Interested in long-distance hiking or thru-hiking? Here’s a useful collection of online resources to help you prepare. Most were originally in my collection of Appalachian Trail thru-hiking resources but since I have now added a Pacific Crest Trail resources page as well, I decided to separate out the resources that are useful to long-distance hiking, regardless of the trail.
NOTE: All links will open in a new tab or window.
Blogs, Communities, Forums and Social Media Accounts
- Backpacking Light
- Backcountry Post
- Backpacker Comics (IG) by Evan Schaeffer
- Bearfoot Theory
- CleverHiker by Dave & Annie
- Fowler-O’Sullivan Foundation (FB, website) provides assistance to families of missing hikers across the United States and supports initiatives to prevent future missing hiker cases.
- High Sierra Topix (HST)
- Hiker Lost and Found (Facebook, Instagram) is a project/service to help hikers all over find gear they have lost and/or report gear that has been found.
- Hikers of Color (Facebook group)
- Hiking & Backpacking Related Memes (Facebook group)
- Hiking for Her by Diane Spicer
- Night Hiking To Mars (hiking and backpacking humor) by Shane O’Donnell
- PopUpBackpacker by Nick Gatel
- Post Hike Depression (Facebook group)
- Reddit Subreddits (Camping and Hiking, Hammocks, Ultralight, Wilderness Backpacking)
- SummitPost is a collaborative content community focused on climbing, mountaineering, hiking, and other outdoor activities. This site is built by its members, who can:
(1) Post photos, trip reports, events, logs, and albums.
(2) Share expertise by submitting how-to articles and informational pages.
(3) Shape the content of the site by voting on other people’s work. The less valuable submissions get buried, and the good stuff rises to the top.
- The Trek is a site dedicated to long-distance hiking, with dedicated sections for the triple crown trails.
- Thru-Hiker Dogs is a Facebook group for those planning to hike with their dog.
- THRU-r is a community for long distance hikers. Includes: an informative blog & resources for those new to backpacking & thru-hiking; a virtual community & one-on-one meet-ups; and helpful resources to aid in backpacking preparation, including a podcast.
- Ultralight Backpacking (Facebook group)
- Vegan Hikers & Backpackers (Facebook group)
- Whiteblaze is a popular forum that has been around for years. The articles section is a good starting point and the search feature can help you find answers to most questions you may have.
You can find a version of this list on my Amazon reading list. If you prefer to listen to your books, Ethan Gallogly has put together a spreadsheet of audio books about about hiking and hiking-related topics.
- A Trailside Guide: Hiking & Backpacking (Trailside Guides) by Karen Berger
- Backpacker Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike by Liz Thomas
- Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice by Belden C. Lane
- Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardines Guide to Lightweight Hiking by Ray Jardine
- Dirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor Adventures by Dirty Gourmet, Emily Nielson
- Fixing Your Feet: Injury Prevention and Treatments for Athletes by John Vonhof
- Free Outside: A Trek Against Time and Distance by Jeff Garmire
- Hiking from Home: A Long Distance Hiking Guide for Family and Friends by Juliana Chauncey
- Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America by Francis Tapon [REF]
- Lighten Up!: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking by Don Ladigin
- Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills by The Mountaineers
- On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor
- Packtoter’s Thru Hiking Planner: A Guide To Asking The Right Questions by Richard Mallery
- Pushing North: Tame the Mind, Savor the Journey by Trey Free
- The Complete Walker IV by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins
- The Hungry Spork: Trail Recipes: Quick Gourmet Meals for the Backcountry by Inga Aksamit
- The Hungry Spork: A Long Distance Hiker’s Guide to Meal Planning by Inga Aksamit
- The Ultimate Hang: Hammock Camping Illustrated by Derek Hansen (his website has a lot of free information as well)
- The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide by Andrew Skurka
- Trail Life: Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking by Ray Jardine
- Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker’s Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking by Justin Licther
- Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips For Extremely Lightweight Camping by Mike Clelland
- Walk, Hike, Saunter, Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails by Susan Alcorn
- Thru-hike budget calculator is a Google spreadsheet that lets you enter estimated costs in six categories to calculate an overall budget.
Documenting Your Hike
- Altimeter (Android) lets you measure and track the altitude of your hike. It works online and offline.
- Better Outdoor Videos #3: How to Vlog Your Thru-Hike by Evan’s Backpacking Videos | YouTube
- HikerFeed is a tool (and mobile app) you can write daily journals in a simple yet intuitive editor, view your photos on a map, and track your daily distance and step count each day. No need for cell service. HikerFeed saves everything locally to your device and syncs up when you have service.
- How to Vlog Your Thru-Hike: 5 Easy Steps by Evan Schaeffer | The Trek
- Making Videos – Appalachian Trail Q&A Part 6 by Chilly Bin Hikes | YouTube
- Recording Your Hike by The Hiking Rev | YouTube
- Relive (Android, iOS) lets you track and share your hike in an easy and beautiful way, including animated 3D videos.
- Thru-Hike Tracking Info is a Google spreadsheet that I created to help you easily track your progress and your expenses. Just enter a few fields of information each night in camp and at the end you will have a lot of interesting statistics available to summarize your hike (they are automatically calculated so you don’t need to do any extra work).
- Trail Journals offers an online platform to write about and share your thru-hike experience.
