The Appalachian Trail: Hike Your Own Hike

Honey Buns, Packing & Other Appalachian Trail Thru Hike TipsTenderfoot & Lays

More than 600 miles in on the Appalachian Trail, and Lays, Ron-Jon, Scuba, Gadget, and I usually just talk about food these days. “You can tell a good hiker by the amount of calories in her honey bun,” or so they say. People stare enviously over their lumpy oatmeal and crushed Pop Tarts as we eat one of our Mrs. Freshley’s Grand Iced Honey Buns. At 680 calories per sugar bomb, the Freshley’s are the pinnacle of a thru hiker’s eye for maximum calorie to weight ratio. Not to say that you need to slay almost 700 calories of carbs ad sugar every morning to hike the Appalachian Trail, but it’s more the principle of the thing. Becoming savvy to the thru-hiker lifestyle takes time, a lot of mistakes, and many good friends to show you the all-star level tricks and tips. Here are a few of them:

  • Doritos are a good way to add cheese and a crunch to trail burritos.
  • Body wash found in a hiker box can be used to wash clothes in a sink.
  • Pilfer a hand full of Q-Tips from said hiker box.
  • Make friends with locals. They will drive you places and make you feel like a rock star.
  • You can, and probably should hike out pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself.

These are the things you see thru hikers doing that weekend warriors are most likely not. Thru hikers also wear Crocs with socks and all their rain gear while doing laundry. And they buy $17 worth of candy from Dollar General to eat while waiting for said laundry. We live a silly life, but it’s the life we were dying to live.

A Pack Not Packed is a Pack Not Worth Packing

When you slide the removable aluminum stays out of a Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack you immediately lose a couple ounces, and you also gain a little more freedom and wiggle room within your pack. That’s what Lays did a couple days before arriving at town. Realizing that her pack was very well balanced and sat well against her back, the stays served no more purpose and were removed to be place in a Appalachian Trail hiker box for the next Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack user. I pack my bag differently and prefer to use the stays; the contents of my bag contour with their shape and help support my load even more. Read the rest of the post.

The Rebirth of American Manufacturing

Making American Manufacturing Great Again

Happy Earth Day!

“…We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last, an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.” — President Obama, January 2012 State of the Union

Earth Day: And The Rebirth of American Manufacturing I love walking into the shop every day, smelling the lacquer and hardwood of the 180-year-old floors of the Pepperell Mill and hearing the buzz of the sewing machines used by the few dozen stitchers and cutters who work for Hyperlite Mountain Gear. They sit in sun that pours through tall windows built before the days of consistent electricity—windows that used to offer the only light employees would have to work by.

When my brother, CFO Dan St. Pierre, and I started this company we decided to make all our packs, shelters and Stuff Sacks right here on Main Street, USA. As a young start-up, we didn’t really see any other way of running our business. And as we grew, we realized the numerous financial, environmental and social benefits to producing domestically.

We believe “Made in the USA” is a worthwhile endeavor that benefits our customers, our company, the community where we do business and, especially, our employees. Our employees come from all walks of life and are of all ages. Some are expert seamstresses who previously worked for the textile industry, while others are newly trained young folks just starting out their factory careers. All are highly skilled craftspeople who care deeply about the quality of their work. They’re from Maine, after all, a place known for its true grit and work ethic. Really, they are the reason we exist, and I appreciate them every day that I come to work. So, we offer them above-average wages and health benefits. Read the rest of the post.

Shifting Ice + Changing Tides: Kt Miller Fights Climate Change Thru Film

Ambassador Kt Miller discusses her new ski/climate change documentary, available for free release today (watch now!)

Kt Miller
Photo courtesy of Kt Miller.

For two years Kt Miller was a helicopter skiing guide helping clients use the fuel-hungry machines to reach the top of mountains. After learning more about climate change and seeing the effect it had on the mountains around her, she quickly lost her fondness for the business and the obscene amounts of fuel the helicopters consumed. Miller made a choice. She cut back on travel that hurt the environment and focused on sustainable living. She now resides in a single-room 14-by-12 foot cabin in Cooke City, Montana, population 76. She tries to travel using sustainable methods wherever possible and hasn’t been on a helicopter since she left her job. Now she focuses on making awesome ski videos while bringing the plight of the climate into the public’s eye.

