Pack List - Appalachian Trail 2018 NOBO - Starting March 7th

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced
— Vincent Van Gogh

I leave for the AT in less than two weeks, and I’m freaking out a little bit. It both feels immensely far away and so ridiculously close at the same time. I wake up every morning with the thought that I’m one day closer to this incredible, terrifying adventure, and then while I’m at work the days seem to drag on forever and I feel like it’s a million years away.

So in this odd limbo time I’ve tried to keep myself busy. Since 90% of my cognitive power is going towards thinking about the trail, and what the trail will be like, and consuming all of the information I can about the trial, I thought it fitting to make blog post about the trail. I’ve watched dozens of hours of pack list videos, from people who have a base weight in the single digits to folks who have 35 minute long videos and don’t even seem to own a scale. I tended to gravitate towards the shorter videos, as I found the longer ones to mostly be one continuous shot and a lot of over explaining. Being the perfectionist I am I had to write a script for my video, and cut down explanations and shoot 18 different takes of each part. I’ve nailed the video length down to what I think is a respectable 7 minutes. However, here on the blog, I believe I’m known for a much longer and more rambling style. I mean, I’m over 200 words in right now and haven’t really said anything of immense value yet...

All said, if you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like reading several thousand words going over minute details of how I managed to get my soap into an eye dropper, thereby saving 0.2 ounces, take a look at the video I made. Otherwise, keep on reading for a more comprehensive and detailed look at the items I’ll be carrying on the Appalachian Trail.

I've watched this video so many times while editing I've lost all sense of whether it's good or bad...

Alright so I’m not going to be posting pictures of every item, since that’s too much work and I already made a video! If you need visual stimulation go watch that you big goof, what are you still doing here? I’ll throw up a few pictures here or there though, mostly to showcase things that I either couldn’t or didn’t have time to show in the video.

Let’s kick things off big with the pack. Originally I had bought an Osprey Atmos 50 AG because I knew that I liked Osprey pack, as my bag of choice for backpacking in Europe was the Osprey Farpoint 40, and because I wasn’t paying too much attention to my weight. I knew that weight was a factor I should definitely keep an eye on, but I wasn’t measuring each item to the gram or anything. I knew I wanted to be under 20 pounds, so when my first kit came in around 16 pounds I was really happy. For about a month. See, the issue was I had started putting all this stuff together in August. So I was in time to do one shakedown hike in early September, but then I had half a year to pine over my choices, which ended up in me spending a lot more money than I should have but getting some better gear to boot. I’m not going to sell my Osprey, as I want to keep it around so if anyone wants to go hiking with me in the future but doesn’t have their own gear, I have a loaner pack.

Can't tell what's more embarassing, the mini bun or the muffin top 0.o

See what I mean about the rambling? Anyway, the pack I’m going with is the Zpacks Arc Blast 55 L DCF (colloquially “cuben fibre”) Backpack (23.5 ounces). Zpacks is one of the higher end cottage companies making backpacking gear. I feel like because of their reputation they might be a little higher priced than necessary, but so far everything I’ve gotten from them has been fantastic. I went with this pack completely on reputation, and so far I’m happy with it. I guess the real test will be when I hit the trail, but in the limited wearing I’ve done around the house and yard, it’s performed well.

For the tent I went with the “go big or go home” motto as well. Again by Zpacks, I bought the Duplex DCF two person tent (20.1 ounces w/ stuff sack). It’s completely wonderful, and for $600 USD it should be. Between the tent and the backpack, with a few extra items like shoulder pouches and all my stuff sacks, and after paying duty fees (curse you, customs!), I’ve easily given over $2000 Canadian to Zpacks. I don’t want to add it all up, because it will make me sad, but I feel confident with that estimate.

My sleeping “bag” is actually a quilt, the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20º (22.1 ounces w/ Zpacks dry bag). This is another replacement piece, as I originally had the Therm-a-rest Corus, which was not a great quilt. It’s what I took on my shakedown hike in September, where the temps only went down to about 5ºC (41ºF), and I was cold. Again, I haven’t used the EE in the wild yet, but it has rave reviews.

