Refining gear with every hike and eliminating non-essential items and making trade-offs allowed me to get my backpack down to a very respectable 22.75 pounds, before food and water, and still have everything I needed to enjoy a long (300 mile or more) trek and survive a 3-day bout with unexpected severe cold weather. Here's how.
Stove, fuel, cookware and related accessories. This saved about 7 pounds. I carried food that needed no cooking. See my AT No-Cook Menu below. This was a tough trade-off but paid off in big weight savings.
Water Filter. In place of a 2+ pound water filter I used the Polar Pure Iodine crystal system weighing in at 4 ounces. It worked just fine.
Flashlight. In place of my trusty 6-ounce (with extra batteries) Mini Maglight I carried a LED Microlight weighing less than onehalf ounce. Four AA batteries would provide 9 to 10 hrs of light in the Mini Maglight. The LED light burned brightly, providing all the light I needed for over 40 hrs with its original two lithium cell batteries. Every single ounce counts.
Backpack: I chose the lightest pack I could find that had the capacity, ruggedness, utility, fit and comfort I needed. Camp Trails Shasta 65 ***** served me well on 600 miles of the AT, is still as good as new, and weighed just under 4 pounds. I grew to love its internal frame, great fit and adjustability, simplicity, and capacity (4385 to 4956) cu in. This is my 4th and best pack so far.
*Frequent Mail Drops kept my food, consumables and accessory weight down. My other proven weight savings (see AT Basic Gear List for laundry and hygeine) such as the small containers of soap and hygiene and trail laundry supplies, re-supplied every 4 to 8 days, served me well. (Use clear 35mm film canisters with tight lids - free at film developers)
Minimal Clothing (see list), meant frequent trail laundry or smelling like road kill. Pants with zip-off legs and roomy pockets are great. Nylon or polyester clothes DRY QUICK and are easy to wash on the trail. Carry less - wash it often.
*Maps, guides, journal notes - I copied trail guide sections I needed, used margins and backs for journal notes. Carry only current sections and maps, mail others back as used and get new mailed to you as needed.
Adaptability of gear to multiple purposes helps save weight too. My compass was also my shaving mirror and emergency signaling device. One 2-liter lightweight aluminum pot served as washbasin, cook pot and emergency water purifier (boiling water) if necessary. In the pack, it was used as a catch-all for containing and organizing small items that would otherwise get lost. Space blanket served as ground cloth.
Lightweight mummy bag would not keep me warm below its 35 degreeF rating. But with a light fleece liner (doubles as a shawl and warm-night blanket) its cozy to about 25 degreesF and covered with a tent (my bivy) or space blanket it was cozy into the teens.
This list is essentially the same as my Gear List, minus the things eliminated (above) but with a few different items which will appear first and be described in detail. Other descriptions and ratings from my AT Basic Gear List (which see) remain the same. Weights given here are guidelines for your gear selection.
Backpack - 3 lbs14oz.
Trekking Poles - 19 oz /pair
|Polar Pure - 4 oz - Iodine crystal purification system - see above.|
|Flashlight - > half oz - Microlight LED - see above|
Tent - 2 lbs 13 oz (sub aluminum stakes for steel)
|Sleeping Bag - 2 lbs 6 oz. See above|
|Sleeping Bag Liner -14.5 oz - see above|
|Sleeping Pad - 14 oz Ridgerest closed cell foam|
Clothes - wear - see above
Clothes - packed
|Rain/wind jacket - 14 oz - Campmor Backpacker II|
|Pack Cover - 6.5 oz|
|Water Bottle - 4oz Nalgene 1 qt. Indestructable.|
|Reserve water bottle - 3.5 oz - 2 liter Hoser|
First Aid Kit - 9.5oz total (2" and 3"roll gauze, Ace bandage, 15 bandaids, iodine, tweezers,
|*Toilet Paper - 1.5 oz - about one half roll less core|
|Camp Towel and washcloth - 2oz|
|*Maps and trail guide. See above|
|Drinking/measuring plastic cup - 1.5 oz - 12 oz capacity|
|Tablespoon - 1 oz|
|Aluminum Pot - 4 oz - 2 liter, multi-purpose|
|Bug Repellant - 1.5 oz DEET (I very seldom use)|
|50 feet 1/8 " dia nylon cord - 3 oz|
|Space Blanket - 2 oz|
|Sunglasses - (mine were Rx - also backup glasses.)|
|2 Fire starter sticks - 2 oz|
|Extra pen, waterproof matches.|
|Mini radio - 2 oz - (Aiwa)|
|*Food - see NO-COOK AT MENU - pack in a separate waterproof nylon sack you can hang.|
|*Sunscreen - 1 oz|
|*Soap - 1 oz|
|*Dish detergent - 1 oz|
|*Sno-Proof boot dressing - 1 oz|
|*Shampoo - 1 oz|
|*Toothpaste - 1.25oz (buy sample size or get small tubes from dentist)|
|Toothbrush - (yes, I shortened the handle)|
|*Ziploc Bags - 2-gal, 1-gal, 2-1 Qt.|
|*Trash bags - tall kitchen - keep gear dry- as needed plus spares.|
* Denotes mail ahead resupply item - carry only what you need - send more as you need it. PLAN AHEAD - the key to a light pack.
NO-COOK AT MENU
Before you gag at the thought of not cooking up tasty delights on the trail, consider this METHOD: Examine your route, pack, carry and eat only when you cannot get meals in town. If you go through a town, eat what appeals to you (or is available) and get two or three meals (burgers, subs-hoagies, sandwiches) to go. This will give you variety without loading down your pack. Use the AT Data book and similar guides to help you PLAN these culinary delights and don't carry food you won't need. You'll spend less time cooking and cleaning up and have a lighter pack.
What you do buy to carry must be CALORIE DENSE and require NO COOKING. You will want the most calories and the least weight per food item with few exceptions. Example: Nuts and Chocolate bars have high calorie to weight ratios, bread and jelly, fruit, veggies are low.
Here's a guide of what I eat when not eating "off trail" food:
Daily total weight of food should be 16 to 19 oz MAX
I carried 1 extra days food at all times - just in case.
Last Updated 7/05/01