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How To

I’ve learned that my ability to enjoy—and to succeed in—an ambitious hike is a function of:

  1. My physical conditioning, including that of my feet,
  2. My embrace of physical and mental adversity as a critical part of the experience, and
  3. My knowledge of the gear, supplies and skills needed for the trip.

When I began my first thru-hike in May 2002—the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail—I had the first two ingredients covered, thanks to being a lifelong runner, at the time for Duke University’s Division I cross-country and track teams. But I possessed worrisome little knowledge. For example, I was ignorant of the effectiveness of water purification techniques; I was unsure how much food I needed between resupply points; and I didn’t know how to take care of my feet or select good campsites.

I have developed the resources on this page—and written a book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide—to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained during 30,000+ miles of backcountry and wilderness travel.