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  1. #1
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    Default NOBO Thru Hike / Several Questions

    NOBO Thru Hike / Several Questions

    Only experience was walking the 500 miles Camino Frances from St. Jean-Pied da Port to Santiago de Compostela; one of the St. James Way in Spain.
    The more I read about the AT, the more I am challenge to want to do it. Soooo....I am seriously planning doing it on 2018....

    IMPORTANT Background info to consider when sharing your advice:
    1) I am first timer as Hiker (Novice) as far as wilderness goes. BUT I want to face this challenge and I am sure other fellow AT hikers would support me on the trail sharing knowledge etc....
    2) Considering starting: Last wk of March / 1st wk April // Thru Hike - Mt. Springer to Mt. Katahdin by no later than Sep: 5 to 5.5 months
    3) Not doing drop off @ Post Office / Do not have means to alternate gear

    4) I realize there are many options regarding equipment and ways to go about gearing up etc...FYI I can not afford and not interested in expensive equipment or gear. I would appreciate just the basics and most economical options to make it all the way thru.

    Questions:


    Avg Temp 2016
    Gainesville, GA 3rd wk Mar 24F / 69F // 1st wk Apr 48F / 80F
    Millinocket, Maine 4th wk Aug 46F / 84F // 2nd wk Sep 44F / 71F


    Clothing
    : Note: Just to be clear....I plan to carry them the whole trip. What I should have? and # of pieces?

    Day time (Walking)

    Night time (Camp / Sleeping)

    Sleeping:
    I have read many articles....ended up more confuse than anything....The question then is: What will work for both Autumn (Layering with clothes) / Summer temps? Appreciate most economical options for Sleeping Bag and/or Quilt

    Tent: 1 person & Backpack inside
    Options:
    Free Standing & Semi-Free Standing

  2. #2
    Registered User DownEaster's Avatar
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    Most of your questions are fairly open-ended, and probably not a good fit to the "straight forward" forum. Here are a few answers that I think are straight-forward.

    For a tent with you and your backpack inside you'll be shopping in the 2-person tent category, plus the very few "1.5" person tents. There just isn't enough extra space in 1-person tents to accommodate your backpack and everything in/on it.

    For the most economical clothing which you can also carry throughout your trip you'll be wearing synthetics. You can find polyester wicking T-shirts in both short-sleeve and long-sleeve styles, and layering those should get you through a fairly wide range of temperatures. Shopping at thrift stores for used clothing will save you money. In colder areas you can usually find fleece garments at such stores, but in Puerto Rico fleece might be uncommon.

    For rain and wind protection get a Frogg Toggs rain suit. It's not an elegant solution by any means, but it's the most protection for the least money.

    I encourage you to read through posts on the various gear forums, and ask specific questions about each piece of equipment you'll need.

  3. #3
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    I thru hiked the JMT last year where I tried to pack for temperatures ranging from a little below freezing to HOT.
    Here's the choices I made that worked pretty well:

    * Ice Breaker 200 long pants and long shirt - Extra Warmth. I never experienced temps below freezing so I could have left these at home
    * Shorts, quick drying shirt, underwear x2, liner socks x2, wool socks x2 - Primary Hiking. The x2 was so that I could wear one set for about 2 days while I washed and dried the other set. This worked great for me, but I didn't experience any rain, and the dry conditions made it easy to even try the wool socks. On the AT, you'll experience days with unending rain and humidity will typically be pretty high taking longer to dry stuff, especially wool socks without either wearing them or hanging them out in the sun every chance you get.
    * Bugs-Away long pants, shirt, and head net - Avoided the use of any DEET on my JMT thru. Had to fight off mosquitos and biting flies. They generally didn't bother you while hiking. But sit to rest, get some lunch, or get to camp and they were all over you. Also gave me an extra layer to wear while washing primary shirt and shorts.
    * Wool hat, gloves, and Down Jacket - Warmth layer. The jacket was great when getting out of the sleeping bag, either in the middle of the night or just waking up.
    * Rain Jacket and Rain Pants - Never experienced any rain, but the rain jacket was great when I started hiking in the mornings and temps were a little on the cold side until the sun came up (didn't want to hike in the down jacket).
    * Sleep cloths - shorts, shirt, socks. This was to help keep my sleeping bag clean. I would hang my sweaty cloths that I wore during the day from some string I permanently have tied up inside my tent like a cloths line.

  4. #4
    Registered User KDogg's Avatar
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    Start date will be fine but keep in mind that you can still expect to see snow during April and even into May.

    For clothing you will want one set of clothes to hike in, one set to sleep in and some folks take a some bits for town. Never hike in your sleeping clothes so they will always be dry. Yes, this means that you will often be putting on wet clothes in the morning. Your choices will change when it gets warm but this means less weight.

