This is a complete Appalachian Trail Gear List for thru-hiking in 2023.
Below is a list of the best to take when thru-hiking or section hiking the Appalachian Trail. A Lightweight or Ultralight Appalachian Trail packing list will keep your base weight around 15lb or less.
This Appalachian Trail thru-hike gear list is my personal recommendation on what gear to take thru-hiking the AT. The biggest financial investment will be in the big four. The Backpack, Tent, Sleeping Bag, and Sleeping Mat.
A wise choice of these items will ensure an ultra-lightweight Appalachian Trail Packing List. These important considerations will lead to a comfortable nights sleep and less stress on the body. The Appalachian Trail is already a very tough hike, make it a little easier with good gear selection. What to pack on the Appalachian Trail is an important thing to invest both time and money.
I am currently updating my very worn-out gear – Check out My Ultralight thru-hiking Gear list which has a base weight of less then 11lb (5kg).
Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Gear List 2023
The Appalachian Trail is tougher than many other thru-hiking trails in many ways. Early and late-season snow and extreme cold is in complete contrast to the extreme heat and suffocating humidity in July for many sections of the AT.
Add to that the constant rain and the potential of a former hurricane moving over the trail to drop biblical levels of rain causing localized flooding.
Yes, the Appalachian Trail is tough on gear. This Appalachian Trail packing list should give the thru-hiker and section hiker the chance to take some of the best ultralight gear for the Appalachian Trail.
Then there are the long rocky sections of trail, overgrown sharp thickets, and exposed ridges which make for varied terrain that is tough on gear. Below are my selections of what to pack for the Appalachian Trail.
Best Tent for the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail will be wet and for the early starters and late finishers, it will be cold. There will be a few times when thru-hikers will be camping above the treeline so a full-on mountain tent is not necessary. The best tent for the Appalachian Trail will be lightweight, waterproof, and big enough.
Best 1-Person Tent for the Appalachian Trail
- Nemo Hornet 1P – 32oz (907 grams)
- Big Agnes Fly Creek HV1 Carbon 1P – 21oz (595grams)
- ZPacks Plexamid – 16.55oz (469 grams)
Best 2P Tent for the Appalachian Trail
- Nemo Hornet 2P – 35oz (1003 grams)
- Nemo Hornet Elite 2P – 2lb 1oz (933grams)
- ZPacks Duplex – 20.75oz (588 grams)
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultramid 2 -18.85oz (534g)
Best Backpack for the Appalachian Trail
The best backpack for the Appalachian Trail is ultra lightweight, comfortable and durable enough to withstand months of abuse. There will be lots of rain on the AT so ensure that everything is packed inside some sort of waterproof bag. I like to use a large compactor trash bag. Of all the backpacks on the list below, only the backpacks from Hyperlite Mountain Gear are waterproof.
What size Backpack for the Appalachian Trail
The best size backpack for the Appalachian Trail is around 50 liters. Some people think it is a great idea to take a 70 liter rucksack but there are ample places to resupply with food and water on the trail and a large backpack will encourage thru hikers to take too much gear. A 50 liter backpack for the Appalachian Trail is the best.
Best Ultralight Backpacks for on the Appalachian Trail
- ZPacks Arc Air – 50 Litres – 19.2oz / 544g
- Osprey Exos 48 – 48 litres – 36oz / 1030grams
- Osprey Exos 58 – 58 litres – 37oz /1060 grams
- Osprey Levity 45 – 45 litres – 28oz – 780 grams
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 2400 – 50 litre – 30oz / 852 grams
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400 – 50 litres – 30oz / 851 grams
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 – 55 litre – 32oz – 910grams
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 – 55 litre 32oz – 902grams
My personal favourite hiking backpack for the AT is the Osprey Exos 48 as I’ve used it on so many trails such as the Appalachian Trail and many others. But I prefer the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400 and the ZPacks Arc Air backpacks for the Appalachian Trail due to their lighter weight and the waterproof materials they use.
Best Sleeping Bag for the Appalachian Trail
The best sleeping bag for hiking the Appalachian Trail is a degree rated sleeping bag around 20F. For those starting earlier or finishing later you could get a sleeping bag rated to 10F. For some one section hiking in June or July a bag rated to 30F or 40F would be OK.
The months of June and July are awfully hot and humid. It would be great to have 2 sleeping bags. Take one for the colder months on the trail and then send it home for June and July and replace it with an ultralight summer sleeping bag. As this is not practical for most thru hikers, a 20F bag is best.
Here are a list of very highly recommended ultralight Sleeping Bags for the Appalachian Trail.
- Feathered Friends Hummingbird – 20F / -7C – 24oz – 680g
- Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20F / -7C – 29oz / 820g
- Rab Mythic 400 – 20F / -7C – 23oz / 660g
- Sea to Summit Spark 4 18F / -8C – 31oz / 880g
Best Ultralight Backpacking Quilts for the Appalachian Trail
Ultralight Sleeping Quilts are popular and a better lightweight alternative to a heavier sleeping bag. But they have limitations in really cold weather. In fact, I would only recommend an ultralight quilt in temperatures above 30F. Anything below that temperature and a sleeping bag is more efficient at keeping you warm. Here are a list of very highly recommended ultralight quilts for the Appalachian Trail.
