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  1. #1
    Registered User McBride's Avatar
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    Default The gear that I used on my 2009 AT Thru with detailed explanations (Hiker Advice)

    Ok, so I've been wanting to contribute to the site ever since I spent a month digging through old posts and gear lists to put together my own through hike which I completed NOBO this year. So the thought is that I'm going to post my gear list from the start at Springer and then notate the list with what I ended up with on Katahdin.


    Pack, Osprey Atmos 50 Liter, Perfect size, most used 60-65 liters however with no lids
    Pack, Pack Liner, Compactor bag, a MUST
    Pack, Pack cover, seems redundant but I chose to get one in Franklin

    Shelter, Tarptent Contrail, 696g, LOVED IT
    Shelter, 4 X Nobendium Stakes carried one extra
    Shelter, 3 X GoLite Y - Stake ditched two and used one, (will explain below)
    Shelter, Tyvek or silnylon floor coating, I coated INSIDE of floor 5-1 alcohol silicon mix

    Sleeping, Bag, Mont Bell Down 25 degree
    Sleeping, 3/4 closed cell foam pad switched to thermarest womens 3/4 at Neels Gap

    Footwear - Montrail Hardrock 08 Trailrunners loved them, 3 pair for trip
    Footwear - Superfeet Green Insoles - (green for trailrunners, orange for boots)
    Footwear - 3pr Smartwool Trekking Socks would use Dahlgren Alpaca socks instead
    Footwear - (around camp), Crocs try out next size down mine were huge

    Clothing - Base, Cap 2 Midweight bottoms
    Clothing - Base, Cap 1 lightweight Long-Sleeve ditched for second tee in VA
    Clothing - Base, UnderArmor Compression Shorts 2pr critical to prevent chafe
    Clothing - Base, Cotton boxers allowed some air down there at night

    Clothing - Midlayer, EMS Men's Core SYNC Jacket, 700g, ditched at Neels Gap for down jacket, best decision ever
    Clothing - Midlayer, Convertible pants, ditch after VA highlands for lighter shorts
    Clothing - Midlayer, Wicking Tee, 140g

    Clothing - Shell, Patagonia rain top
    Clothing - Shell, Frog Togs bottom, accident in dryer after smokies, never really needed them

    Clothing - Misc, Baseball cap

    Winter Gear, Fleece hat, 20g (doubles as pot cozy), bounce or ditch after VA Highlands
    Winter Gear, Balaclava, Unecessary
    Winter Gear, Gloves - worn 3x on entire hike, (I have warm hands usually) ditched

    Hydration, Water Bottle, 2 Powerade Bottles, usually empty while hiking
    Hydration, Water Bladder, 2 Liter Platypus Hiked with 1 - 1.5 liters

    Tools, Leatherman Micra (scissors), useful but didn't use much
    Tools, P-38 can opener, used once
    Tools, Headlamp,Petzl TikkaPlus, MUST HAVE RED LIGHT (shelter etiquette)
    Tools, Small Packtowl, sham wow is way better, cut a chunk
    Tools, Photon X-Micro light, 7.8 g, never used, carried whole way

    Kitchen, Bear bag line 60' rather than 50' of para cord
    Kitchen, Food Bag - Granite Gear Zip Sack 18L Best food bag IMO see all contents without dumping
    Kitchen, Food Bag - caribeaner
    Kitchen, two 4oz nalgene bottles for alcohol, kept inside pot
    Kitchen, small juice bottle, 10 oz, Denatured Alcohol usually empty but used for long stints
    Kitchen, Lighter, BIC mini, one lighter lasted entire trail
    Kitchen, Pot, 1 liter titanium
    Kitchen, Scrubbie, Green, cooked in freezer bags, no pot cleanup
    Kitchen, Lexan spoon broke, get a Ti spork for $10
    Kitchen, Alcohol Stove, Super Cat Alcohol Stove nothing lighter than this
    Kitchen, Windscreen, cut strip from disposable cookie sheet, fit inside pot

