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

Clothing in Pack (not usually worn)2.3Rain jacket, warm jacket, gloves, etc.
Backpack and Gear Packaging1.3Backpack, stuff sacks
Sleeping Gear, Hammock, Tarp3.1This 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)
 3.3Since 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/Treatment0.8Stove, pot, cookware, water “bottles” & purification
“Essential” Gear0.8Maps, SOS device, first aid kit, headlamp, knife sunscreen and small items not included in above
BASE PACK WEIGHT (BPW) 8.3BPW = all items in pack = all items above,
less “consumables” (water, food and fuel)
1 Pint of Water1.0Average amount carried when hiking (water plentiful)
Food – for a long weekend – 3 days, 2 nights3.8See Backpacking Food “…reduce food weight”
Fuel0.24 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) 4.3Not 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)

Rain JacketOutdoor Research Helium II (6.4) 6.4From 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 PantsOutdoor Research Helium6.0Light. 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 topNorth Face TKA 100 Glacier 1/4-Zip7.9For use as a mid-layer (and as a “windshirt”)
WindshellDon’t bring anymoreIf cold & windy, will layer rainjacket over my fleece
Warm jacketWest. Mtn. Hooded Flash Jacket10.5Warmth Important for rest stops and in camp.
Warm pantsWestern Mountain. Flash (6.5) CampSaver is one of the few places to get these great pantsFor colder weather. Or folks that run cold in camp
Warm hatOR Option Balaclava1.8Warmer than hat – great for quilt w/o hood!
Warm hatMtn Hdw Power Stretch Balaclava1.2Warmer than hat – great for quilt w/o hood!
Liner glovesDuraGlove ET Charcoal Wool (2.5)Great liner glove – light, warm, durable!
Camp glovesGlacier Glove fingerless fleece (2.0) 2.0Dexterity at camp chores or climbing in cold weather
Rain MittsZPacks Challenger Rain Mitts (1.0)1.0For intermittent use. Expensive.
Rain Mitts (alt)MLD eVENT Rain Mitts (1.2) 1.2For intermittent use.
Rain Mitts (alt)Outdoor Research Revel (3.5)For constant use: waterproof, durable, grip palm
Spare socksDeFeet Wolleators or
SmartWool PhD Light Mini
1.8Will bring to wash & switch between pairs
Sleeping socksDeFeet Woolie Boolie (3.0)No day use; sleeping and dry camp only
Sleeping topPatagonia 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 & botInexpensive alternative to expensive base layers

Backpack and Gear Packaging

Pack opt 1Mountain Laurel Designs 3500ci EXODUS (17 oz) 17.0No frame. Almost all Dyneema. Very little mesh. Ideal for AT and shorter trips. [award winner]
Pack opt 1Hyperlite 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 pack2x 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 storageQuart-sized HD freezer bag0.5For storing organizing ‘todays’ snack food
Food storageAloksak OP Sak 12.5″ x 20″ (1.0)control food scent – attract less animal attention
Bear canisterBear 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 sacksFor sleeping bag, clothes, etc.2.0Silnylon: keep gear organized, clean, protected
Map sleeveGallon-sized freezer bag0.5Gallon: fewer map folds & shows more map area
Eyewear casepadded nylon sleeve + Ziplock bag0.4No need for a heavy rigid case

Sleeping Gear and Hammock Camping Setup

Hammock Shelter Setup – For more on hammocks see: Hammock Camping Series
(for conventional ground sleeping options see “Alternate Camping with a Tarp” below.
HammockDutchware Half-Wit
(with Hexon 1.0 fabric )
 12.5Light, all essential features & bug protection. Value!
(weight includes kevlar/whoopie suspension)
Sleeping QuiltHammock Gear Burrow “+30”14.5(+40F + 2 oz over fill = “+30F”) Great value
Under QuiltHammock Gear Phoenix “+30” 14.060″ long: (+40F + 2 oz over fill = “+30F”) Value
TarpHammock Gear Cuben Hex Tarp 7.0Hammock specific tarp (wt incl. ridgelines & guylines)
Tarp (value)Hammock Bliss XL Rain Fly (18.0)Inexpensive and serviceable hammock tarp
Stakes8 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea4.0Hold better than skewer stakes. Red easier to find!
Guylines3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord  2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines)1.02 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference

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.

