I haven't spent the countless hours of research like I did prior to the AT but I did order the End to Enders package from the Green Mountain Club (the group of volunteers that runs and maintain the Long Trail). I also got to buy new gear! Although most of it was for Michael I did buy myself a "new" used pack online and absolutely love it! I bought a Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack, it's a little bit heavier than my old G4 but it has way less room in it so hopefully I pack less and the best part is the hip belt pockets that are totally usable! I bought Michael a Go Lite Jam pack, a Hennessy Hammock that is bigger than mine yet a pound lighter (I am so jealous), JacksRBetter underquilt and top quilt, hiking pants and a Pategonia ultra light down jacket (again jealous)! He still needs a few more clothing items and he might buy a new pair of shoes. I bought us both a pair of Keen scandals hoping he would love them as much as I do but I think he wants more support and he is worried that sticks, twigs and rocks will get in his scandals. I still need to buy a pair of gloves, I remember how cold it was on the mountaintops in Vermont in August and we will be there a whole month later.
If funds were unlimited I would have liked to lighten my pack a little by switching my hammock for a lighter version and maybe even swapping the tarp for a cuben fibre one. I know that some of my clothing choices could be lighter and as far as that goes, I could be lighter but overall I am happy with my set up. The biggest change in my gear this year compared to last year is my alcohol stove and pot. Last year almost immediately I decided to ditch my stove and eat cold food. I was too tired and lazy at the end of the day to waste time on preparing food when I just wanted to eat and relax. This year I am going to have hot food and coffee! Michael wants to eat hot and I can't imagine smelling his delicious food or coffee and just eating a cliff bar.