The Wilderness Aristocrat talks Gear

It’s officially springtime. Officially too nice to be inside libraries and doing finals or writing blog posts. It is far better to be out hiking. Alas.

In the spirit of helping you on your way, I’ve decided to reveal the secrets of my gear list for long distance hiking on the Appalachian Trail (AT) (or a comparable hiking trail). The list is always being changed. I’ll be writing more on gear soon, but here’s something to get you started or help you daydream a bit.

Nate’s Revised AT Gear

Good for 30° F – 95° F

The Big 4

  • Pack: Golite Jam 50L frameless
  • Sleeping Bag: 35° F 800 fill mummy bag (Use mostly as quilt; with an ultralite dry-sack)
  • Shelter: Poncho Tarp, Tyvek Groundsheet, parachute chord, and stakes 1

OR Tarptent of some sort (Check out Six Moon Designs, for example)

  • Sleeping Pad: ¾ length Thermarest Guidelight sleeping pad (stick pack under feet)

Optional: Hiking poles (Depending on preference; I like one pole)


  • Stuff sack (Sil nylon; big enough for food and cook kit)
  • 0.75-ish liter titanium pot
  • Titanium spoon
  • Alcohol stove (DIY from cat food can) 2
  • Windscreen (DIY; heavy duty aluminum foil works well) 3
  • Mini Pepsi bottle with denatured alcohol fuel
  • Extra mini Bic lighter
  • One Gatorade bottle for drinking water (While hiking, I don’t normally carry more water than this)
  • Two, 2 liter Platypus collapsible canteens (For use in camp/extra hot days/areas/hydrating at night)
  • Dropper bottle with bleach for water purification

OR Sawyer mini filter 4


  • Single blade knife 5
  • Mini bic lighter 6
  • Two pairs running shorts with mesh liner (1 for hiking, 1 for sleeping)
  • Quick dry t-shirt
  • Fleece beanie
  • Trucker hat
  • Synthetic button up shirt
  • Super light fleece pullover top OR ultralight down sweater
  • Dry Ducks rain pants (for wind / cold / bugs) 7
  • Two pair Darntuff socks. 8 Rotate.
  • Trail runners: Cascadia by Brooks with Superfeet insoles.
  • Industrial strength garbage bag for waterproofing (or pack cover)
  • Mosquito headnet if bugs are bad
  • Bandana

Optional: Super light flip flops (One of the few luxuries I bring; plus it is important to let feet dry periodically during day and they’re nice in town)


  • AT thruhiker’s guide or maps (Use as journal in the margins; cut out sections you don’t need)
  • Mini compass


  1. Phone with extra battery plus earbud headphones (Doubles as a camera and music player; I really start to miss music after a few weeks)
  2. Headlamp (Tip: instead of extra batteries, put mini LED squeeze light on pocket zipper for backup)

First Aid and repair

  • Duct tape (Four feet; wrap around trekking pole)
  • Earplugs (for shelter)
  • Advil
  • Benadryll
  • Immodium
  • Thick needle
  • Dental floss (also for sewing gear in the field)
  • Tweezers
  • TP


  1. If you can rely on a shelter most nights
  2. You can find lots of plans online, like this. If you want to geek out with DIY stoves and accessories, check out Others may choose to use a lightweight canister stove and fuel.
  3. More ideas at
  4. A new favorite tool.
  5. This is always in my pocket
  6. This is always in my pocket
  7. It’s cheap and gets the job done!
  8. Best socks ever.
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