Appalachian Trail Backpacking Gear List. Appalachian Mountains have held host to one of America’s long distance hiking trails since 1937. Hikers and through hikers have marvelled at the amazing sights that this trail that passes through 14 states and dozens of federal, state and local national parks along route. Some differ on the exact length of the Appalachian Trail and the total length is about 2,180 miles (about 3508.37 Km).

Appalachian Trail Backpacking Gear List

There are many elements to consider when planning and preparing your Appalachian Trail gear list. What time of the year will you be starting on the Appalachian Trail, the direction you will be starting from and the length of time it will take you to complete.

Appalachian Trail Terrain:

The Appalachian Trail passes through numerous and varied terrain. There is stark wilderness, forest paths, the crossing of over 500 roads and precipitous scrambles.


You can get snow in Spring and Fall can be as hot as mid-summer. Conditions can be extremely varied and therefore make sure to plan you gear requirements carefully.

Appalachian Trail Route planning:

Most hikers travel form South to North, starting from Georgia’s Springer Mountain in February and mid April. Most wish to avoid the snow in the north in Spring, but to finish atop Mount Katahdin in Maine’s Baxter State Park is the ultimate motivator.

From the north to the south the trail starts with a gruelling ascent of Mount Katahdin where the trail can sometimes be closed due to heave snow sometime to late June. Insects and black flies and swollen creeks test your ability at the start and snow falls wait you at the southern Appalachians at the end.

Many break the trail up into sections and start in the middle, this approach gives you the benefit of a throng free and snow free start. The only downside to this is jumping section a number of times and misroute on the climax of Mount Katahdin.

Timing Considerations:

Amazingly some hardened athletes have been though the full Appalachian Trail in just 54 days, but the norm is around 6 months (with recommended planning and preparation time of 8 to 12 months).

It all depends on your daily milage and the length of your layovers as it could be 5 or 7 months. The weather my hinder your progress and slow you down, snow, blizzards, blisters can all have an impact on time.

Projection planning:

It is difficult to determine how long hiking thousands of miles travelling through challenging wilderness will take. You can check the ATC (trail conditions and closures page) before you head out and when you have access to the internet on the trail. Talking to other hikers along the way will help you a lot. Always make sure to check all sources before and during your hike.

There is no trail-use permit for the Appalachian Trail: Unlike the Pacific Crest Trail. This may change in the future du to the increasing popularity of the trail. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) offer help to hiker in choosing less busy times and help gather data for trail preservation.

You do need National Parks permits: Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park require a backcountry permits for Appalachian Trail thru hikers . The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) list fees have good links to the park permit pages.

Appalachian Trail Additional fees and reservations: Some of the national forests and state parks along the trail charge camping fees and require reservations. The ATC permits and regulations page (noted above) has the latest details.

You can find a number of maps and guide books to help you prepare for the Appalachian Trail. You can find a good selection here.

Its important to have a good map to help you on the Appalachian Trail and you will find the Appalachian Trail well marked along the trail. The trail will get altered on occasion so you will need to know how to recognise the distinctive white blaze that marks the trail route: a two by six vertical painted rectangle in a permanent place along the way. Two blazes are sometimes used where the Appalachian Trail has been changed. When the blazing is different from that of your map be guided by the blazes and rock cairns are used to make the route.

Trail budget: Its best to estimate your costs on the trail at one dollar per mile. A budget of $3000, will give you enough for layover days and food better food choices. You could estimate around a budget of $1000 – $2000 depending on what quality gear you already have.

Planning Food and resupply: This is extremely important and you will have to look at all of the details and do your search. There is a wealth of information online and in guidebooks where you can plan your strategies. The AT offers resupply options every 4 – 5 days but not to Maine’s 100 miles wilderness. There is lots of flexibility and you can make charges an modification along the trail.

Gear: It is always good to travel lightweight. Minimalists will tell you that you can always travel lighter. We recommend you research your gear and and decide on whats best for you.

What to know: Always test your gear before you take it onto the trail. The Appalachian Trail is not a place to test your new gear. Make sure to become familiar your gear long before you set out on the trail.

It is important to note: The Appalachian Trail has no deserts or 13,000 foot passes. You will still need to know your water sources for example, the Pennsylvania has long dry stretches and with possible server weather with snow in the southern Appalachians and northern New England. We also recommend you use walking poles for added stability along the way. Use some blaze orange in your gear to stand out as you will be traveling through areas for hunting ground.

