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Appalachian Trail (& Te Araroa) post hike gear review


Hello, today I’m going to make a review of the gear I used on my 2017 AT thru-hike Most of the gear I also used on my 2015/2016 Te Araroa thru-hike in New Zealand, so I will talk about that too Lets start with the big three, thing that are usually the heaviest My backpack is ZPacks Arc Blast, 2014 edition when I was planning Te Araroa It still works, I hiked with it around 7000 km (4300 miles) It didn’t hold up very well in New Zealand, I had holes and rips in it after two months on the trail Cuben fiber (now Dyneema Composite) is a laminate so it likes to delaminate… You can see there threads of dyneema hanging loose I send it back to ZPacks for repairing and got it back with a new layer of cuben fiber sticked in the inside of the pack It was almost like new so I took it again on my AT thru-hike It’s my favourite backpack Unfortunetely they don’t make it like this anymore Now the strays are not carbon fiber and they tend to stick out The hipbelt is diffrent – now it’s a full one, I had it in pieces Shoulder straps are not made with cuben fiber They are now made with this mesh (I also had them replaced), I have to say I liked cuben fiber more Next thing is my tent This is Mountain Laurel Designs SoloMid XL A pyramid tent set up with one hiking pole It’s double wall, there is a separate inner netting which was very useful (in shelters against mosquitoes) I also had it on Te Araroa, I got a hole in the floor, patched it and it’s fine since then On the AT a mouse chewed through the netting so there is a hole there I made a new stuff sack for it, it’s lighter then the one that it came with Now I think there is no need for any stuff sacks Next are the tent pegs, taken from a Hilleberg tent that I also have Aluminum V pegs, used on both thru-hikes, they are in excellent condition, they have never bent I hate these kind of tiny titanium shepherd hooks, they don’t stay in the ground I use a piece of polycryo as a groundsheet, also in the shelters It weight 30 grams (1 ounce), so it’s pretty light It also survived both thru-hikes My mattress is the NeoAir XLite Women’s I also replaced the stuff sack with a lighter one There is also a pillow, my luxury item I couldn’t leave it at home… 馃檪 They don’t make it anymore, it’s a Thermarest NeoAir Seat This mattress is a veteran, I’ve had it since 2013 This is the Women’s version, 168 cm, I’m 160 so it’s perfect I punctured it in New Zealand But I patched it and it’s fine It’s really dirty, especially inside there is a huge collony of mould It probably makes my mattress heavier… (356 g) The last of the big three is my sleeping bag A really important piece of kit I put a lot of effort into finding the right one There are two sleeping bags becouse I had a diffrent one for the beginning of AT It was pretty cold, it was snowing in April so I was glad I had it It’s a custom bag There is 600 grams of goose down 850 fill (950 american norm I think) It’s made by polish company Roberts Box wall construction There is a short double zipper, with insulation in between the two zippers There is also attachment for the mattress so I can turn inside the bag and not with it This way the loft stays as it should be and that’s why it’s warmer I also took my down balaclava I didn’t really need it, it wasn’t that cold, so I send it back later When it got warmer in May I switched for a summer bag It’s also a custom bag with a similar construction It’s wider and more comfortable Box wall construcion, 300 grams of down, mattress attachment, no hood off course The kitchen… Sure you can go cold soaking, many people do that I don’t, I like to have a warm meal and evening tea I was using MSR Micro Rocket gas stove I’ve been using it for a couple years and this was the last It broke right after I came home from USA The thread was smoothed, lost I liked it though, it was fast Only this wind clip broke off and even after repairing broke off again I don’t use the storage box, which is heavy, I have a piece of bubble wrap instead Mini Bic Chinese titanium spoon A spoon, not a spork, those are useless You can’t scratch your food from the pot with fork No need for a long handle, no need to dig anything My pot is 900 ml Evernew titanium pot It keeps the contents warm for a long time (unlike aluminum) I keep the lid, they are 100 g with the pot I make my tea in a Nalgene bottle, 0,7 liters, its a OTF with a lid replaced for a classic one (OTF leaks) Sometimes I take it inside my sleeping bag filled with hot water There is no mould becouse boiling water kills everything Aside from Nalgene I had some plastic water bottles I took a milk bottle from Poland 馃檪 Later I was usually looking for new bottles in the trash I never buy water so I don’t buy bottles Smartwater bottles are most popular, they are narrower and stiffer but anything will work A little swiss knife, Victorinox Classic is all you need There is a knife, scissors, file with a screw driver, tweezers (perfect for ticks) and tooth pic A head lamp, sooner or later you’ll need it for night hiking I was night hiking quite a lot I was always late out of towns You don’t need anything really strong if the trail is visible A small head lamp like this Petzl e+lite is enough It’s an old version (better – works really long) 29 lumens at it’s best, usually more like 5 There is a red light for shelter use Other electronics: I have a Sony RX100 camera, I’m filming with it now I bought it after I crashed my Nikon Coolpix on a rock in New Jersey I thought I’d be keeping it in a ZPacks zip bag But I used only a zip lock bag My phone, Sony Xperia XA Dual, din’t really use it, only for wifi All the new phones are heavier and heavier… This one is almost 150 g I had two chargers becouse one didn’t work with my power bank My power bank is a simple chinese Miller 102 It works with one battery at a time and I can carry as many as I need (usually 2) I have 3 USB cables, trying to charge averything and get out of town as quickly as possible I have a stick pic, should use it more often All of my electronic go into ZPacks zip bag Headphones, pendrive, SC cards adapter, cleaning cloth for my glasses (hate contacts) I had to carry my passport My journal, I wrote in it every day; a pen and a pencil I had a ZPacks wallet And off course Awol’s AT Guide I started without it and bought it at Neel Gap I thought I’d cut it in four but decided to keep it in one piece for sentimental reasons Minimalist first aid kit Sewing kit, frequently needed Magnesium pills, band aids (never needed them), pills against diorhhea I have some toilet paper but I try not to use it Plastic bag for trash My cosmetics zip bag here, I have a linen towel, dries fast and doesn’t stink (made by Kwark, polish company) Comb, a pice of soap, some shampoo Prescribed antibiotcs that didn’t fit in the first aid I didn’t need it this time, but carried all the way remembering how I didn’t have it and New Zealand and needed it for bad throat infection Tooth brush (shortened), tooth paste concentrate (Ajona, not available in USA) Ear plugs, hair band, menstrual cup And