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What NOT To Take on the Appalachian Trail

Deb thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and is a Search & Rescue volunteer and writer living in Flagstaff, AZ.

Leave This Gear and Clothing Behind on any Long-Distance Hike and Even Most Short Backpacking Trips

Well before I began my own A.T. thru-hike with 40 pounds on my back, including food for several days and a few liters of water, I was hearing stories of hikers who'd started up the approach trail to Springer Mountain and the first white blaze with packs weighing in excess of 75 and even 90 pounds.

I'd heard that many of those prospective thru-hikers had left the trail soon afterwards because it was just too difficult, while others sustained injuries from carrying too much weight. Of course, other hikers pared down their overweight backpacks and carried on, successfully making it more than 2,000 miles to Mt. Katahdin at the other end of the trail.

Regardless if you're aiming to be an ultralight backpacker or, like me, are comfortable with a "reasonably heavy" pack, don't take up precious room in your backpack or add to your pack weight with these unnecessary, extraneous, and possibly even risky items.

(And about that rocketpack pictured above ... if you really are interested in a beverage pack like this one and and other similar packs, see the bottom of this page.)

A Pack Weight Poll - Are you a kitchen sink carrier or do you go to the opposite extreme?

what-not-to-take-on-the-appalachian-trail

A Humongous, Heavy Backpack

You really don't need all that room (or weight) on the Appalachian Trail

Okay, I know; you're going backpacking, so you NEED a backpack. And you're backpacking for a very long time over many, many miles. But, really, the main differences between what you need to carry for an overnight trip versus several days at a time on the trail are the amount of food, maybe some additional clothing, and, depending on availability where you're backpacking, the amount of water you might carry. But the other basic hiking essentials are usually very much the same.

So I'd advise against going with a pack that's much -- if at all -- larger than what you'd carry for a short trip. Think of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike or long-distance section hike as a series of short backpacking trips strung together. No need to carry one of those heavier, expedition-sized packs, like the Cuscus 75+10L pack (below). I'm not saying it isn't a good backpack, but at 5400ci and 5 pounds, I think it's really too much ... much more than you need for the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and many other long-distance treks.

A thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail is a journey, but not what I'd call an expedition. For an expedition, you'd need something like this....


A 5,400 cubic inch Cucus Backpack -- Too much pack for the A.T.

A 5,400 cubic inch Cucus Backpack -- Too much pack for the A.T.

A 5,400 cubic inch Cucus Backpack -- Too much pack for the A.T.

This Would Be a Better Choice for a Long-Distance Hike on the Appalachian Trail

There are so many choices out there when it comes to backpacks, not to mention other gear, so I'll just give you my two cents.

When I thru-hiked, I carried an external frame Kelty Tioga pack. It did the job, and it was very good for organizing gear with its multiple pockets, but I personally would never use an external again. (It squeaked, and the rigid frame got stuck too often on branches and rocks. It was also a bit wide.) These days, I prefer an internal frame Osprey pack for its quality, comfort, and features, including handy hip belt pockets. Like this one...

Leave the Deoderant Behind

Use that space for something tasty instead.

Sure, when you're at home or work or just wandering around in public, being stinky isn't really socially acceptable (unless maybe you're just home alone and don't mind your own stinkiness). But when you're out there backpacking the A.T., being stinky is the 'in' thing. Trust me! And, honestly, there's little you can do to avoid it.

Even my trail friend, Diamond Doug, who took a solar shower at the end of each day before putting on his signature Hawaiian shirt, got a bit ripe. And, yes, he actually carried a solar shower bag and felt the extra weight was worth it.

So face it, trying to mask said stinkiness with several swabs of deoderant just isn't going to work. It would be kind of like spraying perfume on dog poop.

Just take a bandana "bath" or use a wet wipe on your smelliest pieces. That's about the best you can do.


Shampoo and Conditioner (Image is in the public domain)

Shampoo and Conditioner (Image is in the public domain)

Shampoo and Conditioner Can Stay Home, Too

Some folks, both men and women, shave their heads when they're thru-hiking, but most, like me, prefer to leave their fuzz intact. I just braided my ponytail and left it that way until I got to the next trail town or other place where I could shower.

Most of the time, showers along the A.T. had at least shampoo, but even if they didn't, my hair felt so clean and soft when I washed it after several days on the trail. It's good to let those natural oils build up sometimes, and since many of us are in the habit of showering and washing our hair almost daily at home, the trail is a great place to get some life back in our dried out tresses.


