Essential Hygiene Items / Toiletries
Hygiene items for trail have been separated into two sections.
The items in this section are reasonably necessary for daily functioning.
In the next section, we’ll cover hygiene items that are more “optional.”
Every thru-hiker eventually reaches a moment when they must go number two in an area without a bathroom or privy.
To appropriately abide by the Leave No Trace principles and “dispose of waste properly,” a trowel is a staple in every backpacker’s bathroom kit.
These trowels help you dig the necessary hole to bury your human waste, which should be deposited in a 6-8 inch cat hole 200 feet from all water sources, campsites, and trails.
A lightweight yet also strong and serrated trowel is helpful. The ground is challenging in some sections, especially when it’s cold outside.
We found the Dig Dig Tool trowel, made by Vargo, fit the bill.
The Dig Dig Tool’s titanium makeup is two times stronger than aluminum and will not corrode.
While being a bit heavier than some of its competitors (it’s 0.65 ounces more than TheTentLab’s popular The Deuce #2), we found it was worth it for a more durable trowel.
TP is, of course, necessary for wiping your bum. You’ll find it just about anywhere you’ll shop along the way.
Pro tip: Remove the core before hiking on. The roll becomes squishable, and you’ll save a bit of weight.
Tampons can be found at most stores along the trail. They are also often found at hostels or inside hiker boxes.
For me, the box of tampons usually supplied more than I needed each month. So I would use what I required and leave the extra tampons in a hiker box for the next lady hiker behind me.
(It’s worth mentioning that the extra Ziplocks you’re considering pitching throughout the month are worth saving for the additional trash created during this time.)
Menstrual Cups: I know some women prefer using menstrual cups over tampons. If you’re already comfortable with one, bringing it would be a great choice. You will have less to carry and less trash to carry out.
Side note: Some hikers (both women and men) also choose to hike with a tampon in their first aid kit to prevent open wounds from bleeding out while waiting for emergency response.
Pee Cloth vs. Pstyle
Pee cloths facilitate TP-less wiping for those who can’t simply “shake it off” after peeing.
They are absorbent cloths made of anti-microbial and anti-odor materials. If you buy one, ensure it says it’s anti-microbial for hygiene purposes.
I started my thru-hike with this Circle Care pee cloth from Amazon. And it was fine in the beginning.
It was absorbent and sufficiently did its job. I washed it every time we were somewhere we could wash our clothes; however, during long stretches on trail, especially once it started getting warmer outside, the cloth began to develop a strong urine smell that I could never entirely wash out.
The cloth sufficiently started to gross me out around Damascus, VA.
I decided to make a change in this department and try the pStyle.
I LOVED my pStyle.
I had my pStyle before we ever started hiking, but a male hiker friend advised me to leave it behind. He said the women he knew never used them.
Note to self: Don’t listen to men for advice on female products.
Around the time the pee cloth had started sufficiently grossing me out, my mom was meeting up with us in Damascus.
She brought me the pStyle I had left behind, and I never looked back.
This funnel guides your pee out and away from you. No more crouching!
It was easier to keep clean and much easier to pee out of, more discrete, and saved my knees!
With this item, I could simply saddle up next to my husband and let it rip. ?
I kept mine in a baggy with a bit of toilet paper. Any used toilet paper was then stored separately and thrown away at the next toilet or privy along the way.
The Appalachian Trail is often referred to as the “green tunnel,” and there’s a lot of truth to that!
However, even if you’re not consistently seeing the sun, it can still be causing damage to your skin.
I was sure to put tinted sunscreen on my face every morning.
However, if you only use sunscreen for sunburn protection, carrying a tiny tube such as this one from Amazon between fall and spring would be good. We encountered sunburn most on our hike during the early spring and late fall months when the trees were barren.
Hand sanitizer is the easiest way to keep your mitts clean when you lack soap, water, and a sink.
There are a lot of frequently used touch points on trail – the biggest one being the privys.
Find a small 3 ounce container you can clip onto your pack for easy access, such as these on Amazon, and then refill along the way.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
The last thing I wanted to stop me on trail was tooth pain, so I still brushed twice a day.
