My Gear Selection

While hiking the Appalachian Trail i used to carry an average of 40 to 45 pounds on my back. Sometimes more, sometimes less. But never really under 35 Pounds. That was no fun, especially in the early beginnings of my adventure. Having no clue what i was doing back then, i kinda overused my “IT-Bands” which has led to my first 3 (or 4?) Zeros in a row. After like 6 to 8 weeks my body got used to that load (more or less) and i finally got my trail-legs. Someday i realized that i don’t really use my trekking poles anymore. I only “carried” them along the trail, just in case. Then i kinda “stored” them under my shoulder straps, ready to be used when needed. But those moments were pretty rare. Instead of climbing down some rocks, i developed a new strategy – where possible. If the ground was flat enough, with no rocks or roots in sight, i started to simply jump down – with my full pack on. I’m still not sure on whether this was a smart idea of mine or not, but it worked out pretty well, most of the time at least. The advantages for me were, that it was much less pain in my legs. I didn’t had to take of my pack (which was necessary every once in a while though), or climbing down facing the rocks – as long as the “drop” wasn’t deeper than 4 or 5 foot. I have to admit that this strategy turned out to be kinda dangerous sometimes, but as i said, it worked very well for me.

Now that i will hike on two very different types of trails with a total length of 4500 miles, i came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be very smart to stick with my “old” gear.  Not only that most of that gear is broken or better, not usable for such a long trip, it’s also waaaay to heavy.

Here is a brief comparison on the gear i had on the AT and the gear i will get for the PCT and TA.

“Old Gear”, used on the AT and some other hikes in Europe

Backpack: Deuter Act Lite 50 + 10, incl Raincover
Sleeping Pad: Therm-A-Rest Trail Light (inflatable)
Sleeping Bag: Yeti Fusion 750 XL
Shelter: MSR Hubba Hubba HP + Footprint
Filter: Sawyer Mini + 3 Squeez Bags
Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance FL
Stove: EOE Palladium Titan Tripod
Pod: Primus “Litech” +Titanium Knife, Fork and Spoon
Light: Fenix TK 35 + Tikka Plus Headlamp
Knife: Bear Grylls Survival Knife, incl Fire Steel + Whistle
All the other stuff like Clothes, Smartphones and Charger, and so on…

“New Gear”, for the PCT and the TA

Backpack: Zpacks Arc Blast with a lot of customizations chosen by me 😉
Sleeping Pad: Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XliTE
Sleeping Bag: Yeti Fusion 750 XL (for colder sections) /
Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt + Cocoon Silk Mummy Liner
Shelter: Zpacks Duplex
Filter: Sawyer – regular + SmartWatter Bottles (+ 1 or 2 Camelbags)
Trekking Poles: LEKI Ranger
Stove: Jet Boil MicroMo (or similar)
Pod: Primus “Litech”
Light: Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
Knife: Bear Grylls Survival Knife, incl Fire Steel + Whistle
Bear Canister (PCT Sections): BearVault BV500
Ice Axe: Black Diamond Raven Pro
Crampons: Hillsound Free Steps 6
And of course, all the other stuff i need (but i don’t want to list all those items here;)

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The base weight of my pack during my hike on the AT was probably about 25 – 30 pounds (10-15 kg) – which means without Food/Water/Gas.

The base weight for the PCT/TA will be approximately around 10 – 15 pounds (4,5-7 kg). Depending on where i am on the trail and which of my gear i will need there. That means, that i will swap my warm sleeping bag for the lighter one as soon as it gets warmer outside and i don’t need it then.

Last but not least my final thoughts on that topic. I will try to make that a short one 😉

I do understand that people want to go light or even ultra light. This makes sense as soon as you made some experience by yourself. Blindly buying UL-Gear without knowing what and why, will most likely be a waste of money. Many hikers claim that they are able to increase their pace because of their ultra-light gear. Some are even willing to sacrifice food and water and trying to live off of the land and what it has to offer – edible plants and such. I wouldn’t recommend such a strategy because you will put yourself in high risks, especially due to dehydration and in the worst case, starvation. That may be possible on a trail like the AT, where you will hit a town, street or highway, visitor center or day and section hikers very often. For remote trails i don’t think that this will work. Anyways, make your own experiences. Mine are, for example, that i couldn’t pick up my pace (while slack-packing). The only benefit i experienced was, that i wasn’t that much exhausted when rolling into camp, which means that i could walk a little bit longer than usual. But then, due to my heavy pack, my legs and calf-muscles got so strong, that i could walk for hours as soon as i got “warm” in the morning.

But this is not my intention. I want to take my time. And i don’t want to rush trough it.

Its still the journey, not the destiny.

That’s it for now. Hope this will help someone, somehow 😉

Cheers,

~Blade~

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Blade

My name is Ronny, I'm 34 years old right now and I'm known as "Blade" when hiking a long-distance trail. I am working as Linux Administrator when in Germany but my love belongs to the wild. I see myself as human being, open minded and a rebel at heart - AND i prefer to find my own path, to learn what the world and life can teach me.

I love to travel the world and to go and see places I've never been to before - that's why i "Boldly-Go" ;)

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