If you have perused the web looking for information on the general topic of hiking, you have no doubt come across gear reviews and much commentary on gear. Many blogs seemingly exist for that purpose.
Backpacking gear has interested me for some time. While I don’t want to make this site heavily gear oriented, I do want to give some ideas about what I believe to be appropriate for the Long Trail.
Over the years, I have had a range of pack weights. From ultralight to very heavy. I don’t believe there is a single way to handle the gear issue, but a variety of ways that work for different people and different budgets. I do take account of the weight of everything I put into my pack. I realize that not everyone does, and that is ok. We are not all wired the same. If you are analytical, you may find weighing all your gear and putting it in a spreadsheet to be an entertaining exercise.
Prior to my first long hike, I purchased a lot of gear about 8 months prior to heading out. Unfortunately, after a bit more research and some short trips, I switched out a lot of gear for either lighter or different types of gear. That was expensive. I hope that I can help you avoid that.
At this point, several books on ultralight backpacking have been written, and the subject has been talked about on many blogs as well. Even without an interest in becoming an ultralight backpacker, these books may help give a perspective for what is and what is not necessary and describe how to make certain objects multi-use. Most folks who spend a good amount of time hiking the long distance trails travel with a lot less gear than when they first stepped on the trail. What a hiker really needs out on the trail may be significantly different than what he/she thinks is needed before beginning. I don’t consider the books listed below as having a ‘minimalist’ attitude, but rather a thoughtful approach that is well explained and helpful.
Some good reading:
Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker’s Guide To Ultralight Hiking And Backpacking
by Justin Lichter
Ultralight Survival Kit
by Justin Lichter
Trail Life: Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking
by Ray Jardine
The Gear List
Simply having a packing list and really considering what you need to take with you is a very important exercise. Because of this, a gear list template and instructions for how to use the gear list are here -> Click here for the Gear List page.
I have broken down many of the important and specific items of gear (shoes, sleeping bags, etc…) that you need to have. The comments or items covered are personal in nature and either I or someone that I know well and trust has experience with. I have included some links in the different gear sections to manufacturers and stores that sell many of the items that are discussed on the site. If you come across good deals or products that you have experience with that you would like to recommend, please drop me a line.