Appalachian Trail Gear List

A 9 ounce hammock: This Gear List suggests using a hammock, which on the AT has significant comfort and performance advantages vs. a tent.

A three season (spring, summer, fall) Appalachian Trail Gear List

This gear list is fine tuned to the climate and terrain of the Appalachian trail rather than the more generic 9 Pound – Full Comfort – Lightweight Backpacking Gear List which is intended to cover most of the lower 48. For instance, the AT Gear List suggests using a hammock vs. a tent, since trees are plentiful along the AT, whereas flat, rock-free places to setup a tent and sleep on the ground are scarce. For more on hammocks see: Hammock Camping Series – Part 1 – Advantages of Hammock Camping.

If you aren’t interested in hammock camping, the list also includes and alternative options for traditional (ground) camping. Since most folks will be sleeping in AT shelters it doesn’t make much sense to carry a tent, which will go unused most nights. To save weight, just carry a light tarp in the low probability that there is both no room in the shelter and that it will rain. For more conventional tent & sleeping bag options see: 9 Pound – Full Comfort – Gear List.

This gear list is suitable for most backpackers on most 3-season trips (possibly 3+ season) along the Appalachian Trail (In some instances, you may wish to fine-tune this list to your particular trip needs and/or backpacking style by selecting suitable optional or alternate gear in this list.) I’ve also tried to list a number or items available from major retailers like REI, e.g. the excellent and reasonably priced Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket at only 6.4 ounces!

Appalachian Trail Gear List – Summary with Weights

SECTION TOTALS Lbs
Clothing in Pack (not usually worn) 2.3 Rain jacket, warm jacket, gloves, etc.
Backpack and Gear Packaging 1.3 Backpack, stuff sacks
Sleeping Gear, Hammock, Tarp 3.1 This Gear List suggests using a hammock, which on the AT has significant advantages vs. a tent. See Advantages of Hammock Camping
Alternate Sleeping Gear – Tarp Camping
(alternate to hammock camping)
 3.3 Since most folks will be sleeping in AT shelters it doesn’t make much sense to carry a tent, which will go unused most nights.
Cooking Gear and Water Storage/Treatment 0.8 Stove, pot, cookware, water “bottles” & purification
“Essential” Gear 0.8 Maps, SOS device, first aid kit, headlamp, knife sunscreen and small items not included in above
BASE PACK WEIGHT (BPW)  8.3 BPW = all items in pack = all items above,
less “consumables” (water, food and fuel)
1 Pint of Water 1.0 Average amount carried when hiking (water plentiful)
Food – for a long weekend – 3 days, 2 nights 3.8 See Backpacking Food “…reduce food weight”
Fuel 0.2 4 fl-oz alcohol = 3.2 oz wt
Total of Consumables  5.0  Water, food, and fuel
TRAIL PACK WEIGHT (BPW + consumables) 13.3  For a long weekend – 3 day trip
Clothing Worn and Items Carried (not in pack)  4.3 Not included in pack weight: clothing worn on the trail, hat, shoes, trekking poles, stuff in pockets, etc.
Camera Equipment Gear List (new page) Details for Serious Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Detail of Gear List Items

Clothing in Pack (not usually worn)

Clothing Item Oz Comments
Rain Jacket Outdoor Research Helium II (6.4)  6.4 From REI: less expensive than many at this weight
RainJacket (alt) Patagonia Alpine HOUDINI (6.0)  Light! Minimal with tough fabric. Pricy
RainJacket (alt) Ultimate Direction, Ultra Jkt 5.9  Light, great ventilation options, built-in mitts
Rain Pants Outdoor Research Helium 6.0 Light. Not insanely expensive
Rainpants (alt) Rain chaps or rain kilt (2.0 oz) For trips with low probability of rain, or warm rain
Mid-layer top North Face TKA 100 Glacier 1/4-Zip 7.9 For use as a mid-layer (and as a “windshirt”)
Windshell Don’t bring anymore If cold & windy, will layer rainjacket over my fleece
Warm jacket West. Mtn. Hooded Flash Jacket 10.5 Warmth Important for rest stops and in camp.
Warm pants Western Mountain. Flash (6.5) CampSaver is one of the few places to get these great pants For colder weather. Or folks that run cold in camp
Warm hat OR Option Balaclava 1.8 Warmer than hat – great for quilt w/o hood!
Warm hat Mtn Hdw Power Stretch Balaclava 1.2 Warmer than hat – great for quilt w/o hood!
Liner gloves DuraGlove ET Charcoal Wool (2.5) Great liner glove – light, warm, durable!
Camp gloves Glacier Glove fingerless fleece (2.0)  2.0 Dexterity at camp chores or climbing in cold weather
Rain Mitts ZPacks Challenger Rain Mitts (1.0) 1.0 For intermittent use. Expensive.
Rain Mitts (alt) MLD eVENT Rain Mitts (1.2)  1.2 For intermittent use.
Rain Mitts (alt) Outdoor Research Revel (3.5) For constant use: waterproof, durable, grip palm
Spare socks DeFeet Wolleators or
SmartWool PhD Light Mini
1.8 Will bring to wash & switch between pairs
Sleeping socks DeFeet Woolie Boolie (3.0) No day use; sleeping and dry camp only
Sleeping top Patagonia long sleeve Cap LW (3.5) Dry/clean for camp. Only bring in very wet climates
Sleeping bot. Patagonia Capilene LW (3.4 oz) Dry/clean for camp. Only bring in very wet climates
Sleeping (alt) Terramar Thermasilk top & bot Inexpensive alternative to expensive base layers
TOTAL 2.3  Lb