Denim is Not a Hiker's Best Friend

On ANY trail

You've probably seen those photos from Appalachian Trail and other hiking books from the 70s and 80s, showing smiling hikers on sunny days wearing jeans. Maybe you've got photos of yourself wearing jeans while posing on a mountaintop with a pack on your back.

While that may have been the style at the time and considered appropriate material for the trail, I'd say it never was a very good fabric for backpacking, no matter how many times you may have worn denim pants while hiking. Denim is heavy. If it gets wet, it stays wet for a long time. And it chafes (in my experience, anyway).



what-not-to-take-on-the-appalachian-trail

See, I used to do it, too. This is me in 1988, hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire in jeans ... and in snow no less!

Try These Hiking Pants Instead - Go synthetic and go convertible

Perhaps you're still stuck on denim when you go for a hike. And on a short dayhike in nice weather ... sure, jeans (or "dungarees" as my parents would call them) may be fine. But if you're intending to go on a multi-day backpacking trip or an end-to-end hike on the Appalachian Trail, I'd recommend going synthetic. It's much lighter, weather and wind-resistant, and dries much more quickly than jeans.

Personally, I prefer zip-off pants, easily convertible to shorts if the weather warms up enough during the day on the trail. Convertible pants usually have zippers or drawstrings at the ankles, so you don't have to remove your shoes to remove the lower pant legs or put them back on. Many styles also have handy pockets on the thighs and/or hips for stashing small things (like an A.T. Data Book, a camera, or snacks for instance) you want to have easily at hand.

Cotton

Cotton

Cotton Isn't So Hot for Backpacking

Have you heard the expression "cotton kills"? Well, I can tell you that it's a true statement. I'm not only a hiker; I'm also a Search and Rescue volunteer, and I've found people deceased because they were unprepared for the conditions, including wearing cotton clothing that got wet and didn't dry, contributing to hypothermia.

Sure, natural is nice -- in this case, a natural fiber -- but that's not always the best choice of what's available. It's one thing if you're hiking in, say, the Grand Canyon in the middle of July and WANT to stay wet to help you cool down in the extreme heat of the day, but if you're in any other type of climate and/or don't have other clothing to change into should the cotton get wet (on purpose, from the rain, or from sweat), leave the cotton home. Even a cotton base layer can literally freeze. And wet cotton is heavy, so why carry the extra weight of that water around?

But don't just take my word for it. Read Why Does Cotton Kill? by "Section Hiker."

For the Hiking Trail, Go With Synthetic Instead

Capilene, polypropylene, nylon, polyester, kevlar -- synthetic fabrics have many different names, but they're all man-made products created through a chemical process. Generally, synthetics are great for hikers because they're light, have good wicking properties (making them great for base layers), and dry quickly. They can also be waterproof (ie. Gortex) and windproof.

Synthetics keep you warm when it's cold and cool when it's warm.

I almost always hike in synthetic tees. When it's warm, they wick the sweat away from my skin and dry quickly. If its chilly, they make a good wicking base layer. On the down side, synthetics seem to get stinkier faster than cotton and hold the stink longer, but, ah well, the birds and other critters don't seem to mind. (I'm afraid I can't say the same, though, for nice motorists who gave us hitch-hiking thru-hikers rides into town.)

what-not-to-take-on-the-appalachian-trail

Save the Heavy, Bulky Sleeping Bags for Car-Camping

And slumber parties

I'm not saying you need to spend a few hundred dollars on a super ultralight bag, but, for backpacking (be it for one night or many), definitely go for light synthetic or down instead of one of those heavy (often cotton) car-camping or slumber party sleeping bags. Just be sure to keep down fill dry.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I've seen some "interesting" choices of sleeping bags lashed to people's backpacks, including a double bag like this one for a couple who was hiking together. I don't know, but after a few days on the trail, I can hardly stand being with myself in a sleeping bag let alone anyone else.

A Better Choice of Sleeping Bag for the Trail

This synthetic bag weighs 2 pounds, 14 ounces and packs down really well.

We All Love Our Pillows

But they're not very practical for backpacking

Hey, to each his or her own, and if you really want to carry a pillow -- one of those little backpacking pillows (some of which are inflatable), I hope, and not a full-sized bed pillow -- then by all means, do so. You're doing the carrying, unless you plan to take a pack mule (where allowed) or pack man ... er, or woman. But I prefer to stuff my extra clothing into my sleeping bag stuff sack and use that as a pillow. You know, the "multi-use" thing.

