How To Prepare For Thru-Hiking

Looking to do some thru-hiking?


Completing a thru-hike like these from end to end can be incredible and a life-changing experience, but you want to make sure you are fully prepared before making this giant decision.


Thru-hiking can be dangerous if you are not prepared mentally and, of course, physically. Educating yourself beforehand is key in creating a more enjoyable and safer trek, as thru-hiking can potentially be dangerous and more time consuming than it needs to be if you don’t make a plan ahead of time.


If you are planning on going thru-hiking, we recommend trails like the Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide, but there are so many great options with phenomenal views. Going on a trip like that can be an amazing, even life-changing experience, but you need to be very well-prepared in advance. This starts with knowing which trail you want to take. Check out some of the most popular.


How To Prepare For Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) 

This trail runs from Mexico to Canada over a full 2,650 miles. It passes through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain and the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Appalachian Trail (AT) 

AT extends over 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine. Passing through 14 states and along the Appalachian Mountain range, this is the most popular thru-hiking trail in the United States.

Continental Divide Trail (CDT) 

This is the longest trail – 3,100 Miles from Mexico to Canada. It runs along the continental divide of the US through the states of New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and Idaho (not in that order).


How To Prepare For Thru-Hiking

Being Physically Ready

After picking out the right thru-hiking trail for you, it’s time to think about your fitness. Obviously, you need to be in great shape for hiking.


Practice makes perfect. A great way to learn about which hiking gear is right for you is to actually try it! Going on backpacking trips is also a good way to experience what a thru-hike feels like. The more training you get done in advance, the better physically and mentally prepared you’ll be to succeed. Even short backpacking trips will boost your fitness, raise your confidence, and help you cut your pack weight. 


Cross-training is highly recommended to anyone who wants to get better at hiking. Find a way to make a habit of exercising, no matter what form it takes, before setting out on one of these trips.


How To Prepare For Thru-Hiking

Being Psychologically Prepared 

Resilience and an open mind are part and parcel of the thru-hike process, whether it be training or actually executing the plan on the trail. Your expectations need to be realistic. Be prepared for surprises – not always positive! 


How To Prepare For Thru-Hiking

Know Your Goals

Last but not least – know what you want to achieve. That will make decision-making easier and keep you focused. You need to know if you are prepared to walk every step of the trail, even if that means climbing over scorching hot rocks in the desert for hours. 


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