I tried to go lighter on my sleeping pad. I really did. I bought a Z-Lite and everything. Even cut it down to torso length to shave ounces. But in the end, I’m going to be sleeping on the ground for 5 months straight, so I decided to go with some more comfort in the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir X lite (12.1 ounces). It has a nice, high R value of 3.2, and it’s thick and comfy. This means it’s heavier, and I’ll have to blow it up each night, and it’ll make my feet rub against the roof of the tent, but damn it I want the luxury. I’ll probably utilize the Z-Lite on shorter hikes, and I can use the bottom half that I trimmed as a dog bed when I eventually get a hiking buddy, but for the AT it’s X lite 4 lyfe yo.

So now we’ve come to the first difference in my pack from the video that I made two days ago... I’ve decided to cut down to only one ditty bag, and to ditch the ziplocs that I had for redundancy. I originally had two so I could keep one in the pack and one outside the pack, but that doesn’t seem ideal after thinking about it a bit more. Plus I want to toss my battery and headlamp and pen/ink into the foot box of my quilt at night so they don’t freeze and drain or explode during the night, and it’s easier to do that if it’s all contained. So I’m bringing one Zpacks dry bag (0.5 ounces).

A smartphone is, in my opinion, one of the ultimate ultralight multi-purpose items a backpacker can have. Maps, camera, entertainment, not to mention things like a flashlight or compass in a pinch. I briefly considered buying something like an iPhone SE for the small form factor and lighter weight, but then decided that my iPhone X with a leather Apple case (6.9 (heh) ounces) would be a better fit. I fucking love the camera on this phone, it’s the best I’ve ever owned other than my big heavy DSLR, which is for an entirely different purpose. Plus the OLED screen means I can put pure black backgrounds and use dark modes in apps to extend the already fantastic battery life.

I originally bought a 20,000 mAh battery pack, thinking that I would want all that extra energy for my Apple Watch and AirPods. Since I decided not to bring those two things though, and since I realized that even if I had to charge them as well, that 20,000 is extreme overkill, I downgraded to a 5000 mAh battery pack. Then I ended up going up to a 10,000 mAh battery, because it’s only 3 ounces heavier and it gives me that peace of mind, knowing that even if I get a little heavy on the audiobooks one day or decide to read late one night, I’ll probably still have enough juice to get me to the next town. So the pack I went with is an Anker PowerCore II (7.3 ounces)

I considered getting a different battery pack that had Qualcomm quick charging, and getting a quick charge compatible power block, but decided against it for two main reasons. The first is that I really like Anker products, which use their own, albeit slightly inferior, brand of quick charge. And the second is that all the quick charge power blocks I could find were pretty heavy and bulky, and only added to that heft if I wanted two USB inputs, which I did. So I decided to get an Aukey Dual Port Wall Charger, which comes in at only 1.2 ounces. And it’s still 2.4A, so according to the product page for my battery pack it should charge it from dead to full in around 5 hours. Since I hopefully won’t be running all the way out of juice at any point, it should be more than sufficient.

I’ve got the standard cordage to charge all my stuff. An Apple lighting cable (0.7 ounces) and a Micro USB from Anker (0.5 ounces), as well as a pair of Apple Lightning EarPods (0.5 ounces).

Much easier to manage sans all the damn redundant ziplocs...

The headlamp is another item I bought a lot of, going back and forth. I started with a Black Diamond Spot, but decided it was overkill, and that I wasn’t going to do any night hiking, so I downgraded to a Petzel e+Lite. I wasn’t super happy with the battery performance on that one though, and just a couple weeks ago I decided that I might run into circumstances where I’ll have to pick up the pace on the trail (more info on that in a forthcoming blog post), and therefore might have to do some night hiking, so I went back to Black Diamond but got the Ion this time (1.8 ounces). It takes one less AAA battery than the spot, and while at High the battery only lasts 6 hours, on low the battery should last 180. So I figure at a happy medium, which should be enough for dusk hiking, I should get a couple dozen hours out of it.

I’m bringing a mini bic lighter (0.4 ounces)too. Although I’m going stoveless (more on that later), I want to have some way to start a fire. For hopefully obvious reasons.

My toiletries bag is a simple little Zpacks mini stuff sack (0.1 ounces). It’s not waterproof, but basically everything in it is, so I’m not worried about it. I used to carry this in my small dry bag, but I might just toss it in the mess on the outside of the pack.

