Diana and I have started acquiring gear for our upcoming thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and I’d like to make some posts about what we’re bringing with us and why. This is not by any stretch a review of these products, just an explanation of what we’re looking for and why we bought them. Once we get an opportunity to put some miles on it, I’ll come back and talk about what works and what doesn’t work.
For me (and most backpackers), the name of the game is layers. I like having light baselayers that can be worn on their own when it’s hot, a warm jacket for when it gets cold, then a rain/windbreaker for when it gets wet. I prefer long sleeves when it’s hot as it doubles as sun protection, so it’s important for me to have a breathable material. I prefer Merino Wool over synthetic fibers for my baselayer, specifically I’ve had the best luck with Icebreaker’s gear. For the JMT I had a lightweight Icebreakers basic long sleeve shirt (link is approximate, I don’t think what I have is available anymore) that was one of my favorite things to wear and will be reusing it for the AT, it kept me both cool and warm when it was needed, dried quickly, and didn’t retain too much of an odor. In addition to that, I picked up another longsleeve Icebreaker shirt, this one is a little heavier at 200 thread count, and includes a hood. I’ve worn it out in warm weather and I had no issue staying cool with it.
On top of that, I also purchased a Mammut Guye Jacket, it weighs in at just over 13 ounces, but feels like it will keep me very warm. The reason I chose this was mainly for the design, I don’t like the large, bulky down jackets, and this has a synthetic fiber along the underarm, so it should help breath a little even when it gets hot.
I have not found a rainjacket that I’m happy with yet, but the nice thing about planning a year and a half in advance is that we have plenty of time to shop for the right price and items, so I’ll keep my eyes open for those.