Osprey, the absolute backpack expert, shares how to prepare and enjoy a thru-hiking adventure.
Thru-hiking is generally defined as a continuous, end-to-end, long-distance backpacking trip, with continuous footsteps in one direction. A thru-hike starts from one destination and ends at another destination, usually over 100+ miles apart in a single trip that can take weeks, one month, or several months to complete.
STEP 1: DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
The first two questions you should ask yourself when planning a thru-hike are, “Where do I want to go?” and “How long do I want to be gone for?”
thru-hiking is not easy. It’s a daily exercise in being mentally and physically strong. Every day, you’re hiking 10-15 miles per day, all day long, in all different types of weather and terrain. Knowing why you want to thru-hike a long-distance trail is just as important as planning your hike and saving money for it.
Try to learn as much about the trail as you can before you start your hike. One way to research the trail you’re about to hike is to meet other hikers who have already completed the trail.
after you’ve done your research, invest in a couple of paper maps and/or download maps on an app like Gut hook Guides and put together a general itinerary of your trip. Start by figuring out how many miles a day you want to hike.
Leaving what most consider “normal” life can be quite complicated, especially when planning to be gone for almost half a year. This part of the preparation process for a thru-hike is crucial and should be done well in advance of your start date.
The best way to train for a hike is to hike. Pro Tip: Don’t let your thru-hike be your first-day hike or first overnight backpacking trip ever.
When doing a long-distance hike, hikers will either send themselves resupply boxes or buy whatever they need along the way and resupply in town at local stores.
Once your body starts to adapt to hiking several miles a day, every day, it’s going to require an obscene number of calories because you’ll burn most of those calories you consume hiking.
Not only is asking how much it cost to thru-hike a long-distance trail such a popular question, but it’s also the hardest one to answer. The type of budget you need to thru-hike will depend on the type of hike you want to have. Do you already own your gear, or will you need to buy gear for your hike? Do you want to stay in hotels, hostels, or campgrounds? Will you be the hiker who camps just outside of town the night before coming into town? Or are you the hiker who will skip towns altogether?
One of the most expensive parts of a thru-hike, besides quitting your job and not working for five months, is buying and replacing gear. If you’ve been backpacking before or have done a thru-hike already, you might have the gear you can use for your trip. Then it’s a matter of replacing a few items or switching out some things for lighter options.
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