How does one even begin to plan something like this?! What gear do I buy? How many pairs of shoes will I go through? Which backpack is going to fit me best? Do I get a 55L backpack or a 65L? Do I get a down sleeping bag or synthetic one? Should I even get a sleepingbag? Some people say they like the quilts better… and what the FUCK is a Wooby!? What kind of stove works best? How much food should I pack in my resupply boxes? Where do I even send my resupply boxes? Who the hell is going to mail them to me? Can I trust my parents to do it or should I just have Aliah’s mom mail both of ours? What if I get sick of the food I pack myself? I know there is some sort of calorie per weight formula for packing food…. just thinking about that feels overwhelming. How am I supposed to figure that one out? What about a bear canister, I know I need one but … I don’t feel like a silly plastic tub is going to stop a bear with giant claws. Should Aliah and I share a tent or each get our own? I do snore after all… What about feminine hygiene? Should I wear hiking underwear or go commando? Those undies sure do look like granny underpants — not super cute. What if I get my period on trail, that is going to be hellish. Pooping in the wilderness for 6 months should be interesting too. I know you’re supposed to pack out your TP but that’s fucking gross, I’m sure as hell not carrying around poopy toilet paper for 4-5 days until I find a trash can in town… I like our environment a whole lot but nope, I’m going to bury that shit-pun totally intended. How many pairs of socks am I going to go through? What about shoes? Do I really need to buy 4 pairs of hiking shoes and break them ALL in before I go? and WHY THE HELL are all female hiking shoes bright pink and purple? I don’t want purple fucking hiking boots.Can’t a girl just get some plain brown or tan shoes?! How much money do I need saved up before I go? How much does a thru-hike even cost? What if I don’t finish? Will I still go if Aliah can’t go for some reason? THERE IS SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT!!!!
These questions are only the beginning. Planning this trip and making sure that we are prepared with gear and food is overwhelming. EXTREMELY overwhelming. I have read over 100 blogs and everyone says something different. Everyone has a different opinion on what is best, so making a decision on gear that will essentially be my life for 4-6 months seems nearly impossible.
As far as gear goes, the “Big Three” are the most important – Pack, shelter and sleeping bag. After months and months of research, I finally made a decision on what to use. The backpack was an easy choice, I chose the Osprey Ariel 65 AG EX. I went to REI at the beginning of this summer with one of my outdoorsy friends and tried on several packs that I had been researching. After wearing the Osprey pack with about 30 lbs of weight packed in it around the store for about an hour, I knew it was the obvious choice. The pack fits like a glove-almost as if I was born to wear it. My tent on the other hand was NOT an easy choice.
The first tent I purchased ripped before I even slept in it…not cool. I spent nearly $500 on the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent, the tent I thought would be my shelter for several months and it ripped before even one use. I was less than stoked. Luckily, the lovely people at Big Agnes were able to help out and replace my tent in just a few short days before my next backpacking trip. They sent me the Seedhouse UL 2 tent which I really enjoyed. It had the same basic design with a little more durable material. I used it for my 3 day, 30 mile backpacking trip over the summer and it worked great. However, the design is not the best for the days I know we will be spending inside the tent avoiding weather and mosquitos. The Seedhouse UL2 has a triangle-shaped frame so, realistically, if Aliah and I wanted to both be sitting up in the tent, we would have to sit side by side. We won’t fit sitting across from one another. This shape would have been fine if we were both using our own tent like we’d originally planned, but since we changed our minds and decided to share this tent, it is no longer suitable. So, once again, I returned my tent and exchanged it for a new one. Third time’s the charm, right?! The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 tent is on it’s way.
The toughest decision, I think, was my sleeping bag. That’s basically my bed for like, 3 whole seasons! Can you even imagine giving up your warm cozy bed with 4 soft pillows, a down comforter, and clean sheets for a freaking SLEEPING BAG?! UGH. I’m really going to miss my bed. A lot of different blogs or gear lists I read talked about using a sleeping quilt vs. a sleeping bag. The thought of a sleeping quilt never really appealed to me…I’m not really sure why I didn’t like the idea of a quilt…maybe I didn’t think it would be warm enough? Maybe I liked the idea of a bag better to keep out the creepy crawly things? However, all the mummy bags and sleeping bags I tried out felt highly constricting. I move around a lot when I sleep and I typically sleep on my side which means I am in the fetal position quite often. In order to be comfortable while sleeping, my legs need some space to move. Which is why I have decided on an Elightened Equipment Convert 10 degree sleeping bag/quilt. This bag is great for hikers that want the versatility and freedom of a sleeping quilt while also having the option to convert the quilt into the familiarity of a bag for the colder nights.
So that’s it! The Big Three are picked out and ready to go and the rest seems to be falling in place. I’m headed to REI to pick out some trail running shoes tomorrow and next week Aliah and I can apply for our Thru-Hiker permit. After that I guess it’s just training and planning our resupply boxes. Step-by-step, one day at a time, we are getting closer and closer to our goal.
When I get closer to having a completed gear list I’ll be sure to share with you guys. That way all of you future hikers can see exactly what I’m bringing, where I got it and how much it costs. Happy Hiking!