I used these Thumbprint toothbrushes from Litesmith. You can’t get much more lightweight than this puppy:
Any travel-sized toothpaste will get the job done. You can always pick up another at any grocery store along the trail when it runs out.
Less Important Hygiene Items / Toiletries
Hygiene maintenance on trail is very much a personal preference. What you bring with you depends on the hygiene level you’re interested in maintaining.
We were more focused on our hygiene than many of our thru-hiking friends.
If you can get away with carrying a few of these items, I recommend it. Your body will thank you.
Messes happen. Sometimes hand sanitizer isn’t enough to tackle grime.
Carrying a tiny bottle of soap, such as this 2 ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner’s, is a good idea.
Dr. Bronner’s 2 oz Liquid Soap
We found it helpful for cleaning everything from shirts to underwear to the occasional pot.
While the toothpaste and toothbrush combo will shine those chompers right up, floss is the beloved heavy hitter for cleaning between the teeth.
To avoid cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease, you can always bring one of those tiny floss packs your dentist gives you twice a year. Or you can order small containers such as these Cocofloss containers on Amazon.
Before starting our hike, a previous thru-hiker told me there would be floss at all the hostels. That differed from my experience, but you could always see if it’s around before buying some.
Oh, Deodorant! It’s a hygiene item that’s popular to ditch.
After all, why do you need to worry about how you smell while you’re out in nature?
My husband and I couldn’t quite ditch it, though.
It was our personal choice on the level of cleanliness desired. But on zero days and at the end of an extra sweaty hiking day, we liked having it.
Schmidt’s makes Travel Size sticks that only weigh 0.7 of an ounce.
Schmidt’s Travel Size Deodorant
When washing your face, putting tinted sunscreen on, or doing anything you’d like to see, there may come a moment when you’d like a way to see yourself.
You may think if you have a phone, you have a mirror, but I loved having a hands-free option like this one from Amazon that was small, acrylic, flexible, and unbreakable. (I found mine at Walmart.)
My mirror lived in my pack’s reservoir pouch and could easily be clipped onto our tent using a carabiner.
Many women and men cut off their hair before starting their thru-hike, partially to make it easier to keep an eye out for ticks and partly to not have to deal with it.
I’m always cold. I was slightly nervous that I’d be consistently freezing without my hair. I’m also pretty attached to it.
If you decide to hike with hair, you’ll want to bring a brush if you wish to keep it from becoming tangled.
I tested out a few travel-size hair brushes before taking off. This one from Wet Brush won because it was the widest, lightest (with the mirror removed, which is not needed anymore due to the lighter, flatter, and bigger one just mentioned above on this list) and could tuck into itself for easy storage.
(1.5 oz without the mirror)
Other Lightweight Hair Brush Options
These two hair brushes also weigh under 2 ounces each and would be good options:
Wet Brush Mini Detangling Brush
Wet Brush Hair Brush Mini Shine Enhancer Detangler with Flexible Boar Bristles
If you find yourself chaffing, getting rashes, or having painfully raw skin from hiking, an anti-chafe balm is a must for your pack.
Roll a salve such as this one from Body Glide on your problem areas in the morning before you get going to create a moisture-repelling barrier atop your skin that also lets your sweat escape, minimizing irritation from rubbing.
In the summer months, my husband used it multiple times a day.
Another option you’ll see in gear stores along the trail:
Hubby has confirmed either will get the job done.
Baby wipes are a fantastic end-of-the-day clean-off option for those who don’t want to deal with the hassle of dousing themselves in water nightly but still want something to help them remain somewhat clean.
(My husband found baby wipes too sticky and used a towel & water combo instead. You can find more on that below under “Towel.”)
Carrying wipes is a personal preference, but I found it nice to wipe all the grime off at the end of a long hiking day. They helped me fall asleep feeling “clean.”
You can find wipes in every hiker town along the way. I tested many different outdoor wipe brands but became partial to Huggies Baby Wipes by the end. They were the least sticky and available everywhere.
Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes
You may feel it’s necessary to clean your face nightly.
I deal with adult acne, so for me, it was.
Since I didn’t want to carry the weight involved with my usual face care cocktail, these lightweight wipes helped keep my breakouts at bay.
Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Wipes for Acne Prone Skin
Regarding bugs: mosquitoes, flies, gnats, bees, and ticks are what you’ll be most concerned with on the Appalachian Trail.
Here are a few bug management options worth considering:
Insect repellent keeps bugs off you and helps protect you from the disease they may be carrying.
Mosquitoes will become a problem in the warmer months.
Pick up a small bottle of your preferred repellent when needed. When you do not need it anymore, ditch it or send it home.
We picked up Ben’s along the way, and it worked great!
Ben’s 30% Deet Tick & Insect Repellent
(1.25 fl oz)
Insect Head Net
The purpose of an insect head net is to keep the bugs from getting to the exposed skin on your head.
Periodically, throughout different seasons and temperatures, you will inevitably walk through a zone where having one of these will make the hike much more enjoyable.
They’re nice to wear with a wide-brimmed hat to keep the netting from clinging to your face and head, giving you more breathing room.
You’ll see cheap versions and more expensive versions.
Here’s why some cost more:
✅ They are treated with Permethrin (more on that in a moment).
✅ They have more holes per square inch (meaning they keep tinier bugs out too).
✅ They have a superior enclosure around your neck.
✅ They weigh less.
In my experience, they generally all weigh 0.5 to 1.5 ounces, make your face warm, and keep the bugs off.
You’ll see them along trail at hostels, gear stores, and Walmarts.
If you hate bugs on your face, they’re worth the extra carry since they weigh almost nothing.
Sea to Summit Ultra-Mesh Head Net
Permethrin Insect Repellent
Permethrin insect repellent is a spray you can use on your clothing to keep the ticks away.
It doesn’t keep them off entirely but prevents them from latching on for an extended period, causing them to fall off or die after exposure to the insecticide generally.
Sawyer Premium Permethrin Insect Repellent for Clothing, Gear & Tents, Trigger Spray
If you’re a NOBO’r starting in March or April, ticks will be out for your entire hiking season because they’re around as long as it’s above freezing.
Ticks are horrid little bugs that you usually can’t even feel land on you, that bite people and end up transmitting the diseases they’re carrying in the process.
The best place to use Permethrin would be on your socks and shoes, which are closest to the ground and most likely to pick up a tick.
To continue the protection, you must reapply this spray to your clothing every six washes.
If you want to avoid applying the spray yourself, there are companies such as Insect Shield, where you can send your clothes, and they’ll conduct the application for you.
As a cat mom, it’s worth noting Permethrin is highly toxic to cats. Be sure to keep the application process separate from them.
We did not use Permethrin. I was nervous about the chemical being on my clothing.
However, if I were to do it over again, I would because we saw trail friends get sick.
I now realize the Permethrin spray is a much cheaper preventative than what you must go through once you become ill from a tick.
If you opt to forgo Permethrin, check yourself for ticks nightly.
Bring your EpiPen along on the thru-hike if you are allergic to bees.
You could be stung along the trail while being far from any source of immediate medical assistance.
We each got stung once. Me while hiking. Barrett while at camp.
Personal Luxury Items
Luxury items are considered indulgences.
Only you can decide if these items are worth the weight of carrying them with you on your journey.
Hiking umbrellas seem less prevalent on the AT than on other hiking trails, such as the PCT.
Despite all the rain, that is likely due to the lack of sun.
We did not hike with umbrellas, but there is a case to be made for them, even while hiking the green tunnel.
They provide you with the following:
☔️ A shield from the elements, including the sun, rain, and snow.
☔️ A more comprehensive range of view while hiking in the rain.
☔️ An option to keep you dry in warm rain without having to sweat your butt off in all your rain gear, which also renders your rain gear less effective.
☔️ The creation of a dry cook spot.
If you opt to carry one, make sure it’s lightweight, is built of quality components, has a large canopy, and is UPF rated to protect from the rain and sun.
Resting on trail is vital for your recovery and continued hiking success. A pillow may or may not be part of what you consider necessary sleep equipment.
While I don’t consider a pillow a “luxury item,” it is commonly considered that among hikers, so I have placed it in this section instead of the sleep system section.
Many hikers skip carrying a pillow by sleeping without one or using their clothing, puffy, or other soft items in a stuff sack to form a pillow.
