Refining gear with every hike and eliminating non-essential items and making trade-offs allowed me to get my backpack down to a very respectable 22.75 pounds, before food and water, and still have everything I needed to enjoy a long (300 mile or more) trek and survive a 3-day bout with unexpected severe cold weather. Here's how.

ElIMINATED:

Stove, fuel, cookware and related accessories. This saved about 7 pounds. I carried food that needed no cooking. See my AT No-Cook Menu below. This was a tough trade-off but paid off in big weight savings.

Water Filter. In place of a 2+ pound water filter I used the Polar Pure Iodine crystal system weighing in at 4 ounces. It worked just fine.

Flashlight. In place of my trusty 6-ounce (with extra batteries) Mini Maglight I carried a LED Microlight weighing less than onehalf ounce. Four AA batteries would provide 9 to 10 hrs of light in the Mini Maglight. The LED light burned brightly, providing all the light I needed for over 40 hrs with its original two lithium cell batteries. Every single ounce counts.

OTHER SAVINGS:

Backpack: I chose the lightest pack I could find that had the capacity, ruggedness, utility, fit and comfort I needed. Camp Trails Shasta 65 ***** served me well on 600 miles of the AT, is still as good as new, and weighed just under 4 pounds. I grew to love its internal frame, great fit and adjustability, simplicity, and capacity (4385 to 4956) cu in. This is my 4th and best pack so far.

*Frequent Mail Drops kept my food, consumables and accessory weight down. My other proven weight savings (see AT Basic Gear List for laundry and hygeine) such as the small containers of soap and hygiene and trail laundry supplies, re-supplied every 4 to 8 days, served me well. (Use clear 35mm film canisters with tight lids - free at film developers)

Minimal Clothing (see list), meant frequent trail laundry or smelling like road kill. Pants with zip-off legs and roomy pockets are great. Nylon or polyester clothes DRY QUICK and are easy to wash on the trail. Carry less - wash it often.

*Maps, guides, journal notes - I copied trail guide sections I needed, used margins and backs for journal notes. Carry only current sections and maps, mail others back as used and get new mailed to you as needed.

Adaptability of gear to multiple purposes helps save weight too. My compass was also my shaving mirror and emergency signaling device. One 2-liter lightweight aluminum pot served as washbasin, cook pot and emergency water purifier (boiling water) if necessary. In the pack, it was used as a catch-all for containing and organizing small items that would otherwise get lost. Space blanket served as ground cloth.

Lightweight mummy bag would not keep me warm below its 35 degreeF rating. But with a light fleece liner (doubles as a shawl and warm-night blanket) its cozy to about 25 degreesF and covered with a tent (my bivy) or space blanket it was cozy into the teens.

THE ESSENTIAL MINIMALIST LIST:

This list is essentially the same as my Gear List, minus the things eliminated (above) but with a few different items which will appear first and be described in detail. Other descriptions and ratings from my AT Basic Gear List (which see) remain the same. Weights given here are guidelines for your gear selection.

Backpack - 3 lbs14oz.

  Camp Trails Shasta - see above (For External Frame enthusiasts, I recommend the Kelty Trekker - adequate room, good construction and adjustability, only 1 pound heavier.)

Trekking Poles - 19 oz /pair

 

Leki Superlight Maliku PA Titanium (not included in pack weight) I hiked most of my hikes without these and about 600 miles with them. These poles are indispensable. I credit them and a long-term regimen of glucosamine sulfate as putting an end to my terrible knee problems. I won't hike without them.
Polar Pure - 4 oz - Iodine crystal purification system - see above.
Flashlight - > half oz - Microlight LED - see above

Tent - 2 lbs 13 oz (sub aluminum stakes for steel)

  (Tent optional but strongly recommended - see above)

Sleeping Bag - 2 lbs 6 oz. See above
Sleeping Bag Liner -14.5 oz - see above
Sleeping Pad - 14 oz Ridgerest closed cell foam

Clothes - wear - see above

  Boots (midweight leather 6" about 3.5 lb), 1 pr briefs, 1 zip-off legs convertible pants(11.5 oz), 1 poly T-shirt, 1 long sleeve brushed nylon shirt (8 oz), 1 leather belt, 1 poly wicking sox, 1 pr thorlo hiking sox. (not included in pack weight) . Shirt and pants Brushed Sportif nylon - underwear polyester. - quick dry, wind resistant.)

