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iwrestledapizza
11-30-2014, 15:28
Hello all,

I am a 24y/o Male looking in Jan to hike from GA to how ever far I get. I'm also going alone but plan on maybe meeting people on the trial and looking to experience the view with some conversation. I'll be quitting my Job at a Apple call center and in May of 2015 I'll be going to a Trade school to become a linesman. Currently I am buying gear.

So far I've purchased
1 Wool Socks
Insoles
Hiking boots all leather, Water proof

What things should I be looking to buy, Im currently looking to get backpack, sleeping bag, sleep pad, and tent. If someone could give me a gear list for winter hiking as a blueprint maybe?

I went to Bass pro yesterday and found they had a nice set of things, Heres what they had and I'm looking for some pointers
The backs they had were
Ascend - ms3300 - ms4400 and ms5400, I saw they just had more cubic storage as they went up
Kelty - Coyote - red cloud - trailpack

They had a nice Jetboil for $99 which I'll go back and get but was wondering if thats better then getting say a MSR Pocket Rocket with a pot and pan set.
Also last thing was the sleeping bags, They had some that were for 0 degrees . -20 degrees . -40 degrees
And for sleeping pads I was thinking of getting the Therm-a-rest Z Lite since it looks like its more compact then some of the others.
What's the gauge on sleep bags for winter hiking on the AT,

Honestly I know I'm starting from the beginning, but if anybody has the time and knowledge to help me start on preparations I would be more then apperceive of this. If not I'm going to wing it. I've been reading and looking myself but now that its time I feel overwhelmed. Plus one read was saying that theres nothing like researching and leaning as you go.

Thanks and have a nice Day

futureatwalker
11-30-2014, 15:47
Hello all,

I am a 24y/o Male looking in Jan to hike from GA to how ever far I get. Currently I am buying gear.

So far I've purchased
1 Wool Socks
Insoles
Hiking boots all leather, Water proof

What things should I be looking to buy, Im currently looking to get backpack, sleeping bag, sleep pad, and tent. If someone could give me a gear list for winter hiking as a blueprint maybe?



Welcome!

I think that most people will tell you: don't start in January. Particularly if you are new to backpacking.

Save your money. You'll probably get as far starting in March as you will starting in January. In January, you are talking about winter backpacking in the mountains, and that involves snow, cold, and dark.

March is much better. Still winter, but less snow or cold.

Now, if you are stubborn, you won't listen to what I write. But at the very least read Tipi Walter's posts and blog. He's experienced, and from his writings you'll get some taste of what winter hiking is like.

iwrestledapizza
11-30-2014, 16:44
The reasoning behind leaving and starting in Jan is that I no longer want to work and be in the rat race. Since I'm going to be going to school in May I've decided to backpack for 2 months then come home and prepare for that next chapter in life.

futureatwalker
11-30-2014, 17:10
OK, here's what I would bring if I was starting at Amicalola Falls in January.

Sleeping bag: Down, 0 degrees. If money was unlimited, I would go with a Western Mountaineering bag.

Sleeping pad: Therma-rest xtherm

Tent: I don't know. Something solid like a MSR Hubba

Book to read in tent.

Stove: Maybe an MSR pocket rocket, propane/butane fuel (not as good in freezing weather, but perhaps you could sleep with it).

You must have dry, warm clothes to change into in the evening. For me this would be: thick socks, helly hansen long bottoms, helly hansen warm long top, down sweater, hat, gloves. If it is really cold I'd go for down booties, and perhaps down pants.

Hiking: this is the challenge. You need to be warm, but you don't want to be soaked with sweat. I'd wear wool blend socks, boots or gore-tex low cut hiking shoes, gore tex trousers, long underwear top, a fleece, a goretex rain jacket, hat, and gloves.

If I was starting in January, I would start getting in shape tomorrow. I would walk around the block, then two blocks, and then town. Miles in the legs now will pay big dividends a month from now. Plus, this will also show you what gear works and what does not.

iwrestledapizza
11-30-2014, 17:27
Thanks for the blueprint outline I will start looking into gear for that time. I workout everyday at the gym doing High-Intensity / Body Building along with run 3days a week 5-6 miles. I started 3months ago walking with a book bag with 30pounds of weight around the block during the night. The only thing is making sure I have the right gear and mind set that this is to enjoy some time away from BS matrix.