If you decide you’d like a pillow, consider your sleep style and your head size.
Barrett and I loved this Sea to Summit Aeros Premium pillow in the deluxe size.
If you stay put while you sleep and have a small head, you can get away with one of the smaller, lighter-weight sizes this pillow comes in.
My & Husband’s Pick:
Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow, Deluxe
If you plan on sleeping in a shelter most nights, you will often be in close quarters with snorers. Ear plugs will become a necessity.
Also, snoring won’t only occur in shelters. You’ll experience it in the hostel bunks as well.
Beyond them being helpful to drown out snorers, though, I found that if a day was long and my emotions were heightened, I enjoyed using them to eliminate all surrounding noise and help me fall asleep.
They do also make smaller ones for smaller canals. You may think this is silly, but I point it out because I thought effective earplugs were a myth for the longest time until I realized most were simply too big for my ears and not sitting in them properly.
So, if you’ve had that similar feeling in the past, consider the following:
Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Cushion Insulated Sitting Pad
These pads make it so you can sit comfortably in almost any location.
I thought these were entirely unnecessary until my husband had me test one out.
I was wrong.
Having a seat anywhere you want to make one is super helpful.
We each had one and used them daily.
A towel is an excellent addition for those wanting to rinse off in the evenings.
My husband was concerned about not being able to sleep at night if he was sticky and sweaty.
When I asked him what item he MOST wanted to talk about out of ALL of our gear, he said his towel.
When using it, he rarely used soap. He would simply rinse himself off with water using the towel as a washcloth.
Then he would wring out the towel and also be able to use it to dry off with it.
Those actions gave him the feeling of being cleaned off each evening. He said it made a huge difference for him and saw it as instrumental in helping him complete his thru-hike.
When seeking out a towel, its ability to dry quickly is arguably the most crucial feature.
You want all the water to wring out almost immediately, so you’re not carrying any extra water weight after using it.
Sea to Summit’s Airlite polyester towel provides a lightweight, compact, and quick-drying option to dry yourself off when needed.
(S – 0.4 oz / M – 1.7 oz / XL – 2.5 oz)
In our experience, nine times out of ten, when used in the evening, this towel would be dry by morning.
It is helpful to keep a polyester/nylon absorbent, wring-out-able, quick-drying mini towel with a built-in carabiner loop (such as the REI Co-op Multi Towel Mini) on hand.
You’ll be surprised how often you find a need for a lightweight mini towel.
I loved these bad boys due to their ability to soak up copious amounts of water and release it instantly, feeling almost dry.
I had three in various colors, and they all had different jobs. They were most often used as sweat rags, dish-drying rags, hankies, or something to mop up excess water from the tent.
Fanny packs are traditionally used to hold anything you want easy access to throughout your hiking day, such as your snacks or phone.
They help reduce the number of times you must stop and take off your pack.
I wanted to take my fanny pack game one step further for my thru-hike.
I was looking for a fanny that would also be strong enough to help me get a few small yet heavy items off my back, such as my battery bank and selfie stick.
I found this fanny pack from Chicken Tramper to be perfect!
I was initially attracted to Chicken Tramper due to the size of their fanny packs, the “cool” look, and the fact that they come from a Michigan-based company. (Born and bred Michigander here. ?♀️)
And then, after trying a few other fanny packs, the durability and strength of CTUG’s fanny packs ultimately sealed the deal for me.
The material is waterproof and abrasion resistant. The zipper is water-resistant.
Due to the zipper not being waterproof, I recommend still Ziplocking anything that shouldn’t get wet inside the fanny. (Though we never had a problem with anything getting ruined inside of ours.)
Overall it held up like a champ after being dragged across the northern states’ mountain climbs and drenched repeatedly. (I wore my rain jacket over the fanny pack when it rained heavily.)
The 2.5L size worked well for us, but they also sell a smaller 1L and a larger 4L one.
If pictures will serve as the primary form of documentation of your thru-hike, you should consider bringing a selfie stick to broaden your photo options.
Once I found a strong fanny pack, I committed to bringing a selfie stick.
