Appalachian Trail Gear List

Appalachian Trail Gear List

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This is a complete Appalachian Trail Gear List for thru-hiking in 2024.

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 2024

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

My personal favorite is the ZPacks Plexamid. Weighing in at only 16.55oz  (469 grams), it is a very lightweight tent that uses your Trekking Poles and is a great addition to the AT gear list.

Best 2P Tent for the Appalachian Trail

Read the review of the Best Lightweight Thru hiking Tents

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

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.

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.

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.

I love both the Thermarest Neo Air and Nemo Tensor Insulated. I have used them both on multiple hikes over the last several years. They are both highly recommended sleeping pads for the AT.

Read the review of the Best Lightweight Sleeping Pads

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.

Read the Review:
Best Hiking Socks

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.

Best Rain Gear for the Appalachian Trail

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

Cooking Gear for the AT

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

Other Gear

  • Plastic zip lock bags
  • Money / ID / Credit Cards
  • Blister pads
  • Strapping Tape
  • Giardia anti-biotic
  • Foot infection anti-biotic
  • Ibuprofen
  • tweezers
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Safety Pin
  • Needle
  • Deet insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • Toilet tissue

How heavy is your baseweight? What gear would you like to change?
Let me know in the comments section below.

Read all the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.
Appalachian Trail Gear List
Appalachian Trail Gear List
Appalachian Trail Gear List

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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20 thoughts on “Appalachian Trail Gear List”

    • You can take a look at for ideas about which battery pack is best for the Appalachian Trail. Any smart phone will be good and assist with navigation etc

  1. Sorry to bother you while you are on a hike, but just wanted to ask about your water purification as I am preparing for my first multi day hike in a long time! I see you have a sawyer and a steripen. I thought you only needed one and not he other? On the cape to cape they have water tanks, so they should be ok, but I’m not sure if i should invest in a filter or just do tablets for the 7 days on trail. Any tips appreciated, but no rush as i know you are in trail. X

    • I only use the steripen in hotels while cycle touring nowadays. The Sawyer is great but make sure it is inside your sleeping bag, of it freezes it will break and you won’t know till you get sick. Another option is bleach, just a couple of drops per litre (it’s the cheapest option) and tablets.
      I use the Sawyer and carry some tablets as an emergency backup, it works well for me. If you plan on more hikes in the future then Sawyer is great, stay away from Steripen, it’s over rated in my opinion.

      • Thanks for the reply Brad. There is so much advice and reviews out there, it’s easier just to ask someone who is living it and using the products at this very moment, cheers.

  2. Looks like you are a very light weight minimalist for sure and always finding ways to eliminate weight. Does your personal body weight change much from start to finish of an adventure?

    • My body weight will drop. On other trails I’ve lost as much as 15kg (35lb). I’m not too heavy fir the start of this hike so I’ll probably lose 10kg (22lb).

  3. Exciting, have fun !
    No need for bear spray here I guess (Deer spray ?)
    There is a GoPro on the picture. Are you carrying it plus the camera ?

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