View Full Version : AT Thru-hikers companion (ALDHA) advice

12-27-2002, 20:26
I am trying to get my gear ready for a March 2003 thru hike and plan to bring the companion to provide advise of re-supply and places to stay and restaurant info; however, when I put it on the postage scale the weight was about 9 ounces. I know most folks bring this book or wingfoots book. Question, do most people just bring the necessary pages for the section of the AT they are hikking and have the rest sent by mail drop. I am trying to get the basic pack weight under 20 lbs to start and there is no way I can include the whole book.


12-27-2002, 20:37
Yes...you are correct. Either bounce the pages for future use up the trail or include them in your mail drop schedule.

12-28-2002, 11:01
It is possible to use OCR software and scan the entire book and then place it on a compace flash card to use in your PDA, your PDA can be used to check e-mail/send e-mail, post pics to a website, etc. PDA weight's vary and can be as light as 4-5oz but give you many more tools at hand...this leads ultimately to batteries and how to charge or when to replace and I am reminded of a hiker who had a flexible solar panel drapped across his pack (4oz. panel) that slowly trickled charged his batteries (his was for a ham radio)
so there are other options and the list of attachments/uses goes on and on and on.

SGT Rock
12-28-2002, 11:06
Seems if you could do that, then you could also get the Thru-hiker's Guide, the Databook, and the Companion. While I was looking at a section hike for this summer, I looked at the companion in adobe acrobat on the ALDHA web site, the Thru-Hiker's guide, and some section info on the maps, interestingly they all omitted something the other covered. If you could carry something about 4 ounces that could access the same information as say 2-3 different guides, that would be cool.

I've never used one of these, but if it is possible to read adobe acrobat reader files on one, you wouldn't even need to scan the Companion, just load the file into it.

12-28-2002, 11:09
Better yet, make comments on the pages as you go along, and then mail them back to the editor.

Most of the people that work on the Companion, or Wingfoot, have not hiked the trail recently. So, unless thru-hikers take the time to make comments, the books will continue to be published with out of date information.

When I was finished my thru-hike, about the only pages I had left were the two covers. (which I didn't pack along anyway)

12-28-2002, 11:17
To answer your question I would get both the Companion and Thru-Hiker Hand Book compare them to each other then photo copy the book. Then take just the pages you will need untl your next mail drop and send the rest up the trail. If you copy them in 8" x 11" you can also use them for your journal so it will have two use's 'cool'.
Information you need on one side and writting on the other.You could also do the same with the Data book. Hope this helps you out.:) :)

12-28-2002, 12:35
Perhaps the strangest thing I saw during my hike was a woman standing in the middle of the trail between the Woods Hole Shelter and Blood Mountain scribbling some thought into her Palm Pilot. For the life of me, I can not understand why someone would bring on of them on the trail, much less stop in the middle of the trail to use one. Maybe I'm just a dinosaur?? Maybe because I work with computers I hike to get away from them? Then again, I can't understand why anyone would bring anything electronic on a thru-hike (except perhaps a walkman, although that's not my style either), including cell phones. Thats just me though....

I guess that's why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors.

12-28-2002, 13:35
If you just purchase and cut out pages from the Companion and not deal with Wingfoot's book you'll save both money and weight, theres no need for both and the Companion is the far Superior publication.:D

Lone Wolf
12-28-2002, 13:50
A real backpacker would just carry the whole damn thing. What the hell is 9 ounces?

12-28-2002, 15:48
Thanks for all the great suggestions on what to do with the companion; I am going to follow the suggestion to cut the pages out of the book and carry only enough for 30-40 days and have the rest sent by mail drop. As far as the computer goes I am not that tech savy although I do use a computer and a digital camera. I am not a big fan of mail drops; I have been working under a set schedule for 30 years and would rather go with the flow on the trail and not be tied into tring to get into a post office at 5:00PM friday, not making it, and having to wait in town until Monday. Not for me, although I will use a couple of mail drops where it is difficult to resupply.



