If you’re planning a NOBO thru-hike of the AT then there’s a good probability you’ve heard of Mountain Crossings, the hostel and clothes shop positioned straight on path at Neel Hole, mile 31.3. For many hikers, it’s the first resupply cease on their hike, and an opportunity to rethink their gear decisions for his or her coming trek. Even just some days on path is sufficient for most individuals to get a way of what’s, and extra importantly what isn’t, working of their setup.

In between my very own adventures, I’ve had the privilege of calling Mountain Crossings (or “the Hole” as we workers lovingly name it) dwelling. Throughout hiker season and previous months, my favourite a part of the job helps hikers dial of their equipment. I’ve carried out pack shakedowns with lots of of hikers, and within the course of helped them to cumulatively ship dwelling hundreds of kilos of drugs. In doing so, I’ve seen that again and again, hikers ditch the identical issues.

In case you are a potential thru-hiker or somebody who has questions on what to convey on a backpacking journey, it’s price being attentive to this development. Under I’ll go over a number of the most typical gadgets that hikers assume they want, however actually don’t. I’ll additionally current a short record of the necessities that you ought to be carrying with you on path.

Know Earlier than You Go: The Prime 5 Objects Ditched at Mountain Crossings

On the finish of the day what a hiker decides to hold of their pack is a private alternative. Everyone has their very own mixture of eager to be light-weight, snug, and budget-friendly. I’ll by no means disgrace anybody for his or her gear decisions, however it’s my job to share my opinion. As it’s throughout a shakedown, the next is merely recommendation from somebody who has been there earlier than. It’s as much as you to determine whether or not or not you’re taking it.

Orange Kitty, a valued member of the Mountain Crossings Staff, doesn’t decide your gear, however he does have ideas.

1. Sleeping Luggage with Excessive-Temperature Rankings (aka heat climate luggage)

I’ll admit this primary one is particular to these people who need to get an early begin on their hikes and assume that Georgia is perpetually heat. I used to be proper there with you after I moved down right here for my first winter. The truth is, I’ll be trustworthy — earlier than my AT thru-hike, I didn’t even know that Georgia had mountains. Nevertheless it does, they usually get very chilly. Indubitably, the commonest piece of drugs I promote earlier than mid-April is a hotter sleeping bag.

Right here I’m enjoying within the snow on Blood Mountain.

In the event you plan to get an early begin and attempt to beat the bubble save that summer time sleeping bag for later within the path. For the early season (assume January-March) you must anticipate temperatures beneath freezing each evening, with occasional bouts of near-zero temperatures. Ensure you have an acceptable sleep system for winter temperatures, and be taught the distinction between the “consolation score” and “survival score” in your bag or quilt. It will not be fairly as cozy as you assume.

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2. An Outfit for Each Day of the Week

This one is a fast repair that may lower kilos off your base weight. When you can put on clear garments each day whereas off-trail in case you like, you actually don’t have to while you’re out within the woods. You’re hiker trash, embrace it. Depart redundant extras at dwelling until you completely can’t do with out.

I like to recommend carrying one outfit for mountain climbing and one for sleeping/hanging out at camp. Appropriate exceptions to this rule are a number of pairs of socks and underwear, however it’s nonetheless clever to restrict extra. Two to 3 pairs of every ought to be lots for many thru-hikers, and plenty of don’t carry underwear in any respect. In any other case, no want to hold an additional pair of shorts or shirt. I promise that no person on path goes to guage you for a stain or smelling dangerous. All of us stink. On that observe, ditch the deodorant too.

3. Bush Crafting Gear

When you ought to completely be ready to be self-sufficient within the backcountry, it is very important be practical about what to anticipate.  The AT just isn’t a real wilderness expertise within the conventional Hollywood sense. You’ll probably see individuals each day, and the path is well-marked whereas by no means being too removed from civilization. Your subsequent beer and burger are just a few days away. You’re not getting down to survive for prolonged intervals of time whereas fully alone.

Depart the machetes and axes at dwelling — you’ll not want them. Earlier this 12 months I helped a hiker pair down their pack, and within the course of, they despatched dwelling 12 kilos of knives, a machete, and a hatchet. I personally solely carry a tiny Swiss Military knife, used virtually completely for opening pesky packaging on my meals.

4. A E book

This one could be a little controversial, however for me it merely just isn’t definitely worth the weight. I simply threw my present learn (Drunk: How we Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Strategy to Civilization by Edward Slingerland) on the dimensions. 12.3 ounces. It won’t sound like so much by itself, however ounces add up rapidly. That’s like 5 Clif Bars.

Most individuals discover they’ve much less downtime to learn than they imagined. Between organising camp and consuming dinner on the finish of an exhausting day, or making pals and tramily members, most individuals merely would not have the time or vitality to learn. In the event you’re really decided to knock just a few books off your record whereas on path I might advocate studying in your cellphone or listening to audiobooks. There are many nice apps the place you’ll be able to obtain your subsequent learn.

Nonetheless, if you end up wishing that you just had bodily pages to flip by way of, then you’ll be able to at all times add a paperback later. Mail one to your self or peruse a thrift store.

5. Redundant Gear

Choose one. You don’t want each. Photograph courtesy of Taylor Bell.

Whereas it’s not a selected merchandise, redundant gear is probably going the commonest merchandise I assist hikers ship dwelling. Whereas I encourage carrying issues like a needle and thread or a patch equipment, you don’t want a backup for the whole lot you carry.

I’ve met a hiker carrying three water filters and purification tablets. One will do. If for some motive one thing you’re carrying breaks, it will likely be okay. You simply have to get to the following city, and there are many different hikers round. I’m positive at the least one can be greater than prepared to assist. Have to mild your range, however misplaced your lighter? Everybody else on the shelter has one. Borrow one in all them till you get to that subsequent fuel station.

This similar thought course of applies to a number of gas canisters, batteries, headlamps, and so on. You title it and I’ve seen somebody carrying three of it. All the pieces in your pack ought to serve its personal distinctive goal.

Bonus: “Low cost” Gear

Whereas I perceive everybody has a funds, low-cost gear can carry extra prices past its greenback quantity. Sometimes, these embody lowered sturdiness and elevated weight. For me, high-end backpacking gear is an funding in my very own consolation. A lighter pack means a happier Moose Juice(me!).

At Mountain Crossings I ship dwelling outdated tents, packs, and sleeping luggage each day. After carrying heavy gear up these steps at Amicalola Falls after which down the grueling descent of Blood Mountain, many hikers come to the identical realization. Light-weight gear is definitely worth the price ticket.

You don’t have to interrupt the financial institution to go ultralight. For my part, the best strategy to lighten your load is to easily carry much less. In the event you’re what budget-friendly gear to purchase for an upcoming hike, give this submit a learn Ultralight For Below $1,000.

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What You DO Want: Don’t overlook the necessities

Backpacking could be so simple as you make it. One of many best impacts it has had on my life has been instructing me methods to do extra with much less. For many of my hikes, I attempt to pack fairly minimalist, balancing weight and luxury, relying on the journey. I’m continually altering up my equipment and making an attempt out new gadgets, but when I had been to affix the AT class of 2024 my gear record would appear to be this:

Shelter: Tarp/tent combo

A tent with bug safety is a good suggestion on the AT. Photograph courtesy of Owen Eigenbrot.

On the AT I used a hammock for the primary half and a tarp for the second. I might take a tarp once more, however I’d probably change to a tent in some unspecified time in the future because the bugs began to get dangerous, probably one thing double-walled to assist with condensation. If I used to be planning to hike throughout the bubble I might carry a tent the complete means for the added privateness. I’ve determined hammocks simply aren’t for me.

READ NEXT — Prime Tents and Shelters on the AT: 2022 Via-Hiker Survey

Backpack: Consolation above all

Judging by my pack measurement, I’m both a idiot or simply very selective in my gear decisions. Any guesses? This setup is geared in the direction of lengthy mountain climbing days vs. comfortably lounging in camp.

Backpacks are so private that it’s arduous to supply recommendation to individuals with out them making an attempt just a few on. I like to inform folks that one of the best pack is the one that’s most snug for you. If it’s light-weight, that’s only a bonus. City stops are so frequent on the AT that massive packs aren’t needed, however ensure that yours can match all your gear with room to spare for meals.

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Sleep System: Sleeping bag or quilt?

I change sides virtually each day on the quilt versus sleeping bag debate. On three completely different lengthy trails I’ve used three completely different quilts. Nonetheless, every time I hop into my mummy bag I’m reminded simply how cozy they are often. Beginning northbound on the AT with the bubble I might take my 20-degree sleeping bag plus a silk liner. I’d pair these with a sleeping pad with an R-value of at the least 4. I sleep on the nice and cozy finish of the spectrum, and I really hate being chilly.

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Garments

Myself, Lifeguard, and Showman rocking our rain gear.

Once more that is one which varies dramatically between hikers. I like button-up solar shirts for all climate. Then, both working shorts or light-weight pants relying on the season, however not each. I’ll usually carry two pairs of underwear and three pairs of socks. For sleeping I like artificial base layers. Wool is nice too. Nothing cotton. Ever.

Along with my mountain climbing and sleeping garments, I at all times carry a mid-layer, puffy jacket, and a rain jacket. I’ll carry rain pants, gloves, and a winter hat in colder months, however usually go with out.

Miscellaneous

That just about covers the massive gadgets in my pack, however there are nonetheless just a few odds and ends. I’ll add a really minimal first-aid equipment, bathroom equipment, a spoon, water filter, Garmin, sunscreen, bug spray, meals storage, and an influence financial institution. Aside from that, I don’t want it sufficient to justify carrying it.

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Take A Hike: No actually, go for a hike first

My Tramily (left to proper: Spud, Lifeguard, Moose Juice (me), Showman, Waffles) at Springer. We made it and you’ll too.

That’s what works for me, but it surely’s necessary to determine what works for you. My favourite piece of recommendation to offer (and coincidentally my favourite diss) is to go take a hike. Check your setup earlier than you allow in your large journey with the intention to take the issues that matter and depart behind the issues that don’t. It can save you a whole lot of ache, each bodily and financially, by listening to the specialists and doing it proper the primary time. Nonetheless, expertise is at all times one of the best instructor. Nonetheless, you don’t want to attend for AT Day 1 to start the training course of.

On the finish of the day, what you select to hold is as much as you. Simply bear in mind to have enjoyable and that assist could be discovered wherever you’re prepared to ask for it. Via-hikers are an incredible group, prepared and excited to assist one another.

Featured picture: A Moose Juice photograph. Graphic design by Zack Goldman.

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