Sep 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm #1307595
I'm getting my last bits of gear together and trying to hash out all the things I dont need. This is my list for a March 1st start date. The only things that will be changing through the hike will be the backpack (i'm startiong with an osprey exos 46 to carry more gear< then switching to my ULA CDT) and my sleeping setup (switching from my katabatic quilt to my MLD spirit quilt for the summer months. advice?
EDIT: List is under my profile as "3 Season List"Sep 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm #2024402
robert van puttenMember
@bawanaLocale: Planet Bob
Looks OK by me I guess. I’m not familiar with some of the equipment.
If it was me, I’d need more clothing.
My wife and I will be starting nobo in April, and I figure I’ll be carrying a fleece vest, ( Bi-mart ) down parka ( Uniqlo ) Dri-ducks rain suit and REI long johns and a pair of shorts in addition to the BDU trousers and dress shirt I’ll probably be wearing. And I may throw in a T shirt of some kind, Uniqlo “heat tech” stuff or anything not-cotton I have handy. I’d like a light merino wool t-shirt but I’m not sure one is in the cards for me.
I just don’t trust a down parka as my only warm torso layer. I figure it’s for strictly in camp, so I want my fleece vest for cold, wet days. I catch chills easily. Yeah, my long johns top is a torso insulating layer, but I reckon I’ll try to save that for sleeping in and really cold days.
Our stove will be a Svea 123 ( non-R ) or a Trangia 25. Our tent will be a TT Rainshadow.
Yer certainly traveling lighter than my wife and I will be, and sounds like yer further along with your plans.
My wife and I figure on just taking off when we feel like it, stuff “the usual suspects” into our packs and just start walking.
But, it’s all good!
It might be fun to compare with any other nobo AT hikers starting in 2014 and see what they figure on stashing in their packs!Sep 12, 2013 at 6:59 pm #2024424
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
First of all, rain covers never work in my opinion. If you are already going for a cuben dry sack for the quilt, why not just go for a pack liner of some sort and ditch them both? You're going to be wet, so just protect what you need to protect inside the pack and be done with it.
Secondly, I'd absolutely ditch the silk liner. Sleep in long pants/sleeves…why bother with getting all tangled up inside one of those things.Sep 12, 2013 at 7:26 pm #2024432
I would have something like mid wt fleece that you can hike in that early.
You will see temps in the single digits, and you will see snow in the smokies
Id also have goretex socks for the snow
Also better hand insulation and rain mitts until get to damascus
What you will be starting in, isnt 3season, its winter . End of this past march the smokies got several FEET of snow, stranding unprepared hikers, and keeping some stuck in Gatlinburg for a week
Bag should be at least 20F rated, and even then you will need all your clothes some nights at 5000' and up and still be cold.
smokies on March 30,2013:Sep 13, 2013 at 11:30 am #2024560
robert van puttenMember
@bawanaLocale: Planet Bob
Yeah, I had a mental image of wearing nothing but shorts, wind pants and gaiters and busting through snow all day long along a ridge line, then having nothing dry to change into at the end of the day.
– Shrug –
But some folk can get away with that sort of thing just fine, maybe he’s done that sorta thing before, and I an’t gonna tell others how to dress.
But if it was me, I know I couldn’t get away with that! I'd want to add long johns for me legs and a fleece jacket or vest at the very least.
Good point about the gloves M B, and the goretex socks. Good photo by the by!
Eh, what the heck is an STS 8L and STS 13L?
I’d also have a backup means of making fire, not just some paper matches, and I’m not familiar with the knife. Can you trim finger nails with it?Sep 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm #2024582
Not planning the hike myself… yet.
What temperature lows can one expect starting the AT in March?Sep 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm #2024585
STS is Sea to summit.. stuff sacks. which I agree, i'd skip some in favor of a compactor bag liner. 13L is probably food bag.. which is fine. Maybe keep the Cuben one for days you anticipate rain and use it for clothes bag the rest of the time. skip the 2nd 8L
definitely throw a mini bic on there for a bit of security for a few grams
I wonder how many people last year that left Mar 1 actually beat the people who left Apr 1st.. with all of the snow issues in the Smokies I bet many caught the early starters.Sep 13, 2013 at 2:22 pm #2024596
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
I haven't done the AT so take this with the proverbial grain of salt:
I agree with Jennifer about a dedicated sleep baselayer and ditching the silk liner. Subtracting the weight of the liner and adding in a very light wool baselayer tight is a wash so you're only adding a thin long-sleeve top. This would keep the quilt cleaner, add a dry layer (keeping it in a pack liner with the quilt) if you need it in an emergency and you could lose this weight once the weather improves/you head north.
