A couple of people have asked for a gear list from my Thru Hike Feb 1st. The first couple of weeks were very pleasant. Then we had several days of snow and ice with temperatures below zero long
about the Smokies.
Here is a summary:
I am using a well worn ULA Catalyst back pack. When I no longer need winter cloths I would switch to the smaller ULA Circuit pack. I bought a new ULA Catalyst when I got to Damascus. The old one served me well for thousands of miles. I never did use it this hike since I switched to my ULA Circuit pack for the rest of the trip to Katahdin
Western Mountaineering 20* ultra light down bag less than two pounds
Xped Neo Air regular sleep pad 16 oz - this pad worked out great. At twice the insulation value of a Z Rest. In the past I have carried a Neo and a Z Rest in winter or a Ridgerest and a z rest. This pad did the job at half the weight. A generous seat pad offers some backup protection.
|Ready to go for the 2105 thru hike|
Jet Boil titanium SOL stove, I think its’ about 11 oz long handled Sea to Summit aluminum spoon
Flash hoody down jacket
Flash down pants
Mont bell 6 oz down jacket
Fleece jacket 200 weight
Patagonia silk weight top and bottom
EMS zippered v neck top
2 pair Darn Tough socks I will be wearing one pair of these socks and some other items depending on daytime weather
Running shorts, worn over tights or capilene as needed...rain pants are the only pants I carry
2 stocking hats one much thicker than the other
wind bloc pro balaclava
a couple of buff hats
touch screen light gloves, fingerless army wool gloves, thick thinsulate gloves
Rain wear: Marmot Super Mica jacket, REI elements rain pants, Rocky Goretex socks, Mountain Laurel rain mittens
Water: Sawyer filter, a couple of Gatorade bottles and a couple of Smart Water bottles, one pint size Nalgene serves as coffee cup or emergency hot water bottle. I did not use my Sawyer filter until the Smokies at a shelter with mostly ground water and no privy. Next time I plan to use Aquamaira during weather where the Sawyer filter might freeze and ruin. It’s a pain to try and keep the Sawyer from freezing so it just makes since to carry Aquamira until the weather warms up then switch to a Sawyer original not the mini.
Leki hiking poles, three folds of a Zrest pad for a generous sit pad.
Suunto altimeter watch, whistle.
Suunto altimeter watch, whistle.
Galaxy S5 phone amazing battery life in black and white mode, Anker 16000 mah E5 brick battery at 10 oz its as heavy as a brick but this is a luxury cruise, 5.5 volt 2 amp charger, headlight. I sent the Anker battery brick home with its fast charger. Instead I just carried 3 extra batteries for my phone @ about 1 ounce each. I found that I didn't care to play with my phone as much as I expected as it distracted from my immersion in nature. The spare batteries were more than enough for pictures, Guthook trail maps and an occasional movie the day before town.
Guthooks AT Hiker apps, I love electronic gadgets, 2015 Data Book this is what I hike with when I take a break I jot the time down next to my position in the Data Book this makes it easy to judge location, travel time/miles. For town planning and additional water spots I use both AWOL and ALDHA Companion and I have both in pdf format also.
I have packed 6.5 #s food for 4 days the last day being mostly Ramen. Mostly I am eating Mountain House freeze dried food and Lipton sides that has been repackaged into ziplock freezer bags. I do not care for the Liptons by themselves without doctoring them up. Last year I got to liking 1/2 a freeze dried meal and 1/2 a lipton noodle and rice side mixed together. Boiling water is poured into the ziplock bag with the food after about 15 min I eat from the bag, no cleanup and little trash and no food smell in my stove. No stirring while cooking KISS keep it simple stupid makes for a happy Thru hiker.
This year I did not care much for the Liptons mixed with Mountain House. They are so so if you have a can of meat to add and maybe a handful of raisins. I gradually moved to not having a hot breakfast, just coffee and a honey bun or something similar. Just in the last month I finally started liking oatmeal, well Quaker super grains blend with at least a quarter cup of nuts and berries. So I expect I’ll eat that some for breakfast next trip.
I do not like Starbucks very much but I often use the Via's on trail for a good dose of caffeine. Lunch is about a pound of candy bars, peanut butter crackers, nuts, beef sticks, cheese, cookies that sort of stuff. Mostly I eat one of those items every hour and sit down for a few minutes. This trip I abandoned my Jardean method of eating every hour with a 5 min break. Instead we did a more conventional longer break every couple of hours.
While in town I evaluate expected weather etc for the next section hike to the next town. At NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) with -10* below zero weather approaching, I purchased a second pint Nalgene and an extra 7 oz can of fuel beyond what I expected to use. The extra Nalgene and fuel where great luxury items and I enjoyed many hot beverages and hot water bottles.
My brother and I held up at Fontana Resort a few days for the worst of the below zero weather and precipitation. The Smokies was officially closed, all trails and roads. Luckily they lifted the ban on hiking trails and we were able to cautiously continue our hike. Sure its only 35 miles to Newfound Gap and I have made that in two days of good weather. But if Newfound Gap road is still closed then its another 15 miles to Gatlinburg for resupply. On my 2012 SOBO I narrowly missed 6 foot of snow around Newfound/ Cingmans Dome from a predicted major storm, sometimes referred to as the Sandy Hook storm. There were lots of unprepared sobo hikers with no gloves, warm clothes or rain gear braving windy temperatures in the teens. They foolishly listened to Thru hikers from 2011 a very warm dry year. Luckily I have never had one of those years where there is a cold rain for six weeks straight but it happens. So we headed into the Smokies with a few days extra supplies and about twice the fuel that we expected to need. Moving shelter to shelter with additional snow each day. Yea Newfound Gap road was open.
Weather can be expected to be anywhere form 65* to - 10* day or night, rain, snow, ice, packed snow can all happen. Oh yea I have a pair of Yaktrax Pro for additional traction if needed. The Yaktrak Pro's have served me ok in the past and are definitely better than nothing. With hard ice (daytime highs in single digits) and off camber trail they offered only a little grip. We switched to Hillsounds brand light crampon and wore them for 90 miles including the Smokies. They worked great. You can pretty much count on the Smoky mountains to be a sheet of ice until spring. April before last it warmed up to 4* before I reached Newfound gap it was awesomely beautiful. I walked the road down from Clingmans Dome because the road was closed and I knew the views were much better than from the trail.
All that and 20 oz of water leaves me with a 30# pack.
Remember take all advice with a grain of salt or maybe a shot of whiskey
Chase Davidson is a long time distance hiker starting in 1982 with over 19,000 lifetime miles including: IMT-87, AT-99, GG-99, ALT-00, HATT-00, LT-01, TT-01, ART-02, BMT-04, AT-06, JMT-11,
AT-12, FHT-13, Big-O-13. FT-14, AT-2015.
AT-12, FHT-13, Big-O-13. FT-14, AT-2015.