Are you planning a long-distance hike? Would you like gear that can final the entire time? After all you do. Who doesn’t!?! Gearing up for a jaunt by means of the wilderness will be an costly proposition, and apart from recognized consumables corresponding to footwear, you really need that expensive gear to make it to the tip. Damaged gear is a bummer, and the AT sees greater than its fair proportion.

Whereas hikers spend arguably an excessive amount of time drooling over gear that saves them simply an oz. on their baseweight, the lightest gear typically trades sturdiness for that weight discount. This isn’t at all times the case, however if you’d like gear that lasts, then you should take into account greater than the listed heft on the spec sheet. Typically particular supplies have a status for being extra/much less sturdy. Typically it comes all the way down to utilizing this extremely specialised gear rigorously and within the method for which it was meant. Gear opinions and buyer suggestions can present enlightening perception, however even essentially the most cautious analysis doesn’t at all times pay dividends on the path.

Finally, you gained’t know what is going to final and what gained’t till you’re on the market placing it to the check. This was my expertise on the Appalachian Path. Under is a number of the gear that didn’t make it the entire 2,198.4 miles on the AT — and the gear that did.

The Gear That Broke

Right here’s the stuff that didn’t survive the AT. Whereas I don’t suppose that that is ‘unhealthy’ gear, it simply didn’t final for me.

Trekking Poles

These had been the primary to go. My REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles couldn’t face up to the variety of instances I face-planted. In the event you’re a gentler hiker, you may have the ability to make them last more than I did, however the rocky AT is understood to chew up poles. At first, one of many handles broke, so I exchanged them for a brand new pair in northern Virginia. Then the rocks of Pennsylvania ate one other one. I tripped whereas balancing alongside the rocks, and my pole determined to snap as an alternative of holding me upright. Happily, I used to be tremendous after my tumble, however I associated to my poor pole in that second. 

With out a right away various, I continued to make use of the pole with no tip. The miles wore it down till it felt like a youngsters’s trekking pole, however it nonetheless labored. And I might have been tremendous persevering with like this till, in southern Maine, my second trekking pole snapped. This one was worse and broke farther up the shaft. I used to be screwed. My shelter required two fairly lengthy poles to pitch and now each my trekking poles had been shrinking.

Different: Lastly, I gave up and switched to aluminum poles, the Leki Voyager. These had been fairly a bit heavier and I might not advocate them to actually anybody  — however I used to be determined and wanted one thing low cost that wouldn’t break. Certain sufficient, I’ve bashed these poles exhausting towards rocks once I’m tripping round, and so they’ve held up.

My companion loved extra success along with his trekking pole, a Zpacks Carbon Fiber Trekking pole. It lasted for over 1,000 miles till it snapped in New Hampshire. Whereas it was a bit of heavier than my REI poles, and was made with barely thicker carbon fiber, this appeared to have paid off in longevity. Nonetheless, breaking at 1,000 miles isn’t precisely a glowing suggestion. On a path as rugged because the AT, trekking poles particularly are one factor in your gear checklist the place ‘lightest’ doesn’t equal ‘greatest’. The lightest aluminum poles are solely barely heavier than carbon and can be extra sturdy.

READ NEXT — Greatest Trekking Poles for Through-Climbing

Sleeping Pad

My NEMO Tensor survived puncture-free till New Jersey. There, I found a gap once I awoke on the ground of a shelter. With the assistance of close by Crater Lake, I used to be capable of determine and patch the pinhole leak, and this restore held up alright till southern Maine.

The grip I had on this pad was stronger than my grip on sanity.

This time, I might hear the air gushing out of the pad. On the town, I used water once more to determine the leak, then patched it with gear patches and copious duct tape. It wasn’t fairly, however surprisingly, this held up with simply minor nightly deflation till the Hundred Mile Wilderness the place I by accident ripped the valve open.

The valve was caught shut as I attempted to deflate it, so I pulled more durable and — rippppp — no extra sleep for me for the remainder of the hike. There’s no fixing an inflatable sleeping pad when it rips on the valve.

Different: A foam sleeping pad. In the event you’re involved that an inflatable pad will allow you to down (not unlikely on a protracted thru-hike), simply go along with a foam pad and get sub-par sleep till you get used to it. An inflatable pad is perhaps extra comfy, however solely when it holds air. In any other case, it’s darn close to ineffective.

Nonetheless, you may wrestle to ditch the inflatable when you’re a aspect sleeper like me. My hips damage each morning when utilizing my foam substitute pad. On this case, take into account making sturdiness a precedence when purchasing for an inflatable pad. What you discover may weigh extra, however there’s no worse use of your treasured vitality than schlepping round a popped pad.

