Appalachian Ultralight Thru-hiker’s pack Medium Term Review

Hey all, I think the winter season is done here in beautiful and sunny Colorado, so I wanted to take the time to review the Appalachian Ultralight Thru Hiker’s pack with an eye towards the medium term.

First off, I’m selling my ULA CDT. So that should tell you something.

Appalachian Ultralight
The Appalachian Ultralight out on a 10 degree night.

First I find that the pack can comfortably hold upwards of 25 pounds! That’s on the higher side for a frameless pack. On this trip, I had packed heavy on purpose, and included a car camping 0 degree full synthetic sleeping bag. It weighs in at 5 lbs. Plus my Whisperlite with a full bottle of fuel and this 3 pound tent and the pack held 26 lbs with food and water comfortably.  Not that the CDT didn’t, but one of the real selling points here is the customizable nature of Cody’s packs.

Appalachian Ultralight
A better lit pic from an warmer day.

The elastic straps on the back are supremely useful. From stowing your poles, to a wrap for a wet tarp or tent, I haven’t had an outing where I haven’t used them. The back pocket I thought would be too small but it’s plenty big. The straps are comfy for even long days.

The Thru-Hiker’s pack on a cold winter morning.

That said I do have couple things I wish were changed.

  1. The sternum strap is hard to unclasp. A single line with big knots would be easier.
  2. The compression lines on the side are in the side pockets, I would prefer them on the outside. Really this is just a preference. But if you put loose things in those pockets the strings can get very caught up in them.
  3. Hip belt pockets. I miss them and I have sewn my own that can go on any belt. I should note that Cody will put a pair on if you ask him.
  4. I wish it had one of the new under pockets. That would probably eliminate the need for hip belt pockets.

Criticism aside this is a great pack that I would (and have) recommend to any of my friends, or passersby.

Some thoughts on my goals for this blog.

I was thinking and listing to NPR’s How I Made This podcast yesterday, and I realized something. I’m in this to be successful. Which should be obvious, after all, why do something if not to be successful at it. But on the top it wasn’t.

This blog started as a way to have fun and share knowledge. It still is! If I didn’t think this was fun I wouldn’t do it. But it has evolved into a thing I’m getting passionate about. I am probably not ever going to make a living off of this blog, but so far I have made friends, and a little money. (My most successful money making month resulted in $100 windfall. LINE THE KIDS UP HONEY! THEY’RE ALL GETTING GOLD TEETH!)  

I guess what I’m saying is if I want to be truly unique, to fill a niche of this Ultralight niche, I need to be unique enough to have my own space. So moving forward I will try to focus on more DIY and cottage manufacturer posts. I will also continue to be active on FB, and here of course.

DIY 5.4 Ounce DIY Gravity Filter


The thing about water purification is that you don’t need it until you do. On my first time through the 6th section of the Colorado Trail, I brought the Aquamira Frontier Pro, and the cartridge froze on the first or second night, and then broke off on the inside rendering my gravity filter inneffective. Luckily my hiking partner and I didn’t come across any bad germs, but the point is that we could have. The filter I got after that was a Sawyer Squeeze,  because after much research I found that it is only an ounce or so heavier than the mini, but has a much better flow rate. I joined that with a Platypus Hydration bladder and was set. Here is how I did it.

Now note that there are two ways to do this, using the Sawyer Mini is less complicated, and cheaper, but the setup will filter more slowly. Conversely, the Squeeze will make a faster gravity filter, but will be more expensive and complicated to set up. Not that any of this is rocket surgery, it’s just that the Mini is nearly plug and play.

The Squeeze version will run you about $61.19, unless you already have a Sawyer or other component. The Mini setup is about $40, and around an ounce lighter.

What you will need:

  • A Platypus Bladder.  I used this one because the opening is pretty flush with the bottom of the bag, ensuring as much of the water will be used as possible. Also it has a drinking tube that can rotate.
  • Sawyer Squeeze, or a Sawyer Mini. These are the highest rated and most used filters that I know of, and they are able to filter 100,000 gallons, so you don’t need to worry about them running out.

The rest of the list is for the people who are going to use the Squeeze, the Mini using peeps can go to the assembly section.

The Squeeze still needs:

  • An inline adapter. This is to be able to attach it to the drinking tube of the bladder.
  • There are a couple of options for attaching the bottle or clean water  bladder to the clean end of the Sawyer, bottles will most likely be OK with this Sawyer adapter.

Ok, from here, a Mini user can just cut the drinking tube at about 6″ and insert the dirty end of the Sawyer Mini into the drinking tube. Presto! It’s a gravity filter!!

Squeeze users will need a few more steps to make a gravity filter. First trim the drinking tube so that you have about 6″ of tube from the bladder down. Then put the male part of the online adapter in the cut end of the drinking tube. From there, screw on the Sawyer, then the adapter. DONE!!

It should look like this when you are finished.

Gravity Filter