I’m so excited to have the amazing Anna on the website today with a few tips for beginning thru-hikers. I think you’ll find her post encouraging and informative. Thanks, Anna!
Do you want to go thru-hiking but don’t know how to get started? Then this is for you. I am an avid hiker, backpacker and nature lover, but I have never thru-hiked in my life. Not until this summer that is.
About a year ago I decided that 2016 was going to be the year where I would do my first ever thru-hike. I’ve done tons of day-hikes, even a few multi-day-hikes with sleeping in mountain huts on the way, but I had never hiked a trail end-to-end. So how did I prepare? Here is my advice.
First things first. If you have no hiking or backpacking experience I suggest you get into that before setting out on your first thru-hike. Go explore your local trails for the day or even include some camping while you’re at it. Find some friends to join you and make it a weekend getaway. Having fun? Then you’re ready for the next step.
Nothing will prepare you more for a thru-hike than actually hiking. Get out there and start collecting kilometers/miles on the trails. If you already know where you’re first thru-hike will take you try to practice in similar conditions (e.g. terrain, weather etc.) as you will find on the trail you’re planning to take on. Even if you are just doing day hikes take all your gear with you. Your body will need time to adjust to the backpack and the weight on your shoulders. The sooner you get used to that, the better. Get in shape. It will increase your mental toughness.
Get the right gear
Got all the gear you need? If you are unsure there are many packing lists available online guiding you through what you should be looking for. Go to your local retailer and talk to the experts working there. Gather as much information as you can – do some research. One of the most important things is to get the base weight of your pack down as low as possible (as low as you’re comfortable with). Dragging a pack that is too heavy is one of the most common reasons for people to quit a thru-hike.
Less is more
It doesn’t have to be the Appalachian Trail, nor the Pacific Crest Trail or any other trail that covers more than a 1,000 kilometers/miles. Why not start small? There are plenty of short(er) thru-hikes which can be hiked end-to-end within a few days – a perfect way to get started.
- 21 pro tips for the first time thru-hiker
- Backpacking vs. thru-hiking
- How to train for a thru-hike
- World’s best hikes: 20 dream trails
- The best short(er) thru-hikes in America