Friday, May 20, 2022

Planning: Appalachian Trail Gear

Most of my major gear that I used during my 2019 Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hike attempt is still in pretty good shape.   Here is the gear I will be using when I return to the AT.

  • I am reusing my Hyperlite Southwest backpack.  There is some wear on the bottom of the bag so I put a layer of tenacious tape on the bottom to reinforce it.  It probably would have lasted the thirty days but it's better to be safe than sorry.
    The before and after of my reinforced backpack bottom.
  • I am reusing my Nemo Hornet 2P tent (including my homemade Tyvek footprint).  I am not a good gear owner since I didn't clean it after my last camp on the AT back on September 11, 2019.  I put it up in the basement and vacuumed the New Hampshire dirt and tree needles out of the tent.  The stuff sack for the tent poles is worn a bit so I contacted the tent manufacturer and they will be sending me a new one.
  • I am reusing my Western Mountaineering Highlite sleeping bag.  It looks as good as new and held up well.  I will also reuse the Reactor sleeping bag liner.  They both will have to be cleaned tho.
  • I am reusing my Thermalite Xlite inflatable sleeping pad.  A lot of people had issues with their inflatable sleeping pads springing leaks.  I was careful to use my tent footprint to protect the sleeping pad from splinters, nail heads, and other sharp items when I used it in a shelter and never had any issues.
  • I purchased a new stove.  I'm using the same cheap no-name brand that I used last time.  I threw my last one away since it was starting to wear out when I quit the AT.

    My titanium pot set is still pristine so it will be reused.

    I did purchase a new long handled spork (I left my other one at a hostel in West Virginia)
  • I purchased a Sawyer Squeeze water filter, the same one I used last time.  It worked great so no need to change it.

    To go with my filter I purchased a CNOC Outdoors VECTO 2L Water bladder to use as a dirty bag.  Last time I used this bottle and twice the bottle sprung a leak and had to be replaced.  The convenience of being able to open the bottom of the bottle to fill it easier outways the potential issues.  Just in case I also purchased a Sawyer soft side bottle with a large mouth cap at one end and a small mouth cap at the other that can be used with the filter.  This bottle is not as convenient as the CNOC so it will be in my bounce box in case I need it (More about the bounce box - including what a bounce box is - in a future post).

    To round out my water purification gear I purchased a mesh bag to hold the filter and dirty water bottle.  The mesh allows them to dry between uses to prevent mildew.
  • I purchased a new Ferrino Trekker Hiking Rain Coat.  I left my other one at the last hostel I stayed at and didn't realize it until I'd been home several months.  It was still in perfect shape so the quality of this rain coat is not in doubt.
  • I purchased new hiking clothes including a couple pairs of quick dry, zip off, cargo hiking pants.  Usually I wear North Face but they didn't have what I wanted so I'm trying another brand.

    I purchased a couple Merino Wool t-shirts.  Again, these are not Icebreakers but they seem to be of the same quality.  Merino wool dries fast and the lanolin in the cloth is antibacterial and reduces the funk that accumulates while you hike.

    I bought new merino wool blend socks and toe liner socks.  This two sock combo resulted in an extremely low number of blisters.  I am sticking with the same brands as last time: Omniwool and Injinji.
  • During my 2019 attempt I wore two different models of shoes from Salomon.  I wore the X Crest and the Odyssey Triple Crowns.  (The X Crests were not available at the time so I bought the Triple Crowns.)  Of the two, the X Crest were the best despite the Odyssey Triple Crowns being specifically designed for long hikes like the AT.  The Triple Crowns' uppers were so thin (to reduce shoe weight) that four of my toes wore through the fabric on both feet.  This may explain why the Odyssey Triple Crowns are no longer listed on the Salomon website.

    When it was time to replace my shoes I was delighted to see that the X Crests were back in Salomon's inventory.  The shoes are heavier than the Triple Crowns but they are also more durable.  I ordered a pair for the AT and one for everyday.  Unfortunately I accidentally bought the goretex versions.  Goretex is a waterproofing system that essentially turns the shoe into a plastic bag.  This is great when dealing with small puddles or wet mud but in heavy rain or deep water the shoes will fill up with water that does not drain away.  I discovered this the hard way on my second Camino when I walked several miles with bags of water attached to my feet during a particularly rainy day. 

    I was going to just ignore the goretex issue and hope for little rain but, during my stage planning, I saw that at least once I will be fording a river at least knee deep.  I ordered a pair of non-goretex X Crest shoes.  My experience from the 2019 attempt shows these shoes drain water quickly and dry quickly which is exactly what you want.
  • Finally I purchased a few odds and ends such as a new camp towel (I got some juice on it in Shenandoah National Park, was careless, and gave a mouse a tasty snack).
I will probably have to buy a few more things but most of them will be small things like mini-lighters, first aid supplies, and other things like that.  The fact that I don't have to replace any major gear tells me that I chose well last time.  Proud of that.

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