I wanted to bring a selfie stick so we could get photos that included both of us as well as more of the beautiful landscape in the background.
Bluetooth Selfie Stick Tripod with Wireless Remote
For just over 5 ounces, this one on Amazon is sturdy enough to be used in your hand as a stick but also has a wireless remote that pops out so you can set it up on the ground and use it as a tripod.
When looking, there are lighter-weight sticks, but be warned, they become less capable of holding up your phone as they get lighter.
A mascot is an object/character you choose to bring along with you on the trail!
Liberty Bear (or, as we lovingly referred to him, LB) started as my mascot but eventually became our mascot.
(Also, please don’t ask me why my Statue of Liberty bear is a man. A few people asked me on trail. I have no good answer except that I think of most teddy bears as men. It must be connected to Theodore Roosevelt or something… Anywho!)
LB basically became our trail pet. We spoke to him as we would our cat and dog back home.
You may think this is silly, but I think LB was good for our mental health and helped us feel less alone at times.
I chose him while we were in NYC at the Statue of Liberty because I loved what he represented.
Liberty is defined by the Oxford Languages and Google dictionary as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.”
He was the ideal 1 oz reminder of the life and opportunities I’m given in this country, that I am free to live the life I choose, and how wonderful that is.
Pick a mascot that speaks to you! I swear you’ll be happy you did.
Cork Massage Balls
Thank goodness for these!
These cork balls are a great way to still have a lightweight massage therapy option in your pack that’s not as heavy as a lacrosse ball.
At the end of a long day of hiking, there’s nothing better than rolling your muscles out with these balls.
They provide relief from the tension, aches, and pains that were built up throughout the day.
They were very popular on trail. People would see us using them and often ask to be next.
Rawlogy Travel Cork Massage Ball Set | 2.4 Inch and 2 Inch Combo
2.4 Inch Ball (Classic Sized):
The classic-sized ball is best for the larger muscles, such as your back and legs.
It was my favorite. I used it under my legs, on my shoulders, and along my back.
2 Inch Ball (Mini/Pocket Sized):
The pocket-sized ball is best for calves and feet.
It was Barrett’s favorite.
If you are accustomed to having a bidet in your day-to-day life, they make extremely small and lightweight water bottle attachment bidets worth considering for trail.
This was not important to me, but it might be to you! So I wanted you to know this option exists.
I figured I wouldn’t want to use it with any bottle I was carrying for drinking purposes, and then I also couldn’t rationalize having an extra water bottle just for this.
So for me, TP alone worked.
Music will always be integral to people’s lives and have its place on the trail.
Instruments are an awesome ambiance creator if you know how to play one and are okay with adding their weight to your pack.
We saw people hiking with ukuleles, guitars, harmonicas, and even a mini violin!
Keep in mind it’s tough to keep anything intact on the trail. You may not want to bring the family heirloom ukulele. There is a high probability of it breaking along the way.
Some hikers choose to bring card games as an evening entertainment option.
I started our hike carrying a waterproof deck of cards. (And almost this waterproof Uno as well.)
However, I quickly found out that any additional “post-hike” activities were unnecessary to carry along.
I was pooped in the evenings and didn’t have a lot of social energy left for cards.
I did have the energy for it on zero days, but then I found cards were often lying around at hostels.
So, my cards were shipped back home within the first few weeks of our hike.
However, if you think you’ll have more energy in the evenings on trail and wish to be the life of the party, they’re worth considering.
If you’re going to play Solitaire or other single-player games in your tent to decompress, your cell phone will work fine for that.
Reading is another pastime hikers enjoy in the evening.
If you’re looking for a lightweight way to read without killing your phone battery, bringing a Kindle is worth considering since a Kindle can provide up to 10 weeks of reading on one charge!
Only you can decide whether the added weight is worth carrying.
I considered the Kindle but ended up opting for my phone and the Kindle app, sacrificing the phone juice in exchange for less overall weight in my pack.
Enjoying the sounds of the great outdoors is an incredible perk of thru-hiking, but after months on the trail, there will also be days you’ll want to listen to a podcast or music.
This TOZOs set on Amazon is an excellent option for trail.
TOZO T6 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
While the audio output is lower quality than the fancier brands, the price tag is perfect.
