Knowing what to bring when planning a thru-hike like the AT can be daunting. Not only do you need gear that's light enough to carry for months, but you also need it to last for as long as possible so you don't face dangerous gear failures on the trail.
So what do you bring?
Here's our list, & it only weighs 10 lbs!
*note: this does NOT include food & water weight. More details about apparel, sleep systems, shelters, & packs are below.
- Trekking Poles
- Sun Hat
- Polarized Glasses
- Shadowlight Backpack
- Food, Snacks, and Supplements
- Garmin InReach Mini
- Toilet Paper
- Toaks Spoon
- Toaks Alcohol Stove
- Toaks Titanium Pot
- Platypus Filter and Dirty Bag
- Bug Spray
- Tushar Rain Jacket
- Rain Mitts
- Rain Skirt
- Foam Pad
- Glasses Carry Bag
- Ventus Hoodie
- First Aid Kit
- Battery Bank
- GoPro Hero 9
- GoPro Batteries
- Sleeping Pad
- Darn Tough Socks
- Injinji Socks
- Merino Wool Gloves
- Altitude Hoodie
- Training Shorts
- Compression Shorts
- 30 Degree TopQuilt
- Dry Bag
- Fortius Tent
- Smart Water Bottles
- Front Water Bottle Carrier
A lot of clothing won't count towards the 10 lb. base weight since they will almost always be worn on your body.
Things like your shorts, shoes, gaiters, sunshirt, & 1 pair of socks will be on your person at all times (we recommend bringing an extra pair of socks in your pack, & maybe an extra baselayer shirt & underwear.)
But there are some apparel items you'll need only occasionally, such as an insulating jacket, rain gear, gloves, etc.
Now, our list is specifically for summer time in Virginia. To be able to hike comfortably in slightly cooler environments along the Appalachian Trail or at different times of the year, you may want to upgrade to something like the Vario (synthetic option for 3 season use.)
Your sleep system will make a BIG difference in how comfortable you are on the trail - both in terms of weight & packability, and in how comfortable & effective it is.
A down topquilt is one of the best ways to stay warm & comfortable while shaving a decent amount of weight from your pack. Quilts are a lot lighter than traditional mummy sleeping bags, but can be just as warm!
Having a good sleeping pad is equally important! There are a lot of good pads out there, but the Oblivion is in our opinion the most comfortable.
You may be tempted to just focus on weight when it comes to choosing a pad.
Be warned, that's not our recommended approach.
Getting a good sleep on the trail is irreplaceable when it comes to the physical exertion you're putting out. Shaving off a few ounces will NOT make up for a poor night of sleep.
For that same reason we ALWAYS bring a backpacking pillow on any trip! At just 2.5 ounces, the improvement in sleep quality is just worth it!
All along the Appalachian Trail there are man-made shelters where hikers can stop and find refuge.
However, these shelters are often packed full, & you'll need to have a shelter of your own to keep you protected.
Trekking pole style tents are one of the lightest weight & efficient options available.
But not all trekking pole tents are created equally!
You'll want to pay close attention to design while selecting a tent so you have something you can rely on even in gusty nights or really bad weather.
The Fortius Trekking Pole Tent was built to be more storm worthy with additional storm points where guy out lines can be attached to reinforce the tent against directional wind.
You do NOT want your tent to get blown over in the middle of a storm.
So what about backpacks?
For the amount of food you'll be carrying and the number of miles you'll be hiking, we strongly suggest finding something with a frame and functional load lifters.
A framed pack with good load lifters above the shoulders can actually distribute your pack weight better and keep you more comfortable for all-day hiking. If load lifters aren't connected to a good frame and sit even with or below the tops of your shoulders, you'll never be able to distribute the weight from your shoulders to your hips.
The Shadowlight Backpack has a full frame & load lifters while maintaining an ultralight weight of under 2 lbs. It has large hip belt pockets, stretch mesh pockets, and a roll top with a bit of extra capacity if you need it.
How to Pack
Packing your gear really comes down to personal preference, but to get more details on this gear list & to see how we packed it all, check out this video:
When our founder, Tayson, flew out to Virginia to hike 100 miles of the AT, it was eye-opening! It was very different than a lot of the hikes around our headquarters out here in the West.
You can watch Tayson & Tyler's journey as they hiked 100 miles of the AT in just 4 full days in a COMPLETELY new environment! Just click below:
Not to be picky… but you guys forgot toothbrush and toothpaste!
Hey! Great post. I’ve got the Merino wool gloves to fill that blank in your gear list!. Send me your mailing address and I’ll send you some samples from Minus33. Cheers!
I think you all should come up with a ultra lite 4 season free standing tent, it’d be real cool