Connie
11-30-2014, 17:30
I would have gaiters, to keep snow out of shoes, and, off socks and lower legs.

I would have a powerful stove, and windscreen to match the cookware diameter.

I use a PolarWrap balaclava available at Botach, and a down hood or down hat, plus ear wrap.

I have inner gloves, plus outer mitts on a string around thru the inside of both sleeves.

The Cleaner
11-30-2014, 18:23
A Jetboil+January=Fail. After a few nights much below freezing even if you put the canister in your sleeping bag, it may light but will not burn very hot. The temperature might be mild for several days to a week or so but just one brush from the polar vortex and you will be hunting a motel room...

QHShowoman
11-30-2014, 18:25
If you are brand new to backpacking/hiking, I would not recommend starting in January, unless it's unseasonably warm.

You will be cold;if there's snow, it will slow you down immensely; and you will probably be hiking and camping alone for most of the time you're out there. Furthermore, since you're just acquiring your gear now, you won't have much time to test it out on shakedown hikes prior to leaving and you don't want to find out that your gear doesn't work like you thought it would in the middle of winter, miles from nowhere, especially since access to trail towns and services will be limited because it's the off-season.

JeffBliss
11-30-2014, 18:35
To echo everyone else's point here, I would highly recommend you hold off on hiking in January. If you are adamant about getting as early of a start as possible then I would suggest February 15th at the absolute earliest. I would say March 1st just to be completely safe. You are giving yourself so many pluses if you wait until then, the big one being is outright avoiding the dead of Winter.

Plus, with a March 1st start, you can reasonably make it to Damascus, Virginia by April 15th (even farther easily realistically) so that gives you some awesome motivation to say you hiked home to Virginia.

Overall, if you are dead set on starting in January, nothing we say here will steer you otherwise. But everyone here will overwhelmingly suggest you hold off until mid-February at the absolute earliest. It really is for the best.

Slo-go'en
11-30-2014, 22:43
If I read this right, you want to do this next month and have no gear and no experience with it? And with brand new leather hiking boots? Oh man, your in trouble. At least put those boots on right now and walk a couple of miles every day between now and then to break in both the boots and your feet.

Forget about looking for gear at Bass Pro or Cabela's. At least get your butt to an REI store. Your about to spend nearly 2 grand on equipment and you want stuff which will work and sold by people who at least have hiking experience. Good luck!

saltysack
11-30-2014, 23:35
You might want to go to local AT outfitter ie MRO, mountain crossings etc....they know what u will need....


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Connie
11-30-2014, 23:45
I wouldn't trudge in snow in leather boots. Maybe overboots/gaiters?

freightliner
12-01-2014, 00:31
Have you ever heard of the Florida Trail? Most people start that on January 1 and it is a good trail for a beginner. it's about 1100 miles and you could complete it in the time you have. Another thing to think about is that you could go on the Florida Trail with 10 to 20 pounds less weight than the AT in the winter.

Wise Old Owl
12-01-2014, 00:38
:eek: Well have a super nice day!

Shutterbug
12-01-2014, 02:01
The reasoning behind leaving and starting in Jan is that I no longer want to work and be in the rat race. Since I'm going to be going to school in May I've decided to backpack for 2 months then come home and prepare for that next chapter in life.

If you only have Jan - March, consider doing a different trail. How about the Arizona Trail? January - March is a great time to hike in Arizona.

Where ever you decide to hike, remember that every ounce is important, especially in winter. Most new hikers start out with way too much stuff in their pack. Do some reading here about how to save on the weight.

MuddyWaters
12-01-2014, 02:44
This doesnt sound like a real smart plan based on where you are at today.
You could get lucky and have mild conditions.
You could also get unlucky and die.

