During the past year of research and fawning over thru-hiker blogs, I have noticed one post that seems to be absolutely crucial to every blog, and here it is- the obligatory gear post! Some of you gear nuts will geek out with me, but this might be pretty boring for the rest of you- but rest assured this is most likely my last post before the trail so the exciting stuff is coming soon!
The items in my pack may truly make or break my trip. Pack weight seems to be extremely important to the success of a thru-hike, and there is even an entire category of “Ultralight” hikers. While I am not going to be among them, I did set a goal to have my total pack weight including food and water at 30lbs or less. It took a lot of compromising on weight vs. cost of items, as well as how much I really wanted to have certain things, but I believe I am going to come in pretty close to my goal. I just finished up a book that did the difficult math for me and explained how reducing pack weight by 10lbs results in a reduction of 50,000,000 lbs of burden on your body over the course of a thru-hike… Woah! That helped me decide to ditch few items! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to share my grand total weight until I do my official weigh-in at the trail edge; I weighed and re-weighed my pack so many times my home scale batteries died 😛
A lot of people have asked about how to afford the necessary gear, as quality gear is definitely not cheap. My advice is to have a lot of time (at least a year) to plan and research what you want, and then follow store sale and coupon trends; most outdoor stores have annual sales or markdown their gear at the same time each year. Knowing when to buy can save big bucks. By researching and comparing products, I prioritized what I think will be most important to me (Staying warm at night, and staying as dry as possible in the day) and focused my search around those priorities. I slowly purchased my items over the last year by shopping sales and discount sites, and of course… using coupons (Go ahead and tell me you are shocked :P). I also took advantage of credit card rewards- I charged all of my monthly purchases and made sure to pay them off each month to avoid fees and interest. I then used my credit card rewards to get free clothing pieces that I will be using for my hike. As a result of my thrifty nature, I will not be a very cute or matching hiker, but I did manage to grab a few pieces I think are beautiful- such as my lovely tie-dye Dirty Girl Gaiters 🙂 I also sold a lot of things that are laying around the house not being used, and I think this is something everyone should do- you would be shocked at the things people will buy on eBay!
There is a chance that any of my items could fail or be uncomfortable and need to be changed out- luckily there are plenty of outfitters along the trail to accommodate needy hikers. I’m also expecting to go through at least 4 pairs of shoes, so those will need to be replaced throughout the hike. At this point, with less than 5 days until I start, I am questioning every gear choice I have made and making myself a little nutty over it- but I know I need to relax and trust in my research and the fact that everything is easily replacable. Many hikers report that they realize shortly after starting that items they thought they wanted are actually quite heavy and not worth carrying- I’ll have an opportunity a few days in to mail things home if I do change my mind about what I truly need. Overall, I think I did a pretty good job of meeting the hiker minimalist standards- But we will see what I send home 🙂 I’m starting out with quite a few “Luxury Items”, which are defined as items that I truly don’t NEED, but I believe they will offer comfort and make my trip more enjoyable. My luxury items so far are my Nook (an e-reader), a paper journal, and my Garmin GPS watch.
Without further ado, here is what is in my pack:
Readers: What would your luxury items be? Tell me in the comments below!