3 ways I’m preparing for the Appalachian Trail: Gear, Fitness, and Finance

Preparing to hike the Appalachian Trail has been a turbulent experience. I am feeling excited and nervous. I think that the best way to treat nervousness is with proper preparation. Here is what I am doing to prepare for my thru-hike:


Holy smokes. Where to start. Learning about gear has been like learning a new dialect of the English language. To those of you that are also new to the hiking world: it does get easier. I am finding myself nerding out over my newfound terminology and I don’t have to pause YouTube videos as often to look up what the hell they are talking about. 

I’ve been consuming tons of videos and blogs about gear lists. My main focuses for gear are weight, cost, and staying warm (I am miserable when I am cold). Creating a gear list is a lot of research and knowing yourself. I’m planning on bringing an ultra-lightweight film camera (2.6 ounces). Essential? No. Good for my soul? Yes.    

I don’t have all of my gear yet. We don’t have a supermarket on the island, so we certainly don’t have an REI either ;). I am flying to the mainland this week for my Dad’s birthday and to shop around for my last few bits of gear. ~gear list to come~


I am beginning to practice hiking while wearing my pack. I’m training with my pack filled with 20 pounds of towels and soup cans because I don’t have all of my gear yet… Practicing has been a test to my ability to silence my perfectionism. If I waited to practice until I had all of my gear I would be missing out on valuable training time. Right now, it is way more important to get familiar with the gear I do have than to have a perfect functioning pack. My community is made up of 500 people… I know everyone that passes me. So if you need a laugh, just think about me wearing a thru-hiking backpack filled with soup and towels and having to wave to every car that passes. 

I have a pretty regular walking schedule with my dog, Kodak. I’m adding nighttime headlamp hikes with my soup-can-bag. I’m also cross-training with some longer runs and fartleks (interval running–basically you maintain running, but increase and decrease speed/difficulty). I would recommend this for new runners, it’s more fun than just running. I’m looking into some body weight resistance to build some strength. As a rule of thumb, I’m trying to have two small workouts a day. I’m breaking it up because I don’t want to get too sore or burnt-out before I even hit the A.T.! 


This was the area that required the most preparation. I imagine that is true for most people that decide they are going to thru-hike for half of a year. I made many financial choices to be able to thru-hike the A.T. These are what worked the most for me:   

I went sober.

I like to drink beer. Alot. Preparing for the A.T. is a huge time and financial commitment, and so is drinking beer. This was a bit extreme, but it dramatically improved my productivity and my bank account. 

I stopped going out to eat.

This is good for the bank account, but it is also good practice for controlling the impulse for instant gratification. Yes, you could go get a juicy cheeseburger for $12, but you have leftover salmon for free. Your bank statement and body will thank you. I also challenged myself to eat everything I had before buying more food. I ate the stuff that only exists in kitchen cabinets for natural disasters or zombie apocalypses.  

I created a financial planner.

I thought that keeping detailed notes about my finances would be anxiety provoking. Turns out, it was kind of exciting. I changed my thinking from I can’t afford to thru-hike for 6 months to how can I afford to thru-hike for 6 months? Hence staying sober and eating at home. It also helps to think about financial planning as a way to increase freedom, rather than planning as a restriction of freedom. 

I found my exact cost of living.

Finding my cost of living helped me determine how much I would have to save to feel comfortable leaving March 30th. That gave me a monthly saving goal, and with that came many creative side hustles for extra cash. I recommend finding your cost of living, it’s interesting.

I practiced decision making.

I had to say no a ton. I had to say yes a ton. Do you want to come on this trip with us? No. Do you want to pick up this extra work shift? Yes. I’ve had to practice clear goal setting and avoid anything that doesn’t support getting me to the A.T.. Ignoring my instant gratification impulse is good for me, right?

Final Thoughts 

I leave for my thru-hike in about 5 weeks. Any longer and I might over-prepare! I want to plan enough to be successful, but not too much that I am overwhelmed. I can’t forget that this will be a learning experience! Preparing for my thru-hike has sometimes felt like a part-time job, but in a good way. It consumes all of my thoughts and spare time. I am excited to share more as my knowledge and experiences grow. 

The A.T. is calling baby, and I’m picking up!


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Comments 5

  • Tee : Feb 20th

    Turbulence is great choice to describe this process of prepping. Good luck and see ya on trail

  • Clifford Ward : Feb 21st

    Very good for you!
    Planning on all stages for all needs or issues is the best way and I salute you. I
    hope to be as detailed as you and I wish you a enjoyable trip.

  • Susan Carey : Feb 22nd

    Helpful post

  • Laura Budde : Feb 22nd

    Thank you for sharing! In our culture, exploring how we spend money with honesty and being willing to make changes is one of the best things any of us can do to enjoy life on a deeper level and embrace adventure.

    My husband and I are heading out to the AT on 4/7 and perhaps we will cross paths!

    Much love and peace to you on your preparations and your journey!

  • Lisa Morgan : Feb 24th

    I think i have that exact pack. Granite Gear…awsome pack but did you know you can convert it to a UL pack? I removed the plastic stay in the back. I reinforced and sewed the shoulder straps into top ribbon of the pack body where material is thicker. This shaved a full pound!!!!


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