hair clips – if you keep your hair up your neck won’t sweat This actually belongs to the kitchen… My food bag You should hang your food making it away from bears Most hikers use ZPacks food bags, mine is an old version from 2014, it’s narrower It was too small, I usualy had also a plastic bag Nobody could fit their food in a food bag when the hiker hunger hit… 馃檪 My bear bag rope was too thin, only 1 mm in diameter It was hard to lift the bag on it, it could also hurt the tree Definitely no need for 50 feet (15 metres), 40 would be enough (12 metres) An old cuben fiber rock bag You throw this bag with a rock inside over a branch and hang the food bag on it Time for clothing I’ll begin with shoes Always a bit of controversy here – trail runners I think most thru-hikers use Altras My favourites were Lone Peaks 2.5 In 2017 most hikers had 3.0 but I didn’t like them so I managed to get two pairs of 2.5 for AT They fit my feet better, are wider and breathe much better I used 2 pairs Thread is gone, there are huge holes in the upper After 2000 kilometers in the Adirondacks I even started to have a negative drop (heel lower than forefoot) so I had do put some toilet paper under the heel to make it zero drop again What’s so great about the Altras is zero drop and that they are naturally wide in the toe box They are just the most comfortable, the most natural, that’s why thru-hikers love them The insoles suffered the most You can see holes in them I have a strange way of walking and both insoled and midsoles in my shoes fold so there are wrinkles I use Dirty Girl Gaiters like almost everyone The velcro on the back works with the velcro on the Altras For socks I use liners – it helps preventing blisters I sometimes get hot spots from friction but that’s it The liners are Injinji toe socks Main socks are Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light There are so many holes in them! The clothing I was wearing was meant to work as layers First layer I was wearing during the day, every day Arcteryx Ossa shorts and Icebreaker Sphere t-shirt made from wool and celulose mix I had it also in New Zealand, it works great in hot and humid conditions I had other Arcteryx shorts in New Zealand that I liked more They had a softer rubber band, two pockets and were drying faster but these one were ok too I’ll show you my old t-shirt… More holes than fabric 馃檪 It’s my thophy! I used Icebreaked underwear made from the same fabric (2 pairs) Underwear is the only piece of kit that doubles I rinse them and hang on my pack to dry Panache Sports bra The hooks on the back went rusty and broke on the day I came home 馃檪 It happens becouse of sweat and salt Second layer is my sleeping clothes that I wear also when it’s colder I’ve got Power Dry base layer for testing from polish company Kwark It’s synthetic, quite thin but enough for AT Short zipper that I could zip up when it was colder and leave it open when it was hot I had separate sleeping socks Smartwool Hike Ultralight Mini In the cold evenings and mornings I was wearing my down jacket It’s also custom made by Roberts What is the difference between this jacket and most jackets on the market is that this one is not stitched through There are tiny H baffles There is 80 g of down, the manufacturer says it should have 100 g then it would look better But I’m happy with the performance It was raining a lot on both Appalachian Trail and Te Araroa I knew that I can be wet all day if I keep walking So I decided to buy a lightweight jacket that would not necessarily be completely waterproof But I was highly disappointed by Montane Minimus performance It was not waterproof at all, I was always wet after a few minutes of light rain It was more like a wind jacket then a hardshell I made a silnylon rain skirt I had a rain skirt made out of a trash bag in New Zealand There is a rubber waist band, a little opening in the back It was very comfortable and I only had to buy the fabric This silnylon is very thin, next time I’d probably use a tougher becouse the silicone layer wears off quickly Merino wool Arcteryx beanie, I like it a lot Haglofs visor was originaly a hat but I trimmed it It weighs only 10 grams and it’s my favourite hat The sun was very strong in New Zealand but also in the Appalachians I got burned at the beginning I was using my towel to cover my neck in NZ The one I had on the AT was narrower so I had to use a bandana that I found on the trail The trail will provide 馃檪 Got confused here… I’m just explaining the need to switch for summer gear 馃檪 Like I said on the AT I expected some winter conditions So I had other clothing first I made rain mittens from the same silnylon as rain skirt The design was not perfect but they worked well The seams are sealed They were not completely waterproof due to destrucion of the silicone layer I had thin Polartec Power Dry Gloves (Arcteryx Rivet AR) I had rain pants, ultralight at 78 grams Good for snow and cold rain The brand is As Tucas, spanish company They are made from cuben fiber and Event membrane I thought they will die soon but there are no holes so I’m hoping to use them in the future At the beginning I had Polartec Power Strech base layers instead of Power Dry The top also has a short zipper It’s Arcteryx base layer Rho AR I had a wind jacket for cold weather I got it from Roberts It’s made from ultralight Toray fabric Most fabrics that are use to make sleeping bags don’t breathe very well I had the same issue with this one But is was surprisingly waterproof, the DWR layer was great But then I didn’t really need two jackets so I send this one away In New Zealand I didn’t have any of those synthetic base layers I had a merino wool set from Bergans (norwegian company) It was a lightweight wool, 200g/m2 I liked it but I was always worried about getting it wet My jacket was not waterproof so I preferred something that dries quickly I also wanted a top with a zipper I had hiking poles with me, Leki Corklite I’ve been using them since NZ I had to replace the tips after 6000 km (3700 miles) The original ones were very durable I replaced them in Damascus (for free) But they broke again on the Long Trail So I think the replacement tips are not so durable I don’t have any tips now… But I think that Leki is the best choice especially if you are going to hike in USA Customer service is great there, not that great with Black Diamond (it’s the other way in Poland) Oh, and I had a rain cover for my pack Arc Blast was waterproof for some time But it started to leak a bit on Te Araroa I was going to ignore it but I found this rain cover in a hiker box at Neel Gap My pack is 60 liters and the rain cover fits perfectly There are a couple things that keep me from injuries There are Cho Pat knee braces I wear them every time I’m hiking, I have to wear them They are made from neoprene so they don’t dry very fast I have a golf ball for massaging (mostly for IT band) I’m always wearing bike gloves with my hiking poles They prevent me from getting blisters on my hands They work as sun gloves too I think that’s everything Thank you for watching I hope you learned something interesting Thanks and see you!

