Help me, please, anyone.

So, the hiking is going well… and by “well”, I mean that when I’m on the way up a mountain, I’m cursing father time, and on the way down, I’m all like, “I COULD DO 19 OF THESE!”  I couldn’t.  I have recently started walking with a pack.   Not on the mountain (yet), but I’m doing a lot of trail walking, so I’ve been bringing a weighted pack with me on the trails.  Between the pack, the blanket, and the dumbbells that I put inside of it, it weighs about 15lbs.  Today, I walked what us Mainers call “The Boulevard.”  It’s a 3.5-mile trail around a cove, that sits a few blocks outside of the busiest part of Portland.  The pack is borrowed from a friend, the hiking boots are three years old, and have not been broken in. I got them during my “fleeting idea days”, and they’ve been in a closet ever since.  So… my back hurts, and I got my first hikers blister this week.  It feels a little bit like a rite of passage, and also a little bit like a sore foot.  The more I introduce hiking gear into my training regiment, the more I realize that I have no idea what I’m doing.  I am getting some help from friends, but most of those conversation look something like this…

Me (while trying on packs): “How do I know which one will work best?”

Timmy (non-hiking friend who is barely paying attention): “That one should be fine.”

I’m not sure I should be making decisions for a 20 day thru-hike, over 53 mountains, based on phrases like, “should be fine.”  I may need to solicit the help of other hikers. I’ve started a supply list; relying heavily on the internet and not so much on my own instincts. I’m the kind of trip-packer who brings an extra bag just for the shoes and purses. I’d bring a shower koozie on this trail, if you let me. I can’t be trusted. I’m trying to figure out what I will need, what brands are most durable, and what supplies a new hiker would think are necessary, but will end up being dead weight. So, any supply/gear tips or hacks, would be incredibly helpful.  I’ll share my list below, feel free to tell me what to add or knock off…

Shelter and Comfort: Tent, pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad.

Clothing: One short sleeve shirt, one long sleeve shirt, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, three pairs of socks/underwear, one sports bra, one pair of hiking shoes, one pair of camp shoes.

Cooking/Food Supplies: Food, water, water purification tool, stove, spork/knife, (possible high-rimmed plate, but I’m not sure if that’s necessary.  I could just eat out of the pot and save myself that weight).

Utilities: Knife/multi-tool, bear spray, duct tape, rope, flash light, batteries, compass, flint/magnesium, a lighter/matches, hiking poles.

Toiletries: Toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, all-purpose camp soap, wash cloth, toilet paper, first aid supplies, sunscreen.

Reading Material: Guide book, map, one book of choice, small notebook/pen.

Extras: Camera, solar charger.

There are certain items that I know I will need, for sure.  I don’t think a single one of you is going to tell me to knock the water flirtation system off my list. No one has time for Giardia. But the options within are vast, and it can be overwhelming for a first time thru-hiker, such as myself.  So, I have a few (more specific) questions that I could use some insight on as well.

Water filtration: From tablets, to UV lights, to squeeze filters, to filter pumps, to bleach… what’s a girl to do? No, seriously, what do I do? I watched this documentary one time, where a couple of guys were trying to see if they could live on $1 a day, in an impoverished part of Guatemala.  One of them got sick from contaminated water, and now I have a real fear. I don’t even drink the water at my house, and I’m from the home of Poland Spring.  I’m leaning towards a squeeze filter, but I’m wondering if that is a realistic option for the length of this hike?

Pack weight: I read somewhere, that on a long-distance hike, your pack averages to about 1/3 of your weight. The average woman weighs 166.2lbs. Obviously that’s not the case over here, or I wouldn’t be writing a blog that starts with the words “fat girl”, but let’s just say, for research’s sake, that I was the weight of an “average woman.” Can we just pause for a minute here and appreciate how specific the average weight of a woman is… 166.2 lbs? Who did this math? Where did you get your intel? Doctor’s offices across the nation? Was there some sort of a poll on the street? “Excuse me Miss, we are trying to find the average weight of a woman, would you mind getting on this scale?” Anyway… if the average woman had a pack that totaled 1/3 of her body weight, she would be carrying a 55.4lb pack.

That seems completely unreasonable.

I’ve done a little research that said most people carry around 30lbs; 20lbs if you are an experienced hiker. So, this question is for anyone who has done a long-distance hike. From what I understand, the longest stretch between supply stops, on The Long Trail, is 5-6 days. What kind of weight should I expect to be carrying, and how much weight should I be training with?