Sleeping BagHammock Gear Burrow Quilt “+30”Pers fave. Great value! (with 2 oz over fill = “+30F”)
Sleeping Bag (alternate)Western Mountaineering SummerLite (19) 19.0Conventional +32 sleeping bag. Light, warm, highest quality, long loft retention
Sleeping PadT-Rest NeoAir X-lite “Women’s”12.1Perfect 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) 15.0Pers fave for many trips: Huge coverage. Low weight. Great ventilation and views.
BivyMLD Superlight Bivy (7.0)Perfect with tarp. When bringing will cowboy camp under stars most nights
Ground clothGossamer Gear Polycryo M (1.6)1.6Not needed with a bivy or shelters with a floor
Stakes8 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea4.0Hold better than skewer stakes. Red easier to find!
Guylines3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord  2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines)1.02 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference

Cooking Gear and Water Storage/Treatment

BottlesSawyer 64 oz Squeezable Pouch1.5For collecting treating water in camp – dry camps
BottlesSawyer 32 oz Squeezable Pouch1.0Use during the day (note: Platypus doesn’t fit Sawyer)
PurificationSawyer filter (3.0)3.0To drink on the spot – greatly reduces water cary
PurificationChlorine Dioxide tablets0.5For treating 2L bladder in camp
CooksetTrail Designs Toaks 900ml Pot, Sidewinder Ti-Tri, 4fl-oz fuel bottle5.3Lightest, 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 containerBoston 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
IgnitionStandard (not micro) BIC lighter0.2Larger is easier to use with cold hands
MugSnow Peak Ti Single 450 Cup (2.4)
Fave: MLD 475 Ti mug (1.3oz)
1.3Eat 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
UtensilPlastic spoon with big shovel0.3spoon handle cut to fit in pot
Coffee brewMSR MugMate Coffee Filter (1.0)For using ground coffee (and not Starbuck’s VIA)

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

MAPS11X17 Custom Maps in ZipLock2.0Mapped with CalTopo and printed at Kinkos
Charging6000mAh Anker batt + cable (5.1)for longer tips (~1.5 iPhone6 charges)
SOS/TrackerPreferred: 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 & CommIridium 9555 SatPhone (9.7 oz)
or Iridium GO!
Make no mistake: voice communication is still the gold-standard for high risk trips
OpticsROXANT 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/pencilFisher Space Pen Stowaway0.2To mark up maps, take notes about trip
ToothbrushGUM 411 Classic Toothbrush0.4Full head. minimal handle (but not cut in 1/2)
ToothpasteTravel size 1/2 full0.7
Toilet paperWhatever is on the roll at home1.0TP only for polish, use found materials first
Soap/sanitizerDr. Bronners0.5Dr. Bronner’s – repackaged into small bottle
Sunscreensmall plastic tube about 1/2 full0.5for face & hands: most of body covered—large hat
Lip balmBert’s Bees or similar0.2Minimal wt for dedicated lip balm
First Aid KitMeds, wound/injury, foot care3.0See detailed list at bottom
HeadnetSea 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 kitBonnie’s Balm in small balm jar0.5In case of wet feet. Never get blisters.
CompassSuunto M-3D Compass (1.6)1.6Lightest compass with declination adjustment
Knife/scissorsWescott blunt tip school scissors0.9More useful than knife – OK for plane carryon
KnifeGerber 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
FirestarterBic Mini Lighter + trash0.2Energy bar wrappers are great fire starter
LightBD Ion ii headlamp (45g)1.62 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
RepairTenacious patch, duct tape, glue 0.2Also consider NeoAir patch kit, and Aquaseal
Finance/IDID, CCs, and cash in snack ZipLock0.2More secure on me than left in car

Clothing Worn and Items Carried (stuff not in pack)

