The Appalachian Ranges are stunning and picturesque. Hiking through these stunning ranges is one of the more rewarding ways to spend one's vacation. "AT Thru-Hiking" refers specifically to hiking through the Appalachian Trail (AT). Thu-hikers are those hikers who hike the entire length of the trail from end to end in one season. Hiking this trail is no easy feat. Still if one doesn't get one's kit exactly right at the start, don't sweat! One can always make adjustments to one's kit in route - discard the unnecessary weight and buy the gear that actually works for the hiker. So don't worry if you forget to pack some of the needed hiking equipment. The most important step is actually taking the first step!
The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is massive and one that is not to be done without some preparation and planning. This massive marked trail extends all the way from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. It was built early in the 20th century over the course of 10 years and was complete in 1937. Today it is managed by some 31 trail clubs and other organizations like the National Park Service.
- Trail Length: 2,200 Miles or 3,500 Kilometers (The Longest Trail In The World According To Some Estimates
- Number Of Hikers: 2 Million (For At Least Sections Of It)
- Number Of States: It Passes Through 14 States
Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a serious undertaking and is normally takes hikers 5-7 months to hike the entire A.T.
- Time To Complete: 5-7 Months
While for most hikes one can get away with medium-quality equipment. With a trek of this sort, one needs to plan carefully. Remember it is vital to carry as little weight as possible while having everything that is needed (but not everything that is wanted).
The Big Three
- Backpack: A Good Quality Backpack - lightweight around 30 oz
- Shelter: A Good Quality Tent For Hiking
- Sleeping: A Warm Lightweight Sleeping Bag And A Insulated Sleep Pad
Now, a more detailed list:
For eating one will need a single cook pot, a potable hiking stove, and a single mug - these should all be hiking-designed equipment. It is also needed to filter water from the mountains during the hike, so take a water filter designed for drinking water. There are bears in this neck of the woods so put all the food in a bear bag - don't want these fellows showing up in the middle of the night! See here for how-to-back meals for hiking.
Speaking of nighttime, be sure to take a LED headlamp.
- Money: This Is A 5-7 Month Commitment, Make Sure Money Is Properly Budgeted
Smartphones are incredibly useful. So hikers should always take it with themselves (unless they specifically want to be disconnected from the world). For the phone take a power bank and even consider a small solar-power pack to power the phone while camping. Download the relevant detailed topographical maps so that they can be used offline. One of the fantastic advantages of smartphones is that the GPS will inform the hiker exactly where one is, unlike maps where one may not actually know where one is on the map. Also, make sure a compass is downloaded on the phone.
Clothing is very important. It is important to have the right clothing and not more clothing. Get a good pair of hiking boots. Also, bring along a pair of flip-flops or sandals for around town or chill days in nice weather. Or just relaxing after pitching the tent.
- Tip: Don't Start The Hike With Brandnew Shoes - Brake Them In First
Hiking clothing needs to be a mix of woolen and synthetic clothing - cotton kills. Woolen clothing and synthetic clothing still provide warmth and insulation while they are wet (synthetic is also quick drying). Cotton clothing sucks the warmth out while wet, avoid all-cotton clothing while exposed to the elements of mother nature's grand outdoors. That being said cotton is cool so it can be ok to have a cotton shirt on nice days - but not in adverse cold conditions. Even with underwear, consider wearing Icebreaker merino briefs - and a sports bra for the girls.
- Tip: Bring Fleece Gloves
One needs thermals, rain jackets, and rain pants. Down-jackets are lightweight, small, and great for keeping warm.
Of course, there's safety so take a First Aid kit with the needed supplies like bandages, antiseptic, etc. Take minimum toiletries as these get heavy quickly. In times of Covid19, also a mask.
Preparing for a hike like this is easy-peasy - just paying for the proper gear can be a little expensive. There are many great brands like Icebreaker whose (expensive) products are tailor-made for treks such as this!