Gear Review pt. 3 – Little red wagon edition

So much gear and so little space! What are you supposed to do as an AT thru hiker?! Easy, just don’t bring so much crap. There’s lot of things that you could bring on a backpacking trip, but when preparing for the AT I’ve realized you have to take a step back and really think about it. I mean you can always bring a little red wagon on the trail but you’d have to bring a raft to float it across stream/river crossings. That would just be a pain in the butt. Pulling a wagon over 2000 miles is just an after thought, right?

Well I’ve been going through my gear and, through all my trips this year, have been trying to figure out the best combination of gear to bring for the trip. I’ve also been replacing old gear so that 1) I can get lighter gear and 2) get better quality equipment. I don’t really feel like having everything break while hiking the AT. I know some of it will have to be replaced as I go along, but I’ll try to avoid as much as possible.

Here is a list of some more stuff that I will be bringing on the trail:

Cooking and Water Gear

Stove – MSR Pocket Rocket. I got this on sale at REI on Black Friday and it’s been bomb as hell. It boils water so much faster than my old whisper light stove. It’s just so easy to get ready and use. I can’t get enough. I feel like I’m barely using any fuel because I can get water to boil so fast. I know some of the fuel canisters can have problems when it gets cold, but I used it when I was backpacking at Red River Gorge in single degree/teen temperatures and it still worked like a champ. Did I mention it weighs nothing?

Cookware – I also got a new pot because my old cookset was kinda heavy and awkward. Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium. It’s been good. Done is job and it’s super light. I mean it’s a pot….there really isn’t much boasting I can do about a pot. I could say a genie comes out when I open it after a day of hiking but I’d be lying. No matter how awesome that would be.

Utensil – I got a spork…..made by Snowpeak. Weighs nothing. A little annoying to pack just because it’s long. But it is a spork, so it’s awesome in it’s own right. Better than a spoon. Better than a fork. It’s a spork. The superhero of utensils.

Fuel – MSR canisters. I hear it does better than other brands in cold weather and it’s the same price as other brands. Screw on, screw off.

Primary water treatment – Iodine tablet + neutralizer. Iodine is super convenient and reliable. Though iodine tastes like ass, no matter what my dad says, so the neutralizer is mandatory in my mind. It’s also fairly cheap for as many liters of water as you can get out of a bottle of tablets. Only drawback is the tablets will break if you’re not careful.

Secondary water treatment – Life Straw. I am a firm believer that giardia probably sucks….a lot. Therefore if something happens you want a back up water treatment system. I’m not bringing a pump on the trail, because I’m not stupid, so this is a great choice. It’s light. Cleans tons of liter before it goes bad. You can either dip it in the stream and drink or fill your bottle and drink out of the life straw. Last thing I need is explosive diarrhea while hiking the AT. I am too lazy to dig wide cat holes for the explosion of poop.

Water bottles – 2 Nalgenes. I thought about using 1 nalgene and a hydration system, but I would rather preserve the room in my back. Those filtration systems can impede how much space you have in your pack. They’re awesome and reliable. If you’re an outdoors person and you don’t know why I’m using Nalgenes, then you should get out more often.

Towel – I have a very small towel that I found at REI for kitchen stuff. It’s good for cleaning out my pot after cooking and has a clip so I can hang it from my pack while hiking. I can store it in my pot with my stove, so it’s not any sort of burden. It beats using a bandanna that is covered in sweat.

The day I start the trail edges closer and closer each day. It’s unreal to think about. Getting through graduate school has been tough enough, so the AT should be simple, right? And again, since I am a poor grad student I don’t mind asking the 3 readers I have for a small donation to my AT fund! You know you want to! Well, maybe you don’t. That’s cool too. It would be a huge help though.

71 days til’ Katahdin! #SOBO #Maine2Georgia

“Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


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