This is a list of cooking gear that you will need to hike the Appalachian Trail. Like all pieces of equipment, read the manuals and test in various conditions.
1. A stove – ($10-40) You want a stove that will be lightweight, easy-to-use, and uses fuel sources that you can find in trail towns. Click <HERE> for examples.
2. Stove fuel – ($4-5) The type of fuel will depend on what stove you buy. Remember to consider fuel options in trail towns. Will the average retailer have your fuel type?
3. A simple lighter for your stove or campfire
4. A windscreen/heat reflector for your stove – ($10-20) This is a thin sheet of aluminum or titanium that is put around the stove. It’s used for blocking the wind from putting out the stove’s flame and to reflect heat back to your cooking pot. Some stoves will come with a windscreen. If your stove doesn’t, it might be worth the extra money to buy it. Click <HERE> for examples.
5. A single cooking pot with a lid – ($55-60) A single titanium or aluminum pot are fine for a solo hiker. Avoid stainless steel pots because they are too heavy. Generally, most hikers carry a medium-sized pot. However, you might be able to get by with a small pot if you only want to eat a single packet of Ramen or a single backpacking meal and then supplement with other snack foods. Click <HERE> for examples.
6. A spork – ($4-10) The spoon/fork combination just makes sense. A plastic spork works fine for awhile but could break with the heat and cold. The titanium spork is sturdy and folds up. If you get a small plastic spork or a folding titanium spork, you can conveniently store it in your cooking pot. Click <HERE> for examples.
7. Water purification system – ($15-100) Hikers have used different methods for purifying water. The most common methods include using drops and pump filters. It’s always smart to have a backup for any system. Click <HERE> to see some examples.
8. Two water bottles – ($2 – 10) The water bottle can be simple, an old plastic Coke bottle, or a heavy duty, hardplastic Nalgene bottle. The bottle type and size depends on your preferences and how you are going to use it. Do you need a wide-mouth bottle for your water purification system? Will you use it for a hot beverage? Some hikers carry a combination like a Gatorade bottle and a Nalgene bottle. When resupplying in town, you can purchase a fresh sports drink for on the trail then use the bottle for water. Whatever you choose, make it as lightweight as possible. Click <HERE> to see some examples.
9. Water storage bag – ($13-27) At camp, when you filter water, you want to filter enough water for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and to fill up your bottles for the next morning. A lightweight storage bag helps make camp life easier. Click <HERE> to see some examples.
10. A lightweight stuff sack exclusively for food – Get one that is big enough for putting all of your cooking stuff and food into at night (except your water bottle). Look for a lightweight sack that is water resistant or water proof. You don’t need a heavy sack. Look for a lightweight sack made of ripstop nylon. Click <HERE> to see some examples.
11. Mini towel for cooking only. A towel is nice so that you can place your utensil on it while you cook. It’s also nice for drying your pot after cleaning it. This towel should be thin enough that it can fit into your pot along with your fuel, spork, and lighter. A towel keeps those items from clanking around. Click <HERE> to see some examples.
12. A lightweight utility cord to hang your food bag should be about 50 ft long, a diameter of 3mm, made of nylon, and hold up to 30 lbs of weight. It’s sometimes called a parachute cord. Select a cord that is brightly colored so that you can find it easily among the trees. You can find this cord in the sports section at Target or Wal-Mart for a few bucks. Click <HERE> to see an example.
Disclaimer: This list contains gear that worked for some thru-hikers. A lot of the gear is lightweight and bare minimum. In other words, you might want to add some items to this list. It’s always important to test each piece of gear before you start your hike. Read the instruction manuals and understand your equipment.