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#200885 - 05/04/18 05:04 AM Thru-Hiking the AT
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
So I'm going to begin my Thru-Hike in Maine shortly. I'm not new to the woods but this is the first time that I have ever attempted something of this magnitude. I'm super excited. If any of you have any pointers or anything that you think I should know I'm all ears. Below are some of questions that I have...

How much food should I bring for the 10 day wilderness?

The books I have been reading told me to figure about 2 pounds a day.

Should I just skip the bear mace?

Every bear I have seen out in the woods has taken right off.

Hatchet or No Hatchet?

Exactly how much clothes should I bring?

I am planning on bringing...

x2 Nike Breathe Hyper Dri T-Shirt
x2 Marmot Long Sleeve T-Shirts
x2 Royal Robins Zip-N-Go Pants
x1 Mountain Hardware Strecker Lite Jacket
x1 Marmot Ramble Component 3-in-1 Jacket
x4 Wool Socks
x2 Sock Silk Liner
x1 Crocs (Camp Shoes)
x1 Camp Shorts
x2 Fleece Lined Long Underwear
x2 Nike Compressions Shorts


Are the black flies as bad as the say?

Any suggested Foods?

I have a pretty good idea of what I'm bringing but 6 months is a long time and eating the same food will get old after a while.

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#200891 - 05/04/18 12:28 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Sasquatch1]
4evrplan Online   content
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 765
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Woah, that's a lot of questions. Let me suggest that you'll get really good information by reading the articles on the main page of this site. For specific information about what has worked for other people in your target areas, I suggest you read some trail journals and/or watch their YouTube videos. For the AT, there should be more of these than you could possibly consume.

Some of your questions are about things I have limited or no experience with, so I can't answer them with any authority (bears, really cold weather, etc), but I'll do what I can. Here goes...

Originally Posted By Sasquatch1
How much food should I bring for the 10 day wilderness?

The books I have been reading told me to figure about 2 pounds a day.

This is really individual. It depends not just on what you pack (how calorie and nutrient dense it is), but also on how many calories you burn. The latest recommendations I've read seem to center around 1.5 lbs/day, but I know at least one member of this forum takes closer to 1 lb/day. Since you're just figuring this all out, it's probably better to err on the side of too much and home in on the right amount as you go, so 2 lbs may be a good recommendation. Also, it will change as your body adjusts to your new lifestyle (unless you're already hiking 20 miles a day*).

* Do NOT start with 20 miles/day! Not unless you're already doing high miles with a fully loaded pack often and are very confident in your ability to do so without injury. Start slow, and your mileage will naturally increase as your body adjusts.

Originally Posted By Sasquatch1
Should I just skip the bear mace?

Every bear I have seen out in the woods has taken right off.

Eh, I don't know about this one. I guess it depends what you're comfortable with?

Originally Posted By Sasquatch1
Hatchet or No Hatchet?

I would definitely recommend NO hatchet. They're very heavy! And unnecessary. Most people don't end up building a fire that often anyway, for various reasons. It fits better with LNT practices not to build fires, in some locations it's illegal, it's not worth the hassle at the end of a long hiking day when you're tired, etc. Even if you do insist on having a campfire, you can almost always do so without using a hatchet. And, you probably already know this, but not everyone reading will, so I'll say it... please please please don't cut down or hack on live trees!

Originally Posted By Sasquatch1
Exactly how much clothes should I bring?

I am planning on bringing...

x2 Nike Breathe Hyper Dri T-Shirt
x2 Marmot Long Sleeve T-Shirts
x2 Royal Robins Zip-N-Go Pants
x1 Mountain Hardware Strecker Lite Jacket
x1 Marmot Ramble Component 3-in-1 Jacket
x4 Wool Socks
x2 Sock Silk Liner
x1 Crocs (Camp Shoes)
x1 Camp Shorts
x2 Fleece Lined Long Underwear
x2 Nike Compressions Shorts

I would probably ditch the short sleeve t-shirts and only bring 1 of the long sleeve t-shirts, unless you're going to sleep in it, and even then, I'd only bring 1. I looked up the 3-in-1 rain jacket and noticed that it's fleece lined. That's fine if you're only going to use it hiking in very cool and cold weather, but in a warm rain, I think you're going to be very sweaty and uncomfortable. Plus, you already listed a separate fleece jacket. Why are you bringing separate shorts for camp, when you already listed zip-off pants? Unless you want something dry to sleep in on warm nights? Also, why 2 pair of long underwear instead of 1? Is 1 for hiking in cold weather, and the other for sleeping?