    First Aid/Repair, ANTIBIOTICS, MUST HAVE WEEK SUPPLY FOR LYMES
    First Aid/Repair, 10 Ibuprofin, 6g
    First Aid/Repair, Pepto Bismol Chewables 3g
    First Aid/Repair, Dental Floss, 2'
    First Aid/Repair, Sewing Needle
    First Aid/Repair, Duct Tape 4' or so, athletic tape worked better
    First Aid/Repair, Moleskin, 1 - 2 sheets
    First Aid/Repair, Sunblock only got burnt first few days, ditched
    First Aid/Repair, Neosporin, heals while lubricates for chafe

    Hygiene Group, Aquamira
    Hygiene Group, Baby Wipes, (just a few) Nice to have in ziplok with TP
    Hygiene Group, Hand Sanitizer
    Hygiene Group, Toilet Paper, 29g (partial roll field stripped in ziplok)
    Hygiene Group, Toothbrush, Sawed-off, 5g
    Hygiene Group, Toothpaste, .85 oz. Tube, 28g
    Hygiene Group, Gold Bond Powder I never used, some swear by it

    Trekking Poles, Black Diamond Carbon Fiber lasted entire trail

    Miscellaneous, Ear Plugs, MUST HAVE
    Miscellaneous, Glasses, w/ case, 77g
    Miscellaneous, a few safety pins, 5g for drying socks on pack etc...
    Miscellaneous, ID, Phone card, ATM card, etc... 5g

    Navigation, Guide, Appalachian Pages data book, best one out there
    Navigation, Map, never got them, never needed them
    Navigation, Keychain Compass

    Luxury Group, Camera, Digital, Canon G9 bit large but shoots RAW and HD vid
    Luxury Group, Small leather journal, very glad I have it now
    Luxury Group, Amod AGL3080 GPS Data Logger, 50g (not icl. 3xaaa batt)
    Luxury Group, StickPic - Hiking Pole Camera Mount, its tiny and great
    Luxury Group, Silva Solar 4 Battery Charger totally unnecessary
    Luxury Group, Original iPod shuffle music helped on hard days
    Luxury Group, Crazy Creek - Hexalite camping chair kept it the whole trip
    Luxury Group, Granite Gear, Pillow stuffsack 14.5x7.3.5 thing is great
    Luxury Group, Battery, Spare, AAA Quantity 9 - 12 used for GPS Logger, 5 days

  2. #2
    Registered User McBride's Avatar
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    Obviously you will pack your bag depending on which one you choose, but I remember hoping to find out how different people did it to get some ideas. So I packed my bag as follows:

    Compactor bag liner in main compartment
    Folded thermarest twice and placed flat against bottom of pack
    Dropped sleeping bag vertically and jammed horizontal with thermarest 'hugging' it
    When I had my Silk Liner it was jammed in front of sleeping bag

    That puts the sleeping system at the bottom

    Journal vertical on right side 'hugging' cooking Pot with fuel, lighter, windscreen, and stove inside
    Pillow stuff sack containing all clothing not worn to the left of stove and journal
    Rain coat jammed in front of all three previous (can be pulled out if needed without unpacking contents above it by jamming hand in front of pack)
    Food bag on top of previous layer
    Down jacket in xsmall stuff sack and 1 gall ziplok (which I would sit on and close airtight) and TP in ziplok jammed in front of food bag

    That is a little counter intuitive to have the food high up for weight displacement but its way easier to have the food up top for easy access throughout the day. The TP should be very accessible, no reason to go digging if you're in a hurry. Also with the osprey pack that I used it rested at about shoulder blade height, so wasn't actually that high at all.

    Rolled compactor bag closed

    Finally my Tarptent was on top which allowed for me to set up in the wet without having to get anything else wet. Sometimes I would have some bagels for food and they would be squished in the bag they came in and put in front of tent. No need to take up normal pack space.

    In the side pockets I had: bear line, first aid, pack cover, athletic tape, novel, tent stakes (kept seperate from tent to avoid tears), Aqua Mira, I also ended up carrying my phone, ipod, and camera chargers though they were all really small. At first I bounced them.

