Let me be the first to tell you, I’m not a “gear head” nor a “gear junkie,” and I know one thing for sure, what works for one person won’t work for everybody! But after 1,100+ miles on the Appalachian Trail last year, I eventually learned what works for me (which is always subject to change)! Like most people, I started the trail with much too much, and my pack weighed way more than it needed to. There’s always the ability to minimalize more than I currently have, but this is as simple as I’m comfortable with at this time. However, after 2,200 more miles under my tread, this could change yet again!
For the last segment of my overly descriptive gear list, I’ll be covering a few “wearable” accessories I’ll be bringing along with me, some “luxury” items, and anything else I’ve left out.
For those cold and windy days, I have my Serius Windstopper Cyclone gloves that I just had lying around for winter-use. They’re old, but they work great!
I have a variety of head gear for different conditions. Since we’re on the topic of cold and windy, I have my Patagonia beanie which is fairly lightweight and doesn’t make my head overly sweaty.
For the sunny days, I have two options. I usually wear a Patagonia mesh baseball hat (sorry for the Pata”Gucci” overkill, by the way), which a friend gave me after discovering it was a children’s hat and didn’t fit his head. However, I recently was gifted a Trek trucker hat which I want to wear this year, since I’ve been writing and blogging for them. The bright white will, be sweat brown in no time!
I also occasionally wear a bandana on my head, but it also finds a home attached to the strap of my pack. It works well as a sweat rag on those hot days, and a snot rag on the cold ones.
Of course, sunglasses (with a super lightweight case), are another good item to have handy.
Although it could also pass as a luxury item, for rainy days, I have Rocky Gore-tex waterproof socks. Since I hike in trail runners that would otherwise flood, they’re nice to have when there’s snow, rain, or mud.
I decided I’m not likely bringing a phone with me (I’m one of those weirdos who still has a flip phone). There was hardly any reception last year on the trail and I doubt they’ve acquired more phone towers since then, so I’ll just wait until I’m around Wi-Fi. I have an iPod Touch which gets internet access so long as I have Wi-Fi to tap into which I’ll be using as a tablet to write in and for posting blog updates. I’m still getting used to the WordPress app, but if I can’t deal, I’ll just pay the local library a visit. Of course I’ll be carrying a cord and plug as well to charge while I’m in town.
While I’m on the go, I can keep my device charged with the Goal Zero Flip 20. It provides 4 full charges which is plenty in between towns. The only downside is it’s a little heavy.
Dumb maybe, but I purchased an AT Passport at Amicalola State Park in Georgia and it was fun getting stamps in it last year. I’m using the same one, so there’s already a number of stamps in it from local business I’ve visited and events I’ve attended. It’s only 1 oz. so why not?
To make notes in the guidebook (which I also use as a journal), I’ll have a pen handy. I’m sure you all know what a pen looks like, so moving on.
Gear wears down and occasionally gets holes in it, so I have a plastic baggie with a mini roll of duct tape and a patch kit. Tenacious Tape patches work great on clothing that gets holes in them. My old pack rubbed on the butt of my shorts on this one spot until both pairs had holes in them, and another time I stood too close to the fire and burned a tiny hole in my puffy. Holes happen! I’m debating a small sewing kit, but I’ll probably just bring a needle to pop some blisters. That’s all I used it for last time.
Totally unnecessary, but it’s nice to have a little hunk of insulation to park your butt on no matter where you are. So I’ll be bringing back my butt pad, otherwise called the Therm-a-rest z-Seat pad.
As far as stuff sacks are concerned, I’m leaving the fancy ones at home and settling for a small trash bag to shove my clothes into. My pack is waterproof, but to be on the safe side, I have a compactor bag which I stuff all items inside that I wouldn’t want getting wet and don’t need frequently (stuff I need frequent access to, like toilet paper will stay in the netting).
There are several guidebook options and a lot of people love Guthooks which is a guide you can upload to your device for a fee. I’m one of the peculiar book people who still goes to libraries and purchases books simply because I like touching pages, so instead I go for AWOL’s book of lies AT Guide. It’s a great guidebook, although given the ever changing conditions of the trail, you’ll occasionally hear people curse it anyway. It also notes where I can get more AT passport stamps which is an added bonus!
A headlamp is necessary while hiking at night or more frequently, for setting up camp at night or finding a place to poop in the dark. I had an older version of Black Diamond’s ReVolt headlamp which works great. The only problem is it doesn’t have red LEDs which are better to have at night when you’re moving around the shelter at night. Instead I have to dim it and shield it from the eyes of other hikers so I don’t wake everyone. The good part about it is, it’s rechargeable! I can use my Goal Zero to give it a boost if the batteries are shot.
Last but not least, would be my Black Diamond W’s Trail Trekking Poles. I love these! They’ve taken a beating and have lasted me forever, so when they break I will feel confident that they got their fair share of use, and it was money well spent. Even on the money spectrum, they’re pretty decently priced for trekking poles. Some people don’t hike with poles. On the AT last year, there were uncountable occasions that they kept me from severely busting my ass, so I wouldn’t hike without them. I also like the retractable feature over the folding poles more.