On one of her more recent expedition, she and four women embarked on a human- and wind-powered trip to the western coast of Greenland to document the effect climate change has had on the ice sheet in the area. They also skied multiple first descents along the coast to help motivate snow sport enthusiasts to get up and do their part to conserve winter landscapes. Now that the trip has finished and her documentary about the adventure is being shown across the world, we took some time to ask Kt Miller a few questions about her new documentary, “Shifting Ice + Changing Tides,” and the experience she had during the filming process.
Click here for the full Q&A.

Ultralight Trail Kit Photo Contest

Enter our #UltralightTrailKit Photo Contest & Get The Chance To Win a Windrider, Echo II Shelter System, Stuff Sacks & more…

Boost your chances of winning by posting a photo on Instagram, our Facebook page or Twitter & hashtagging it with #UltralightTrailKit

Read the rules here.

America to America: Thru Hiking the Continent’s Longest “Trail”

Ambassador Bethany Hughes weighs in after 5 months of thru hiking the Americas

Bethany Hughes-2
Bethany “Fidgit” Hughes and Lauren “Neon” Reed thru hiking as far south as you can get in the Americas.

The scale at the international flight counter weighed each of our packs, full of everything except food and water, at 10 kilos (about 22 pounds). Planning to mostly thru hike the length of South America over the next three years, going lightweight is a must. Our route has taken us through National Parks and Preserves, and we have often marveled at the bulk of what many visitors carry. They shuffle and trudge, backs bowing under the weight of their packs as they frown at the dirt before their feet while giants such as the Torres del Paine, Fitz Roy and Cerro Norte tower above.

Bethany Hughes and Neon Reed are thru hiking from the south to the north tip of America.

Raised in a Scouting family, backpacking has long been a part of my narrative; lightweight, not so much. I’d never even heard of a baseweight until the night before starting the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010. Hanging my pack from a scale for the first time I thought 58 lbs. wasn’t bad. By the end of that trail my full weight was around 35 lbs.

But going lightweight has been natural and necessary development in the transition from backpacking to thru hiking. For Neon and myself, it has become essential, and being out of reach of easy replacement gear, durability is also an important component. It is a question of balance and simplicity, and it’s something we think about every day. We hike light for the practical reason of sustaining 20-40 kilometers a day over years to come.

Continue reading.

Paddlequest 1500: John Connelly’s 75-Day Canoe & Kayak Epic Adventure

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Partners With Maine-Based Whitewater Athlete 

John Connelly's 75-day trip will take him through two countries and four states and over 22 streams and 58 lakes.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway. It’s remote, but also well managed with established sites that make camping very comfortable. My favorite spot is just on the river, where the water pools up above some rapids. I paddle in, accompanied only by the white noise of the river and of the bird songs. Temps are warm, even as evening approaches, and only the slightest breeze rustles the white pines. I pull my canoe on the shoreline, unload my gear and settle in where I can watch the water. I’m tired after a long, hard day of paddling, but I feel invigorated. I watch the brook trout sip mayflies from the surface of the river, and out of nowhere comes an Osprey. Taking a trout totally unawares, she makes a splash in the river and flies off just as quickly as she arrived. The sun sets, the colors of the rainbow playing over the surface of the Allagash. A rare and precious moment, I feel fully connected to nature. –John Connelly

Hyperlite Mountain Gear recently partnered with former US Canoe & Kayak team member and Maine resident John Connelly to support his 1500-mile solo river/sea odyssey. Connelly has numerous first descents under his belt, along with decades of experience on whitewater. His 75-day trip will take him through two countries and four states and over 22 streams and 58 lakes. The journey will be the first to link four major waterways: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Saint John River, Bay of Fundy and Maine Island Trail. We are providing Connelly with a 5400 Porter Pack from our soon-to-be-released Expedition Series, along with an Echo II Shelter System and Stuff Sacks.

Read on.

