Be well supplied or turn back! The 100 Mile Wilderness, part of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, has signs marking the entrance that give fair warning to backpackers.
Backpackers know they’ll need to hike 100 miles with just what’s in their packs! Taking at least 10 days of food and keeping in mind seasonal adjustments, here is a list of basic gear to hike the 100 Mile Wilderness:
Must Haves – Gear
- Food: 3000 to 5000 calories daily, crammed into 1.5 – 2 pounds! For ten days, that’s 15 – 20 pounds of food. Add gear and water, and you have heavy pack without many frills. For deeper details, read How much food do you need for the 100 Mile Wilderness?
- Water bottles, (2) Two, 1 liter
- Water purification method (filter, tablets, iodine, etc.): There are number of natural springs in the 100 Mile Wilderness from which I drink directly, however sometimes you will need to purify water from streams and ponds. Read my post on Filtering and Purifying Water in the 100 Mile Wilderness.
- Pack: A big one to carry supplies for 10 days. I recommend one with a 75 liter / 4,500 in2 capacity, but some ultra-light backpackers might go smaller.
- Pack liner: Expect rain, so keep your pack contents dry. On a budget, a garbage bag works well.
- Tent: Regardless of cost, tents erected poorly are practically worthless. Bring one you like and as large as needed to reduce pack weight. A note from my experience, a free standing tent is best because, if you find yourself in an empty shelter, you can erect it on the shelter platform and stay protected from the bugs while you sleep. You can’t stake a tent to a hard surface. I used the MSR Hubba Ultralight Freestanding Tent.
- Ground barrier for tent: Think plastic like painters use, but thicker (at least 4mil); often black. Must exceed tent’s perimeter by 8-12 inches, then place under tent prior to setup for dryness.
- Sleeping bag: Designs vary, so choose wisely and consider your trek’s time of year. Also, consider a bag that has its own moisture barrier. Is there a pattern here? I always wrap my sleeping bag in a trash bag, this way if I fall in a river in the 100 Mile Wilderness I still have a dry sleeping bag that night. When I hiked the Wilderness in June, I had a 0 degree F bag, which was too heavy and overkill for warmth. In spring, summer, and early fall, a 30 degree F low-limit rated bag would be suitable, like the Flash Sleeping Bag from REI.
- Sleeping pad: There is a shelter every ten miles or so in the 100 Mile Wilderness. While the shelters are great, the hard surface platform can be a pain if you don’t have a sleeping pad. This is an area where I highly recommend that you don’t skimp on the comfort. Many hikers carry a lightweight sleeping pad like a Therm-a-Lite Z Lite, but I suggest something with significantly more comfort. The Wilderness will wear you down, physically and emotionally, and at the end of the day, I value a great, comfortable night sleep to recharge for the next day. It’s a little heavier than a Z-Rest, but I like a thick inflatable and use the Big Agnes Sleeping Pad. It’s always the envy of other hikers in the shelter.
- Headlamp: Small and bright. Always keep it by your side while you sleep in case you need to go potty in the night.
- Raincoat/Poncho: As high-tech as you prefer and can afford. Gore-Tex may be a good choice.
- Hiking boots: Although worn rather than packed, be sure to account for these. Also, surprise…they should be waterproof! If you use leather, try waxing. I once met a man in the 100 Mile Wilderness wearing desert boots issued by the Army. They disintegrated in the swamps over the week.
- Crocs: Say what you will about the style, but Crocs are a backpacker’s best choice for the 100 Mile Wilderness. They are lightweight to carry. Work well as camp shoes to dry your feet while protecting your toes. And work well to cross the streams and rivers so you can keep your boots dry.
- Cooking stove: Light weight. Butane stoves are easy and many are compact. Leave the Coleman at the house.
- Pot: The type used to cook food. But your fellow hikers will probably appreciate the other kind as well.
- Multi-purpose knife / pocket knife
- Spoon: Leave the fork at home. Spoon works fine.
- Matches or lighter
- Small waterproof box or bag: For matches, lighter, phone (if you must).
- First aid kit: Make sure it has a pain killer and an anti-inflammatory (Ibuprofen hits both), an antibacterial ointment, some bandages, a wound disinfectant, and some bug spray. Beware the leeches in the ponds.
