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making a list ...
FWIW, I'd be happy to describe what I took. Others could no doubt add,
delete, and dispute these choices.
SLEEP - only what is needed, a light bag for the Smokies, then I heard a
lot of thru hikers say they were mailing back their bags and getting light
blankets as the weather warmed up.
- therma-rest pads seem to be the norm. I like 'em a lot. I have the
3/4 length, which seems to be all that's needed. Closed cell foam is
lighter but bulkier.
- to tent or not to tent? I carried a 5-lb. Northface Starlight,
which I liked a lot. A tent is bug protection, and for when a shelter is
full or too far away. I could pull my whole pack in with me. I also
carried plastic tent ground cloth.
Actually, in my tent was the most comfortable sleeping I did on
the trail. However, because 5 lb. is a lot to carry, I'll probably go for
a one-pound bivvy sack next year. But, the pack'll have to stay outside.
I met plenty of thru hikers who carried no tent, just a poncho or
light rain fly.
BOOTS - Best you can get, they're the most important thing. I also
discovered gators from other hikers. These protect your socks, boot laces,
and lower legs from brush. Won't keep boots dry in rain, though.
PACK - There's the whole internal/external question. I opted for external
because it's cooler on the back.
EATING - MSR Whisperlite International is my stove of choice. It'll burn
unleaded gas if Coleman fuel isn't available. It's light, field
repairable. One pot. One cup. One spoon.
- food is a whole huge subject, but I can say, one mistake I made
was carrying too much. It is possible to resupply quite frequently, so
ten-days' worth of food, which I sometimes had after resupply, was too
DRINKING - I carried a PUR Hiker water purifier and containers for one
gallon of water. Most thought this was way too much to carry (8 lb.) I
didn't always fill up on a whole gallon. But in camp it is good to have a
way to carry a big amount of water. I saw many hikers with those MSR water
bags. They all said they liked them. Some saved the weight of the water
filter by using just iodine, bleach, or no purification at all (the last I
do not recommend).
CLOTHING - Don't need much in the summer. I like to have a pair of long
pants and T-shirt exclusively for shelter living, and a pair of shorts and
T-shirt just for hiking in. Avoid cotton. You'll need a warm jacket (like
synthetic "fleece") for the southern mountains in spring. Later, mail it
back. I like a floppy hat, but it turns out that it was needed only for
rain. Sun's not a big factor in the forest. And the hat was too hot. I
wore bandanas as sweat bands.
- rain gear. I carried a treated nylon windbreaker, but its main
function was to guard against hypothermia when soaking wet on a windy day.
Wearing it to keep dry was not workable, because it was too hot and I'd
just sweat inside it. I just gladly (or not so gladly) let the rain get me
I heard about "national hike naked day" (summer solstice) too
late. Maybe next year!
OTHER STUFF I TOOK - hiking staff
- minimal first aid stuff. moleskin & bandaids
required. bug dope. ace bandage.
- toothbrush, toothpaste, and that "Dr. Bronner's"
all-purpose soap. A tiny pair of folding scissors.
- needle & thread.
- Swiss Army knife
- Dan "Wingfoot" Bruce's _Thruhikers Handbook_
- a book to read. picked 'em up at shelters and
hostels, or stores. Left 'em behind when done.
- nylon stuff sack for trash
- nylon pack cover for rainy days. worth it.
- a tiny AM/FM radio with earphones. personal taste.
- a mini-maglight, 2-AA type, with headband, makes
it possible to walk after dark if needed.
- extra batteries
- cigarrette lighter
- sports sandals, for camp. worth it.
STUFF I SENT BACK AT SOME POINT
- camper's saw
- smaller second pot
- 7X25 compact binoculars
- those ATC guidebooks
- candle lantern
This is just a summary. There are plenty of "fine points" that could be
debated. I wish you best of luck on your thru hike.
> Jim Bruton, email@example.com,