12-28-2002, 15:54
Yeah I think mail drops suck also, but depending on when you leave you might want to consider or make sure you have one in Fontana Dam.

12-28-2002, 16:18
I'll throw a log on the carry or bounce fire. I used the Thru-Hikers Handbook in 2001 but will use the Companion in 2003. I used the handbook as a kind of log. I marked the shelters I stopped in, who I saw, things I wanted to remember, days where I was at, etc. When it came time to do my journal or try to figure out what my pictures were, it really helped me to remember (senility is a terrible thing!!) You're really not saving that much weight by cutting it up and bouncing it forward. Besides, one less thing to worry about if the P.O is closed or your package is late.

Team GAK
12-28-2002, 20:44
The Companion along with the Data Book and you're all set. We taped in a calander, recipe info, phone numbers, addresses. The book had all the PO's and their hours of operation. The book even had phone numbers for equipment manufacturers. We needed to call Dana Designs for smaller hip belts, Siera Designs for a new tent pole, MSR for a new wind screen for our WhisperLight and Leke for a new bottom section. It was well worth it weight in whatever.

TJ aka Teej
01-04-2003, 15:25
Originally posted by Peaks
Most of the people that work on the Companion, or Wingfoot, have not hiked the trail recently.

The ALDHA members that volunteer to become field editors
actually do hike their sections and visit the service providers.

Max Patch
01-04-2003, 15:40
The editor of this years Companion is NOT a former thru-hiker; this lack of thru-hiker knowledge nearly led to deleting Rainbow Springs from this years book.

Accordingly, WFs guidebook (because of his past experiences) would be my guidebook of choice.


Jack Tarlin
01-04-2003, 17:09
By and large, Max, the editorial board of the Companion is, in fact, composed of people who have recently thru-hiked, or in the case of folks who haven't, sections are edited by people intimately familiar with those sections, and are therefore well-equipped to speak about those areas.

This compares with the Handbook, which is compiled and edited primarily by one person, who has not, in fact, done any significant long-distance hiking in almost a decade, and who's previous hiking history is, in fact, open to debate and doubt.

This absence from the contemporary Trail shows itself in a lot of ways. Keep in mind that more than half of the places that hikers visit and patronize these days DID NOT EVEN EXIST when the author of the Handbook was hiking. What he knows about these places either came thru second-hand sources, hearsay from others, or thru telephone calls or electronic correspondence. As far as first-hand knowledge, experienced WHILE he was actually hiking, the Handbook's author is woefully out-of-touch with most of the places that he's talking about---he never experienced them as a hiker, and never, in fact, ever set foot in most of them.

Likewise, there are 2 or 3 new shelters/campsites each year; this means that since 1992 (the date of the Handbook's author's alleged last thru-hike) there are between 20 and 30 new shelters that he's never actually seen or visited, and knows about only thru second or third-hand sources.

The Companion continues to improve each year, while the Handbook seems to grow increasingly stale. I say this from the persepective of someone who's hiked the entire Trail seven times since 1995, including thru-hikes the past six years. I've probably used both books more in recent years than perhaps anyone else; this puts me in a fairly unique position to discuss the merits of each.

Personally, I think prospective hikers should get BOTH books before their trips, and combine the information, as each work contains useful material not found in the other. However, if you're going to get and use only one, I heartily advocate the Companion: It's more in touch with the contemporary trail; it's put together by folks who actually have hiked in the last ten years; it is probably more accurate and up-to-date with its listings; and lastly, in purchasing one, you help both the A.T.C. and ALDHA, two very worthy organizations. (The converse is that buying the Handbook supports one person and one person only, and this is a person whose other Trail-related activities (press releases, restrictive website, etc.) are not, in my opinion, in the best interest of the Trail or those who plan to hike it).