So Stuff a Stuff Sack Instead of Taking a Pillow

At the end of the day, pull your sleeping bag out of its stuff sack and replace it with your extra clothing and outer layers. I sometimes place a fleece or even just a large bandana over the stuff sack, so I can lay my head against a softer material than the smooth fabric of the stuff sack.

You can even put your emptied backpack under the stuffed stuff sack for extra lift if you're more comfortable that way.

Hatchets, Machetes or Over-the-Top Multi-Tools

There's no need for such tools on the Appalachian Trail

On my first night on the A.T., I saw a fellow backpacker trying to saw down a small tree because it was RIGHT where he wanted to put up his tent. Crazy, huh? And totally uncool. Needless to say, other hikers put a stop to that immediately, and the tree-cutter put his machete back in its holster. Not an appropriate "tool" for the trail.

Neither are big, heavy multi-tools with everything from bottle openers to screw drivers and seventeen different blades. Most anything you'll need to repair, open, pry, pick or punch a hole in while on the trail--any trail--can be accomplished with just a small number of implements. Some thru-hikers carried just a sharp knife rather than a multi-tool.

Definitely NOT the Right Tool for the Trail - Any trail, for that matter

But this is too funny ... AND expensive. Check this out....

Better Options for the Backpacker

I like this little Squirt. The Leatherman Squirt, that is. It's very small and very light, but it has everything I need for pretty much any little job or repair I've needed to make on the trail (any trail). I prefer the option with pliers as the main tool, which are handy for grabbing and pulling and twisting and turning.

With the keychain attachment, I can hang the Squirt from a lightweight carabiner on my pack along with other small things I want to keep handy.

Some backpackers prefer just a blade rather than a multi-tool, like this Gerber knife with a serrated edge.

First aid

First aid

Forego First Aid Kits That Could Treat a Family of Five for Five Months or So

That many medical supplies are not necessary on a thru-hike

Even if you ARE hiking with your family and carrying the first aid kit for the whole group, you really need just the basics along with any medications you may take. Me, I hiked the whole trail with just some band-aids, a little bit of Ibuprofin, a small tube of Neosporin, and some blister care items like Moleskin and Second Skin. Oh, and duct tape, which came in handy for covering "hot spots" and, if I did get a blister, keeping the blister care stuff in place.

While you may want or need a bit more of a first aid kit than I carried, you certainly don't need anything nearly as extensive as this one pictured here.

Smaller, Lighter First Aid Kits for Backpackers

Of course, you can put together your own first aid kit with one trip to the drugstore and without spending much money. And keep in mind that you'll be able to pick up some supplies along the way, if you run low on basic first aid items or find you want something you didn't include.

Or you can pick up one of these handy, lightweight, pre-packaged first aid kits.

what-not-to-take-on-the-appalachian-trail

No Need for a Big Ol' Mess Kit

At home we often use a plate for the main meal, a bowl or separate plate for salad, another little plate for dessert, not to mention different utensils. On the trail, though, all those items add up to additional weight and bulk.

When I hiked the A.T. as well as other trails, I had one cooking pot, which was also my plate and bowl, and one utensil -- a spork. I occasionally used the pot lid as another surface to construct and put down my bagel sandwich in between spoonfuls of soup. Or sometimes I just used a handy rock or my leg. To me, backpacking is partly about making do and improvising rather than carrying all kinds of extras. That's part of the fun, and I think it's cool how little we can get by with for long periods of time compared to all the stuff we use and have at hand at home.

What Else WILL You Want to Carry on the Appalachian Trail? - Here are some backpacking gear checklists you might follow, whether you're packing for a long-dista

My Backpacker's Cooking System These Days

When I hiked the Appalachian Trail, I started off using an MSR Whisperlite Stove and a single pot. Eventually, I traded that stove out for simple Esbit Fuel tablets and a pocket stove. These days, I usually backpack with a Jet Boil stove like the one pictured here, along with the 1-liter cooking vessel, which doubles as my mug.

This set-up is nice and compact, because the stove and the fuel canister fit inside the pot.

The cooking vessel clips to the burner for safety, and, as the name implies, the Jet Boil is fast. I've been really happy with mine.

You can buy various accessories to go with the Jet Boil system, including a larger cooking pot if you need one.

See product listing for price range depending on color choices and other options.

One Pot Can Do it All - Aluminum is lightweight, but if you're willing to spend a bit more, titanium is even lighter and more durable.

Read about Pack Man: The Appalachian Trail Guru who helps northbound thru-hikers pare down their pack weights at their first stop, Walasi-Yi at Neel's Gap.

what-not-to-take-on-the-appalachian-trail

If You Really DO Want a Backpack -- or rather "beer pack" -- Like This One....

