Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail Section Hike Gear List – Spring 2018

AT Gear 2018 gear list

I’m headed down to the Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail this spring to finish section hiking the state. It’s tough living in Massachusetts or New Hampshire and getting down south to finish the trail on section hikes, but I am shooting to finish the AT by the end of 2020 so I can start hiking some other shorter, long distance trails.

By March, I start to get cabin fever in New Hampshire, where I do most of my backpacking. The winter snow lasts well into May and it’s challenging to get out. But spring arrives earlier in the mid-Atlantic states, so I like to head down south each March or April and hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. It’s still on the cold side in terms of temperature, but the snow is gone, and I prefer hiking the trail when it’s less crowded.

The pace of my section hiking the AT has fallen off in recent years because I fell in love with backpacking in New Hampshire when I started section hiking the state in 2009. But I finished a major hiking/backpacking milestone last July when I finished hiking all 608 trails in The White Mountain Guide (becoming the 36th finisher) and feel the time is right to get back to hiking the Appalachian Trail. I hope to finish my loose ends in Pennsylvania (180 miles), New Jersey (10 miles) and Maine (50 miles) this year, so I can finish the rest of Virginia in 2019 and wrap up the trail in 2020. Some November section hikes are not out of the question, when backpacking in New Hampshire gets too dark and cold to be much fun.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Pack32.4
Lowepro Dashpoint 20 Camera Pocket1.9
HMG Assorted Stuff Sacks2
Trash Bag Liner2.4
Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Knife w/ mini biner0.8
Fox 40 Plastic Whistle0.1
Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock, Bishop Bag, Whoopies, and Dyneema Straps17.1
Warbonnet Minifly, w/guylines14.8
Hammock Gear Mesh Tarp Sleeve0.9
8 x MSR Needle Stakes2.4
Dutchware Winter Vented Sock10
Warbonnet Wooki Underquilt 024.3
Loco Libre Ghost Pepper Top Quilt 2023.3
Clothing, Not Worn
Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon Hat2.1
Buff with Insect Shield1.3
Darn Tough Socks w/Insect Shield (2)4.8
Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket6.7
Montane Minimus Rain Pant5.8
Montbell Down Jacket9
Patagonia Capilene 1 Bottoms5.9
Possumdown Gloves1.5
Supernatural Wool Jersey6.7
REI Event Minimalist Rain Mitts1.2
Evernew Pasta Pot (M)3.9
QiWiz Esbit Stove, titanium screen, wire pot stand1.3
Army 2.0 Light My Fire1.3
Large Plastic Spoon0.3
OPSack Odor Proof Bag1.3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Camera4.6
iPhone 6 w/ Lander Case5.9
Nitecore NU20 Headlamp1.7
RavPower 9000 mAh Battery8.6
Garmin inReach+ Satellite Communicator7.5
First Aid
First aid kit (DIY)6.6
1L Smartwater Bottles (2)2.6
Sawyer Squeeze (filter only)2.4
Platypus 2L Hydration Reservoir1.2
AT Guide PDF0
Guthooks Guide AT App0
Suunto M3 Compass1.5
Total Carried237.814.9
Clothing Worn
Darn Tough Socks (Insect Shield)2.4
Railriders Journeyman Shirt7.4
La Sportiva Ultra Raptors28
Outdoor Research Sentinel Brim Hat2.5
Railriders Ecomesh Pants10
Under Armor Boxers3.2
Rab Polartec 100 Fleece 1/2 zip Pullover9.9
Pacerpole Dual Lock Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles20.1
Total Worn83.55.2

Part of my ritual preparation for long section hikes is figuring out what weather conditions I’m likely to encounter and modifying my gear list accordingly. I’ve been to this area before during the same time of year, so I know to expect:

  • Near freezing temps at night
  • Cold wind exposure, since the trees don’t have leaves yet
  • Potential for all day rain
  • Periods of sun and but lots of cool grey days
  • Frequent resupply opportunities

Shelter/Sleep System

I’m convinced that hammocks are the best shelter for hiking the Appalachian Trail because they give you maximum flexibility in terms of campsite location and the freedom to avoid noisy shelter mates. Hammocks are easy to pitch in the rain (tarp first) so your hammock and sleep insulation doesn’t get wet and there’s no shortage of trees to hang from.

