Friday, January 25, 2013

What to Wear on the Appalachian Trail

One of the things that intimidated me when I was preparing for my thru hike was deciding what to wear.  Summer seemed easy enough- running shorts and a wicking shirt.  But packing for winter hiking looked daunting.  Take too many layers and you're feeling bulky, carrying too much weight, and spent too much money.  Take too few and you're miserable because you're cold. Or you have hypothermia. Game over!  Different materials also bring a lot of choices.  Down doesn't dry well, but is so toasty.  Fleece is kind of bulky, but is warm and breathes well.  And, let's face it, I want it to look kind of cute.  (Fact: I owned zip off hiking pants long before thru hiking and did not bring them because they are terribly unflattering.)

So, here's what I've found to be a good combination for me:
1- Running tights, C9 by Target (WAY superior to actual hiking pants- dries quicker, doesn't drag on the ground and pick up mud, more comfortable, probably cheaper)
2- Patagonia Micro Puff, (I LOVE this coat. The link is actually to the Nano Puff. The Micro Puff is warmer, but apparently no longer offered? Nano Puff would still be good.)
3- Tech tee, Reebook previously owned (I carried two)
4- Zip up tech shirt, previously owned no name brand (A full length zipper would be preferred so you can get more ventilation and take the jacket off without removing your backpack. But I already had this and didn't want to buy another.)
5- Sports bra, C9 by Target
6- Hat, 5 below
7- Gloves, previously owned cheap ones (I knew I wouldn't encounter too much snow and didn't bother with expensive waterproof gloves.)
8- Liners, REI (I had one pair of  REI brand and one pair of these Fox River. While both lasted my whole hike, the latter was more durable and comfortable.)
9- Smartwool socks, REI (Don't bother with the PhD kind- they wear out quicker. People really liked DarnTuff, too. I had two pairs of hiking socks.)
10- Keen Voyageur, EMS (I really prefer REI, but they didn't carry the ankle length option for these boots. Boo.)
Not pictured because I forgot them when I made this graphic - Underwear, Ex Oficio (I don't really know if this fancy wicking underwear is worth it, but I didn't experience any chafing, either...I carried two.)

And for sleeping and baselayer options:

1- Tech Midweight Baselayer top, EMS
2- Tech Midweight Baselayer bottoms, EMS
3- Hat, 5 below
4- Smartwool socks, REI (Separate pair for sleeping kept in a ziploc to avoid perpetually wet feet)
5- Crocs (I am really embarrassed that I own these.  But they're great for camp shoes.)
Just looking at this makes me want to do some winter hiking!


  1. I like this list - and I'm with you, I like to look somewhat cute too (somewhat ironic considering how infrequently I showered) and those convertible pants are so unflattering. I went with a skirt and thin wool tights. Totally worth it to feel kinda cute.

    1. i haven't found a hiking skirt i love! you should do a write up on your blog! :)