I had and loved the Trailstar but I'm wondering if its large footprint would be a hindrance in the forests along the AT. Maybe others can chime in about this. Certainly the coverage would be nice for late-winter/early-spring rain and snow.
Maybe add a little extra torso warmth with another sleeping pad layer for March/early April? Like a small Prolite at 11oz and 2.2 R-value.Sep 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm #2024652
Man all this talk of snow makes me want to push my start date back a little later! So changes to be made: drop silk liner, carry heavier fleece for the beginning (R1??), over mitts for beginning, and ditch stuff sacks and buy trash compactor bag to line pack. While this may seem a bit repetitious, would carrying a lighter (silnylon) pack cover be worth while? The back may still get wet but I have found in my experience that ULA materials soak up quite a bit of waters and hence become heavy…. Just a thought.Sep 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm #2024668
You could skip the hassle of switching packs and just rock the Exos 46 the whole way. that fabric repels water pretty nice (at least on my 58 and 34). I don't know how much weight the ULA saves but the 46 is pretty light and the frame carries nice. Depending on how long it takes you could want the warmer quilt back once you get to VT/NH areaSep 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm #2024680
..Or it could be mild weather.
March is a transition month for the smokies and highest southern AT elevations, Could be wintry, could be sunburn, sometimes back to back days. Depends on luck when you hit it.
Generally, March in the smokies brings about 25" of snowfall to the highest elevations. Then it will will warm and melt , Then it will snow again. Then it will warm and melt. Only takes a day or two of warm weather to melt off 6" of snow at that time.
April brings rain, and occassionally some light snow.
Mid april is the best time to start to avoid the last real cold snaps, but most of the thru hiker bubble will be centered around April 1.Sep 13, 2013 at 8:30 pm #2024686
Your idea for a lighter pack cover might be worth it. I would still want a liner but for the rainy season (spring/early summer) a pack cover might be worth a few oz. The longer you are out in the wet the harder it is to keep water from seeping in. A few extra oz to keep dry are worth it.
I don't see rain pants. I'd want those some of the time and maybe the whole trip, you get wet brushing up against plants. If you have rain pants you'll probably be fine without wind pants.
If the ridgerest works for you great. I like the simplicity and the ruggedness of a foam pad. But for almost all of my VA hikes I now carry a short thermarest. Its heavier (11 oz) but much more comfortable. Campsites tend to be on hard ground on the sections of the AT I've hiked. I always woke up sore a time or two on a foam pad. With the inflatable I sleep comfortably.
I'd take the Osprey if I had an inflatable pad (not as good for creating a "virtual frame"). If you keep the ridgerest it just a matter of which one you like. I like frames for loads over 15 pounds but that's just me. I've used frameless packs along the AT and never felt like they were hot on my pack so I don't know how much the trampoline mesh on the Osprey will help, never tried it.
The trailstar does have a bigger footprint but it also gives you more space. You will probably hike through some real downpours on the trail and might even catch the edge of a tropical storm. When its raining hard all day having a large dry space to spread out and keep wet gear away from dry gear is very nice.
Question – Why the AT? Its a nice trail but since you live out west I'm surprised you aren't doubling up on the JMT and CDT or trying the PCT. Of course if you plan on triple crowning or just want the AT experience don't let me discourage you.Sep 14, 2013 at 3:06 pm #2024777
Ya i think the double layer of a pack liner and cover might be worth it. In my experience when it starts raining on the AT it rains for a while. So rain pants to start off with and then sub in wind pants later down the road? Also after examining my kit i realized that i wont have a good synthetic layer for the spring in wet conditions. Would purchasing a synthetic jacket instead of a heavier fleece be worth it? (I have the montbell thermawrap in mind).Sep 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm #2024793
I could see a synthetic layer being nice but I'd think a fleece would be warm enough.
I might just keep the rain pants all the time but that is a personal preference thing. You won't die without them in summer but they might be worth a couple extra oz. Some people don't mind wet legs, I don't but I find wet and cold legs tend to tire more quickly.Sep 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm #2027017
@bowlingl25Locale: Almost Heaven
Your list is looking very good so far and would work perfectly fine but a few things I would think about are:
Once summer rolls around are you going to have bug protection under your trailstar?
Some people are totally fine with foam sleeping pads but on the AT nice soft camping spots are only available if you stealth camp on a nightly basis. An inflatable pad was the best change I made on my hike.