    In the lid: 1 Gal ziplok with guidebook, phone, ID, ATM, pencil, ipod, earplugs (ruined if wet), etc... Camera in ziplok. Hand sanitizer in ziplok, glasses, Leatherman, headlamp.

    Crocs and Crazy creek chair were in Kangaroo pouch, but most used caribeaner for crocs on outside of pack.

  3. #3
    Registered User McBride's Avatar
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    Now I'll expand on the gear choices a bit

    Pack:

    Most people used between a 60 and 65 Liter pack. 50 was perfect for me. Those that used the larger packs eventually got rid of the 'brain' of their packs after paring down their carried gear as the hike went on. The most critical factors for the pack for me was the suspension, (which was worth the weight), and the side pockets / kangaroo pocket. Other used the lighter weight packs but to me they seemed to have to be unpacked all the time to get at stuff like food or water bladders. I hung my water bladder in the airspace of the suspension so that I never had to unpack my bag to get it in and out. The only potential disadvantage to my particular pack is the hip belt is not interchangeabele. I lost 40 lbs on the hike and never bottomed out on the waist straps but it was close. The larger Ospreys however do have changeable hipbelts.

    Shelter:

    The Tarptent Contrail was great for the trail. The condensation wasn't really an issue. It is definitly there but didn't cause any problems. If you do choose the Contrail you should use Franco's storm setup. It is great. An ~18 section of tent pole that you must get seperately is used at the bottom giving the entire top of the tent a 'ridgeline' which sheds rain and snow. Mine survived a foot of snow with no worries and no loss of foot room.

    The setup can be found here:

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...hread_id=17299

    and here

    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/show...light=COntrail


    I wrote a more detailed post of the Contrail setup and it can be found here:

    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/show...706#post949706



    Sleeping:

    I got a gear shakedown at Neels Gap after the first few days and switched out my closed cell foam pad for an inflatable Thermarest pad. It was recommended that I get the length womens pad even though Ii'm a 6 foot tall 225lb man. It wasn't too small. I used my crazy creek chair as a pad / insulator under my legs and slept great. It will take a while to get used to sleeping on the ground no matter what pad you choose. You will get used to the closed cell foam if you choose it, many do, but the Thermarest was so much more comfortable.
    As for the sleeping bag, I got a 25 degree down bag and only needed the liner for a few cold nights in the Smokies (six degrees). On that night I had all my clothes on in the liner and it was fine. If you pack one or two chemical hand warmers while in the Smokies you can throw one into the foot of your bag and it lasts for 8 10 hours.

    Footwear:

    I chose to use trail runners and didn't regret it at all. It was a ridiculous year for rain and they got just as wet as everyone else's kicks but I found that they dries fast overnight and were nice and light. They did fine in a foot of snow as well. I bought pairs as I needed them, and could get around a thousand miles on a pair. One should not buy multiple pairs intending to get them sent out when your first pair dies. You might find that your shoe choice sucks and that you get a different pair at Neels Gap. I used 3 pairs of socks and alternated each day. The SmartWools were fine and I probably went through 12 pair. I got some Dahlgren Alpaca hiking socks in Maine and they were really nice. Seemed more durable than the SmartWools. In my opinion the Superfeet are a must. The Green ones are the firmest and are meant to be used with trailrunners, as they will give them more rigidity. The Orange SuperFeet ar more supple and are meant for boots, as the boot is already firm and they give you the right arch support while adding a bit of cushion to the boot.

    Clothing:

    I hiked in a tee shirt, compression shorts and convertible pants until the Virginia Highlands. The long johns weren't something I hiked in really, they were too hot. I would definitely use them at camp and while sleeping. I wore my rain jacket when first starting out for the day and shed it after about 20 minutes, and just hiked in the tee or the longsleeve capilene 1 top.

