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  1. #21
    Registered User Studlintsean's Avatar
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    The big thing that jumped out to me (and others as noted) is your clothes. Here is what I would bring for a February start:

    Hiking
    -REI Sahara Pants Hiking
    - Mid Weight Base Layer
    - 100 weight Fleece
    - Darn Tough Socks
    - Wool Beannie
    - Glove liners (TNF) and Mitts (Borah Gear)
    - Rain Pants and Jacket - add/ remove as needed


    Camp Only
    - Heavy base layer top and bottom
    - Montbell Alpinelite Down jacket- Outdoor Research Down Beannie
    - Dry sleep socks
    - Crocs (these are heavenly when your shoes are wet in the winter)
    - Possibly a spare set of gloves but probably not.

  2. #22
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    Everyone is different but I pretty much guarantee you will ditch much of that list. If you start later in warmer weather you can save money and weight and you increase your chance of finishing significantly. Getting your first backpacking experience in winter conditions is not likely to be fun. Hell... I wouldn't enjoy starting in February and I have many thousands of hiking miles under my belt over thirty years.

    I'd also encourage you to leave the electronics at home. Believe it or not, backpacking is fun and life is still livable without your iPhone.

  3. #23
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevperro View Post

    I'd also encourage you to leave the electronics at home. Believe it or not, backpacking is fun and life is still livable without your iPhone.
    Blasphemy!

    My phone is my camera and emergency GPS. Its usually in my pocket, not my hands.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    Blasphemy!

    My phone is my camera and emergency GPS. Its usually in my pocket, not my hands.
    Well... I'm a hypocrite because I carry mine too nowadays but when I hiked the AT in the early 90s I didn't have one and I cannot think of a time when I would have needed it. Of course, I took no pictures the entire trip. The hiking pictures I have are not all that special to me but the people you meet on a thru-hike occupy a special place.

    So... pictures are a good reason to carry it but I'd encourage you to get real names of the people you meet along the trail and take pictures of people, not necessarily places. Twenty-five years later that is my only regret, that I don't have their real names so I can get in touch with them.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlight View Post

    If you're wedded to the idea of using an alcohol stove, buy it now and start using it this winter outside in the snow. Ask to borrow friends' MSR setups or even a JetBoil and test them as alternatives. There are benefits to having hot water in 3 minutes instead of 15. I know some people swear by alcohol stoves, but you may not.

    This is wisdom. Food comes to occupy a special place in your heart during a long trek. What I take backpacking for three or four days is different than I'd take a multi-month hike. You will get tired of eating dehydrated meals even if you can afford them. I really enjoyed cooking bagels in butter and then slathering them in crunchy peanut butter every morning. You need your calories. I carried a white gas stove (MSR) but if I did it today I'd carry a Kova Spider and a Toaks frying pan/pot combo (1300mL) so that I could simmer and Mac&Cheese and other grocery store stuff as my food cravings changed. You don't need a big kitchen by any stretch but the ability to cook more traditional packaged food and mix-up your diet is more needed on a long trip.

  6. #26
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    What kevperro said.
    Drink alcohol.
    Burn hydrocarbons.
    Wayne


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  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    At the risk of being flamed into a pile of ashes, do not skimp on your sleeping BAG! A fellow who goes by Just Bill has explained this repeatedly. You sleep cold. You're starting in mid February, a topic for a whole other thread. You need a proper full coverage sleeping bag.
    From my personal experience I would heartily suggest the Western Mountaineering Versalite or Antelope. I own the Antelope and Alpinlite. Very conservative honest temperature ratings. Impeccable construction. Buy once and done.
    Save money elsewhere. It's easy. Thrift shops, Craigslist, used gear here at WhiteBlaze. A pack from ULA will work just fine and save you money. A tent from Henry Shires at TarpTent will work fine.
    Don't spend any money this weekend. You need to learn more.
    Good luck. Spend all the time you can on trails at elevation. You've got time to knock out a few hundred miles. Go play in the snow.
    The Xtherm Large is my favorite pad in the past 40 years. Lighter and cheaper than the MAX.
    Have fun!
    Wayne


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    I'm not a 4 season hiker but after 3 nights below freezing on a 4 day 3 night trip I completely agree. Don't sleep cold. I was amazed at how cold my hands/feet and face were. Best of luck.