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4 thoughts on “Appalachian Trail (& Te Araroa) post hike gear review

  1. Hej, czesc. Dzieki za ciekawe filmy i wskazowki. Mozna wiedziec, jak zorganizowalas sobie wymiane sprzetu z zimowego na letni? Poprzez bounce boxes, czy mialas kogos na miejscu? Pozdrawiam, Sebastian.

  2. Praktyczny zestaw sobie skompletowa艂a艣. Widz臋, 偶e ultralekcy w臋drowcy d艂ugodystansowi z r贸偶nych kraj贸w w sumie u偶ywaj膮 podobnego sprz臋tu, r贸偶nice dotycz膮 g艂贸wnie producent贸w(mi艂o 偶e wspierasz te偶 naszych rodzimych – je艣li na to zas艂uguj膮 ;> ). Szkoda, 偶e za t膮 jako艣膰 trzeba tyle buli膰… a i tak zdarza, 偶e drogi sprz臋t zawodzi, jak ta kurtka Montane – sprawdzi艂am, 偶e ma wodoodporno艣膰 nominalnie na poziomie 20 000 mm, wi臋c powinna chyba wytrzyma膰 solidny deszcz :/

    Poza tym gratulacje za uko艅czenie Appalachian Trial! Widzia艂am Twoje filmiki ze szlaku i musia艂a艣 mie膰 niez艂e tempo, 偶eby zmie艣ci膰 si臋 w tych 4 miesi膮cach(dobrze m贸wi臋?) wizy i jeszcze zrobi艂a艣 ten dodatkowy kawa艂ek "po krzakach" 馃槈

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