    Hydration:

    This will be different for everyone. Personally I never carried more than 1 1.5 liters while hiking. I know some people that never carried water while hiking, and others that carried 3 4 liters, but that was not for me.
    The idea is to fill and chug a gatorade bottle when you pass water sources throughout the day. I would fill up my platypus in the morning with a liter. Drink a liter with breakfast and any extra from filling up the night before. Drink from the water sources throughout the day and the platypus would last for the whole day usually.
    I'd fill up 4 liters once at camp and use one for cooking, one for drinking at dinner, one for the morning, and one for the platy in the morning. I mention this because occasionally you'll have no water where you plan to camp and have to hike the 4 liters a mile or two to your destination (it happens sometimes, not if I could help it).

    Tools:

    The leatherman was nice but keep in mind that it was the tiny one with scissors. Otherwise a small folding knife 2 is all you'll want.

    The Tikka headlamp is fine. A little dim when hanging a bearbag, but fine. The red light is an absolute must in my opinion. Its pretty annoying when someone wants to read in a shelter after everyone else is asleep and they have a friggin lighthouse strapped to their head. The red is enough to read by but doesn't disturb others.

    Kitchen:

    The amount of times that I wished I had 5 more feet of bearbag line was enough for the extra ten grams of weight. Its up to you.

    The Granite Gear zip food bags are GREAT. You don;t have to dump your food bag out on the ground every time you want a snickers.

    The super cat stove is a little slow but it doesn't get any lighter than that.

    Luxury Items:

    These are strictly personal. You're the one carrying them. The GPS logger was wrth it to me. It logs your coordinates every 5 seconds and you can use a program on your PC when you get home to sync the GPS coordinates with the time stamp of your digital photos to 'Geotag' them. Meaning you can open the photos in google earth and it pinpoints where they were taken. It took me carrying 12 AAA batteries for each 5 day stint but my total packweight with food and water was usually around 32lbs.

    If theres anything else you'd like to know or if anything was confusing let me know.

  4. #4
    Registered User srestrepo's Avatar
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    hey, this was a lot of info but easy to understand and well laid out. i just have a question about teh pad though, it didn't feel weird with your legs just danging off teh pad like that onto the shelter, i mean are you a side sleeper or sleep on your back?
    did you find that the difference in elevation of your legs to the rest of your body bother you?

    just looking for ways to currently lighten up on my pack weight and i was considering the 3/4 length but i wasn't sure if it was comfortable or not.

    thanks again for this write up!

  5. #5
    Registered User McBride's Avatar
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    I sleep on my side, and my knees would be slightly bent and resting on the bottom of the pad. I used my padded chair for below the bottom of the pad and there was a height difference. It was a little weird at first but I got used to it. I might consider getting a full length if I were to do it again, but I'd probably just stick to the 3/4. The small or medium Therm-a-Rest NeoAir look pretty sweet. I would definitely pay a bit more for sleeping comfort

  6. #6

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    Thanks for sharing.

    Congrats on completing your hike!!!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by McBride View Post
    Tools, Headlamp,Petzl TikkaPlus, MUST HAVE RED LIGHT (shelter etiquette)
    Quote Originally Posted by McBride View Post
    Tools, Headlamp,Petzl TikkaPlus, MUST HAVE RED LIGHT (shelter etiquette)
    Quote Originally Posted by McBride View Post
    Tools, Headlamp,Petzl TikkaPlus, MUST HAVE RED LIGHT (shelter etiquette)
    Quote Originally Posted by McBride View Post
    Tools, Headlamp,Petzl TikkaPlus, MUST HAVE RED LIGHT (shelter etiquette)
    This one needs repeating. It is just so much nicer when folks don't kill your night vision or wake you up by shining a spotlight all over the place for the midnight trip to the privy. Nothing to get upset about though, shelters are public places.

    I also find red light easier to read a book with so that helps too.

  8. #8
    Registered User QuarterPounder's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the effort to put this together. I found it very helpful... confirmed some of the items I have already, questioned some of the things I have, and gave me several ideas for improvement and/or comfort on the trail. On top or all that... it is a simple read!! I definitely needed that.

