Before I started my Appalachian Trail thru-hike in March of 2022, I spent months researching, buying, and testing backpacking gear. I read reviews and watched YouTube videos detailing all “the best” gear for thru-hiking. I found through trial and error that “the best” for others wasn’t always the best for me, and that the best for me was gear that was comfortable, functional, lightweight, and within my budget. I made a lot of changes to my gear during my hike, and by the end of the six months I spent on trail, my pack and gear was pretty well dialed in. For anyone that’s considering a thru-hike or even just getting started with backpacking and looking for gear recommendations, here’s a list of all the gear I used on my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Pack explosion before starting my thru-hike
The Big Three
The big three are the heaviest and most expensive pieces of gear you’ll use when backpacking and consist of your backpack, shelter, and sleep system. You’ll find that the lighter weight options have a higher price tag, so I tried to find gear that was in the middle in terms of cost, weight, and comfort.
- Backpack: Osprey Aura AG 65 L (I removed the brain and just used the pack)
- Shelter: Warbonnet Original Blackbird Hammock, Warbonnet Superfly Tarp, lines and stakes. After 500 miles, I switched from a hammock setup to a tent. I decided I preferred the extra space and the “home” feel of having a tent. I bought the Big Agnes Tigerwall UL 2 and used that for the remainder of my hike.
- Sleep System: When I was using the hammock, I used the UGQ Bandit top quilt and the UGQ Zeppelin Underquilt. When I switched to the tent, I bought a Nemo Tensor Insulated sleeping pad and sent home the underquilt. I kept my top quilt for the whole hike. I also used the Nemo Fillo Pillow for about half of the hike before I switched to just using my clothing bag for a pillow.
My tent set up in Maine along the Appalachian Trail. The Big Agnes Tigerwall UL2 was a great tent- lightweight, easy set up, and held up to some heavy downpours.
- Phone- Google Pixel 6 and Google Fi phone service (Google Fi was a great carrier on the AT, on par with Verizon for most of the way)
- Power Bank- Anker Powercore 20000 mAh
- Charger block- Anker USB-C 40W Nano Pro charger
- Cords- 2 USB-C charging cords and a micro USB cord
- Headlamp- Petzl Tikka with rechargeable battery
- Headphones- Pixel Buds A-series bluetooth headphones and a wired set of headphone (I sent the wired ones home and kept the bluetooth headphones for the whole hike)
- GPS- Garmin Inreach Mini 2
- Clip light- I clipped this Nite Ize Moonlit light inside my hammock/tent to use at night
- Dry bag- Sea to Summit lightweight dry bag to keep electronics dry
- Bear can- Bearvault BV500 - I carried this for 500 miles and then switched to a bag and some lightweight rope I found in a hiker box.
- Cook pot- Toaks Titanium 750 mL pot with lid
- Stove- BRS ultralight stove
- Fuel can
- Spoon- Toaks long handle spoon and a hand carved wooden spoon (the wooden spoon was a gift, and I used it for breakfast every day).
- Bandana- I wrapped my fuel can in a bandana before tucking it into my cook pot to keep it from rusting.
- DIY coozie- I made one of these to use to rehydrate my meals. I used the freezer bag cook method the whole way, and the coozie worked great.
- Mug- I used a GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker mug during the cold months but sent it home in Damascus and just used my pot for hot drinks.
- Filter- Sawyer Squeeze - I kept the filter and flip cap and left the other accessories at home.
- Filter coupler- I used this to set up my sawyer as a gravity filter
- Dirty water bag- CNOC 2 L bag - this bag was super durable!
- Water bottles- one 1L SmartWater bottle and one 750mL SmartWater sport bottle. I used the 1L bottle for regular water and the sport bottle for mixing electrolytes
- Bite valve- My hiking partner cut a hole into a SmartWater bottle cap, pushed a tube through, and attached a bite valve. I ran this over my shoulder so I could drink during the day without getting my bottle out of my pack. It worked great!