Trailweaver
12-01-2014, 02:45
Please take these suggestions (to start later, or to hike another trail) seriously. Every year someone gets into serious trouble by being inexperienced and trying to start too early. The mountains in January are no place to be when you can't get yourself out of trouble. You can die with hypothermia. If you are out there alone, in snow/ice, and you fall and break a leg, you can't rescue yourself. If you aren't found in time. . .

We don't want to rain on your parade, but people here have experience, and you would do well to listen to them.

futureatwalker
12-01-2014, 04:01
I'd second many of the suggestions made here.

If it was me, I would hike the Arizona trail. There's a great book on this by Chris Townsend entitled Crossing Arizona. It's his account of a solo thru-hike of the Arizona trail.

I've also heard good things about the Florida Trail on The Trail Show podcast.

I guess the question for the original poster is the following: why do you want to hike?

It sounds like one of your goals is to get away from work. That's cool. But this can be realised on many trails. If the goal is to have fun and see some spectacular sights, I'd go with the Arizona trail.

Hikemor
12-01-2014, 10:03
OP: I'm sorry but I do not see any positives in your plan. Recommend you recalibrate the whole thing. Look at a 3-4 week hike in central Virginia/Shenandoah NP in late March/April. Research gear at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports in VB. Typically they have hikers with long distance experience on staff. Contact Tidewater AT Club in Norfolk or attend a couple meetings.

Traveler
12-01-2014, 10:18
Not to be disheartening but as a few have noted you should examine what your plans are and your goals and motivations. Are you running from something or running toward something. The former won't give you a lot of continuing motivation once things get hard (and they will get very hard at that time of year in the Mountains), the latter will.

To additionally echo others here, January is not the time of year that an inexperienced hiker should be in these mountains on the AT and staying out for days at a time. Even with someone having a lot of experience, it will be difficult. In winter conditions these mountains can be a lot more dangerous than in non-winter conditions, suffice to say mountains are intolerant of carelessness and mistakes. The wrong choice of what you bring can quickly lead to hypothermia if conditions go bad. People are rescued from these mountains fairly routinely after suffering an accident or being pinned down by heavy snow/weather.

Were I you, I would look south for some long distance hiking in January (Florida has been suggested here), moving up to an AT start in March once you have built up some experience. That can get you a significant distance north. Unlike January you will run into a lot more hikers at that time of the year to share your experience with.

That said, given your gear description and need to drop about a grand on new equipment/clothing, I would heed the advice here not get gear from Bass Pro or Cabellas, these are not outfitters that are appropriate for what you are doing. Mountain Crossings at Neels Gap in Northern GA would be a source that can provide excellent information for the area you are planning to go, and will have some gear that would be more fitting. At minimum, REI or EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) would be places you can get some OK advice and have gear for sale that would be closer to your needs.

RED-DOG
12-01-2014, 11:20
Inexperienced beggining hikers should never start in Jan, i have seen the AT turn grown men into cry babies. what i would suggest you do is "STOP" buying stuff right know cause you are F'ing up, wait and go to a reputable OUTFITTER store not "BASS-PRO" or go to TRAIL DAYS in mid may in Damascus VA their you will find very experienced hikers and a lot of gear booths that way you can get face to face interaction and figure out exactly what you need and do some day hiking and see if hiking is for you or not, some begginers go out and spend thousands on gear to only find out that hiking is not for them. Stay away from BASS-PRO or CABELAS.
P.S hiking is not for everyone.

BobTheBuilder
12-01-2014, 11:36
Pizza Wrestler - well, like everybody else, I would say wait a couple of months, as difficult as that might be. The truth is that the trail is NEVER how you think it will be before you start. It wasn't the same as I thought it would be, and it isn't the same as anybody thinks it will be. Some people like the difference, and they become lifetime hikers. Some people don't like the difference, which is why so may thru hikers drop out after a few weeks. Read the journals of people who got off the trail, and you'll see the phrase "it wasn't what I expected" in just about every one.

The point is, the AT hike in January you see in your head is not the hike you will experience. I have hiked on the AT in late December, and it will be cold, lonely, and it will be dark about 15 hours each day. Experienced hikers don't just avoid those conditions because they are dangerous, they avoid them because for most people, it is just plain unpleasant. Those hardy few who do hike in the winter have years of experience and some very particular equipment.