    For sleeping bag I used a quilt with a liner and an insulated inflatable mat. That, plus all the clothes I took, was barely enough to keep warm during the coldest nights but worked great overall. A bag works better for most people but I personally don't like being in one.

    Definitely a two person tent. The one person tent will be too small. It doesn't need to be free standing.

    You don't need to have any experience before starting, I didn't. You will figure it all out quickly. However, this might mean that you will need to replace/add to your gear as you go so plan your money accordingly. I ended buying a new tent at trail days. I know the forums can be confusing but keep reading them anyways. Keep in mind that some of recommendations folks make for an AT section hike might not work for an AT thru hike and it will not always be clear who is making the recommendation.

    You are going to want to keep your pack weight down. This doesn't mean you need to be a gram counter and everything needs to be expensive and ultralight. It means that you want to keep weight in mind for all purchases and decisions. You will not get used to carrying too much weight.

    Get a good guide book like the AT guide or AWOLS. I also found the Guthooks app to be money well spent. Spend some time figuring out how you would plan a day or few days of hiking - where you are going to get water, where you would eat lunch, where you are going to camp, where you would resupply, where to zero. You don't need to plan the whole hike as that plan will change daily but this will help you gain confidence before you start.

    Try not to set a deadline for finishing. This can weigh heavily on your mind, even at the beginning of your hike. Your mileage will be (and should be) low at the start and increase pretty dramatically after a month or so. However, towards the end of the hike your mileage may take a big hit. We were doing 20 mile days for many weeks. When we reached NH our mileage dropped to 10 miles a day until the 100 mile. Give yourself permission to be flexible.

    Have fun!

  5. #5
    Registered User DownEaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    * Ice Breaker 200 long pants and long shirt - Extra Warmth.
    The lowest price I've seen for these fine wool garments is $160, whereas a polyester base layer set can be had for $20. mbqhappy can not afford and is not interested in expensive stuff.

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    I'm not an expert by any means, so take my advice in this light. I too have to carry everything from beginning to end as I'm in the same boat as you. The less bells and whistles you have the lighter your pack and the easier it will be to organise stuff. Here's my ten cents in no particular order

    1. A base layer that wicks perspiration. Helly Hanson is light, affordable and dries very quickly if wet, which makes life easy. They a leading brand in this regard. Some other well known brands take an eternity to dry. This is the clothing you will live in. Don't get too close to camp fires unless you like plastic surgery.
    2. There's no need to carry mosquito nets, bug spray etc that's out of season, and more practical to buy it as the need arises. i.e. Everything has a season.
    3. Buy food you eat in everyday life and are familiar with. Your body knows how much food it wants and doesn't agree with formulas that proport X amount of calories. Start with less food and build up once your mind settles into it. Remember: Boiled eggs are better than a box of Snickers
    4. Become a nerd and remove all superficial stuff from your gear like labels etc. Once you get into this wimp mindset you will be surprised at the weight saving
    5. Get shoes one size up from your normal size. Skip the waterproof stuff. Get wool socks and liners. Some only take 2 pairs of each. I carry more liners. Walking in wet feet day after day and you will have empathy with WW1 soldiers dealing with trench foot. The shoe that works for one person may not work for another. Don't look at the brands. but look for comfort.
    6. I wear long pants regardless of the season. Zip off pants are a good option if you want the best of both worlds. Nylon dries fairly fast. My pants have a belt because I keep my passport and stuff on me at all times in a looped bag that goes inside my pants against my thigh.
    7. Get good underwear. Besides impressing the chicks, it needs to be tight fitting and of a decent length. Walking for 6 months with your family jewels swinging like a pendulum is only for the tough guys
    8. You will need a fleece full length zipped jacket to keep you warm and can be worn under a rain coat.
    9. A puffy jacket. To be used only when the day is finished and your legs are in pain.
    10. You will at some point or other be too cold or too hot in whatever sleeping bag you have. You spend half your time kipping so spend here and get the lightest one affordable. Big bulky ones take lots of pack space. You don't want to look like a Christmas tree with stuff dangling from the outside of your backpack. A silk liner is good to have, as is a sleep mat. The cheaper mats are heavier but easier to throw on the ground and pass out
    11. At the most you will carry 1 liter of water. You will need more if you cook. A filter is desirable. - a popular brand is the Sawyer regular and not the mini.
    12. If you carry 5 pounds of medical equipment, the chances are you will need it. A better way is to carry a few items that can be added to when you hit a town. If you get into a violent confrontation with someone who snores in a shelter, it would be nice if you offered him a plaster or a headache tablet
    13. You can either take a T-shirt or any other shirt for hot weather. I wear a l/s and I'm as cool as a cucumber
    14. A rain jacket - any brand will do as you gonna get wet anyway
    15. Get a good beanie. Warm ears are critical. Baseball caps are extra weight, and besides that, it's a crap sport.
    16. Hiking poles - avoid the screw in variety. Unsure if they really important to have, but they will give you something to do with your hands
    17. Backpack - obviously get a light one with a rain cover. 55 L - 60 L in a nice range.
    18. Whatever you can't afford to get is no big deal. Hikers are always losing and throwing away stuff that you can pick up along the way for free
    19. A one person tent is fine unless you sleep walk. Small tents are easier to find a spot to pitch
    20. The Inuit sleep naked in their igloos. Because you not an Inuit, maybe just fleece pants and a l/s shirt with a hood