This section is the least interesting, so it’s gonna go fast. Try to keep up.

Well, it’ll get fast, but first I want to talk about my soap. I posted to the ultralight subreddit asking for opinions on soap vs hand sanitizer. There was some good discussion, you can read it here if you’d like. The end result though, for me anyway, is to bring both. I like hand sanitizer for just periodic cleanups throughout the day. I actually have some in my work truck, and every time I get in the truck I use a little bit. It’s especially nice since I’m putting on old gloves that get so oily so quickly and make my hands stinky and just make them feel dirty. Anyway, I digress. I have a small bottle of hand sanitizer (1.6 ounces) hanging from my shoulder strap, and a small eye dropper bottle filled with Dr. Bronners soap (1.1 ounces). I actually got the idea for the eye dropper from that thread I linked above. It was a bit tricky to get the soap into the bottle, requiring some strategic prying of small plastic pieces, but in the end I have soap that should last me a nice, long time on the trail, as it’s concentrated so I just need a drop or two for cleanup after using the washroom.

Anti-chaffing technology is the one true god.

Ok, on to the speed round. The rest of my toiletries are: Toothpaste at 1 ounce. Floss at 0.4 ounces. Toothbrush at 0.5 ounces. Chapstick is 0.3 ounces. Fingernail clippers at 0.5 ounces. Sunscreen is 2 ounces. Anti-chafing stick is 3.5 ounces. Earplugs are basically nothing. I have a Rocky Mountain Barber travel comb (0.3 ounces) because I’m growing my hair out and plan to grow a beard on the trail as well, so I want to combat those pesky tangly strands.

And I have a super minimal first aid kit. Leukotape (similar to moleskin), a needle, thread, tweezers, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. I don’t have it yet, but I’m planning to add a few antihistamine pills as well. I don’t have any allergies that I’m aware of, but I don’t want to find out about one on trail and be caught off guard. I also keep the repair kit for my X-Lite in the first aid kit, because why not. The whole thing is 1.1 ounces.

Next is the category that I’ve ostensibly dubbed “survival”, although that’s a generous term.

My knife (gotta have a knife) is a Spyderco Ladybug (0.6 ounces). This is a fantastic little knife, I’m still debating on whether to keep it in my shoulder pouch or to attach a carabiner to hang it from my shoulder strap. Also, I find it endlessly hilarious that some dudes were so fucking insecure in their masculinity that they couldn’t bear to carry a knife called a “ladybug”, so Spyderco actually made an almost identical knife called the “manbug” that’s slightly taller and slightly wider. Like, it’s honestly incredible in its stupidity.

So I’ve decided to go stoveless. I took a stove on my shakedown hike, and honestly between the first meal I made taking way too long and not tasting all that great, to my lighter failing the next morning leaving me with a cold breakfast anyway, I wasn’t impressed. Like, I’m a guy that enjoys some delicious hot coffee in the morning, but I don’t need it, and I especially don’t need it if I’m going to be standing up and hiking in the fresh air that day. As for hot meals, I can have one when I get to a town. I’m perfectly happy living off cold meats and cheese and candy bars and nuts and tortillas for 3-5 days in a row. I decided I might want to try cold soaking though, even though the thought of cold, mushy food makes my tummy do little flippies, so I’m bringing a peanut butter jar (1.2 ounces) and a spork (0.7 ounces). At least to start with anyway.

I have a Zpacks bear bagging kit, including a food back (1.7 ounces), a rock sack and 50 ft of dyneema cord (0.8 ounces combined). I’ll probably hang my food every night. I know lots of people don’t, and some even sleep with their food in their tent. All the power to them, but I’ll take the time to hang my bag if for nothing else than the peace of mind it will give me. I’ve also got a large freezer bag for trash (0.4 ounces). Leave no trace, people!

"Cnoc cnoc." "Who's there?" "Water." "Water who?" "Water you doin, it's cold, let me in".......

