Thru Hiking Gear: Essential Items and Tips

Thru Hiking Gear Know the Essential Items

So you’ve decided to embark on a thru-hiking adventure, good on you!

It’s going to be an experience of a lifetime and with all the necessary preparation and the right thru-hiking gear a positive one for all the right reasons too.

It’s a daunting thought living out of your backpack for weeks or months at a time. But guess what? It’s not that difficult!

There are almost endless options when it comes to packing your backpack and I’ve seen people take, or leave behind all kinds of items.

What I’m going to do in this article is outline the core items you will almost certainly need to take. Outside of this, it’s up to you what luxuries you can’t leave home without.

Here are the essentials and some ideas to get you started:


Covering thousands of miles requires some pretty extraordinary footwear. You’re going to need to find the balance between comfortable and durable.

The best thing you can do here is to visit a local outdoors store and try a few different pairs on and see what feels right.

An important note here is to give your shoes a good trial run to break them in before starting a thru-hike. The last thing you want is a blister early into your trip.


Choosing your clothing is probably going to take you the longest to decide on, but it doesn’t need to be complicated.

The most important thing to take note of is the materials you’ll be wearing. You want to wear synthetic or wool clothing depending on your preference.

Cotton is a bad idea. It absorbs moisture, is horrible when it’s damp and takes ages to dry out, and is not durable enough.

LERMX Lightweight Running Hydration Vest Pack

This hydration vest from LERMX is a good example of the kind of vest you want. It’s designed for jogging, hiking, and marathon running.

It’s lightweight, has some pockets to keep snacks and other stuff close to hand, and a hydration bladder built in. All nice touches to allow you to focus on covering distance and not need to dig into your backpack.

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The best option for shelter is a lightweight tent. Tent’s are really versatile and provide adequate shelter on most trails and through most weather conditions.

Some trails have sheltered areas set up for thru-hikers to use, so it’s worth checking this out first. If they do, you might be able to do without a tent and save on space.

It’s something else to factor in and plan for. If you are taking a tent then you need to take into account the weight and durability first. Followed by ease of use, functionality, etc.

Kelty Grand Mesa TentThis tent from Kelty is a good example of the kind of tent you should be looking at. It only weighs around 7lbs, pops up quick and easy, and provides decent shelter from the elements.

The aluminum supports are really strong, and the outside fly sheet allows some extra air flow. It ticks all the boxes for a thru-hiking tent, follow the link below to browse some other similar models.

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TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame BackpackYour backpack is going to become your best friend or your worst enemy over the weeks and months you’re thru-hiking.

So, get off on the right foot and pick a backpack that’s going to be comfortable, pack all your gear in nice and tight, not weight much itself, and most importantly last the distance in good shape.

Something like this TETON backpack you can see to the left will suit most people’s needs. It weighs around 5lbs empty which isn’t the lightest pack on the market but as I mentioned you need a durable pack and that means a little extra weight.

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Sleeping Pad

Many make the mistake of not taking a sleeping pad to go under their sleeping bag and can’t get a good night’s sleep.

Sleeping pads are lightweight, compact, and most importantly more than worth their weight and space for the padding and comfort they give.

Thru-hiker Video: A day in the life of a thru-hiker

This video takes you through a day in the life of a thru-hiker if you want to get a first-person perspective of some of the difficulties and challenges you ay come across. As well as food prep and other survival skills.

Sleeping Bag

The further into your thru-hike the more you’re going to look forward to wrapping up in your sleeping bag and getting a good night’s sleep.

But there is still the need to restrict the weight as much as possible, so put the big fluffy bags down.

Pick a bag with the appropriate weather rating for the forecasted weather on the trail you’re doing. Prioritise weight and durability, while all these items are essential you can’t get this one wrong.

Envelope Lightweight Portable, Waterproof, Comfort With Compression SackTo give you an idea of where to start, take a look at this sleeping bag from Abco Tech. It’s a four season bag so you might be able to select something lighter depending on the weather.

The link below will take you to Amazon and you’ll see some comparisons and other sleeping bag options that may be better suited to your needs.

Click here for Deals, Reviews & Pricing


Food and Water

Freshwater is essential. I’ve covered various water purifying methods, as well as some cool water purifying devices like the Lifestraw, so you shouldn’t be short of options.

There will be places to get food along the trails, so check this out and make sure you have enough money to buy food as you go.

Pack some of the types of snacks runners take with them in your backpack. Managing food and water rations will be something you learn early on.

First Aid

It goes without saying that you can’t head out for a thru-hike without a first aid kit. Pick up a small, compact kit, make sure you’re familiar with all the items in it and hope you won’t need it.



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