Footwear:  Lots of internet debate around hiking boots vs. hiking shoes and waterproof vs. non-waterproof. It’s put me in a tough position, to be honest. If I can’t rely on the internet, who can I rely on?  The debate over hiking boots and hiking shoes seems to be a matter of weight vs. durability.  I read somewhere (the start of so many of my sentences) that 1lb on your foot is equal to 5lbs on your back, and that the average hiker will use 6% more energy with hiking boots vs. hiking shoes.   As far as water-proofing goes, it’s my understanding that any boot will get wet, inevitably, and water-proof boots are harder to dry out. I’m interested in hearing what kind of success you have had with non-waterproof hiking shoes?

There are so many other questions… like cooking: Jet-boil, alcohol, good ol’ fashion camp fire? Don’t even get me started on food. How do you consume enough calories to sustain 15-mile days, while peppering in a few mountain hikes… without having to carry 1/3 of a woman in your pack?  A funny question for a fat girl, because getting enough calories has literally never been my concern.

BUT… I guess I’ll save some questions for another day.  Thanks for your help!

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37 thoughts on “Help me, please, anyone.

  1. My #1 piece of advice is TEST TEST TEST! What works for me or someone else may not work for you. Ultimately, the only way know if something is going to work for ~you~ is to try it, hopefully under circumstances where failure is okay. I see you are already testing. I suggest more testing.
    My longest hike was 36 days long (including 3 zero days), about 500 miles long, and my longest time between resupplies was 7 days (6 nights). I have also never been to Vermont, Maine, or anywhere in New England, so some of the things I say may not apply in your neck of the woods.
    – Lightweight is the way to go, especially for the less athletically inclined. I do not suggest always choosing the lightest option (there are tradeoffs), but since you are hiking in a relatively warm time of year, I suggest aiming for 18 pounds or less in base weight (base weight = weight without food or water).
    – Shelter, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Bag, and Pack are known as the ‘Big Four’ – they tend to take up most of one’s base weight (i.e. weight not including food and water) so those are the places to make big gains in saving weight.
    – For legal reasons, nearly all tents which are sold through large retailers such as REI have toxic flame retardants which can cause cancer and hormone problems, and people who use the tents do ingest the chemicals. If you want to avoid this problem, you will probably have to order a tent from a small tent manufacturer (I’ve read that Lightheart Gear does not use flame retardants in their tents, though I would want to confirm that before purchase), or sew your own tent (such as getting a tarp + net-tent kit from Ray Jardine and sewing it according to the instructions). Alternatively, if you do end up with a tent treated with toxic flame retardants, I would highly recommend using a system where you only pitch/handle the tent with gloves on, and only eat food with gloves off, or make sure you wash your hands right after you pitch/handle the tent (research shows that the flame retardants rub off on hands, and this is how campers ingest the flame retardants).
    – Have you considered a backpacking quilt instead of a sleeping bag? Quilts tend to be lighter and cheaper. They may not be right for you, but they are an option.
    – You can cut weight on the sleeping pad by cutting it in half (torso only). Assuming if it’s a foam pad. If you’re using an inflatable pad, that won’t work.
    – I would carry more socks and not bother with camp shoes, but many hikers feel the camp shoes are worth it. But seriously, I have never regretted taking extra socks. Also, have you considered wearing gaiters? If it’s going to be raining a lot, you may want rain gaiters, otherwise you may want Dirty Girl gaiters to keep your socks cleaner and reduce the odds of blisters (dirt/sand/tiny rocks in the shoes can cause blisters).
    – I usually go stoveless (including during my longest hike ever) and never regretted it. But having warm meals is really important to some people. If it’s important to you, by all means take the stove.
    – The only things I would leave out in the utilities list is the bear spray. It’s heavy, and it often does not work (or makes the situation worse), and you won’t run into any grizzly bears (black bears are less dangerous). Actually, I would leave the rope out too, but I suppose that might be useful on the Long Trail.
    – I use a Sawyer Squeeze for water filtration. It’s cheap, it’s light, and it works. I’ve heard bad things about the Sawyer Mini filters, so I suggest using a regular size filter. I also carry some chlorine tablets as a backup in case something goes wrong with the filter (or if I encounter water that is so nasty that I want to filter AND treat it).
    – Since I don’t know the Long Trail, I’m not even going to touch the footwear question. It partially depends on trail conditions.