At their $30 price point, you won’t worry about whether or not they’ll still be in one piece when you’re finished.
And that’s not their only pro. You’ll get 10 hours of listening on a single charge and 45 hours from the charging case with these bad boys, which I’ve found is almost double what I get from my AirPods Pros.
With that kind of playtime, you can rely on these earbuds to make it from hostel to hostel without having to recharge them from your battery bank while on the trail.
When you do have to charge them back up, it takes less than two hours to get the case recharged and those 45 hours of playtime back.
The TOZOs are also sweat and waterproof, which is another area they beat the AirPods Pros, which are only water and sweat resistant. That will matter to you when you’re hiking through a rainstorm and want to listen to music to lift your spirits.
I often hiked with the right one in, so I could skip songs via the touch controls, and then slept with the left one in, so one was always on the charger, yet I could still always hear my surroundings.
Some hikers choose to hike with a camera capable of capturing higher-resolution snapshots.
The OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 has been the industry leader in rugged point-and-shoots for quite a while now.
This camera is waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof, and anti-fog!
It is an excellent choice for the Appalachian Trail because there will be moments along the way you will need protection from every single one of those elements.
OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera
A quick note on my favorite point-and-shoot, the Sony RX100 VII.
The line of Sony RX100 cameras has been my go-to small camera for adventure for years, but a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail is a different beast.
We never had enough protection from the elements to keep me from worrying about it getting ruined.
I started with the RX100 but knew after our first big storm that I couldn’t keep it safe.
I decided my phone took raw photos that were good enough for me.
Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera
Did I have moments I missed its low light abilities and zoom? Yes.
However, I’m still happy I shipped it home when I did. My phone provided me with plenty of memories.
On my next long hike, I will likely bring the Tough TG-6.
It’s surprisingly easy to get turned around on trail, even if you have a great sense of direction.
A compass is fantastic for getting you back on track.
Also, yes, phones do have compasses. But if you want to be sure you have one at all times, even if your phone is dead, look into a small, lightweight option such as this Coghlan’s compass.
Coghlan’s 1985 Carabiner Compass
We had a small one on a plastic clipable card that also came with a thermometer. It didn’t last, so we used our phone for the remainder of the trail.
If I were to take off on a new trip today, I’d get this one. It looks sturdier, and I like that it doubles as a carabiner!
While I did almost all of my journaling digitally, I still always carried a tiny notebook and a pen just in case I needed to jot some information down and couldn’t use my phone.
Every once in a while, I found a use for it.
But honestly, I pulled out the pen more than the notebook. Usually, to sign a register or a shelter logbook.
I stored both in a Ziplock bag, in my food bag, to keep them dry.
That said, some hikers will always prefer to make notes on paper.
If you’re one of those people, I found these journals on Amazon tiny and lightweight.
Appalachian Trail Passport
These Appalachian Trail passport books are neat and deserve the last spot on the list.
Before heading out, I bought one for Barrett for his birthday, but it didn’t make the cut. (We decided before taking off that photos would be enough documentation for us.)
However, I did see quite a few thru-hikers using them along the way to track their journeys.
It seemed like every hostel, gear store, landmark, and even some shuttle drivers and trail angels had a stamper.
It’s a neat way to track your trek that only weighs one extra ounce.
If that sounds like a memento you’d like to have at the end of your thru-hike, you should get one and enjoy it!
Appalachian Trail Gear List: FAQs
What is the Appalachian Trail (AKA the AT)?
The Appalachian Trail is a hiking-only footpath that follows the Appalachian Mountains throughout the eastern United States. It is just under 2,200 miles long and crosses through 14 states.
Every year, thousands of hikers attempt to cover the entire distance of the trail in 12 months or less, so they may claim the title of being an AT thru-hiker.
Do you need snow gear for the Appalachian Trail?
It depends on the months you are hiking and which parts of the trail.
I did not hike in the winter months. That said, we still encountered some cold weather at the beginning and end of our hike.
If I had hiked during the winter months, though, here are the items I would have looked into adding to my hike:
A Better Puffy
(The tarp is worth adding to your kit if you plan on sleeping in the shelters to help keep the wind off you.)