  8. #28
    Registered User gbolt's Avatar
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    Great suggestions here but one not mentioned... Get Amazon Prime (for the free shipping, and sometimes better pricing) and build a wish list. Amazon will send daily updates when an item changes price. This is excellent for clothing. For example, IceBreaker Shirts can cost up to $100 dollars regular price. I have bought 3 shirts ranging from $39 to $45. What you are paying for Polypro ground cloth, I got Tyvik Ground Sheet just as cheap. Amazon will work for anything besides the cottage industries such as Z Packs, Hammock Gear, Dutchware... that you already know about. I also agree with not jumping into Vargo products but taking a look at Canister Stoves - Again Amazon will have $5 China knockoffs of the Pocket Rocket. Maybe think of buying a Buff for versatility and face covering, for warmth. I have found I can regulate core heat by what I place on my Head, Hands and Feet. You have a year so don't rush it. I plan on March 2018 if I can retire this coming June and my winter pack weight is just under 20lbs. Enjoy the prep process, it's part of the fun!
    "gbolt" on the Trail

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  9. #29
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    One more Amazon advantage: Unknown Unauthorized charges to your Amex account.
    Wayne


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  10. #30
    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    Been away from this site for a long time. Don't want to be a killjoy but you mentioned you will only have a thousand dollars saved. I hope you are only talking about gear money and not total funds for your thru. Most people get shocked when they find out how much money you will actually spend on a long distance hike. I usually plan to have about $4 per mile. I know that is a lot more than most people spend but it's always nice to have a little extra.
    "The difficult can be done immediately, the impossible takes a little longer"

  11. #31

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    I have much of the gear you listed, lol!
    I would recommend both hip pouches from zpacks, you will love them and they are very convenient.
    I switched out my wool beanie to the zpacks fleece beanie-love it!
    I just ditched my old wool sweater for the R1 full zip and there is no going back, usable hiking, in camp, and sleeping.
    I will echo what many others have mentioned: alcohol stoves can be great, but I only use canister stove now- the convenience vs minimal weight saving is just not worth it to me... I can have 2 cups of cocoa before the alcohol stove starts to boil.
    I would throw 2 ground hog stakes in there for ridge line or poking hole in the ground for the carbon stakes.
    Just my.02

  12. #32
    Registered User Isa23's Avatar
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    Sorry for the radio silence everybody. Haven't been ignoring your suggestions but have actually been looking into everything you all have mentioned. In regards to the sleeping bag in particular, the Western Mountaineering looks amazingly comfortable and warm, so much so that I wouldn't even mind the increase in weight. However, the price tag is pretty steep seeing that I'm trying to get my costs down. Enlightened Equipment was mentioned and they have a lot of customization options plus it's cheaper than ZPacks. I've read some gear talk online between all these and it's kind of even among opinions for and against each. If at all possible I really wanted a sleeping bag that was flexible enough to take me from winter through spring and summer. Just to avoid having to get two different bags if I could. It looks like the bags that can open up would fit that bill. Could anyone speak to a bag or degree that would achieve all that? Or is that too big of a request?

  13. #33
    Registered User Isa23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Storm View Post
    Been away from this site for a long time. Don't want to be a killjoy but you mentioned you will only have a thousand dollars saved. I hope you are only talking about gear money and not total funds for your thru. Most people get shocked when they find out how much money you will actually spend on a long distance hike. I usually plan to have about $4 per mile. I know that is a lot more than most people spend but it's always nice to have a little extra.
    Oh no, as it stands now I'll be able to have $6,800 saved for the hike and $3,400 for gear. Any other extra money I can squirrel away will be added to that. And whatever savings I can achieve from the gear monies will go towards the hike instead.