- Want to Vlog Your Thru Hike? I Have Some Tips by Jay Wanders Out | YouTube
Fitness, Health, and Hygiene
- 5 Easy Ways to Deal With Your Period in the Backcountry by Kassondra Cloos | Backpacker
- Backcountry Hygiene Tips: An Interview with Two Gynecologists by Madeline Newel | The Trek
- Blister Treatment: Tips for Getting A Blister To Heal | WebMD
- Calculate Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) online (Harris Benedict Equation)
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of calories you would burn if you were asleep all day. The Harris Benedict Equation determines your total daily energy expenditure (calories)
- Chase Mountains (YouTube) offers some useful health and fitness videos targeted to hikers. I found his How to Avoid Blisters When Hiking, How to Prepare for a Successful Thru Hike, Trail Maintenance Routine, Don’t Let KNEE PAIN Stop you Hiking [IT Band Syndrome Fixed ON TRAIL!], and Reducing knee pain videos to be especially useful. You can also download a free Knee Pain Routine on his website.
- Dealing with Post-Hike Depression by Liz “Snorkel” Thomas
- Do your shins ever feel tight? Try this! by Trailside Fitness | Facebook
- Foot size changes by Mara Factor
- Health and Safety – Things Every Backpacker Should Consider by David Smith | The Trek
- Hiking Basics – Health by ATC
- How Long Will My Toothpaste Last On A Thru-Hike? by Paul Bodnar | FarOut
- How to Be a Diva Hiker (Gear Review: The Diva Cup) by High Five | The Trek
- How to Build and Maintain Thru-Hiking Fitness by Meredith Bethune | Outside
- How to determine if you really have plantar fasciitis by Doc.Wishloff
A quick video explaining how you can quickly determine if your foot pain is plantar fasciitis or not.
- How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis and Partial Plantar Tears AshleyMateo | Runner’s World
- How to survive a snakebite in the wilderness | Snakebite Foundation
- How To Take Care Of Your Feet When Hiking And Backpacking by Naomi Hudetz | Treeline Review
- Leukotape for Hiking and Blister Prevention 101 by Chris Cage | Greenbelly Meals
- Minimizing the effects and aftermath of wet feet by Andrew Skurka
- NOLS Wilderness First Aid course
- Numb Toes After Finishing Your Thru-Hike? Here’s Why. by Kelly Floro | The Trek
- Periods While Backpacking: The Bloody Truth About Menstruation on the Trail by Allison Kieley | The Trek
- Plantar fasciitis – Wikipedia
- Poisonous Plants of the Appalachian Trail | SkyAboveUs
- Rainmaker’s Hiking Mechanics is a page by David “Rainmaker” Mauldin which discusses how he cares for his body (knees, back, neck), prevents shin splints and Achilles tendonitis, and how he approaches diet and exercise.
- Shin Splints Can Derail Your Hike. Here’s How to Prevent Them. By Lee Welton | Backpacker
- Sore Knees Hiking Down Hills? Learn How To Fix It! by Lee Welton | Trailside Fitness
- Suggested Trail Stretches by Natalie (“Stretch”)
- The Tick App provides information on ways to prevent tick exposure. The app also shows how to identify different kinds of ticks and the diseases they transmit. In addition, app users have the opportunity to be citizen scientists and help researchers understand how human behavior influences the risk of contracting ticks.
- Trailside Fitness by Lee Welton | YouTube
Videos intended to help educate and prepare hikers for their adventures. Focused on fitness, injury prevention, and rehab.
- What Are Shin Splints, and How Do I Get Rid of Them? by Beth Skwarecki | Lifehacker
- What’s the Average Hiking Speed? Calculate Your Pace on the Trail by Kelly Hodgkins | Greenbelly
Flora and Fauna
- Plantsnap (Android, iOS)
- iNaturalist (Android, iOS) has mobile apps that will identify plants and animals from photos you take on the trail. It can also track the location of what you spot automatically, which you can add to projects. Either create your own or join one of the already existing projects for the A.T. Also, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.
- Picture this – Plant Identifier (Android, iOS)
- [email protected] (Android, iOS)
- Leaf Snap (iOS)
- Snapchat can help identify plants. By pointing the Snap camera at an object and long-pressing on the display, you can scan the plant and learn more about it.
Food and Nutrition
- 4 Must Have Supplements for Long Distance Backpacking by Zach Davis | The Trek
- 10 Easy Backpacking Recipes that are thru hiker friendly – and cheap! by Hiking with Braids | YouTube
- Backcountry Foodie (YouTube) by Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN
You can check out Aaron’s website as well if you are interesting in paying for her recipes and/or other services.
- Backcountry Meal Planning for Thru Hikers (Facebook group)
- Backpacking Vegetarian or Vegan? | Outdoor Herbivore
- Best Backpacking Food + DIY Recipes by Iron Tazz
- Calories Used While Backpacking by Phil Heffington
- Cold-Soak No-Cook Backpacking Meals 101 by Heather Daya Rideout | SectionHiker.com
- GearSkeptic is a YouTube channel with a small collection of very detailed and useful videos about backpacking nutrition and food density. You can also download a useful nutrition spreadsheet with over 900 common backpacker food options (PDF version also available). You can also make your own with a DIY spreadsheet. There is also a separate spreadsheet covering popular freeze-dried meal pouches (PDF version also available).
NOTE: I really can’t recommend these videos highly enough. Go watch them. Now. They are great.
- Guthook’s Backpacking Food Planner | FarOut
- How Many Calories Do I Burn Backpacking? by Kelly Hodgkins | Greenbelly
Use this calculator to help you get an estimate of how many calories you burn in a mike of hiking (so you can adequately prepare your food for your next hike).
- How Many Calories Do You Burn While Thru-Hiking? by Paul Bodnar | Guthook Guides
- Long Distance Hiking Food Resupply Tool is a free, public Google Sheets spreadsheet I created to help long-distance hikers more easily plan resupplies. It currently includes almost 1300 common backpacker food options (including popular freeze-dried meals) with associated nutrition information. You can specify the number of days and nights and amount of daily calories you want as well as targeted nutritional breakdown (fat, carbs, protein) and use the tool to easily see how your planned resupply matches those. One great thing about Google Sheets is that you can use it in offline mode, which should be helpful when on the trail with spotty or no wireless coverage.
