Updated Gear List for the Benton Mackaye Trail
My Benton Mackaye Gear list has a few new additions. I’ll briefly describe the gear below and be writing reviews on the new gear soon. All of the gear performed well, but the new additions had some quirks and failures.
My final weight without food and water, depending on the gear I used, was approximately 14.5 pounds. This was a little heavier than I generally like to carry, but the volatile southern Appalachians can experience temperatures in the low twenties, and the mountains can get some pretty brutal early Spring snowstorms.
Last-minute gear changes contributed to my weight increase. Volatile shoulder seasons make my gear choices a little wishy-washy sometimes – mostly because I’m always focused on reducing weight.
Table of Contents
- Updated Gear List for the Benton Mackaye Trail
- Table of Contents
- What Exactly is “Light”?
- Benton Mackaye Gear List – Shelter
- BMT Gear List – Backpack
- Benton Mackaye Gear List – Sleep
- BMT Gear List – Clothing
- Benton Mackaye Gear List – Cooking
- BMT Gear List – Toiletries
- Benton Mackaye Gear List – First Aid
- Post Gear Thoughts
- Related Posts
What Exactly is “Light”?
Light, ultra-light, traditional – these backpacking categories are a topic of debate. I have listed some standard “current” definitions below. I’m sure the definitions will change as technology gets lighter and lighter.
- Base Weight – Your pack weight minus consumables and the clothes you wear.
- Consumables – These are usually food, water, fuel, or whatever you consume as you travel.
- Traditional Weight – this is greater than a 30-pound base weight, or 25 according to who you ask.
- Light Weight – 10 – 20 pounds
- Ultralight – Less than 10 pounds, although some hikers say 12 pounds.
- Super Ultralight – this is less than 5 pounds. This category is less than my day pack. I think this is the weight of my purse.
I fall in the lightweight group, but if conditions are right, I’ll drop into the top of the ultralight range. For me, ultralight usually occurs with summer temperatures, plenty of water, and going to town every 3-4 days.
Safety is always a priority, so hike a safe hike and carry what works for you.
Benton Mackaye Gear List – Shelter
- Shelter: Aeon Li by Tarptent – 17.3 oz
- Extra Line: 1 oz
- Tent Stakes: Zpack 6.5 Red Tough – 2.3 oz
- Stuff Sack: Aeon Li Stuff Sack – .35 oz
The Aeon Li is a tarp tent I have wanted to try since Tarptent introduced it. I like the small poles in the corners that lift the tent’s sides and hoped this would help prevent condensation.
The Aeon Li did not set up as easily as I had hoped. I found myself messing with the straps and poles on the corners, trying to get a tight pitch. Unless the ground was very flat, I often found that the poles lifted a little, and I never got the back wall really tight.
Because of this, the tarp tent flapped considerably in high winds, and the hope for less condensation was not realized. I ended up throwing my rain jacket over the sleeping bag’s foot and keeping my sleeping bag hood tight so it would not rub against the wall of the tarp tent.
On a positive note, it kept out heavy rain, and I did not have to worry about the netting pushing out past the tarp tent itself and causing puddles, as I have on rare occasions when not paying attention to my Altaplex.
BMT Gear List – Backpack
- Backpack: ULA Ohm – 36 oz
- Hyperlite Pod: Large – 1.4 oz
- Hyperlite Pod: Small (2) – 2.4 oz
I had planned to take my Hyperlite Junction backpack, but after loading it down with 25 pounds I did not find it as comfortable as my ULA Ohm. The Junction is a lighter backpack but it pulls across my chest. I don’t have this problem with the ULA Ohm.
Don’t get me wrong, the Hyperlite Junction is an awesome pack and by far the most durable for its weight, but as far as comfort, nothing touches my ULA backpacks, and dare I say it – the Osprey pack I used on the PCT and CDT. They are both heavier than the Junction but fit me like a glove, making the weight barely noticeable.
The video above is me attempting to cross Loss Creek on the BMT after several heavy days of rain. I would have waited, but there were three other thru-hikers headed in the opposite direction. They were the first thru-hikers I had seen in a week and a half, and I wanted to cross while there were other hikers to drag me out if needed.
In the video, I am wearing the Ohm. I repacked everything and cinched down my gear before crossing. Unfortunately, the current grabbed me, so I had to swim hard and let go of the pack. Although waterlogged, the Ohm did float better than I expected, and I could retrieve it after crossing the creek. It was wedged up against a log in the middle of the creek.
