Author Topic: Any AT thru-hikers here?  (Read 3815 times)

RMD

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Any AT thru-hikers here?
« on: July 14, 2014, 09:17:28 AM »
I'm new to hiking and want to thru-hike the AT *someday*.  (Looking at 5-6 years or so...)

Talk to me about your gear...what can you do for cheap and what do you need to spend the $$ on?  How much did it cost you from Springer to Katahdin?  What would you do differently? What books helped you the most?

MgoSam

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Re: Any AT thru-hikers here?
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2014, 09:25:51 AM »
I would also be interested in this as well. This is a goal of mine once I retire.

RMD

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Re: Any AT thru-hikers here?
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2014, 09:33:13 AM »
I would also be interested in this as well. This is a goal of mine once I retire.

Feel free to add your questions if we find someone...thru-hiking the AT just seems like a fairly Mustachian thing to do, I think. :)

shadowmoss

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Re: Any AT thru-hikers here?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2014, 10:18:41 AM »
http://trailjournals.com/
This is the day to day journals of hikers while they hike the AT, and a few other long trails.

http://whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php
a forum, kinda like this one, supposedly centered on the AT.  Lots of drama, over moderation, and I have personal issues with some of the way the owner handles things.  However, a question will get honest answers (usually)

https://hammockforums.net/forum/content.php
Owned by the same person, a lot of over moderation and drama.  However, it is the best site for info on hiking using a hammock rather than a tent.  I personally use a hammock.  Lots of info on do it yourself gear, and cottage industries making innovative gear for the trail.

On the last two, you have been warned.  Lots of excellent info, lots of politics (of the site, not international politics).

I hung out of those sites for a few years.  I also want to hike the AT.  I was supposed to start in 2010, but life (finances) got in the way, and I ended up working outside the country for a couple of years instead.  Hope to make it by 2015.

mak1277

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Re: Any AT thru-hikers here?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2014, 10:23:51 AM »
I'll second whiteblaze.  If nothing else, there are a lot of articles that can help you get started on a gear list.  There is a long article on "dirtbagging" which outlines easy/cheap ways to outfit yourself.

pmags.com - Blogsite of a former triple crown thru-hiker.  He has loads of great information on the AT, as well as sample gear lists.

backpackinglight.com - Another forum.  Costs $5 I think if you want to post yourself, but you can lurk/read for free.  Search the archives there for lots of great info.


Emg03063

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Re: Any AT thru-hikers here?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2014, 10:27:48 AM »
I spent about $5k on the adventure at age 31.  Gear was about $2k of that.  Anything can be done for cheap; what should be done for cheap is an entirely different question.  You have to spend on shoes and insoles (unless you plan to hike barefoot--the guy who tried it my year didn't make it, but it has been done).  Everything else is optional.  There are tradeoffs to weight, cost and comfort with every gear decision you make.  Keep in mind that every extra ounce you carry on your back equals more calories you have to burn to carry it 2000 miles, so what you save on cheap gear you may wind up spending on extra food if you don't buy a certain basic level of weight performance.  I would try to shoot for a base pack weight (all gear not including food, water, and the clothes you wear hiking when it's warm and sunny, of about 20 lbs).  Your big 3 are your tent (or tarp or hammock if you go either of those routes), pack, and sleeping bag.  I spent about $200 on each back in 2006.  (I actually went through 2 different packs on the trip--they were both just under $200).  I spent $275 on my shell jacket.  You can get one for less, obviously, but I don't regret it.  (See thread http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/what's-the-most-you've-ever-spent-on-an-article-of-clothing/) Frog toggs were a popular option for people trying to do shell layers on the cheap, but it's not gore-tex, and you're going to get wetter in pouring rain sooner.  If you already have a decent shell, that may be fine.  2 places you can easily save on gear:  Swiss gear trekking poles at Walmart for $20 are about as good as the $130 I spent on my Leki Makalus (not purchased specifically for that trip), and you can make yourself an alcohol stove for free out of a soda can and save yourself the $80 I spent on my jetboil.  You get to save weight too, but you do have to get a pot.  The ALDHA guide is a must have, IMO, but don't buy it 5-6 years out--it's updated annually, and things do change on the trail from year to year, although if you join, apparently now you get access to it in .pdf form for free.  All other reading is purely optional.  I enjoy Bill Bryson, but for the entertainment value, not the educational value.  The lowest cost hike attempt I met out there was a kid (by that I mean just out of college) trying to do the whole hike for $700.  Not my recommendation.  It's nice to be able to have a few beers in town with your trail buddies, splurge for a hotel room (split 4 ways, of course) every couple of weeks, and to stay in hostels for $10/night every once in a while without worrying about doing a couple hours of work-for-stay after a long day of hiking.  I spent 171 days on my trip.  If I were to do anything differently, it would be to do it slower.

I'm PMing you the link to my journal, which includes descriptions of most of my basic gear selections.  It's available on request to anyone who is interested.  I'd post it, but it identifies me by name, and I like to keep a thin veil of anonymity on the public forum.  Whiteblaze.net is a good forum for trail specific advice (or at least it was back when I was researching), and there's an AT group on Facebook now as well, but feel free to ask any other questions you may have here.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2014, 10:34:14 AM by Emg03063 »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Any AT thru-hikers here?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2014, 05:07:55 PM »
I'd like to do it someday. Bill Bryson's book is certainly worth reading - for a laugh.

Not sure about weight, but consider something like the rocket stove. You can burn small amounts of foraged biomass and get an awfully hot fire.

The DIY alcohol stoves can be done. BIL made a successful one, but it took him quite a few attempts to get it right.

mikedom

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Re: Any AT thru-hikers here?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2014, 05:15:06 PM »
My fiancee and I thru-hiked the Pacfic Crest Trail (west coast equivalent of the AT) last year. It was an amazing experience and well worth every penny we spent. We did spend a lot on gear (lightweight sleeping bag, tent, and packs were the biggest items), but spent a lot of time preparing food ahead of time to avoid all the pre-packaged commercial hiking dinners. We still have leftover cous-cous, bulgar wheat, lentils, and powdered milk that we order in 25lb (or kg) bags from our local food co-op.

We blew through three pairs of shoes each. Each pair got about 1000 miles before falling apart. The AT might be a bit different, most people on the PCT wear trail runners/sneakers because the trail surface is relatively nice. The AT sounds a bit more rocky => maybe more hiking boots?

We kept a blog, PM me and I'll give you the link. I'd be happy to give more specifics. We met a lot of people on the PCT who had already hiked the AT.

Emg03063

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Re: Any AT thru-hikers here?
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2014, 08:50:15 PM »
I used 3 pairs of trailrunners on the AT, and got about 800 miles out of each (although I'm still wearing the last pair as everyday beater shoes 8 years later).  The only place you might consider something different is PA, where the trailbed consists of 1"-2" cube rocks conveniently planted at 45 degree angles to vertical, and you might want something with a stiffer last to spread that impact.  I suffered through it ok with green superfeet insoles, supplemented by dr scholl's gel.  Montrail hard rocks was a popular shoe for that section for that reason, but they didn't fit me (or anyone else with protruding heels) well.  Most thru hikers on the AT use trailrunners.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2014, 12:36:15 AM by Emg03063 »