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  1. #1

    Default 2013 Thruhike: my gear, what I changed and what I learned

    I just completed a thru hike on August 26th, 2013. I used Whiteblaze so much when researching for the hike. It was a site that I visited daily. I remember a successful 2012 thru hiker posting a review of his gear and strategies for his hike. I found that very helpful, so I decided to do the same thing for any future thru hikers.

    Before you read what I wrote below, keep in mind that I was not obsessed with weight. This is for hikers who have an open mind. This is what worked for me, not what works for everyone. Hike your own hike.

    Age: 29
    Height: 5' 11"
    Weight at start: 165 (I gained 11 pounds before the hike on purpose)
    Weight at end: 143

    Start: Approach Trail on March 13
    End: Katahdin on August 26
    Days: 168
    Avg Miles per day: 13
    Number of zero days: 15

    Trail name: Salad Days

    Here is my gear list I started my hike with:

    Pack/Stuff Sacs:
    Backpack - Osprey Atmos 65L
    Clothe bag - Sea to Summit 8L Ultra Sil
    Food/Bear bag - Zpacks Roll top Blast Food Bag
    Misc stuff sack - Sea to Summit 2L Ultra Sil
    Sleeping bag stuff sac - Zpacks Medium Roll Top Dry Bag

    Sleep System:
    REI Igneo, Long, 19F
    Therm-a-rest NeoAir X-light
    Pillow - Cocoon Hyperlite
    Sleeping Bag Liner - Sea to Summit Reactor
    Tent - Eureka Solitaire
    4x Stakes - MSR Groudhogs
    Tent Tarp - Tyvec Ground Sheet

    Cook System:
    Jetboil - Sol
    Fuel - Jetboil 100g
    Utensil - Sea to Summit Alpha Spork
    Towel - Bandana
    Water Purifier - Sawyer Squeeze
    Water Fetch Bag - Platypus 34oz
    32oz Nalgene
    2L Camelback Bladder

    Clothes:
    Base Layer Top - REI Midweight Long Sleeve
    Base Layer Bottom - REI Midweight Long Johns
    1x Underwear (to sleep in)
    3x Smartwool Socks
    Middle Layer Top - Mountain Hardwear Zip Up
    Outer Layer - Patagonia Nano Puff Hoodie
    Rain Jacket - Frogg Toggs
    Rain Pants - Showers Pass
    Gaiters - Black Diamond GTX
    Shoes - Brooks Cascadia 8 w/Super Feet
    Shorts - Nylon running shorts
    Pants - Columbia zip offs
    Hat - Smartwool beanie
    Gloves - Cheap Mil-spec

    Misc:
    Knife - Leatherman Juice
    Black Diamond Head Lamp
    REI Backpack Rain Cover
    First Aid Kit
    Soap - Brommer's 2oz
    Bear Bag Rope - 50ft Parachute chord
    1x Carabiner
    Trekking Poles - Black Diamond Z-Poles
    iPhone 4S
    Camp towel - Zpacks Lightload Towel
    Pen and Notepad
    AWOL's AT Guide
    Sunglasses - Smith Precept
    Zagg 6000 mha Battery pack (I loved this and carried it the entire trip, it was much better than a solar panel)




    I had many pack strip downs while on the hike. Just about every 500 miles, I would reevaluate what I was carrying.


    Here is what I dropped or replaced:

    My pack lasted the entire hike. The zippers on my hip belt wore out though. I was unable to close them. I did ditch the brain (top cover) of my pack in Vermont. I would purchase another Osprey for a long hike. The suspension alone was worth the extra weight over the UL packs, in my opinion.

    My Sawyer Squeeze froze the second night (my fault) and then a bag ripped. In Neal's Gap, I switched to Aquamira Drops for the rest of the trip. I did have a pump filter sent to me for Pennsylvania, because I heard the water can be untrustworthy. There was never a time that I needed to use the pump filter though. That is to say, I had a lot of rain while I was in PA and I started mid-March.

    My Zpacks bags lasted the entire trip, but they started to fray on the roll top part. I would purchase them again if I were to do another long distance trip.

    I swapped out my Winter bag for my Summer bag in Waynesboro, VA. We had a cool Spring this year. I still had nights that went below freezing temps well into Virginia. I purchased a 45 degree Marmot bag. I shortly sent back my sleeping bag liner. I used the liner for warmth and keeping my down bag clean. I didn't need the extra warmth anymore and my summer bag is synthetic, so I could wash it in town if I wanted to (although I never did, and it stinks).

    I carried my pillow the entire way. I tried my clothe bag for a pillow a few times but hated it. I didn't mind the few grams of weight for comfort at night.

