View Full Version : Suggested Gear and training Methods

01-03-2012, 02:05
Hey Guys, i plan on completeing a Thru hike from May to July, or possibly into Mid-August. this is the only time i can do it because i have to be back for Fall Semester. I was wondering if any experienced Thru Hikers, or anyone with considerable outdoor know-how can suggest me any gear(brand specific preferably) and any daily excersise regiments i can do, im guessing Cardio would be best

-Thank You

01-03-2012, 04:01
Training: walk, walk, walk. Walking fast does the most for me, even if I don't train with a pack. If you go light enough, I don't believe that training with a pack does that much because putting on a very light pack doesn't slow you down or change your biomechanics much.

Gear: Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment, Kookabay and Blackrock Gear. You can get almost everything you need with those folks. If they don't sell it, you probably don't need it. They don't sell cooking gear--you don't need to cook.

Papa D
01-03-2012, 08:52
To do what you want to do is not at all impossible -- I would suggest that it would be extremely rare if you are not already at least a mostly experienced backpacker, practiced in packing, walking and pacing yourself, paying attention to your body, camping so you stay dry, warm, comfortable and other basics. You need to get out and do long overnights as soon as possible on trails in your area - with a backpack, practice going 2 miles per hour for 10 mile or so at a time. Go ten miles, camp, turn around and go 10 back. If you can start at this pace (2 mph) you will build up to where you need to be which is about 3 miles per hour in a week or so. You also need to be running - I would suggest running slowly for long distances - something in the 11 or 12 minute per mile for 10 to 15 miles. If you can't run ten miles, you might want to re-think this plan -- long distance hiking is a physical endeavor -- not a casual stroll -- especially for you.

Embrace light backpacking but you don't need to be "ultra-light" - plenty of people have done a 3-4 month hike with a more or less regular backpack -- if your pack weight is in the 20s and you keep moving at 2.5 to 3 mph you can do just under 180 miles per week which is the 3 month plus a little pace. A time will also come (it should be at least a month into your hike) where you bust out a few 40 mile days and earn yourself a zero. At this pack weight, you can carry a pocket rocket, a TI cup and a little fuel canister - which means you can at least cook Ramen Noodles, Mountain House Meals and coffee or tea --- this nicety to your body and your well being will be worth the extra pound or two of carry weight. You will need to stay (mostly) out of the towns. Don't mess with mail drops - pick trail towns to shop in that are close to the trail and try to do everything at once - laundry, shopping, etc.

01-03-2012, 09:44
So, you're talking 3 1/2 months - May through mid-August. It's possible, but that is a really fast hike. You'll need lots of 25+ mile days to do it. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because you can walk briskly at 3 1/2 to 4 mph around town or on park paths with good footing that you can average anywhere near that pace on the AT. Some hikers can hit 3 mph once they are in top form. They are very much the exception. 2 mph is much more realistic for the vast majority, and many even average less than that especially starting out. There are parts of the trail where you can hike fast, and parts that literally slow you to a crawl. There are many here on WB who will chime in that 3 mph is no big deal. They are some of those exceptions. Most people never hike that fast even when they are young and in excellent shape.

01-03-2012, 09:47
A three+ month hike is a tough endeavor especially for a first time hike. You'll have to maintain greater than 20 miles per day average, and it's not that easy. It generally takes some experience to minimize your time in towns, and you can't take any time off to nurture sore tendons and blisters or wait for new gear to be shipped somewhere. Even one short 10 mile day into a town means a 30 mile day some other time. You need to be ready to hike 25 mile days, nearly every day, in order to maintain that kind of average, to allow for even a minimum of logistics in towns. You will need to shop for food, pick up packages, make phone calls, do laundry, take a shower, etc.

I think your training should concentrate on attaining that. And that means a lot of walking. Cardio is important for the AT hills, but it's not everything. Equally important is preparing for the pounding that those millions of steps is going to give to your feet, legs, back, etc. Choice of footwear and even socks will make the difference between a fun hike and agony, and everyone has different feet. You also need to develop some camping skills if you don't have them. Your major challenge in that season will be heat, but at least you won't have to pack for winter weather.

Equipment is less important than your skills, but still important, and to attain that kind of speed, I think a light pack is pretty necessary. In addition to those Papa D listed, look at Tarptent and Gossamer Gear, some of my favorites. Again, since you don't have to pack for snow or cold, you'll have an advantage there. You might want to think about a stoveless hike unless you're a backcountry gourmet type. I did that on the AT and it worked fine and sped things up a bit. Resupply was easier with cold food choices, meals are quicker and easier, and there was no need to find stove fuel.

Good luck.