And, speaking of insulation, is the fleece jacket and rain jacket combination going to be enough to keep your torso warm on cold evenings when you're sitting around camp? Are you planning to drape your sleeping bag over you as well? It might be that you're warm natured and that it's plenty; I just don't know. For me personally, by the time I got into fall, I'd probably need a puffy jacket, or I'd have to use my sleeping bag. You don't necessarily have to start with the puffy jacket of course, when the weather is warm. You can have it mailed to you later.

Originally Posted By Sasquatch1
Are the black flies as bad as the say?

No idea.

Originally Posted By Sasquatch1
Any suggested Foods?

I have a pretty good idea of what I'm bringing but 6 months is a long time and eating the same food will get old after a while.

Again, the experience of other AT hikers' journals and video logs will help with this. In addition, there's a food section to this forum. There are various backpacking blogs with recipes, and if you haven't already, check out trailcooking.com.

And finally, let me say to take all of my advice with a grain of salt, as my experience is limited, especially where long distance hiking is concerned (I've done none - though I've done some research). I'm hoping one of the forum's long-distance trail hiking members will chime in.
_________________________
Hiking is the ultimate realization that the journey is more important than the destination.

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#200893 - 05/04/18 12:54 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Sasquatch1]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 149
Loc: Portland, Oregon
You might check out Dixie's videos. She did the AT in 2016, the PCT in 2017 and is currently doing the CDT. Lots of good common-sense information, and fun to watch. She hiked northbound, so some seasonal differences, but probably still pretty helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQhqmV26773qZhzqJz4VFcw/videos
_________________________
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#200894 - 05/04/18 01:46 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Sasquatch1]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2990
Loc: Portland, OR
Hatchet or No Hatchet?

Chances are very good that even if you started out with a hatchet in your pack, you would get rid of it at your earliest opportunity.

By the end of the day you will be tired enough that the idea of having to gather wood and make a fire before you can cook your evening meal will seem very unappealing to you. Cutting green wood makes absolutely no sense, and just disfigures the surroundings to no purpose. In addition to LNT principles, I think you will find that the area near most campsites has been picked over for downed and dead firewood pretty thoroughly before you arrive.

Bring a stove. Use it. Experiment with no-cook meals when the weather is hot. But don't bring the hatchet.

And have a great hike!

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#200897 - 05/04/18 03:22 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: aimless]
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
Thanks for the input! I just ordered the Jet Boil stove, and I will be leaving the hatchet behind.

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#200898 - 05/04/18 03:31 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Bill Kennedy]
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
Awesome! I'll check it out. Thanks!

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#200899 - 05/04/18 05:11 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: 4evrplan]
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
Haha I know it. Thanks for responding! I'll check out the articles. There is tons of stuff on youtube. Also a lot of books. I've been soaking it all up.

Definitely not doing 20 miles a day. I plan on taking it easy for the first couple weeks. I agree on packing a little extra food. The first 100 miles is nothing but wildnerness. Better make sure I don't run out of food. I'll shoot for 2 lb/day.

I suppose I better bring the bear mace. Doesn't weight to much. Rather be safe than sorry.

You're right about not needing the hatchet. It seems unnecessary. I'm going to leave it behind. No worries my friend I won't be hacking into any green trees.

