I'm an avid backpacker, hiker, and lover of all things outdoors. I thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2018. 2,190.9 miles north bound from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Now I live in Erie, PA exploring every trail near me on the weekends.
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System
Just go with the full-size squeeze!
I tried so many different water filtration systems while starting out on my AT Thru-hike in 2018. I tried Aquamira Drops, the Sawyer Mini, Katadyn filter, and finally settled on the Sawyer Squeeze. I wish I would have just gone with the squeeze to begin with instead of wasting money AND TIME trying to squeeze water through that mini, waiting for the drops to do their thing, and calling Katadyn's customer service because their filter clogged the 2nd time I used it. Now I combine this Sawyer Squeeze with a gravity system by Katadyn (Katadyn Camp 6L Gravity bag - yes I realize that is ALOT of water but my boyfriend and I usually share) and have never been happier. I carry it with me on every hike, even short ones - just in case. It's easy to backwash and reasonably priced if it needs to be replaced (Walmart has them cheapest). So take it from me, I've tried them all - JUST GO WITH THE SAWYER SQUEEZE THE FIRST TIME!
This little seat comes with me everywhere outdoors. From football games to backpacking trips - it's the perfect lightweight seat that gives my tushy the perfect amount of cushion. It keeps wet logs or picnic tables from getting your bottoms soaked and overall is one of the best "luxury items" to invest in. It's also very reasonably priced for how much I've used it!
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 Tent
I love this tent. It was super light and roomy and held up great during storms. I love that it's free standing and if you also purchase the footprint you can set up the rain fly first and then attach the bathtub mesh from underneath, keeping it dry. I did waterproof it with silicone spray about 700 miles into my hike and also did some seam sealing because of a few leaks, but overall it really performed well during a wet 2200 miles on the AT. Big Agnes rocks in the tent department for sure.
Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad
This airpad is very comfortable. It is a little heavy - I am looking to upgrade to a more lightweight pad for future long hikes - but it kept me comfy during my entire thru hike of the AT. I never had a leak and it held air perfectly for the entire 7 months. It kept me up off the ground and warm during a blizzard in the smokies, and was easy to blow up with the help of the big Agnes "blow bag" which I had. FYI it is pretty loud when you move around on it. We used to call it "The Big Agnes Symphony" in shelters if there were a few BA pads set up lol. That and it's weight would be the only cons I have.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent
I loved my 1 person version of this tent. It was super light and roomy and held up great during storms. I love that it's free standing and if you also purchase the footprint you can set up the rain fly first and then attach the bathtub mesh from underneath, keeping it dry. I did waterproof it with silicone spray about 700 miles into my hike and also did some seam sealing because of a few leaks, but overall it really performed well during a wet 2200 miles on the AT.
Enlightened Equipment Revelation 10 Degree Top Quilt
This quilt is incredible. It's so lightweight but warm enough to keep me comfortable during a blizzard in the Smoky Mountains (in which I was snuggled up in this quilt for 15 hours waiting out the snowstorm). I love that I can open it up so I can untuck a leg for warmer temps (or for laying out enjoying a snack on the side of the road waiting for a hitch), or close it up like a cocoon snuggled up in my tent for the cold nights. Alot of people on trail had the revelation and none of them were disappointed.