Nina Baxley: AT Thru-Hiker
I didn't talk much about gear in my updates because I figured it would be boring for the non-backpacker types who were following along with my hike. But, for those who are interested, here is some info on what gear worked for me, what didn't, and what I would do differently (gear-wise) if I were to thru-hike again.
My Walrus Microswift tent kept me dry though many rainy nights. It was easy to set up and take down, it was very light and compressible, and it had minimal condensation. I was happy with it for awhile. After a few states, though, the small size began to bother me. I would be so sore at night and felt constricted because I couldn't move around very much in the tent. It was too low to sit up in, and I would actually get muscle cramps in my efforts to change clothes and otherwise move around in there.
So I switched to a Walrus Trekker Tarp in Harpers Ferry. I loved it, but it was too bulky for my little pack, so I switched back to the Microswift.
I complained so loudly about its size, however, that my friend Datto in Indiana heard me and asked if I wanted to borrow his Wanderlust Nomad tent. This is an extremely light tent, and YOU CAN SIT UP IN IT! So I used the Nomad from Damascus to Georgia.
This tent worked fine, but it also taught me that I do not have one iota of common sense. It would take me forever to set the thing up. I would set it up backwards, inside-out, and upside-down before I managed to get it right. If it were my tent, I think I would have attacked it with a magic marker, writing things like"This End Up" and "You've Got It Backwards Again, Stupid!"
One cold, windy afternoon, I was setting up the tent, which uses hiking poles instead of the usual tent poles. I stuck one of the poles into the little plastic thingy at the top of the tent, and the little plastic thingy snapped and flew about ten feet before it landed. "Oh great," I thought. "I broke Datto's tent."
I retrieved the little plastic thingy. Not Yet and Macon Tracks, meanwhile, heard me yelling vulgarities at the little plastic thingy, so they offered to let me use their Black Diamond Mega-Mid Tarp. It looked like a circus tent, but I COULD SIT UP IN IT! So I slept under the tarp.
They neglected to tell me that it hadn't been seam sealed. It rained all night, and I was pretty much treading water the next morning. It was warm, though, and I actually used it one other rainy night.
The Walrus Microswift worked best for me, overall, and I was happy with it. Next time, though, I'll carry a tent that allows me to sit up in it.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication