Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Appalachian Trail Gear List - Thru Hike 2009

For the last several weeks I have been going through my gear and working on my gear strategy for my Appalachian Trail Thru Hike. Some people tend to suffer comfort for lightweight, others sacrifice lightweight for price, etc. I tried to take into account comfort, lightweight, and keep everything as cheap as possible. Below is the list of items and the cost of the items.

1. Cocoon 100 percent Silk MummyLiner from Campmor. Keeps bag clean and provides extra warmth to sleeping bag. 4 oz and on sale for $39.99

2. Campmor Goose Down 20 degree Mummy Sleeping Bag Long. I had expected to have to pay more for a quality bag, but after posting on a couple of hiking and backpacking forums this bag came highly recommended. 2lb 6oz and $129.99.

3. North Face Beanie - This is an old Beanie I have used for a couple of years and has been a trusted friend for many hikes and outdoor adventures. It probably retails for around $14

4. Gordini Men's Fall Line Soft Shell Gloves - waterproof, windproof, breathable. The gloves were on sale at campmor for $24.97, but usually retail for $50.

5. Gordini Lavawool Stretch Balaclava/Full Face Mask - For those windy days in the mountains and also will sleep with it on cold nights. $12 at campmor.

6. Old golf pullover that is waterproof and windproof. I prefer to wear layers as opposed to heavy insulated jackets. This can be worn over the lightweight fleece, mid weight fleece, or both on cold days.

7. Terramar Mens Silk Long Underwear Crewneck - lightweight baselayer shirt. 3.4 oz and $20 on campmor.

8. Campmor Men's Microfleece Zip-T Neck - Many people consider this overkill, but I prefer to have a separate set of comfortable fleece clothes to sleep in. There are lighter options, but in this case I think the comfort and the cost triumph the weight. 14 oz and $20.

9. Campmor Men's Microfleece Pants - Same as above, very comfortable pants at a great price. I think these are going to be great to sleep in after a long day on the trail. 15 oz and $20.

10. Marmot Midweight Long Underwear Bottoms $29.95 from Tahoe Mountain Sports. Midweight fleece to use alone or in addition to the lightweight base layers.

11. Marmot Midweight Crew Long Sleeve $29.95 from Tahoe Mountain Sports. This will be used alone or in addition to the lightweight base layers.

12. Patagonia Men's Capilene 1 Base Layer Pants. These lightweight pants were on sale for $28 at campmor and weight in at 5.5 oz.

13. Rain cover for my Osprey Atmos. I bought it with my backpack years ago so not sure of the cost.

14. DriDucks lightweight rainsuit. I purchased these from Cabelas for $19.99. Total weight of 8 oz.

15. Hennessy Hammock with a lightweight 8'x10' tarp. I am going to play around with the tarp in the next couple of weeks, but as of now I am going to take it in lieu of the smaller tarp that came with the Hammock. I bought the hammock years ago for around $199 and have used it for my backpacking needs every since.

16. Osprey Atmos 50 backpack. I have had this pack for about 4 years now and use it almost exclusively. This has been a great pack for me and continues to receive high ratings. The frame is designed to provide air circulation between your back and the pack so the frame does pertrude into the pack more than most packs. It is not a problem for me, but it does take a little getting use to. I think you can usually find them on sale for around $165.

17. Steripen water purifier. I have used this for about a year now and have to admit it is the engineer in me that wants to keep using it. I love the idea of UV light for purification so I will continue to use this product. I do make an extra effort to keep it from being broken, nothing overkill, I just treat it the same way I would my digital camera.

18. Crocs - Again, some people think it is overkill, but I like being able to take my hiking shoes off and have a comfortable pair of shoes around camp. I have a pair of muckboots that I love as well, but unfortunately they are in North Carolina at the time.

19. First Aid Kit, 50 feet of rope, emergency blanket, compass/thermometer/whistle tool, and a multitool.

20. I enjoy photography and was looking for an alternative to taking my Canon 30d with a wide angle lens, a telephoto lens, a micro lens, and my everyday lens. After reading many reviews I opted for the Panasonic FZ28. I just received the camera but will continue to play with it the next few weeks and will have a blog dedicated to it soon. (I am going to be updating this blog using my cell phone so often times it will pictures on my cell phone displayed on the blog so the quality will not be the same). $300 The camera bag is a cheap one I picked up at Wal-Mart for an additional $12. I will keep it in a ziplock back when it is raining.

21. Black Diamond headlamp. I enjoy reading and writing at night while in the hammock. This light serves this purpose well. I have had this for a while, but I believe I paid $39 for it.

22. Jet Boil PCS. Many people go with lighter options, but I have been a loyal fan of jetboil for several years. I love its efficiency and how easy it is to stow away.

23. Sleeping Pad - One negative of sleeping with a hammock is you need some kind of layer between your bag and the hammock. Some people use underquilts, and while I would love to go that route, I do do not have the space required in my backpack. This is actually 2 pads (1/2 inch each) that I purchased at Wal-Mart. I believe they were $12-$14 each. I do not know they weight, but they probably weigh in at less than a pound combined. I am going to play around with these the next couple of days to verify it will suffice in cold weather.

24. Camp Towel - I use absorber pads used to dry your car after you wash. It can be found in the car detailing section of Wal-Mart and can be purchased for about $4. You can also use the plastic cover it comes in the keep your tortillas in.

There are some misc items I will be taken that are not shown. I have a pair of convertible hiking pants, a lighter, trail guide and a few maps, TP, tooth brush, etc. I also will purchase a 2 liter bladder to use with my backpack. I placed all the items shown in the picture in addition to some personal hygiene items and the weight of the bag was just over 20lbs. I also had plenty of room for food so it appears the everything is working out as planned.

We have some cold weather heading this way so I am going to spend a 2-4 day trip to test my gear, try some new food, play around with my new camera, and visit some property I have not visited in a few years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Appalachian Trail

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." Mark Twain

Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a goal I have always had, but I always imagined it would be something I did after I retired. With the economy the way it is and the job market the same, I have been seriously considering spending the this time to hike the trail.

Instead of rushing through the trail, I want to spend time improving my photography skills and taking side trails to photography waterfalls, wildflowers, etc. I especially want to spend more time in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia where I know I will have a considerable amount of things to photograph.

5 million footsteps, that is what is considered to be the average amount of steps taken to hike the Appalachian Trail. The trail starts in Georgia at Spring Mountain and ends in Maine at Mount Katahdin. It passes through 14 states, ranges in elevation from 124 feet to 6625 feet. It crosses six national parks, 8 national Forest and is home to over 2000 rare, threatened, or endangered plant and animal species.

My next several post will be about gear and planning my trip. Obviously I want to keep my pack weight as low as possible so I have some decision to make about clothing, gear, photo equipment, etc.