This season, I hiked from ‘C to Sound’: the Canadian Border in New Hampshire to the Connecticut Sound connecting thru-hikes on the Cohos and New England Trails by linking footsteps along the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail. The first portion was hiked in hot weather (August 4th-18th) then finished late fall (October 10th-November 1st), since we took a break to go on a paddling trip. With any late (& colder) season hike, one of the bigger downsides is carrying more weight. My gear was relatively the same for both, with a few colder weather changes like sleeping bag and clothes. I tried out some awesome new gear thanks to the Thru-Hike Syndicate sponsors Vasque, Leki, Osprey, Nemo Equipment, Darn Tough and Otterbox.
*I have to note- When it comes to gear, I encourage every individual hiker to try out lots of things in a variety of settings. Everyone’s preferences are different and I can’t tell you what will work best for you. Get on the trail and learn how to strip down what you’re carrying to the essentials and feel what carrying comfort items is like. Some things are simply not worth the money. For that reason, I can only share how my gear has worked out on various hikes and not recommend one certain setup.
PACK: Osprey Lumina 45L (23oz)
I somehow never got on the Osprey train early on as a thru-hiker and now they’ve come out with their lightest pack ever. I had never used a pack with a full frame or suspension system prior to this hike, so it was quite an adjustment for my body. The greatest difference is that it carries heavier loads comfortably, but feels a bit awkward when the load gets under 10-15lbs (I'm usually 15-20 fully loaded). Osprey packed a lot of classic features into a pound and a half, but I felt like it was too many unnecessary bells and whistles. I’d love to see the next version of this pack without the brain, and in a smaller capacity size (45L was perfect for my longest food carry, but otherwise too big for summer ultralight backpacking). It's definitely a great pack for anyone getting into ultralight gear setups that still appreciates (or is used to) a backpack with suspension.
FANNY PACK: Thrupack Fastbum (2oz)
Also new to my setup this year, because the lack of hip belt pockets on the Lumina. Nice and light and keeps things accessible. For all the essentials I usually store close by: snacks, dog treats, chapstick, phone, headphones. It was fantastic! It could withstand some rain, but otherwise I kept things inside a ziplock and it dried out quickly. I loved having a fanny pack in town so I didn’t have to lug a ziplock full of stuff around as a wallet.
TENT: Nemo Hornet 2P (32oz)
The freestanding Hornet is my new favorite tent. It weighs in the same as my Tarptent, but it adds a bit of square footage and is a proper 2-man tent compared to my “1+ Protrail”. I’m loving it’s duel vestibules and easy setup. It’s insanely light for all the features you get and packs down easily. The Hornet’s durability during heavy rain and wind was incredible and it dries out quickly. It’s a perfect fit for me and Dingo, with large enough vestibules for Luna and both our packs. This will definitely be my go-to tent from now on.
GROUNDCLOTH: 3x6 ft sheet of Tyvec (3oz)
Tyvec seriously does it all: tent footprint, tarp to hide out from the weather and eat cheetos, cowboy camp under the stars. The weight:value ratio can’t be beat.
SIT PAD: 3 Folds Thermarest Z-lite (3oz)
On the short list of must-haves. Also doubles as Luna’s bed during warm weather.
COHOS TRAIL SLEEPING BAG: Enlightened Equipment Enigma 30 (13oz)
I really love having a custom quilt for warmer weather backpacking. Quilts are ultralight, mine weighs in at 13oz, and compact. It’s great having it built for my short height so I don’t carry around extra fabric and avoid drafts. The Enigma provides a foot box, but is zipperless, which allows me to keep it open during hot nights. For colder nights around freezing, a 30 degree was just enough to keep me toasty.
NEW ENGLAND TRAIL SLEEPING BAG: Nemo Jam 15 (47oz)
I switched to the Jam 15 in October once fall weather was in full swing. There is only ONE unfavorable thing with this bag: it’s nearly 3lbs heavy. Worth it? 100%. This is the comfiest bag I’ve ever slept in. I’m willing to carry the weight for all the features of the jam: it’s female designed down distribution, spoon shape side sleepers, Thermo Gills to let heat out on warmer nights, draft protection, stash pocket, DWR foot box, and 20-D ripstop nylon. I wish it came in a short size, since I do have about a foot of unused space at the bottom that I put clothes in to prevent drafts. Because of how well I sleep in this bag, I would never switch to a quilt for cold weather.
SLEEPING PAD: Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite (8oz)
The only piece of gear I’ve never swapped out because it’s hands down the best sleeping pad. The small size comes to about my calves, which I’ve never minded. It’s 2 inches of padding is amazingly comfortable, and despite the lightweight material, it took 4000+ miles before it popped a hole. It’s got a patch or two, but still I sleep like a baby.