While it’s true that cold weather hammocking is a bit bulky since you need a warmer top quilt, bottom quilt, and an extra wind protector (called a hammock sock), I sleep much more deeply in a hammock than I do on the ground and have come to prefer it over a ground-based shelter.


I carry a 55L Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 Backpack to accommodate my cold weather hammock insulation. In warmer weather, I switch to a lower volume (40L) version of the same pack. It’s not the lightest cuben fiber backpack you can buy, although it is one of the most durable. I also like the way it fits.

Stove, Cooking, Food

There’s nothing like a hot meal after a cold day of hiking and I have no issues with carrying a stove and pot to cook at night. I use Esbit fuel cubes to boil water, so my stove and cook pot weigh virtually nothing. Going stoveless in cold spring weather sounds utterly unappealing, to me at least.  Most of my hot meals are GLOP based around wheat cereal, polenta, or pasta and quite easy to clean up. I prefer eating real food when I hike instead of “backpacking food”, which means I eat wheat bread, peanut butter, honey, cheese, and everyday foods on the trail. It’s also easy to resupply even in crappy gas station marts and convenience stores.


The biggest change in my hiking gear over the past few years has been in the area of electronics. I used to carry a big bag of extra batteries, all in different sizes, for different devices including my camera, headlamp, cell phone, and satellite communicator. They’ve all been replaced by a single battery recharger which I top off in town. That really simplifies things.


All my clothes are also tick-resistant and have been treated with Insect Shield or Permethrin. Lyme disease is no joke and is the most dangerous thing on the AT, as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t caught it yet and don’t plan to.

The only other condition I pack for specifically is rain, which is impossible to avoid on the AT. You’re going get wet, either from rain or sweat, but the thing I dread most is being cold and wet. I’ve packed some rain mitts I picked up this year, in addition to my NON-breathable and inexpensive rain jacket (with pit zips) and my regular non-baggy rain pants. I thought about bringing some of the rain jackets I want to review this spring, but decided against it since this is supposed to be a vacation.

Summing Up

The weight of my section hiking gear list comes out to be just under 15 pounds. It’s definitely not ultralight, but then again it’s hard to break the 10 pound limit in early spring when it’s so cold at night. The weight of my gear list really depends on the season more than anything. I’m a strong hiker and a couple of extra pounds aren’t going to slow me down.

See Also:

Written 2018.

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

Most Popular Searches

  • appalachian thru hike gear list
  • spring backpacking pensylvania appalachian trail


  1. Good luck in “Rocksylvania”, Phil. I know that you had previously mentioned that you hail from western PA – St. Mary’s, perchance? I know some Werners from there. I live in Warren, on the other side of the Allegheny National Forest.

  2. Congratulations on finishing all the trails in the Whites guidebook. Wow. And thanks for the reminders about permithrin. I appreciate your post.

  3. I will also be doing a long section of PA in late April early May so it shouldn’t be as cold for me. I enjoy your website and have learned quite a lot since I’m new to the backpacking world. Good luck and enjoy!

  4. I head out nobo from Mohican Outdoor Center around June 1st. Tore a ligament in my foot just north of Furnace State Park in PA last year. Should have waited for my new pair of Ultra Raptors to reach me! And hopefully I’ll be carrying my new Crown2 38l pack. Good luck with your go through PA. Except got the bad foot, I actually enjoyed my trek through there!

  5. Permethrin, yes, yes, yes and definitely treat your pack, tick hitch hikers are already out this season in GA, I saw one this morning.

    • Good to know. I thought I’d be early.

      • you might miss them, but why take the risk, and it wouldn’t hurt if you treated your tree straps.