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  2. The thing that stood out for me … bring at LEAST 2 sport bras. Nothing is worse than a wet sports bra. EMS is great for trying hiking shoes in the store (I think LLBean too) – and you can return them with a receipt even if they are worn but for some reason don’t work. Many of the salespeople in those stores are there because they are active (and want discounts or just like to help) . So use their expertise and combine with your own research. Blisters could be from the wrong socks – not necessarily the wrong shoes. You are doing this!!

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    1. I have been looking for a part-time job, to finance this adventure, and you gave me a great idea! I applied to a sporting goods retailer this afternoon. The discounts will be good, but maybe I’ll also learn a thing or two! P.s. I felt really encouraged by your “you are doing this” comment and I’ve been thinking about it all week. Like… YEAH, I really am doing this!!! 🙂

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  3. Thanks for the follow! Love this post and hope to follow your through hike journey. I am not a thru hiker (yet) but I know that many outfitters can measure you for an appropriate pack. I have a day pack and one I carry when overnighting and both were measured and fitted to me. Good luck!

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  4. For me it’s has been all about the shoes. My first pair resulted in knee pain so I switched to mid highs. Then I got blisters so I tried new lacing methods (Rei has a good guide on their website). Then I switched back to low rise shoes from north face (hedgehogs) and they seem fine giving lots of room in the toe box and no blisters. I think the knee pain has gone away partly because I’m walk much more.
    So my only real advice is to really look at the shoes and try a few different styles on and get properly fitted if possible . You may need the next size up. I also recommend choosing lightweight shoes if possible.
    I’ve also learned how to use and hold my hiking poles correctly which makes a huge difference.
    As for weight, I’ve only done a few overnighters but have carried four days of food without exceeding 12kg (~22lbs).

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      1. I think most shoes will last 500miles but I’d have money on standby to replace them if they wear quicker. I’m yet to do a thru hike of this length though. Shoe wearing out hasn’t been my issue, shoe choice is my problem! But I’m happy with my north face hedgehogs.

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  5. Love that you’re sharing your list! The White Mountains are my usual stomping grounds, so cheers to New England! I could talk about gear for days, but here are just a few thoughts I’d love to share…
    Shelter and comfort- I love my pack liner. I have the Cocoon CoolMax Mummy Liner. It keeps me warm and my pack clean. It’s a bit heavier than the silk liners but I’m not a huge fan of silk.
    Utilities- You could save weight by wrapping some duct tape around your trekking poles instead of bringing a whole roll.
    Water filtration- I love my sawyer squeeze. It takes some time to filter, but you get out a lot of the gunk if you end up having to filter from a less than pleasant source. I plan on using mine for my PCT thru hike. It’s definitely feasible on a long trail, but of course I’ve heard from others that they’re not a fan of waiting so long to filter their water. I have friends who use UV light sticks, and do their initial filtering through a bandana to get the gunk out. I think it mostly comes down to preference and what you imagine working best for you in your everyday routine.
    Pack weight- I haven’t completed a thru hike yet, but I’ve researched more than my fair share. As far as I’m concerned, an ideal (lighter) pack would be 15 lbs or less at base weight (before water and food).
    Footwear- I vote for trail runners all the way! Of course though I get blisters way too easily and boots just don’t feel good on my feet. I do own two pairs of boots though, one for 3 season use and one for winter. The 3 season ones I barely use because I usually end up opting for my trail runners. I’ve never used waterproof shoes since I’ve heard, too, that once they’re wet they take even longer to dry. When wearing trail runners, they can definitely get wet quicker than boots, but I’ve also found them to dry out quicker. My suggestion would be to give both (boots and trail runners) a try if you could and see which feels better on your feet. Sometimes a sock liner works well, too!

    I know exactly how you’re feeling, with the endless amount of questions and being overloaded with how much information there is available. If I can help to answer some of your questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! I clearly get super excited when anyone is starting to dive into the hiking world 🙂

    https://www.facebook.com/emmonscaa

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  6. Just one more thing:

    “Anyway… if the average woman had a pack that totaled 1/3 of her body weight, she would be carrying a 55.4lb pack. That seems completely unreasonable.”

    Actually, that would be reasonable – in certain circumstances. I certainly do not want to carry 55 lb. in my pack, though I might conceivably carry 40 lb. if I were going a long distance between reliable water sources (water is heavy) and needed food for several days (but then I would drink the water, so my pack would not stay that heavy). Also, a few decades ago, when hiking/backpacking equipment tended to be much heavier, it was not unusual for backpackers to carry 50-80lb. (they needed external frame backpacks to distribute the weight load). Porters who carry supplies for a living can carry 100 lbs, but they are very much above average in this regard.

