6 backpacking luxury items that are worth the weight on the Appalachian Trail according to long distance hikers.

Luxury Items Worth the Weight on the Appalachian Trail

March 31, 2023

Photo by Eddie O’Leary

Appalachian Trail (A.T.) long-distance hikers typically try to reduce their pack weight as much as possible. A lighter pack reduces the chance of injury and simplifies a hike by prioritizing only the gear that’s essential to a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. However, many thru-hikers and section hikers still decide to carry an item (or a few items) that are considered luxuries.

These things might be sentimental or something extra that increases comfort or happiness on the Trail. The reasons for carrying luxury items are as diverse as hikers on the Trail! That said, every season there are a few common luxury items that hikers carry with them. Here are some things that many A.T. hikers have decided are worth the weight.

A Pillow 

When we polled A.T. long distance hikers on what luxury items they carried, a pillow was one of the most common responses. Adding comfort and quality to each night’s sleep, many hikers decide that a pillow is more than worth the weight on the Trail. 

Books and E-Readers 

Hiker reading at a shelter

Photo by John GoodMan

On a long hike, the days stretch on, and reading can be a great way to pass the time and transport yourself somewhere new. Many hikers report that their luxury item is a book or an E-Reader for some entertainment on the Trail. 

Favorite Snacks and Drinks 

Sometimes hikers’ favorite snacks and drinks aren’t necessarily the lightest possible options. But after a long day on the Trail, these can be a great morale boost! Some common favorites include Snickers, hot sauce, and fruit. 

Camp Shoes 

Photo of a person wearing Crocs

Check out a long distance hiker’s pack and you might see Crocs or other camp shoes hooked onto the outside. Camp shoes give your feet a chance to breathe and recover after a long day of hiking on the Trail, which is why many A.T. hikers consider them worth the weight.  

Cork Massage Ball 

Big miles mean tired muscles, which is why many A.T. hikers carry a cork massage ball. These can be used to roll out sore spots on your feet, back, or legs and can help hikers relax and recover for the miles ahead. 

Photo by Nelly Real

Something from Home 

Many hikers’ luxury items are sentimental items from home. These can be favorite pieces of jewelry, photos, stuffed animals, letters, or something else. No matter what the item is, carrying something meaningful can help lighten the mental load of difficult days on the Trail and spending long stretches of time away from loved ones. 

Whether you’re heading out on a months-long thru-hike or a day hike, all hikers should plan ahead and prepare so that they’re carrying the essentials they need. Learn more in with the ATC’s Hiker Resource Library.