  14. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Isa23 View Post
    Sorry for the radio silence everybody. Haven't been ignoring your suggestions but have actually been looking into everything you all have mentioned. In regards to the sleeping bag in particular, the Western Mountaineering looks amazingly comfortable and warm, so much so that I wouldn't even mind the increase in weight. However, the price tag is pretty steep seeing that I'm trying to get my costs down. Enlightened Equipment was mentioned and they have a lot of customization options plus it's cheaper than ZPacks. I've read some gear talk online between all these and it's kind of even among opinions for and against each. If at all possible I really wanted a sleeping bag that was flexible enough to take me from winter through spring and summer. Just to avoid having to get two different bags if I could. It looks like the bags that can open up would fit that bill. Could anyone speak to a bag or degree that would achieve all that? Or is that too big of a request?
    I have the Enlightened Equipment Convert (their full-zip quilt) rated to 10*. I found it good into the 20s. I have also used it in the 60s and it was definitely too warm. There is no easy way to use a really warm bag for those temps...I was only half covered, but that half sweated while the other half was colder. I don't know what east coast/AT night temperatures are like in the summer but I'm pretty sure a fall/winter bag is serious overkill. As I suggested before, you could get the down-filled Convert for the cold sections AND a synthetic Prodigy for the humid warm sections for a little more than the same price of a ZPacks quilt.

  15. #35
    Registered User gbolt's Avatar
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    A 20 to 30 Bag/Quilt will get you through an AT Gear Hike. Western Mountainering Versalite is an example. Quilts offer more venting so they can be used as a blanket when temps get warmer in the heat of summer. However, look at the bag as part of a sleep system; if using the entire hike. By that, I mean, take into consideration various head covering to work in combo with a quilt, dry socks at night, down jacket worn backwards and other dry fleece garments to aid in insulation of core temps. Also remember tricks like sleeping with a hot water bottle if the night gets to chilled. If there is an extreme drop in temps, you can alway's drop off the trail and wait it out in a warmer hostel.
    "gbolt" on the Trail

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  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isa23 View Post
    Sorry for the radio silence everybody. Haven't been ignoring your suggestions but have actually been looking into everything you all have mentioned. In regards to the sleeping bag in particular, the Western Mountaineering looks amazingly comfortable and warm, so much so that I wouldn't even mind the increase in weight. However, the price tag is pretty steep seeing that I'm trying to get my costs down. Enlightened Equipment was mentioned and they have a lot of customization options plus it's cheaper than ZPacks. I've read some gear talk online between all these and it's kind of even among opinions for and against each. If at all possible I really wanted a sleeping bag that was flexible enough to take me from winter through spring and summer. Just to avoid having to get two different bags if I could. It looks like the bags that can open up would fit that bill. Could anyone speak to a bag or degree that would achieve all that? Or is that too big of a request?
    I still have an use the Feathered Friends bag I used on the PCT in 1993 & the AT 1995. It would be a heavy 32 ounces by today's standards.

    But... I've experimented with various quilts and sleeping bags over the years. Everyone is different but I'd get the EE Revelation 20 deg. in a wide if I were doing what you plan. Buy a down puffy with a hood and the ZPacks fleece caps and a neck gaiter for winter. My puffy is a custom one by Goosefeet Gear and it is the lightest most versatile piece of warmth I own @ 8.7 ounces. If you sleep with cold feet get the goose down or EE has synthetic booties. Ship them home once the weather warms.

    So...rather than depending upon just a sleeping bag/quilt to keep you warm I'd focus on a system of components that you can add/remove as the weather changes. Ship home what you don't use once you get into summer.