Next up is my water filtration system. I’m using a Sawyer Squeeze (3.2 ounces) and a CNOC Vecto 2L (2.6 ounces). I really wanted to love the Sawyer Mini, but even at home I can tell it’s got a pretty slow flow rate in comparison to the squeeze, and according to reviews it only gets worse with repeated use. So I’m eating the weight for a bit more reliability. And I take the CNOC Vecto because I like to have a dirty bag. I know it’s heavier, and I could just fill the bottles and drink straight from the filter, but I like the system of filling the dirty bag and putting only clean water into the bottles. Plus I have an extra 2L capacity in case I need to dry camp. And the wide mouth on the Vecto makes filling it from streams so much nicer. If I ever get to a water source that’s still to shallow though, I have a small scoop I made from the bottom of an old random water bottle (0.1 ounces). Everything lives inside a large freezer bag (0.5 ounces).

As for water bottles I’m using two Smart Water 1L bottles. This is pretty standard among through hikers as far as I can tell. Plus apparently you can use the sport cap to backflush the Sawyer, so that saves me some space and fractions of ounces for the syringe I otherwise would have to take.

This is the part of my video script where I say “And here’s another Zpacks Small Dry Bag”, but as we’ve previously discussed, I’ve downsized. Everything is going into the one aforementioned ditty bag. I’m also ditching the two small ziplocs, but I’m keeping around a mini ziplock for my pen and ink. Fountain pens tend to get a little leaky with large altitude changes, which, if I’ve done my reading correctly, I’ll be running into quite often on the AT. So it’s staying in a plastic bag inside a plastic bag. My journals on the other hand are just getting tossed into the dry bag loose.

We didn't start the fire... it was always burning since the world's been turning. 

Speaking of journals, after much deliberation and internal struggle, I ended up with a pair of Field Notes: Campfire editions (2.3 ounces for both). I don’t think I can adequately explain the amount of time and effort that went into picking my journals and pen. I started out with the pen I ended up choosing, a Kaweco AL Sport, Extra Fine nib (0.7 ounces), but I must have gone through about a dozen pens in between. I considered every combination. Originally I wanted to bring my regular size Travelers Notebook, but that beast weighs a pound. So I changed my mind to a Passport sized Travelers Notebook. But then I was worried about the lightweight paper refills I’d chosen, so I thought I’d change tact completely and go with a Field Notes Expedition, which are waterproof. But the fountain pen didn’t write very well on that paper, so I thought I would bring a Fisher Space Pen instead. But then I was worried about refilling on the trail. Plus the writing experience wasn’t that great. So I thought I would bring a Retro 51 Tornado, using a Schmidt P8126 refill, which would almost certainly last for the whole trip. But that didn’t write very well in the Expedition, so I was considering flipping back to the Passport Travelers... and on and on ad nauseam. Suffice to say, I eventually ended up with the combo of Kaweco AL Sport and Field Notes Campfire Edition. I’m bringing 5 ink refills as well, because I’ll probably need them and they’re only 0.3 ounces for the lot.

Since I’m Canadian, I have to bring my passport (1.3 ounces), and try to care for it for 5 months. Oh goodie...

My sunglasses are Ray Ban Wayfarers (1.1 ounces) and I have a little sleeve for them that my Grandma made. I actually asked her to make me a sleeve, and she did, and then the next time I went to her house she had like 4 more that she’d made because she wasn’t entirely happy with the first one. I picked the lightest and most functional ounces.

My “wallet” is just three cards strapped together with a rubber band inside a Zpacks wallet stuff sack (0.7 ounces total). I was thinking about ditching the stuff sack, but thought that it was barely any weight and it works to kind of obscure the fact that my credit card and ID are bolted together, so if anyone wanted to really fuck my day up they could just steal that. Also I plan to carry some cash, and the stuff sack will work well to house that as well as any coins I might get from change.

As a child’s book once told me, everybody poops, so I’m bringing a Deuce of Spades trowel (0.6 ounces) and some TP in a ziplock bag (1.6 ounces). A lot of people say to ditch the trowel and just use your trekking pole or a stick, but I have serious, serious doubts that these people are digging a true 6 inch deep cat hole to do their business in. Plus the trowel can be used as a tent stake in an emergency.

Speaking of tent stakes, I have 10 of them in a Zpacks stake sack (0.1 ounces). My shelter only requires 8, but it’s nice to have redundancies for something so integral. Plus I have variety. There’s 8 Zpacks titanium shepherd hooks and 2 MSR Mini Groundhogs (2.9 ounces total). I figure the ground hogs can be used for the main guy lines when it’s a bit windier, as they should hold a bit stronger than the shepherd hooks.

