AT Gear Plan: Introduction and Strategy

(sigh) Gear … the most exciting and frustrating part of backpacking. Wait I love gear! How could it be frustrating?? Any avid hiker knows that life is simply an unending tug-of-war game between tried-and-true old gear and flashy new expensive gear. I wish I could be more like my father on this topic, and use the same daypack, stove, and hiking shorts for 30 years … but the allure of newer and lighter things simply never ends. For my thru-hike, this has challenged me deeply.

I’ve been planning this hike for 15 years, right? So for 15 years I’ve been reviewing and collecting gear I will eventually want for this hike. I have owned everything needed for this thru-hike over and over again. But outdoor gear companies simply refuse to stop innovating, and my wallet refuses to want to stay full of money. So I upgrade, and I upgrade, and I upgrade.  I’m pretty good at selling old gear, at least, so new purchases aren’t breaking the bank, but at some point I have to say “this is it”. And well, I’m happy to say now, this is it.

I have reviewed my gear and upgraded it to the point I can comfortably say I am ready to hike for 5 months with this all on my back. That being said, I know I need to make some more cuts. No more “I need to this new 7 oz puff jacket instead of my current 12 oz one”.  Now it’s just “Can I live without this extra windbreaker?”  Or “Can use this item for this purpose also?”

My goal continues to be an ultralight base weight of sub-15 pounds, and I’m currently over by 1.6 pounds, so I need to make some hard decisions.  Will the Kindle make the cut, or should I count on phone battery life and use that instead?  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Future blog posts will break down each section of the Gear List and explain the purpose and rationale for each item, potentially with video.