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#93945 - 04/08/08 07:33 PM Planning to thru-hike the AT, Advice on UL Gear??
wongwai Offline

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 1
Hi everyone, I am planning to thru-hike the AT and I'm looking for some advice on the best UL gear. I don't plan on my pack weighing more than 25lbs at any given time, but I'm not sure who makes the most durable equipment. I've been looking at the G4, but its seems that everyone has bought them all, as I cant find anyone with them in stock.

As for tents, I like Tarptent's Contrail, but its somewhat pricey for my budget. I'd like the tent to be around 2 lbs if possible.

I'm thinking about the Inov-8 330's for trail shoes, but i'm not sure about the support. Any ideas?

As for other cheap lightweight gear, i'm interested in anything you give good reviews.

BTW, if anyone has gear they would like to get rid of, I'd be happy to talk with ya!

thanks for your advice!

#93946 - 04/08/08 08:38 PM Re: Planning to thru-hike the AT, Advice on UL Gear?? [Re: wongwai]
Bearpaw Offline

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
First, be aware that "UL" implies that ALL your gear except food, fuel, and water weigh under 10 lbs. For someone who is newer to backpacking (and the phrasing of your post implies this), this may be a bit overly ambitious, especially for an extended hike like the AT (and yes, I thru-hiked in '99 and have section hiked a number of my favorite section in years since).

So with the idea of "lightweight" gear in mind, some good options to consider would be some of the cottage gear companies out there. ULA Packs immediately come to mind as thru-hiker approved options. The Catalyst, their largest pack, is still under 3 pounds and will definitely handle a typical thru-hiker load.

Tarptents are likely worth the money to a thru-hiker and Six Moon Designs makes excellent options. My favorite is the Lunar Solo (e), a solo tent with full bug netting and bathtub floor for 27 ounces (with the heavier floor).

If you start without these, you may wind up kicking yourself when you see them 30 miles up the trail at Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap. This is one of two AT outfitters that carry gear from the two companies.

Two of the big benefits of the AT is the shelter system and the abundance of other hikers (though the sheer numbers may not seem like a benefit until you need help or crave company). But these options give you a reasonably dry place to recover after continuous Spring deluge and the other hikers provide a sort of built-in safety net.

Feel free to PM me if you have further questions and also consider posting on However, be aware that Whiteblaze tends to be MUCH more active and MUCH more volatile than the folks here. It's a wealth of knowledge once you get past the many varying attitudes.

Best of luck and good hiking!


P. S. It's good to watch your gear weight, but don't make it the end-all-be-all of your hiking prep. After 3-6 weeks, your level of conditioning will be such that pack weight that is merely reasonable, but by no means UL, will no longer be an issue at all. And most importantly, your thru-hike is about YOU and your hike, not your gear. IMO, the best gear is the stuff you never think about, because after a few weeks, your gear won't really matter as long as it works. If you're thinking about it, it's probably broken...... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

Edited by Bearpaw (04/08/08 08:49 PM)

#93947 - 04/09/08 09:53 AM Re: Planning to thru-hike the AT, Advice on UL Gea [Re: wongwai]
Heber Offline

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Kudos to you for having the guts to try a thru! I hope you have a great experience!

I've never done one so I'm not as qualified to answer your question as some. But here is an idea that will get you started thinking about gear. Go to and click on "Completed Thru-Hikes". This is SUPPOSED to list only the journals of those who have done a thru (of some trail, not just the AT) but for some reason it also lists some people who haven't started yet, etc. Just skip those and focus on completed AT thru-hikes. Now as you go down the list you will see that many people have posted the gear they used. Click on the links that say "View Gear". Pay particular attention to those who list lots of items. The people who only list 6 pieces of gear just weren't being very thorough. I guarantee they brought more than that. The most useful journals include a little review of whether they liked the gear or not.

This is a lot of fun to do. You can read some of their journals too to get an idea what a thru is like. Now every hiker does it his or her own way so you won't find a recipe here for a thru but after a while you will find some patterns emerging in gear. That will help you begin to form a list of things to check out.

In every category there are three or four most common items. For instance in shelter you will see a lot of tarp tents, a lot of MSR hubba tents, and a lot of hammocks. In rain gear you will see a lot of Marmot precip jackets and pants, a fair number of rain ponchos, and quite a few frogg toggs. In stoves you will find lots of homemade alcohol stoves, some MSR whisperlites, some jetboil, and a few wood stoves. You will end up picking one from each category that seems to make sense.

As far as going ultralight the most obvious thing it to buy lightweight stuff. But more importantly think about what you need and what you don't. Also you need to think of your gear as a system, not as a collection of individual items. You want as many items as possible to have multiple uses. For instance if you decide to bring trekking poles then it makes more sense to get a tarp tent or tarp shelter rather than a regular tent because then you can use your trekking poles to pitch your shelter rather than carrying tent poles.