If you are absolutely committed to hiking in January, I would suggest getting some miles in on the Florida Trail. You can work out the bugs and shakedown your gear without the added problems of snow and bitter cold. Then maybe March 1 you take a bus to Georgia and get in two months on the AT. You'll be in better shape and better prepared to enjoy the experience.

DavidNH
12-01-2014, 11:58
Hello all,

I am a 24y/o Male looking in Jan to hike from GA to how ever far I get. I'm also going alone but plan on maybe meeting people on the trial and looking to experience the view with some conversation. I'll be quitting my Job at a Apple call center and in May of 2015 I'll be going to a Trade school to become a linesman. Currently I am buying gear.

So far I've purchased
1 Wool Socks
Insoles
Hiking boots all leather, Water proof

What things should I be looking to buy, Im currently looking to get backpack, sleeping bag, sleep pad, and tent. If someone could give me a gear list for winter hiking as a blueprint maybe?

I went to Bass pro yesterday and found they had a nice set of things, Heres what they had and I'm looking for some pointers
The backs they had were
Ascend - ms3300 - ms4400 and ms5400, I saw they just had more cubic storage as they went up
Kelty - Coyote - red cloud - trailpack

They had a nice Jetboil for $99 which I'll go back and get but was wondering if thats better then getting say a MSR Pocket Rocket with a pot and pan set.
Also last thing was the sleeping bags, They had some that were for 0 degrees . -20 degrees . -40 degrees
And for sleeping pads I was thinking of getting the Therm-a-rest Z Lite since it looks like its more compact then some of the others.
What's the gauge on sleep bags for winter hiking on the AT,

Honestly I know I'm starting from the beginning, but if anybody has the time and knowledge to help me start on preparations I would be more then apperceive of this. If not I'm going to wing it. I've been reading and looking myself but now that its time I feel overwhelmed. Plus one read was saying that theres nothing like researching and leaning as you go.

Thanks and have a nice Day


You don't speak to your hiking experience but from what I can piece together based on your post I am guessing you don't have much.

Starting from Springer Mtn in Georgia northbound in January is a REALLY BAD idea. You would be encountering night time temps near or below 0. You would need full winter gear including crampons and very possibly snowshoes. Should you make it the week or so it takes to get to North Carolina.. you will be hiking at elevations near and above 5000 feet. You've got no business doing this as others have implied.

Put off your trip till March. I'd recommend skipping up to Virginia. The Smokies are high and often wet and in January deep snow and ice would be very likely. In March still possible for snow and ice.

You don't need or want a -40 degree bag. you DO want a sleeping bag rated to 0 F or below however.

You'd be surprised how cold you and get when temps are below 20. Imagine below 0 F.

saltysack
12-01-2014, 12:44
Be prepared to freeze your arse off!!! I love hiking in the winter but a few days of temps well below freezing gets old quick....especially if you aren't prepared...hers a pic from last Feb @ Carvers gap....I'd try a weekend winter hike first...do research and maybe rent gear from REI...I was chilly in my 15deg down bag...for what's it worth...be careful
http://tapatalk.imageshack.com/v2/14/12/01/899a595aa1bae875c82ada38fedec2f1.jpg


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Connie
12-01-2014, 13:27
There is a reason Shug (YouTube) tries out his winter gear in his backyard, with a max-min recording thermometer.

He is finding out what works, factoring in gear and ambient temperature.

Do not forget windchill.

Do not forget "visability" in blowing snow. Do your ski-goggles fog up? Will the heavy frost build-up from your breath, covering your eyeglasses? Your goggles?

Do not forget "whiteout".

Do you have "extra food" and can you heat it up to wait out a snow storm or "whiteout"?

Does the food preparation rely on water? A lot of water?

Do you have water? Are you able to keep the water from freezing?

Do you have gear to melt snow? Water is required, in the bottom, to keep the snow from scorching.

iwrestledapizza
12-01-2014, 14:34
We'll from reading it's looking like "eyes bigger than stomach" type of scenario just happened. One suggestion was to start wearing my boots now which I have everyday to work / out and about to break them in. I can tell everybody is just giving advice and looking out for a dummy. This is what I was looking for and thank you.

