The Evolving Gear List : 1997 – 2006

Over the years my base pack weight has become lighter and lighter. It took many miles and years of tinkering to get to this point, though!

I have been asked if I had gear lists for the different trails I’ve done. Up until now, I did not.


Since I am dealing with multiple trails and equipment from a decade of thru-hiking, I do not recall the exact weights. The BASE PACK WEIGHT is a guess for the earlier days. I also did not list every item, only the “biggies.”, Obviously, some of the items in 2009 are different from their 1996 or so counterparts. The lists should prove to be instructive, though.  I also have my current gear list posted (as of July 2012).

Vermont’s Long Trail 1997 Appalachian Trail 1998 Vermont’s Long Trail 1999 Pacific Crest Trail  2002 Colorado Trail 2004 Continental Divide Trail 2006
BACKPACK EMS 5500 (1996 Model) EMS 5500 (1996 Model) Camp Trails Scirroco (3500 CI) LWGEAR -One Pound Pack (all mesh) LWGEAR -One Pound Pack (all mesh) Six Moon Designs Essence (2006 Version)
SHELTER Walrus Swift Walrus Swift Walrus Swift Campmor 8×10 Silnylon Tarp Oware 5×7 SilNylon Tarp Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape
Sleeping Bag Feathered Friends Hummingbird Feathered Friends Hummingbird Feathered Friends Hummingbird Feathered Friends Hummingbird Feathered Friends Hummingbird Feathered Friends Hummingbird
Sleeping Pad Z-Rest Z-Rest Z-Rest Z-Rest Z-Rest (cut down) Generic “blue foam pad” ( cut down)
Cooking MSR Alpine Cookset MSR Alpine Cookset
K-Mart Alum Pot
K-Mart Alum Pot (a little beat up) K-Mart Alum Pot (really beat up) K-Mart Alum Pot (d-low says it should be thrown away!)
MSR Whisperlite MSR Whisperlite Alcohol Stove Alcohol Stove Alcohol Stove Alcohol Stove
Hydration 2 Nalgene Bottles 2 Nalgene Bottles 2 Gatorade bottles 2 Gatorade Bottles 2 Gatorade Bottles 2 Gatorade Bottles
1 Gallon Plastic jug Nalgene Cantene Nalgene Cantene Nalgene Cantene Nalgene Cantene
PUR Microfilter Polar Pure Polar Pure Polar Pure MP-1 Tabs Iodine Tabs
Jacket Generic Fleece Pullover Generic Fleece Pullover Generic Fleece Pullover Marmot Driclime Windshirt Marmot Driclime Windshirt Montbell Light Shell Jacket
Rainwear Windpants Windpants Windpants Windpants Montbell UL Rainpants Montbell UL Rainpants
PVC Rainjacket PVC Rainjacket Generic Nylon Rainjacket Generic Nylon Rainjacket Golite Wisp Golite Wisp
Footwear LL Bean Cresta Hikers LL Bean Cresta Hikers Asolo 535s various running/trail shoes Nike Air Pegasuses various running/trail shoes
BASE PACK WEIGHT (Estimated) 30 lbs 28 lbs (weighed at Boiling Springs ATC office) 17 lbs 13 lbs 10 lbs (I had a digital scale for this kit) 9lbs (I had a digital scale for this kit)
  • I did not include most of my clothing as that has changed very little from the second LT hike in 1999.  I still hike in shorts, wear generic polypro and wear a synthetic hat. I may wear a long sleeve shirt, wear sunglasses and use a Boonie hat for sun protection. I also use running socks with lighter footwear.  Other than that, my clothing has changed little
  • I used the same sleeping bag since 1997 until 2006. It is worth paying more money for a good bag. I did put some new down in it after the PCT. After the CDT, it was time for a new bag.
  • Also not included are the weights of sundry items that are less because of equipment used. A plastic bottle for fuel vs. a metal bottle for example.
  • I have my full gear list posted as well. It reflects my 2012 gear.
Looking over my list, you can see a big jump from my AT gear to my Long Trail 1999 gear. After humping a 50 lb pack over the mountains for over 2000 miles, I vowed to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!
Edit 4/6/2011: I was asked about the big change from the AT 1998 to the LT 1999 thru-hike. The short answer is that ounces add up to pounds!
The pack alone was nearly a 4-5 lbs difference (IIRC, the EMS 5500 was approx 7-8 lbs, the Scirroco was about 3 lbs!)  There is a significant weight difference between the MSR cook set vs. the alum pot. And an MSR Whisperlight to a homemade alchy stove. Ditched the steel fuel bottle for a soda bottle for holding fuel when I switched the stoves as well.
Approx twelve oz saved by switching water bottles. Went to a trash bag vs a pack cover. Ditched the mini mag light for a Photon light, Etc. Etc.
Basically, it is the LITTLE things that added up. Shave 2-3 oz here and there (if not more) and by losing ounces you lose pounds.

I also took less clothing than I did on the AT vs the LT.   Same clothing, just one pair of shorts instead of two for example! Likewise with one vs two hiking shirts  This is more of a general overview list than anything,  After hiking the AT, I seriously started looking at my gear and rethinking of how I pack.

Hope that makes sense. 🙂

I do remember hiking the LT and people commenting on how little my pack was! Today, it be considered on the higher side of average for many LD hikers.

My shorter hikes (The Long Trail and the Colorado Trail hikes), were used to refine my techniques a bit.
I feel that my current gear list is more or less reflective of my 2002 PCT gear list, but with refinements: Frameless pack, down bag, trail shoes instead of boots, alcohol stove and aluminum pot.   I can picture doing all my future long walks with my PCT 2002 gear. I would not want to any of my long walks with my AT 1998 gear!
After the Long Trail in 1999, there was a gradual decline in my base pack weight. I am at the point where I can get lower only if I spend more money for shaving ounces rather than pounds. Does it get to the point that I have to ask myself how much money is worth spending to lose more weight in my pack? I notice very few thru-hikers dip below 8lbs. The people pushing the weight envelope tend to be out weeks rather than months.  Just an observation that may or may not conform to reality. 😉
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12 years ago

How many food drops did you have on your CT?

11 years ago

Do you have or can suggest a gear list for the JMT? Would it be the same as the PCT list?

I’m thru-hiking the JMT in July and have my base weight to 17-18 lb. I am debating changing my MSR-one man Huba tent that has served me well on the AT thru-hike for a lighter tarp-tent. Any suggestions.