Gear is really important on the trail. It can mean the difference between staying on the trail and getting off. Being comfortable is important to some extent. At least as comfortable as you can get on the trail.
Kelty Coyote Pack
I really enjoyed my pack. I picked this pack because I wanted lots of pockets for organization. The Kelty pack is heavier because of all the pockets and extra zippers, so my gear was heavier just because of the pack weight. The fabric held up suprisingly well even though I scraped the bottom while going down rocks. The straps started slipping a lot, so I was constantly ajusting them. I don’t know if that was because they were dirty or they were actually getting thinner. The mesh/netting on most of the pockets ripped. Most waited until ME to become unuseful though.
I only used the one pack. There were some hikers that had 2 or even 3 different packs. Kelty is made tough.
I started out with a Ledge 0 degree bag. I was very grateful for the warmth, but I was not pleased with the size. It basically took up half of my pack. And when I was using that and the two person tent by myself I had very little room for anything else. The reason I had this big bag was because I was too cheap to get a down bag which would have packed smaller. I guess that is the price you pay for being cheap. :) For the summer season I used 2 sleeping bag liners from Sea to Summit. This was enough most of the time. I used all my clothes and tarp if I needed more warmth. There was only once where I didn’t even get into my liner cause it was so hot. Then for fall I borrowed a 20 degree down bag. It worked very well and only wished for my 0 degreee a couple times.
The REI Quarterdome T2 Plus was our choice for tent. We really liked the tent for privacy, especially becases there were not very many women on the trail. When Alison left I went to a hammock and I only used it twice. I am a stomach sleeper and so it was difficult for me to get used to a hammock. I stayed in the shelter most of the time during that time. Eventually I borrowed a tent from Castaway’s brother and used that for the remainder of the trip. It is important to have a well sealed tent and I only got wet once.
The sleeping pad that I started out with was really thick and cushy and I loved it! When Alison left I needed to have less weight and bulk so I too her sleeping pad. It didn’t take long til that was comfortable as well. It is amazing that an inch of padding helps so much! This was a ‘must have’ item for me. Some people had the Neo-air and I found those to be squeaky and they got leaks much more easily. I just had a thermarest.
The Bugaboo backpacker cookset was our choice. It had 2 cups, 2 bowls, a nice big pot and frying pan. We left the bowls at home right away. We sent the frying pan home after discovering that it was not working to make pancakes. The cups went home when Alison left. So, I carried just the pot, pan scraper, and handle. The size of the pot was a bit excessive, but it worked. When we were buying supplies we bought a pack of 10 lighters. Well, I only used 1.5 over the course of the trip. My spork was was a favorite item.
I have no complaints about the pocket rocket. It worked like a charm and it was pretty easy to find fuel for it. I know of at least one person that switched from an alcohol stove to the pocket rocket. It was a good stove.
I was being cheap once again and took my leatherman knife. I knew it was heavy, but it didn’t really matter, right? Well, I found that I only used the scissors on the knife and decided to get a craft scissors. That did everything I needed it to from opening mail drops to opening vacuume sealed food bags.
Alison and I started out with the steri-pen, but when she left I didn’t want to carry the batteries, filter, charger and the pen. I swiched to the MSR Katahdin and it worked pretty well. It did take along time to pump, especially after the filter got dirty. I flirted with using bleach, but I didn’t like the taste. So, I went back to the pump.
We used our water tank when we were hiking together. I didn’t need it for myself. I used one nalgene and one gatorade bottle. The gatorade bottle is lighter, but I needed the nalgene for the water pump. Bear rope, carabiners, and many other items filled up my pack. I appreciated having a watch and a cell phone. I had a surprising amount of cell phone coverage with Verizon. AT&T had better service a couple of places up north. I used bug spray during the summer and the sunglasses came in handy against the gnats. Sunscreen wasn’t used much because we were under the trees most of the time. I did get burned a couple times when I was out in the open for extended time. I was glad that I had chargers for the camera and phone and my journal was important to me as well. The pack cover was essential for not getting water in your pack. It is important that it fits well too.
My favorite item was my down jacket. I used it as a pillow and it was essential when it got cold. It is a must have. I also used my Dri Ducks rain gear a lot. It doubled as town clothes and wind protection. They did rip easily and I had 2 sets. When it’s raining you’re not sure if you should put on the rain jacket because you’ll just sweat. My jacket ended up smelling worse than my shoes! I used my longjohns mostly in spring and fall. At times I wore them during the day while hiking, but tired to save them for sleeping. I had only one set of hiking clothes – a shirt and zip off pants. For a time I had town clothes so I had another set when doing laundry. When I had my boots I wore wool socks and liners, but switched to running socks with my low hikers. I had 3 pairs of shoes. Some had as many as 5. I thought I would go through more clothes, like that they would wear out. But, none of my clothes wore out. I wore 3 different shirts and 2 pairs of pants.
I used our mail drops for the whole trip. There were only a few times where it was a pain to get the food. There were definitely times where it was good I was getting a mail drop because there were no other options in town. I would maybe use about 1/3 less and buy more food on the trail. You can choose what you want to eat for the next leg of the journey.
I had the Thru-hiker companion. If I would do it over again I would get both the companion and awol’s guide. Awol has elevation changes and gives more info than the companion, but awol was wrong in at least one place. More information is better, right?
I’m not sure if I missed some things. Overall I was very pleased with my equipment. If would do another long trail I would save up for some lighter gear, but it made me stronger, right?