Some one asked why hiking. I'm 24 I haven't been any where or seen anything and again I don't wanna work and have to listen to people b*tch and complain about things that don't matter in life. So I'm looking to be in nature for a little bit and get to know some people and myself.

I'll look into the Florida Trail so that I'm still on the Eastern Sea Board. I would like to start hiking in Jan so if the AT isn't the place to do this then I will look on.
I will say from the posting I have now been discouraged from hiking but I know that its all about location and timing. And my time and location doesn't seem to fit with the AT.

I do know of the Blue Ridge Mountain Sports in VB so i'll look into going there on one of my off days to talk with some people.

I guess now after all the info given I should of asked "Where can I go hiking and be in nature and see some nice scenery in Jan to mid March?"
I also know I'll be dropping some money into this which I have and am willing to invest.

So all in all thanks for the posts and input. I'll take these next couple of weeks to really think of my options.

Couple of questions,

What are some nice tents for a solo hiker that isn't to crammed but lightweight maybe 2p.
If i go hiking in Jan in Florida what type of fuel source should I be looking into?
Would the Jetboil still be out of question?

lal2wx
12-01-2014, 15:08
Being from south Florida, I can say that the weather down there in January when people traditionally start the Florida Trail is gorgeous. Just checked the weather back home in SWFL and it's currently 60's at night, high 70's during the day.
However, if you're used to hiking in Virginia it will definitely be a very different experience in regards to different scenery and road walking being included.

Perhaps you could also wait a bit and see how mild of a winter this year is and plan to later on do a section hike in VA. That would make logistics easier as well as you don't have to worry about transportation to GA and could just have a friend drop you off a couple hours drive from Hampton.

Also, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports is much more what you're looking for as opposed to a Bass Pro. My friend just got a steal on a BD Portaledge from our local store, they might have some holiday sales you could take advantage of.

JeffBliss
12-01-2014, 17:25
Hey, don't get discouraged from hiking. You have the right mindset on you and I guarantee you will have the time of your life out there. The AT is right for you, just not during January and February :).

If you decide to start on the Florida Trail in January, have the time of your life and make some plans to get to Amicalola around March 15th. The AT will still be there for you, waiting in all its glory.

Connie
12-01-2014, 19:51
I spent a month, in Winter, in Arizona.

It is a place of spectacular beauty. How about the suggestion in the thread for Arizona?

Southwest Ultralight Backpacking is a gear information resource: http://home.bresnan.net/~swultralight/index.htm

78owl
12-01-2014, 23:24
I'll bet he want make it to the NC line before he quits, that might not be a bad thing.

78owl
12-01-2014, 23:28
If you want a taste of what to expect. get out every chance you can, hike spend the nite away from car and home this month and see if it is really what you want to do?

JeffBliss
12-02-2014, 09:08
I'll bet he want make it to the NC line before he quits, that might not be a bad thing.

Why the negativity? He already responded that he is reevaluating his choice and potentially doing the Florida Trail until Winter is over. There's no need to discourage him further.

Old Hiker
12-02-2014, 09:24
Stumpknocker has a good series of Trail Journals about the AT and FT. Go to trailjourals.com and plug in "stumpknocker".

He uses the same tent as I do: LightHeart Gear SoLong 6.

My review of my first one: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/86824-LightHeart-Gear-SoLong-6-First-Impressions?highlight=

Since upgraded to a double door, green with awning - still the same tent, still the 4.9 star review.

Don't the advice stop you - plan, lurk whiteblaze, ask questions, start with short trips, work your way up.

