Before we met, Jonathan and I each had our own backpacks, tents, sleeping bags and everything in between. We could have easily managed an Appalachian Trail thru-hike without buying a single thing. However, after doing a little (ok, a lot) of research, we determined that we could significantly reduce our pack weights by purchasing better, lighter gear* and sharing wherever possible. For instance, instead of bringing two down sleeping bags that each weigh 2 lbs, we got one sleeping quilt that weighs 2.5 lbs. This weight difference might seem negligible, but every ounce adds up.
*I realize this is not an option for everyone. The two years prior to our thru-hike honeymoon, Jonathan held two jobs and I took weekend work so we could afford the best products available.
Jonathan researched and decided on everything except my backpack and my clothes. As the gear came in, Jonathan weighed every single item and entered it into LighterPack. The night before we drove down to Georgia, we split gear up based on weight and size. Here is a little breakdown:
Big Three (Tent, Sleeping System, Backpacks)
Tent: Six Moon Designs Haven – Chosen because it is a double wall tent that uses hiking poles for set up. Also, the net tent and tarp can be used independently of each other, which means we set up the tarp first and use it as cover in the rain. It is surprisingly spacious and has kept us completely dry.
Sleeping Quilt: Enlightened Equipment Accomplice 950 Down – This was our biggest splurge. It is one of the few two person quilts on the market and has been extremely warm.
His Sleeping Pad: Jonathan started with the very popular Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite, but after it starting deflating on our third night, he switched to a Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol.
Her Sleeping Pad: I opted for a Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol and cut it down to fit in my backpack.
Her Sleeping Bag Liner: I only used this in the Smokies, but was extremely grateful for the added warmth.
His Backpack: Superior Wilderness Designs Long Haul 50L – Jonathan liked all of the optional customizations and ended up with a mesh front pocket and detachable hip pockets. He wanted to get a bag that was a little bigger than mine so that we could carry extra food if need be.
Her Backpack: I ordered a few backpacks to try, but ended up with the Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40L because I liked the back padding. I liked it even more when I realized I could replace the back pad with a cut down sleeping pad.
- We each packed two sets of hiking outfits and one sleeping outfit. Our warm layers included a fleece and a lightweight down jacket, I also brought a knit hat and gloves for extra warmth.
- We both chose Brooks Cascadia Trail Runners over hiking boots and packed five pairs of socks: two toe socks, two hiking socks, and one thick sleeping sock.
- I brought a rain jacket that I wear under my pack and Jonathan chose a poncho that goes over his.
- As the weather gets warmer, we will mail some of our warmer layers home in exchange for an extra pair of shorts.
- Some people cold soak all of their food, but we rely on hot meals to keep morale up.
- We cook in and eat out of one pot with two sporks. We also have a bowl that we use primarily as a wash basin.
- We share minimal toiletries: a bar of Doc Bronners soap, toothbrushes and tooth tablets.
- I also carry a bar of deodorant, a razor, floss and a DivaCup. I have an extremely light cycle that only lasts one or two days, so the menstrual cup works well for me.
- We keep our toiletries in the kitchen bag so it can all be hung up with the food at night.
- We have one trowel and it is used only to dig cat holes…it is not to touch feces under any circumstances.
- We have a small selection of pain killers, allergy relief and anti diarrhea medication.
- We also keep a tiny blister kit, but haven’t needed it since the first week. (Thank you toe socks)
- We use tape and gauze to make custom bandaids.
- We each brought a phone and I brought a Garmin Virb Ultra 30 to record our wanderings.
- We carry an Anker wall charger and an Anker power bank. We charge everything while we are in town and use the power bank on the trail.
- Our headlamps kept turning on during the day, so we starting removing the batteries when they are not in use.
- We keep our electronics and Sawyer Squeeze in the foot of our sleeping quilt at night to keep them from freezing.
- Jonathan was undecided on whether or not to use trekking poles, but decided to use them once he found out that they could double as tent poles. I tried poles when I trekked to Everest Base Camp and Mount Kilimanjaro, but do not like using them.
- We keep everything in dry sacks. Wet gear is the absolute worst.
Base weight implies everything we are carrying minus worn items (shoes, clothing, trekking poles, etc.) and consumables (food, water, fuel, etc.).
His Base Weight: 12.46 lbs
Her Base Weight: 12.6 lbs
Here is a breakdown of exactly what each of us packed. These lists reflect the items we ended up carrying after a week of working through kinks.