What Does It Take to Successfully Thru-Hike?

Salt Lake City, Jan. 21, 2019: What does it take to successfully thru-hike?

From my perspective, there are three key factors that contribute to the completion of a thru-hike. The pie chart visualizes the percentage of each contributing factor.

1. Mental Strength (60%)

You may be surprised, but being mentally strong is the most important factor that will lead to completing a thru-hike. Just like in “normal” life, not every day of a thru-hike is great. Sometimes you don’t feel good, you are tired, you didn’t sleep well, or you are simply not into walking on that day. Unlike in “normal” life, you are missing the social support from friends and family. A trail family can help you get through rough days on trail. And always remember: Never quit on a bad day. There will be better days out there that make you forget the bad days.

2. Physical Condition (25%)

There are a lot of articles out there on if and how you should to train for a thru-hike. You do not have to be a professional athlete in order to complete a thru-hike. You can start out slower and get into the thru-hiker shape after a while if you are under no time pressure. If you do have to finish in a certain time window, you may want to train for it. My personal training consists of lots and lots of endurance training (#everydayislegday). Closer to the start day, I start to walk with my backpack up to work and get used to carrying more weight again. The best way to train for a thru-hike is to go outside and hike.

3. Luck (15%)

A lot of different things can happen that may force you to quit your thru-hike attempt. Injuries and family emergencies are the most common reasons for quitting a thru-hike. May the fourth be with you when you thru-hike.


These three factors seem simple and easy to accomplish, but it does not take much to get to a point when you have to quit. Therefore, it is not a failure if someone does not complete a thru-hike attempt.

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Comments 1

  • Dosu ?Kinuta : Jan 27th

    And money lol


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