You will only need the rain pants for a month at most, after that you will most likely be sweaty underneath. Wind pants would be alright, but probably not needed. Consider a pair of lightweight long johns for cooler nights around camp?
Ditch the pack cover and the compass.Sep 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm #2027032
"Ditch the pack cover and compass)
I'd take just a small compass and hears why. I know of at least one AT hiker who got careless and started hiking south when he should have been hiking north. A friend of mine almost did the same thing on the CT until I pulled out a compass and convinced him he was turned around. Might save you same time and a cheap compass/thermometer from REI only weighs about 1 oz.
Logan is right, you'll sweet under rain pants. On short trips I leave them at home. Its a personal preference thing once it warms up. I'd rather have them so I go to bed drier then a pair of long johns. Either way you'll survive.
+1 on the inflatable sleeping pad idea.Oct 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm #2030871
@conlyLocale: Lots of canoeing and snow
I thru-hiked the AT in 2011 so I thought I could add a few thoughts. Your list looks great and I’m sure if you didn’t change a thing you’d be happy and safe. A lot of the comments so far are spot on in my opinion.
Rain covers are pretty useless and not many people kept using them after the first couple of months. Pack liners keep stuff dryer and you don't have to quickly pull off your pack and throw on a pack cover when it rains. I saw so many people with pack covers hanging off their bag and they had no idea until someone behind them pointed it out.
I would think that the ULA pack would be fine for the whole trip. You won't need to carry huge amounts of water or food so your packweight will be relatively low even if you add more gear. I hiked with a base weight of 13lbs with a frameless pack and it was perfectly comfortable.
I started my hike on April 4th so it may have been warmer but the clothes you list would have been adequate. Just a down layer would worry me too. I had a synthetic top and a synthetic vest and I really liked that combo. I never needed to hike in anything warmer than the vest. I would consider long johns because they are a guaranteed dry layer to change into when you get to camp. I would also consider a rain skirt instead of pants. I haven’t tried mine yet but everyone who had them swore by them. Whatever you carry for clothes, make sure you have something to change into for laundry days. I.e., keep the windpants if you go with a rain skirt. I would rather carry a windshirt over a long sleeve shirt. Weighs less and provides better warmth.
I agree with the air matt comments. I started with a ridgerest and switched to a thermarest prolite as soon as I could. Sleeping on a hard shelter floor sucks with a ridgerest. I would scrap the silk liner in favor of a bivy sack if you go without any mosquito netting. The bugs were bad at times and you can use a bivy in the shelters as well. Even in my ray-way net tent with flap closure I got some nasty bugs, including rolling over a millipede in the night and having a beetle crawl up my pant legs while I slept.
I would hesitate to use the trailstar. My ray-way tarp was too big in a few situations and the trailstar is even bigger, I believe. It wasn’t a big deal if I was stealth camping but it was an issue in camps. They often had designated sites for tents and they were not big enough for my tarp without creative pitching. I also felt like I was taking up more than my fair share of room in a few tight situations.
I would ditch the titanium cup and get a folding coghlan’s one. I know it’s small but it’s light and I barely ever used a mug (very few people took the time to make a hot drink) and when I did, it was for booze or an instant coffee which is only 200ml anyway if you use the little sticks of instant. It takes up very little room, it’s super cheap and (this is the real reason) it’s flexible, which allows you to collect water from difficult sources. You can press it up against a rock with only a trickle of water or dip into puddles that are only half an inch deep. I found I could get water from sources that other people couldn’t. 4 oz is pretty small for a fuel bottle. The fuel resupply places are spaced apart sometimes. I carried an 8 oz I believe. It was just an old water bottle. Lasted the whole trip. No bear bag rope?
Sea to Summit lightweight dry bags aren’t waterproof. I still used one for my small ditty bag but don’t rely on them to keep important things dry.
Lots of people did it, but the trouble with using an iPhone for your camera is that you’re killing your cell phone battery every time you take pictures. Guys would call their girlfriends sometimes and kill their battery then couldn’t take pictures.
I agree with ditching compass. The trail is really well marked and winds so much the using it to determine which way to go can be foolish anyway.
Finally, out of every piece of gear I misjudged and everything I wish I had done differently, the one biggest item I wished I’d taken was an eBook. I got one that July and I loved it! It was pure joy to have limitless reading materials every night. It saves your sanity when you are stuck in a tent in the rain for half a day and it gives you something to look forward to every night, especially if it’s been a really rough day.
The most helpful thing I found when I was preparing for my trip was talking to an alumnus on the phone. You can get so much more info, ask questions and get answers to questions you didn’t think to ask. If you’d like to chat, PM me and I’ll give you my phone number.Oct 11, 2013 at 1:37 am #2033040
I'll be starting May 1st for the reasons listed above. I feel like it makes the logistics a bit easier.
