Our Backpacks

So everyone wants to know what we are taking in our backpacks to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to pack simply and lightly because thru-hikers carry their gear nearly 2,200 miles.  The goal is for Chief to carry no more than 28 pounds and Toad no more than 25 pounds.

What we discovered is that as Americans we have a lot of stuff that we think we need.  The truth is there is actually very little that we need to survive.  Preparing to hike the A.T. we prioritized and are carrying in our backpacks:

  1. Water and water purification system – Some of the water on the trail is from springs, streams, rivers, and lakes so it is important to properly treat before drinking.
  2. Food – We need to carry enough food for 4-7 days as stores are not readily accessible.  Options include dehydrated meals, bagels, peanut butter, and protein bars.  We will have to hike off-trail most times to re-supply or get a delicious meal at a restaurant.  We heard A.Y.C.E. (all you can eat) restaurants are very popular .
  3. A.T. Guide and maps – duh.
  4. iPhone – doubles as camera and flashlight, and when there is cell service we can update this blog, read Bible app, use compass app, FaceTime, Google Maps, access 911, and have phone service to call the nearest Segway rental.
  5. Tent – We purchased an ultra-light 2-person tent, definitely close quarters.
  6. Sleeping bags and pads – Yes, we are sleeping on the ground most nights.  The trail has occasional shelters but they are on first-come first-get basis.  Shelters are often shared with other hikers and mice.
  7. Toilet paper, trowel, and hand sanitizer – enough said.
  8. Bear bag and rope – It is crucial to hang in a tree all food, toothpaste, etc. at least 200′ from the tent so not to feed the wildlife during the night.  We are hoping the animals stay away from the tent, too.
  9. First aid kit – if things go terribly wrong with #8.
  10. Vitamin “I” – Ibuprofen, lots!
  11. Two changes of clothes – not wanting to be on “Naked and Afraid“.
  12. Rain gear – doubles as snow gear in the high mountain elevations.  Crocs – for hiking through streams and bogs.
  13. Personal hygiene items – limited to biodegradable soap, baby wipes, toothpaste.  They say hikers get used to the “trail aroma” (sigh)…  Hostels, B&Bs, and hotels are available on occasion – that means a hot shower, a real bed, and laundry service — yea!!!
  14. Stove and pot- to heat water for our filet mignon and fettuccine (aka dehydrated beef stroganoff)
  15. Treking poles
  16. Small necessities – sunscreen, whistles, a deck of cards, bug repellant — knives, duct tape, hat, gloves and bandanas (sounds like we’re planning a kidnapping).

Much thanks to successful thru-hikers  Bob “Buckeye Flash” Grau (author of “Five Million Steps on a Journey of Hope”) and Emily “E-Dogg” Mitchell Heidenriech for advising us about the trail and hiking gear!   Their assistance has been invaluable!!!

We will be grateful for what we have in our backpacks and what we have in life.  A lesson to learn.


One thought on “Our Backpacks

  1. It’s amazing how much “stuff” can be considered “simply and lightly” – almost sounds like my purse when I was young and frivolous! Thinking of you two as you near some real rest for a brief spell, then back to all the fun from the other end of the trail. God Bless and keep you safe. Love, Auntie JoJo


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