On the comfort front, I’m blowing a whole 4.7 ounces on things that may not be entirely necessary, but sure make me a lot more comfortable. Firstly is the quilt straps for securing my quilt during the colder nights to reduce drafting. They are 0.9 ounces, which is completely worth it in my opinion. Also for my sleeping enjoyment, I have a Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow (2 ounces). My only complaint is that it constantly slides off the sleeping pad, but I think I’m going to try the dab of silicone trick to get it to stick. And I have a Therm-A-Rest Z-Seat (1.8 ounces). It lashes to the outside of my pack and actually serves as a pseudo pack stand, and it weighs very little in the grand scheme of things. Plus it’s nice to have a dry place to park my ass at the end of the day.

Gotta wear that hunter orange so I don't get mistaken for a cute little doe, a deer, a female deer.

Honestly, if I could give up some of my clothing choices, I could come in under 10 pounds pretty easy. I’m definitely packing a bit of extra weight in clothes, but again, this is one case where I prefer the comfort over ultralight principles.

To start I have an Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex puffy (10.5 ounces). Back in February or March of 2017 I bought a Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with plans to use it on the AT. I took it to Europe and it worked wonderfully, and I still use it for work to this day, but it was a bit heavier than I wanted at nearly a pound. So I was trying to figure out which jacket to take, doing lots of research, and then EE serendipitously released their Torrid. It’s synthetic down, just like the nano puff, but for a jacket I think I’ll actually prefer that. Yeah, maybe it’s a little bit colder than true down, but it also won’t get decimated if it gets wet, which I’ve heard is a good quality for the AT.

You may think these are jackets, but they are actually just stylish ghosts

The rain jacket is another one that I worried over for literally months. I wanted something lighter than the Columbia that I had taken to Europe, which was 14 ounces. But I also didn’t want to give up things like pit zips and pockets. But I finally decided that unless I wanted to spend like $300 on a Zpacks Vertice, I’d have to give up either weight or functionality. I chose to go lighter based entirely on the massive amounts of recommendations I saw online for the Outdoor Research Helium II (6.7 ounces). I searched and searched for a Helium HD, which is the older version with pit zips and pockets that aren’t being made any more, but couldn’t find one for a reasonable price. So when I was visiting a friend in California I headed into an REI, tried on a few jackets, and realized the Helium II felt pretty good. Some people still say it’s quite hot to hike in, so I guess we’ll see if it lasts the whole trail.

For the rest of my clothing I have a Zpacks medium dry bag (0.8 ounces). I haven’t talked about it yet, so this seems as good a place as any, but I have basically all my stuff in dry bags to avoid using a pack liner. I mean, the Arc Blast is really water resistant, but it’s not fully waterproof, so I need a second line of defence. I know lots of people use compactor bags inside their packs for the liner, but I just didn’t like it very much. Who knows, maybe I’ll switch to that on the trail. I do like the more streamlined ease of use of just shoving everything inside the backpack instead of separating it first, but then I also like the organizational aspect of the separation. I’m a man torn asunder by his conflicting desires. Curses!

Anyway, inside that stuff sack lives a Patagonia Capilene Thermal Long Sleeve (6.6 ounces) and some Patagonia Capilene Thermal Leggins (6.4 ounces). I’ll be using these for sleeping, hopefully exclusively. Also for sleeping are an extra pair of Darn Tough Hiking Socks (2 ounces). Again, I probably could just sleep in my hiking clothes and save nearly a pound, but I like the thought of having dry, mostly clean clothes to change into at the end of the day. This is another thing that we’ll have to see how it works in practice on the trail, but until I have a good reason to ditch them, the sleeping clothes are staying.

I have a second (or third overall if you count worn clothes) pair of Darn Tough socks (2 ounces again) and a pair of Injinji Toe Sock Liners (1.2 ounces). I’ll talk more about the liners when I get to the worn clothes section, but I’ve really liked them so far.

Gloves were something I debated bringing, but when I found some Icebreaker Merino Wool liners for 0.9 ounces, I thought why not. Gloves will be nice to have for breaking down camp on cold mornings, extra warmth on cold nights, and for hiking in the rain. I picked Merino Wool since it retains warmth pretty well when wet, and I figured if it got really cold I could through some of my extra socks over my hands as ad hoc mittens.