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    1. Do you train with that kind of weight? I’ve been training with a 15lb pack, but I had a friend tell me that that shouldnt be my focus. I’m concerned that if I don’t make it my focus now, I won’t be prepared for that kind of weight, come September.

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      1. Honestly, I don’t train for long hikes. Or at least, I don’t train at home. In preparations for my hike on the Washington Pacific Crest Trail last summer (~ 500 miles), I hiked a shorter section of the PCT (~ 60 miles) and spent 5 days off trail before I started hiking in Washington. On that shorter section of the PCT, I deliberately hiked fewer miles per day than I did later in Washington to condition my body for the trail (specifically, the miles I hiked on that shorter section were: Day 1, 4.5 miles; Day 2, 15 miles; Day 3, 12 miles; Day 4, 15 miles; Day 5, 17 miles). That first section hike helped get my body ready for Washington for sure, but I didn’t do any particular physical training before that section hike. By the time I was fully conditioned in Washington, I could comfortably hike 20-23 miles a day unless the trail was particularly difficult or I was having an off-day (in WA K, which is considered one of the most physically gruelling parts of the entire Pacific Crest Trail, I averaged 18 miles/day when I wasn’t spending any time in town).

        My body isn’t your body, and I will never know your body as well as you do, so I hesitate to give you specific guidance. I am not going to recommend for or against training with packs. However, for ~me~ I think it’s better to put more effort into planning to keep my pack weight low (picking lighter gear, resupplying more often so I carry less food) than to put my effort into physical training, and take that into account when I plan the beginning of a long hike (i.e. keep my mileage relatively low in the beginning). If I strongly preferred to bust out the 20+ mile days as soon as I hit the trail, then I would consider training at home.

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  7. Hikers love to give advice. It’s personal to us and a subject we love. 🙂 …especially when it comes to talking ‘gear’. If we’ve been out there for any length of time, we feel like an expert, but really, we’re only an expert on what works for ‘us’. Everyone is different. What works for one person won’t work for another. The important thing is to find out what works for YOU. Unfortunately, you can only do that by trial and error.
    If you buy your stuff at REI, you can return it within a year if it doesn’t work for you–even if it is used. REI is a little more expensive than others, but worth it, because the only way you can really know if you are going to like something is to try it out–not just in the store, but OUT THERE actually using it.
    Unfortunately, there are some really good ‘Mom and Pop stores’ who have incredible gear, but their return policy is not so lenient. (Enllghtened Equipment, ULA, etc.) They sell lightweight gear that REI often doesn’t carry.
    As far as pack weight, get it as light as you can. What was do-able at first really gets taxing when you have been on the trail for a while. When thru-hiking, you will find that what you thought you couldn’t live without before, is suddenly expendable when you are desperate to get rid of more weight.
    My advice is to ditch the boots. I hiked from Georgia to Maine in 2016, and I really didn’t see any thru-hikers in ‘boots’. Finding a shoe that works for you is a major thing. Most people use trail runners. ‘Waterproof’ shoes are not waterproof and once they get wet, it takes a really long time for them to dry out once they get wet. Mine are not waterproof and they dried out fairly quickly. If you have a wide foot, Merrell Moab Ventilators are good. That is my shoe. I never had one blister, right out of the box! They have lots of room in the toe-box. You won’t like them if have a narrow foot. Keens are a popular shoe, as are Solomans and Oboz. I had to make a drive to an REI that was four hours from me to try on shoes (several times). Very worth it…because you can return them, even if you have hiked in them. I trained in a very expensive high top boot to see if I liked them ( for several weeks) and it just wasn’t working for me. I cleaned them up as best I could and they took them back, no question.
    You won’t need the bear spray. Any bear I met on the trail would run off if I made noise and clicked my trekking poles above my head. Just make sure you hang your food out of your tent in a waterproof food bag. Learn how to hang your bag with the ‘PCT’ method. Many shelters in ‘bear territory’ have bear poles or bear boxes, so you won’t need to throw your own bear bag. You mentioned ‘rope’. Is it paracord for hanging your food bag? Otherwise, you won’t need it.
    Look up ‘Freezer Bag Cooking’. Even if you do not dehydrate your own food, there are plenty of ideas on the internet to put together a ‘meal in a bag’ out of grocery store items without dehydrating. Even if you are taking Ramen, you can open the package, put the ingredients in your freezer ziplock bag (in a freezer bag cozie) and then you only have to pour hot water in the bag, rehydrate it, and then put the dirty bag in your trash bag. Loved this method. Make sure you get Ziplock Freezer bags (Quart size). They are the only brand that will hold up. You really won’t want to be doing pot clean-up out there with your precious water. Sometimes the water source is a good distance from camp.
    I used a Sawyer filter and loved it. I did get pin-sized holes in them from time to time, so carry two bags. Roll them down slowly, rather than squeezing them, and your bag will last longer. The Sawyer filter will fit on a Smart Water bottle, so if your bag busts, you can just put the filter on your Smart Water bottle and drink from the bottle, or even squeeze it out of the bottle. I didn’t do that much, but it comforted me to know I could if I needed to. Nalgene bottles are just heavy, and not many people use them.
    If you are a reader, don’t let anyone talk you out of your book! I made this mistake. I read every night at home, and I read every night on the trail. I started out without my Kindle, and ended up having my husband send it back to me after only a week and I kept it the rest of the trail. If you don’t read regularly, you probably won’t read on the trail.
    Everyone has what they call ‘luxury items’ that are worth the weight! Only you know what those are. 🙂
    I love the name of your blog. It’s endearing, and drew me in to read it. 🙂 Just know you are loved, just like you are. <3.
    You signed up to follow my old blog. I'm glad you did, otherwise, I wouldn't have found your blog! However, it's my old blog. I'm attempting a new thru-hike to finish this time, and have a new blog–this account I'm signed in with.
    Best wishes for your upcoming hike! You're going to have a blast! Hiking a long trail is the single most empowering thing I've ever done in my life!