NOTE: This spreadsheet incorporates the wonderful work of GearSkeptic so I recommend you check out those videos if you haven’t already.
- Meal time: Backpacking breakfast & dinner recipes | Andrew Skurka
- Nutritionist Brenda L. Braaten’s Pack Light, Eat Right: Nutritional recommendations for backpackers and other endurance exercise enthusiasts is a fantastic overview of nutritional basics with a focus on long-distance hiking needs.
- Outdoor Food Club categorizes foods good for outdoor activities and provides nutritional info for each, including calories per gram, carbs per gram, protein per gram, sodium per gram, sugar per gram, etc., so you can find new foods, and compare them in an objective and fair way.
- Popular prepackaged meal companies:
- Nutrition Databases can be useful when planning your food resupply. A few worth checking out are calorieKing, FatSecret (has mobile apps), Nutrionix, SELF Nutrition Data, and USDA FoodData Central (difficult to search by brand). I am not sure that one is better than the rest, because each seems to miss certain brands or certain sizes and the numbers for the same food item sometimes vary between sources. After a bit of use, I prefer calorieKing and Nutritionix. Finding an item on Amazon is also a good option, because the product images usually include one with the Nutrition Facts label.
- Stoveless Backpacking Meals + Cold Soak Guide by Iron Tazz
- The Best Backpacking Meals of 2021 by Katie Kommer | The Trek
- The Best Hiking Snack – Cooking With A Thru Hiker by JupiterHikes
- The Ugly Truth About Pop-Tarts! by Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN | The Trek
- There Are 50 CLIF Bars, and Nutritionists Only Recommend 5 by Sarah Bradley | Eat This, Not That
- Thru-Hiking Calorie and Food Weight Calculator | FarOut
Calculate how many calories you will burn on your hiking trip and plan how much food you will need to bring on your trip using our Calorie & Food Weight Calculator.
There are A LOT of blog posts and YouTube videos with various gear reviews, gear lists, etc. I won’t even try to list them here but if I find good general gear overview resources I will add them.
- 13 Best Ultralight Backpacks for Thru-Hiking in 2021 by Chris Cage | Greenbelly Meals
- Adventure Alan (Alan Dixon)
- A Good First Aid Kit by ME & U | WhiteBlaze
- Andrew Skurka has created a comprehensive gear list template and checklist and shares some of his gear lists to serve as guides. Also check out his Backpacking Gear List Template & Checklist : Template + 3-season Checklist, Core Backpacking Clothing, Core 13 Backpacking Clothing, and his series of articles and reviews that cover satellite communication devices and services.
- Backpacking Clothes (Underwear, Base Layers, Hiking Shirts/Pants, Mid Layers, Rainwear) by Dixie (Homemade Wanderlust) | YouTube
- Backpacking shelters for the BIG & tall, and those who sprawwwl by Jesse Liesch
Very limited information is available about shelters for larger people. I’ll address this problem with a revolutionary new system for measuring the usable area of tents and fixed-shape tarps. Then, using this system I will offer standards for comfort and I will examine several popular models.
- Choosing A Tarp for a Hammock by Derek Hansen
- DIY Pot Cozy & Cook Pouch for the Trail by Darwin onthetrail | YouTube
- Do You Need Insoles for Hiking Boots and Trail Runners? by Philip Werner | SectionHiker.com
- Do You Really Need a Footprint for Your Tent? by Casey Handley | CleverHiker
- Down Jacket Guide
A Google Spreadsheet that lists jackets under 11oz with at least 800 fill power down US (comparable to 750fp EU) for which the amount of fill is known and the down itself is ethically sourced. Some creative mathematical attempts are applied to compare the different options. [REF: Reddit post]
- Easy Way to Open a Bear Vault by Senior Backpacker | YouTube
- Follow Bigfoot has two useful gear list videos: My Affordable Lightweight 3-Season Gear Challenge List (GearGrams list) and $1500 Ultralight Appalachian Trail Gear List (GearGrams list). You can also see his finalized Appalachian Trail GearGrams list.
- Frozen’s (Outdoor Adventures on YouTube) Appalachian Trail Lighterpack list
- Garmin InReach Mini Battery Saving Tips by Go Thru It | YouTube
- Gear Backpackers Ditch First by Homemade Wanderlust (YouTube)
- Gear chat: lightweight solar panels by Jools Stray | Three Points of the Compass
- Gear List: Backpacking First Aid Kit for soloists & groups by Andrew Skurka
- Hammocking 101: Weather Protection by John and Cath at Couch2Trail
- Hammock Camping 101 by Derek Hansen
- Hammock How-To for Noobs by “Shug” Emery | YouTube
- Hammocking 101: Buying a Hammock System | Couch2Trail
- Hiking, Camping & Backpacking Gear Talk (Facebook group)
A place where hiking enthusiasts can ask questions, answer questions, discuss hiking gear, and offer hiking gear advice.
- How to Choose a Backpack for Thru-Hiking by Kelly Floro | The Trek
- How to Lace a Hiking Boot For Better Fit by Backcountry Edge | YouTube
- How To Make A Pot Cozy by Backcountry Banter | YouTube
- How to Recycle Your Used Hiking Shoes by Jeff Podmayer | The Trek
- How to Tie a Heel Lock by Steven Wright | Lock Laces
- Less than $1000 Lighterpack gear list by Reddit user mittencamper
- Lightweight Hiking Gear: Popular Ultralight Backpacks
- Make Your Own Ultralight Windscreen & Heat Reflector – DIY by Backcountry Banter | YouTube
- Making Sure Your Sleeping Mat Is ‘Warm’ Enough – Testing R-Values Using The ASTM Standard by Sea To Summit
NOTE: includes a nice chart showing what R-Value you need based on how you sleep (cold or warm) and air/ground temps.
