AAR: Trip to Patapsco to prep for my Appalachian Trail MD section hike, plus gear I will run.

As we prepare for our Appalachian Trail Maryland section hike, we’ve been doing a series of camping and hiking trips.

Learn more about our Appalachian Trail Maryland section hike here: http://sergestuart.com/post/appalachian-trail-md-section-hike-23-27-october-2019

And if you want to skip to the gear list, here it is: http://sergestuart.com/post/gear-list-for-appalachian-trail-md-section-hike-october-2019

On Saturday, 12 October 2019, Dan and I did another camping and hiking trip in preparation for our upcoming hike of Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail. We wanted to test our gear in cooler weather and fine-tune our sleep and clothing systems.

We setup camp at Patapsco Park near Ellicot City, MD. The weather was great as it was cool and sunny, a nice fall weather. The leaves were starting to turn and we were enjoying our camping.

I constantly tweak my camping and hiking gear to make it function better and reduce carrying weight. On this trip both Dan and I were able to learn and adjust our systems.

I am pretty much dialed in for our 5-day section hike of the Appalachian Trail on 23 October 2019. Here’s my big three:

My backpack is Mystery Ranch Stein 62, and while not the lightest pack, it is very well built and what’s more important - it carries weight very comfortably. It has a bottom sleeping bag compartment, 2 side pockets, 2 front pockets, and a 2-pocket lid, which can be removed and used as a day or summit pack utilizing main pack yoke and shoulder pads. My pack is 2017/2018 model, although I swapped out the yoke harness for the 2019 model as it has better sternum strap attachment as well as different mesh on the shoulder straps.

My shelter is a 2-person Mier Lanshon 2 tent, which is really a 1+ person tent. It uses hiking poles to pitch it and comes in under 3lbs with MSR ground hog stakes. I really like this tent, because it’s not heavy and very roomy, so all of my gear stays inside. It’s easy to pitch and I don’t have to carry tent poles, since I already use the hiking poles. The footprint for the tent is Tyvek. It’s also a bargain at about 130 bucks on Amazon.

My sleeping system consists of AegisMax down sleeping bag (also a bargain) which is rated to 50 degrees; it’s lightweight at 1lb. To supplement this bag during cooler temperatures I am using Sea To Summit thermal sleeping bag liner, which adds probably 10-15 degrees to the rating, although the manufacturer says it adds 25 degrees. On this trip I found out that the liner was very cozy and warm, so that’s confirmation that it will serve me well during our section hike.

Check out my food for the AT MD section hike (being updated): http://sergestuart.com/post/food-for-the-at-md-hike-october-2019

I have spent considerable amount of time on the trails fine-tuning my cook system. I have tried my old trusty Stanley pot, the GSI soloist system, and finally settled on the Toaks 750ml titanium pot. As far as stoves, I have used the MSR Pocket Rocket, but prefer the BRS titanium stove. I also keep a collapsable 8 oz mug inside my pot along with a 4oz can of fuel, foil, small towel, lighter, and spices packet. Everything fits very well inside the pot. For my spoon I use the Toaks titanium long handle spoon. It works good for eating out of dehydrated meal pouches.

As far as the most important gear for the hike - the shoes- I run Merrell MQM Flex. It gives me enough support and the weight is good, they dry out quickly when wet and breathe well. Very comfortable shoes.

My clothing consists of Cosco synthetic hiking shirt and Merrell long sleeve shirt to sleep in. I also run Mountain Hard Wear compression pants for colder temperatures. My mid-layer is a White Sierra 100D fleece, although I will probably not bring it on the section hike. My jacket is a no-name synthetic puffy, which works pretty good around camp, and my wet weather gear is Marmott Precip jacket.

Underwear is ExOfficio boxer briefs, socks to hike are Darn Tough and to sleep in - REI merino wool.

As far as electronics, I run a Suunto Core watch for barometer, altimeter, sunrise/sunset and well... time. My phone is Apple iPhone 8+. My GPS app is Gaia Premium. For the AT hike I have loaded the NatGeo AT map. The headlamp I have been using for several years now is a Bushnell. This trip I am bringing a tent light (luxury item) because I enjoy a warm light inside the tent. It has 50-hours life but could be recharged as well. My charger is Anker 13000, which gives me 5 charges for the phone.

My other misc. items include a repair kit, first aid kit, map and compass, Sawyer water filter, 1L Smart Water bottle, 2L CNOC v2 soft water bag, and Zpacks food bag kit with rope.

Our second day on this prep trip we ventured out on a 7-mile hike around Patapsco. The hike was nice due to the cooler weather. I did slip off a rock crossing a stream and got one of my shoes wet, but it dried fairly quickly. The hike was easy since there were not a lot of elevation changes. We enjoyed a nice nap at camp upon returning. On the third day, we had breakfast, packed up and left camp.

Here’s what our hike track looked like on the map via Gaia:

All things considered, this was a great trip to fine-tune our gear before the 5-day AT hike. I look forward to the trip and will write a post about it here, so stay tuned!