Here are some gear lists, first for my PCT thru-hike in 2013, second for a 400-mile AT section in August and early September of 2014. The PCT list is the items I started with; in the Sierra I added a puffy GoLite Bitterroot down parka and some long johns for an extra pound or so. In northern Washington in September I brought those back, and threw in a real rainjacket (another pound and worth its weight in gold) for good measure.

"Look at those tiny packages! Those guys must be hard core, I wouldn't mind getting to know them a little better!" - said no one ever, at least not outside the backpacking community.

"Look at those tiny packages! Those guys must be hard core, I wouldn't mind getting to know them a little better!" - said no one ever, at least not outside the backpacking community.

*A caveat, if you even made it this far: I'm still uncertain how much weight (no, no, stop ...) to put into gear lists and gear discussions. On the one hand, going as light as you can, safely and pragmatically, is a worthy goal, and one that will make you and your body a lot happier on any long-distance hike. On the other hand, it's what's in between your ears that really matters if your goal is to complete a multi-month, 2,000+ mile trek. Not to mention the fact that, in my opinion, gear research is almost completely futile if you have not yet done a significant amount of hiking yourself. I was incapable of making smart gear decisions until after 1800 miles on the AT in 2011.

In other words, I'm uneasy about anyone using this as a guideline for what they should carry – and perhaps I'm flattering myself that anyone would. A better way might be to read a dozen gear lists from people who have already completed long hikes to get a general idea of how experienced hikers think about gear. It also wouldn't hurt to read a book that neatly summarizes your options, like this one by American badass Andrew Skurka.