Continuing the theme of wooly warmness, I’m bringing a Wool Buff (1.6 ounces). Buffs are amazing pieces of clothing, and I’ve only just started to really appreciate them since I’ve started growing my hair out. If you don’t know, it’s essentially a tube of fabric about 50cm long and 20cm across. The package advertises 12 different ways of wearing it, as a headband, a scarf, a balaclava, a toque, or even as a pirate cap. Plus you can use it as a hanky or a towel or a potholder... the limits are boundless, I tell ya!

Took me like 6 years to pull it back properly. I'm no hair wizard.

I’m also bringing a Patagonia Capilene Thermal Toque (0.6 ounces). A lot of people will tell you that you don’t need a buff AND a toque, and those people are right. But I like to have both, if for nothing else than multiple ways to contain this cursed hair that’s in such an awkward stage right now :/

I’m bringing some ExOfficio Boxer Briefs (3.5 ounces) mostly for when it’s warm and I want to just wear my shorts instead of leggings. I don’t plan to wear boxers under leggings under shorts, that’s just too thick for my taste.

Instead of wind or rain pants I’m opting to bring a rain kilt by Zpacks (2 ounces). I feel like it’s more versatile, easier to put on and off, and I’ve found that I look quite good in a skirt.

Finally I have a bug net head cover (0.5 ounces) as I’ve heard horror stories about the bugs in New England. I HATE mosquitoes with all the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns, and apparently black flies are an abomination the likes of which I’ve never faced. I can’t say I’m looking forward to this particular quirk of the hike, but I’m going to try to prepare myself.

I spent a bit of time deciding what clothes to include in the packed list and what clothes to include in the worn list. I ended up going with the reasoning that I would choose the clothes that I would be wearing most often as “worn”, and everything else would go on the base weight list. I probably spent more time than I should have fussing over this, as it’s all kind of moot in the end.

So I’m bringing some Black Diamond Ergo Cork Handled Trekking Poles (18.7 ounces) for a couple reasons. I was a bit hesitant to bring trekking poles when I first started doing research for the trial, as I had never used them before and thought they were for “old people” or inexperienced hikers (not sure how I didn’t classify myself in that category, but whatever), but I’ve since discovered the large error of my ways. Firstly, they are used to set up my tent, making them a multi purpose item which is a core principal behind being ultralight. Secondly, and I never would have known this if I didn’t take them on a shakedown hike, they are invaluable as hiking tools. Ascending hills is so much nicer when you can use your arms to help, and descending feels way, way, WAY safer when I have a pole that I can stick out for balance or support. I can stick them in the ground to hang clothes off of to dry, or use them as a last resort defence against angry wildlife. If you are like I so foolishly was, give trekking poles a try on your next hike.

This is actually the same outfit I wore to prom...

I have a ball cap (3.2 ounces), which is another multi purpose item. Keeps the sun out of my eyes, keeps the aforementioned annoying hair back, and keeps the bug net off my face if I need to use it.

I’ve given some more money to Patagonia and gotten their Capilene Lightweight T-Shirt (3.4 ounces) for a base layer. I originally had wool everything, but after some research and suggestions from other hikers, made the switch to Capilene, which as far as I can tell is basically Patagonia’s name for water resistant polyester. It’s lighter and more durable, and apparently nearly as warm, even when wet. So I’m giving it a try. Sure feels nice to wear.

More Patagonia with my Baggies shorts (6.3 ounces). These are partly for modesty, to wear over my leggings, and partly so if it gets really hot some days I can forego the leggings and just wear the shorts. They had a mesh liner in them, but I prefer underwear so I cut that out, saving a bit of weight.

The baggies are for overtop of my leggings of choice, Icebreaker Merino Wool 200 Leggings (6.2 ounces). I considered going Capilene here as well, but I really like the merino wool. I guess I’ll see how they hold up durability wise.

