Backpacker Radio #168 | Section Hiking vs. Thru-Hiking: Defining Each Style, Benefits and Drawbacks, and Who They’re For

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are bringing you another panel episode. Today we are joined by Backpacker Radio regular, Clay Bonnyman Evans aka Pony to compare and contrast thru-hiking and section hiking. We go deep, focusing largely on the benefits of each of these styles of hiking, who they’re for, what we have personally gained from them, and much more. If you’re curious about whether you should hit the pause button on your life and take a half year to meander in the mountains, this episode will hopefully serve you a ton of value. And, as always when Pony is studio, this one is delightfully wild.

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Panel with Badger, Chaunce, and Pony

Time stamps & Questions

00:05:03 – QOTD: What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done this week?

00:20:05 – Reminders: Apply to be a blogger for 2023!

00:20:32 – Introducing the panel topic

00:22:30 – Panelist’s hiking experiences

00:23:55 – Discussion of the definition of section hiking

00:26:05 – Chaunce’s Thru-Hiking Pro #1

00:28:25 – Zach’s Thru-Hiking Pro #1

00:31:40 – Pony’s disclaimer about section hiking

00:34:02 – Pony’s Thru-Hiking Pro #1

00:38:15 – Chaunce’s Thru-Hiking Pro #2

00:46:18 – Zach’s Thru-Hiking Pro #2

00:57:44 – Pony’s Thru-Hiking Pro #2

01:02:00 – Chaunce’s Thru-Hiking Pro #3

01:05:55 – Zach’s Thru-Hiking Pro #3

01:06:50 – Discussion of friends and trail families while thru-hiking

01:09:05 – Pony’s Thru-Hiking Pro #3

01:12:10 – Chaunce’s Section Hiking Pro #1

01:17:48 – Zach’s Section Hiking Pro #1

01:20:56 – Pony’s Section Hiking Pro #1

01:26:40 – Chaunce’s Section Hiking Pro #2

01:27:30 – Zach’s Section Hiking Pro #2

01:30:05 – Chaunce’s Section Hiking Pro #3

01:32:48 – Pony’s Section Hiking Pro #2

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Comments 2

  • marsh : Sep 28th

    Section hikers hike for pleasure.

    Thru hikers hike for the hell of it.

  • Bill Jensen : Oct 25th

    This might be my favorite episode because it was so relatable in many ways.
    1) I totally fit the bill as both a young and old thru hiker (PCT 1977; AT 2017). Life got in the way, thus the forty-year gap.
    2) I too try to give kudos to folks I meet that are “just” doing a section hike. This was attitude was particularly prevalent on the Colorado Trail (2020).
    3) When I did the AT, I met a group who was on the final leg of a 20-year journey to section hike the AT. In many ways, I think this is far more difficult than a thru hike.

    PS – has Zack considered the fact that the tent stakes might be at his last camp spot on the TRT? More than once I have almost left them behind when I get distracted breaking camp.


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