Clothes - packed

  1 converta pants, 1 ls nylon shirt, 1 warm ls shirt (14oz, wool or fleece), 1 pr briefs, 1 poly T-shirt, 2 pr poly wick sox, 2 pr Thorlo Hiking sox, 1 wool knit watch cap, 1 lightwt ball cap, 1 pr sneakers (1.5 lbs, sent home way through last hike - dry, not needed.), 1 fleece jacket. Clothes packed - about 6.5 lb.
Rain/wind jacket - 14 oz - Campmor Backpacker II
Pack Cover - 6.5 oz
Water Bottle - 4oz Nalgene 1 qt. Indestructable.
Reserve water bottle - 3.5 oz - 2 liter Hoser

First Aid Kit - 9.5oz total (2" and 3"roll gauze, Ace bandage, 15 bandaids, iodine, tweezers,

  Extractor, Neosporin, Ibuprofin, personal medicine, moleskin)
*Toilet Paper - 1.5 oz - about one half roll less core
Camp Towel and washcloth - 2oz
*Maps and trail guide. See above
Drinking/measuring plastic cup - 1.5 oz - 12 oz capacity
Tablespoon - 1 oz
Aluminum Pot - 4 oz - 2 liter, multi-purpose
Bug Repellant - 1.5 oz DEET (I very seldom use)
50 feet 1/8 " dia nylon cord - 3 oz
Space Blanket - 2 oz
Sunglasses - (mine were Rx - also backup glasses.)
Safety pins
2 Fire starter sticks - 2 oz
Extra pen, waterproof matches.
Mini radio - 2 oz - (Aiwa)
*Food - see NO-COOK AT MENU - pack in a separate waterproof nylon sack you can hang.
*Vitamins
*Sunscreen - 1 oz
*Soap - 1 oz
*Dish detergent - 1 oz
*Sno-Proof boot dressing - 1 oz
*Shampoo - 1 oz
*Toothpaste - 1.25oz (buy sample size or get small tubes from dentist)
Toothbrush - (yes, I shortened the handle)
*Ziploc Bags - 2-gal, 1-gal, 2-1 Qt.
*Trash bags - tall kitchen - keep gear dry- as needed plus spares.

Optional Items:

*Disposable razor
Gloves, fleece - 2.5 oz
Baby powder, talc - 1.5 oz
Comb
Camera
*Film
*Contact lens(es), solutions

 

* Denotes mail ahead resupply item - carry only what you need - send more as you need it. PLAN AHEAD - the key to a light pack.

NO-COOK AT MENU

Before you gag at the thought of not cooking up tasty delights on the trail, consider this METHOD: Examine your route, pack, carry and eat only when you cannot get meals in town. If you go through a town, eat what appeals to you (or is available) and get two or three meals (burgers, subs-hoagies, sandwiches) to go. This will give you variety without loading down your pack. Use the AT Data book and similar guides to help you PLAN these culinary delights and don't carry food you won't need. You'll spend less time cooking and cleaning up and have a lighter pack.

What you do buy to carry must be CALORIE DENSE and require NO COOKING. You will want the most calories and the least weight per food item with few exceptions. Example: Nuts and Chocolate bars have high calorie to weight ratios, bread and jelly, fruit, veggies are low.

Here's a guide of what I eat when not eating "off trail" food:

BREAKFAST 650 to 800 Cal.
1 Granola bar - fudge chocolate chip or coconut macaroon.
1 Frosted Pop tart
1 Balance or Iron Man power bar - high protein nutrition bar.
Vitamins (al least 1 multi-V and Glucosamine Sulfate)
During day - LUNCH - eat every 2 hrs or so - not one meal - 800-1100 Cal
1 Granola bar - fudge chocolate chip or coconut macaroon.
1 cup GORP - Trail Mix - (2 parts granola, 1 part raisins, 1 part cashews)
1 candy bar -Hershey , Snickers, Babe Ruth or your favorite
Dinner MEAL anything leftover from breakfast or lunch plus 1100-1300 Cal
2 oz Mixed Nuts or walnuts
2 oz of cookies (homemade choc chip or oatmeal raisin, etc.)
1 Oatmeal Cream pie (Lil Deb) or fudge brownie or similar.
Treat (1 oz M&Ms or black jelly beans or similar)

Daily total weight of food should be 16 to 19 oz MAX

I carried 1 extra days food at all times - just in case.

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Last Updated 7/05/01