Did Dan “Knotts” Binde Set the Self-Supported FKT on the AT?

May 26th 2017- July 19th 2017 (53:22:57)

On July 19th, Dan “Knotts” Binde allegedly set a new self-supported speed record on the Appalachian Trail shortly after taking a nap two miles from the summit of Katahdin. It took him an astonishing 53 days, 22 hours and 57 minutes. Which means he hiked over 40 miles a day, for nearly 54 days straight. The previous record was held by Heather “Anish” Anderson at 54 days and 7 hours.

Despite contrary belief, Knotts did hike with a SPOT device, but a malfunction caused it to drain batteries every couple days. From roughly mile 300 to 1300 on the AT, he struggled to leave evidence of his coordinates in his wake. Which poses a question: If you set a new FKT (fastest known time) and no one can keep up with you while you do it, did you really do it?

I think he did. Here’s why:

The Facts:

Knotts has already triple crowned.
After this year, he will have done so twice.

When he began thru-hiking in 2015, he hiked the PCT and the AT back to back. He entered the Sierras in April when roughly 80% of the trail was under snow. And finished the year waking up to frozen shoes in the Great Smokey Mountains. In 2016, Knott’s hiked the CDT and then kept rolling on the GDT.

Knotts on the AT in 2015

We have GPS coordinates for the first 300 miles and the last 900 miles.

I’ve compiled a list of over 42 witnesses, 16 dated photographs and 13 Facebook live videos. That’s 71 shreds of evidence for a 54-day hike. This evidence accounts for nearly every day that Knotts claims to have been hiking the AT.

Social media shows Knotts hiking 62.3 miles in his first 24 hours. He hiked with open wounds on his feet for 1500 miles through the same territory where a man contracted a flesh-eating virus from open blisters.

Luckily Knotts out-ran the flesh-eating virus, but not without consequences. After kicking a rock in Grayson Highlands, his toe opened up. By the end of the day, it was already infected.

Would your feet look like this if you were hitching your way up the AT?

Even with a functioning SPOT device, it’s possible to hitchhike between check ins. The amount of effort it would take to stage a FKT is probably just as much as it’d take to actually break a FKT.

Why is using a SPOT device to record your FKT the standard?

Considering that SPOT devices are known to malfunction by not transmitting coordinates, and being off by several miles at a time, they’re not entirely reliable either.

Previous SPOT malfunctions have not only cost Knotts some amount of credibility, they’ve also cost people their lives.

SPOT’s website  states: “Spot needs a clear view of the sky to obtain a GPS signal and provide the most accurate location information. It is not reliable indoors, in a cave, or in very dense woods.” The Appalachian Trail is made up of mostly dense woods, using a SPOT to record a FKT attempt isn’t a flawless approach. Even when your device is fully functioning, it may not transmit coordinates. Or there could be a delay in the transmission. You could still hitchhike and fudge the results of your GPS check ins.


While I understand the skepticism, discrediting a probable badass isn’t cool. Whether or not he set the new FKT on the AT this year, Knotts has well over 12,000 miles of trail under his feet. And counting. While our documentation from mile 300-900 is unconventional by FKT standards, he has tons of witnesses, photos and live videos to make up for an unfortunate SPOT device. It’s more likely that he did it than faked it. Knotts slayed the AT this year.

Follow Knotts on Instagram at CrazyKnotts and on his website.

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Comments 28

  • Trevor "Sweet Monkey" : Aug 8th

    I ran into him flying down a mountain in northern Maine this July. He was an absolute beast and a really nice guy. I have no doubt that he achieved this monumental feat.

  • Chicken : Aug 8th

    I’m sure he did it. With a distance running background, and having followed many true and discredited UK and US distance record attempts I can see Knotts’ hike was legit. There’s nothing that stands out as questionable, no claims to super-long days, just constant continuous grind.
    Two chicken thumbs-up 🙂
    Looking forward to following his exploits for a quite a while to come.

