If you have never hiked a long distance trail, you may wonder what exactly it is we have in our packs. The trouble is, even though many of us have a lot of items we share in common, everyone hikes differently.
There's Scott Jurek, who hiked with a fanny pack for his Clif Bars and two water bottles attached to his hands as he dashed toward the supported record for an Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 2015 (he had a support team follow him the length of the hike). He averaged 47.3 miles a day for 46 days to hike 2,190 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine. The record has since been broken.
Then there's some of my friends who pack entirely too much... I won't name names, but I have heard of packs weighing as much as sixty pounds, and of course there is the rest of us who fit somewhere right in the middle. For those of us not attempting to break any sort of speed record, we tend to carry a lot more "luxury" times, because it is essentially one big vacation. After having a couple thru-hikes to prepare, this is what I have come up with for the CDT:
Icebreaker merino wool shorts
Merrill button down polyester
Many socks (Darn Tough and LL Bean)
LL Bean 850 Fill Ultralight Down Sweater
OR Helium ii rain jacket
EMS long underwear
LL Bean lightweight gloves
Turtlefur winter hat
Sierra Designs Ultralight rain pants
Polartec Power Dry Stretch Base Layer, Lightweight Long-Sleeve Crew
LL Bean Microlight Freestanding 1 Person Tent: I've always been a big advocate of freestanding tents. They can be setup anywhere. This item was actually given to me by LL Bean for a product testing program I am participating in.
Thermarest Trail Scout Sleeping Pad: I purchased this in Gorham, New Hampshire on the Appalachian Trail in 2014 and I love the air / foam combo. It makes for a very comfortable sleep and once this pad wears out I intend to purchase the same one.
ZPacks 900 Fill Power Down Sleeping Bag Rated To 20 Degrees Fahrenheit: Many of my friends have carried these on both long distance hikes I have travelled and I finally got one of my one. They are very light and extremely comfortable.
EMS Dreamy Pillow: Not many hikers carry a pillow, but I take my sleep very seriously.
GoPro Hero5: Going to give these guys another shot, because that's the kind of guy I am. Some of you way know I carried a faulty GoPro the entire length of Te Araroa. Hoping to get some of my own footage this go around!
Mophie External Battery: This will come in handy over long stretches in between towns, so I do not have to worry about my phone or GoPro running out of battery. I charge the battery in town.
iPhone 6s: This will be a key component of my hike. The iHike app on my phone is my GPS and I also have all the PDF maps stored on there. Not to mention I will be capturing all my photos with the iPhone.
Salomon Sonic Pros: On my first thru-hike I started with boots and constantly dealt with foot problems, so in Hamburg, Pennsylvania I tried my first pair of trail runners and there's been looking back. I like to try out many different styles, but so far Salomon stands on top of my list of favorites. This will be my first time trying the Sonic Pros.
I typically go through 3-4 pairs of trail runners per hike, so it depends on how I like the Sonic Pros that will determine what I purchase for shoes later in the hike.
Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock (Flicklock): I owned a pair of similar poles that made it nearly two thru-hikes and probably would've finished the second had I not lost them in a shuttle van. I have never had the best luck with the twist lock system, so I tend to lean towards a flick lock design. I've also used folding poles, which I was a fan of.
Hyperlite Windrider 4400: Another piece of gear commonly used by thru-hikers. These packs are made of recycled sails, so not only are they light, in theory they are also water resistant. It also provides more than enough space for everything you will need on your hike.
First Aid: I typically carry very minimal first aid. Usually some band aids, mole skin, Neosporin, a small pair of scissors and some alcohol swabs.
Spork: Gotta eat.
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtering System: On the Appalachian Trail, I carried a pump water filter that broke pretty early on and have not owned a watering system since... I have enjoyed the challenge of only finding clean sources, which was easy on the AT and TA, but after hearing about the cow trough water sources in New Mexio... I figured I should probably step my game up.
Bear Spray: Hopefully I will never have to use this, but it is essentially mace for bears. The father north I hike, the denser the bear population becomes, so I will carry this for emergency purposes.
Knife: Could come in handy if I needed to defend myself, but hope to only use it to cut my salami and cheese.
GSI Soloist Cook Set: This thing has proven to be indestructible and has accompanied me on both my thru-hikes, making sure I have a nice, hot meal every evening.
Toilet Paper: You don't want to know.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Pretty self-explanatory.
Nail Clippers: It can be quite painful walking long distances with toenails that are too long.
LL Bean 360 Halo Headlamp: Another item I am testing for LL Bean. I am excited to test out the Halo feature in a camp setting, I think it will come in handy while just hanging out with friends, so I will not have to blind anyone.
Hyperlite Dry Sacks: These are very light dry sacks I will be using to store clothes, electronics, first aid kit, food, passport & money, etc. They vary in size, making it easy to organize everything.
Food & Water:
Two 1.5 liter water bottles and a 2 liter sawyer pouch if extra is necessary: The desert sections of New Mexico are said to have sparse water resources, which will cause me to have to carry more water than normal, however once I reach Colorado I presume I will be able to really cut back on the amount of water I will need to carry at any given time.
For breakfast I will be sticking to Clif Bars and Pop Tarts. I like to eat fast in the morning and try to bust out miles before lunch. For lunch I make a salami & cheese wrap and a peanut butter a jelly wrap. For dinner I make noodles and mix in a flavored tuna packet. I also like to carry a lot of snacks; candy, goldfish, honey buns, etc. And of course when I reach town I like to shovel as much food into my gullet as possible. Buffets are ideal, but I generally go for a nice, beefy burger and a refreshing soda pop.
You can find everything you need for your big hike on these websites!