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    1. Thank you so much. You’re right, hikers have been so open with sharing their experiences and I’m incredibly grateful. I have written down your tips, and I’m going to start trying stuff out, and as you said, see what works for me. This was all very helpful!

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  8. Dear Kelly (Type A and B!)
    First of all, I want to tell you how much I enjoy your writing. My husband and I enjoy your wry look at life!
    My husband and I completed an AT thru-hike on November 1, 2017. It was Jay’s second AT thru-hike and my first. We’ve been married 30 years, and have taken many backpacking trips during that time.
    We couldn’t resist responding to your questions. (It’s sooo fun to be the “sage”.) But truly, your own experiments and problem solving times will be your best guide. A short (two night) backpack trip will provide many of your best answers to your questions!
    However, since I was caught in the allure of being a sage, I thought I would take each of your categories and add our thoughts:
    Shelter and Comfort:
    You might want to try sleeping on your floor with pad and sleeping bag for a few nights. It’s good to find out whether your pad is right – we’ve gone through several over the past three decades.
    We use down sleeping quilts, to save on weight. We keep our sleep gear (down quilt and sleeping clothes) in a water proof cuben fiber bag in our backpack. This bag only gets opened inside the tent. Our sleeping gear stayed dry through many storms on the AT!
    Some people prefer one large backpack liner to keep gear dry. Some use a backpack cover. We use three cuben fiber bags inside our backpack. (One for food, one for sleep gear, one for everything else.) This allows us to keep the sleep gear bag closed always, so it is always dry. We like the flexibility of separate cuben fiber bags instead of one large liner or cover.
    We bought our cuben fiber bags and tent from the company, Zpacks. Their gear is excellent quality, and they have a great return policy.
    Clothing:
    We wore non-waterproof trail runners even when training in the snow. Neoprene socks with the trail runners kept our feet warm, even when wet. You have an excellent chance to try this, since you are training in Maine. (Wow!)
    We found that carrying clothes meant we ended up carrying dirty laundry. My pack had one pair of socks and a set of silk long underwear (in my sleep gear bag), one set of clean underwear/sports bra, a buff (neck gaiter) which can be used as a scarf or a neck warmer, mittens or gloves (not both), warm hat, rain gear, Patagonia nano-puff jacket and pants. Sleeping in the nano-puff gear allowed us to carry lighter sleeping quilts. We believe in gear that can be used for more than one thing! After the first 1,000 miles, I gave up the extra underwear, and just washed out the underwear I was wearing and wore it to dry.
    Cooking/Food:
    We saw many hikers using the Sawyer filtration system. We used Aquamira drops, which were lighter and less hassle than any filtration system. We do not carry a stove, which means we also don’t need a pot. Our only utensils were a pocket knife and a spoon. You will have to make your own decisions about food. If you want to read about our food decisions while thru-hiking the AT, you can read my blog post titled “Housekeeping”.
    https://sarahandjayappalachiantrailthruhike2017.blog/2017/05/21/housekeeping/
    We did take potassium tablets daily to help counteract leg cramps.
    Utilities:
    We have never carried bear spray. Every bear we have seen has run when he/she saw us. (Perhaps it was our smell…)
    Wrapping duct tape around hiking poles is a good way to carry it.
    We did use lightweight cord for hanging our food away from critters.
    We did carry a headlamp and batteries – very small, very light.
    We did not carry a compass, although we do know how to use one. But when hiking in the Appalachian Mountains, it is hard to get enough visibility to triangulate with map and compass.
    We only carried one way to make fire – a lighter. Since we didn’t carry a stove, we did not need a fire.
    Toiletries:
    Toothpaste, toothbrush, yes.
    Just say no to deodorant. It will only attract critters. Same for soap, as well as being bad for the environment.
    We use baby wipes instead of washcloth and soap. We packed one per day, plus a few extra for cuts and scrapes. We reduced their weight by squeezing the water out before carrying them.
    The Appalachian Mountains have so much shade, we never needed sunscreen.
    We did carry a small bottle of insect repellent.
    Our first aid kit fit into a sandwich-size ziplock bag and included band-aids, antibacterial ointment, needle and thread, first aid tape for hot spots on our feet (to prevent blisters), and benadryl.
    Reading Materials and Extras:
    Many hikers rely exclusively on the Guthook app on their phone instead of a guidebook. Our phone also carried our book of choice and our camera. We carried a portable travel charger instead of a solar charger, since there often isn’t much direct sunshine on the trail.
    Final thoughts:
    The fun goes up as the weight goes down. My pack averaged 20 pounds, and never got over 25 pounds. The less gear you have, the quicker and more efficient you are in camp. To quote my husband, “Gear is a time suck.” Hiking slow is better than pushing too hard and getting hurt. It’s not how fast you can hike, but how long you can stay on your feet that counts.
    We think you are starting wonderfully with your training hikes. Keep the faith, and we’ll keep reading your adventures!
    Sincerely,
    Sarah