ShirtSmartWool Micro T Short-Sleeve4.5Light, 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
PantsRail Riders X-Treme Adventure (16)Pers fave. Very durable, no velcro on pockets!
Pants (alt)REI Sahara convertable pants (14) 14.0On trail, in shade: will hike in shorts most days.
Ex Officio and many others make similar pants
UnderwearPatagonia briefs2.0Dry fast, will rinse/wash most days
BraLighter, quick drying spots braNot an expert on this one!
ShoesInov-8 ROCLITE 295 (20oz)20.0Pers 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 shoesMost non-Goretex trail running shoes that fit well
SocksDeFeet Wolleators or
SmartWool PhD Light Mini
1.8Wolleators are pers fave. Light, thin, warm, simple, durable
GaitersDirty Girl gaiters (1.2 oz)I rarely find the need for gaiters
HeadwearNylon Ball Cap2.0Mostly shade on AT. No need for killer sun protection
WatchSuunto Core with positive display2.2compass, altimeter, multifunction timepiece. No GPS
Watch/GPSGarmin Fenix 3 Sapphire (3 oz)Accurate trip track: GPS, compass, altimeter, time
SunglassesRx and non-Rx (polarized)1.0 for cheap Rx options
GlassesZenni clear Rx glasses (1.0 oz)Great glasses! for $20 or so. But 2-3 week delivery
CameraCanon S120 + extra battery (8 oz)Balance of wt, size, image qual; less $ than RX100
Camera (alt)Sony RX100 or Sony a6000See Serious Lightweight Backpacking Cameras
GPS/CommIphone 6+ Ziplock baggie (7.5)7.5Primary GPS & map source (not leaving in car!)
Poles bargainCascade Mountain Tech Carbon15.2Pers fave. 1/3 price but equal to the best poles
Trek PolesREI Carbon Power Lock (16 oz)
BD Carbon Alpine (18 oz)
Stiff, light, travel-friendly, won’t break off-trail/rough terrain (readily available)

First Aid Kit (detail)

First AidItemOzComments
Pain, fever inflammationNaprosyn (Aleve), Ibuprofen, or Tylenol (fever)0.4In ziplock pill bag available at pharmacies
Foot/blisterGauze + Leukotape Tape0.3For taping over blisters, or pre-blister areas
Foot/blisterTincture of benzoin in micro-bottle0.2For getting tape or Bandaids to REALLY stick!
Wound careBandaids + gel blister covers0.5Assorted sizes – your preference
Wound careAntibact. packets + wound wipes0.4Wound cleansing, infection prevention
OTC medsBenadryl, Sudafed, Nexium, Imodium, caffeine tablets0.4All in tablet/pill form
Rx medsPersonal Dr’s Rx meds0.4
Pain seriousDr’s Rx Painkiller0.2For serious injury, tooth abscess, etc.
Storage/orgBag Poly 5×8  to hold 1st Aid Kit0.2 Keep size down. Can only put in what can fit in bag.
TOTAL3.0 Oz (included in “Essential” Gear)
11 replies
  1. Ender
    Ender says:

    Hi Alan,
    I really learned a lot from your blog and am grateful for all the work you put in this.
    I’m planning an AT thru hike this year and don’t have practical experience in using light/ultralight gear. My first question is about the shelter: I definitely need a tent because of my fear of bugs and Lyme disease. Tarptents make a lot of sense, but I also want to use it after mu thru-hike in conditions that are very similar to Pacific Northwest (constant fog, high elevation, rain, etc.). That limits me to Big Agnes Fly Creek or Nemo Hornet; which one would you recommend? Should I go with a tarptent because you think the condensation issue can be easily handled with a pack towel?

    What would be your practical recommendation, considering this is a thru-hike?

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Ender, good Qs. I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over the Big Agnes Fly Creek vs. Nemo Hornet. Not likely to make an enormous difference in the long run. Pick one with the features that you like, or whatever seems to be the better deal. Good campsite selection will almost certainly make more difference than tent design. And both tents will do better with more sheltered campsite. Ditto with the tarptent. The TarpTent has the advantage of being lighter–and constant fog, high elevation, rain, etc. will likely make all these shelters condense. In that case, a larger tarptent say a 2p one for solo camping might give you some more room to manage condensation (more volume per person) and room to keep away from condensing walls (my wife and I use a 3p tarptent for just such conditions). As always if you can keep the front door partially open that will help with condensation.

