01-2010, 04:46
Thanks for the tips. There is just so many options, I dont know where to begin.

For instance down or synthetic sleeping bag? Temp?
Should i shoot for trying to use 1 pair of boots or multiple?

again thanks for the input

I woud go with multiple tents. You never know.

09-01-2010, 04:51
Seriously though, give yourself a budget. A weight budget.
Total weight, skin out, including all clothing, gear, food, and water.
Try it on a day-hike in rugged terrain. Use a book bag or something.
Then modify your weight budget, and then go shopping.

My budget in 10 pounds for summer, 20 for Spring/Fall, and 30 pounds in winter. Losing body weight is even more important and effective, but that's part of the reason for hiking.

09-01-2010, 04:54
The Doctor said I was two tents.
So I went hiking and camping.

09-01-2010, 07:42
First set your money budget. That will dictate how hard you'll have to work to pull together your gear. If you've got a generous budget, go someplace like Mountain Crossings, Bluff Mountain Outfitters, or Mount Rogers Outfitters and let them put your whole assemblage together.

A really tight budget? Search "gear challenge" on Whiteblaze, to see the lists people have put together cheaply. One of the main ways to save money is NOT to buy things. Most items sold as backpacking gear, you don't need and won't want. Backpacking towel? No. Special bowl? No. Knife/fork/spoon thing? No.

You do need a pack (which should fit you), something to keep you warm while you're sleeping, and something to keep the rain off you while you're sleeping. A headlamp is also good to have. Beyond that, it's all gravy.

09-01-2010, 21:13
There's some good advice here:


09-01-2010, 22:25
I am planning to hike in 2013. Here is a gear list that I am putting together. If you have any questions as to why I choose what I have just ask.


A few thoughts:

Backpack: Get it last. After you get all your other gear so that you will know what size pack you need, as well as how beefy of a suspension you will need. Until then, rent from REI. Try on lots of packs (with weight) and find what feels best. Go have your torso properly measured.

Shelter: For thru-hiking, shelters are along the whole trail, so find something light weight that you are comfy in. Tarps are light weight, but you need to figure out if you can deal with no mesh to keep the bugs out, as well as "protection" (from the elements, and to some degree, critters). Check out TarpTents for some light weight options, or if you want a traditional double wall, check out the Big Agnes Fly Creek.

Sleeping Bags. Some carry one the whole trip, while others swap out two. your choice. I have a 15 Marmot Helium that I will use for the "cold" months and I have decided I want a quilt for "warmer" months. I would suggest looking into quilts as well as sleeping bags. And just like with a pack, get a bag / quilt that will fit your size. Too big, too hard to keep warm, too small, too uncomfy and may compress the insulation which also means hard to keep warm...

Sleeping pad. Do not underestimate the pad, especially for cold months. The pad is great for comfort, but is a lifesaver in the cold. Pads are rated like bags, based on R-Values. According to Exped, the Exped SynMat 7 is rated to 1* F and has an R-Value of 4.9, but I would say that this is an extreme limit rating. Seems a general consensus rates this pad good and comfy to around 20*, but everyone is different, so find what works for you, not everyone else. Also, lots of hikers carry ccf pads and some carry air inflated pads.

Cooking gear: Look into DIY alcohol stoves if you need to save some money and just plan on boiling water in which to rehydrate your dinner, or even to boil Ramen Noodles. These stoves require no maintenance and are easily replaced if needed. you can buy stoves such as the White Box Stove which are super durable and great stoves for about $20. FYI, the GSI Kettle and the White Box stove works great together:


Get boots that fit, so try to go and try them on rather than buying over the net. (however you can still search the net for the pair that fits you best for the best price...) you will more than likely replace your footwear a time or two on a complete thru hike... depends on what ya got...

Anyway, hope this helps. Find things in specific and post those specific things here on the boards for more definitive answers.

And have fun!