6 Essential Tips to ROCK Your Thru-Hike Prep

Bridget Blake // June 28

Anyone else out there like to plan, organize, research, and overly prepare for things? We are talking Google Docs of itineraries and such. All the Google Docs in the world could not have prepared me for my first thru-hike which turned out to be one of my greatest experiences to date while still managing to be one of the suckiest. While I would love to get into the sappy details, let's start with the important things you should consider before, during, and after your next thru-hike. Here is part one of three: The Before.

6 Essential Tips to ROCK Your Thru-Hike Prep

Prepping for a Thru-Hike

  • First, be realistic about what kind of trail you want and when you will be traveling. Research trails that are the level of difficulty you are interested in. Read reviews of the trail. Watch videos. Your trail may be really great until summer hits, or vice versa. You will become intimately involved with this trail so take the time to get to know it beforehand.
  • Once you have the trail picked out decide if you are traveling solo. I opted to go with another person. Hear, feel, and taste the next words because they are very important…make sure you and your partner are very clear about trip expectations. One person wants to wing it and the other wants to track maps? You want to go 4 miles/day and they want to go 8? This would make things incredibly difficult.  Talk everything through–even if it is someone you have spent plenty of time with, they could have completely different ideas.
  • Make a packing list. Why is this so important? Well, because chances are Amazon won’t be delivered to where you are going. Top considerations: pack light and functional. Harness your inner minimalist here while still ensuring your safety and survival. Divide your packing list into different sections (i.e. food and clothes,) and outline what you and your partner (if applicable) each need versus what you can both use. You take the tent, they take the food? Sharing is caring so divide and conquer.
  • Pack, unpack, and repack your bag to find the best distribution situation. This really matters because if your pack is all topsy-turvey, your body will be as well. Light, heavy, light was what I found to be the best method here. Pay close attention to weight distribution from one side of your pack to another. Also, when packing, think about what you will need the most and make it easily accessible. Yet, you also want to maintain some level of organization. I love the compression packing cubes that make it easy to accomplish all your packing needs!!
  • Putting on your pack and training for your trip is a super great way to prepare and get exercise. Carrying a pack is new to the muscles and joints in your body. You’ll have greater success acclimating yourself to it beforehand. If you have packed your bag in different ways and then practiced with it you will also find what best suits you. You may look really silly rucking around your neighborhood with a pack, however, you and your joints will appreciate the preparation once you are on the trail.
Read More: Hiking and Exploring Along the Rocky Mountain Front
  • A thru-hike gives you a perfect excuse to do a mock-up, fake-out, dry run (whatever the kids are calling it these days,) beforehand, so use it!! Pick a spot you have wanted to try and do a trip where you hike it out to a place and camp. Again, it's a great opportunity to make sure your pack works and you have everything you do/do not need. On this trip, I encourage you to bring more than you think you need. Why? You will find really quickly that the lighter your load, the happier you will be. When you get home, go through and ditch the stuff you can. Keep packing, unpacking, and adjusting accordingly.

The demand for camping sites and hiking is crazy right now, so do not forget to book early if you need a ride, camping, or hotel accommodations. It's better to be safe than sorry. Once you have everything in order do one last check before you hit the trail.

Oh, and do not forget to have fun because it's likely this will be the adventure of a lifetime!

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About the Author

Bridget Blake

Bridget Blake is a Nurse Practitioner and business consultant based out of Florida. With a life goal of a wasteLESS wilderness, she is a proponent of sustainability, natural living, and making sure her two kiddos grow up as free-range as possible. Although new to hunting, she is passionate about learning new skills and sharing them with those who also want to learn. Bridget is dedicated to becoming a wilderness expert and teaching others how to coexist with the world around them.