Yeesh, it’s been over a month since I posted last! I will do better as I get in the swing of things with this whole blogging set-up. I changed the name to michaelgoodling.wordpress.com from michaelgothimselfablog.wordpress.com, mainly because it was easier to remember. Now I will be fiddling around with the setting and appearance of the blog, mainly just as a way to learn. But that shan’t deter me from writing!
So, I’ve begun to round up all the gear that I have, and figure out what I need. In the Boy Scouts growing up, I did a good deal of backpacking, and consequently I have lots of good backpacking gear already. But, as I am finding out, much of it is dated, broken, missing, or just not in good enough shape to make it long-term out on the trail. I am going to be salvaging what I can, however, because I am on a tight budget.
THE BIG STUFF:
Backpack: My pack is an old Rokk “Flat Iron” backpack, which is a pretty solid budget backpack, but it is a bit heavy and big for what is recommended. I just found Backpacker Magazine’s list of Gear for Thru-hiking the AT, which recommends a 3,000 cu. in. or less pack weighing 2lbs. or less. My pack comes in at a pudgy 3,600 cu. in. and weighs upwards of 3lbs. I may have to cut off some straps, of which it has plenty. And most are unnecessary. It will be quite roomy, especially because the next item is smaller than most…
Tent: I’m taking the Hennessy Hammock as my shelter of choice, because it is freakishly light, small, comfortable, and did I mention light? It is about a pound. For a weatherproof shelter, that’s awesome. And yes, it will require some tedious set-up. But most nights, I will be staying in the shelters along the Appalachian Trail, which will be quite an experience in and of itself. But for nights when I can’t/don’t want to stay in a shelter, I will rest easy knowing the old reliable Hennessy Hammock awaits me. I have slept in it a number of times, and it’s never a bad experience. It takes some getting used to, for sure, but in the end it’s worth the weight and space savings, especially because I will be using it more as a backup than anything.
Boots: Thanks to an awesome gift from my father a few years back (thanks dad!) I have some pretty kick-ass boots. I’m not sure exactly which ones they are, but they are Zamberlans. I think they are probably pictured here somewhere. They are preposterously comfy, offer great support, and are exactly the right thing for me. Also, just as importantly, I have some great backpacking socks and liners from REI, which make a world of difference. I also recently bought some gaiters, which do a very nice job of keeping debris out of the boots and keeping my socks clean. Which, when you are trying to hike 2,000 miles, is a pretty big deal.
Stove: I have a little aluminum can alcohol stove that my dad built, which would be incredibly light, powerful enough, and extremely low maintenance. Upon further research, I think I am going to go the alcohol stove route, but I’m not sure if I’m going to rely on the dad system or buy a pre-made alcohol stove system. There are some really good ones out there that seem to get great reviews, and are very reasonably priced.
Sleeping Bag: Here I have some options, but the sleeping bag that is mine currently is a slumberjack long that is generously rated at 20 degrees. I worry that it will not be warm enough at night, and that I may have to take a sleeping bag liner or just be ready to pack some very warm long-johns to sleep in every night. The sleeping bag question will need to be resolved soon, however, as it is an expensive question to answer.
Water: I’m either going to buy chloine dioxide treatments or get a new MSR sweetwater filter. I’m familiar with the filter, but I worry that it will take too much maintenance over the course of such a long trip that it wouldn’t be worth the hassle. The chlorine dioxide treatments seem very effective, safe, light, and easy. The only question is going to be how cost-effective they are, and if the weight savings are enough to justify the cost and the lack of filtered water(which I think tastes better).
So that’s all the big stuff! The rest of the little things I have will just take some time and nit-picking to get it to where I want it to be. I think I will be going very light, very well-prepared, and hopefully very fast. More to come as I embark on this journey!