- MSR Stoves: Measuring Canister Fuel by MSRGear | YouTube
- Platypus QuickDraw vs Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Squeeze: Which Water Filter Should You Carry For Your Next Thru-Hike? by J. Taylor Bell | The Trek
- Rainy Pass Repair
Offers hiking gear repair services, including: clothing (including down and Gore-Tex®), packs, tents, and sleeping bags.
- Seek Outside Backpack Fit
Goes through how to properly adjust your backpack to best fit you.
- “Stupid light”: Why light is not necessarily right, and why lighter is not necessarily better by Andrew Skurka
- The Best Camp Shoe by Flip-Flop | Do It in the Woods
- The Best Ultralight Backpacks | GearLab
- The Easiest Way I’ve Found To Remove Trekking Pole Tips by Jay Wanders Out | YouTube
- The Feathers and The Cold by Mike Lavine | Google Docs (found in PCT Class of 2022 group)
A bit of a rambling, semi-structured document that covers a lot of useful information about keeping warm on the trail.
- The Thru-Hiker’s Guide to Tyvek by Jesse Metzger | The Trek
- The Trek Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Gear List indicates popular options in the following categories: shelters, hammock, pack, sleeping bags and quilts, sleeping pads, footwear, clothing, cooking, water, first aid, toiletries, headlamp, pillow, hiking poles, trowel, and GPS.
- The Working Man’s UL Upgrade List (Lighterpack list)
- Thruhiker Single Person Tent Comparison
Brian Klotz put together this comparison sheet of single-person tents that are 2 lbs. or less while searching for his perfect tent. It has reviews, some other metrics like cost per ounce, and tabs for single-wall and double-wall tents that I came across in my searching as well.
- Ultralight Vs Traditional Packs – What’s the Best for you? by Darwin onthetrail | YouTube
- Understanding Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings by Ken Knapp | REI
- Which Tent Stake is Best for Your Thru-Hike? by Paul Bodnar | Guthook Guides
- Why “waterproof” shoes will not keep your feet dry by Andrew Skurka
99Boulders offers a huge list of gear vendors that can be filtered by type of gear, country, or type of company. That list includes many I have never heard of and haven’t listed here, some of which are for countries besides the U.S. Check that out if interested. Alternatively, Kevin Carlyle put together a Outdoor Gear Brands Google spreadsheet listing 900+ gear sites/retailers and the type of gear they carry. [REF].
My list is simply of those companies I saw at least several times in positive references while I was researching my gear. It is far from exhaustive and I am sure I have left out some good brands, but it is a good place to start if you are new and a bit overwhelmed. Some of these are big names found in stores, some are independent but do sell through Amazon, and some are independent and only sell from their own website. In parenthesis, I list what they are most famous for, though they may sell other products as well.
- 3F (a Chinese manufacturer of lightweight gear, often copies of more expensive brands, with good quality but sometimes long delivery times from China; for example, their Lanshan tent is very popular but see MIER below for an alternative).
- Advanced Outdoor Technologies (ADOTEC) (UL accessory packs, tarps, stuff sacks, rain gear, etc., made in Canada).
- Altra (trail running shoes)
- Anker (power banks)
- Arc’teryx (various gear)
- Astral shoes (zero drop shoes similar to Altra and Topo)
- Atom Packs (UK, UL backpacks)
- BearVault (bear canisters)
- Big Agnes (tents, sleeping pads and bags)
- Black Diamond (trekking poles, headlamps)
- Body Wrapper Ripstop Pants (3-4 oz. | 85-113 g)
- Borah Gear (bivys, tarps)
- Brooks (trail running shoes)
- Cnoc Outdoors (dirty water bag)
- Darn Tough (Merino wool socks with a lifetime warranty)
- Decathlon (general outdoors retailer with excellent value for money products mostly popular outside the U.S. but can be purchased online in the U.S.)
- DeFeet (socks; Andrew Skurka uses the Wooleator and Woolie Boolie models)
- Dirty Girl Gaiters
- Discovering Wilderness (pot cozies)
- Dr. Bronners and Campsuds (multi-use, biodegradable soap)
- Dream Hammock (hammocks)
- Durston Gear (tents, backpacks)
- Dutchware Gear (hammocks, especially Chameleon)
- Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) (hammocks)
- Enlightened Equipment (quilts, shelter)
- Evernew (water bags)
- Farm to Feet (Merino wool socks with a lifetime warranty)
- Feathered Friends (sleeping bags, clothing)
- Frogg Toggs (cheap rain gear)
- Frugal Innovations (friction saving bear bag system, dyneema bags, hammock and tarp accessories)
- Garage Grown Gear (online retailer of other companies’ products; try GGG10 coupon code for a 10% discount and free shipping on orders over $20)
- Gossamer Gear (packs, tents, trekking poles)
- Granite Gear (packs)
- GSI Outdoors (cookware, especially using Halulite rather than Titanium)
- Hammock Gear (hammocks, quilts)
- Hennessy Hammock (hammocks, tarps, snake skins)
- High Tail Designs (accessories, especially ultralight fanny packs and stuff sacks)
- Hilltop Packs (backpacks, bear bags with funny designs)
- Holy Hiker Bidets
- HydroBlu Versa (water filtration)
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear (waterproof packs)
- Injinji (toe socks and toe liner socks)
- Jacks ’R’ Better (hammocks, tarps, quilts)
- Kahtoola (snow gear)
- Kammock (tarps)
- Katabatic Gear (packs, sleeping bags)
- Katadyn Befree (water filtration)
- Klymit (sleeping pads and accessories)
- La Sportiva (trail running shoes)
- Leki (trekking poles)
- LightHeart Gear (tents)
- Lightload® Towels (ultralight camp towels)
- LiteAF (packs, bear bag kit)
- Litesmith (online retailer selling a small collection of UL gear)
- Loco Libre (quilts)
- Loksak (odor proof food bags)
- Marmot (Precip rain jacket)
- Melanzana (most famous for their fleece hoodie, which is often VERY difficult to get)
- Merino wool clothing companies (Ibex, Icebreaker, Minus33, Smartwool, Meriwool, Point6, WoolX)
- MIER (makes a clone of the 3F Lanshan tent that is slightly more expensive but ships more quickly inside the U.S.)