Ultralight Daypack Makes Nat Geo “Gear Of The Year”

Daybreak Ultralight Daypack: National Geographic Adventure’s “Gear of the Year”

National Geographic Adventure includes Daybreak ultralight daypack in it's 2016 "Gear of the Year" list.

National Geographic Adventure magazine included our technologically-advanced Daybreak ultralight daypack in their 2016 “Gear of the Year” round up, saying: “Hyperlite Mountain Gear has built the Daybreak out of Dyneema cloth, which is known for its extremely light weight, durability, and natural water resistance. Although it holds 17 liters, enough for a full day on the trail, it weighs just 19 ounces. But it isn’t flimsy: The Dyneema has a structure that helps hold its shape, which lets it sit upright on its own and makes it easier to organize or find your gear. Like we said, sophisticated.” Read the full review.

Buy the Daybreak.
See more photos of the Daybreak in action.

From the AT to the PCT: The Journey to Ultralight

Fresh off the Appalachian Trail (AT), Grassroots Trail Ambassador Robin Standish Hits the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

Robin Standish hits the PCT fresh off the AT.“At the time I only had a vague notion of what ultralight meant, and that was based on a reddit post about using a Sawyer syringe as a bidet to cut out the weight of toilet paper.” -New PCT Trail Ambassador, Robin Standish

My parents raised me to have a fearless approach to life and unintentionally instilled a deep-rooted, unsatisfiable need for extremes and adventure. Thus, I spent my youth mushing dog teams, exploring the Alaskan wilderness, snowshoeing for miles while breaking trails after winter storms, and staying alive during months of 40-, 50-, and even 60-below temperatures. Consequentially, a youth of la vida loca set me up to have unrealistically high expectations for all my future endeavors. I now frolic through Death Valley for fun, hike for weeks in the Himalayas, explore malaria-filled, Southeast Asian jungles dotted with land mines, and, most recently, I walked from Maine to Georgia (the Appalachian Trail) because I had nothing else to do. And now I’m heading out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (aka the PCT).

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I DON’T PLAN, and slogging through the wealth of information via Whiteblaze.com, forums, books and blogs was more than enough to remind me of why. Despite being an outdoor enthusiast I felt dumb when it came to making choices. Silnylon vs Cuben Fiber? Aqua Mira vs Sawyer? Boots vs shoes? Tents vs hammock? And, of course, the endless arguments over the pounds, ounces and grams of every single item. At the time I only had a vague notion of what ultralight meant, and that was based on a reddit post about using a Sawyer syringe as a bidet to cut out the weight of toilet paper. I didn’t want this hike to be easy; I wanted to walk every step of the 2189.2 miles and feel like I earned it. I did just that, but I also earned countless infected blisters, missing toenails, a broken foot and the sour scent of ammonia seeping through my pores. I don’t know if by doing better research before the hike if I could have avoided any of that. I am a stubborn masochist that learns exceptionally through trial and a lot of error, and because of this, the first 700 miles hurt. Read the rest of the post.

Lightweight Appalachian Trail Gear: “Tenderfoot” Drops 9oz

It’s never too late to change your gear. Ambassador “Tenderfoot” alters his lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit one month in.

“Aches & Pains? I thought it was just walking on the AT?!”

Photos & text by Tyson “Tenderfoot” Perkins

AT 2016
Lays at the summit of Max Patch Mountain outside of Hot Springs, NC.

Over 100 miles in, and I already feel like I have 100 years worth of stories. We’ve met more than 100 people, and we have over 100 aches and pains. The trail has taught me more in the last 10 days than I’ve learned in all my research of it over the last couple years. Sure you can figure out who the first person to hike it was, or how many steps it takes to the end. However, it’s almost impossible to learn something like this so in depth without actually being there and living it. A couple days ago when we took our zero day (on my 24th birthday), I answered a few questions for my co-workers at Hyperlite Mountain Gear about my lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit, what I’ve changed, added and dropped. Here goes… Read More

Pack Pods: The Better Way to Optimize Your Backpack

Pack Pods

Understanding what you need is the secret to knowing what you don’t. So when Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre decided to embark on 200 miles of one of the most difficult thru hikes in the country—the 600-mile traverse of the Grand Canyon below the rim—he refined his organizational tools by designing stackable, zippered Pack Pods.