You can take a look at this and other similar items (for real!) on Rocket-Packs.com, selling vending beverage drink dispensers for cold or hot drinks.

© 2012 Deb Kingsbury

Have You Ever Brought Something Backpacking You Wish You'd Left at Home? - (Excluding your hiking partner, that is.)

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on April 19, 2018:

Informative article!

I will retain a print out for ready reference when I shop next time.

I subscribe to two outdoor adventures magazines and also learn a lot from them.

Regards,

Suhail and my dog 'K2'

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on April 21, 2017:

Thank you! I'm glad it was helpful. :-)

Deborah Demander Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on April 20, 2017:

Awesome article. Thanks for writing. So helpful and informative. I'm planning to hike the PCT soon, and this article answered many of my initial questions.

Namaste

TerriCarr on March 20, 2014:

Well, I mainly use a backpack for city to city travel....not really for hiking. though that may change now that I am living in Maryland.

julieannbrady on January 03, 2014:

Oh wow! Forty pounds in a backpack -- although I have been working out almost every day for one year, I don't think I could handle that weight. Probably a bottle of wine?

Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on May 22, 2013:

Many times, I could have done without canned food. I was young and foolish, now I know much better.

anonymous on May 13, 2013:

I own 2 pr of the Columbia Sportswear Aruba V pants - they are the BEST

mariacarbonara on May 05, 2013:

Where do I get a beer backpack. Thats a great xmas present lol. Very informative lens. Thanks

Sara Dowling on October 26, 2012:

I think thats my husband in the intro pic!

victoriahaneveer on October 26, 2012:

Interesting lens. I wondered why so many hiking and sports clothes were synthetic. Now I know.

Chazz from New York on September 26, 2012:

Great common sense advice. Thanks for sharing.

Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on August 31, 2012:

Wow, I don't even hike and I found this information fascinating! Blessed by a SquidAngel.

dellgirl on August 31, 2012:

You have really provided some very useful backpacking tips and advice. This is a great lens you have here, it is full of helpful information. Thank you. ~~Blessed by a Squid-Angel~~

getwellsoon on May 13, 2012:

Thank you for the wonderful lens! I would love to see a great lens on where you can get more supplies on the AT.

CameronPoe on May 12, 2012:

The backpack in the first picture looks so cool that I'd like to bring anywhere, including a hiking trail.

anonymous on May 12, 2012:

I have never gone backpacking but reading this lens reminded me of myself traveling for a weekend trip with enough clothes for a whole week. Thanks for the fun read.

BradKamer on May 11, 2012:

Yes. I have seen backpackers carry excess cooking gear. Treated the experience as more of a culinary event rather than enduring the backpacking/camp experience. Great informative lens.

writergrey on May 11, 2012:

Some really useful, tested advice! My Dad was a devoted backpacker in the days when equipment was not light... but he sure saved on ounces where he could! Even shortening the handle on his toothbrush. Great lens!

xriotdotbiz lm on May 11, 2012:

Not a beer drinker but the beer backpack was enough to lure me to visit the lens.

jakealoo on May 10, 2012:

This lens is truly awesome. I love the backpack of beer intro pic.

Very nicely put together lens. I wished I left my dog at home last time I went backpacking, just kidding :)

Stephanie from DeFuniak Springs on May 10, 2012:

Very nice lens!

Stephanie from DeFuniak Springs on May 10, 2012:

Very nice lens!

intermarks on May 10, 2012:

Excellent, you explained every things in detail. This is a very useful information for backpackers.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on May 09, 2012:

I've never been backpacking, sad to say, so no, and no, but I enjoyed reading this lens and remembering the story of your hike, which I read some time ago. Vicarious pleasures!

Pastor Cher from United States on May 09, 2012:

I've never backpacked, but have traveled with things I could have done without on the trip. But since you asked, have you seen my sock? Maybe it got packed in your stuff by mistake. HQ said it could be anywhere and we are to go look for it. Why not on the AT? You never know.

stylishimo1 on May 09, 2012:

I took a very heavy nikon slr from the 1970s with 6 lenses and filters, in a camera bag, a knapsack, and a large bouncy german shepherd, cliff top hike in high winds too, what a nightmare!

I enjoyed your lens, love the intro pic :)

Mary Crowther from Havre de Grace on May 08, 2012:

Excellent tips! Don't know if I will make it to the A.T. but you never know!