- Montbell (clothes, especially down and rain jackets)
- Mountain Hardware (trail clothes, gear)
- Mountain Laurel Designs (packs, quilts)
- MSR (cooking gear)
- MyersTech Hammock Lab. This one-man shop is run by disabled vet and outdoor enthusiast Jeff Myers. He sells handmade suspension systems and components for hammocks and tarps. His specialty are Evo loops (shackle loops) that are lightweight, non-metal carabiner replacements. He has an eBay store as well, but often better and slightly cheaper if you contact him directly on FB).
- My Trail Co (UL equipment retailer)
- NatureHike (a Chinese manufacturer of lightweight gear, often copies of more expensive brands, with good quality)
- NEMO Equipment (famous for its Hornet tents)
- Northern Ultralight (UL Equipment designed and Crafted in Nelson, BC)
- OMM Original Outdoor Marathon (UL gear shop focused on runners; HALO rain gear is insanely light and gets high ratings; primarily found in Europe and Japan)
- Osprey (rugged, light—but not UL—packs; the most popular brand on trail)
- Outdoor Research (rain jacket, dry and stuff sacks)
- OutdoorVitals (ultralight gear)
- PackbackDesigns (DCF UL gear including packs, accessories, and the PBD Ultralight DCF Zipper Food Bag)
- Pa’lante Packs (packs)
- Paria Outdoor Products (shelter, sleep)
- Patagonia (clothes, especially Capilene and fleece)
- Petzl (headlamps)
- RAVPower (power banks)
- REI (a general outdoors retailer that also has some excellent own-brand gear)
- Ripstop by the Roll (waterproof material for DIY projects)
- Salomon (trail running shoes)
- Sawyer (water filtration)
- Sea to Summit (dry and stuff sacks, bag liner, sleep gear)
- Seek Outside (backpacks, tents)
- Six Moons Designs (their Lunar Solo tent is popular)
- SlingFin (tents)
- Smelly Proof Bags (odor proof food bags)
- SOLE (heat-molded insoles)
- StickPic (small gadget to turn your trekking poles into a selfie stick)
- Superfeet (insoles)
- Superior Wilderness Designs (packs)
- Tarptent (shelter)
- Tensa Outdoors (makes the UL Trekking Treez hammock stand using trekking poles to allow you to hammock even in areas without trees)
- The Packa (a combination pack cover, rain jacket, and poncho)
- Therm-a-Rest (sleeping pads)
- Thrupack (ultralight fanny packs)
- Timmermade (makes a 1 oz. DCF pullover rain shell)
- Toaks (lightweight cookware)
- TrailHeadz Hammocks and Accessories (Wraith UL is a netted hammock weighing in at under 10 ounces)
- Tread Lite Gear (UL accessories; UK)
- Underground Quilts (UGQ) (hammocks, quilts)
- Ursack (bear-proof bags)
- Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA) (packs)
- Vargo (cooking gear)
- Warbonnet Outfitters (hammocks, tarps and quilts)
- Wrightsock (double layer hiking socks)
- Zimmerbuilt (custom frameless packs)
- Zpacks (UL gear, especially packs, tents, bear bag, and rain gear; one of the most popular brands on the trail)
Gear Weight Tracking Resources
- GearGrams was, I believe, the first gear weight tracking tool. There is a (paid) iOS app as well. I am not sure, but it seems like GearGrams is no longer being actively maintained, because the last update on the blog or social media was December 2017 and the last I checked browsers are giving a privacy warning when you visit.
- Lighterpack seems to be the most popular weight tracking tool these days and is open source. It is similar to GearGrams in feel and functionality.
- Milestepper doesn’t appear to be used by anyone in any of the groups I follow, but I did originally see it listed in the Reddit sub and it looks interesting enough to check out.
- Packfire is a new alternative to Lighterpack. I haven’t used it personally or heard much feedback but it looks like it might be good.
- Packstack is another Lighterpack alternative that lets you add your gear and start building your packing list, providing a weight breakdown so you can fine-tune your pack.
Guidebooks, Maps and Apps
- AllTrails is probably the most popular hiking app, providing maps, reviews, and details for over 55,000 hand-curated trails in 102 countries. With the free version, you can search for trails, and view maps both online or offline. Category filters like dog-, kid-, or wheelchair-friendly are easily available, and you can record hiking statistics like total distance, elevation, and moving time.
Price: AllTrails Pro is available as an annual subscription for USD $29.99/year
- Avenza Maps is a mobile app that doesn’t need the Internet to work. Find an official park or topographic map and navigate with only GPS to locate yourself on a map. Record your tracks, estimate travel times, and add placemarks and photos to share with others.
Price: varies by map provider but the full set of National Geographic maps are $129.99! Probably best to stick with FarOut.
- Gaia GPS Smartphone App is a powerful GPS navigation tool that can replace a standalone GPS device. You can load GPS data (e.g., Halfmile’s PCT GPS waypoints) for offline use. There is a learning curve, especially for hikers unfamiliar with GPS navigation. Gaia GPS reviews have been posted by PMags and Adventure Alan.