      • Definitely going to be dealing with ticks. I’m just south of the Lehigh Gap section in PA. Tons of reports of those little buggers out with just the recent nice weather. We were all hoping the deep cold earlier this winter would have knocked them down some, but guess it didn’t.

        Which portion do you have left? I’ll be out pretty often this year, would be neat to cross paths!

  6. What do you expect for night time temps when you are going?

    • Two years ago, it dropped below 10 degrees one night. Same time, same area. But mainly in the 20-30 degree range. I thought about bringing a 20 degree UQ, but decided I’d go with the 0 degree one. Just because.

  7. I have been camping for a few years with the Blackbird combined with the Yeti UQ; however, I have never been entirely happy with the setup as I find the torso-length quilt slips out of place too readily. I’d be interested in a review of the Wookie UQ at some time in the future as I feel a longer quilt, while heavier, would help me get a more comfortable sleep.

    • I had a similar experience with a torso-length quilt. Frequently during the night I had to get out of the hammock to put it back into place. Then I tried the Wookie which did stay in place. But I have since given up on gathered end hammocks because I can’t for the life of me stay diagonal enough to lie flat.

  8. I like your post. I am new at hiking and I learn on my own. I am an extreme minamalist. The pack weight isn’t something I want spoiling my hike. I start the AP in March. Any guide book you think is best? I’m starting in Harper’s Ferry nobo.

    • Ask around. I’m sure someone there will take you under their wing. FYI, all the restaurants in town are closed on Mondays.

      • Good to know!! And thanks for your post Philip, I’m in CT, and have unfortunately had both Lyme and Erlichiosis:(
        Appreciate the link on permethrin soaking. Good luck in ROCKin PA!! :)

  9. If you’ve done all the trails in the White Mountains Horrible Pa will be no challenge to you. I would say it is my least favorite state to date partly due to the fact that I wrecked my knee coming down into Port Clinton. I used to write hate letters to the Pennsylvania trail clubs, accusing them of designing the worst possible route.

  10. I am surprised to see you taking the Lightheart rain jacket because your previous review of the OR Foray was such a strong recommendation. Have you changed your opinion of the Foray? I considered buying one because I like the idea of the unmatched ventilation – but there seem to be several reviews complaining about the lack of water resistance.

    • The Foray is my winter shell, but it’s too heavy for use the rest of the year. Beware: Water resistance is meaningless on a gore-tex jacket that relies on a DWR coating, because all DWR coatings rub off leaving you will a NON-waterproof jacket.

      I use the LHG jacket for three season hiking when it actually rains (doesn’t rain in winter). The fabric is completely waterproof and does not relay on a coating.

  11. If I can be of any help please let me know. I am retired and have been section hiking since 1970. I live 12 miles from Smith Gap Road and 33 miles from Delaware Water Gap. The ABE airport is 2 mies from my house.


  12. I’m working on m rain gear, isee you use possum gloves with versa liners, do you keep your hands dry, or do you ascribe to the warm when wet philosophy? just bought the lightheart jacket I’m impressed!

    • No rain gloves/rain mitts will keep you dry, just warm. Condensation is a bitch.
      If you look at the gear list above, you’ll see I’m bring REI Event rain mitts. They’re at least seam taped. Don’t think they’re made anymore.
      I have been thinking about bring waterproof Hanz gloves, but I’m still on the fence about it. .

      • back when I worked construction I used to have tight fitting neoprene gloves. cut the fingers off to hold nails and they worked lie a wetsuit. cant find them anymore. ok thanks ill experiment

  13. Just got back from a 43 mile, 3 day section from Little Gap south to the Hamburg Reservoir. Wet rocks, foggy rocks, sun and rocks and just plain rocks. My buddy and I are desk jockies and our feet were pretty beat up at the end, but a wonderful adventure. Good luck Philip!

  14. Hi Philip What did you wear for shoes and insoles? Did you have and how did you deal with wet feet in camp?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive our weekly newsletter. No spam. Just honest gear reviews and backpacking articles. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!