Because he needed to carry more food (and gear) than normal to go the eight or nine days from cache to cache, he had to optimize how he used the available volume of his pack. Fitted perfectly to the shape of his Southwest Pack, the new Pods left no space unfilled, no volume unused.

“I was looking for a better, more efficient way of storing ten days worth of food,” St. Pierre explains. “I love and have always used our CF8 and CF11 Stuff Sacks, but I found that putting ten days of food into them wasn’t working. When filled with my repackaged meals, they were like a bunch of footballs crammed in my pack. I was wasting 600 to 800 cubic inches. So it just made sense to design something that matched the internal shape of the pack. Once I figured that out, I was able to get what I put into a 55-liter pack into a 40-liter pack just by reorganizing how I laid out the food.” Read the rest of the post.

Married to The Trail, Part I: Moynihan Tries Calendar Triple Crown

Nearly Finished with the Appalachian Trail, Ambassador Mary “Speedstick” Moynihan Strives to be 1st Female to do the Calendar Triple Crown

CTC- Mary Moynihan
Mary Moynihan is carrying a 3400 Windrider on her Calendar Triple Crown attempt.

The American Long Distance Hiking Association has given 250 people the Triple Crown Award. These folks have hiked America’s three major long-distance trails—the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail—either in sections or doing each trail in one push. But only four people have actually achieved the Calendar Triple Crown (CTC), hiking all three of these trails in one year.

First done by Brian “Flyin’ Brian” Robinson in 2001 as a section hike, this super thru hike covers a total of 7,900 miles, has more than one million feet of vertical gain and travels through 22 states. To put this in perspective, one would have to hike about 21.64 miles each day for 365 days. Three other people have completed this feat: Matthew “Squeaky” Hazley was the first to do the trails back-to-back in 240 days; Justin “Trauma” Lichter did the Triple Crown plus another 2100 miles in 356 days; and most recently Cam “Swami” Honan hiked it in just 236 days (as part of his 545-day, 14,342-mile “12 Long Walks” challenge). New Hyperlite Mountain Gear Trail Ambassador Mary “Speedstick” Moynihan is currently on the way to becoming the fifth person to complete the Calendar Triple Crown, and the first woman.

Triple Crown of Hiking Map

Moynihan is three-quarters of the way done with her northbound journey on the Appalachian Trail. She left in January, hiking through the snow and in freezing cold temperatures for most of the first few months. “Hiking in the winter is complex!” she says. “At the end of February I was hiking in snow, and so started my mornings hiking with all my layers on.” She wore a hat, neck gaiter, down vest, down parka, fleece, base layers, gloves, and she’d even wear her rain jacket just for that extra warmth. “It’s all about layering and making sure you have the layers designed for whatever conditions you might come across. I literally got rid of five pounds of gear once winter was over!”

Read the rest of the article here.

Te Araroa: Ashley Hill Takes on New Zealand’s Thru Hike

Notoriously difficult, the Te Araroa’s terrain involves deep wilderness, wild and scenic beaches, volcanoes and cities. Ambassador Ashley Hill embraced it all.

Te Araroa - Ashley Hill

 

Thru hikers know the Appalachian Trail and they’ve probably heard of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT), but few can boast they’ve hiked New Zealand’s long trail. Relatively new, the Te Araroa is an 1864-mile trail running from Cape Reinga in the north of the country to Bluff in the very south. Opened late December 3, 2011 by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae, it’s less well-known hiking trail (or “tramping trail” if you are a Kiwi). It’s also long and difficult, typically taking hikers three to six months to complete. It involves startlingly different types of terrain; one day you might find yourself walking along a road and then, the next day find yourself deep in the wilderness.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador and happily obsessive thru hiker Ashley Hill recently completed the journey in three months and three days, saying it was one of her favorite trails ever. Read our Q&A with Hill. Post continues here…

Backcountry Recipes for Thru Hikers & Backpackers

Backcountry Recipes to Gain Weight on Grueling Thru Hikes or Backpack Trips

Sorting and packing a 9-day food cache. Photo by Chris Atwood.
Sorting and packing a 9-day food cache.