- Feathered Friends Flicker UL 20 Quilt – 20F / -7 – 26oz / 748g
- Sea to Summit Ember EB3 Quilt – 14F – 25F / -10C/-4C – 25.5oz / 725g
- Enlightened Equipment Revelation – 20F / -7C – 22.5oz / 639g
- Katabatic Sawatch – 15F / -9C – 25.1oz / 712g
Best Sleeping Pad for the Appalachian Trail
Being comfortable at night leads to a good nights sleep. Nothing contributes more to a good nights sleep than a comfortable sleeping pad. It is preferable to use an ultralight air mattress but lightweight foam make a great option for the budget conscience sleeper who mostly sleeps on their back. Side sleeper will certainly need an air mat.
Here are a list of all the best ultralight Sleeping mats for the Appalachian Trail.
- Thermarest Uberlite – 8.8oz/250g
- Thermarest Neo Air Xlite – 12oz/340g
- Thermarest Z Lite Sol – 14oz/410g
- Nemo Tensor Insulated – 14oz/410g
- Thermarest Thermarest X-Therm – 15oz/430g
- Sea to Summit Ether lite Insulated – 15oz/425g
- Nemo Tensor Alpine – 16.75oz/475g
Best Footwear for the Appalachian Trail
Footwear is a personal choice and what works perfectly for one person will not work with another. Be wary of any hiking footwear gear review that suggests this show or that shoe is best. Everyones feet are different.
There are several things that are certain about footwear for hiking the Appalachian Trail. They should be lightweight, fit properly and not cause blisters or hotspots.
I’ve been a long time fan of both Vasque and Merrel shoes as they fit my foot perfectly. I also use Altra Trail running shoes as my lightweight shoe option. But all these options work best for people with wider feet.
For narrow feet the better options are Soloman and Brooks.
Here are my 3 recommendations for the best shoes and boots for the Appalachian Trail hikers with wide feet.
Here are my 3 recommendations for the best shoes and boots for the Appalachian Trail hikers with narrow to feet.
Socks for the Appalachian Trail
This is a no brainer. Darn Tough are the most popular for good reason. Sure you could try another brand and style but there is every chance that you will just return to Darn Tough. If you are starting very early in the season you may need a pair of Hiking Gaiters for protection from the cold and snow.
Best Clothing for the Appalachian Trail
The best clothing for thru hiking the Appalachian Trail is something that involves layers. There will be extreme heat and humidity in mid summer and extreme cold and early or late season snow. Layers include a good rain jacket, puffy down jacket, mid layer and baselayer.
Appalachian Trail hikers are especially prone to reeking of very bad body odour. This can be reduced by using Merino Wool Baselayer but they are not recommended for areas with high humidity. All layers including down jackets should have some degree of weather protection for the certain rain that will be encountered.
The Best Down Jackets for the AT
All the down jackets below have a degree of weather resistance that ensures they are the best down jackets for the AT.
- North Face Summit Hoody
- Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
- ARCTERYX – Cerium LT Hoody
- Feathered Friends EOS
Best Rain Gear for the Appalachian Trail
- Enlightened Equipment Visp – 5oz / 142 grams
- Outdoor Research Helium – 6.3oz / 178 grams
- ARCTERYX – Zeta SL – 10.9oz / 310 grams
- Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 – 12.5oz / 353 grams
- Patagonia Storm 10 – 8.3 oz / 397 grams
Don’ forget Rainpants such as the Outdoor Research Helium Pants. I used the Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Ultralight Hiking Umbrella. At only 8 ounces it is well worth the added weight.
Take a look at all my Appalachian Trail Gear in action on my YouTube Video of my Appalachian trail Thru hike, including the Umbrella.
Trekking Poles and Snow Gear for the Appalachian Trail
- Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles 8.3 oz (each)
- Petzl – TIKKA Headlamp 85 grams (Only carried later in the trail when I hope to make bigger miles, I’ll use my camera light at other times)
Cooking Gear for the AT
- Evernew Ti DX Stove Titanium
- Snow Peak Trek 900 Titanium Cookset with homemade aluminum foil lid
- Sea To Summit X-Mug
- Titanium Spoon
- Gerber STL 2.0 Knife
- Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System
- Steripen rechargable
- Katadyn Micropur Water Purifier Tabs
- Bic Lighter – A necessary item, obviously.
- 600ml Coke Bottle to store alcohol for stove
During the hot sections of the Appalachian Trail went ‘Stoveless’, using a small plastic peanut butter jar to rehydrate food.
This saved about 7oz of weight in the stove alone. The weight of the stove fuel that I didn’t need to carry added up to another 7oz.
Going stoveless on the Appalachian Trail and cold soaking food is not for everyone. I have tried it and don’t like it. Personally, there is something special about a warm meal after a hard days hiking. But give it a go and see if it works for you.
Electronics and Camera
- Apple iPhone XR unlocked + headphones + cable 149 grams.
- Sony RX100 + spare battery + case + spare memory card 473Grams.
- Anker 10000mAh Battery Bank plus wall charger- 155 grams (5.47 oz)
- Plastic zip lock bags
- Money / ID / Credit Cards
- Blister pads
- Strapping Tape
- Giardia anti-biotic
- Foot infection anti-biotic
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Safety Pin
- Deet insect repellent
- Lip Balm
- Toilet tissue
How heavy is your baseweight? What gear would you like to change?
Let me know in the comments section below.