    QP
    GAME 2010... 58 days and a wake-up!

  9. #9
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by white_russian View Post
    This one needs repeating. It is just so much nicer when folks don't kill your night vision or wake you up by shining a spotlight all over the place for the midnight trip to the privy. Nothing to get upset about though, shelters are public places.

    I also find red light easier to read a book with so that helps too.

    Also bears repeating - don't stay in a shelter then. A little light flashing shouldn't be anything to get upset about on the grand scale of etiquette, for crying out loud.







    Hiking Blog
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  10. #10
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuarterPounder View Post
    Thanks for all the effort to put this together. I found it very helpful... confirmed some of the items I have already, questioned some of the things I have, and gave me several ideas for improvement and/or comfort on the trail. On top or all that... it is a simple read!! I definitely needed that.

    QP
    GAME 2010... 58 days and a wake-up!
    Just remember, what works for some doesn't for others. This is still your hike. I found some things on the list the hiker didn't need or want that I did. So use what works for you. You can't duplicate another's hike.

    Like MAPS = which I believe everyone should take







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  11. #11
    Registered User McBride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    Also bears repeating - don't stay in a shelter then. A little light flashing shouldn't be anything to get upset about on the grand scale of etiquette, for crying out loud.
    Its not a big deal, but If you haven't bought a headlamp its a simple thing that is worth while. Not anything to get worked up about I agree but it can be annoying at times and with such an easy fix I thought I'd mention it.

  12. #12
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McBride View Post
    Its not a big deal, but If you haven't bought a headlamp its a simple thing that is worth while. Not anything to get worked up about I agree but it can be annoying at times and with such an easy fix I thought I'd mention it.
    What I found more annoying was smoking in the shelter and people arriving at midnight or leaving at 4 AM.







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  13. #13
    Registered User McBride's Avatar
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    Oh one thing that I didn't mention was that in the mornings I would put a snickers or cliff bar in each pocket. That would allow me to eat on the go and not have to shed my pack or go digging around in it. The first month or so I couldn't figure out why my energy would crash at around 2 'clock, then I started eating a snickers or whatever every hour and a half or around 4 ish miles. Made a huge difference.

  14. #14

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    McBride did you figure up the total cost of the equipment so that future thru hikers will know the shock of how much gear cost?

  15. #15

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    McBride, thanks for all the good information. I really enjoyed reading this post.

  16. #16
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    That is a pretty darn good write up. Gear selection from one person to another is a personal choice/preference/strategy thing, but you did well explaining why you used certain stuff and how that worked with your hiking strategy.

    Thanks for sharing it.
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    Also bears repeating - don't stay in a shelter then. A little light flashing shouldn't be anything to get upset about on the grand scale of etiquette, for crying out loud.
    Ie, like I said. Reading comprehension, folks.
    Quote Originally Posted by white_russian View Post
    Nothing to get upset about though, shelters are public places.

  18. #18
    Registered User McBride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 58starter View Post
    McBride did you figure up the total cost of the equipment so that future thru hikers will know the shock of how much gear cost?
    It was around $1,800 for everything, and I started planning with owning literally no gear. also I ended up spending around $4,000 out on the trail. Most people had around $4,000 trail budgets. All told its certainly cheaper than living in the real world.

  19. #19
    Registered User McBride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuarterPounder View Post
    Thanks for all the effort to put this together. I found it very helpful... confirmed some of the items I have already, questioned some of the things I have, and gave me several ideas for improvement and/or comfort on the trail. On top or all that... it is a simple read!! I definitely needed that.
    Hey QP,

    I wouldn't really worry too much about some of the smaller stuff. carrying an extra pound or so with gloves, sunblock, or anything else that I ditched isn't a big deal. I was known to strap 3 pound of ribs out of town to cook on the fire. carry whatever you want and by the smokies you'll know exactly what you need. keep yourself happy, and shoot for the 30 - 35 lb mark.

  20. #20
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    Excellent info and well written. Thanks for sharing. I'm down to double digits. 99 days and counting!

    El Flaco

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