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Gear lists from past trips

Below are gear lists from many of my past trips.

They do NOT necessarily represent what I would take today if I were to repeat the trip. In fact, it’s likely I’d make quite a few changes, especially in the case of gear lists from long ago (e.g. the Appalachian Trail in 2002), before I had really figured out how to backpack. I am continually learning from my experiences and improving my kit accordingly. I also incorporate the newest breakthroughs in product materials and design.

These gear lists are NOT suitable for all applications, conditions, people, or backcountry skill levels. You are responsible for determining their appropriateness in these regards, and for ultimately deciding what to carry into the backcountry. Backpacking can be dangerous; please be sure that your skills and equipment are adequate for the conditions you will encounter.

I provide these lists because they can be useful guides in developing your own gear kit. Learn from them, but please do not blindly follow them.


20 Responses to Gear lists from past trips

  1. Richard January 8, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    I have your book and have read your gear lists but wanted to present this
    in hopes of getting a reply.
    I mainly section hike the Appalachian Trail (southern end) and since its winter
    was looking for a warmer mid layer.
    My search began at the Polartec website and ended with the ECWS Generation
    III jacket which can be found at some Army surplus stores for about $50.

    Go or no go?
    Thanks!

    • Andrew Skurka January 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      My typical layering system for that location and time of year would be:
      * Active layers: L/S merino shirt + convertible pants + boxer briefs
      * Mid-layers: fleece vest or jacket depending on forecast
      * Shells: waterproof-breathable jacket, and pants depending on the forecast
      * Insulation: synthetic or water-resistant down insulation parka, and pants if I was expecting to spend a lot of time in camp
      * Sleeping clothes: L/S polyester or merino top + bottoms

      The ECWS jacket would work fine. It’s a run-of-the-mill fleece fabric but it’ll work fine. A premium fleece will be about 2x the price but it won’t offer 2x the performance.

      • Richard January 9, 2013 at 11:28 am #

        Thanks Andrew, very much appreciated!

  2. Mark May 7, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    I was wondering if you could comment on what types of shoes you would take for a hike thru of the JMT? I noticed on your gear list for the Sierra High Route you recommended the La Sportiva Raceblade. What would you recommend from their current line up for this? I have been running in their Crossover GTX boots, find that they work well for 30 miles daily trips. Do you happen to guide hike thrus for the JMT? Thanks for all your efforts and information from your site, you have a great book by the way.

    Regards,

    Mark

    • Andrew Skurka May 7, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      Don’t misinterpret “what I used” versus “what I recommend” when viewing these old gear list. For example, I don’t think I’d recommend a single item that I used on the AT in 2002.

      For the JMT I would recommend a non-waterproof, moderately robust trail running shoe, such as the Salomon XA PRO 3D or La Sportiva Raptor, or similar. You don’t want waterproof shoes on the JMT — they will just trap moisture and heat in your shoes (possibly leading to blisters). Plus, they don’t work anyway. You also don’t want more minimal running shoes because they probably will not be durable enough for the length of the trip and they probably will not offer adequate underfoot protection.

      Re the question of whether I guide JMT trips, I have done one (while working for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides) but I don’t foresee doing it again, as I think there are much more rewarding and unique experiences to be had in the High Sierra. If, from the tops of some of the high passes, you look around and realize, “Damn, this place is big,” you’ll understand why I prefer to wander elsewhere besides the JMT.

  3. Eric Hansen September 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Read that you used Crispi “Mountain” 75 mm ski boots on your Yukon/Alaska trip and that they eventually soaked thru in spring conditions.

    Ball park figure on how long it took for them to “get wet”?

    Thanks, I’m eyeballing them for late winter/ spring ski trips on Lake Superior’s south shore — typically 3-5 nights out — and hoping the “soak thru” factor would be acceptable for those time frames or I could mitigate that with supergaiters covers the toe/bottom.

    • Andrew Skurka September 17, 2013 at 8:16 am #

      I’m trying to remember. They were in great shape through at least a month or for the first 700 miles, at which point I reached the Alaska Range, which entailed a lot of bushwhacking (which subjected the boots to a lot of abrasion) and river fords (which soaked the boots, regardless of their ability to shed moisture). I think they were still okay after 6 weeks, or about 1000 miles. By 1300 miles they were toast.

      I bet you could get at least this many miles out of them if you didn’t abuse them as much (e.g. bushwhacking) and if you treated them regularly (e.g. Sno Seal), which I did not.

  4. AndrewS. October 5, 2013 at 1:27 am #

    Mr. Skurka,

    I’ll be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail starting in Oregon-up through Washington in Winter.
    What gear would you recommend? I’m fairly new to light backpacking. I want to make sure I remain warm enough, yet not sweat like a maniac and end up freezing. I’ve been buying a few pieces of new gear every week. I went with the Golite Flash 50 that I got off EBay for $50. I’m going to try on boots at REI in Seattle on Tuesday and pick up some other gear.
    Thanks for any recommendations and help!
    Cheers from the San Juan Islands!

    • Andrew Skurka October 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

      I would recommend looking at my Alaska-Yukon Expedition gear list for relevant information.

