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Appalachian Trail Section Hike Gear List – 2016 – NOBO – VA to PA

Skin Out Load including consumables, gear, and clothing worn for week 1
Skin Out Load including consumables, gear, and clothing worn for week 1

This backpacking gear list is for a 2-3 week Appalachian Trail section hike I’m taking in early spring from northern Virginia and into Pennsylvania. I’ve section hiked over 1250 miles of the Appalachian Trail so far and hope to finish hiking the trail in the next few years at the current rate.

For this trip, I’m switching to a hammock because it will be easier to find good campsites.  I had a hard time finding good places to pitch a tent on my section hike last spring in northern Virginia and felt that I had to do fewer miles per day so I could sleep in shelters along the way. There’s a trade-off though, since I need to carry a lot more insulation for early spring than I would if I was using a tent.

This will also be the heaviest base weight I’ve ever carried on a 3 season trip – approximately 16.5 pounds, which I plan to compensate for by carrying less food and resupplying more often.

My biggest wildlife concern on his section hike are Deer Ticks and Lyme disease. Most of the clothing I’ll be wearing is treated with Insect Shield, either by the factory, or as part of a post sale process offered by Insect Shield. I’ve also treated my hammock by soaking it in Permethrin, the active ingredient in Insect Shield.

The full environmental conditions assessment I researched and wrote before deciding what gear to bring on this section of the AT is listed below this gear list. After writing it up, I decided to switch from hiking southbound to northbound because I was worried about cold weather with a northern start. I always find it useful to write up a plan like this, if only to document my assumptions,

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Packpacking32.4
Lowepro Dashpoint 20 Camera Pocketpacking1.9
HMG Assorted Stuff Sackspacking2
Trash Bag Linerpacking2.4
Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Knife w/ mini binerpacking0.8
Fox 40 Plastic Whistlepacking0.1
Dream Hammock Thunderbird w/Bishop Bag, Straps, Overcovershelter39
Warbonnet Superfly Tarpw/ guylinesshelter21.7
Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Sleeveshelter0.9
8 x MSR Needle Stakesshelter2.4
Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt 20sleeping21.6
Enlightened Equipment ReVolt UQ 20sleeping19.3
Hyperlite Mountain Gear CF Stuff Sack Pillowsleeping1.4
Gossamer Gear Nightlight Sleeping Pad 2/3 sizesleeping2.3
Clothing, Not Worn
Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon Hatclothing, not worn2.1
Buff with Insect Shieldclothing, not worn1.3
Darn Tough Socks w/Insect Shield (2)clothing, not worn4.8
Lightheart Gear Rain Jacketclothing, not worn6.7
Montane Minimus Rain Pantclothing, not worn5.8
Montbell Down Jacketclothing, not worn9
Patagonia Capilene 1 Bottomsclothing, not worn5.9
Possumdown Glovesclothing, not worn1.5
Supernatural Wool Jerseyclothing, not worn6.7
Evernew Pasta Pot (M)cooking3.9
QiWiz Firefly Wood Stovecooking2.9
Large Plastic Spooncooking0.3
OPSack Odor Proof Bagcooking1.3
Canon S120 with Batteryelectronics7.6
Extra Camera Batteries (2)electronics2.5
iPhone 6 w/ Lander Caseelectronics5.9
Petzl Headlamp (2)electronics1.8
RavPower 9000 mAh Battery for iPhoneelectronics8.6
SPOT GPS Satellite Messengerelectronics4.1
First Aid
First aid kit (DIY)first aid6.6
Aqua Fina Water Bottles (2)hydration2.2
Sawyer Squeeze (filter only)hydration2.4
Aqua Mira Water Purification Drops (consumable)hydration2.4
Platypus 3L Hydration Reservoir (no longer made)hydration1.4
AT Guide Pagesnavigation2
Guthooks Guide AT Appnavigation0
Suunto M3 Compassnavigation1.5
Total Carried257.116.6
Clothing Worn
Darn Tough Socks (worn pair)clothing, worn2.4
Ex Officio Halo Light Shirt w/Insect Shieldclothing, worn7.4
La Sportiva Ultra Raptorsclothing, worn28
Outdoor Research Sentinel Brim Hatclothing, worn2.5
Railriders Ecomesh Pantsclothing, worn10
Under Armor Heatgear Boxersclothing, worn3.2
Rab Polartec 100 Feece 1/2 zip Pulloverclothing, worn9.9
Pacer Poles - Carbon Fiberstability17.95
Total Worn81.355.8 pounds

