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  1. #1

    Default Newbie Thru-Hiker Seeks Guidance

    My boyfriend and will be starting a SOBO hike in mid-July 2006. (He's had hundreds of miles of backpacking experience, mostly in the west. I'm less experienced.) We're both fairly traditional backpackers - we carry 20-25% of our body weight.
    1. Any suggestions on how to really break in a pair of boots before the hike begins? (My feet are my weak point - I always get blisters and I'd like to avoid that.)
    2. Since we are hiking together - what things do we NOT need duplicates of? (Obviously tent and stove are in this category, but what about first-aid kits, flashlights, etc...)
    3. As far as clothing goes... Some of the research I've done indicates that we should always have cold weather gear with us, due to elevation changes and the like. Do you agree? If it's not necessary to carry long johns in August, I think I'll have them sent to me along the way.
    4. As the "baby" of my family (I'm 19), they tend to worry about me. Suggestions on how to ease their minds, both before the trail and on the trail?
    5. The cost/comfort continuum is a little daunting to me. I'm a college student - I don't have too much money to spend on gear. Things you would suggest I invest money in and things I could probably do with cheaper items? (For example, one bit of advice I received was that, since I'll be spending alot of time in shelters, a really expensive top-of-the-line tent is probably not the most important thing to buy with my limited funds.)

    Any general comments or suggestions would be welcome. Sorry about writing a novel here. If you reply to my silly questions, you'll probably only encourage me to ask more. (Just a warning...)
    In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.
    -Albert Camus

  2. #2
    trash, hiker the goat's Avatar
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    1 - hike in the boots with some weight on your back....this'll break 'em in the best.

    2 - you can eliminate much- share: water filter, tent, stove, cookware, first aid. you'll both definitely want your own headlamp though.

    3 - alot of people use a "bump-box" that they bounce in between towns vis the USPS, that contains their extra gear, etc.

    4- let 'em know there's alot of good people out there, looking out for each other. get your 'rents to buy you a pre-paid phone card so you can check in while in towns.

    5 - your pack and your shoes are what i'd be most concerned with, quality-wise. you'll find with everything that the name on the equipment and high $$$ doesn't always = quality, you can get good cheap stuff, but it's often times heavier.

    -hope this helps you some....

  3. #3
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    I saw couples on my thru in 2003 that shared gear. Some did great but some did not. If you're absolutely certain that you're going to hike together all the way then the tent and stove thing will most likely work. But that's where I personally would draw the line. Maybe it's the old Eagle Scout in me but I truly believe that each hiker should be pretty well self sufficient. If one of you got injured or for some other reason got off the trail ?? Would the other continue on ??

    My wife and I do a lot of hiking together and each of us has thru hiked the AT. We both believe in being self sufficient. We each carry a small, lightweight shelter and our own stove. I cook with alcohol and she tends to like the cannister stove (MSR Pocket Rocket). We each carry our own food, primarily because we have different tastes and sometimes cook at different times.

    Like I said earlier ...for some hiking couples, splitting things up and sharing the load works great. We did that for quite a few years and learned from experience that it pays for each hiker to have the ability to be independant.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  4. #4
    Registered User LIhikers's Avatar
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    Default To save some money...

    ...don't forget to check second hand stores. I've bought backpacks and clothing good for hiking there. You never know what you'll find so stop in often.
    Personally, I draw the line at socks and underwear, that I want new...lol

  5. #5
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    5. The cost/comfort continuum is a little daunting to me
    Be sure to check ou the article section on this site:

    http://www.whiteblaze.net/index.php?page=content&t=2822

  6. #6
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Any general comments or suggestions would be welcome. Sorry about writing a novel here. If you reply to my silly questions, you'll probably only encourage me to ask more. (Just a warning...)
    FWIW, I think TJ was on to something big when in that long thread he said:

    I always steer AT dreamers toward Jim Owen's Thru-hiking papers that are now up on his website: http://www.spiriteaglehome.com/

  7. #7
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    1. A lot of people hike in trail runners. Also, many use Superfeet insoles. I swear by trail runners, Superfeet and 2 pairs of men's dress socks from Wal-Mart (just make sure no cotton).

    4. I found regular phone calls from each available opportunity, even a message on the machine eased my parent's worry. Also, a trailjournal at www.trailjournals.com was great because friends and family could follow along with you (a few days behind of course).

