View Full Version : Help!!!!

03-07-2012, 14:50
:confused:I have never backpacked before, but have been contemplating walking the AT for quite some time. I have read a lot of books about the AT and visited many websites. I am lost in all of the information about equipment. Where do I start? Where do I go for the best equipment? I plan to start section hiking next year, doing several weeks a year for four years and then finish things up when my daughter graduates college and I start collecting my second pension. I would like to start buying the equipment this summer and do a few check out hikes in Iowa, if I can find some place. Any information would be appreciated.


03-07-2012, 14:56
Check out the thread -here- (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike) and also check out the articles listed on the homepage. They're a great source of what you need to know.

As for gear, pick your pack last, as the volume will be dependent on what you have. And what you have depends on when you'll intend to hike, mainly.

03-07-2012, 15:14
There is no best equipement as peoples needs and wants are different. The lighter you can go, the more comfortable you will be while hiking. The heavier you go, the more comfortable you'll be while camping, but your daily mileage will be lower and your body will be more stressed each day which can lead to injury over a long enough time. Heavy is fine for short term trips, but for long trips lasting a few weeks or more, you want to go lighter.

If you have a good local outfitter I would talk to them though they will push heavier gear on you. At least you can see whats out there. REI has a large selection and Campmor has cheap stuff. Many of the lighterweight gear is made by very small companies and often sold direct so you won't be able to see it first before ordering unless you have a local friend with it. Many online journals post their gear lists and a few even reveiew what worked for them after they finished.

First buy a good quality sleeping bag. I recommend a lightweight 800+ down rating sleeping bag that is rated for 30deg which is a good summer rating for out west and is fine for the AT. People on the AT often use more then 1 sleeping bag since the summer in the low elevation mountains are warm, but a 30deg bag should be good enough for someone who only wants to buy 1 bag. If you were hiking the PCT, I'd recommend a 20deg bag. Get a 3/4 length sleeping mat. A Z-rest is usually fine for most.

A popular lightweight shelter are the Henry' Shire's Tarptents used by thru-hikers on all of the 3 big trails (AT, PCT, CDT). Starting off with something like a tarp might be too much for an inexperienced hiker. There are other lighter shelter options, but they can be expensive.

Backpacks should be choosen after you have your other gear since it needs to be big enough to fit it and comfortable for the amount of weight you have. Many people use Osprey, Granite Gear, and ULA packs. Other packs can work, make sure it can handle your expected total weight with food and water.

Small lightweight gear companies that many thru-hikers use are: Mountain Laurel Designs, ULA, 6 Moon Designs, Gossamer Gear, Z-packs, Henry Shires' TarpTent, Light House shelters.

You can serach the forums here for "Gear List" and see what some people have posted. You might try other forums like Backpackinglight.com where people often post their gear lists (these will be much lighter then many 1st time AT hikers as they tend to be more experienced UL hikers).

Red Hat
03-07-2012, 19:15
Unfortunately, I started just like you are, planning sections back in 2003. I bought all the wrong stuff. Learned by trial and error.
1. Put your first money into a good sleeping bag. I recommend a WesternMountaineering down bag. I use a 20 degree one I bought here secondhand. That's the best way to buy, so you have to keep your eyes open and buy quick when someone posts.
2. I recommend LightHeart tents (www.lightheartgear.com). You'll have sticker shock when you see prices of some of the stuff, but buying good stuff when you start is less expensive than buying junk and having to replace it.
3. Next I'd get a good lightweight pack. (I know everyone says wait, but I say get the big three first) The ULA Circuit is a good one. Their Catalyst is bigger, but you won't need it, unless you are carrying too much stuff. Again look here for a used one.

03-07-2012, 21:20
Thank you for the information.

03-07-2012, 21:23
Thanks for all of the information. It is definitely a great place to start.

Wise Old Owl
03-07-2012, 21:24
Whoa hold up do not buy anything... go walking around you area and test trial stuff in the back yard... I am concerned that you have two posts and may have not read or lurked on WB ....

03-07-2012, 21:33
All of the advice that has been given above is great for assembling your gear for section and thru hikes on the AT, but I would suggest, if you haven't done much hiking, going to your local outfitter, buying a small (sub 30L) daypack, and getting out on the trails. Nothing like hiking to prepare you for hiking.

Red Hat
03-09-2012, 09:47
yes, walk! But hey right now there are sleeping bags and packs for sale at bargain prices right here! A ULA Circuit for only $125 (Thread says pack, pad, 2man tent for sale) and a Western Mountaineering Highlite for $200! That would be two of your big three at half price...

03-09-2012, 11:18
I agree with those that said to wait on dumping $$$. Borrow a school pack from your daughter, load it for a day trip, go enjoy. All you need is water, food, a ground cloth and a camera. You could even strap a nice crazy creek chair on.

The first thing to buy could be shoes though. Make sure your feet are comfy on day hikes so that they will be ok on longer trips. If you like it, then go for the sleeping bag, shelter and pack. Talk to experienced hikers at a good trail shop.

03-09-2012, 12:58
Well, since I am new to the website when you say this equipment is "right here," where is that?

turtle fast
03-09-2012, 13:26
That items get listed for sale here on postings...if you look at the forums gear for sale can be found. If you are new to hiking and the gear, the reading of the articles on the home page are very helpful. With a little research and time you will quickly learn. Some items are self explanatory like a hiking stick, while others like water filters or stoves need a little reading to learn. Useful information can be gleaned from going to a local gear shop...you don't have to buy anything but look around and ask questions. You have Active Endeavors in Clive and Back Country Outfitters in Des Moines. Later you could check out an REI in Bloomington, MN or Madison, WI if you really begin to learn about the gear and maybe get pack fitted....first I would check out the web sites to become familiar with gear in general. Good luck and happy trails!! (You also made a great choice by coming on Whiteblaze to learn...yes, you get some Shenanigans and jokes in the forums...but thats what makes it fun)