  • Michael Schaffer : Aug 8th

    He rested for about 30 minutes at our hostel in Duncannon, PA and was off again. Very nice guy, and was honored to have met him!

  • Nevada Eby : Aug 8th

    I agree! I hiked with Knotts a little on CDT 16 through hike and this man is an animal!! He can grind out the miles. Definitely no doubt in my mind that he did it.

  • TTMartin : Aug 8th

    No matter what his hike was not ‘unsupported’. His hike was SELF-SUPPORTED. Please stop saying he was ‘unsupported’. He did not complete the entire AT without a resupply, which is what a ‘unsupported’ hike is.

    • TTMartin : Aug 8th

      There is a photo of him opening a mailed drop box, hence SELF-SUPPORTED,
      NOT unsupported.

      • Mary Beth Skylis : Aug 8th

        Totally right guys. My error. Sorry about that! Fixed.

    • Darren : Aug 8th

      Eat a Snickers, @TTMartin.

  • JP : Aug 8th

    To clarify, if he did it, it would be a new self supported FKT. The AT is too long for an unsupported (or: you carry all food from the start) attempt…


    • TTMartin : Aug 8th

      Correct there is at least one photo of him opening a mailed drop box, so he was not unsupported, but, self-supported.

  • Skunks : Aug 8th

    I DO NOT DOUBT he completed his hike in the time claimed. That being said, his reported FKT falls under the same “honor system” statements as those who report to have finished a thru hike in a calender year. Unfortunately, without documented proof it’s his word only the same as it would be for anyone. Sucks SPOT couldn’t get his replacement gps to him fast enough.

  • Mike Carbonneau (Strummystick) : Aug 8th

    Trail claims work on an honor system, so everything comes down to the person’s trustworthiness, backed up by his track record. It sounds to me like his track record is quite indisputable, as he seems to be a person who has the background and experience to pull this off. He also doesn’t seem to have any past of stretching the truth, and that’s amazing, considering his prior hiking feats. As to the SPOT malfunction ….. I own a DeLorme beacon device, and it has come in handy, but I constantly have to warn my wife that it malfunctions often. Add it all up, and I say that the man is amazing, and he most likely did the deed! Wow!

  • WildernesSam : Aug 8th

    I ran into/chatted with Knotts in PA and fully believe he accomplished the FKT! I am still hiking and have run into many others who have also been passed by/chatted with him…very cool guy! I want to say Congrats!!

  • katie wilderness : Aug 8th

    I met Knotts last year while we were both hiking the CDT. I followed his progress along the way, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he did it. Nice report Mary Beth!

  • Bill Garvin : Aug 9th

    I saw him about one mile south of Kathadin Stream a couple of weeks ago. (I was sectioning 100MW sobo). He was running hard and singing loudly. I heard him way before I saw him. I believe his record is legitimate.

  • DaddyLonglegs : Aug 9th

    This guy is a hiking machine. So his spot didn’t give good data for two weeks…so what? Plenty of ‘proof’ out there. Put me down as another hiker who got passed by this cat and knows he’s legit.

  • Bill Smith : Aug 9th

    I don’t believe anyone with these absurd FKT attempts.

    There has to be some kind of baseline established on what they have to carry to document this feat. There has to be a far better piece of equipment that can document the trip than a crappy SPOT.

    I would be first in line to congratulate a legit FKT attempt of it were documented correctly with irrefutable proof.

    Right now all these people remind me heavily of Lance Armstrong.

    • Engine : Aug 9th

      The pro boards list requirements for an FKT to be recognized. It appears he made an honest attempt to meet those standards.

  • Deadwood Pete : Aug 9th

    Dude is a hiking beast. No doubt in my mind that he did it. Definately deserves the record and the credit.

  • Nancy Weld : Aug 9th

    He ran by me wearing very little and carrying very little near Lakes of the Clouds hut. I chatted with him at the summit where he was eating and he quickly left. I believe.

