Some hikers are very good and make spreadsheets listing their gear with weight and price. I couldn’t create a spreadsheet if someone paid me so I’m listing my items using hyperlinks. I tried to reference each items manufacturer as opposed to where I purchased them but since some things were close outs I listed where I actually bought them. Needless to say since one of my mottos is “Never pay retail,” I definitely didn’t pay MSRP. For example my Icebreaker underwear is wild colors/patterns that were probably on clearance because no one wanted them. Works for me!
*The pack was the most important purchase because it’s going to be on my back most of the day for as many months as the hike lasts.I tried several different ones and decided on an Osprey. The external frame is really comfortable and the 65L is large enough for me to store everything inside. For me that’s a benefit when hiking in areas that have dense bushes and trees. Also, REI included a free pack rain cover and I never say no to free!
*The second most important purchase was my tent. I wanted an ultra light one and again, after careful research, decided on the Big Agnes line. Once I saw the model I wanted on display, I opted to go for the 2 person size as I like my dog inside at night. I also bought the Fly Creek UL2 Footprint to go under the tent.
*Right after I bought the Fly Creek, I saw Big Agnes’s new mtnGLO Tents. Since I wanted to stay with the Fly Creek, I bought the light accessory kit instead.
*Next was probably the hardest decision — which sleeping bag? Again I researched; down vs synthetic, mummy vs rectangular. At the end of the day I chose a down with a temperature rating of 15 because I’m a “cold sleeper”.
*One of the things I like about Big Agnes bags are they have an integrated sleeve so the pad inserts directly into the back of the bag – perfect for restless sleepers. I stayed with Big Agnes for my sleeping pad. After talking to many female hikers, I chose the Q-Core because it’s insulated plus over 3.5″ thick when inflated — perfect! I initially bought a BA air pump that was essentially a stuff sack with a adapted end that attached to the air valve of the pad. You gathered air in the open end of the sack then rolled it down thereby forcing air into the pad. What trouble that was! I can blow it up in less than 5 minutes so the air pump was returned.
*I wanted a liner for my bag because I knew it would make life easier. If it was dirty all I need to do was through it in a washing machine or even hand wash it. I chose a Sea to Summit liner that both cools and has insect guard.
*Speaking of dirt – I can only speak for myself but I REFUSE to go a week without showering. Fortunately the people at Sea to Summit think the way I do because they have a nifty portable shower.
*And of course, one needs a towel.
*Moving on to soap and do I have a funny story for you! I knew that the soap of choice for the trail was Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile. However, I didn’t know that 4 ounces would last three months and I purchased TWO 32 ounce bottles; one each of peppermint and eucalyptus so that I could combine the two. Duhhh@me! Not only did I have way too much liquid soap but bears are attracted by peppermint whereas eucalyptus is poisonous to them. Needless to say the peppermint was returned to Target. I chose to keep the large bottle of eucalyptus as the more I read, the more interested I am in the many uses for this fascinating soap.
*I needed something to carry water from a stream to my campsite so that I could cook and clean up. Once again Sea to Summit had the answer.
*I originally purchased a bulkier Sawyer filtration system but swapped it out for the popular squeeze.
*I also swapped out my original bladder for a larger one. I spliced the filter into the drinking hose. Very neat and compact hydration system.
*I was looking for a stove that was small and could boil water efficiently as both my meals and the dog’s food are dehydrated. I happened to open up Backpacker magazine and saw this stove as Editors Choice 2015. Say no more. The igniter wire was broken on the first one but fortunately I had purchased it at LL Bean, a wonderful company that just happens to have their flagship in Maine.
*While at LL Bean I purchased several canisters of fuel.
*Osprey recommends this product for treating your pack. I also used it for my tent.
*I wanted trekking poles as all I’d ever hiked with is a great hickory stick from LL Bean. I was all over the place with this decision because I had to order them online. After hearing a compelling argument from someone, I opted for the Leki poles and haven’t regretted so far.
*I needed a reliable headlamp to go with my great poles and found it at LL Bean. Nice and light and runs off two AA batteries.
*I chose these stuff sacks because they are ultra light. I have a few that are water proof from the same company.
*I also used trash compacter bags to line my pack with! Thanks ladies.
*Since we’re on the topic of water here’s my rain jacket.
*I opted for Columbia when buying rain pants as I’m a fan of their clothing.