78owl
12-02-2014, 11:12
Why the negativity? He already responded that he is reevaluating his choice and potentially doing the Florida Trail until Winter is over. There's no need to discourage him further.
Did you listen to your peers at the age of 24?? I am not being negative as much as a realist. Other southern trails would be a much better choice, so he can get his feet wet in a more comfortable environment. Plus, if he did start in Jan. on the AT. what chances would you give him??

lemon b
12-02-2014, 11:26
Wow. Money is going to be the key in equipment. Western Mountainering zero sounds solid. For a stove I'd be using a whisperlite (white gas). Sleeping pad and shelter no clue because no experience down that way in the winter, but they will be important. The Fla trail option sounds cool also and stumpknocker's journals must read. His journals were one of my favorates. He's a retired mailman if my memory serves me correctly. Your still in planning so concentrate on having yourself some fun... nothing to prove here.

iwrestledapizza
12-03-2014, 12:54
*Update*

I'm still looking to go hiking in January but I'm reevaluating somethings. First would be I may not be going to GA and seeing how far I can get next year. I found somebody who hikes regularly and has a buddy who has hiked the entire AT at my gym So we exchanged numbers and I plan on getting some face to face contact and info with somebody. Other then that I still wanna hike the AT but was thinking of doing just VA.

freightliner
12-03-2014, 22:28
I've done Virginia in the winter it's not the worst place to be. All you got to do is think down. Down hat down coat down pants down booties down sleeping bag even a Exped down Matt. These will be the things that keep you warm in camp and that will be the hardest part. Just wait until you see the price of a winter tent and you got I have a winter tent. You will need to buy a tent that can hold up heavy wet snow or high winds and keep you protected. Just the few things I suggested will be costing you well over $2000. There will be a lot of days that you will be lucky if it gets over 20 so you have to have the stuff to keep you warm. I personally am in love with Montbell I buy all my cloths from there. In the winter you're going to want a lot of layers maybe even up to five layers of clothing that you can peel off or put on throughout the day to regulate your temperature. Well with that said I can tell you that Virginia is a beautiful place to hike. The trails are easy and you usually have the whole place to yourself.

ZenRabbit
12-03-2014, 23:16
Have you ever heard of the Florida Trail? Most people start that on January 1 and it is a good trail for a beginner. it's about 1100 miles and you could complete it in the time you have. Another thing to think about is that you could go on the Florida Trail with 10 to 20 pounds less weight than the AT in the winter.

+1 on this one. :)

January is GUARANTEED to be bitter cold in the mountains in Virginia. February and March can be pretty fierce, too. Plus you have to carry so much more gear to ensure your SURVIVAL. As a result you'll go less miles and when you are done hiking for the day, in most cases they'll be NOBODY at shelters to talk to.

I dig solitude as much as the next guy, but I say look at Florida or Belize or somewhere like that. :)

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golfjhm
12-04-2014, 21:57
You could start earlier than March on the Pinhoti in AL - excellent trail (slight bias being from AL), connects with AT via Benton Mackeye and doesn't have quite the elevation that further up the Appalacian chain does. Still won't be warm in Jan Feb. Good option if you are AT or bust and would be a good break-in. GA section does have some road walk though. Check out dedicated forum in other trails section. For gear check out steepandcheap.com gear cache. Lots of deep discounts if you are vigilant about checking it.

Glacier
12-04-2014, 22:06
Have you ever heard of the Florida Trail? Most people start that on January 1 and it is a good trail for a beginner. it's about 1100 miles and you could complete it in the time you have. Another thing to think about is that you could go on the Florida Trail with 10 to 20 pounds less weight than the AT in the winter.

I was going to suggest this same thing.

Tabasco Hikes
12-12-2014, 15:25
Hello all,

I am a 24y/o Male looking in Jan to hike from GA to however far I get. I'm also going alone but plan on maybe meeting people on the trail.

You are smart to know your limits, so it was good to reach out to experienced hikers for their opinion. Just a couple of observations... Winter hikes on the AT can be quite beautiful, but you have to respect the terrain and temps. What that means is that you have to monitor conditions far enough down the trail so you don't walk into inclement weather. Even experienced hikers would not set out to tackle the Smokies alone. In addition, it's just a suggestion, but you would want to ensure you have the resources and a plan to zero as many days as necessary to safely return to the trail.

You can look on the 2015 Registry and you will find at least 17 thru-hikers who will begin their hike in January/February. You will find even more at Trail Journals.com. Scruffs & Woodstock step off Springer next week, but they have experience on the AT and they have already decided to skip the Smokies.

Good luck and be careful wherever you decide to hike.