Here’s what gear Nika Meyers used to thru-hike the three longest trails in the U.S.
When Nika Meyers was thinking about what gear she would carry as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail, she knew every pound
would count and had plenty of experience in what works and what doesn’t. “My base weight
is 7.5 pounds before food,” says Meyers. These days, she travels without a stove on most of her thru-hikes. She recommends doing research prior to a big thru-hike or paddle and making sure you have a collective gear system—from your shoes and socks to your sleeping pad, bag and tent—that works for you and your body. Her main piece of advice? “Things are going to change for you once you’re out on the trail. Don’t be afraid to switch up your setup and don’t be afraid of used gear if you’re on a budget.”
Altra Superior 4, 7.9 oz, $110
With a removable 6mm StoneGuard footbed that protects the ball and heel of your foot against sharp rocks, these lightweight shoes have a super grippy tread, 21mm stack height and durable upper. Along with the Altra Lone Peak and Brooks Cascadia (Meyers’ other personal favorite), they are the favored shoe among thru-hikers from the Appalachian Trail to the PCT.
Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Poles, 11.7-13.6 oz, $190
These folding poles are built to be stiff and durable and are designed especially for thru-hiking.
Dirty Girl Gaitors, $23
Dirty Girl’s breathable gaiters don’t repel water but they do keep pumice, gravel, sand, sticks and all kinds of other things out of your trail runners while you’re putting in big miles. “They work great with most trail runners and come in a lot of awesome colors. I don’t hike without them,” says Meyers.
Enlightened Equipment 30-degree Quilt, 17.7 oz, $280
Save weight with a quilt that is sturdy and ultra-packable. “The down only keeps you warm when lofted, so if it’s crushed underneath you, it’s not working for you,” says Meyers.
Montbell Superior Down Parka Mens’, 8.7 oz, $209
“I opt for a men’s down jacket because they often have a better fill power- to-weight ratio at the same price point,” says Meyers who runs cold. She has used one of these jackets for her PCT, CDT and AT thru-hikes, with a few seasons of trailwork scattered in between.
ULA Ohm 2.0 Pack, 34.5 oz, $225
This pack made, from bomb-proof Dyneema Composite Fabric (aka Cuben Fiber) can hold 63L of gear, but packs down without being awkward. “I used this for the PCT and CDT and it was great. It’s still my go-to; highly durable and very light, but comfortable.” Meyers loves the easy-to-access stretchy outer pockets and water bottle holders and zippered pockets for a phone and snacks on the hipbelt.
Zpaks Plexamid Tent, 14.8 oz, $549
This is one of the lightest single-person backpacking tents on the market. Meyers has one that has lasted her through the PCT, the CDT and the AT. It can be pitched using a single trekking pole for support and offers 360-degree rain protection with a vestibule, that doubles as a bag. It’s also made of Dyneema, so the fly won’t snag and rip. “It won’t sag and is bombproof in wet weather.”
For more about Nika Meyers’ travels and artwork from the Triple Crown, head here.
Featured Photo Caption: Here’s the gear Nika Meyers uses on her thru-hikes, plus a few items that lasted her through the longest hiking trails in the U.S.