What gear do you need for hunting season?
With hunting permitted along 1,250 miles of the AT, it is possible to find yourself hiking in and out of hunting zones during fall, winter, and spring.
Since we went from being NOBOers to flip-floppers, we hiked through the Mid-Atlantic states during hunting season.
To find out whether you’ll be hiking through a state’s hunting season, please glance at this guide the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has put together for hikers.
There are two add-ons you really should be wearing during this time.
A blaze orange hat or beanie.
And a blaze orange hunting vest.
These bright articles of clothing do a great job of making you stand out while hiking through a hunting area.
While it is only recommended to wear the hat and vest when you are in a hunting zone, we opted to finish the fall portion of our hike wearing our blaze orange daily.
We figured this was not something to mess around with and that it was best to play it safe.
Bear in mind hunters are also playing it safe and paying close attention while hunting. You should not be fearful.
We just figured mistakes can always happen. Why not be as prepared as possible?
What does ultralight backpacking vs. lightweight backpacking mean?
To explain this, I first need to explain what base weight means.
Base weight is the total weight of everything in your pack minus consumables.
Consumables include food, water, and fuel. They are omitted because their weight fluctuates day by day.
A lightweight backpacker has a base weight between 10 to 20 lbs.
An ultralight backpacker has a base weight of up to 10 lbs.
A conventional (or traditional) backpacker’s base weight is anything above either of those options.
Barrett and I would be considered conventional backpackers who were trying as often as possible to be lightweight backpackers.
In the end, hygiene and comfort got us.
However, if you opt to forgo a few sleeping or hygiene luxuries listed above or some doubles in clothing, you could easily slip into the lightweight backpacker category.
How long does at AT thru-hike take?
When we started planning, everyone told us we would finish this hike in six months or less.
I now understand there’s much more at play when answering this question.
How fast do you want to go?
On average, it takes 5-7 months to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, but some people do it at a much faster or slower pace.
Can someone accomplish a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail with no experience?
Yes! I’m living proof.
Before our thru-hike, we had taken weekly test hikes and one three-day shakedown trip.
I also took a backpacking class in college and grew up car camping.
Then my husband and I lived out of an RV for three years, which has almost no similarities to thru-hiking whatsoever.
How can I prepare for the Appalachian Trail?
Strength training at least three months before you leave is a great way to set yourself up for success.
If you can do more, do even more.
I was worried about being able to make it with 30+ lbs on my back.
Strength training ahead of time gave me a leg up in that area.
I used Quadzilla’s training guide found here as a starting point, but ultimately, I reworked it into a plan that was best for me.
Email me if you’re interested in the strength training plan I used leading up to our taking off.
How often should I change gear on an AT thru-hike?
You’ll want to swap out gear as the temperature changes with the seasons.
If anyone at home can help you facilitate these swaps, that would be helpful to arrange ahead of time.
How did you watch for changing weather conditions?
Early in our thru-hike, I was given the trail name “Radar” because I obsessively monitored and timed our day around the weather.
Eventually, other thru-hikers started coming to me for all of their juicy weather goss.
I kept an eye on weather conditions almost entirely through the MyRadar app.
Their radar maps, weather alerts, and precipitation models were extremely helpful and generally more accurate than their competitors.
There is also strong word of mouth about weather concerns all along the trail.
To Sum Up: Appalachian Trail Gear List
That’s it! The exhaustive Appalachian Trail gear list.
You, of course, only need some of the items on this list, but everyone is different.
If you want to complete a thru-hike of the AT, use the above information to consider whether or not each object is worthy of your personal pack space and what to think about when purchasing each item.
Download the Appalachian Trail Gear List for Thru-Hikers in 2023
PAGE ONE: Shelter
PAGE TWO: Sleep System
PAGE THREE: Backpack
PAGE FOUR: Clothing
PAGE FIVE: Footwear
PAGE SIX: Food & Cooking Gear, Water Treatment System
PAGE SEVEN: Other Gear
PAGE EIGHT: Electronics, Navigation & GPS
PAGE NINE: Essential Hygiene Items, Less Important Hygiene Items, Bug Management, Personal Luxury Items, FAQs