Another one of the questions that I often get messages about is what gear do you use? Here’s my list. You can get much of this stuff on Amazon or you may have to visit company’s like Gander Mountain. When it comes to getting a backpack, I recommend getting fitted for the bag. A medium in one brand may not fit the same on you as a medium in another. I have much of this saved in an Amazon wish list for you to easily add stuff to your cart. Remember, your support supports this website along with Photographer’s Tips. After breaking my back, I’ve not been able to get out into nature as much. Your purchases through these links are appreciated.
Keep in mind that a thru-hike is expensive and you want the right gear to make your journey more pleasant. Do your best to keep your weight down.
This list includes winter clothing. If you are going to only hike during the warm months, you can omit some of these. Be sure you check the weather. Remember the mountains are cooler at night.
Cotton is your enemy. Stay away. Use synthetic. Have a separate pair of clothing as your camp clothes and light shoes like Crocs.
- Underwear (Synthetic).
- Synthetic short-sleeve shirts – I use the cheaper Hanes for summer. They work just fine.
- Synthetic, lightweight long underwear.
- Convertible zip pants.
- Synthetic, midweight long-sleeve base layer top – choose a reputable brand. Consider wool or wool blend for the winter.
- Fleece, wool, or wool blend top.
- Down jacket.
- Rain pants and rain top.
- Socks, synthetic. Wool for winter nights.
- Fleece or wool beanies/hat. I also carry a bicycling cap for when it rains. It holds in heat even though it’s wet and saves my beanie for when I’m trying to get warm and dry.
- Gloves, waterproof and wool liners. I will often just wear wool liners. You can use extra socks as mittens.
- Lightweight shoes or boots.
See “How to properly layer for your winter backpacking trip” for a more in depth look at my packing list and winter layering tips.
- The A.T. Guide Northbound or A.T. Guide Southbound or appropriate guide/maps for the trail you are backpacking and possibly a compass. The AT is pretty straightforward.
- Backpack with internal frame. Get fitted for this. Don’t just buy it blind. Choose a pack between 40-64 liters based upon your needs and season.
- Light-weight tent. Some people use camp tarps. Consider getting a tent footprint as well.
- Summer and winter down sleeping bags with waterproof covers.
- Sleeping pad.
- Camp pillow.
- Trekking poles. I’ve used the cheaper ones at Walmart and they’ve lasted. Optional but if there are mountains they do help steady your gait plus going up and down the hillsides.
- Water bladder and BPA-free water bottle.
- Water filter and water tablets in case of filter failure.
- Stuff sacks and waterproof bags. My clothes and food are always in a waterproof bag.
- Cooking stove and fuel.
- Small knife. Leave the heavy Gerber and hunting knives at home.
- First aid kit to include insect repellent and sunscreen.
- Toiletries to include baby wipes.
- Camera or use your smartphone.
*pictured is my dog and a good friend. If you have a dog, let them carry their own weight.
Updated Feb. 3, 2017 to add link for “How to properly layer for your winter backpacking trip.”