COHOS TRAIL CARRIED CLOTHES- (20oz)
For summer, I go as light as possible on base layers, while still having full coverage in case there’s a cold spell. I upgraded to a thinner Techwick top to shave a few ounces this year. Both are polyester blends and incredibly light. I love these Patagonia bottoms because they’re surprisingly warm for how little they weigh, and don’t funk up easily.
DOWN JACKET- EMS Featherpack
I don’t think I wore it at all in August but since it’s my pillow I couldn’t leave it behind.
I usually carry two pairs of these: One to hike in and the other to keep clean and sleep in. I love Darn Tough socks and think they are most well-made sock on the planet.
NEW ENGLAND TRAIL (OCTOBER) CARRIED CLOTHES-32oz
Wool is hands-down the best option for cold weather, so I switched to these sleep clothes once the temps drop. It gives me laying possibilities during the day if needed, and allows me to sleep without a jacket or any additional layers at night.
DOWN JACKET- EMS Featherpack
Ofcourse, much needed in October.
RAIN JACKET- Marmot PreCip
Of the average, DWR standard rain jackets, I think the Marmot holds up a little longer. I use Nikwax in between trips to restore it’s water repellency. In a downpour or all-day rain, it won’t hold up. The upside? It’s light and more breathable than Gore-tex.
HAT & GLOVES- Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat & Leki Glove Liners
I carried 3 pairs on this stretch: 2 for hiking and 1 for sleeping.
*I was often wearing a combination of jackets, hat and gloves, so usually this weight was on my body & not in my pack.
CAMERA GETTUP (13oz)
CAMERA- Cannon Powershot G7
CASE- Osprey Ultralight Camera Case Small
PERSONALS BAG (9.8oz)
HEADLAMP- Petzel Actik (3oz)
My favorite headlamp ever. Better burn time, red light, blinking features and a bright 300 lumens. I like Petzel headlamps because they are easy to use and now are compatible with a core rechargeable battery, which is great for non thru-hiking activities.
KNIFE- Mostly for blocks of cheese, and anything else that comes up.
HEADPHONES & CHARGERS- Lifeline. Headphones are always in my hip belt pocket for a jam or podcast. Also nice to have for phone calls.
GEAR TENACIOUS TAPE- Things come up and this stuff is the best.
WALLET- Just the essentials: license, debit, and credit cards.
STAMPS & PEN- Saves a trip to the post office to mail postcards.
TOILETRIES BAG (5oz)
TOOTHBRUSH & TOOTHPASTE- My teeth are usually cleaner than my hands.
NEEDLE & THREAD- There’s always something needing to be stitched up.
FIRST AID- Benadryl for itchy bites, swollen feet or good nights sleep. Advil for various aches and pains. Pepto just in case. Probiotics for a healthy gut.
PLANTAIN SALVE- I make this salve in the springtime from harvested plantains. It’s an old remedy and super effective as a soother for bug bites, bee stings, rashes and dry skin. I’ll also use it to treat my feet at night if they get raw from hiking in wet weather.
TP & HAND SANITIZER- You know.
FILTRATION: Sawyer Squeeze (3oz)
The most reliable filtration method I’ve ever used. Unless temps are below freezing, this is an easy and effective filter. I’ve watched cows shit into the water I’m drinking and never gotten sick using this. I pair the filter with Smartwater bottles because they match the thread and last longer than the dirty bags that come with it.
FOOD BAG- Loksak Opsack 12x20
SPOON- Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon Long
TREKKING POLES: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady (14oz)
I LOVE my new Leki poles. They’re lightweight and break down into three parts, which allows me to also use them trail running. These carbon poles are strong for how light they are, and Leki’s warranty makes them my choice for thru-hikes. My only critique is that these poles at their lowest setting is barely the correct height for my 5ft frame, so I wish there was a little more adjustability so I could shorten them for steep climbs.
COHOS TRAIL WORN CLOTHES-
SHORTS- Patagonia Strider Shorts
SOCKS- Darn Tough Micro Crew
NEW ENGLAND TRAIL WORN CLOTHES-
SHORTS- EMS Core River Shorts
PANTS- EMS Compass Slim
TOP- EMS Techwick 1/4 Zip
TOTAL BASE WEIGHT:
Cohos Trail- (August) 7lbs 4oz
New England Trail- (October) 10lbs 3oz
*Tent weight was split between my partner and I, 1lb each.
Quality, durability and customer service are of high importance to me when it comes to choosing brands to use for endurance sports. This is what’s worked for me, but like most things, it might not be the best choice for everyone. I’d encourage everyone to try things out to see what suits their individual needs. Happy trails!