    My Tyvec ground sheet worked great until around Vermont. It became so soft that it started to hold water when it rained. I could wring it out in the morning. If I were to do another long trip, I'd have a new ground sheet mailed to me halfway through the hike.

    My tent performed great. Most hikers who owned the same tent hated it. You cannot sit up in it. I am 5' 11" and didn't seem to have an issue with its size. It cost me $80 and weighed just over 2 pounds. I cannot complain.

    I loved my Jetboil. I would cook, eat and cleanup before some hikers finished cooking. I did need to replace it in Lincoln, NH because the threads on the stove stripped.

    I ditched my Nalgene bottle in Vermont. I didn't use it often enough.

    Clothes:
    I carried my base layers the entire hike.
    I always hiked with compression underwear on. If I didn't, I would get chaffing (I'm a skinny guy too).
    I sent home my Nanopuff jacket in Waynesboro
    My Frogg Togg jacket and pants didn't last. They ripped within the first 100 miles. I replaced the jacket for a Patagonia H2no and had Shower Pass rain pants sent to me. I sent home the rain pants in Virginia. I carried the rain jacket the whole way.
    I sent home my gaiters at Neal's Gap. I never wore them. Dirty Girl gaiters (or a similar style) are the only thing I would recommend for the AT.
    I went through 3 pairs of Brooks Cascadia 8 shoes. One pair went over 1200 miles. Amazing.
    I sent home my zip off pants in North Carolina. I hiked in shorts every day and put my base layer pants on in camp. If it was really cold, I'd wear my rain pants.
    I carried my beanie the entire trip although I sent my gloves home in Virginia.

    I sent home my Leatherman in Virginia. I purchased a cheap, light box cutter and still only used it a few times.

    I ditched my soap. I never used it.

    I snapped one of my Z-poles in Pennsylvania. Those rocks are brutal. Black Diamond allowed me to purchase a new pair for 40% off their lowest retail price. I purchased new BD poles and had them sent home. I purchased Leki poles in New Jersey and saved the new BD poles for another hike.

    I sent home my camp towel. I used my bandana for any cleaning.

    I sent home my sunglasses in Vermont. I had a few days when I wished I had them, but I did not miss them.

    I purchased an emergency blanket somewhere in Georgia. It was the best purchase, especially once I reached the North. There were a few nights in Maine that got down into the mid 40's. I only had my Summer bag with me. I laid out the emergency blanket inside my sleeping bag and slept comfortably the entire night.



    Resupplying was the biggest adjustment for me. The first four resupplies, I spent about an hour in the grocery store and then an hour tearing apart the food packaging, repacking it all and then stuffing it all back into my pack. By the end of the hike, I was in the store for 15 minutes and was packed up in another 15 minutes. I slowly learned how much I needed to eat, what I liked and what was easy to cook. I call myself a lazy hiker once in camp. I want to be eating in less than 15 minutes after setting up my tent. I would buy food that would help with my laziness.
    I am also the type of hiker to snack a lot. I could never eat large amounts of food at once. I could eat a regular meal and then eat another one an hour later. Because of this, I would pack snacks in my hip belt pocket so I could walk and eat. I always ate on flat ground or downhills.
    I always tried to purchase food that was already in a ziplock bag. For example, a lot of bit size candy now comes in 16oz bags with a zip top.

    Here is an average 4 day resupply for me:

    4x Poptarts (Smores tend not to grumble as easily)
    4x Carnation Instant Breakfast
    1x Quart ziplock of dry milk (I always tried to find Nido, but the further North I got, the harder it was to find)
    6x Snickers
    2x box of cookies or bars (Fignewtons, Chocolate/Coconut Bars, Oreos)
    1x box of Cheezits (I never got sick of them)
    1x Candy (I became hooked on Hersey Almond bites)
    10x Tortillas
    1x 8 oz jar of Nutritious peanut butter
    6x Thomas bagels (I would step on them so I could fit three in one quart size ziplock bag. Thomas bagels seemed to last the longest.)
    6x Easy Mac
    2x Tuna packs
    4x Ramen
    2x Instant mashed potatoes
    1x Uncle Ben's rice side
    1x 16 oz pack of Ravioli

    At the beginning of the hike, I thought I would make coffee every morning and drink tea or hot chocolate at night. That happened about twice and I became lazy.



    Here is some advice that was passed down to me:

    Wear liner socks!!! I wore one pair of Injinji toe socks the entire hike. They lasted the whole hike with no holes. Amazing. I also went the entire hike without a single blister. No joke. I read a book called Fixing Your Feet before the hike. I'd recommend it to any long distance hiker or runner.