Price: $20 per year (follow Adventure Alan’s link and get 20% off).
- FarOut Guides App (formerly known as Guthook) is the major resource used by thru-hikers and it is pretty darned incredible. If you download the maps, it works offline with GPS (which you can toggle on and off while using and which turns off when you close the app or your phone). It also occasionally updates the content whenever you are connected to data (auto update is a setting to toggle). Different icons are used to indicate points of interest (called waypoints, e.g., full, half full, or empty water drop to signify the presence of water and how reliable the source is). You can choose which sections and which types of maps as well as comments and photos to download, so if your phone is memory constricted this can help. There are three types of maps available: topo (three sources to choose from), Google street (street, satellite, terrain, or hybrid), and USGS offline satellite. The Google option will also show useful things off the trail, which is helpful for when you plan to go into town if you won’t have mobile data working. You can also register a free account which will let you add comments, but this is not required. There are so many useful features (e.g., ability to toggle between map view, an elevation profile map, and a list view of all or selected waypoints) that you might want to see online reviews to get a better feel for them. Follow Bigfoot has a useful video review of the Guthook app as does Michael K Davis.
NOTE: FarOut now offers a web version of the app you can use to peruse the guides via a browser on a computer or tablet.
Price: The app itself is free but you must pay for the trail contents. One great thing about FarOut is that updates are free forever.
NOTE: There is usually one or two significant sales (20-25% off) each year so if you are planning ahead, monitor the FB groups or sign up for the mailing list to hear about these sales.
NOTE: Here is a guide to adding a custom waypoint.
- Hike Intel is a free iOS app from Tim Luby that crowdsources trail conditions and other info (like statuses of springs and shelters). It claims to be a different animal from FarOut but as I don’t have an iOS device I haven’t tested it and have no thoughts about it. There is a Facebook group for it as well.
- Life360 and FollowMee are two popular mobile apps you and your family can use to track your hike (though they are not hiking-specific apps), but now that FarOut has social features and check-ins, that’s probably the better option. Alternatively, if you hike with a Garmin, Spot, Zoleo or similar device, those tend to offer check-in and other social tracking features as well.
- PeakFinder is great to identify mountains. It works like binoculars with an overlay of mountain names.
- [email protected] (Android, iOS) is an application that allows you to identify plants simply by photographing them with your smartphone. Very useful when you don’t have a botanist on hand! [email protected] is also a great citizen science project: all the plants you photograph are collected and analysed by scientists around the world to better understand the evolution of plant biodiversity and to better preserve it.
- View Ranger is an app for both Android and iOS that lets you discover inspiring route guides, download detailed Ordnance Survey® maps, and navigate with confidence on your next hike, run, bike ride, country walk or outdoor adventure. I have read that it’s peak finder feature is as good or better than the Peak Finder app.
Hiking Skills and Tips
- -30°… Ultralight Winter Camping… Alone by Justin Outdoors | YouTube
- 5 Tips to Help You Choose a Perfect Campsite Every Time by Eloise Robbins | The Trek
- 7 Essential Knots You Need To Know by InnerBark Outdoors | YouTube
- 12 Time-Saving Tips So You Can Hike More Miles by Eloise Robbins | The Trek
- 20 Tips on Sleeping Warm in the Outdoors by Greg Rouse | Chiff.com
- 100 Tips For An Ultralight Backpack by JupiterHikes | YouTube
- Actually, there is a “right way” to backpack: The limits of “hike your own hike” by Andrew Skurka
- Admission: Yes, I sleep with my food by Andrew Skurka
- Backpacking Appalachian Trail Treating Gear Tick Repellent Sawyer Permethrin by Turtle and Pup | YouTube
- Backpacking Checklist
- Backpacking for Beginners: How to get started | Outdoors Generations
- Beginner backpackers: Start here | Advice, info, tips & resources by Andrew Skurka
- Beginner Hammock Camping Part 4 – Knots You Should Know by Outdoor Adventures | YouTube
- Black Bears and Thru-Hiking: Your Questions Answered by Jim Rahtz | The Trek
- Detailed explanation on how to use a Backpacking Bidet–Buy a Holey Hiker Bidet! See Description! by Paul the Backpacker | YouTube
- Essential Backpacking Skills – Hang your food bag with the PCT method by Jon Allen Outside | YouTube
- Hanging A Bear Bag—The PCT Method by Derek Hanson
- Hiking Etiquette by Hiking Dude
- How I Fight Condensation In a Tent or Car and What Causes It by Jay Wanders Out | YouTube
- How I Pack a Backpack for Hiking (with a PACK LINER) by Chase Mountains | YouTube
- How I Pack My Gear 2020 – 35L Pack (Full Comfort) by Darwin onthetrail | YouTube
- How I Packed My Pack On The PCT by Homemade Wanderlust | YouTube
- HOW NOT TO QUIT (a thru-hike) by Marie-Pier Tremblay | YouTube
- How to Build a Fire in 5 Minutes | Backpackerverse.com
- How to Camp in the Snow by Restless Kiwi | YouTube
- How to cross a river safely by Adventure Professional Publications
- How to Effectively Use Bear Spray by Patrick Hutchison | Art of Manliness
- How to Pack a Backpack for Thru-Hiking by Effie Drew | The Trek
- How to PLAN a BACKPACKING trip by Jon Allen Outside | YouTube
- How to Poop in the Woods by REI | YouTube
- How to poop in the woods & perform a backcountry bidet by Andrew Skurka | YouTube (related articles)
- How to Prevent Chafing While Hiking by Therese Iknoian | Backpacker
- How to Properly Place Your Tent Stake | FarOut Guides
- How to Use Trekking Poles (Like a Boss) by Chase Mountains | YouTube
- How to put up tent in the rain without getting it wet by ChopperOutdoors | YouTube
- Ineffective & outdated: Six reasons to not hang a bear bag by Andrew Skurka
- I Sleep With My Food by Shane O’Donnell | Facebook
- Is Thru-Hiking Really 90 Percent Mental? by Cam “Swami” Honan | The Hiking Life
- Knot School: 8 Essential Knots for Hikers
- Learn Map & Compass, Part 1: Adjust for declination & orient a map by Andrew Skurka
- Learn Map & Compass, Part 2: Find & transfer bearings in the field & on a map by Andrew Skurka
- Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national organization that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. Read their seven LNT principles before beginning your hike and check out their How to Brush Your Teeth In The Backcountry YouTube video.
