A good headlight will save you a lot of trouble and time when getting up to pee at night or pulling into camp at dusk to set up your tent. I started with my trusty Petzl Tikka. I loved this light and it had served me well for many years. The dim mode was great for reading or writing at night and the high mode (70 lumens) will light up the trail for any night hiking forays you may get into. The red mode is excellent when moving about the shelters at night so you don't wake anyone up with a high beam in their face. The battery indicator light comes on fairly early and gives you plenty of days to get new batteries. You will know when the batteries are dangerously low. About halfway through the trail it crapped out on me. I felt as if I got my moneys worth out of it and went out in a search for a new one.
I ended up buying a Princeton-Tec Remix in Pennsylvania. I was looking for something with a high luminosity for night hiking and fairly priced. I must have not read the packaging well enough because it has 4 different modes but all in WHITE light. I really like having white and red modes on my headlight. The high beams (100 lumens) for night hiking are ok but I felt as if the beam was too broad for really clear vision. I honestly wish I would have picked up another Petzl. This one did the trick for the rest of the trail but i'd rather go back to what worked for me.
I will probably replace my remix with a Zipka soon, purely for weight savings. I would recommend this light to anyone who may do any night hiking or moving about at night.
If you know you are the type to pull into camp early and are scared of walking in the dark, there is no real need to carry anything too expensive or powerful. I would carry an E-Lite in this situation. It will suffice for cooking and reading and its very compact. I would recommend carrying an extra battery with you in a sealed container because they might be hard to come by in a podunk town you stop into on the trail.
Ahhh yes you have finally settled into your sleeping bag and are warm and dry after a long day in the rain. But now you have to pee, hang your food, use the privy, etc. Putting on your muddy, cold, wet shoes is pretty nasty. I started the trail without camp shoes but quickly learned that for less than a pound I could really extend my comfort range in many situations. Pulling into camp I would get out of my shoes and let my feet breathe as quickly as possible. Ditto for long lunch breaks. A pair of camp shoes gives you something to walk around town in on zero days and is a luxury item that I was willing to carry. Not carrying a pair of camp shoes for a 4-6 month hike arguably falls into the "Stupid Light" category for me.
Now most hikers carried a pair of Crocs. Yes those ugly foam clown shoes. I carried a pair of simple sandals I bought for $12. The crocs are a great idea, they automatically label you as a hiker in towns and are lightweight, relatively cheap and from what I hear incredibly comfortable. Just go down to wherever an pick up a pair of ugly Crocs and you will fit right in on the trail.
More to come in the future with topics including, clothing and layering, footwear, socks and the items in your ditty bag. Ruthie and some friends are returning to the Eagle Rock Loop for some cool weather hiking and i'm gonna be taking along my Tenkara rod for some fishing on the Little Mo River. Excited to get back to the woods and on the water.