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    1. This response was incredibly detailed and helpful, thank you so much! It means a lot to me when I get input from people who have done long distance hikes. I’ve already started implementing some of your tips ( sleeping on my floor with the pad I have- I don’t think mine is going to work). Thank you for sharing your housekeeping blog, I look forward to reading it!

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  9. I didn’t read all the comments, so I apologize if I repeat anything that’s been said.
    First, I think you are off to a good start.
    Shoes: LL, EMS, REI all will let you try them on. I have been a full duty Zamby fan, however, I recently purchased and backpacked in La Sportivas lightweight shoe/boot. While it IS easier on all that leg lifting, I DO feel more secure in each placed foot fall with my Zambys. With the poles, I think you could get away with them: Like the Stream GTX. Try them
    Water: I have been Steri-Penning for about 5 years now. If you go this route get the one with the CR123 batteries, and get extra batteries from B&H Photo in NYC mail order. MUCH cheaper. Use the pen, stir it around in constant motion, you will be fine.
    Depending on the time of year, and what kind of Spring there has been, Carry less water, and stop at streams to refill. I hardly ever carry more than a liter any more. That is a lot of weight.
    Food: If you can get out and get your hiking mojo going, so that you are in reasonable shape when you start, and this means that your legs are used to walking, and your heartrate is somewhat used to being elevated, you will find that you can go a pretty long time on the basics of breakfast snack and dinner. Just saying, you don’t really need to overpack food.
    There are a lot of shelters on the LT, and if you can target them as much as possible, then make sure if you bring shelter of your own, get the lightest 1 person tent you can buy. For example https://shop.twinfallsgear.com/products/2-person-ultralight-2-layer-3-season-15d-silnylon-poleless-backpacking-tent. The advantage of tent over shelter will be bugs/mosquitoes etc.
    Stove: Hardly anything boils faster than Jet Boil, however you can go a lot lighter and less bulky with a pocket rocket, and a simply titanium large cup that is large enough to hold the canister.
    Solar Charging vs Heat vs battery – My solar charger has never been much good, and I haven’t tried these induction chargers https://www.austinkayak.com/products/15530/Power-Practical-PowerPot-V-5w-Portable-Generator.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Shopping:%2520ACK%2520PLA&adpos=1o2&scid=scplp15530_13152_1&sc_intid=15530_13152_1&gclid=CjwKCAiAhfzSBRBTEiwAN-ysWH7SGJTIgwK0COf5i048JPxHFoeOIIOqLQCZOIITMhtorLnS8w-blBoCtoUQAvD_BwE.
    Get the most out of you battery life by running it in airplane mode, or keeping it off as much as possible. Then when the batter dies down, use a back battery, and when you come out for re-supply, find an outlet.
    You should definitely shoot for as light as possible. I think you can get to 30-35 pounds and still have everything you need.
    I will have to look back at other posts, and see what time of year, but sleeping quilt is lighter than a bag. The yellow thermarest pads are ultra light.
    I’ll read more of your posts, and see if I have anything else to add.
    Cheers