Trying to decide what clothes and how much to pack has honestly been rather annoying. I'm a bit of a clean freak. The thought of hiking in the same shirt for 6 months isn't very appealing. That's the reason for all the shirts. I have taken the fleece out of the jacket and plan to use it mostly as a rain jacket. So far it works great. I bought this coat thinking that I could save a bit of room and use one coat for everything. I planned on bringing the second fleece jacket because the one that came with the coat is going to be to hot for everyday wear. I'll probably only use it when it's extremely cold out. I tend to be warm blooded. Especially when moving all day. It's super heavy and hopefully will be great. If it isn't I'll do like you said and have my puffy mailed to me. You're correct. I planned on having a pair of long underwear for hiking and then for camp when it's to cold out.

I've got to weight everything out yet. If it's to heavy some of the clothes will be the first thing to go.


Thanks again for your input! It has been helpful.

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#200904 - 05/04/18 08:03 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Sasquatch1]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6601
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
There is a lot of material on WhiteBlaze, a forum specifically for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.

You'll be passing through lots of towns with laundry facilities, so you certainly won't be wearing the same clothes without washing for six months! Not only is there no need to take so many changes of clothing, but you are setting yourself up for injury by carrying an unnecessarily heavy pack.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

Top
#200905 - 05/04/18 09:53 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: OregonMouse]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2990
Loc: Portland, OR
I fully agree with OregonMouse that a too-heavy pack is a big contributor to stress injuries that can drive you off the trail prematurely, but there is no real substitute for finding out for yourself what you should leave behind and what you value too much to part with. His choice of posting to the Beginner's forum instead of the Long Distance forum indicates that he'll be learning plenty, both before he starts and after he's on the trail. Not the least valuable thing he'll learn is how to listen carefully to his body. It will tell him volumes every day.

Learning precisely what clothes to take and how to pare them down to the perfect combination for the changeable mountain weather, your own metabolism and style of hiking is one of the last accomplishments of a seasoned backpacker. It's also where newbies tend to overpack the most. I carried more clothes than I needed for at least 20 years before I got wise.

Luckily, Sasquatch1 will be the beneficiary not just of some valuable trail experience once he has spent some time on the AT, but he'll encounter a wide variety of other hikers and many of them will give him their opinions about his kit - whether he asks for it or not. If there is one thing thru-hikers do not lack for, it is free advice about gear and clothes, much of it contradictory. grin

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#200906 - 05/04/18 10:48 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: OregonMouse]
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
Thanks for the insight. So you think a 45-50 lb. pack is going to be to heavy for the AT? I'm in pretty good shape and accustomed to carrying that much weight around. I realize though that the hills of PA aren't the same as Mt. Katahdin in Maine. What do you think would be the ideal weight of a pack for the AT?

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#200910 - 05/05/18 12:21 AM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Sasquatch1]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2990
Loc: Portland, OR
There is a concept called "base weight". It addresses all the weight you will be carrying that will not be consumed during your hike. Food, water, and fuel are not part of base weight, but it describes your clothing, shelter, backpack and other durable items. There may be some days when you may need to carry quite a bit of food, water and fuel, so that your entire pack weight might conceivably be 45 lbs. But ideally that weight will largely disappear in a relatively short time.

I would aim for a base weight in the range of 20 lbs or less. Most of the hikers here will carry a base weight less than that, even for short backpacks. My base weight is roughly 15 lbs. If you can meet a base weight below 20 lbs, by all means do so. In order to thru-hike the AT you will need to walk high miles when you're on the trail to make up for all the days when you must leave the trail for resupply, repair, and rest.

Carrying just one extra pound for 2100 miles puts an extra work load on your muscles and joints. The further you hike on the AT the more you will physically appreciate the 'weight' of this fact. Every thru-hiker learns this lesson and the sooner it sinks in, the better off you'll be.

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#200912 - 05/05/18 10:20 AM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: aimless]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1628
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I just noticed that nowhere in the preceding posts did you discuss whether you are taking any “training hikes” before starting. (At this point, I’ll apologize if my assumption that you aren’t taking such hikes is wrong.) Also, keep in mind that I have not thru-hiked the AT (I’ve done a couple of short sections in Virginia.) So, remember that you’re getting an opinion, not hard fact.

