Outside Shares the Gear You Need to Set a Speed Record on the Appalachian Trail

palante packs

Last week the news broke that long-distance hiker Joe McConaughy set a new speed record on the Appalachian Trail, completing the entire route in a mind-blowing 45 days, 12, hours, and 15 minutes. To go that fast, hikers need to travel light and efficiently, and while conditioning and training certainly play a major role in achieving that level of success, the right gear is also needed too. Fast-packers like McConaughy don’t carry lots of heavy equipment, choosing instead to take a minimalist approach, eschewing many comforts in favor of a lightweight pack that won’t slow them down.

So what exactly did the new AT speed king take with him on this record setting trek? Outside magazine caught up with McConaughy to find out. The result is this article, which lists nine essential items that helped him achieve an average pace of more than 50 miles per day.

Some of the gear isn’t readily available to us mere mortals. For instance, Joe carried a prototype backpack from Pa’lante that weighs in at just 11 ounces and doesn’t feature either an external or internal frame. He also slept in an a sleeping bag from Enlightened Equipment and on a sleeping pad from Therm-a-rest. For shoes, he went through eight pairs of Brooks Calderas while carrying a rain poncho to see him through the rough weather.

At its heaviest, McConaughy’s pack weighed 28 pounds, which isn’t a lot compared to what most of us use when we set out for the backcountry. On the other hand, that is more than I would have suspected, but still impressively light.

Find out what other items he carried with him by clicking here.

Kraig Becker