Backpack and Gear Packaging

Packing Item Oz Comments
Pack opt 1 Mountain Laurel Designs 3500ci EXODUS (17 oz)  17.0 No frame. Almost all Dyneema. Very little mesh. Ideal for AT and shorter trips. [award winner]
Pack opt 1 Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider (28 oz) For  those that want a frame. Light, super durable, seam sealed bag, good carrying capacity, good pockets. More $ [award winner]
Pack (alt) Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 (26 oz) Has frame. Durable. Right volume for AT. Record setting pack.
Pack (alt) Osprey Exos 38 Pack (34 oz) Mainstream commercial pack, readily available
Waterproofing for pack 2x Gossamer Gear Pack Liner (1.8) (alternate: a trash compactor bag) (1) liner for sleeping bag and insulating clothes
(1) liner for everything else
Food storage Quart-sized HD freezer bag 0.5 For storing organizing ‘todays’ snack food
Food storage Aloksak OP Sak 12.5″ x 20″ (1.0) control food scent – attract less animal attention
Bear canister Bear Vault BV500 (41) or Wild-Ideas Weekender (31) (when reg’s require) Wild-Ideas is lighter but pricy. Bear Vault is a better value
Stuff sacks For sleeping bag, clothes, etc. 2.0 Silnylon: keep gear organized, clean, protected
Map sleeve Gallon-sized freezer bag 0.5 Gallon: fewer map folds & shows more map area
Eyewear case padded nylon sleeve + Ziplock bag 0.4 No need for a heavy rigid case
TOTAL 1.3  Lb

Sleeping Gear and Hammock Camping Setup

Sleep+Shelter Item Oz Comments
Hammock Shelter Setup – For more on hammocks see: Hammock Camping Series
(for conventional ground sleeping options see “Alternate Camping with a Tarp” below.
Hammock Dutchware Half-Wit
(with Hexon 1.0 fabric )
 12.5 Light, all essential features & bug protection. Value!
(weight includes kevlar/whoopie suspension)
Sleeping Quilt Hammock Gear Burrow “+30” 14.5 (+40F + 2 oz over fill = “+30F”) Great value
Under Quilt Hammock Gear Phoenix “+30”  14.0 60″ long: (+40F + 2 oz over fill = “+30F”) Value
Tarp Hammock Gear Cuben Hex Tarp  7.0 Hammock specific tarp (wt incl. ridgelines & guylines)
Tarp (value) Hammock Bliss XL Rain Fly (18.0) Inexpensive and serviceable hammock tarp
Stakes 8 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea 4.0 Hold better than skewer stakes. Red easier to find!
Guylines 3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord  2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines) 1.0 2 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference
TOTAL 3.1  Lb

Alternate Camping with a Tarp  (if not Hammock Camping)

Since most folks will be sleeping in AT shelters it doesn’t make much sense to carry a tent, which will go unused most nights. To save weight, just carry a light tarp in the low probability that there is both no room in the shelter and that it will rain. For more conventional tent & sleeping bag options see: 9 Pound – Full Comfort – Gear List.

Sleep+Shelter Item Oz Comments
Sleeping Bag Hammock Gear Burrow Quilt “+30” Pers fave. Great value! (with 2 oz over fill = “+30F”)
Sleeping Bag (alternate) Western Mountaineering SummerLite (19)  19.0 Conventional +32 sleeping bag. Light, warm, highest quality, long loft retention
Sleeping Pad T-Rest NeoAir X-lite “Women’s” 12.1 Perfect size for most. Warm. Super comfortable!
For more shelter options see: Recommended Tents, Tarps, and other Shelters
Tent (alt) TarpTent ProTrail – 1 pers (26oz) Full rain & bug protection for one person (has floor)
Tent (alt) Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 (33 oz) REI: Freestanding tent for those who feel they need it
Tent/Shelter (alternate) MLD Grace Duo Tarp Silnylon (15) Cuben (7.8)  15.0 Pers fave for many trips: Huge coverage. Low weight. Great ventilation and views.
Bivy MLD Superlight Bivy (7.0) Perfect with tarp. When bringing will cowboy camp under stars most nights
Ground cloth Gossamer Gear Polycryo M (1.6) 1.6 Not needed with a bivy or shelters with a floor
Stakes 8 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea 4.0 Hold better than skewer stakes. Red easier to find!
Guylines 3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord  2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines) 1.0 2 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference
TOTAL 3.3  Lb