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    1. This is a link to a file in my dropbox that you should be able to pull. If you don’t want to click on it, then go to my page and click on the Contact link and send me an email, and I will attach the file.

      This is a pdf file that I got from someone a few years ago that wrote up some concepts about Ultra Light backpacking. Some of the links in this document may be old, but there is still a lot of good information in it. For example, I did purchase a 12′ sheet of Tyvex, and then bought an inexpensive grommet kit from REI, and folding over the edges, and adding some cut squares of a slightly more durable fabric, or even thin leather squares, I punched holes and pounded in grommets to make my own lightweight tarp shelter. Combine this with reflective guy lines, and light tent stakes, and using your hiking poles, it is a pretty nice shelter. That was an example.

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/5vpprcqcant2i63/HIKELITE.pdf?dl=0

      Cheers

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Not a long term hiker, But I cannot stress strengthening your core enough because a lower back ache coupled with a heavy pack could really mess up your plans. Cat/cow is a great way to do strengthen core as are the pilates roll ups I mentioned. Pushups to build up your back and pectorals.

    also watch your breathing. As with any sport you want deep belly breathing especially in the mountain air which is so much thinner.

    Might want to flirt with interval training and try running once a week to build up your mitochondria too.

    I love following this story. I am excited for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Everything I have done this week, has been based on this comment. Thank you. 🙂 I had a friend say something similar a few weeks ago, then I read your comment, and decided to change up my routine. I started doing Pilates/Yoga this week. Im also focusing my gym workouts, less on cardio because I’m getting that outside, and more on strengthening my core. You don’t realize how weak your core is, until you attempt to strengthen it. Ive got some work to do! 🙂 Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi! There is already a lot of great advice- but one thing I highly recommend are Action Body Wipes instead of soap/wash cloths/etc – you can get them off amazon and they were AMAZING. One wipe will make you feel brand new head to toe. My husband and I used them in Nepal on a 14 day trek. We didn’t take one shower the whole time and our clothes didn’t even really smell too horrible. I would say also to get wet bags that can scrunch down super tight- I’ll get the name of the brand we have- we had one for our clothes, one for our sleeping bags and it saved a ton of space- PLUS if it does rain you know your stuff will not get wet. Shoes are just personal preference but I love my Merrell Moab 2 that are water proof. I also recommend trekking poles- that helped A LOT on the way down steep hills.

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  12. Here is my perspective from a woman who has hiked the long trail….tents will give you a better sleep than the shelters. The shelters fill up, can be loud (snoring and talking) and mice! Tents can be light as 2 pounds and run as low as 30-40! You want a dome tent that is super easy to put up because the rocks make it hard for stakes to put in. Sleeping bags we used is down because they are lightweight, warm, and comfortable. Your pack…look for a “tube” as in you don’t use many pockets that is comfortable when you put it on. Most packs are adjustable. Have it big enough to fit what you have to take and nothing else. I took a sleeping pad. The Exped airman Lite 5 L and the pillow is Sea to Summit Aeros. These are an amazing sleep system. They are super light and easy to use. Love them and well worth taking! I wore Merrell’s. The trick is to wear 2 PAIR OF SOCKS to keep from blisters and tie your shoes tight. You don’t want your feet sliding inside the shoe. As far as clothes other than what you have on…I had an extra pair of pants which turned into shorts if needed, 2 extra pair of socks, jacket, sports bra, long sleeve shirt that could roll up to a short sleeve if needed, pair of long underwear, and rain gear (which I didn’t use). Water filtration, I recommend the Sawyer Squeeze for a single person with back up tablets in case! Know the bad WILL break! Being a “Smart Water” bottle because it fits perfectly on the filter (learned on trial). Sunscreen and bug spray didn’t make my list updated listed. We brought it but then put it in a drop box at a resupply after the first week. Take a small first aid kit that includes duct tape mostly used up and without the core, needle and thread, ibuprofen (vitamin I as known on the trail) plus whatever you may think you personally need. Food preparation…we used the Jet Boil because the pot attached to the burner which attached to the tank and was safer with kids around but you could get away with one of the types the screw directly to the tank. Paydays and Snickers are your friend for a pick me up on the trail. Calories are needed on the trail! Instant potatoes and instant pasta salad are excellent for trail food! We are a lot of power bars! I have a map and a book that I would be happy to mail it to you if you would like! I would be happy to pass it to someone that finishes the trail with it also! It was a life saver for us! I kept my phone with me in case of emergencies. I also had a journal and a pen which I wrote im each evening. On a woman to woman level, I have been asked this many times….if you know about when your monthly cycle is then mail yourself those needs including wet wipes to the resupply closest to that time. If it you don’t know or it’s before your first resupply then have a ziplock bag with those items in it. The wet wipes were my comfortable item. Another piece of wisdom, wear the Pack your going to wear with all the gear you taking. You NEED to do some trial runs. This will help you determine if he supplies you have are right or they need to be changed before you begin. I’m planning to post some pictures and videos on my blog or some of the other things we learned such as the mice proofing of the food on the blog very soon!!