Deadicated LM on May 08, 2012:

Yup! Excellent information and Lens. Kudos!

jmatts1 on May 07, 2012:

Very informative lens, thanks for sharing.

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on May 07, 2012:

@Bookmama2: The main photo is on Wikimedia Commons (link at the bottom-right of the intro) and was used in an ad campaign. There's a link from Wikimedia Commons to the main site, with other "backpacks" like that one, for beer. Pretty funny stuff.

jholland on May 06, 2012:

Yes! My now ex-husband. Never, ever hike with a whiner. Totally ruins it. And if your 3 year old is outpacing your hiking buddy, they shoulda stayed home.

aksem on May 06, 2012:

I had read with with a pleasure. Funny and helpful.

AlexTedford on May 06, 2012:

Thanks so much! I live only 30 minutes for from the Smokies, and I've hiked all the AT in the park. I've been considering taking on the entire AT soon...thanks!

randomthings lm on May 06, 2012:

Hi, I've never really gone backpacking (but reading your lens makes me want to try the A.T.). However, I've done the same on trips with suitcases. I used to always pack WAY too much, just cuz it fit in the suitcase. Now I am able to pare down a bit. Thanks for the great lens.

Kathy McGraw from California on May 05, 2012:

Good list of stuff not to take :) Me, I am the one that would take all the first aid stuff even though just the bandaids and a couple other things might work. I am interested in that little flash cooking system...an all in one, I can go for that. It's nice to have recommendations and advice from someone that knows backpacking as well as you do.

SecondHandJoe LM on May 05, 2012:

great sense of humor as always. Nice lens!

Lenskeeper on May 05, 2012:

Good lens. I appreciate your sense of humor as well :)

flycatcherrr on May 05, 2012:

I do recall taking a whiny couch-potato boyfriend on a backpacking trip once... yep, wished I'd left him at home.

puppyprints on May 05, 2012:

I got help from the guys at Walasi-Yi....they were great

anonymous on May 04, 2012:

Congratulations on receiving your purple star

JZinoBodyArt on May 04, 2012:

Great lens! Your articles are definitely my go-to resources for hiking advice!

emmaklarkins on May 04, 2012:

Great advice. My one and only backpacking trip was a pain in the neck - and the shoulders, and the back, and just about everywhere else - because of bringing too much stuff!

KimGiancaterino on May 03, 2012:

I'm still laughing at the giant Swiss Army knife! I enjoy your lenses so much -- truly helpful information presented with the right touch of humor. We "rough it" in our RV, so my tent days are a thing of the past. I did have many fun adventures as a Girl Scout, though.

livinglargeandh on May 03, 2012:

Good info. I have a friend attempting the hike. I will have to suggest reading this.

Bookmama2 on May 02, 2012:

Your main photo is TOO FUNNY! Where did you ever get it from? Nice job.

SteveKaye on May 02, 2012:

I really like these ideas. I spend a lot of time outside taking photos of birds. While my walks may be short, lasting only a few hours, weight matters. And comfort matters. So I plan to review what I'm wearing and carrying. Thank you for publishing this lens.

anonymous on May 02, 2012:

Pic made me laugh out loud. Nice lens!

Shorebirdie from San Diego, CA on May 02, 2012:

I like those pants, but do the women's pants fit tall people? Or, would I have better luck getting a man's size? Also, what's your take on wool clothing? I hear wool is good for all types of weather.

anonymous on May 01, 2012:

@TravelingRae: Good story, TravelingRae. I'm with you on the duct tape. I haven't backpacked in a while, but when I go camping duct tape always goes with me. Great for so many things.

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on May 01, 2012:

I can sure appreciate your backpacking tips. I tend to be as minimalist as possible. It's easy to get lured into "gadgetitis" these days. There are so many cool camping widgets. I use many of the products you have featured here. Congrats on your feature and Purple Star. Beautifully done.

Clairissa from OREFIELD, PA on May 01, 2012:

Great tips and awesome lens. Congrats on your well deserved purple star!

Blessed!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on May 01, 2012:

I love the introduction backpacking picture. Must be the redneck in me but I could see that pack being a priority for my brother when he is out in the woods. What a wonderful backpacking article. Great tips for those who are not too used to backpacking out on the back country trails.

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on May 01, 2012:

Just my husband. (Just kidding) I was wondering if you went into Canada on that hike? An unofficial extension known as the International Appalachian Trail, continues north into Canada and to the end of the range, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean.We've been on that extension but not where you backpacked.