Cooking Gear and Water Storage/Treatment

Cook/Water Item Oz Comments
Bottles Sawyer 64 oz Squeezable Pouch 1.5 For collecting treating water in camp – dry camps
Bottles Sawyer 32 oz Squeezable Pouch 1.0 Use during the day (note: Platypus doesn’t fit Sawyer)
Purification Sawyer filter (3.0) 3.0 To drink on the spot – greatly reduces water cary
Purification Chlorine Dioxide tablets 0.5 For treating 2L bladder in camp
Cookset Trail Designs Toaks 900ml Pot, Sidewinder Ti-Tri, 4fl-oz fuel bottle 5.3 Lightest, most practical cookset on the market.
Zelph StarLyte Burner stores unburned fuel.
Cookset (alt) Jetboil Zip Cooking System, Jetpower 100 Fuel Canister (18.5) EZ to use. Much heavier than the alcohol stove cookset. Not “green” with non-recyclable canisters.
Pot (bargain) Open Country 3 Cup Pot (3.8) As good as a titanium pot but only $16
Cookset(cheap) TD $40-$50 pot/cookset option  Stay tuned: Working on what this will be
Fuel container Boston Round Bottle 4 fl-oz (0.8)
or TD Fuel Bottle Kit
(5 fl-oz act. cap) use squirt spout top for and medicine cup accurate dispensing
Ignition Standard (not micro) BIC lighter 0.2 Larger is easier to use with cold hands
Mug Snow Peak Ti Single 450 Cup (2.4)
Fave: MLD 475 Ti mug (1.3oz)
1.3 Eat breakfast & have coffee at same time
Bowl/Mug (alt) Ziplock 14 fl-oz bowl (0.6 oz) Pers fave: “mug” and/or bowl. Cheap, light, available
Mug (alt) Starbucks “$1,” 16 fl-oz cup (1.6oz) Readily available, inexpensive, reasonably durable
Utensil Plastic spoon with big shovel 0.3 spoon handle cut to fit in pot
Coffee brew MSR MugMate Coffee Filter (1.0) For using ground coffee (and not Starbuck’s VIA)
TOTAL 0.8  Lb

“Essential” Gear (smaller items not included in above)

Essentials Item Oz Comments
MAPS 11X17 Custom Maps in ZipLock 2.0 Mapped with CalTopo and printed at Kinkos
Charging 6000mAh Anker batt + cable (5.1) for longer tips (~1.5 iPhone6 charges)
SOS/Tracker Preferred: inReach SE (6.9) 2-way communication (a big deal!), visible GPS coordinates, and trip tracking+SOS
SOS/Track (alt) SPOT Gen3 (4.8) Disadvantages: only 1-way com, no vis. GPS coord.
GPS & Comm Iridium 9555 SatPhone (9.7 oz)
or Iridium GO!
Make no mistake: voice communication is still the gold-standard for high risk trips
Optics ROXANT 7×18 monocular (2.0) Light: scouting/route finding, decent, inexpensive
Optics (alt) MINOX BV II 8×25 binoc’s (10.8) Scouting, much better wildlife observation, value
Pen/pencil Fisher Space Pen Stowaway 0.2 To mark up maps, take notes about trip
Toothbrush GUM 411 Classic Toothbrush 0.4 Full head. minimal handle (but not cut in 1/2)
Toothpaste Travel size 1/2 full 0.7
Toilet paper Whatever is on the roll at home 1.0 TP only for polish, use found materials first
Soap/sanitizer Dr. Bronners 0.5 Dr. Bronner’s – repackaged into small bottle
Sunscreen small plastic tube about 1/2 full 0.5 for face & hands: most of body covered—large hat
Lip balm Bert’s Bees or similar 0.2 Minimal wt for dedicated lip balm
First Aid Kit Meds, wound/injury, foot care 3.0 See detailed list at bottom
Headnet Sea to Summit Head Net (1.2) Mosquito netting – don’t take on most trips
Insect repell. Repel Pen Pump Insect Repellent
Sawyer Maxi-DEET Spray (0.5)
Convenient size; effective. Sawyer preferred.
Foot care kit Bonnie’s Balm in small balm jar 0.5 In case of wet feet. Never get blisters.
Compass Suunto M-3D Compass (1.6) 1.6 Lightest compass with declination adjustment
Knife/scissors Wescott blunt tip school scissors 0.9 More useful than knife – OK for plane carryon
Knife Gerber L.S.T. Drop Point (1.2 oz) Can cut bread and salami – very light for 2.6″ blade
Knife (alt) Spyderco Ladybug Knife (0.6) 2″ blade – one of the lightest functional knives
Firestarter Bic Mini Lighter + trash 0.2 Energy bar wrappers are great fire starter
Light BD Ion ii headlamp (45g) 1.6 2 AAAs + headband. Bright, efficient dimmable LED
(slide/touch operation a bit wonky, so not for all)
Light (alt) Fenix LD02 w spare battery (1.0) Best mini light available, attach to hat brim with clip
Repair Tenacious patch, duct tape, glue  0.2 Also consider NeoAir patch kit, and Aquaseal
Finance/ID ID, CCs, and cash in snack ZipLock 0.2 More secure on me than left in car
TOTAL 0.8 Lb