    If there is a view, waterfall, tower, etc within 0.5 miles off the trail, go see it. An extra mile might seem annoying, but there are some really interesting things not far off the trail.

    Always eat the tastiest thing in your food bag first. Then, you'll always be eating the best thing.

    Don't be afraid to change your plans, even halfway through your day. For example, the group I was with planned to hike 17 miles one day. 4 miles into the day, we met a local that offered to drive us to a lake for the day. It ended up being one of the best days on the trail.

    Take a ton of pictures. Even if you don't feel like taking photos, do it. You will not regret it.

    Don't take what previous hikers say about certain dates as gospel. Use them only as a reference. So many hikers recommend to send your Winter gear home in Damascus and get your Winter gear back before the Whites. We had a cold Spring and a warmer Summer. I got my Summer gear in Waynesboro, VA and never got my Winter gear back. Everyone starts on a different date and every year the weather is different. I hiked with people who had some uncomfortable nights in Virginia because they sent their Winter gear home too early.

    Most of all, enjoy every day, even the days that suck. You remember the amazing days and the crappy days the most.


    Here is a video that I put together from my hike: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx5QQyG-Z7s

    Here is my blog that I wrote about each day: http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/


    If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!


    Good luck class of 2014!!
    Last edited by Cro-Mag; 09-02-2013 at 12:07.
    Out of step with the world...

    My trail blog:
    http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/

  2. #2
    Registered User DeerPath's Avatar
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    Default

    Good information using common sense.
    This video is in my top 10.
    Thanks for shearing.
    Happy Trails
    DeerPath

    LIFE'S JOURNEY IS NOT TO ARRIVE AT THE GRAVE SAFELY
    IN A WELL PRESERVED BODY,
    BUT RATHER SKID IN SIDEWAYS, TOTALLY WORN OUT,
    SHOUTING "HOLY CRAP....WHAT A RIDE!"

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Cro-Mag View Post

    Here is an average 4 day resupply for me:

    4x Poptarts (Smores tend not to grumble as easily)
    4x Carnation Instant Breakfast
    1x Quart ziplock of dry milk (I always tried to find Nido, but the further North I got, the harder it was to find)
    6x Snickers
    2x box of cookies or bars (Fignewtons, Chocolate/Coconut Bars, Oreos)
    1x box of Cheezits (I never got sick of them)
    1x Candy (I became hooked on Hersey Almond bites)
    10x Tortillas
    1x 8 oz jar of Nutritious peanut butter
    6x Thomas bagels (I would step on them so I could fit three in one quart size ziplock bag. Thomas bagels seemed to last the longest.)
    6x Easy Mac
    2x Tuna packs
    4x Ramen
    2x Instant mashed potatoes
    1x Uncle Ben's rice side
    1x 16 oz pack of Ravioli
    Great post. I'm trying to figure out what you ate for meals.

    Breakfast: Pop Tarts & instant breakfast
    Lunch: peanut butter concoction
    Supper: ????

    Seems like you've got about 12 meals there. Just wondering what you actually ate. Also, what did you buy for Mac & Cheese? Did you do freezer bag cooking?

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    Registered User
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    Thanks for great info. I'm planning a 2014 thru-hike, and I'm sure this contribution will make it a more probable success. Again, thanks for your info, especially how you started and what "corrections" you made.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DeerPath View Post
    Good information using common sense.
    This video is in my top 10.
    Thanks for shearing.
    Happy Trails
    Thank you!
    Out of step with the world...

    My trail blog:
    http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/

  6. #6
    Registered User Drybones's Avatar
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    Best post I've seen for anyone contemplating the long walk...great post, great video, great music.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bangorme View Post
    Great post. I'm trying to figure out what you ate for meals.

    Breakfast: Pop Tarts & instant breakfast
    Lunch: peanut butter concoction
    Supper: ????

    Seems like you've got about 12 meals there. Just wondering what you actually ate. Also, what did you buy for Mac & Cheese? Did you do freezer bag cooking?

    Thanks.
    Yes, I mainly used freezer bag cooking or just boiled water in my Jetboil and added pasta to the water.

    Breakfast: Poptart and instant breakfast
    Snack: Snickers bar and something else (fignewton, cliff bar, etc)
    Lunch: Bagel with peanut butter, a few handfuls of cheezits, some cookies and whatever else I felt like snacking on
    Dinner: This is where I would mix things up. I would always buy Kraft easy mac, the kind in the box, not the microwave kind. I would use 3 packs of easy mac and mix in one pack of tuna. Then I would put that mixture into tortillas. It was a very tasty meal.
    Another dinner was two packs of ramen and a pack of Uncle Ben's rice. Then I'd do a meal of two packs of ramen and use the leftover "broth" and mix that with instant mashed potatoes. It gave some extra flavor to the taters. The ravioli I would make as one dinner. It had about 1200 calories for one package. Sometimes I would buy a Knor side of alfredo sauce and mix it into the ravioli.
    Out of step with the world...