      Given that you have even asked me what gear I would recommend for your trip, I’m skeptical that you have the experience and skills for it. Unlike 3-season trips, where it’s relatively easy to force your way through, properly equipped and skilled or not, winter trips require you to bring your A-game from the very start — it’s not a season during which to commit “rookie mistakes” because the conditions are such that you could easily get killed, like from exposure or an avalanche. I hope you know what you’re doing…

  5. AndrewS. October 9, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Thank you for your help. I’ll choose a different route and do the PCT next year. I just read about some hikers getting rescued, and the snow has started. I’ll be looking into other options. I’ve hiked before- Although I’m getting into more Ultralight backpacking rather than carrying unneccessary weight. That is why I asked for recommendations.
    Thanks again,
    Andrew S.

  6. Jake Hutchins January 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    Andrew, I was looking for your gear list for your Colorado trail thru hike from 2006, and the page was blank. I plan on doing this trip this year and I was curious to see what gear you were taking and what season(s) you were there for. If there is any other way to see the gear list, I would appreciate it. Thanks

    • Andrew Skurka January 9, 2014 at 7:33 am #

      One of my gear lists from 2006 is not going to be relevant in 2014. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and gear has changed, too. Unfortunately I don’t have a more modern list that is public, besides what’s in the Gear Guide.

  7. Dave F January 17, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Andrew,

    I read your book and appreciate how informative your website is. I’ve been backpacking off and on for about 20 years and while I generally have my stuff together, I’ve still managed to pick up a few tips from what you’ve shared (DeFeet wool duragloves, for example, are exactly what I’ve been looking for in a liner glove for some time. Never thought to check a bike shop).

    I have a question regarding trekking poles, which I’ve only recently started using. You frequently mention that you remove the baskets and I’m starting to find them annoying as well (snagging on brush, getting caught under rocks, etc.). My only concern with removing them is that I’ll end up damaging the grooves and then have a problem when I want to attach baskets for snow shoeing. What has your experience been with this? Is it a non-issue?

    Thanks.

    • Andrew Skurka January 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

      The groves do get damaged, but you’d be surprised how long it takes for the damage to be so bad that baskets will no longer stay in place.

      Another option is to have a pair of summer and winter tips that you swap out depending on the conditions. If you can’t remove the tips easily with just pliers, then try putting them in hot water first in order to soften them up.

  8. Dustin Palmer January 31, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    Hey Andrew, thanks for all the info. I adopted your cat food can stove and its worked great out here in Joshua Tree, problem is that I’m thru-hiking the PCT this year and because of this drought we are in its looking like alcohol stoves wont be allowed in a lot of places. Im on an extremely tight budget and was looking for a budget canister idea. I need a pot and stove combo. So far Jetboil has an $80 combo at R.E.I. You have any suggestions.
    P.S. I say I need a stove/pot combo because I don’t have a pot!!!

    • Andrew Skurka February 1, 2014 at 9:01 am #

      I don’t understand the banning of alcohol stoves. There is no evidence to support the argument that they are more dangerous than a stove requiring a pressurized bottle of white gas and a “fire ball” pre-heat method.

      If you’re on an extremely tight budget, maybe you should consider increasing your funds before your start date. Thru-hiking is pretty cheap, but it’s a shame when your experience is derailed by running out of money and/or purchasing inadequate equipment (that you will use EVERY DAY FOR 5 MONTHS!) that costs you later.

      There are good, cheap pots out there, like this one: http://www.traildesigns.com/cookware/open-country-3-cup-hard-anodized-pot

      And a low-end canister stove like the MSR Pocket Rocket will only set you back $40.

      • Dustin Palmer February 1, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

        The pcta website does explain why they won’t be allowed on their website. Thank you for the idea. I did go ahead and purchase the Jetboil zip today. My local shop had one so I was excited to spend money locally. Thanks again for all your advice, your book is the reason why I’m on a tight budget, I had to re-buy all my gear after reading it!!!

  9. Dustin Palmer February 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    The pcta website does explain why they won’t be allowed on their website. Thank you for the idea. I did go ahead and purchase the Jetboil zip today. My local shop had one so I was excited to spend money locally. Thanks again for all your advice, your book is the reason why I’m on a tight budget, I had to re-buy all my gear after reading it!!!

  10. Cason February 8, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    I am very much a newcomer to backpacking, but I’m interested in learning skills necessary to become an efficient hiker as well as compile a solid gear list for Texas (which is where I will be doing most of my hiking for now). I’m wondering about cuben fiber. I may have totally missed it, but I haven’t seen or heard you comment on it.

    I’ve noticed that several of the small cottage manufacturers are offering cuben fiber options on their tarps and bivys. Cuben fiber is lighter than silnylon, but is it “stupid light?” Do you have any field experience with cuben fiber? If so, what are your thoughts on cuben fiber tarps and bivys vs silnylon?

    • Andrew Skurka February 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      I have very limited personal experience with it, but from what I gather it’s the superior shelter fabric, outside of cost. Nothing is as waterproof or as light. For applications where abrasion is an issue, however, so packs and bivy bottoms, it does not fare well and I would not recommend it. Sure, it’s been done, but I think you really have to baby it, and it’s definitely not functional for any bushwhacking.

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