Clothing Worn and Items Carried (stuff not in pack)

Worn/Carried Item Oz Comments
Shirt SmartWool Micro T Short-Sleeve 4.5 Light, comfortable. On trail, in shade. No need for sleeves. (put on fleece for cold/windy Wx)
Shirt (alt) SmartWool NTS lightweight zip (8) Shirt & baselayer: for colder weather
Pants Rail Riders X-Treme Adventure (16) Pers fave. Very durable, no velcro on pockets!
Pants (alt) REI Sahara convertable pants (14)  14.0 On trail, in shade: will hike in shorts most days.
Ex Officio and many others make similar pants
Underwear Patagonia briefs 2.0 Dry fast, will rinse/wash most days
Bra Lighter, quick drying spots bra Not an expert on this one!
Shoes Inov-8 ROCLITE 295 (20oz) 20.0 Pers fave. Light, sticky rubber, durable, low heel rise
Shoes (alt) Brooks Cascadia (25 oz) Very popular trail shoe for LW backpackers
Shoes (alt) Lightweight trail running shoes Most non-Goretex trail running shoes that fit well
Socks DeFeet Wolleators or
SmartWool PhD Light Mini
1.8 Wolleators are pers fave. Light, thin, warm, simple, durable
Gaiters Dirty Girl gaiters (1.2 oz) I rarely find the need for gaiters
Headwear Nylon Ball Cap 2.0 Mostly shade on AT. No need for killer sun protection
Watch Suunto Core with positive display 2.2 compass, altimeter, multifunction timepiece. No GPS
Watch/GPS Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire (3 oz) Accurate trip track: GPS, compass, altimeter, time
Sunglasses Rx and non-Rx (polarized) 1.0 http://www.zennioptical.com/ for cheap Rx options
Glasses Zenni clear Rx glasses (1.0 oz) Great glasses! for $20 or so. But 2-3 week delivery
Camera Canon S120 + extra battery (8 oz) Balance of wt, size, image qual; less $ than RX100
Camera (alt) Sony RX100 or Sony a6000 See Serious Lightweight Backpacking Cameras
GPS/Comm Iphone 6+ Ziplock baggie (7.5) 7.5 Primary GPS & map source (not leaving in car!)
Poles bargain Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon 15.2 Pers fave. 1/3 price but equal to the best poles
Trek Poles REI Carbon Power Lock (16 oz)
BD Carbon Alpine (18 oz)
Stiff, light, travel-friendly, won’t break off-trail/rough terrain (readily available)
TOTAL 4.3  Lb

First Aid Kit (detail)

First Aid Item Oz Comments
Pain, fever inflammation Naprosyn (Aleve), Ibuprofen, or Tylenol (fever) 0.4 In ziplock pill bag available at pharmacies
Foot/blister Gauze + Leukotape Tape 0.3 For taping over blisters, or pre-blister areas
Foot/blister Tincture of benzoin in micro-bottle 0.2 For getting tape or Bandaids to REALLY stick!
Wound care Bandaids + gel blister covers 0.5 Assorted sizes – your preference
Wound care Antibact. packets + wound wipes 0.4 Wound cleansing, infection prevention
OTC meds Benadryl, Sudafed, Nexium, Imodium, caffeine tablets 0.4 All in tablet/pill form
Rx meds Personal Dr’s Rx meds 0.4
Pain serious Dr’s Rx Painkiller 0.2 For serious injury, tooth abscess, etc.
Storage/org Bag Poly 5×8  to hold 1st Aid Kit 0.2  Keep size down. Can only put in what can fit in bag.
TOTAL 3.0  Oz (included in “Essential” Gear)