Text & photos by Chris Atwood.

Chris Atwood did a 57-day thru hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon with Ambassador Rich Rudow (Read “The Grandest Walk: A 700-Mile Thru Hike Below the Rim“). During the trip numerous adventurers accompanied them, including Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. The length and severity of the hike meant that the group had to eat a lot of calories to have the energy to continue hiking. But with proper planning, Atwood managed to gain around five pounds while still exerting himself to the limit every day and hiking a grand total of over 600 miles. In this post, he shares backcountry recipes he used as well as an example daily ration of food. 

Before the trip began, Rich Rudow jokingly said he wanted to be the first Grand Canyon thru hiker to gain weight. I thought it a lofty aspiration, considering the challenging food logistics of this fully self-supported trek. We all knew it would be tall order to fuel the two months of hard work required to walk from Lee’s to Pearce in one push. And although gaining weight was not my goal, staying completely full and charged, at all times, by nutritious and healthy food that I loved to eat was. And with an eye toward carrying the lightest load possible, I didn’t want any more food than would be necessary. My idea was ample daily eating with an extra ration or two to cover any delays due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Read More

Coming Soon… The Lightweight Ground Cloth

Ideal for the minimalist overnight adventurer.

Lightweight Ground Cloth

 

We built the ultimate, super lightweight Ground Cloth for minimalist overnight backpackers and thru hikers who like to sleep under the stars, but who still want foolproof protection for their gear from moisture, mud and dirt. Ideal for goal-oriented adventurers constantly on the move and in need of fast protection from inclement weather, it’s sizeable at 96” X 52” (8’ X 4’”) but weighs less than an iPhone. Pair it with our Flat Tarp, Echo II Tarp or UltaMids (if not using the respective inserts) for optimal ultralight multi-sport travel. Made of 100% waterproof Dyneema® Composite Fabric (formerly Cuben Fiber), it serves as an excellent waterproof barrier between you and the ground. Use the reinforced loops to stake out the lightweight Ground Cloth so the wind doesn’t blow it away.

Weight: 0.12 lbs | 3.4 oz. | 96g

Dimensions: 96” x 52” (244cm x 132cm)

Material: Spruce Green CF8 Dyneema® Composite Fabric (formerly Cuben Fiber)

  • * Reinforced CF11 Corners
  • * Corner and center tie-outs made with 1/2” lightweight binding

Repair a Pack: How To Patch Your Ultralight Gear

Chris Atwood On How to Patch Holes In Your Gear While On An Extreme Thru Hike

Chris-Atwood-in-the-Grandj.Photo-by-Mike-St.-Pierre
Chris Atwood admiring the view during the Grand Canyon thru hike. Photo by Mike St. Pierre

Text & photos by Chris Atwood

Editor’s note: Hyperlite Mountain Gear also sells Dyneema® Repair Kits (formerly Cuben Fiber Repair Kits) which we recommend for patching a hole in a Hyperlite Mountain Gear backpack or tarp/shelter. By using the Dyneema® tape, you maintain the strength of the pack because you are using the same lightweight, ripstop and waterproof fabric as the pack itself. To properly use one of these kits to repair a pack or shelter, follow the same instructions as below, but don’t complete the third step. The powerful adhesive on the back of the tape means that the Seam Grip is not necessary, saving you a step and a sticky mess. If you do not have a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Repair Kit, we recommend that you follow the steps outlined by Chris Atwood.

After 57 days in the Grand Canyon backcountry, my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 4400 still looks great. It saw the spectrum of conditions, literally every type of weather imaginable below the Canyon’s rim, yet never failed to protect my kit. It carried very well, proved elegantly functional with its minimalist design and came to Pearce Ferry in great structural condition.

However, the outback of Grand Canyon is tough on gear. Most routes, in addition to being choked with poking, clawing and slicing flora are themselves composed of carnivorous limestone, eager to nibble any exposed flesh or backpack side pocket that wanders into the kill zone. We sometimes willingly drag and scrape our packs along such routes, hauling precious drinking water from deep within slot canyons. With this type of abuse, a thru hiker is bound to get a few holes in her/his pack. Fortunately, repairs in the field can be easy if done right. Here’s how to repair a pack.  Read More

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Expands Team–Grabs Amy Kading From the Fashion World

Fresh off hiking 850 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, Amy Kading brings a wealth of merchandising experience to her new position as ecommerce and sales manager at Hyperlite Mountain Gear.