I like going ultralight but that doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. We all go heavy in some area that is important to us. A thru lasts too long to be uncomfortable the whole time. A 3/4 ridgerest is lighter than a Big Agnes pad but that doesn't mean it will work for you on an AT shelter floor as well. Chemical water treatment is lighter than a filter but you're the one who has to drink the water. Go light on what you can and go heavy on what you need to stay sane.

Now be aware that you will probably change you mind on a few things with experience. Get a trial list of gear and try it on a week long hike. You may decide "hey this pad isn't soft enough for sleeping, maybe I'll try a hammock" or "this bag is overkill, I slept too warm" or "this chemical water purification tastes terrible I'll try a filter instead" or " this stove involves too much fuss and is unreliable". You final list may not look exactly like any list you've seen. But the mantra among hikers is "Hike Your Own Hike". Do it the way that makes you feel comfortable.

Best of luck to you.

#93948 - 04/14/08 07:37 PM Re: Planning to thru-hike the AT, Advice on UL Gea [Re: Bearpaw]
ajherman Offline

Registered: 05/02/06
Posts: 208
Loc: Rock Springs, WY
I am also planing a thru-hike starting next march. My biggest advice is to look at lots of ordinary objects that can do more than one thing, and are lightweight and cheap. goodwill and thrift stores are great. I have some great little bowls from goodwill, and a nice nylon rain jacket. ultra light is as much about having things that work for multiple uses than it is about having the newest and lightest cool gear. but who does not like new cool stuff?

#93949 - 04/14/08 09:09 PM Re: Planning to thru-hike the AT, Advice on UL Gear?? [Re: wongwai]
mugs Offline

Registered: 12/24/05
Posts: 500
Loc: Kent, WA.
For some reason posting an imbeded link just bring you to TLB as whole. But here is suggestive gear list for a thru or any other 3 season hike. I would bump up the clothing and liquid volume but thats about it. Keep in mind this is just a suggestive list and I absolutely do not recomend trying this gear with out some serious experiance with it and you. You can have all the UL gear in the world and still die, becasue you don't know how to use it

Gear List

Item Weight Grams Weight Oz Notes

Zilch 1800 ci 122 4.3 Custom
122 4.3

6x9 Cuben Tarp 116 4 Seam sealed
Ground Cloth 48 1.6 Polycryo
Ti Stakes 50 1.7 8 Stakes
Guy Line kit 4 0.1
Cuben Stuff Sack 4 0.1 Small Plus
222 7.5

WM HightLIte 512 18 35F
Cuben Stuff Sack 8 0.3 Med Plus
Pad/Pack Frame 270 9.5 MB UL.90
790 27.8

Heiny 350 20 0.7 W/Lid
Stove 8 0.3
Windscreen 10 0.4
Fuel Bottle 20 0.7 4.5 oz
Matches 4 0.1 Paper Book
Spoon 18 0.6 Ti Long Handle
Cuben Food Bag 10 0.3 Large
Trash Bag 12 0.5 Heavy Duty 1/2 Gal Ziplok
102 3.6

Platy Bladder 102 3.3 3L W/Hose
Treatment 18 0.6 Klear water 10cc
120 3.9

Wind Shirt 90 3.1 Montane Aero
Down Jacket 232 8.1 MB U.L. Inner
Combi Hat 34 1.1 Turtle Fur
Gloves 30 1 Poly Pro
Cuben Stuff Sack 6 0.2 Med
392 13.5

First Aid Kit 58 2 In 4x7 AlokSak
Fire Starter 8 0.3 Mini Fire Steel
Tinder Quick 2 0.07 3 Tinders
Tooth Brush 16 0.5 Burts Bees Mini
Soap 6 0.2 3cc
DEET 6 0.2 3cc
Sunscreen 26 0.9 15cc
Cuben Stuff Sack 2 0.07 Small
124 4.24

TP 16 0.5 10 BLU Shop Towls 5x5
Towl 8 0.3 Lite Load 11x11
Light 24 0.8 Watch Battery Type
Knife 36 1.2 Gerber Mini
30 Gal Trash Bag 52 1.8 Rain Skirt/Poncho
Info Lanyard 48 1.7 Cmpss, Thermo, Wstl
Camera 136 4.8 Olympus FE 240
Aloksak 6 0.2 For Camera 5x4
I.D. & CC Card 8 0.3
Cuben Wallet 1 0.03 For ID & CC Card
335 11.63

2207 76.47
2.2 Kilo 2.2 Kilo
4.8 lbs 4.8 lbs
I miss my 4.8lb base weight as a ground dweller. But I sure don't miss the ground.

#93950 - 04/16/08 08:31 PM Re: Planning to thru-hike the AT, Advice on UL Gea [Re: wongwai]
strongone Offline

Registered: 06/24/05
Posts: 166
Loc: North Carolina
AT thru hike is not a walk in the park, not that u can't do it but it doesn't sound like u have alot of experience with long trips. I've hike abit of AT sections and have learned thru trial and error what gear to take and what to leave behind. But it isn't what u carry but how u carry yourself.


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