Ok, here it is, the blog article going over the gear I plan on using for my 2014 thru-hike. While I occasionally indulge in gear-geekery, I try not to get caught up in all the little gadgets and gizmos designed for those of us that like to recreate outdoors. Why? Let me ask you this question, if no new gear was developed ever, would it prevent us from enjoying our outdoor pursuits? The answer is most definitely no. All those companies out there who come out with newer, lighter, more advanced gear are mostly doing so to have a new product to sell you. Now I don’t want to give the impression that this gear isn’t great or that I don’t find some of this stuff fascinating and awesome. I have bought a few new pieces of gear specifically for my thru-hike. I will however be using MOSTLY gear that I already owned. The point I am getting at is that you should not feel the need to buy gear just because there is a newer, lighter, brighter-colored version.
I did think it would be fun to mention all the different gear and geek out for a bit in hopes that some of you who read this might have some suggestions for me to cut a bit of weight. My base-weight at the moment is right about 20lbs. I was hoping for something in between 10 and 15. And while the 20lb weight includes some things that I will actually be wearing and not carrying on my back, there were a few items that I realize I did not add that I will in fact be bringing (stakes, socks, maybe some other small stuff…).
So lets get to the gear.
Starting on the top left of the photo above – the pack, one of my new gear acquisitions for the trail. This is a Gregory Z55. This is a size small and weighs in at just over 3 lbs. It has a frame (yeah I’m not sure if frameless appeals to me for 2600+ miles) and 55 liters of capacity. Gregory packs graciously provided this pack to me for use as an ambassador while on the trail, communicating with others about my experience using their gear. Thanks guys, I look forward to putting the Z55 to the test!
On the far right of the picture are two sleeping bags. A Rab neutrino 600 down bag and a Mountain Hardware ultra lamina synthetic bag. Both are rated for 20 degrees. I plan on using the down bag in the desert section and switching over to the synthetic bag once I hit the mountains.
As for upper body layers: Patagonia lightweight wool tshirt, Ibex hooded long-sleeved wool shirt, Patagonia R1 fleece, Montbell windbreaker vest, Montbell Fleece, Patagonia Houdini windbreaker, Wildthingz alpine shell, Patagonia Nanopuff hooded jacket. I’m already planning on ditching the Ibex base layer and one fleece (probably the R1, even though I love it). I may add arm warmers. I may also ditch the Houdini even though it weighs next to nothing. Count the ounces and the pounds mind themselves right?
Lower body layers include: Montbell expedition weight wool long underwear, Rab hiking pants, Patagonia hiking shorts. Socks (haven’t picked them out yet). And hopefully a pair of wool boxers.
My tent is a Black Diamond beta-lite tarp (19oz). It is made of sip-nylon, pitches with my trekking poles and gives surprisingly good weather protection – I have used it above 9k feet in Colorado during a spring snow storm, and on the coast of Maine in high winds. It has held up well. I am forgoing a footprint. I have a Big Agnes sleeping pad as well as a silk sleeping bag liner.
I am currently using an MSR 6 liter dromedary bag with a drinking hose attachment. I might look for a lighter weight camelbak bladder which will most likely have 3-4 liter capacity and have to add a few lightweight water bottles.
As for cooking I am using an MSR micro rocket stove (new this year) with an Evernew titanium pot (.7 liters I think). I also have a long-handled Sea To Summit spoon and an MSR titanium mug.
As far as other small items, I have a journal, signal mirror, whistle, pen, Black Diamond headlamp, mosquito head net, blister treatment kit, SteriPen, wide-brimmed hat, GoPro, extra batteries, and backup water treatment (iodine).
I know I haven’t gone into much detail on these items, their individual weights, their strengths and weaknesses, etc. etc. I’m hoping that I’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t work while I’m on the trail (and I plan to blog/tweet about it). I will also likely add items at certain points such as ice axe and crampons, helmet, etc.
Ok, I’m already losing my patience for this post. Those are the items I’m brining. I will attempt to ditch roughly 5 pounds of gear in the next month to get my base weight down into the sub-15 pound zone, I’m sure my feet and back will thank me for it. Any suggestions or criticism is appreciated!