What’s in an AT 5 Stroke Hiking Pack?


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Andy Niekamp, a former IT professional who became passionate about long-distance hiking, simply can’t stay off the beaten track. In addition to hiking the entire AT 5 times, he tackled the Florida Trail, Colorado Trail, and Upper Hiking Trail, as well as the 1st Buckeye Trail solo hike in 1. 444 miles (on which he wrote a book, Captain Blue on the Blue Blazes). Although most of his personal trips are solo, he runs introductory hiking trips through his company, Outdoor Adventure Connection, with a focus on building skills and confidence while learning to travel. with respect in the hinterland. We tracked him down between trips to find out why he hikes, what he brings, and why he just isn’t interested in the Pacific Crest Trail. Want to read the rest of the interview? Head to Exterior +.

What long trails did you walk?

My biggest achievement is hiking the entire section of the Appalachian Trail 5 times, over about 32 years. I estimate this to be about 11,000 miles of hike, 1,000 days on the trail, or 25 million steps. I have also hiked the Ohio Buckeye Trail and 1,000 mile Florida Trail, as well as the Superior Hiking Trail, Ozark Highlands Trail, JMT, Colorado Trail, and Kentucky Sheltowee Trail.

What made you decide to go hiking long distance?

I started when I heard about this thing called the Appalachian Trail in the late 1980s. At that point I decided to go to the Great Smoky Mountains and take a 5 day trip. and 35 miles. It was a big thing for me at the time, a 35 mile solo trip. I was not prepared, but I quickly learned a lot; I had heavy equipment and even canned goods, so it was physically exhausting. After this trip I came home and thought, i could do betterr. I trained and prepared, and went back the following summer.

What is in your pack and why?

My kit is configured for a variety of trails. My tent is the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1. I know a lot of people who love hammocks, but most of the time I’m in treeless areas. I slept in picnic shelters, in cemeteries, in cemeteries. I am a tent camper, this is my comfort zone.

My backpack is an Osprey Atmos 58, I’m like my fourth atmos pack because I love them so much that I wear them out. I have a Western Mountaineering 40 degree sleeping bag and a Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm Pad. I generally use a trail style shoe, even on AT and JMT. I cook on a homemade alcohol stove with an MSR Titan kettle that I bought in Virginia in 1995 and have used every hike since then. It is the piece of equipment that marked me the most and that marked me the most.

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