One note on the Hyperlite PODS. They are NOT waterproof. Everything in every POD was wet. Most items were packed in Ziploc bags which are also NOT waterproof. Maybe asking them all to hold out against a partially submerged backpack in a rain-swollen creek was probably too much to ask of the gear, but so you know, they all failed.
Benton Mackaye Gear List – Sleep
- Feathered Friends Lark 10 Degree Sleeping Bag – 33.1 oz
- Nemo Insulated Tensor Sleeping Pad – 15 oz
- Gossamer Gear Thinlight 1/8 – 1.5 oz
- Hyperlite Pillow Stuff-Sack – 1.2 oz
Like my backpack, I switched from my Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt to my FF Lark Sleeping Bag at the last minute, and I’m glad I made the change. Several nights fell into the ’20s, and I was cool, even in a ten-degree bag. One night I even had to sleep in my puffy jacket, so it may have been in the teens.
I do love sleeping in a quilt, and when I get another quilt, I will have Down insulation added and get a wide size. I’m a side sleeper and toss and turn, so I always get cold spots that require waking up and repositioning the quilt.
The Nemo Tensor Sleeping Pad was a disappointment. After 3-4 hours on the first night, it was flat. It had a defect that resulted in a slow leak. I used it until Blue Ridge, GA, waking up to blow it up every three hours, and then got a ride over Mountain Crossings near Blood Mountain to replace it with my trusted Neoair X-lite.
The Neoair is more comfortable for me, has a great new valve for inflation and deflation, and fits in my single-person tarp tents much better. The Neoair tapers some at the end, which allows me to tuck my gear down around me more easily.
I used my Hyperlite Stuff Sack Pillow on this hike. It is still working fine, but I’m going to order a large. I need more room and like a softer pillow. My Feathered Friends EOS Jacket makes the pillow quite tight due to all the Down in the jacket.
I can’t say enough good things about my Thin light 1/8 pad from Gossamer Gear. It is my multi-purpose feather, and I’ve used one for several years now. I use it for a sit-pad, to keep my inflatable sleeping pad from sliding, and as a little insulation under my sleeping pad. I also like that I can fold it out to stretch out if needed.
BMT Gear List – Clothing
- Feathered Friends EOS Jacket – 10 oz
- Precip Rain Jacket – 10.1 oz
- Versalite Montbell Rain Pants – 3.2 oz
- Smartwool Socks (2) – 3 oz
- Northface 100 wt Fleece 1/4 Zip – 8 oz
- Sleep running shorts – 3oz
- OR Beanie – 3 oz
- Salomon Sense Ride 3 – 10.2 oz
- Buff – 2 oz
- Sportsbra – 4 oz
- Bandanna – 2 oz
- Icebreaker lightweight, long sleeve shirt – 5 oz
- REI Hiking Shorts – 6 oz
I went back and forth on a mid-weight layer but finally settled on the list above, and it worked out well. The handful of times I needed something on my legs (they are the only extremity that does not get cold), I wore my rain pants, and they were fine.
I’ll probably take a lighter-weight rain jacket on my next hike, but the Marmot Precip is always dependable.
My Feathered Friends EOS Jacket is still the best lightweight Down puffy I have found for its weight to warmth ratio. You can check out my review where I rave about it.
The other stand out in this list is the Salomon Sense Ride 3 trail runners. I’ve used the very comfortable HOKAs on the last few trails but switched to the Salomon’s for the steep, no switchback BMT. They were great! They were as comfortable as the HOKA’s and provided more stability with a firmer midsole. Right now, they are my shoe for this year’s hikes.
Benton Mackaye Gear List – Cooking
- Snow Peak Titanium Pot – 4.8 oz
- Pocket Rocket Stove 2 – 2.6 oz
- Stuff Sack – .5 oz
- BIC Lighter (2) – 2 oz
- OPSACK – 1 oz
- Food Bag – 1.5 oz
- Gas Canister – 7.4 oz
I did not cook on the New England Trail (NET), but there is only so much healthy, cold food to snack on, and I ended up eating too much crap. My body rejected that approach, and inflammation in my hips was brutal right after the NET. Once I switched back to my healthy diet, the inflammation went away.
On this hike, I cooked dinner (which I do prefer) and tried to eat healthier snacks – nuts, nut-based snacks, my own trail mix, hummus chips, whole grain crackers, almond butter, etc. My hips definitely approved of the more nutritious diet.