READ NEXT — Why You Must Be taught Gear First Assist Earlier than Your Through-Hike


Gossamer Gear’s The One labored out alright for me — when it wasn’t raining. Much like different single-walled tents, I discovered that inner condensation was a problem. On the AT I expertise torrential downpours for days on finish. Whereas The One saved me from getting soaked, I used to be nonetheless damp. The internal partitions would develop into slick with condensation and infrequently mist on me all through the night time.

Then, in direction of the tip of the path, the seam sealer tape had degraded to the purpose the place much more moisture infiltrated my sanctuary. Typically I awoke in a puddle, which isn’t the identical as having a waterbed. Nonetheless, the load and worth of The One is unbeatable so I’m deciding to keep it up.

She’s stunning when it’s not raining.

Different: Get a double-wall tent such because the Huge Agnes Copper Spur or Nemo Dragonfly if the occasional misting through the night time bothers you. The extra layer of material gained’t remedy this difficulty utterly, however it can assist. For me, the low weight and price of The One will maintain it on my gear checklist, however I’ll reseal it with tent sealer and waterproofing spray earlier than I head out once more. And if that fails, I’ll simply fake the mist is a pleasant spa remedy, or that I’m a cheerful frog.

Stuff Sacks

I began the AT with waterproof stuff sacks from Sea to Summit. Sadly, they didn’t final and started to tear round mile 500. The buckle was shut to ripping off and a gap in my meals bag compromised its performance. I didn’t take pleasure in consuming soggy tortillas and moist Cheetos. I in all probability might have solved this drawback with Ziploc baggage, however I figured that answer defeated the aim of getting a water-proof stuff sack within the first place.

Different: I converted to Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s stuff sacks, and so they lasted the remainder of the hike. Alternatively, I might have been extra mild with my first meals bag and never overloaded it. Sooner or later, lighter resupplies can be my principal precedence. Until there’s some actually tasty pizza accessible.

Fanny Pack

Simply after the AT’s midway level, I spotted my Cotopaxi fanny pack zipper would solely shut a technique. If I closed it from left to proper, the zipper would get caught and I’d must grapple with it for an entire fifteen minutes. This was particularly infuriating once I was ravenous and in determined want of a Clif Bar. This additionally compromised the waterproofness, so I’d stress when it rained.

This fanny pack summited Mount Washington.

Different: My companion used an Osprey Fanny Pack which held up your complete time. I may need simply gotten a dud from Cotopaxi, or perhaps I don’t know methods to care for zippers, however I nonetheless anticipated it to go the space.

For my subsequent hike, I can be going with no fanny pack and can use the underside pocket of my Hyperlite Unbound 40 Pack to retailer all my meals for the day. Between this and the hip belt pockets, I don’t anticipate to overlook my fanny pack.

Honorable Point out: Sneakers

All footwear die on the Appalachian Path. Or on any thru-hike — it doesn’t matter what. The most effective factor you are able to do is use those that maintain your toes comfy and have practical sturdiness expectations. In the event you’re rocking path runners, then be joyful to get 500 miles out of them. Boots will last more, however not ceaselessly. Put together to exchange them a number of instances (or develop into a duct tape/shoe stitching savant).

After my trial and error with footwear, I discovered that Brooks Cascadias labored greatest for me. Nonetheless, your toes is perhaps completely different, so don’t leap right into a pair of footwear with out going for a stroll first!

Different: Go barefoot and cry. (I might not advocate this.)

Gear For the Lengthy Haul: What Lasted 2,000+ Miles

Imagine it or not, not all of my gear exploded whereas mountaineering the AT. The stuff that survived and I belief to final me many extra miles consists of my ULA Circuit Pack, Enlightened Tools Revelation Quilt, and Rawology Cork Ball.

I like this pack!

My ULA pack appears like probably the most sturdy items of drugs I personal, can maintain a ton of drugs, and nonetheless carry comfortably. So long as I deal with my EE quilt gently, I do know it may give me years of heat. My Rawology Cork Ball has gotten me by means of all the pieces. It did begin to appear to be an oval in direction of the tip of my hike (as a result of I used it a lot), however it helped my foot issues immensely. 

Your gear may last more or shorter than mine did, however how we deal with it has a huge impact on its longevity. So it doesn’t matter what you’re utilizing, care for your gear and it’ll care for you, on this hike and lots of extra to come back.

Featured Picture: An Abby Evans picture. Graphic design by Zack Goldman.



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