    My trail blog:
    http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sfdoc View Post
    Thanks for great info. I'm planning a 2014 thru-hike, and I'm sure this contribution will make it a more probable success. Again, thanks for your info, especially how you started and what "corrections" you made.
    Best of luck!
    Out of step with the world...

    My trail blog:
    http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Drybones View Post
    Best post I've seen for anyone contemplating the long walk...great post, great video, great music.
    Thank you!
    Out of step with the world...

    My trail blog:
    http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/

  10. #10
    Registered User Rayo's Avatar
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    This is a helpful thread because it shows newbies what gear--although maybe not the lightest, etc.--can work for a successful thru. Those shakedowns are part of the experience though and I'm glad I did one--otherwise I might've carried my rain pants past day three...

    Hike on!
    No worries; we're here to learn.
    My ink trail.

  11. #11

    Default

    Very entertaining video that is sure to inspire. Thanks for sharing, and best of luck with wherever life leads you.

  12. #12
    Registered User Double Wide's Avatar
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    Excellent info.

    Can't wait to read the blog!
    Double Wide is now BLUEBERRY
    Northbound (2nd Attempt) March 2017

  13. #13
    Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drybones View Post
    Best post I've seen for anyone contemplating the long walk...great post, great video, great music.
    I agree. One of the best posts hike Ive ever read. Congratulations on your hike. Ive watched your youtube videos and read some of your blog. Fantastic job!

  14. #14
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    Thanks for taking time to "give back" to next years class hiking the AT.
    Order your copy of the Appalachian Trail Passport at www.ATPassport.com

    Green Mountain House Hostel
    Manchester Center, VT

    http://www.greenmountainhouse.net

  15. #15
    Registered User
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    Awesome video! Great music and it looks like you two had a lot of fun out there. Thanks for sharing.
    ~Trudging the road of happy destiny~

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cro-Mag View Post

    Breakfast: Poptart and instant breakfast
    Snack: Snickers bar and something else (fignewton, cliff bar, etc)
    Lunch: Bagel with peanut butter, a few handfuls of cheezits, some cookies and whatever else I felt like snacking on
    Dinner: This is where I would mix things up. I would always buy Kraft easy mac, the kind in the box, not the microwave kind. I would use 3 packs of easy mac and mix in one pack of tuna. Then I would put that mixture into tortillas. It was a very tasty meal.
    Another dinner was two packs of ramen and a pack of Uncle Ben's rice. Then I'd do a meal of two packs of ramen and use the leftover "broth" and mix that with instant mashed potatoes. It gave some extra flavor to the taters. The ravioli I would make as one dinner. It had about 1200 calories for one package. Sometimes I would buy a Knor side of alfredo sauce and mix it into the ravioli.
    Ok, I'm seeing very little protein here. Was that a conscious decision, a matter of weight, matter of cost?

  17. #17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    Thanks for taking time to "give back" to next years class hiking the AT.
    I did not stay at your hostel but I visited it three times! My father lives down the street and we stopped by to drop things off at your place. I must say, your hostel was one of the best (if not the best) I visited on the AT.

    Thank YOU for taking the time to give back.
    Out of step with the world...

    My trail blog:
    http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/

  18. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bangorme View Post
    Ok, I'm seeing very little protein here. Was that a conscious decision, a matter of weight, matter of cost?
    You are correct. I loaded up on protein in town. I would sometimes buy jerky, but it is expensive. Tuna fish was my main source of protein while on the trail.
    I am no health expert but seemed to manage on the diet I ate. I am not saying it was a perfect diet and it would probably not work for everyone.
    Out of step with the world...

    My trail blog:
    http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/

  19. #19

    Default

    Did you use your iphone for the photos and video? Thanks for sharing!!!!!!

  20. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mtntopper View Post
    Did you use your iphone for the photos and video? Thanks for sharing!!!!!!
    I used my iPhone for 90% of my photos and videos. I would bounce a GoPro Hero 1 camera ahead of me and carry it for a few days at a time. I also used a Nikon P330 as my "fancy camera" until it broke right after the Smokies.
    Out of step with the world...

    My trail blog:
    http://saladdaysonthetrail.wordpress.com/

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