This article contains our Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Gear List. For more information about all things Appalachian Trail, visit our Appalachian Trail page. Please remember that what you pack is determined by your level of comfort and risk tolerance. It takes time and experience to figure this out, of course.
Our recommendations come from our experience and risk tolerance, which may be different from yours. We try to pack as light as we can without sacrificing our safety while maintaining a reasonable level of comfort. This post contains affiliate links. Help support Hikerlore content by purchasing through these links.
If this is your first thru, you will probably take more than you need. You will learn and shake down your pack as you go. If you don’t use it, lose it!
This is the weight of all your gear save water and food. We aim to be around 10 pounds. You could certainly go lighter. We are carrying some camera gear and a few luxury items, which makes us a bit heavier than an ultra-light hiker would be. Still, this is a respectable base weight.
The Big Three:
Of course, you’ll need the big three.
Sleep System: quilt or bag, mat, bag liner (optional), pillow (optional).
Shelter: Tent, tarp (hope you like bugs), or hammock, repair kit.
Backpack & pack liner.
Here is some of the clothing you might bring rain gear, cold-weather gear, wool sleeping clothes & sleep socks, 1 pair hiking pants and/or shorts, 1 long-sleeved shirt, 1 short-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, buff, darn-tough hiking socks, gaiters, and trail runners.
You may choose to go stoveless as we did on the Florida Trail. In that case, you’ll need a cold-soak receptacle (like a Talenti jar), and a spoon.
If you choose to do hang your food or use a canister, you’ll be needing a food-storage bag with hang line or a bear vault. Here is a link to our LiteAF bear bag review and PCT hang video.
If you like to cook, take a backpacking stove, pot, and lighter.
To maximize your chances of staying healthy on the trail, bring a water filter. You’ll also need a water bottle for your filtered water, a heavy-duty ziplock bag or other receptacles for scooping, and possibly water bags for storage. On the Appalachian Trail, we used the BeFree filter and didn’t need water bags for storage like in the PCT desert section. The Appalachian Trail is a pretty wet trail. Recently on the Florida Trail, we switched to using bleach. For us this is perfect, bleach is easy to use, effective, and economical. Check out our Florida Trail article “Wrapping Up the Florida Trail”, for more information.
What to Eat?
We’re not dieticians or nutritionists, so we can’t make recommendations. But here is what we eat: high-calorie foods with a good balance of carbs, proteins, and fats. We have found low-glycemic foods to be beneficial for endurance exercise. Also, whenever we get to town we try to eat a lot of fresh produce.
A typical day will start with a “breakfast bomb”. This consists of muesli, whey, almond flour, peanut butter powder, and milk powder. Add some water and viola! A mid-morning snack may be a pro-bar or trail mix. Lunch usually consists of trail butter and tortillas. A mid-afternoon snack may be another bar. Dinner is pasta or beans. These are a few suggestions.
You will learn whether or not you like to cook on the trail. On the Appalachian Trail, we used a backpacking stove for dinner only. We now have over 5,000 miles of long-distance hiking under our belts, and we have finally decided to go stoveless. It’s not for everyone. My advice to you is that if you find yourself eating trail mix instead of cooking dinner, stoveless may be right for you. We prefer to have a hassle-free approach. This way we don’t have to carry fuel, a stove, or a pot. Try it out on a test run before your thru-hike.
We use the Atlas Guides Guthook App. There is also a data book and a guidebook available.
This depends on your level of comfortability. All we bring is NSAIDs, anti-diarrheal, cortisone cream, tweezers, body glide, and leuko-tape.
There are some items that you may want to bring, including an external battery, adapter, & cord, trek poles, phone (can be used for navigation, taking photos, journaling, reading, watching, calling, etc.), bug net, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, chapstick, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, pocket knife, fingernail clippers, and wet wipes.
If you’re new to all this, take your gear and yourself on a backpacking test run. Get used to using all your gear before you head out. This will also allow you to evaluate whether or not backpacking is as fun as you imagine it to be.
- Granite Gear Crown2 60 (RamboJuice)
- Gossamer gear Mariposa 60 (Stretch)
- Enlightened Equipment convert 20-degree quilts
- MSR Trailshot (We ended up using a Katadyn BeFree instead)
- Fenix LOD2 flashlight
- Sea to Summit dry compression sack
- Zpacks pack liner
- Zpacks bear bags
- Old Schrade single blade pocket knife
- Homemade first-aid kit
- Sea to Summit ultralight insulated sleeping mat
- Homemade Tyvek groundsheet
- Montbell down pants
- Wool hat
- Smartwool long underwear for sleeping
- Wool sleep socks
- Homemade 200wt fleece gloves wind blocking with DWR
- Sierra Designs down hoodies
- MSR Micro Rocket Stove
- GSR Outdoors plastic spoon (RamboJuice)
- Toaks titanium spoon (Stretch)
- Evernew 1.3L pasta pot
- Tarptent Saddle 2 tent
- Leki trek poles (RamboJuice)
- Black Diamond trek poles ( Stretch)
- Homemade cuben fiber rain skirts
- Outdoor Research Helium 2 rain jackets (We ended up using Frogg Toggs instead)
- Orb and Trigger Point myofascial release tools
- Thermarest sitting pads
- Pixel 2 XL phone and charger with OtterBox
- 1 Smart Water 1L each
- Trek umbrella (RamboJuice)
- Bic lighter
- Sandisk Clip Jam MP3
- Darn Tough and Cloudline socks
Our base weight is now just above 11 pounds for each of us. Some of the gear will change as the weather gets warmer and colder. This will also put less stress on our joints, keeping us healthy on the trail.
Thank you for reading. We hope this will help with your AT planning process. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out to us in the comments. Happy trails! For more posts on the Appalachian Trail, visit our AT page, here.