To figure out what pack load works for you, start taking two or three night trips. Pack what you plan on taking on the AT for a week (including food.) Hiking with that load might give you an idea how it will feel, day after day. When you get home, sort your gear into two piles: everything you actually used (plus obvious necessities like rain gear and first aid supplies) goes in one pile, and the stuff you never touched goes in another. (You’ll have to use judgment on clothing: for three days, you may not use some clothing that you would want later in the week or in town.)

On the next trip, don’t take anything in the didn’t-use pile. (If you find that you needed something you didn’t have, add it back to the first pile when you get home.

After a few trips, you’ll have a much better idea of what you do and don’t need. (My guess is the hatchet will end up in the second pile after the first trip.)

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#200916 - 05/05/18 12:46 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Sasquatch1]
HPD Offline
member

Registered: 12/22/16
Posts: 70
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Originally Posted By Sasquatch1
So I'm going to begin my Thru-Hike in Maine shortly. I'm not new to the woods but this is the first time that I have ever attempted something of this magnitude. I'm super excited. If any of you have any pointers or anything that you think I should know I'm all ears. Below are some of questions that I have...

How much food should I bring for the 10 day wilderness?

The books I have been reading told me to figure about 2 pounds a day.

Should I just skip the bear mace?

Every bear I have seen out in the woods has taken right off.

Hatchet or No Hatchet?

Exactly how much clothes should I bring?

I am planning on bringing...

x2 Nike Breathe Hyper Dri T-Shirt
x2 Marmot Long Sleeve T-Shirts
x2 Royal Robins Zip-N-Go Pants
x1 Mountain Hardware Strecker Lite Jacket
x1 Marmot Ramble Component 3-in-1 Jacket
x4 Wool Socks
x2 Sock Silk Liner
x1 Crocs (Camp Shoes)
x1 Camp Shorts
x2 Fleece Lined Long Underwear
x2 Nike Compressions Shorts


Are the black flies as bad as the say?

Any suggested Foods?

I have a pretty good idea of what I'm bringing but 6 months is a long time and eating the same food will get old after a while.


















IMHO:
2 lbs sounds a little much, at least compared to what I take, but you'll get a better feel for that after the 1st ten days. Better to overestimate at the beginning probably and adjust after.

Because bears have always run away doesn't mean they always will. Black bears have killed people in the Smokies. A buddy of mine did the trail some years back and the most trouble he had with bears was in New Jersey! If you weren't going solo you could skip it. I'd take it.

Hatchet? Only if you're skipping the bear spray.

For the most part, the only things I take 2 of are socks(I usually take 3, 2 for hiking, 1 for sleeping) and underware.

Haven't dealt with the flies much but I guess they're a problem in the northern reaches.

I'd suggest trying some different foods beforehand and develop a rotating menu for the trip. Everybody's tastes are different.

Good luck!
Bill


Edited by HPD (05/05/18 05:11 PM)

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#200929 - 05/08/18 11:19 AM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: aimless]
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
I should be able to get it around 20 lbs. Getting rid of a lot of clothes sure did help. smile

I'm going to go through all my gear again and see what else I can get rid of.

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#200930 - 05/08/18 11:29 AM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
I've been hiking a lot during the day when I can. I've only done a couple overnighters though. I work in the oilfield so it's hard to get out there for consecutive days. Although I quit shortly so I will be able to all the hiking I want before I leave.

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#200931 - 05/08/18 01:08 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: Sasquatch1]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6601
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
If you don't already have these items, you might want to check the "Buy and Sell Gear Here" section--available from one of our long-time members.

"White Blaze Pages 2018 & AT Data Book 2018."


Edited by OregonMouse (05/08/18 01:10 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#200949 - 05/10/18 04:24 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: HPD]
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
Yeah I'm going to leave the hatchet at home. Going to take the bear mace though just in case. I'm cutting back on a lot of clothes but I'm going to bring the extra socks. Not that much extra weight.

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#200950 - 05/10/18 04:26 PM Re: Thru-Hiking the AT [Re: OregonMouse]
Sasquatch1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/04/18
Posts: 13
Loc: PA
Thanks! I'll make sure to check it out.

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