- Mental Preparation by Gusha | HikerFeed
- Mental Side To Going Ultralight by Craig Fowler | One of Seven Project
- Natural Navigation Clues: How to Find Your Way Without a Compass by Mary Cochenour | GAIA GPS
- Netknots.com and Animated Knots are good resources for seeing how to tie various knots via a series of images.
- One Simple Trick to Keep Your Shoelaces Tied on Your Next Hike by Owen Eigenbrot | The Trek
- Packing Your Backpack by The Hiking Rev | YouTube
- REI Classes, Outings and Events
- Seam Seal the Easy Way: Superior Wilderness Designs Rugged Long Haul by Broke Backpacker | YouTube
- Template: Environmental & Route Conditions Assessment by Andrew Skurka
- The #1 thing to consider before a Thru Hike by LOTHAR | YouTube
- The 52 Biggest Hiking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them by Jason Stevenson | Backpacker
- The Thru-Hiker’s Guide to Safe and Effective Hitchhiking by Kelly Floro | The Trek
- Things I’ve Learned – Packing Your Backpack | The Hiking Rev | YouTube
- Tick Checking 101: Steps to Take For Every Hike by Dylan Stuntz | American Forests
- Top 10 Rope Knots by NetKnots.com
- Trekking Poles: How to adjust and use straps by Adventure Buddies | YouTube
- What a Thru Hike is Really Like by JupiterHikes | YouTube
Snow Conditions and River Crossings
See my Pacific Crest Trail resources page for some useful resources for river crossings and snow conditions.
- Buddy, USAA, and the American Alpine Club (AAC) accident insurance for hiking (only available to US residents) offer supplemental travel insurance that should cover your hike.
- Health Insurance Options If You Quit Your Job to go Backpacking by Homemade Wanderlust | YouTube
- Some travel insurance providers like World Nomads offer coverage for “adventure” or “high risk” activities.
- SPOT and Garmin emergency GPS devices offer search and rescue (SAR) benefits.
- 1 Pound on Your Foot Equals 5 Pounds on Your Back: The 5 Thumb Rules of Hiking by Jordan Smothermon and Rob Shaul | Mountain Tactical Institute
- Hikerlink is a tool for thru-hikers to connect with one another (a searchable database of thru-hikers organized by trail, year, and direction). It is brand new as of the time I am writing this so it remains to be seen what becomes of it, but since it is affiliated with The Trek I imagine it will get traction and become popular.
- HitchWiki offers information about the legality of hitchhiking in the United States.
- How Far Is It? The Truth Behind Trail Measurements by Donna McBain Evans | Washington Trails Association
- How to Prepare for a Thru Hike | Get These Things Done Before Leaving! by Kelly Hays Hikes | YouTube
- How to prepare your backpack for air travel | Fly with confidence! by Jon Allen Outside | YouTube
- List of long-distance trails in the US (useful for finding places to do warm-up hikes)
- Show This To Your Friends + Family If You Are Planning A LONG-DISTANCE Backpacking Trip or THRU-HIKE by Homemade Wanderlust | YouTube
- TSA list of camping items that can and cannot be brought on a plane | Transportation Security Administration
- By Land by Emory Wanger
- Foot Stuff Podcast
- Hiking Thru
- “Jester” Section Hiker by Julie Gayheart
- Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail
- Out Alive
- Outside Podcast
- Out There
- Sounds of the Trail
- The Backpacking Light Podcast
- The Dirtbag Diaries
- The First 40 Miles
- The Green Tunnel is a podcast about the history of the Appalachian Trail.
- The John Freakin’ Muir Pod
- The Paul Kirtley Podcast
- The Pox and Puss Podcast
- The Trail Show
- The Trek Podcasts (Backpacker Radio, Trail Correspondents)
- THRU-r podcast
- Trail Tales by Kyle O’grady
- Trust the Trail Podcast by Scott & Ariane
- Backpacking Chef is devoted to helping you learn how to dehydrate food, and how to assemble light-weight, nutritious backpacking meals, with over 100 trail-tested backpacking recipes for dinners, lunches, breakfasts, desserts, and snacks.
- Backcountry Meal Planning for Thru Hikers (Facebook group)
Be sure to check the Files section for useful downloads (recipes, dehydration resources, nutrition data, vegan resupply options, nutrition survey results, etc.)
- Dehydrating Your Own Backpacking Food (Facebook group)
- Healthy Gourmet Backpacking Food (Facebook group)
|USPS? While you probably have heard about USPS Priority Mail shipping for mail drops, Shane O’Donnell has written a detailed tutorial titled USPS Regional Rate Boxes For Hiking Dummies that can often save money compared to Priority Mail.|
Retailers and Used Gear Options
- ATC Store
If you’re looking for things like Buffs, Darn Tough socks, and other odds and ends, you should check out the ATC’s merchandise store. Prices are only slightly higher than other outlets, they come in AT-themed designs, and you’re helping fund the maintenance of the trail.