Bears: There are no grizzlies, but on average you most likely will encounter black bears. Your best defence is to store your food aways correctly. Always use the bear lockers at the shelters along the trail and a canister where its use is mandated. If you do not wish to use a canister, then hang your food and anything fragrant well out of reach.

On the Appalachian Trail make sure to make noise to alert a bear of your presents and if you see one make sure to give it lots of room. Avoid eye contact and back away slowly. Never run or play dead even if a bear makes a bluff charge. It is not advisable to carry firearms, but take bear spray if you think you will need it.

Ticks and Lyme disease: Its rare but Lyme disease can end your through hike, so always make sure to cover up tick prone areas and use repellents that are effective against ticks. Always check yourself frequently and remove them in a proper way.

Included in this checklist are the Ten Essential Systems you should have on every backcountry trip: navigation; sun protection; insulation; illumination; first-aid supplies; fire starter; repair kit and tools; nutrition; hydration; emergency shelter.

  • Backpack (big enough for a bear canister, where mandated)
  • Pack rain-cover
  • Small daypack (optional)
  • Tent suited to terrain, with guy-lines and repair sleeve
  • Tent footprint (optional)
  • Sleeping bag suitable for wet weather and anticipated temperatures
  • Sleeping pad
  • Whistle (plus signalling mirror)
  • Multifunction watch with altimeter (altimeter feature is optional)
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Compass
  • GPS (optional)
  • Map(s) and guidebook(s) or route description
  • Trekking poles (optional, but recommended)
  • LED headlamp with extra batteries
  • Water filter and backup treatment system
  • Stove, fuel and repair kit
  • Matches or lighter
  • Cookset, dishes, bowls, utensils, cups (measuring/drinking)
  • Nylon cord (at least 60 feet)
  • Repair kits for mattress and other gear; duct tape strips
  • Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)
  • Wicking, quick-drying underwear
  • Wicking, quick-drying sports bra
  • Wicking, quick-drying long underwear
  • Wicking, quick-drying T-shirt and long-sleeve shirt
  • Quick-drying pants
  • Quick-drying shorts (optional)
  • Fleece jacket or vest, or insulated jacket or vest
  • Fleece pants (optional)
  • Waterproof/breathable rain jacket suitable for the conditions
  • Waterproof/breathable rain pants suitable for the conditions
  • Bandana or Buff
  • Sun-shielding hat or ball cap
  • Winter hat
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes suited to terrain
  • Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
  • Sandals (for fording streams and relaxing in camp) or water shoes
  • Swimwear (optional)
  • Blaze-orange hat or vest (in hunting season)
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottles or hydration reservoirs (3 liters total capacity)
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Toothbrush with cover and biodegradable toothpaste
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Women’s hygiene items
  • Personal wipes
  • Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Medications
  • Plastic zip-top bags
  • Insect repellent (effective against ticks)
  • Tick-removal tool (optional)
  • Bear spray (optional)
  • First-aid kit (see our First-Aid Checklist)
  • Quick-drying towel
  • Camera or video cam and extra memory cards (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Cell phone (don’t rely on service)
  • Satellite communicator / personal locator beacon (optional)
  • Field guide(s); star identifier (optional)
  • Journal, pen and e-reader or reading material (optional)
  • Fishing gear and permit(s) (optional)
  • Credit card; cash for layover days and camping fees
  • National park AT permits, plus camping reservations for your itinerary
  • Trip itinerary left with friend

6,000 calories per day in these categories:

  • Breakfast (oatmeal, granola, freeze-dried breakfast, etc.)
  • Lunch (bagels, summer sausage, cheese, smoked salmon, etc.)
  • Dinner (pasta, couscous, rice, freeze-dried dinner, etc.)
  • Snacks (cookies, GORP, jerky, candy bars, dried fruit, etc.)
  • Energy gels
  • Energy bars
  • Electrolyte replacement drink mix
  • Extra day’s supply of food (carried on each leg of the hike)
  • Stuff sack, dry bag or rodent-resistant food sack (for most of the trail)
  • Ultralight/mesh hiking shoes
  • Ankle-high gaiters
  • Lighter sleeping bag (30°–39°)
  • Ultralight rain jacket
  • Bear canister (for a short mandated stretch of the trail)
  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • Calf-high waterproof gaiters
  • Warmer sleeping bag (15°–29°)
  • Waterproof/breathable rain jacket and pants

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