    For trail use wear as little as possible during the day. Even in fairly cold weather you can get by with shorts and a lightweight top. The more you wear during the day the more you will have wet at night. It isn't until you pull into camp that you will typically deal with getting cold. The exertion during the day will keep you warm except for extremities or during high winds/rain. Even in those conditions I'd carry a lightweight wind shell to deal with during the day protection. Rain jackets are too warm for me when moving. Gloves are also important to me during the day if it is raining and/or cold. Think really light weight.... just enough to provide minimal protection. Also plan on them getting and staying wet so experiment with light weight gloves on some hikes before you go on your trip. These days I use cheap thin work gloves.... mainly because they are cheap, light weight and disposable. I can carry an extra pair in my pack that stays dry and alternate them at night. You need something in your pack that stays dry for camp that may just be a warming mitt. I'd just get fleece ones for camp because they are light weight, moisture won't bother them much and you can throw some plastic bags over them if needed for additional warmth.

    Anyway.... just some thoughts. You really have to experiment with winter travel to find out what works best for you. Spending the most money isn't going to do it. Some of my most used gear is the cheapest junk I've found. Although I love my ZPacks cap. ;-)

  17. #37

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    Not a lot of input on the high dollar products, since I went mostly with mid priced stuff.
    My thoughts: footwear, price no object - only comfort and fit matter. No blisters. My Keen boots were the cheapest I tried on, but I only knew that later because I told the salesman I did NOT want to see the prices of all the boots I tried on... and I tried on several.
    I just got back from a week in Virginia, and several nights / mornings were in the twenties. My crocs are the ones without holes in them. They are straight up warm with only my thick smartwool socks inside (I only wear them for camp/sleep, for hiking I wear the thinner darn tough socks).

    I have a 0 degree down sleeping bag for cold weather trips that is too hot once it gets over about 45 degrees at night... but I won't go without it if there's a chance for colder weather. It is my refuge when my layers don't cut it outside. I strip down to base layer and crawl in - and soon I'm toasty warm.
    For warmer weather, I use a walmart lightweight down bag that is supposedly rated to 32 degrees, weighs 1 lb 12 oz, and stuffs down to the size of a football ($80). I'm sure a 40 degree quilt would work fine in mild weather, and be lighter than that sleeping bag - but I don't think you will find one bag/quilt that will work for the entire trek, especially if you insist on starting in February.

  18. #38

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    One other thing... Now that the Thermarest ridgerest and/or the z-lite are available at most of the big box stores, pick one up and cut off a section of it to use to sit on and to kneel on outside your tent door. After I discovered I couldn't sleep on it comfortably, I cut my Ridgerest into pieces for this purpose, and gave some away to my hiking partner. The size that worked out for me is about 14" long. I fold it in half and store it in the hydration bladder section of my pack. (since I don't use a hydration bladder)

    It does wonders keeping your bottom insulated and dry when sitting on snow for lunch, or on a picnic bench at a shelter, and keeps knees dry when kneeling to enter the tent.

  19. #39
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Walmart sells blue foam rolls suitable for sit pads for under $10. In fact, I would think that you could get a sit pad and enough leftover to fit your torso under your sleeping pad. You might sacrifice a bit of R value.
    Wayne


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  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isa23 View Post
    Oh no, as it stands now I'll be able to have $6,800 saved for the hike and $3,400 for gear. Any other extra money I can squirrel away will be added to that. And whatever savings I can achieve from the gear monies will go towards the hike instead.
    I don't want to come across as a know it all but I'd encourage you to allocate less money towards gear. There is nothing wrong with ZPacks other than it is the lightest and most expensive but you don't necessarily need that to complete the hike. You pay a lot of money for the last couple pounds of weight reduction and that has been overemphasized in importance on the Internet.

    What I would encourage is getting a couple winter 3-4 day trips under your belt to "shake down" your gear list. Several weekend trips into the weather you will be facing daily is a much better use of resources than Internet surfing for an opinion among a bunch of opinioned "old farts". And get in shape ahead of the trip. You should be known as the person who monopolizes the Stairmaster at your local gym and who steps backward and forward on that thing for an hour or more at a time. Good 2-3 hour aerobic leg exercises are what you want to specialize on. If you live where you can hike nothing at the gym is as good as going up and down the mountain with a pack on mixed terrain. If you need to... burn off some extra weight (body - not pack) ahead of the trip.

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