Amy Kading.
Amy Kading.

Though Amy Kading grew up in small town Texas, she dreamed big. In fact, by 6th grade she already knew she would attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

“I’ve always known what I wanted to do, and I’ve never hesitated,” she says. Kading was so motivated to dive into the world of fashion merchandising management that she graduated from high school a year early and went straight to the Big Apple. Not only did she attend school full time, but she also worked managing two high-end stores on the upper East Side, followed by an internship with Dolce & Gabbana.

“Who gives a 19-year-old the keys to a store on Madison Avenue!?” she asks with a laugh. But her dedication was obvious. She absorbed knowledge, learning from coworkers and professors who had climbed the chain in the retail industry. Read the rest of the article.

Baxter State Park Soon To Register A.T. Thru Hikers

An Increase in Number of Appalachian Trail Hikers Leads Baxter State Park To Implement Registration Cards. Plus, Other Things NOBO Hikers Should Know.

Katahdin-BorisAT-45-Katahdin-1
Photo by 2015 A.T. thru hiker Austin “Boris” Clay.

 

A fitting end to one of the world’s most famous trails, Katahdin (5,267 feet) is Maine’s highest mountain and the centerpiece of Baxter State Park (BSP). Steep, tall and surrounded by forests, it’s also an icon for tens of thousands of aspiring Appalachian Trail (A.T.) thru hikers. It’s the northern-most 14 miles of the A.T. When NOBO or section hikers enter the Park at Abol Bridge, they’ve got just nine miles to the Katahdin Stream Campground, where a special campsite—the Birches—is set aside for up to 12 long-distance hikers (which happens to be the same number of hikers allowed to summit Katahdin at one time, as a group).

However, because of movies like “A Walk in the Woods” and “Wild” as well as increasing numbers of well-known athletes hiking the A.T., the number of thru and section hikers is growing fast, and the impact on Katahdin, the Park and its other users is being impacted, sometimes negatively. According to Tenny Webster,a trail information specialist at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 2016 could be a banner year in terms of numbers of people summiting Katahdin.

“We’re waiting to see what happens this year,” Webster says. “We typically see about 10% growth in the number of thru and section hikers who summit Katahdin each year. But this year may be an anomaly. We’re potentially looking at even greater numbers.”

So what’s a State Park, that’s already very carefully managed for use, to do? For starters, they’ll begin implementing a registration system for thru hikers this year.  Read the rest of the post.

A Woman With a Tarp

Ambassador Ashley Hill braves the mosquitoes, embraces the Flat Tarp

Each month Hyperlite Mountain Gear will feature one of its ambassadors. This month we’re highlighting Ashley Hill (trail name, Bloody Mary). A thru-hiker, lover of life and avid user of the Flat Tarp, Hill recently finished hiking the Te Araroa. Stay tuned this month for a blog post about what it takes to hike New Zealand’s most famous trail, plus a feature Q&A with Hill. This article reprinted from Hill’s blog.

EDIT-Ashley-Hill_PNWT-DSC_2310

Text & photos by Ashley Hill

I remember it vividly, the moment I saw her, a solo female hiker named Mountain Spice. She was sheltered beneath a flat tarp at a mosquito infested lake on the PCT. I thought to myself, “Wow… I want to be like her one day. A woman with a tarp. She’s extreme. She’s bad ass. She’s doing it like one should.” How romantic, only using a small square piece of material for protection from the wilderness.

Now, I rarely sleep in a shelter, even when it rains. There’s nothing I love more than closing my eyes under the shooting stars, when you’re alone in the open… Vulnerable… Cowboy camping… Like a fresh little baby drinking it’s first breath of air. I know, it is more than necessary to have something to protect yourself from the elements. My little hypothermia scare taught me that. Even if I camp in a sleeping bag on the dirt, I’ve always carried my tent, just in case.