So I mentioned my socks above, and I just have two of the exact same pairs of liner and outer socks for hiking so I can switch them out day to day and give them time to dry out a bit. In case you’ve forgotten in the last thousand words or so, I’m using Darn Tough Lightweight Hiking Socks (2 ounces) and Injinji Toe Sock Liners (1.2 ounces). I don’t remember where I first came across this idea of using a liner sock underneath an outer sock, but it worked very well in my shakedown hike, and it makes sense when you think about it. Blisters form from repeated rubbing against your skin, so if you have a nice tight liner sock, the outer sock or shoe rubs against that instead of your skin. Try it out if you haven’t yet!

The active layer I’ll be wearing over my base t-shirt is a MEC T3 (8.8 ounces). This is another one that I hummed and hawed over a lot. Originally I just thought I would use a long sleeve merino wool shirt and that would be enough, but I decided against it after doing some more research. Everyone knows lawyering is the key to an effective outerwear system, and an active layer over a base is just good layering sense. So then I spent some time deciding which active layer to get, and decided on a Melanzana Micro Grid Hoodie. Then I learned that Melanzana had unfortunately closed down their web and phone orders to restructure their business, so I wouldn’t be able to get one. I started looking at things like the Patagonia R1 and some Columbia fleece pullovers, and eventually decided on the MEC T3, partially because they are a Canadian company and I like supporting that (not to mention easier and cheaper to get than stuff from the states) and partially because I feel like it’s the active layer that fit me best. I liked the hood, I liked the thumb holes in the sleeves, I liked the half zip. It’s a nice pullover.

Black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow

Finally, the shoes. I feel like I should do an entire post of its own on shoes, especially since this list is going to be pushing 6000 words by the time I’m done here. I’ve ended up with the Altra Lone Peak 3.0, size 11 (22.2 ounces). The first shoes I bought were Salomon X Ultra’s, and I really liked them. They felt good on the feet, they were comfortable, they laced up evenly, and they had good tread. Great shoes. They were one of the first items I bought, and I didn’t even consider changing them for months and months. I was actually kind of overwhelmed when researching shoes, and I remember the Salomons were the first ones I came across that were widely recommended so I just went with them. And they are good shoes, don’t get me wrong, but when I decided to try out the Altras, I realized I’d been buying shoes wrong my whole life.

I originally ordered a size 10, since that’s what I had gotten for the Salomon’s. Since I was ordering from Amazon I knew I could just return them easily if they didn’t fit. When they came in I threw them on and instantly liked them more than the Salomon’s. The wider foot box felt amazing, as I’ve always struggled with finding shoes that fit my wide feet. The only thing was, with each step my big toe kind of poked into the top of the shoe. After doing some consulting with the internet, I realized that I might have gotten a pair slightly too small. My toes came RIGHT up to the end of the shoe but didn’t quite touch. I’ve since learned that should have a little wiggle room between your toes and the end of the shoe, at least enough to fit a finger in. Amazon didn’t carry have any 10.5s in stock, which is what I thought I needed, so I took a chance and ordered the 11s. I thought that if they felt way too big, like clown shoes or something, that I’d send those back and deal with the slightly smaller shoe for the first part of the trail, or just go back to the Salomons. Well, the 11s came in, and I put my foot in them, and realized that I didn’t even know what a good fitting shoe was.

The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Size 11 fit me so well I feel like I’m not even wearing shoes when I have them on. I really, really love them. I’m a tad concerned about the minimal aspect of them, and worry that my feet will really hurt while getting used to the zero drop, but I don’t even care about that right now because I love them so much. Plus, I used to run and hike in Vibram Five Finger shoes. I prefer to be barefoot whenever I can. I think I’ll really like these shoes once I get used them fully.

Casual picture after I just tossed everything into the corner, didn't do any organizing for this shot

So there we go. Hey, look at that, I did break the 6000 word mark 0.o

I've already changed the total base weight a little bit by removing one of the dry bags and some ziplocs, and I still have a few odd knick knacks to add or remove. Plus, it's going to change on the trail, I can pretty much guarantee that. So let's go ahead and just call it ~11.5 pounds base weight. I'll be updating my lighterpack as I add or remove things, so if you want to stay up to date with the most recent list, even when I'm on the trail, that'll be the place to check.

Thanks so much for reading, especially if you stuck it out through that whole mess of words. I hope you enjoyed, and maybe that you got something out of the post. Whether you’re looking to do a thru hike yourself, putting together a kit for some weekend warrior-ing, or just reading because you like the cut of my jib, thank you, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day!