The AT is a very unforgiving place and when you choose to venture out to start or even continue your adventure. You will need to know all you can to get through. In this article I hope you will find some information very helpful. You will need about 250 dollars per person on a debit or credit card, make sure if it’s a debit card it carries the VISA logo.
Most of your re-supply points will be small mountain towns, but there are a few big grocery stores along the way if you feel like hitchhiking in and back to the trail or taking a long out of the way road hike. Make sure you have rain gear that is very light weight and tough to tear. Rain gear should include rain pants that will fit over your other pants, rain jacket, and maybe a poncho with a hood.
For your gear usually there is a rain cover for the backpack and if you are packing a hammock for sleeping arrangements make sure you also have a small light weight tarp to go with it. This will also serve to cover you from dew that will be in the air every morning and those pesky mosquitoes.
According to the time of year you will be hiking you need the following, do not take this information lightly: If you start the trail in GA around February you will need a zero degree sleeping bag, water resistant gloves, warm clothes that is wicking and not made of cotton. During this time of year you will encounter snow, wind, rain, hail, sleet and below freezing temps.
During the same time of year you will want to carry a tent just big enough for you and your gear to fit into without sacrificing comfort, this is because the winds and temps in the mountains at this time of year will prevent you from sleeping in the AT shelters. You will raise the temp by 10 degrees at least, if you use a tent, making your sleep better and safer.
Make sure you pack enough food in your pack for at least a week, figure you will eat 2 full meals a day, and a lot of snacking in between. You need to pack non-perishable food such as ramen, quick macaroni, and pre-packaged meats in stay fresh packs like tuna and spam. There’s a lot you can choose from when it comes to the food, never bring the big heavy cans, you have to think as light as possible Also you need to remember the importance of what you pack in you must pack out.
You will need to come to the beginning of the trail already with a week of food, because there is no place to buy a supply at the beginning. The closets supply store to the Amicalola Falls starting point in Dahlonega, GA. Food and water are your heaviest packing materials, so only take what you need. Do not worry with bringing a lot of water, a camel back is good, or if you choose to bring bottles, bring about three quarts each person, no more.
You will not have to worry with water it is literally All over the trail as a natural source, during this time of year. As a side note the water tubes to the water filters and the camel backs will freeze so try to find a tube that comes insulated. Many hikers have experienced waking in the mornings to their complete water supply frozen as well as their drinking tubes.
About all the money you will need is for the food on a card you bring, but you may want a little extra just in case there is an emergency with your gear, but then again there is Western Union you could use and is actually located in many areas along the AT. We carried no extra. Leave cell phones at home because you will not have reception on the trail, it is to far out in the wilderness and when you are on the trail between towns the batteries have no way of charging anyhow.
Do not bring any unnecessary items with you like memorabilia; it will just add to your weight you have to carry. A small tarp for a rain shield for a tent may be useful, we carried a large one but it was light weight and it did come extremely useful. Also make sure you water proof every single thing in your backpacks with zip lock bags. Everything from your socks to your underwear should be zip locked.
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For more than 20 years Merlyn has been hiking and enjoying the great outdoors all over this country’s backwoods and wilderness areas. His favorite wilderness trail to hike is the famous Appalachian Trail, where he and his loving wife of 9 years have hiked sections over the course of 30 entire days and nights on the trail at one time. He has hiked the AT in the winter and can tell you from first hand experience what to do and not to do associated with hiking the trail as a first timer and in off season. He has written two books on hiking the AT and is one of the foremost wild craft herbalists that can hike the trail and tell you everything you can and cannot eat.