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  1. #1
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    Default seeking advice gear and packing advice

    hello,

    1) I understand one should have two pairs of boots to hike the Appalachian Trail as one pair normally does not last entire trip. Should I buy a second pair to be ready to go? Should the second pair be identical to current pair (EMS Summit GTX lined..fairly rugged) or a lighter version?

    2) I currently have a feathered Friends sleeping bag rated to +10. Is it best to buy ahead of time a summer bag or could that be purchased en route? I am presuming my +10 degree bag will not be much fun when it is hot and humid in mid atlantic states!

    3) Packing the back pack. I have a Gregory Forester pack large size. Should the tent and sleeping bags be best put into large garbage bags and then scrunched in pack or best in stuff sacs? The latter while more compact I read leaves gaps and thus robs space. Is a compression sac not a good idea for this reason? I have been considering a larger garbage bag as stuff sack for tent as it is not real quick to get into its stuff sack when wet.


    What do you think? How do you guys handle these situations?

    DavidNH
    (I have changed user name..previous was nhhiker)

  2. #2

    Default Responses to your gear questions --

    The principle involved is simple -- You don't want to carry any more weight than you must to remain healthy on your hike. Applying that principle:

    1)Don't carry a spare pair of boots. Make sure that the pair you start with is well broken-in and in good repair. You might want to buy a second pair, wear them enough to get them broken-in then leave them with someone who can mail them to you along the trail. That way you won't be breaking in a new pair of boots on the AT.

    As for your question about which brand, it is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I wear Montrail boots.

    2) You won't want to carry two sleeping bags. Try the one you have before you start on the AT. If it is uncomfortable, change it before you start.

    By the way, Feathered Friends is a Seattle company. It has a great reputation for quality. I have not yet tried their product, but have heard positive things about them.

    3) Packing the back pack -- Your sleeping bag should fit in a small bag. I use an OR stuff sack. In addition to saving room in the pack, it keeps the sleeping bag dry. One of your most important goals will be keeping the down dry. A damp down bag is miserable!!

    As for the tent, I also use a waterproof compression bag. It is even more important when the tent is wet, because it keeps the moisture from the tent from getting your sleeping bag wet. If the tent is really wet, tie it to the outside of your pack. Stuffing a wet tent down in your pack will make everything damp.

    You said that your pack is a "big pack." When using a big pack, the temptation is to fill it. Personally, I wear a DanaDesign Astralplane -- one of the biggest. Through experience I have learned that unused space in my pack is a good thing. Since you have a big pack, the objective should be to balance the load -- Dana Desgin suggests: bulky items like tent and sleeping bag in the bottom, heaviest items (like water and bulk food) go above the bulky items and next to your back, Lighter items (like clothing) goes in back of the heavy items, Then what is left goes in the top.

    When packing, remember what you might need to get out. I like to put my camp shoes (crocs) on top, so I can get out of the boots while making the camp. I also pack rain gear in an outside pouch.

    I hope this helps.
    Shutterbug

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidNH
    hello,

    1) I understand one should have two pairs of boots to hike the Appalachian Trail as one pair normally does not last entire trip. Should I buy a second pair to be ready to go? Should the second pair be identical to current pair (EMS Summit GTX lined..fairly rugged) or a lighter version?

    2) I currently have a feathered Friends sleeping bag rated to +10. Is it best to buy ahead of time a summer bag or could that be purchased en route? I am presuming my +10 degree bag will not be much fun when it is hot and humid in mid atlantic states!

    3) Packing the back pack. I have a Gregory Forester pack large size. Should the tent and sleeping bags be best put into large garbage bags and then scrunched in pack or best in stuff sacs? The latter while more compact I read leaves gaps and thus robs space. Is a compression sac not a good idea for this reason? I have been considering a larger garbage bag as stuff sack for tent as it is not real quick to get into its stuff sack when wet.


    What do you think? How do you guys handle these situations?

    DavidNH
    (I have changed user name..previous was nhhiker)
    Hey man, so you are going to attempt a thru-hike? Awesome

    First off, boots. You have a lot of things that you can do. I am just going to give you my recommendation. I would say to stick with the boots that you have if they are tried, and true. There are many outfitters on the AT. Feel free to take advantage of them during your hike when you need another pair. By that time, you will probably have evaluated your gear, and you will be able to pick a better second pair of shoes for yourself. Breaking them in on the trail was tough for me, but it is something that you can do. Just make sure you have the proper aids to deal with a few blisters during the first week with them.

    That sleeping bag sounds like an awesome bag to start with. If you have the money, definently look into getting a second bag, as much to save weight as to not overheat at night. Feel free to buy it now, but at the same time, like I said with boots, there are many outfitters on the AT, and by the time summer hits, you might know better what will meet your needs out there. Besides, if a budget is an issue for you at all, you will be able to kno whether or not you can even afford to buy that new bag, or if you would be better of spending that money in town on more valuable things like cold beer.

    You have a Gregory Forester. That is a great pack, a little big for a thru-hike, but it is definently one that you see a lot of people with. Saving space should not be an issue with it. Stuff Sacks, Garbage bags, find a system that works for you. That is the important thing. Once again though, this money issue. Garbage bags are cheaper, just something to think about. I hope I have helped you. Feel free to ask any stupid little questions. God know I asked every one of them before I set out. It is all good.

    bassline

  4. #4
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Default

    Boots: Buy a replacement pair when you need them. Between now and then your shoe size will probably change, and maybe you will want a different type of boot at the time.

    Summer sleeping bag: Assuming that you start in early spring, some of the best advice I heeded was to keep your cold weather gear until after Mt. Rodgers. I'd suggest that you look for sales on good summer bags now, and have it shipped to you in Virginia after Mt. Rodgers.