*Moving on to my personal favorite – hiking boots. HUGE Salomon fan and when I was in NJ last April I was able to visit a REI where I fell in love with these.
*Then for when I’m out of the rocky terrain of ME and NH I bought these trail runners.
*I’ll need more trail runners of course and like what I’ve read about these La Sportivas but definitely something I want to try on first.
*Using someone else’s phrase – I have pancake feet. Actually, the arch of my right foot is almost nonexistent. I bought orthotics which worked for my left foot but not for the right which caused discomfort after a period of time. Enter my knight in white armor; Form Insoles. My question is where have they been all of my life? And they come with a 100 day guarantee! I love these insoles so much that I made a video of the process. They’re molded with heat and can be remolded up to 5X. You can mold them with your body heat over a period of several days or using the oven (the method I chose). After a few minutes of my right archless foot complaining, I forgot they were in my shoes. I kid you not – I didn’t want to take my shoes off that night. Seriously though, the company is wonderful to do business with. When you call you actually speak to a person and if by chance you leave a message, a person calls you back. In our automated world I call that a huge treat. This is the insole I purchased.
And my little video showing the process I chose:
*For a regular jacket I fell back on my reliable buddy again, LL Bean.
*I bought several brands of hiking socks, all made with merino wool. These are Darn Tough which are made in Vermont and have a lifetime warranty.
*I also bought Smartwool socks. I know they’re very popular but probably my least favorite.
*Then I bought a pair of Icebreaker on clearance and fell in love with them!
*But my absolute favorite socks are Fit which unfortunately are too snug around my leg and reviewers say they do not stretch over time. Darn!
*For sock liners I bought Injinji.
*I purchased my gaiters from Dirty Girl. Having a problem with the velcro sticking to one of my boots but still plugging away at it.
*Back to Icebreaker and their wonderful merino clothing. I was able to find underwear, sports bras and a set of base layers at very good prices. Colors are crazy but who cares?
*I can’t forget my head so bought a closeout Buff.
*Speaking of UV protection, this is the only sunscreen I’ve used for years.
*I read excellent reviews of this next product as an alternative to DEET. So far I’m very pleased.
*But to be on the safe side I opted for a mosquito net as I really hate the old “Bug in the Eye” syndrome. I was surprised when it arrived because it really is just a net. My older head net is attached to a hat and after seeing the picture, I thought this one was as well. Having said that, I actually like the simplicity of net only.
*Ticks are prevalent in many areas along the Appalachian Trail and I can’t speak enough as to taking precautions. My husband contracted Lyme Disease in 1992 when it was still “new”. It took a long time for him to be correctly diagnosed and treated and once he was, he had a catheter implanted in his chest through which he received IV antibiotics several times daily. He still has side effects from this nasty disease. If caught quickly enough, a short course of an antibiotic usually cures it. Please use some form of tick repellent. Check yourself daily and if you have domestic pets, please check them in addition to a monthly treatment. Naturally I thoroughly researched this topic and concluded that permethrin was the best deterrent however sending articles of clothing away to be treated can be costly. Instead I purchased permethrin from my local Tractor Supply, studied the strength of my bottle and diluted it with water in a big bucket. I soaked my clothing in the solution for 2-3 hours then line dried them. I also soaked cotton balls in it and once they were dried, put 6 in a baggy to use while hiking at the corner of tent, in my dog’s saddlebags etc. *WARNING* Permethrin is extremely toxic to cats when it’s in a liquid form. It can cause seizures and death. When soaking clothing it is imperative that you keep your cat away from the solution until the clothes have dried thoroughly.
*Verizon is reported to have the best cellular signals along the trail and since I’m a Verizon Wireless customer I’m set. However I personally feel better carrying a GPS activator. I decided to go with inReach by DeLorme (which I didn’t realize at the time is a Maine company). I originally purchased the SA model but exchanged it for the more feature laden Explorer.
*Since I’m carrying a GPS, a camera and a smartphone I decided to get a recharger.
*Finally! What I’m most looking forward to – capturing my adventure on video so I can share it with my grands. For this I turned to GoPro and after weighing the options bought the GoPro Hero4 Silver.
*I also bought a versatile mount.
*And of course a small case (which I sprayed with the solar NikWax) which I can store in my mushroom cap or hang on the outside of pack with a carabiner.
The whole enchilada!