  7. #7
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    Much appreciated to everyone for responding so quickly....Your feedback and suggestions did answer many of my questions and worries....I guess the more I read, the faster I will come to understand what I need to do as far as pre-planning and getting ready goes....

  8. #8
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownEaster View Post
    The lowest price I've seen for these fine wool garments is $160, whereas a polyester base layer set can be had for $20. mbqhappy can not afford and is not interested in expensive stuff.
    You got to keep an eye on clearance deals... especially during the off season between Christmas and Easter.
    Here's an example of some of the gear I've collected over the years
    Set of Ice Breaker pants/shirt ($150 Retail) - $60
    Mountain Hardward Ghost Whisper down jacket ($320 Retail) - $150
    Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 & footprint ($520 Retail) - $375
    Kelty Gunnison 3.1 ($250 Retail) - $130
    ExOfficio BugsAway Shirt & Pants ($195 Retail) - $96

  9. #9
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    The best piece of advice I can give is if you have the means then travel up to the states in 2017 and do a hike somewhere on the AT. That's gonna be the most direct way to get answers to your questions. You don't even need to stay out overnight, you can do a few day hikes and see how it goes. Just a thought...

    Many newbs come on here asking similar questions, and there are a ton of threads of this nature. There are also some general guides that can be found on Whiteblaze that contain a lot of good info. So the only other question to be answered if you don't have wilderness experience is will you actually like being out there long term when it's hot, buggy, wet, cold or any combo of those...going out and hiking is the only way to answer that one.
    JMT - 2013

  10. #10
    Registered User Sandy of PA's Avatar
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    Get the Thru-hiker planning guide from the ATC.

  11. #11

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    There are lots of books written by folks who have done a successful thru.
    Be wary of advice from people on the web.
    Try out the stuff you plan to use on " shake down hikes" .
    Achieve/ maintain a reasonable level of fitness prior to start.
    Hke your own hike.
    It's only walking.

  12. #12
    Registered User sadlowskiadam's Avatar
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    Here is a link to The AT Hiker website, which provided me with the information I needed to complete my thru hike in 2013. The site addresses all basic gear and clothing you will need. Very comprehensive site that should help a novice (which I was before stepping on the AT). Best of luck!

    http://www.athiker.org/things-you-need

  13. #13
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    Some have said you need a 1.5 or 2 person tent to have enough room to keep your pack inside. I used this 1 person tent for my entire thru-hike and many section hikes and have found it to have more than enough room for me and my pack. Also only 24 ounces, sets up using one hiking pole and 6 stakes.

    https://www.sixmoondesigns.com/colle...cts/lunar-solo

    Carrying cold weather gear in June - August is gonna suck. I'd try to work that out. I hiked with a guy from Germany who sent his cold weather gear to another hiker's house who he met on the trail. That hikers wife forwarded to him later when he needed it. He had his warm weather gear sent to him from Germany to Parisburg, VA. Another option is to use a bounce box, sending it up the trail every few weeks. I think post offices will hold a box for 1 month.
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

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    I sleep with my Osprey Atmos in my Copper Spur 1 all of the time. I have advanced to leaving my hiking Stick outside under the rain fly.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsGap
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-OtterCreek/DollySods/WRim-NCT
    17 BearRun

  15. #15
    Registered User jjozgrunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don H View Post
    Carrying cold weather gear in June - August is gonna suck. I'd try to work that out. I hiked with a guy from Germany who sent his cold weather gear to another hiker's house who he met on the trail. That hikers wife forwarded to him later when he needed it. He had his warm weather gear sent to him from Germany to Parisburg, VA. Another option is to use a bounce box, sending it up the trail every few weeks. I think post offices will hold a box for 1 month.
    I'm from Australia and one of the options I looked at was to use my business box at Ship it To https://www.shipito.com/en/?countrycode=US. I could ship my summer stuff there before I started, ship to me on the trail and winter back, and so forth. They'll hold a parcel for 90 days so not a problem. You could use any similar company. Didn't need it as my niece moved back to the USA with her family. You could also ask on here, when I was discussing options I had a number of people offer to hold my gear and ship it when required.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

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