Monday, January 9, 2012

AT thru hiker gear

UPDATE: to see the gear I finally decided on and my reviews after my thru hike, see HERE.
Sometimes, thinking about thru hiking gear literally makes my head explode.

Back in May when I was first entertaining the idea of a thru hike, I looked at a lot of blogs and hiking forums on Thru hikers, it seems, are obsessed with spreadsheets documenting the weight of their packs.  I had always known about the weight obsession... when you're carrying everything on your back, weight is crucial and every ounce counts.  But the endless lists and spreadsheets actually deterred me from going. All that planning looked like a headache.

Fast forward to October.  I was comparing tents and sleeping systems and things and I thought to myself, "Man, I really ought to make a spreadsheet with all this information."

So... now I'm one of them- one of those spreadsheet people.  Sometimes I get to a point when I can't figure out which specific gear item I like best and I start to go a little crazy and have to just decide I'll think about it later. I have a love hate relationship with sleeping pads right now.
In the past several years, there has been a huge transition towards ultra light backpacking.  This book (Lighten Up! by Don Ladigin) is an excellent resource for those who want to learn a little more about how to get your packweight under 20 pounds.  While I certainly won't make it under 20, anyone could benefit from the ideas he proposes.

Here are some important items that I have decided on:

Pack- Mountainsmith something or other... Got it in Utah, liked it, keeping it.  It's not the lightest pack you could find- I haven't weighed it but I'm guessing it's around 4 lbs.  If I didn't already have it, I would probably go for a frameless lightweight pack that is around 2.5 lbs.

Boots- I just decided over the weekend to exchange the Vasque Breeze hiking boots I have been trying out for a lighter weight hiking shoe, like Keen's Targhee women's shoe:

I have toe issues sometimes, and I've heard that Keens tend to have a wide toe box. And they draw me in with their cute shoelaces.

Tent- TarpTent Notch- 1 lb 10 oz, baby. This model is brand new as of a month ago, and I just got an email today notifying me that it has shipped. The genius behind the Tarp Tent (and other similar models like LightHeart gear) is in the lack of tent poles. No tent poles = less weight. Instead, you use your trekking poles as supports.

Sleeping bag- I'm leaning towards the ZPacks sleeping bag, which is only 1 lb.  My next favorite is the Te-Wa quilt, which has a friendlier price tag. It's crazy to me that the sleeping bag is by far the most expensive item! Especially since I'll switch over to a simple fleece liner for the summer months.

Sleeping pad. Something self inflatable and light. I'm up for suggestions.
Clothing... this overwhelms me the most.  One of the reasons I'm starting early April instead of mid March like most people is to avoid some of the cold.  I'm still not sure exactly how many layers I'll need to bring to be comfortable.

This weekend was lovely and my parents, Beau, and I went for a little day hike on the north end of the "roller coaster".

82 days.... aahhh!


  1. I don't want this to deter you from going (although I don't think anything will), but I'm already thinking about how much I'm going to MISS YOU! Single tear, left cheek.

  2. I sure hope your head doesn't LITERALLY explore. That would be quite a mess! Haha. But seriously Kenz, I expected more.

  3. Katherine! The link on the word "literally"! It's a blog documenting published abuse of the word "literally". I joke!

  4. I love my keens for hiking! Hope you like yours as much as I do mine. I can't believe you are gonna do this hike. Ok I can, but I will pray for you every day! Love you!