View Full Version : Skillset needed for Thru Hikes?

04-23-2012, 22:18
We often see hikers showing up to hike with a low-level or no-level of skill sets for the intended journey. Let's make a list, so to speak of skills one would do well to study or be accomplished in BEFORE attempting a thru hike. Do not include any "skills" one would not necessarily need before attempting a thru hike. Of course, this is all subjective. One might think a hiker should be proficient in say "knot tying" where others and myself included would not. One might list "make a fire" where I would say that is "old school". This would be interesting and might be fun and promote more preparation for backpacking. OK, as an example here is a short list:

1. Proficiency in Map and Compass
2. Proficiency in using GPS with Map and Compass. This would include being able to take coordinates of your location from the GPS and transfer it to the map you hold.
3. An ability to know where to find water and how to obtain clean water.
3. Specialized ability to do effective treatment and care for one's feet.


04-23-2012, 22:37
For me it's stoicsm
I personally can't stand hiking in rain for days on end But since I'm an older and slower guy I know that taking a zero-day or two or three bc of weather is not option
So Im just going to have to be stoic about it and just do it.

04-23-2012, 22:37
reading a map is definitely not needed, the trail is marked well enough. It is really a matter of just knowing how to use your gear. It is just walking, and then you play with your tent, stove, etc. at night. the guidebooks tell you just about everything. I guess a special skill would be parsing the guidebooks.

04-23-2012, 22:40
reading a map is definitely not needed, the trail is marked well enough.

This is the CDT sub-forum. Different ball o' wax from the AT. :)

04-24-2012, 00:50
Every hiker needs to be able to count to 10,be tolerant of others and most of all,have a sense of humor.Not taking one self so serious and having a sense of humor when it's raining or snowing,or the next town is more than I care to walk right now will improve ones sanity during potentially troubling times.It's a mental (game)thing.

04-24-2012, 05:18
To have a successful CDT hike, you need a sense of adventure and hopefully you like to walk.

If it's a social adventure you are looking for, you are perhaps in the wrong place.

NM can be trying at times. But, if you love desert hiking, it can be awesome. at times.
CO can teach you a thing or two about snow and lightning, as well as longer distances between resupply.
WY has diversity, with lots of wind. Careful which direction you go. It can make a huge difference.
MT is..........well Montana. Big Sky country for sure with lots of everything

04-24-2012, 10:30
I will expand on my "short list" a little. Maybe this will get the ball rolling more:
-Knowledge of basic First Aid
-How to use a knife (amazing how many people cut themselves first opportunity)
-Awareness of the importance of weather watching and needed safety precautions

04-24-2012, 15:01
In the context of this being, as Mags pointed out, the CDT subforum, I'd suggest the ideal skillset is first "to have successfully thru-hiked the PCT", with the addition of some more emphasis on navigation issues (particularly off-trail), ideally having some experience functioning well at high elevation, knowing how to deal with challenging creek/river crossings, and possibly read up a bit on the behavior and expectations of grizzly bears. But navigation is certainly #1 (and perhaps #2 and #3 as well).

Skillset to hike the PCT: gads, there are so very many things; I think that rather than creating a list, instead I'd suggest that a person do a solo hike of at least 50 miles and see how comfortable they are with their skillset in just doing that. Add in another trip that includes significant spring consolidated snow (in whatever footwear you like to hike in). Be able to do at least moderate stream crossings comfortably. Put together a good set of gear that's not too-o heavy. And spend at least a little time learning about the trail up-front and figuring out the basics of logistics. Then just go and do it, starting with one or more shakedown hikes --- and don't worry about a checklist of specific skills.

04-25-2012, 04:05
+1 orienteering skills with map and compass. GPS waypoints are a help when there are no blazes like the AT.

Nevertheless, I would have enough map to look for and plan alternate exit routes for whatever may occur. The CDT can have whatever. The PCT and AT can have whatever but, maybe, not so much.

I also think an important skillset is having your gear sorted out, you enjoy using, because you will use that gear.

04-28-2012, 21:11
Hmmmmm . . . . Not accomplishments, but needed skills. I see river, stream crossing, and knowledge of Bears/Grizzly Bears behavior, knowledge of logistics and also knowledge/awareness of hiking light. I would also add: knowledge of Leave No Trace hiking and camping.