Appalachian Trail

Hiking gear for a 30 days in the woods

Thirty days in the woods, 460 kilometres to cover… what to pack?

What gear to pack differs vastly from person to person. There are essentially two schools of thought at opposite ends of the spectrum, with the majority of hikers siting somewhere in between.

On the one side there are the ultra-light hikers. This is a more recent school of thought where hikers experiment with different gear combinations, optimise individual items and strip what they pack down to the bare minimum. Sometimes ultra-light hikers even manufacture their own gear as a hand stitched sleeping kilt often weighs less than a commercially manufactured one. Lighter packs mean longer distances, and here weight is the final word.

On the opposite end of the spectrum there are people like us. Make no mistake, we do consider what we take carefully. To be honest, we agonize over it. We just don't have the guts to leave certain comforts behind nor do we feel the need to saw off the handles of our toothbrushes to lose a few grams. It all comes down to what one’s own definition of ‘essentials’ is. We used our usual list and modified it slightly. Here’s our take on what is needed for 30 days of hiking:

MG’s pack is weighing in at 12,3 kilograms and Eras’ pack at 17,8 kilograms. Add to this food and water and we’re certainly not traveling light.

The theory is to save weight on the big pieces: the backpack itself, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and the tent. We’ve managed to keep ours down to a reasonable 4,7 kilograms and 7,3 kilograms (for the one carrying the tent).

Our clothing weight is also quite low at 2,1 kilograms and 2,3 kilograms including what we’re wearing. We’re protected for any eventuality and can get by for thirty days.

This is where we didn’t do so well:

The first factor that made packing this time a little trickier is the length of our hike. In principle a four-day hike requires a similar amount of gear to a thirty day hike. (If you bring your kitchen with you, you can cook in it as many times as long as you like). Since we’re stopping to resupply food along the way, our thirty-day hike is essentially four week-long hikes. The difference comes in with entertainment: thirty days without a book, playing cards or something to illustrate in can become long. This adds almost 1,5 kilogram in anti-boredom.

Another factor is that ‘on trail’ means ‘off grid’ for the duration of the hike. With no basecamp and no access to electricity we have be totally self-sufficient. Notice the sea of black electronics in the top left of the picture: a full DSLR camera, two lenses, filters, an intervalomenter and a GoPro. Where we would usually take only the cameras we now have to take chargers, spare batteries as well as a PowerMonkey battery and solar charger. All of this adds another 3 kilograms.

It’s easy to pat yourself on the back with a neat backpack at the front door, but the first uphill will be the true test.

When we return we will do a follow-up post of what we used and we should’ve left behind.