    Stuff sacks: try the sil-nylon stuff bags. Lightweight and waterproof.

  5. #5
    Registered User Uncle Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Boots, better wait

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidNH
    hello,

    1) I understand one should have two pairs of boots to hike the Appalachian Trail as one pair normally does not last entire trip. Should I buy a second pair to be ready to go? Should the second pair be identical to current pair (EMS Summit GTX lined..fairly rugged) or a lighter version?

    DavidNH
    (I have changed user name..previous was nhhiker)
    DavidNH,

    The 3 thru hikers I know have told me their feet changed sizes during their hike. One of them started out with a size 10 and ended up with a size 13. From their experience I'd suggest waiting on purchasing the second pair of boots. You might be able to try some of the trail shoes that are popular instead of boots by the time you need a second pair. They would probably be easier to break in than boots also.
    Good luck.
    Uncle Wayne

  6. #6
    Registered User
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    Default

    Ok, to echo some of the comments already made and to add some different ones as well.

    1) Seriously consider trail runners. Read that again. Foot problems are a major issue on the AT it seems (and the PCT, though to a lesser extent). Trail runners really, reallly help. Expect to get something like 500-1000 miles out of a pair of trail runners depending on the model and your biomechanics. See two articles I wrote in the Gear Reviews section called "Four Trail Shoe Review" and "Four Trail Shoe Review, Part Deux" for recommendations. Resupplying with shoes is easy: No break in required, so buy them off the internet and have them shipped to a PO ahead of you. With boots, I would not buy a second pair in advance. Make sure your first pair are well broken in before you start. After 500 or so miles, you'll have a very firm opinion on how well they are doing and if you want to keep using boots. If so, just order another pair via the internet and have them shipped up.

    2) Depending on when you start, the +10 may be too warm for the AT. I would buy a Western Mountaineering Highlight (+40) and give it to someone reliable to ship to you when you need it. I would not go with a fleece liner or silk liner or poncho to sleep in, even in the summer time. I saw a lot of people freezing in such things even in June in the mid Atlantic.

    3) Line your sleeping bag stuff sack with a kitchen garbage bag, then stuff the bag inside of it. If you are using a down jacket as your primary insulation layer, I would do the same with the stuff sack that your clothes go in. Don't use a compression sack, as down bags compact down nicely on their own. I would use a large silnylon stuff sack as a pack liner, rather than a pack cover, on the AT. I used one by Dancing Light Gear. Others have used trash compactor bags with success.

  7. #7

    Default

    My feet went up a whole size during my hike from flattening out under load. Lightweight hikers should have less of a problem here.

    Be careful going with trail runners if your packweight starts to climb much over 25-35 pounds. Beyond that you may well need the extra support that a higher cut boot offers. But do try to keep the weight down. I was an advocate opf full leather boots for many years, but recently went to lightweight mid-cut boot/shoes and have had great success with them in the Whites. Drier feet, faster drying feet when they do get wet, less fatigue, etc.

    More important than anything else is footwear fit. If the shoes don't fit, no matter how good they are, they are bad for you. I've seen people literally crying their way down the trail because their expensive and well made boots didn't fit their particular set of feet correctly. So try absolutely everything you can get your feet into on, preferably after a long day on your feet so your feet are swelled up and sensitive (which will be their condition pretty much every day on the trail). This will give you the best possible idea of fit.

    Buy the smallest tent you can cram yourself into, and maybe a bit smaller if you can manage it. I'm 6"2" tall and weigh over 200 pounds (though I was down around 175 on the trail) I fit myself into a Walrus Swift (similar to the current MSR Zoid 1.0) and really enjoyed carrying that tent rather than the twice as heavy and twice as large Sierra Designs Meteorlight. You'll figure out what to do with your gear and still sleep comfortably.

    Ultralight technique works real well for people once they get used to it and make the necessary mental and physical adjustments to it. BUT, it requires a lot more personal knowledge to do. You need to be better at reading the weather, understanding your own condition, and you need to be expert at siting and setting up ultralightweight shelters. If you are not comfortable with that, then you may need to choose a heavier style of hiking.

    I've shed a lot fo pounds from my pack over the years, but I'm still no ultralighter. There are some things I just won't give up.
    Andrew "Iceman" Priestley
    AT'95, GA>ME

    Non nobis Domine, non nobis sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam
    Not for us O Lord, not for us but in Your Name is the Glory

  8. #8
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    Default gear and packing

    Thanks for the advice guys...very useful!

    I might add.. I am not as yet trying to go the ultra light route. I wil be easily 35-40 pounds on the AT.. because 1) I like to have some creature comforts (ie a tent I can sit up in) and 2) I am not verteran enough to do the real light weight thing. If I can stay under 40 lbs fully loaded I will be real happy I am a big person... 6ft 3, 240 pounds...and this necessitates haveing size large of everything rather than small or medium and hence more weight.

    those of you who use trekking poles..do you pack in a side pocket or hwo? or do you not pack them away in/on pack at all? personally..I don't dare do the trail without trekking poles. They help so much on steep ups or downs and when crossing streams!!
    DavidNH

  9. #9

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    I pack my sleeping bag at the bottom- it should be the last thing out- so that it stays dry. I like to pack my tarp (separate from my hammock) near the top- I have a top pocket on my pack and so it goes there with hat/raincoat. when I camp I'll be able to have a dry space to work under. Pack things in relation to when you will need them. Maps, water, snacks, sunscreen, hat- all of these should be in outside pockets or near the top(or at the top)

    titanium
    just call me TH
    woman with altitude

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