  • Warren Doyle : Aug 9th

    I would like to believe he has set a new record without outside support (no pre-arranged vehicle/crew meetings at the trail crossings). As a former AT record holder (with 17 AT traverses under my feet), I’ll hold off on totally recognizing this record until I see a daily log of progress (Date/startpoint/endpoint/sleep times). It doesn’t take much time to do this during one’s hike (probably less than 5 minutes per day). The weight of a pen/pencil and one sheet of college-ruled paper and a zip-lock bag is minisicule and it doesn’t take up much space in one’s pack. Signing a register in those shelters that are on the trail during regular (non-sleeping) hours also doesn’t take much time. This is much of what prior recordholders did before Matt Kirk’s excellent daily videojournals at the end of each of his days.

    • Driftwood : Aug 18th

      Unfortunately it appears the Spot device malfunction was cover for yellow blazing through a significant portion of Virginia.

  • Hiking : Aug 11th

    He may have set a new record, maybe not. For a self supported hike it’s, at best, problematic providing irrefutable evidence. Not everyone will be satisfied.

    I must opine about how poorly written this article is. Case in point: “discrediting a probable badass isn’t cool. Whether or not he set the new FKT on the AT this year.” What the deuce does that mean? Oh, if he lied about the FKT, he’s still a bad ass? I think not. You’re conclusion is really not well thought out, it’s obtuse

  • thetentman : Aug 16th

    I met him at the AT crossing on Rt 17A NY in late June while doingTrail Magic. It was late June. I can get the exact date and approximate time if anyone really needs to know.

  • Commando : Aug 18th

    Word’s out, he didn’t set the record. From Outside magazine:

    “Binde’s claim, point to a number of inconsistencies in his report. There are discrepancies of a few hours between when his trip log says he began and ended his hike and what his Spot tracker recorded. After that 17-day gap, there are multiple places where his hiking log states he was much farther along the trail than the Spot data indicates—in one instance, Binde’s log says he was in Vermont, while the Spot says he was in Connecticut.”

    Gotcha buddy! So you mucked up your fake log and the Spot data was a dead give away. Obviously you didn’t want that to happen again so you turned it off for two weeks as you leap frogged sections, yellow blazed or whatever else you did!

    Great investigative journalism here! Props to Heather Anish Anderson, the true self supported FKT record holder.

  • Grammar : Aug 22nd

    Why is he standing atop the Kathadin sign? That’s entirely disrespectful.

    Also Mary Beth, countless hours are expended every year by countless volunteers who improve upon the toil of thousands of volunteers through the years to maintain and improve the trail. I won’t even detail all the legislative work needed to establish the trail to begin with. Here’s the last line in your article:

    “Knotts slayed the AT this year.”

    The trail isn’t something to be “slayed.” You and the buddy you’re advocating for, this isn’t journalism, are really disrespectful. I hope you and your writing mature.

    • jampskan : Dec 21st

      The answer is likely because he was trying to get a height boost, (being a short little dude) and thus gain even more elevation, while simultaneously taking advantage of either the donated or taxpayer funded dollars utilized to create said sign (in really not a bad way because nothing was damaged). Was he making any obscene gestures? Have you ever even really lived a day in your entire life? Were you ever 20 something once? Have you ever experienced hallucinations do to overexertion and minimal sleep? If you had parents and friends worried about you back home, wouldn’t you like them to see that you are enjoying the only life you’ve been given to the fullest of your potential for the very minimal amount of internet social media posts you are able to send out?

  • jampskan : Dec 21st

    Spot would never be able to keep up with Thee “Knotts”!!! Also, I grew up with Dan, he is an honorable dude, literally no reason to lie. If you lie to your neighbors, you might as well not have any in that neck of the woods. I was in the BSA with him growing up, and even though I disagree with his diet choice from back then, I straight up know that he finished in the time he said. Looking forward to our BWCA trip Bindops! Whenever I have time off that allows. (I am still better at fishing than you)


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