    5. If you haven't hiked that much before, just go with what you have or borrow from people until you get enough experience to know what you really want.
    <A HREF="http://www.jackielbolen.blogspot.com/"TARGET="Jackie's BLOG">http://www.jackielbolen.blogspot.com/</A>

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunny
    1. Any suggestions on how to really break in a pair of boots before the hike begins? (My feet are my weak point - I always get blisters and I'd like to avoid that.)
    1) Avoid Leather. It gets wet it stays wet. It's heavy, rough and obsolete. You don't see hikers wearing leather clothes and coon skin caps any more, outside of Smokey Mountain Steve and Lone wolf. Use trail runners, try on all you can and pick them purely on the best fit.

    2) When you break them in wear a new set of good synthetic hiking socks. The trail runners will stretch slightly, far less than leather. When you hit the trail add a very light pair of liners between your hiking socks and the trail runners. Blisters are caused by friction/heat, you are trying to move that from between the sock and your feet, to between the sock and the liner.

    3) Before you put your socks on grease up your feet. You can use vaseline, but a spots lubricant such as Body Glide lasts longer. I use a product called Skin Trips, mostly coconut oil.

    4) It's a good idea that if you feel a hot spot to stop immediately and stick your feet in water (below where someone would get water) if you can, and/or cool them down as best you can. Dry them and place a piece of electrical or duct tape over the spot and regrease your feet.

    5) No matter how much you train, it takes time for your feet to form calluse.
    Which is exactly what you need to long distance hike. If you do only five miles for the first 2 days, then 8 for the second 2 days, etc. and no high miles for a few weeks, your feet will carry you as far as you want to go.

  9. #9
    Registered User orangebug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunny
    1. Any suggestions on how to really break in a pair of boots before the hike begins? (My feet are my weak point - I always get blisters and I'd like to avoid that.)
    2. Since we are hiking together - what things do we NOT need duplicates of? (Obviously tent and stove are in this category, but what about first-aid kits, flashlights, etc...)
    3. As far as clothing goes... Some of the research I've done indicates that we should always have cold weather gear with us, due to elevation changes and the like. Do you agree? If it's not necessary to carry long johns in August, I think I'll have them sent to me along the way.
    4. As the "baby" of my family (I'm 19), they tend to worry about me. Suggestions on how to ease their minds, both before the trail and on the trail?
    5. The cost/comfort continuum is a little daunting to me. I'm a college student - I don't have too much money to spend on gear. Things you would suggest I invest money in and things I could probably do with cheaper items? (For example, one bit of advice I received was that, since I'll be spending alot of time in shelters, a really expensive top-of-the-line tent is probably not the most important thing to buy with my limited funds.)
    Did the quote thing to help it parse and ease review of the thread.

    You will want winter gear while you are in New England, as the Presidentials and the Whites are famous for bad weather, hypothermia and other general nastiness. Plan on layers of fleece rather than huge down jackets and such. Check out end of season sales, after holiday sales, and the occasional thrift store visit.

    You could do the entire trip in shelters, but it is an idea to have a tarp at the minimum for safety and comfort. I'd spend money on sleeping bag and then possibly on the pack, keeping the shoes and other gear as moderate expenses. Make your pack among your last purchases, when you actually know what gear you will stuff into it. The sleeping bag should be a very nice gift from your parents, preferably down and let them know it could save your life and will last a lifetime.

    You need to figure out what you will need for your first aid kit - at least as far as your ability and comfort. We have several, including me, who feel a first aid kit should be double functioning, capable of improvisation, and focused on keeping you comfortable while evacuation to an ER is planned - assuming the injury/event is significant. We have several threads on the topic, and many feel I suggest to little gear.

    And you need to think about your budget for money with your hike. The AMC huts cost, as does every town and hostel you encounter. It is frequent that hikers end their hike due to going broke.

  10. #10
    Geezer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jay
    1) Avoid Leather. It gets wet it stays wet. It's heavy, rough and obsolete. You don't see hikers wearing leather clothes and coon skin caps any more, outside of Smokey Mountain Steve and Lone wolf. Use trail runners, try on all you can and pick them purely on the best fit.
    There are few solutions that fit everyone, and this is one. It is good advice for most hikers, especially those with light loads. Some, though, have problems with sneakers on the trail. You kind of implied you will be carrying heavy packs, so sneakers may or may not work for you.

    I am one of those who has had nothing but foot problems with trail runner shoes. Eventually I went back to boots (leather fabric construction). I do have low boots for most use, but still prefer higher tops for more rugged terrain.

    I still have a few pairs of almost brand new sneakers that I wear around town. I tried many brands, but my feet always hurt and the only blisters I ever got in over thirty years of hiking have been with sneakers.

    Anyway, leather isn't yet obsolete. Just not in vogue.
    Frosty

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