After sampling multiple closed cell foam and air mattresses on trips ranging from single nights in the Appalachians to multi-day trips on snow, I can confidently say I’m not really sure why someone would use any other camping mattress besides the Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite and Xtherm. On 90% of trips, one of those two mattresses will be my go to. But it’s not without its downsides, so I will look to highlight why I personally think the Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite is the best mattress on the market but also some of its pitfalls.
I finally got around to putting together a video of me packing up my Salomon Skin Pro 10+3 running vest. Several people wanted to see exactly how all the stuff I needed for my attempt on the Appalachian Trail unsupported record last summer could fit into a 10L pack. I hope this provides some insight into the possibility of some crazy ultralight backpacking!
The air was thick and warm. I was elated to relax and know that the near freezing temperatures I encountered up on the northern Appalachian Trail were behind me. I was calm and at peace after laughing on the phone with my parents making fun of the grump I met down in Salisbury and I easily fell asleep under the clear sky. But by early morning I woke up to gentle drops of rain hitting my tarp roof. I thought it would remain just that so I went back to sleep. I would have hiked to the shelter the night before but I remembered the .4 mile detour to get there very well and at this point I counted any deviation from the trail as a setback. I did prefer to sleep in shelters because of their dependability over a tarp on stormy nights but sometimes it just isn’t worth it. Continue reading Kent, Connecticut, Day 23, 29.0 miles→
This past summer I went on a grueling backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in New England with only 3.5 pounds of gear. Despite sub freezing temperatures, 60+mph winds, horrible bugs, and incessant rain, my gear kept me decently comfortable. But packed up for an extended trip and dealing with horrible conditions, I couldn’t help but wonder how light of a pack I could carry in better conditions for a shorter trip. So I refined my gear list and present now a proposed gear list that I intend to use next summer on a 3-4 day trip. At some point I guess I’ll probably just go into the woods naked with a bottle of water but for now this is my 1.4 pound super ultralight backpacking gear list:
The most common question since I came home from my Appalachian Trail unsupported record attempt with a torn calf is “what would you have done differently?” It’s a brilliant question and one I’ve thought exhaustively about, trying to pinpoint if it was my own error that resulted in me getting injured. So I want to answer that question of exactly what I would have changed here:
Later in the evening I needed to resupply in the town of Salisbury, Connecticut. A super nice older lady, Maria McCabe, hosts hikers at her place. I decided to send her a mail drop with intentions of staying the night in Salisbury but was hitting it too early in the day to stop. I called her about an hour outside of town to check and make sure my package had arrived alright. She put me on the line with another hiker who was staying with her saying she had hearing difficulties. I told the man that I was going for the unsupported record and I unfortunately wouldn’t be able to stay the night but asked if it would be okay if I reimbursed Maria for holding my package. He said that’d probably be fine, clarified that my package was there and I expressed my gratitude and said I’d be there in an hour. Continue reading Part 2: Salisbury, Connecticut, 31.4 miles→
Eating a small snack before getting to bed, I saw the brightness of a headlamp approaching. I got excited, thinking it might be my friend Bo, a NOBO thru-hiker whom I had known since elementary school. And sure enough he rolled in with a jump in his step like it was midday and not nearly 10pm. He said hello to the other hiker sitting at the picnic table outside of the shelter and I recognized his voice right away.
I got a great night’s sleep and woke up after sunrise feeling rested and ready. By now I understood that the start of each day was always rough. So it didn’t surprise me when the first few miles were dragging. With the weather clearing and temperatures rising, thick humidity permeated the air. But I’d take anything other than rain and was extremely excited for better weather. I was getting demoralized with how slow the hiking was going on such easy terrain but just continually reminded myself that it always got better. Nearly every evening I felt on top of the world, like I could keep hiking for another 20 miles. But the mornings were dreadful and I would set myself back so tremendously from slow miles in the morning that by the time I felt good it was already afternoon and I was racing to cover the distances. Continue reading Tom Leonard Shelter, Day 21, 37.5 miles→
This summer I attempted to break Matt Kirk‘s Appalachian Trail unsupported thru-hike record. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the hike due to a torn calf in Connecticut but I am wiser because of the trip and better prepared to attempt it again in the next few years. Below is my gear list for the trip, which I don’t think is too absurd to say is the lightest and smallest pack anyone has ever attempted a thru-hike with. At only 3.5 pounds for the base weight, I used a 10 liter running vest pack instead of the traditional massive backpacks most hikers use. And if I were to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Of course I sacrificed some comfort in camp but it enabled me to hike faster and further than I ever could with a heavier pack. I hope you enjoy checking out my gear choices. If you have any questions about why I chose something or how I liked it, feel free to comment below. And if you like this post and want to keep updated on others like it, please consider subscribing! Continue reading Gear list: Appalachian Trail thru-hike record attempt→