      Hope this helps, and have a great hike. Best, -alan

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    Hey Alan,

    Love your site and all the great info. I’m located in Baltimore, do most of my trips 3-season in Virginia and West VA. I made the switch to the hammock because of how much easier it is to find a spot for the night in our uneven, rocky woods. I’m going to bite the bullet and get down under and over quilts, but I’m not sure about temp rating. I do like to occasionally get out in the winter, usually just to clear my head for a night, and you probably know that in the Blue Ridge/George Washington NF it can get cold in the winter, so in the end I might have to get two sets of quilts. For 3-season would you still recommend the overstuffed HG quilts, getting their rating down to 30 degrees? I’m just wondering if those will be too hot for the dog days of summer. Or if it’s that hot would I just not need to use the under quilt? My cold weather set I’m planning on the HG burrow/incubator 20 overstuffed to rate about 10 degrees. If I have the cold set, do you think I need the overstuffed 30 degree set, or would the regular 40 degree set be okay for most 3-season? I sleep pretty warm.
    Thanks a ton!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Alex. See Lightweight Winter Hammock Camping guest post I did for the Ultimate Hang. Bottom line is you should be able to get down to around 10f with a +20 degree top and bottom quilt (maybe with a bit of overfill) along with the down jacket and pants you’d likely bring in temps that cold. This will give you the broadest temp range for quilts. At some point in the summer you’ll need lighter quilts or use another insulating system. Let me know if this helps. -alan

  3. David Golembiesky
    David Golembiesky says:

    Great Site! Final planning for the AT in the spring, your gear list has got me rethinking some of my gear! Awesome breakdown! Thanks!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good deal David. You might also take a peak at this series, Practical Light Gear List for the AT and 10 Pound Backpack to hike 100 miles on the AT.. Realize it is probably too light for most folks but the techniques and efficienices gained are applicable to whatever your pack weight. Have a great hike, -a

  4. Rachael
    Rachael says:

    This is great! I’ve been looking to get my pack under 10 pounds. I’ll have to look at some of your other gear lists…one of my dreams is to hike the Appalachian, and this is just what I needed. It’s insane! You’ve got everything on here, including sunscreen. I don’t see many backpackers prioritize this very much. Thanks for the awesome post!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thanks for the kind comments. And just an FYI, once the leaves are out on the AT you should be hiking mostly in shade. It’s one of the nicer things about the AT. The shade reduces solar radiation. And both the shade and evaporative cooling by the trees make the relative temp on the AT about 10 degrees cooler. Have a great hike, -Alan

  5. Bob
    Bob says:

    Incredible site and information. Thank you. A few questions: If I’m planning longer(6-14 days) solo hikes, shouldn’t I use a heavier pack @ around 3 or 4 pounds to be rated to carry more? Also, I see you and your buddy prefer lightweight ‘Shoes’; If I’m trekking the trail long distances with 30-40 lbs total pack weight shouldn’t I be wearing a more durable, load-baring ‘Boot’? When you’re in big bear/cat territory, what do you do to ease your worries? Bear mace, gun, common sense and knowledge, or is such a worry not warranted?

    Happy New Year!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good new year Bob.
      I’m Santiago and heading out to Patagonia tomorrow morning early so a few quick answers via my iPhone. 1) If you follow the advice on my food pages (on long trips there’s a ton of food weight to be saved) (Backpacking food), and do about 1/2 of the things suggested in my quick ways to reduce pack weight (Quick ways to reduce pack weight. That should put your pack weight 30 lb or under. This will allow you to get something like a HMG or ULA pack (Recommend B Backpacks)that will carry that amount of weight (I have carried 30 lb in both these packs). Hopefully you’ll be more in the 22-27 lb range. As to the boots vs. shoes. I have carried over 30 lbs in light trail runners even when going off-trail and over talus and climbing etc. in terrain like the Sierras and Wind River Range. It can be done. But that’s a personal decision. Best thing to do is to “season your ankles and feet” by doing long day hikes in the shoes and socks you intend to use on your 6-7 day trip. Finally I only carry bear spray, and then only in areas where there are active Grizzly Bears like Yellowstone and Alaska. With all bears your first and best defense is to be aware and not do anything stupid (not rocket science and not hard to do).

      Also look at this 4.7 lb gear List for some ideas on how to go really light. Not suggesting that you do this, but you may find a few areas that you might feel comfortable about radically reducing weight, e.g. Cowboy camping and only using a tarp when it’s actually raining.

      Hope you have a great trip, -Alan


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