For my Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) trip, I decided to be “that women with a tarp.” Now, this hike is not comparable to the Pacific Crest Trail. I skirt a constant latitude similar to that of the Nordic climate, (at least it is in my mind): rain falls daily, if only for an hour or two, mosquitoes swarm in the millions, creek and river fords are a common occurrence, and I’m always on watch for the wild animals. Perhaps a tarp isn’t the ideal gear choice, but I don’t care, I want to be her, and after making it 400 plus miles, I think I can say that I am.

Ashley-Hill_PNWT

 

I’m using a 10 ounce 8.6′ x 8.6′ cuben fiber tarp for my shelter, crafted by my friends at Hyperlite Mountain Gear… and by golly, I love it. It takes time and experience to learn how to set up this kind of ultralight system, but once you’ve got it down, you’re gold. Tents might be easier to rig and protect you better from the bugs and rain, but when you wake up and start hiking, everyone is on the exact same page… The only difference is that I’m lighter and I’m cooler… I’m that bad ass women with a tarp.

EDIT-Ashley-Hill_PNWT-DSC_2861

Ultralight Gear for Appalachian Trail Hikers: 2-Person Planning & Prep

Exactly what you need & nothing more: ultralight gear for Appalachian Trail thru hikers

Ultralight gear for the Appalachian Trail. Everything Tenderfoot is bringing.

 

Text & illustrations by Tyson Perkins

Early summer 2014, my girlfriend, Kendra Ultralight gear for Appalachian Trail thru hikes.Jackson, and I took on our second 5000-footer together—Mount Katahdin. Soon after waking up the day of our ascent we met a 20-something New York City-based mountain guide, Peter. A veteran thru-hiker, he had a wealth of knowledge about backcountry travel and the Appalachian Trail. He taught us about shelters that set up with trekking poles instead of your common tent poles, trail names, “Trail Magic,” “Zero Days,” “Nero Days,” “Hiker Hobble” and cleaning yourself with baby wipes. We immediately got overly enamored and stoked on this magically ridiculous world and decided to hike the “AT.” Fast travel to the summer of 2015, and Kendra and I began taking on adventures such as the Mahoosuc Range between New Hampshire and Maine in a weekend and returning to work on Monday.

On our first forays into the wilderness, we took awkward thrift store backpacks and a beaten-down double sleeping bag. We cooked dinner on a heavy propane stove right near our Walmart dome tent. Needless to say we had a ton of fun using terrible gear, but knew there had to be better options out there. Through my job as a tent maker at Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I gleaned a ton of ultralight knowledge from the owner, Mike St. Pierre. The more I learned, the easier our trips became. And, more importantly, we enjoyed our backcountry adventures even more. And now’s the time. We’re taking all that we have learned since 2014 and heading out for our Appalachian Trail thru hike. In this blog post I detail our planning, preparation and gear.

Planning:

We really enjoyed planning the logistics of this trip, regularly geeking out over Excel spread sheets and line art graphs (Kendra developed the one published to the right) and the ultralight Appalachian Trail Gear we planned to take. We’ve meticulously categorized and sorted all our mail drop supplies along the AT, and we’ve mapped out our post office stops and planned out how we will meet up with Kendra’s parents in Shenandoah National Park. Everyone needs to take breaks, and we have come up with a plan to take some without compromising our March 4th to July 22nd timeline. If we stick to the plan, we’ll hike 16 miles a day on average. We’ve developed a “bank” system. Essentially, any miles we do over the 16-mile average we add to the bank, and once we have a days worth of miles in it, we can take a full day off. Also, we built in two full Zero Days. And, we planned our food and gear very carefully…

Shakedown:

Home-made dehydrated meals or Mountain House? Nalgene® or a SmartWater bottle? Eucalyptus or almond soap?!?! There are so many choices, some of which are easy to make, and some that seem like you are perpetually leaving something behind. Will I need a footprint for my shelter? Will down be a superior sleeping bag choice? These are things that we will not find out until we really take them out and put them to the test. Gear is really fun. Planning what to take was actually my favorite part of this whole endeavor.

Here is a quick breakdown of our ultralight gear for Appalachian Trail thru hikes: Check out the full list.

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