- Mini carabiner- I used this to hang my CNOC bag for gravity filtration
- Backup filtration- I carried these tablets but never had to use them
- Trekking poles- Black Diamond Trail Trek poles
- Fanny pack- Thrupack Summit Bum with comfy strap (I affectionately called this my snack sack! I loaded it with snacks every day and used it to carry my phone, headphones, knife, chapstick, and hand sanitizer)
- Pocket knife- Benchmade Bugout Mini
- Sunglasses - to keep the gnats out more than the sun
- Gear Ties- Nite Ize gear ties- multiple sizes
- Duct tape- wrapped around my trekking poles
- Gear repair patches - Tenacious Tape
- Needle and thread
- Pepper spray- I brought this pepper spray to appease my dad, but ended up losing it after a couple of months
- Towel- PackTowl ultralight towel- I added this in the summer to wipe the sweat off my face
Hygiene and First Aid
- Soap- small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s
- Hand sanitizer
- Bidet- I carried the Holey Hiker bidet the whole way as a backup in case I ran out of TP
- Toilet paper
- P-style- I started with this pee funnel, but found I couldn’t pee while standing with my pack on, so I sent it home
- Baby wipes- I sent these home pretty early as I found I didn’t use them often
- Deodorant- Ya I know.. Dumb. But I carried a tiny travel size that I liked to use on town days
- Aquaphor - a small tube for chafing, rashes, and lip balm
- Bug spray- I preferred picaridin and only carried in the summer
- Sunscreen- only carried in the summer
- Leukotape - I cut small sections of this medical tape and stuck them to the backing of mailing labels to keep them sticky. They worked great for blisters and chafing spots
- Ace Bandage- I actually used this to help a woman that had fallen and broken her arm
- Anti-diarrheal pills
- Nail clippers
- Emergency blanket- I used one of these on two separate occasions and was very glad to have them
- Shoes- I started with Saucony Peregrine running shoes, switched to Hoka Speedgoat 5 and then switched back. I went through 5 pairs of shoes during the trek
- Camp shoes- I wore Bedrock sandals at camp and on town days
- Insoles- I added these Superfeet Trailblazer insoles in Pennsylvania and they made such a huge difference. The rock plate and support helped heal my foot pain from the Pennsylvania rocks
- Socks- 2 pairs Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew socks, 1 pair of SmartWool socks for sleeping, and a pair of Injinji sock liners. I stopped using the sock liners after a few days (they actually gave me blisters!) and sent the sleep socks home after 500 miles. The Darn Tough socks are my new favorite everyday socks!
- Compression socks- These were a life-saver in Pennsylvania. A friend gave them to me when I complained about the horrible plantar fasciitis I was experiencing from the rocks in PA. I wore these every night at camp to help get the swelling in my feet to go down.
- Underwear- 2 pairs of ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport 2.0 underwear and 2 sports bras. I started with 1 bra and added a second during the summer so I could rinse and alternate every other day.
- Shorts - Inexpensive athletic shorts
- Tank top - Inexpensive athletic tank top
- Fleece lined leggings- I’ve had a pair of cheap fleece leggings for years, and they were great on cold days on the trail. I sent them home after 500 miles.
- Base layers- I started with SmartWool 250 top and bottom, and switched to a lighter weight top and midweight bottom from REI after 500 miles
- Midlayer- Patagonia R1 Fleece zip up jacket
- Puffy- Patagonia Nano Puff jacket
- Rain jacket- Patagonia Torrentshell rain jacket- I switched to a lighter weight pullover jacket in New Hampshire
- Beanie and gloves- I sent these home in Damascus and got them back in New Hampshire
- Buff- I carried 2 Buffs most of the hike
- Stuff sack- for clothes
- Sit pad- Gossamer Gear Thinlight foam pad
- Hiking umbrella- Gossamer Gear Lightrek umbrella- I carried this all the way to New Hampshire before I sent it home. It was nice to have during the cold rain of the winter months, but I rarely used it in the summer
- Playing cards - I picked up a set in a hiker box in Georgia and carried them the rest of the way. It was fun to play cards at night before bed
- Journal- I started with a little pocket journal but it was too small for me. I ended up carrying just a regular sized notebook in a gallon ziplock bag for most of the trip.
- Town clothes- At some point, I bought a cute romper online and carried that with me for town days. It was so nice to put on something other than hiking clothes!
- Battery powered fan- I got a small rechargeable fan from a trail magic stop in the summer and carried it the rest of the way. It was heavy, but so worth it to have a fan blowing on me at night when it was hot and humid!
And there ya have it! That's everything I carried from Georgia to Maine on my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Sorry to all you ultralighters out there...this probably wasn't your cup of tea..I never measured my base weight, but my pack weighed 31 pounds at Amicalola Falls when I checked in. I dropped a lot of weight as I whittled down my pack, but added more luxury items as my legs got stronger, so I think I was still carrying 31 pounds at the end. If you want to know more about the gear I used and why, stay tuned for more in-depth reviews and gear lists coming soon!