Is the newer generation CDT heavier? If so that's too bad.
Got a groundcloth?Oct 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm #2036592
Here is my new list, no weights added yet. I decided that i am going to split gear; 1st half from springer to Hot springs area, 2nd half is the rest of the trail. Im starting march 15th for the record.Oct 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm #2037452
ok the link posted can be shared now, sorry bout thatOct 25, 2013 at 12:41 am #2037677
no bug protection in your shelter/sleep system? I've heard too many AT tick/spider stories to go sans-bivy.Oct 25, 2013 at 6:50 am #2037697
For now I am not going to bring a bivy, although i have been considering it. I have had a couple of friends do it with just a tarp and be ok, but maybe picking up a misquito headnet wouldnt be a bad idea….Oct 25, 2013 at 8:13 am #2037714
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
I don't see that it's worth switching backpacks, but the options you're using seem great to me. I bought a ULA Circuit about halfway along the AT when my old backpack was wearing out and had it mailed to me — that worked fine and that's still my go-to pack now.
I don't recall specs on the thermarest xlite but wonder if that's enough R-value for a March 15th start. It really depends on the snow year. I started in late Feb in 2010, a high snow year in the south, and used a combination of first generation neo-air plus two GG thinlight pads (one 1/4", one 1/8"). That allowed me to mail home thinlight pads as appropriate, and was warm enough, but just barely on the nights when temps were down into the teens. Similarly a WM 20F rated down bag was just enough combined with down booties and a MB down parka.
There's a big difference in what you need when stopped, in camp, vs. what you need when walking, though this will certainly vary by the individual too. I used a thermawrap vest plus windshirt and that was enough when I was walking. Do prepare for cold wind. Earbags were good for me. I didn't use rain pants, nor want them, but again, metabolisms and "style" vary. I strongly suggest that you get beefy MITTENS, not just gloves. Glove liners are a fine thing in combination with good mittens. Gloves just suck, IMO, when the weather is cold, and for whatever reason I found few to no decent mittens for sale in gear shops along the AT (I lost a mitten along the way and so was looking). Dachsteins if you want the best, PL 400's are good. But something.
I disagree with some earlier comments about pack covers. Where I live, a pack cover is only useful in combination with other stuff, so a poncho works fine. But often on the AT (NOT in the first month or so) it was warm enough that I didn't want any raingear on my upper body, but a lightweight pack cover was nice for the pack itself. Some pack covers are pretty heavy, however; I wouldn't want one of those in any event (and yes, do use a pack liner regardless). But you have a question mark next to pack cover in the second half; if you have a cuben pack cover, keep it for the "second half".
Speaking of "second half", I found that Pearisburg was the right point to swap. I too had an Alpine light parka, and I too swapped to a thermawrap jacket. Worked great. Similarly I swapped to a 32F sleeping bag and was fine with that. Getting into Virginia, out of snow and a whole lot of blowdowns AND then being able to significantly lighten up — Christmas. Very nice. Once out of the snow my pack was lighter on the AT than anywhere else; less food to carry, less water, pretty warm out so not too much "stuff".
Best of luck! A friend is planning on an early AT start in 2014 and if he heals up and does this, I might be out there hiking the first month or so with him (a month or so of backpacking is my favorite annual weight loss plan …).Oct 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm #2037864
@bowlingl25Locale: Almost Heaven
I second the question about bug protection under a tarp. On my thru hike this year the mosquitoes were absolutely terrible from the delaware water gap until about dalton mass. My tent was the only place I was safe from them. There will be periods where it will be to hot to have your quilt on you while you are sleeping so your body will be exposed. Also, they will bite through a head net while you are sleeping.
But honestly your list looks awesome, dont sweat the little details. Its not hard at all to send things home or pick things along the way.Oct 29, 2013 at 9:49 am #2039068
If you swap out your pack midway, you'll end up with TWO nasty, sweaty packs that you'll want to throw in a bonfire when you're done. I would just choose one to sacrifice and stick with it.
I only use a pack cover during hunting season–a blaze orange one from Etowah. Pack covers may keep rain from soaking into your pack fabric and save some oz. that way, but IME you always end up with a big sloshy puddle of water pooled somewhere in the pack cover, which totally negates the theoretical weight savings.
I don't think I could do late spring/early summer on the east coast without bug netting. Maybe plan on adding a mesh inner or bivy around May… I think the extra ounces are a fair price to pay for sanity.
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