Each yr right here at The Trek, we ask long-distance hikers on the Appalachian Path (AT) concerning the backpack they used throughout their thru-hikes. On this submit, we’ll dive into every part about backpacks – together with hikers’ base weights, capability decisions, and degree of satisfaction with their packs. As at all times, we’ll go excessive manufacturers and fashions hikers’ used this yr.

We had a complete of 409 responses this yr. Thanks to everybody who crammed out the survey! The information was collected from October by November of 2023 by our survey, which was marketed utilizing our social media platforms, Backpacker Radio, and TheTrek.co. Some responses from earlier years had been eliminated, and apparent errors in begin and finish dates had been adjusted. No apparent duplicates had been discovered.

Body Sort

Inside body backpacks have been the preferred possibility for backpacks for a while now. The variety of hikers utilizing frameless packs has been slowly rising lately, however this yr it really dropped from 19 p.c final yr to 16 p.c. Only a few hikers use exterior body packs.

READ NEXT – The 2022 Via-Hiker Survey: High Backpacks on the AT (prior yr survey)


Nearly all of hikers (87 p.c) had been glad with their backpack alternative, leaving 13 p.c unhappy with their alternative. Nearly half (46 p.c) had been very glad with their pack.

A number of hikers complained concerning the lack of waterproofing on their packs, or that the pack they selected was not large enough and was uncomfortable throughout lengthy carries. Lack of sturdiness was one other widespread criticism. Listed below are some feedback from those that had been dissatisfied with their packs (calmly edited for readability):

“I want I had taken a water-proof pack as a substitute. Utilizing a drybag-style liner saved my issues dry (trash luggage and nylofume saved tearing), however any time it rained, my pack appeared to soak up and retain a considerable quantity of water (and get noticeably heavier)!”

“I in all probability carried an excessive amount of weight for the pack I had.”

“Please don’t over-fill your pack. In case you go over the advisable weight for the pack itself, the pack will break over time and disintegrate mid-trail.”

“Needed to trash the pack on the finish of my through. It was falling aside, and I needed to sew it a number of instances towards the top. I’d undoubtedly select a water-proof pack subsequent time. This pack held onto a variety of water.”

“Zpacks was breaking down by the top of the path.”

“Gossamer Gear Mariposa failed twice. Swapped to the Huge Agnes, which ultimately failed and was uncomfortable. Completed the final 800ish miles within the Atmos, which was by far one of the best bag till it failed (much less severely) within the 100 Mile Wilderness.”

Hikers Who Switched Packs

Most hikers this yr accomplished their hike with the identical pack they began with. 1 / 4 switched their pack sooner or later throughout their hike, whereas 5 p.c changed their pack with the identical mannequin. A few of these might have been a guaranty substitute from the producer.


Nearly half of all hikers had a backpack with a capability between 55 and 64 liters. That was the main vary by an enormous quantity, significantly with thru-hikers. For thru-hikers, the backpack capacities ranged from 10 – 75 liters. For part hikers, the vary was 26 – 80 liters.

Base Weight

We requested hikers what their base weight (the burden of all their gear minus worn objects and consumables reminiscent of water and meals) was at first and finish of their hikes.

Throughout all hikers surveyed, the commonest vary of beginning base weights was 15 – 20 kilos, with 35 p.c of thru-hikers and 30 p.c of part hikers falling in that vary. In the meantime, the ten – 25-pound vary encompasses about three-quarters of all hikers.

The numbers for thru-hikers look similar to final yr, however a bigger proportion of part hikers have shifted in the direction of lighter beginning base weights this yr. Via-hikers’ beginning base weights this yr ranged from 5 to 50 kilos with a median of 20.9 kilos. For part hikers, the vary was 7 – 40 kilos with a median of 19.9 kilos.

The median beginning base weight for all hikers was 20 kilos.

By the top of the hike, many hikers had lowered their base weight. The common base weight of thru-hikers’ packs went down from a median beginning weight of 20.9 kilos to 17.2 kilos by the top of their hikes. Equally, the higher vary dropped from 50 to 43 kilos, whereas the decrease finish of the vary stayed at 5 kilos. The median additionally dropped from 20 to 17 kilos.

Annually, hikers are likely to loosen up over the course of their hike. This means that it could be helpful for future hikers to lighten their packs as a lot as doable earlier than they start their hikes.

High Manufacturers and Fashions

Lastly, we requested hikers concerning the manufacturers and fashions of the backpacks they used on path. Osprey remained the highest model, because it has been in years previous. Nevertheless, the highest mannequin has modified this yr with the Exos/Eja dropping its primary spot to the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. Beneath is the desk for the highest manufacturers, adopted by the highest three total fashions for this yr.

First Place –  Gossamer Gear Mariposa (34)


Second Place – Osprey Exos/Eja (32)

Third Place – Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest (30)


  1. Inside body backpacks are utilized by nearly all of hikers, whereas 16 p.c of hikers used frameless backpacks, and hardly any hikers used exterior body backpacks.
  2. 87 p.c of hikers had been glad with their packs. Lack of sturdiness, too-small quantity, and lack of waterproofing contributed essentially the most to dissatisfaction.
  3. 30 p.c of hikers switched packs sooner or later, with most switching to a unique mannequin.
  4. The commonest capability for backpacks was 55 – 64 liters for each part and thru-hikers.
  5. Whereas part and thru-hikers began their hikes with comparable common base weights, thru-hikers had a decrease common base weight on the finish of their hikes, dropping from 20.9 to 17.2 kilos.
  6. Making an attempt to decrease base weight to twenty kilos or much less is an efficient rule of thumb for these planning a thru-hike.
  7. Osprey as soon as once more was the preferred model, however the Gossamer Gear Mariposa took the highest total backpack mannequin. The Ospey Exos/Eja and Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest had been the second and third place fashions respectively.

Extra From the Appalachian Path Via-Hiker Survey

Thank You!

Congratulations to all of the Appalachian Path hikers this yr — and an enormous thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out the survey! The following set up of the survey will cowl stoves, filters, and all of the remaining gear questions – there have been many extra gear decisions added to the survey this yr. To remain updated on the most recent survey posts, make certain to subscribe to our publication.

Featured picture: Graphic design by Chris Helm.

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