Environmental Conditions Assessment

  • Locale: Appalachian Trail, starting in northern Virginia and hiking as far north as I can in 3 weeks, ideally to the Delaware Water Gap in northern Pennsylvania
  • Date: Sometime in March or April, 2016; exact dates TBD
  • Planned Route
    • Mileage: somewhere between 150 and 300 miles
    • Terrain: Moderate mountains and forest
    • Duration: up to 21 days alloted although I typically last around 2 weeks
  • Climate/Weather forecast
    •  Seasonal
      • 30 degrees seasonal average, increasing quickly into April and as I move farther north.
    • Gear
      • 20 degree quilt and 20 degree underquilt
      • Hammock with overcover for heat retention
      • Hammock tarp with doors for increased wind protection
      • Wood stove w/ Esbit backup
      • Shoulder season clothing including extra insulation.
      • Go to town if it gets real cold. Towns/motels/hostels are close to the trail in this section.
    • Source
  • Water availability
    • Expected
      • Generally abundant, possibly some dry stretches
    • Gear
      • 2 x 1 liter water bottles
      • 3L platypus for camp and dry stretches
    • Source:
  • Water purity
    • Expected
      • Purification/filter advised
      • One stretch through a Superfund site in PA requiring a long water carry
    • Gear
      • Aqua Mira purification
      • Sawyer Point One filter
    • Source
  • Wildlife Issues
    • Expected
      • Bears
      • Mice
    • Gear
      • Ursack Bear Proof Food Sack
    • Source
  • Insects
    • Expected
      • Ticks: April through October is prime Deer Tick season.
      • Mosquitos and Black Flies: None.
    • Gear
    • Source
      • American Lyme Disease Foundation for article about seasonal risks of Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease.
  • Daylight
  • Trail conditions
    • Expected
      • Some light snow/ice possible at higher elevations
      • Snowmelt expected, so cold and wet.
    • Gear
      • Trail runners w/ wool socks
      • Take a zero if the snow is bad
    • Source
      • Previous experience in region
  • Sun/Snow Glare protection
    • Expected
      • Not significant. They call it the green tunnel for a reason
    • Gear
      • Insect Shield wide brim hat
    • Source
  • Navigation
    • Expected
      • Obvious treadway and good blazing
    • Gear
      • Paper sections of AT Guide
      • Guthooks AT App on iPhone
      • No paper maps this time (an experiment)
    • Source:
      • Intel from friends
  • Remoteness
    • Expected
      • Close to many towns
    • Gear
      • Bring SPOT Gen 3 Satellite Communicator to msg home daily
      • Cell phone
    • Source
      • AT Guide
  • Resupply
    • Shop in towns as needed. Good resupply options every 3-4 days.


  1. Heavy but doable. Good Luck and Have Fun!

  2. I had thought you were switching to Wildcats from Ultra Raptors. I’ve been reading back and forth too much, I suppose. Flashbacks are hard for me in blogs and movies! I have some URs and while they are very comfortable, I found that they, like much of the hiking footwear I’ve tried, leave my metatarsals feeling beat up by the end of a day with unavoidable rocks and roots in the trail. I’m going to try Oboz Sawtooth lows for my Benton MacKaye hike.

    • No. I’m a hardcore Raptor advocate. I just bought few more pairs to stockpile them. Tried the Wildcats but they were just too soft. The Raptors provide more protection for the toes and under the ball of the foot.

      • Because of our resupply plan, I may be able to use the Oboz for the first three days and switch to something else if I need/want to. I have some Pearl Izumi trail shoes to try out. Both of these are supposed to have good protection for the ball of the foot. If they don’t work, I may have to resort to heavier soled hiking boots rather than lighter shoes.

        • Oboz Sawtooths (Sawteeth?) were just great for me. The PIs were comfortable but by the end of a fairly leafy, non-rocky section, my left foot was nearly numb at the metatarsals. After another trial or two, maybe I’ll stock up.

  3. Looking forward to your Blog of this section. I have hiked it and want to compare. I plan the NJ to Conn section you described maybe in June. My go to pack is the GG Mariposa Plus. Just can’t buy in to the trail runner foot gear.

  4. Looking forward to your blog on this section. I have done portions of it over the years with scouts. Great idea to use go with the hammock, at least in Rocksylvania, it can be a challenge to find a spot for a tent or 2 along the AT. The weather in PA has been a bit crazy so far this spring, stretches of 70 degree days followed by cold snaps with snow. BTW are you doing this solo?

    • Solo, but you’re never alone on the AT. But, there have been some really odd people on the trail though who are definitely not hikers. And I’m not talking about the trail maintenance volunteers. More like escapees from The Doyle.

  5. Just a recommendation on a cheap way to save a couple ounces without losing any capability: a 6.4oz 10Ah battery from Anker.