- Backcountry Edge
- Backpacking Gear Flea Market (FB group)
- Backpackinglight.com Gear Swap
- Bearfoot’s Hiking Gear Flea Market (FB group)
- Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear (packs, pack accessories, and fanny packs)
- Drop (formerly Massdrop)
- Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS)
- Etsy (especially for Cuben Fiber items)
- Garage Grown Gear
- Grizzle Gear
Justin Anderson sells handmade ultralight bottle and smartphone carriers that attach to your shoulder straps. 1 liter bottle carriers weigh only 0.4 oz. (11 g) and 700 ml bottle carriers are 0.3 oz. (9.5 g). Phone carriers measure 4 x 7.5 inches (10 x 19 cm).
- HammockForums.net For Sale List
- Liberty Mountain
- Lightweight Hiker (used gear)
Litesmith designs, builds and curates ultralight adventure gear.
- MEC (Canada)
- Mountain Steals aims to offer the best outdoor products from the top brands for less money. To keep the prices extra low, they don’t offer free next day delivery, free returns, or any the other “free” things that other online retailers force you to pay for by baking into their prices. They offer you our best price and then the choice of paying to get it a little faster or returning it.
- Patagonia and Patagonia Worn Wear
A co-op where members get dividends based on the amount purchased. Also includes a great one-year, no questions asked warranty. REI Garage Sales are a great place to buy used gear that’s been returned by customers but can’t be put back on shelves because it’s been used or has some sort of defect. Garage Sale discounts typically run between 50% to 90% and you can buy boots, shoes, tents, clothing, backpacks, even electronics. However, REI Garage sales are only open to Co-Op members, so join up if you haven’t already. All of the items offered at an REI Garage sale have a tag which explains what’s wrong with it so you can decide if it’s worth buying but keep in mind that, unlike with new gear purchases, no Garage Sale purchases can be returned. There is also a Used Gear online-only shop that focuses on returned gear that is still in excellent condition.
- Sierra Designs
- Sierra Trading Post
- Steep and Cheap
- Ultralight Backpacking Gear Vendors: The Complete List | 99Boulders
- Ultralight Gear Trade (Reddit)
- WalkAways Hiking Flea Market (FB group)
- Waymark Gear Co.
- WhiteBlaze Used Gear Forum
- whoopieslings.com offers hammock and tarp suspension products
- Hammock Forums has a used gear sale area, and there are also groups on Facebook dedicated to selling used camping/backpacking gear.
- Could You Survive a Run-In With a Bear? | New York Times
How much do you know about bear behavior and avoiding a bear attack? What you know — or don’t know — could determine how likely you are to survive an encounter with a testy bear.
- How to cross a river safely by Adventure Professional Publications
- inReach Webinar: inReach Best Practices by Garmin | YouTube
- Search and RescueE (SAR) – The Real Angels of the Trail by Matt Bromley | HikeIt
- SOS – What Happens and Who Pays for it. by The Retired Hiker | YouTube
A look at what happens if/when you actually need to use your personal locator beacon (PLB) device (e.g., Garmin, SPOT). Also looks at the two main service subscription options (Global Rescue and GEOS). Note he prefers GEOS.
- When to Initiate a Backcountry Rescue (with Your Garmin InReach, PLB, or SPOT) by HikingGuy.com
- Wilderness First Aid (WFA) + Survival ($35 Online Zoom course)
Hiking is an excellent opportunity to learn some constellations and watch the planets move through the sky. Fortunately, there are apps for that. There are many to choose from but the ones I have seen recommended by other hikers are Sky Map (Android), SkyView (iOS, Android exists may no longer be supported), Star Walk 2 (Android, iOS), Stellarium (Android, iOS), and Star Walk (Android, iOS).
- AccuWeather is especially useful for its live radar feature.
- AirNow Fire and Smoke Map shows fine particle pollution (PM2.5) from permanent AirNow monitors, temporary monitors deployed by agencies for smoke events, and low-cost sensors made by PurpleAir. Users can click or tap on the layer icon on the upper right of the map to select/de-select map layers showing the different data sources. To see other pollutants, visit the AirNow interactive map, which shows ozone, PM2.5, and PM10 data that official outdoor air quality air monitoring stations report to AirNow.
- I’ve seen occasional chatter about using IKEA bags to protect backpacks. Just a reminder that major US airlines offer plastic stroller/car seat bags at check-in. They’re large, super sturdy, and free. And even though plastic waste is always bad, I’d rather throw away a disposable bag rather than a reusable IKEA bag.
- Carrot Weather is a paid service but you can switch between a number of different data sources within the app: AccuWeather, ClimaCell, Foreca, MeteoGroup, Aeris Weather, or WillyWeather.
- Dark Sky is the most accurate source of hyperlocal weather information: with down-to-the-minute forecasts for your exact location.
NOTE: It was bought by Apple in early 2020 and is no longer available for Android. It may end up getting integrated into Apple’s native weather app and thus disappearing for good.
- meteoblue delivers local weather information worldwide for any point on land or sea. It was initially developed at the University of Basel, Switzerland based on models of NOAA/NCEP and meteoblue forecasts became quickly popular with scientists and the public having a specific interest in meteorology, including mountaineers, pilots, and astronomers. There are premium and free versions.
- Mountain Weather Forecasts provides forecasts for more than 11,300 (and growing) major summits for climbers and mountaineers, provided for up to 5 different elevations.
- Trailinfo.org lets you message your GPS coordinates to 765 55-FIRES (765-553-4737) to get current fire information (and AQI) in your area.
- Trail weather was created to provide a way of seeing current and future weather conditions along the entire Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail, whereas most existing trail weather sites only provide forecasts for one location at a time. Because of that, the site is very data-heavy and is not recommended for hikers on the trail looking for local weather conditions (it’s better for looking ahead and planning).