Five Things That Worked: Appalachian Trail 2018
I had 130 days to try out gear, routines, eating habits, sleeping set-ups, etc. This list talks about the top five things that worked for me on the trail.
Gear Crush: Sleeping Bag Liner
I am pretty sure that this is my favorite piece of gear. I love this liner and used it every night on trail. The nights when I was sweaty (most nights), I did not stick to my sleeping bag. The nights when I was dirty, I was able to contain the dirt and smell to the liner. The best part? I was able to wash the liner whenever I was in town. Having it has definitely prolonged the life of my sleeping bag and kept the hiker trash smell out of it. Bonus, it would keep the mice from touching my skin when I fell asleep with my sleeping bag open.
Life Hack: Peppermint Oil
I know this sounds extra, and that’s because it is. To say I was pretty freaked by mice getting in my tent or crawling all over me in the shelter would be an understatement. I read that they don’t like peppermint so putting peppermint oil on me and my sleeping bag gave me a sense of (naive) comfort. Also, it felt so good on nights when it was really hot. I would put it all over my body (be careful not to touch your eyes or private parts, eeeek!), and a few moments later, I would feel five degrees cooler. Every night I made a point to massage my feet, and this oil paired with CBD salve was the ultimate hiker trash spa day.
Recovery Remedy: Pack Under My Feet
When I got into my tent at night, I would tuck my pack under the bottom half of my sleeping pad toward my feet. I did this more often in the beginning when I was sleeping in a one-person tent and didn’t have much room to store my pack at night. For me, this helped to circulate the blood flow and reduce inflammation.
Belly and Brain Trick: Snacks Every One to two Hours
Breakfast was usually my smallest meal. Because of that, I would get hungry pretty quickly after leaving camp. I allotted most of my snacks for the day between breakfast and lunch and most days, snacked every one to two hours. This helped pass the time and was a sweet little reward for making it however far. Win-win.
Informative Distraction: Podcasts
A few weeks into the hike, I started to listen to podcasts and music while hiking. The podcasts stimulated my brain and gave me a brief distraction. They also kept me somewhat informed about life happenings. A few favorites are Backpacker Radio, She Explores, Women on the Road, From the Heart with Yoga Girl, Wait Wait Don’t Tell me, Aubrey Marcus, Code Switch, Deep Dive with Dana Falsetti, Hidden Brain, No Such Thing as a Fish, Pod Saves America, and Radiolab. Fair warning—I did hike noticeably slower when I listened to podcasts versus music or nothing at all.
I partnered with several food companies and had products sent to me ahead of time prior to the hike. I have a pretty strict diet due to Lyme disease/being vegetarian and I wanted to be prepared in case I couldn’t find food that I was able to eat when we went to resupply in smaller towns. In hindsight, this was a tad dramatic and I would have been fine in most of the places we shopped. Regardless, I had a significant amount of free food, which helped to offset the cost of shipping the resupply boxes, so I was interested in giving it a try. After a bit of a learning curve for both myself and my dad (he was sending me the boxes), we were able to figure out a shipping system that worked for both of us. But also, in full disclosure, there were a few times when it was a pain in the ass to try to coordinate getting into town before the post office closed, and I did have to bounce a box more than once. Important reminder—post offices are closed on Sundays and some are even closed on Saturdays.
Like I said, these are the things that worked best for me on trail and your experience may be totally different. Did any of my top five make your top five? Have your own top five? Share your thoughts with me below.
Stay tuned for the next post explaining the top five things that did not work for me on the trail.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.