- Maps: Get maps from the Maine Appalachian Trail Club
- Signal tools: Small metal mirror (can double as man’s shaving tool) and a whistle.
- Biodegradable oap
- Small towel
- Bug Spray, (2) bottles: 100% DEET. Use with caution. It will take the paint off a Volkswagen, so beware what you’re putting on your skin. Take two bottles because sweat and rain will wash it away quickly so you’ll reapply often if the bugs are bad.
- Bug head net: This is not optional in the summer hiking the 100 Mile Wilderness. You’ll suffer without it.
- 100 feet Chord: There are bears in the Maine, and there are most definitely bears in the 100 Mile Wilderness. Each night you should hang your food from a tree to keep it from bears. Would you a bear to eat all your food when you’re five days from a store? Also, chord can often come in handy.
Must Have Clothing for the 100 Mile Wilderness
- Crocs: As mentioned above. To use in camp (think about bathing and bed time).
- Socks, (3) pairs: It’s best to use non-cotton for dryness, try wool or synthetic material. Keep them dry as best you can.
- Hiking shorts
- Hiking pants
- Underwear, (3) pair: Can be reduced to 2 pair
- T-shirts (2)
- Long sleeve shirt
- Hat for shade: Your choice. Wide brims are best, although sombrero-style is overkill.
- Hat for warmth: Even summer nights are cool.
- Heavy shirt, sweater, sweatshirt or jacket: No cotton.
- Long underwear: At least the bottoms.
- Gloves: Even in summer since they can protect your knuckles from black flies and mosquitoes.
- Camp clothes: This is optional to some but must have for me. Pack a pair of shorts and a clean shirt that you only wear at camp each night. Keep them in a ZipLoc bag to always keep them dry from rain and rivers. This pair of dry, clean-ish clothes can help restore morale after long days.
Simon Adair says
I really like seeing comprehensive lists like this. It helps me to make sure I have everything and that I stay organized.
I know it’s old but thanks for the list. My boys and I are trying it this summer, late summer to avoid as many mosquitoes as possible. (I realize that is a relative term for the area). It’s by far our biggest trip ever. Lists help me prepare with confidence even though I do already know (or think I know).
Mark Kelley says
Hi Marty, glad the list helps. I try to keep it updated. If anything seems outdated or missing, feel free to point it out.
Good call on trying to avoid the mosquitoes.
John Barber (aka) Capt. America says
I was just thinking about toilet paper, remember to bring enough. Even though a maple leaf will work in a pinch. When I have to go I don’t want to be looking around for a leaf (lol)
Underwear: 1pair or none
Ground cloth should be smaller than your tent footprint, otherwise, the rains hits it and runs under the tent. Or better yet, don’t use a ground cloth at all, use a floorless tent and pick a good campsite.
For Summer, a fleece pullover or coat can’t be beat. Even hiking in Winter, I very rarely go without a good, lightweight fleece jacket to use while hiking.
Mark Kelley says
Thanks for the tips, Earl!
I am very confused about your explanation regarding groundsheets for tents. I was always under the impression that the ground sheet is smaller than the perimeter of the tent, otherwise rain would drip off of the tent and collect underneath. When I purchased my tent, I also bought the groundsheet that was made to fit my tent. It clips onto the end of the poles and is easily an inch and a half smaller all around.
Mark Kelley says
It can go both ways. Groundsheets serve two purposes. One is to protect the fabric from wear and tear as you turn all night, and the other is to protect from moisture, including rain and ground condensation. In a heavy downpour, it’s hard to stay dry no matter the setup you have. Whether you stay dry or get wet will mostly be determined by how well you picked your tent spot. If you have a heavy downpour or heavy runoff running side to side, staying dry will be tough. I find having the oversized footprint has worked good enough for me, but I’ve been flushed out of campgrounds before in heavy downpours.
Old Stick says
A ground sheet is just what it says … a ground sheet. It protects from objects and moisture from the ground not above. Shouldn’t be outside the size of the tent if so you asking to funnel water from the sides straight in. I would also have to question the waterproof boots. Once those things are wet you have wet feet for 100 miles . I’ll stick with something that may let water in but will dry in time not sweat my feet to death.. Happy hiking