SGT Rock
01-04-2003, 20:06
Just on a side note. I looked at the new PDF preview version of the Thr-Hikers Guide and liked the new lay out better than the southboud and northbound edditions.

01-05-2003, 10:05
I had a 2000 Thru-Hikers Handbook and gave it a quick review to see how it compares with the companion; as far as I could tell it probably is not quite as detailed as the companion but seemed to have all info a thru-hiker would need. Also, it is set up with south-north milage which makes it easy to read since almost all thru-hikers go in that direction. By taking WF book you can eliminate both the companion and ATC Data Book. So why not take just WF book if it is 90% as good as the others combined and is more compact. The Thru-Hiker Handbook weighed 8 ounces vs 13 ounces for both the companion and data book. Question-from people who have hiked the trail is there that must difference in the 2 books?

Hammock Hanger
01-05-2003, 10:33
Last year I started with pages from the Companion because WF's book was late and not on the market yet. I had carried WF's 2001 book the year before and left that at home for my husband. In Waynesboro I bought WF's 2002 as I like the format better. This year I will take the companion pages and deal with the format, as I will no longer support WF. (It is personal.) I must be the only hiker out there that does not carry the Data Book. HH

SGT Rock
01-05-2003, 10:46
Personally I realy don't like the way the companion is laid out. It reads too much like a shelter/town guide and not a trail guide. I GUESS it is supposed to be used with the data book.

Y'all don't crucify me, but the Thru-Hiker Guide is set up a lot more like what I expect from a guide.

Hammock Hanger
01-05-2003, 10:50
of WF's book is so much better. HH

SGT Rock
01-05-2003, 10:58
Cool, I will look forward to seeing it on the site since the Companion is convieniently placed there so you can check it out.

01-05-2003, 11:21
Thanks for the reply, I guess I am going to give the companion to my wife, buy WF new addition and hike with it. I try to stay out of politics in the hiking community; a lot of negative stuff always tries to follow politics of any hikking community. I was once on the board of directors of a hiking club, and to me it took all the fun out of the organization which basically did a lot of good and took trail responsibility for a portion of the AT in VT.


Hammock Hanger
01-05-2003, 11:23
It was my understanding from the business meeting at the Gathering that the Companion is going to be revamped. Not sure if it will be this year or next. Hopefully they will re-work the format.

Sgt I agree that WF's format is much better. HH

01-06-2003, 11:40
I will chime in on carrying the big three. Data book, Handbook (Wingfoot's) and the Companion. The data book is great for planning the next week as you leave town, and for water sources that are missing in the handbook, and other trail info that might not be in the handbook. The Companion and the Handbook together give you a good idea of most trail towns. One will have a map that the other won't, one will have a store or health clinic that the other won't. The Handbook can be really useful on trail since it gives a lot more detail that the data book. The companion we never looked at on trail, just when planning a town stop.

Just take the pages you need and bounce the rest.

That's what we finally figured out as the best thing..

Gravity Man

01-06-2003, 12:16
I used all three of the books in 99 when I thru hiked and Wingfoot's book was far better. However, I used a 97 or 98 version of it since I could not get the 99 at that time. I hike in 2001 450 miles of the AT and once again I used Wingfoot's book, I did not bother with the others. It is my opinion that is far better than any book out there, regardless of what I think of the author. I think that is the main reason people will not suggest his book, since he does seem to have some problems and does get on peoples nerves somewhat. At any rate, it is your hike and you choose what is best for you. It is your hike, and do it your way, regardless of what we have to say about. Everyone has an opinion about everything, but in the end it is only yours that counts, since it is your hike. Just my 2 cents.... Happy Trails and Happy Planning..... Ed

PS. I did tear the pages out of the books and only carred what I needed until the next mail drop.

01-06-2003, 12:21
The annual question with WF's book is what date will it REALLY be available? Seems like the last couple of years his "annual" update was available mid- April no matter what his website says.