I have a more in-depth review of my cooking kit and eating habits. I also still stop around 4:30 PM-5:00 to cook and eat since I’m not particularly eager to cook where I sleep.
One mention here is the OPSACK. I am not a fan. I’ve used it a couple of times, and it does not perform. The smell of food still lingers, and the Ziploc closure is flimsy. The closure does not close easily, and I had to replace the last one that ripped. On this hike, I ended up rolling down the top. I’m definitely looking for a better solution and welcome any suggestions.
The winner on this hike was my new OR food bag! It is definitely waterproof. This was the only sack or POD that remained dry after my Loss Creek crossing, and it was definitely exposed to the creek more than some other sacks and pods.
BMT Gear List – Toiletries
- Kula Cloth – .5 oz
- Purel – 4 oz
- Dental Floss – .5 oz
- Clippers – .5 oz
- Toothpaste – .5 oz
- Chapstick – .25 oz
- Toothbrush – .25 oz
- Earplugs – .1 oz
- Hairbrush – 1 oz
- Needle – .1 oz
- Toilet Paper – 2 oz
If you spend a lot of time outdoors camping, running, hunting, hiking, etc., and appreciate good hygiene, then check out my Kula Cloth Review. This little cloth is a must-have.
There is not much more to say about toiletries. They are pretty self-explanatory, but I’m always happy to answer any questions.
Benton Mackaye Gear List – First Aid
- Tinactin – .5 oz
- Neosporin – .5 oz
- Ibuprofen – 1 oz
- Imodium – 1 oz
- Band-Aids – .2 oz
- Nexcair Tape – .25 oz
- Superglue – .1 oz
The picture above is not pretty. One hour into the hike I looked back over my shoulder for Sam and walked off the trail that had taken a sharp left. I lost my balance on the steep downhill and fell into a large bramble thicket where Sam walked up to find me thrashing around – humiliating. The Neosporin tube was significantly depleted after that night’s application.
The first aid supplies above have not changed much over the years. On occasion, I’ve used my bandanna for other purposes – bandage, sling, etc., but usually, it is my potholder.
As I do in every gear list post, the one thing I will mention is Tinactin. Since my AT hike in 2005, I’ve used it, and it is a godsend on every long hike. I won’t even go on a day hike without it! Heat rashes, or any rashes on your bum, can quickly make a hike miserable. An application of Tinactin begins working almost immediately. In most cases, I apply it at night and am “cured” by the next morning. I can sing enough praises about Tinactin.
- Anker Battery Pack (20,000) and Cord – 12.8 oz
- Inreach Mini & Cord – 3.7 oz
- Iphone & Charging Cord – 10 oz
- Double Wall Charger – 2 oz
- Earbuds, Case, Cord – 3 oz
My electronics are getting heavy! I carry the larger Anker battery to go further between towns and because I now have so many rechargeable pieces of gear, but I definitely have to revisit these.
My Garmin InReach had technical issues – again. It did not track consistently, which resulted in a couple of frantic notes from home, and in one instance, the battery ran down in an hour after I had fully charged. There is always the factor of age and memory, but I’m SURE I charged it – mostly sure.
- Smart Water Bottles (2) – 5 oz
- Carbon Alpine Hiking Poles – 17 oz
- Dirty Girl Gaiters – 2 oz
- Knife – 2 oz
- Compass – 1 oz
- Fenix HM50R Rechargeable Headlamp – 2.2 oz
- Sawyer Filter – 3 oz
- Umbrella – 10 oz
The Black Diamond Alpine Cork Hiking Poles are definitely one of my favorite pieces of gear. They are tough as nails and light. Adjusting them can be a little finicky sometimes, meaning I have to get the tension just right or the clip is too tight to close, but once I adjust them, I don’t have to mess with them again for the next few hundred miles.
My Fenix HM50R Rechargeable Headlamp is still going strong. It is durable, has a bright light, and on medium, I only have to charge it about every five days. I probably use it for about 2 hours a day. At 3 ounces, without the headband, and having a steel case, it is perhaps one of the toughest headlamps I have used.
Post Gear Thoughts
I will be skipping my longer summer hike this year due to some other projects, but I’m looking forward to my Fall hike. I’ll still be taking a few multi-day short hikes and look forward to testing more gear on these. Check back for upcoming reviews on the gear I used. Thanks!