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  13. I’m excited to follow your journey!

    You’ve received a ton of great advice here, but here’s my two cents anyway!

    1.) Check out Darwin’s channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC18exdGWh7piVWisrnDXiZg
    He’s got a ton of great advice, and I’d particularly check out his videos on lightweight, budget friendly hiking gear.

    2.) Training for the hike by hiking is the way to go. For me, there are two components: my general fitness and my “trail fitness.” Trail fitness is what I refer to as my tolerance to things like rocky, difficult climbs, adverse weather conditions, basically all the things that you can’t get in the gym, but play a huge mental role when you’re feeling like you want to quit. Keep hiking!

    2a.) Training by hiking is a great way to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Get just enough gear for training now (which it sounds like you may already have), and then dial it in as you go.

    2b.) Good old fashioned bodyweight squats and lunges can really help get you into hiking shape. Easy to do at home or wherever.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. i was going to offer a few comments, but the brain trust above has covered anything that i might have suggested – the suggestion to get a part time job in a sporting goods store is absolutely BRILLIANT! we have learned a lot by getting familiar with the local shop, and they are more helpful than they are trying to sell us things we don’t need. Cheering madly for you – and agree that YOU ARE DOING THIS! That’s worth a moment of reflection!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. First off, congrats on deciding to go for the Long Trail!! Second, I think you can easily cut out the bear spray, sunscreen, deodorant, and either the flint/steel or matches, and keep whichever is easier for you to use. You’d probably only be using it to light your stove, and many don’t need to be externally lit. You can get by with just one or two pairs of undies, and one bra if you’re small in the chest and comfortable not wearing one at night. You’re 97% under shade while hiking, so consider an external battery instead of a solar charger, especially if you want to finish in 20 days and not be forced to stop and sit in the sun for hours. Andrew Skurka’s Ultimate Gear Guide was the most useful tool I used for gear planning and laid out the pros and cons very clearly.

    A couple other things from a moderately overweight woman: you will probably have to carry more weight in your sleeping system (and pay more for the gear) in order to be comfortable. Some people are fine with foam pads, or even cutting those down into smaller sections, but those hikers are often skinny twenty-something men whose hips were not designed for pregnancy. Personally, I need a thicker sleeping bag, and air mattresses inflated by mouth are decently comfortable though not perfect. I sleep really well in a hammock, but it’s not necessarily a weight saver over tents. Also, if you go for trail runners, they probably won’t last 500 miles and you will be replacing them more frequently than hiking boots. That number might be accurate for slim people carrying hydration belts on smooth trails, but I wouldn’t say it’s accurate for overweight hikers scrambling over Vermont’s rocks with full packs. I desperately needed new insoles by mile 200, and by mile 350 they were bursting apart. They managed to survive another 140 miles with the help of dental floss, but it wasn’t fun. I’m expecting that I’ll be replacing my newest pair around mile 350-400, and the insoles before that. I really like the fit, light weight, ventilation, and quick drying time of my non-waterproof trail runners, but I would consider hiking shoes with the same qualities too. That said, my husband swears by the comfort of his “waterproof” boots for day hikes and shorter backpacking trips.

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