    It really is this light and I’ve been looking for a battery with this capacity and less than 8oz for a while.

    • Yes, but my battery has a wall plug and lightning adapter built in, eliminating the need for additional wires. It is still overkill however. I need about 1/3 of its current capacity/weight for a AT section hike.

  6. My pack weight for the coming AT section in Virginia was 23.5, including everything except water. Then, I got, um, cold feet, and threw in a down parka and heavy fleece pants for camp. Good decision or carrying my fears? We’ll find out. By the way, did you stay at the Doyle?

    • Only one way to find out. Like Ed said above. The weather has been pretty crazy in PA with high winds, cold temps, and freezing rain. I wish I’d brought more insulation to go to ground to be honest. It seems to be warming up now though (finally).

      I skipped the Doyle and walked through town. I did pick up a block of cheese in the Quick Mart behind the Doyle though. That was a good call.

  7. Wish I could thru the A.T. again. You have prepared well. Happy trails!

  8. I live along the AT just N of the PA line (crossing rte 16). Let me know if you need anything when you come thru.

  9. Hammock wash in permethrin, brilliant! whats the superfund stretch in PA? just curious if you know of the top of your head…
    I hike on the NJ side of the Delaware Gap and bears are very common there as are ticks. Hopefully the Ursack can handle the job even if its the end of the trip section…

  10. Sorry if this question is out of line, but I do most of my backpacking out west- Are bears really such a threat that an Ursack is necessary, or are you not hanging it at night? In my neck of the desert mice can be a problem, but opsacks and a CF bag suspended from a rock outcropping have never caused me problems (Zpacks setup)… Thanks!

    • Bears are a real threat (for stealing food) but the bigger issue is that I hate tromping around at night trying to hang a bag. PITA. I just tie the Ursack to any tree and there’s no aggravation.

  11. I can’t figure out why your hammock is so heavy. I looked at their webpage, but I don’t see obvious weights.

    I just weighed 2 of my hammocks. The Dutchware one weighs 14oz with straps/suspension and the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beater (with a bug net) weighs 21oz with straps/suspension.

    I’m kind of surprised that you are bothering with a bug net this time of year. One of the reasons I added the Dutch hammock was to get a longer length and drop the bug net. I’ve never really needed the protection in the SE Appalachians.

  12. No tenkara setup?

  13. That’s a great kit, Philip. I just bought an Ursack. Glad to see it on your list.

  14. Great list. Lyme disease is no joke. I got it several years ago (I would like to say it was while I was hiking an amazing trail, but I got it changing a flat tire). I had it for over a year before the doctors listened to me and had me tested.

    Anyway, love reading your blog. I am planning on doing a hike thru of the A.T. in about 4 years (as soon as the youngest heads to college) but hope to do a section hike before then.

  15. Philip — This is Jen at DC UL. Forgive me if I missed this in an earlier post, but let us know when you’re heading this way. If the timing works out, we’d love to meet up with you on the trail.

  16. Excellent list! Very similar to my gear list for my 2013 SOBO. Used my hammock every night except one in the Presidentials. I highly recommend OR Insect Shield gaitors as well. I used Insect shield pants, shirt, gaitors and treated socks, hammock, etc. and never had to remove a single tick from me or my gear in five months…not even a crawling one. Also, as a recovering Lyme disease patient (was sick for more than a year prior to my AT hike) I highly recommend the accurate info at for safety and reference. In the Lyme patient community, ALDF has the single worst reputation since its founders and administrators have huge financial conflicts of interest.

    Here is a link to a video I did about four months into my hike about hiking safely and enjoying the AT. Have fun on your section!

  17. Thanks Philip…love the AT! Congrats on your progress…in so many ways I think it’s an even more impressive feat to complete the AT in sections over time than in one continuous hike. Have a great hike!

  18. It sure looks like a stuffed black bear in the middle of your picture. What does it weigh?!!

  19. Did a SOBO 112 mile section first week of April from Pine Grove Furnace, PA to Ashby Ga, VA. Found plenty of places to camp with a tarp and good water. Had all 4 seasons in one week, First day in the low 80s F. Two days later got snow then hail. Took 40 degree quilt and slept comfortable with down sweater with temps in the high 20s. Easy hiking in that section. Check out Bear Den and the Teahorse Hostel. Take care and have fun.

  20. If I understand your gear list correctly, you’ll be carrying 2 Petzl headlamps, why 2?

  21. So, excuse me if I didn’t figure it out yet but are you on the trail now? how do/did your gear choices line up with the experience?

  22. Reviving an OOOOOOOLD thread, but, if you can recall, what was your reason to bring the 2/3 sleeping pad since you had a TQ and UQ for your hammock system?

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