You have very good tips. Pack light! Congratulations on your purple star and Squidacademy Award. Angel blessings to add to that!

Sue Dixon from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK on May 01, 2012:

I love your intro photo! You're so right about jeans. Round here we get people hiking in wellington boots too ( not sure if you call them this- rubber knee length boots) Crazy! Blessed!

allenwebstarme on April 30, 2012:

Great tips, important points.

anonymous on April 30, 2012:

Very informative. Thanks!

DiscoverWithAndy on April 30, 2012:

Awesome lens! I haven't backpacked for a while now after a bad run-in with LOTS of ticks, but soon. Right now it's just car camping, but I'm plenty fine with that. I'll definitely have to check through your lenses before doing anymore hard-core backpacking though :)

TravelingRae on April 30, 2012:

When I did the Chilkoot Trail a couple of years back, our guides went through our packs to make sure we weren't carrying more than we needed. Mine was fine, but I was laughed at for thinking I'd need a whole roll of duct tape for a seven day hike. On the first day, one of the guides sheepishly took some to cover a blister and I used some to repair a rip in my pants. On the second day, we met a hiker from another group whose boots had fallen apart. I traded my duct tape (to keep the boots together) for extra coffee that I eventually traded for peanut M&Ms. Duct tape is a must! :)

TravelingRae on April 30, 2012:

When I did the Chilkoot Trail a couple of years back, our guides went through our packs to make sure we weren't carrying more than we needed. Mine was fine, but I was laughed at for thinking I'd need a whole roll of duct tape for a seven day hike. On the first day, one of the guides sheepishly took some to cover a blister and I used some to repair a rip in my pants. On the second day, we met a hiker from another group whose boots had fallen apart. I traded my duct tape (to keep the boots together) for extra coffee that I eventually traded for peanut M&Ms. Duct tape is a must! :)

getmoreinfo on April 30, 2012:

I am always learning new things by reading about your hiking experiences, it is funny how people think they can carry so much stuff, I guess it is one of those "live and learn" type lessons.

anonymous on April 30, 2012:

Sounds to me it is best to used Your Advise, besides it makes Common Sense to me and I am just a Beginner! ;)

AngryBaker on April 29, 2012:

wow... great info... the Appalachian Trail has fascinated me for years... one day I'll get there.

grannysage on April 29, 2012:

I'm so impressed. If I ever were to go backpacking, which is not an option at this time of my life, I would definitely take your advice, all of it. You definitely know your stuff and make it sound fun too. Even if the sleeping bags look like coffins, lol.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on April 29, 2012:

Nope, but I regret a pillow almost every single time.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on April 28, 2012:

I've never been backpacking, so I haven't had to face this. It's still good to know, though, just in case.

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on April 28, 2012:

Excellent advice on things not to bring on the Appalachian Trail.

Blessed by a Squid Angel!:)

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on April 28, 2012:

Very good first-hand experience here. I didn't know synthetic clothing could be better. I prefer cotton but that makes sense.

Lauriej1 on April 28, 2012:

Wow! Great lens!

Paul from Liverpool, England on April 28, 2012:

Readable and authoritative - a rare combination. Blessed for the quality of information.

AustriaChick on April 27, 2012:

Loved your lens. Learned things I had never considered before! Thanks for sharing

Fran Tollett on April 27, 2012:

Very interesting lens. I learned a lot about taking a long backpacking trip. Great job!

Cinnamonbite on April 27, 2012:

Actually, you helped me here with some packing. I'm gearing up for a trip across the US, stopping for a day at the Grand Canyon. I was planning on wearing jeans, but maybe I should rethink that. You're right. I have pictures of me in the 70s hiking it in jeans (and I posted them on my lens too! LOL)! They don't breathe, they don't keep me warm either. Maybe something else is a better way to go. My biggest problem is that we've had temps in the 80s and 90s for months and y'all are still down in the 50s and 30s. Looks like a freezing cold temp in the 60s and low 70s is the best I'm going to get the whole time I'm away and that means I have to pack a lot of layers and a heavy coat. Maybe even a hat.

Fcuk Hub on April 27, 2012:

Yes I always forget something at home :)

MacPharlain on April 26, 2012:

Congrats on another great resource for hiking the Appalachian Trail!

NC Shepherd on April 26, 2012:

Well, I might have been better off without my partner on my second hike. Oh, you mean gear? I'm pleased to say that I had my pack just right on the AT. Didn't have to jettison anything or add anything. I did exchange a couple things at various points (cold weather gear, different sleeping pad), but overall I had it planned pretty good.