Before I began my Appalachian Trail thru-hike in March of 2022, I spent about 6 months in the planning and preparation stage. I dove head first into the depths of the internet searching for everything I needed to know about thru-hiking the A.T. I had so many questions! When should I start? How long will it take? How far will I need to hike every day? What is the terrain like? What will I eat? What kind of gear do I need? What’s the best gear? How much will it cost? How do I stay in touch with people? How do I make sure I don’t get lost? What about bears? Do I have to hitchhike? What will I eat? How do I resupply? What is a shelter and how do people use them? How do I shower, do laundry, get packages mailed? What the heck is a hostel?
It’s a good thing I enjoy doing research, as I found a plethora of resources! I’ve rounded up a list of some of my favorites for you. Some of these at A.T. specific, and some are just geared toward backpacking in general. So if you’re thinking about thru-hiking and wondering where the heck to start, take a look and pick one!
Social Media Groups/Forums
- Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers Class of 2023 (2022, 2024) - Questions, tips, and trail updates from current, future, and past thru-hikers
- Appalachian Trail Hikers 2023 - Information, questions, and tips for all hikers on the A.T., day hikers, section hikers, and thru-hikers
- Appalachian Trail: Women’s Group - women specific topics, discussions, and questions related to the A.T.
- All Women All Trails: Hiking and Backpacking - women specific topics, discussions and questions for hiking and backpacking across the globe. Events include guided hiking and backpacking trips
- Homemade Wanderlust Backpacking Forum - all things backpacking, share ideas and tips, ask questions, plan trips
- Backpacking Gear Flea Market - Great place to buy and sell used backpacking gear. Use the search function to find specific items. They sell fast!
- USA- Backpacking Gear Flea Market for Women - Another place to find used backpacking gear, specific for women
- DIY Backpacking Gear - share ideas, projects, and tips to design and sew DIY backpacking gear- everything from tents to sleeping bags and backpacks.
- r/AppalachianTrail - 120,000 members, ask questions and share tips with current and past section hikers and thru-hikers and aspiring hikers.
- r/Ultralight - 610,000 members, largest online ultralight backpacking community. Lots of tips on lightweight gear and lowering your pack weight.
- r/backpacking - 3.6 million members- a mix of travel backpacking and wilderness backpacking
Blogs / Websites:
- The Trek - tons of information about the A.T. including blogs from past and current thru-hikers
- Whiteblaze.net - A HUGE amount of information about the A.T. This forum has sections including A.T. tips, data, hiker advice, news, thru-hikers, health and safety, preparation, gear, reviews, journals, blogs, and resupply information
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy - Go here to register for your thru-hike, find information about trail conditions/closures and news about the A.T.
- ATweather.org - Check the weather forecasts and specific shelters along the A.T.
- Lighterpack- Use this website to organize all of your gear and weights. It’s often shared with others online to get feedback on lowering your pack weight.
- Homemade Wanderlust - Simple, down to earth videos made by Dixie, long distance thru-hiker and backpacking enthusiast. Includes backpacking info, gear reviews, and thru-hiking tips.
- Kyle Hates Hiking - Funny and entertaining videos with stories and tips for backpacking and thru-hiking
- Jupiter Hikes - long distance hiker with tips for backpacking and thru-hiking
- Darwin on the Trail - adventure seeker and A.T. thru-hiker with tips, gear reviews, and trail videos
- Outdoor Gear Lab - in-depth, side-by-side comparisons of popular backpacking gear
- Switchback Travel - gear reviews and adventure information for backpacking, hiking, and camping
- Sectionhiker.com - backpacking gear guides, gear reviews, FAQs and trip reports
- Backpacker.com - gear reviews, tips, and stories from the trail
- Treeline review- comparisons and reviews of top backpacking and hiking gear
- Clever Hiker- backpacking gear reviews and tutorials
- Gearjunkie- reviews out outdoor gear including hiking and backpacking gear
- Garage Grown Gear- not for gear reviews, but a great place to support small businesses creating backpacking and ultralight gear
- Backpacker Radio - podcast sponsored by The Trek, includes interviews with long-distance hikers and backpackers
- The Green Tunnel - podcast detailing the history and culture of the Appalachian Trail
- Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail - podcast of interviews with current and past thru-hikers and section hikers on the A.T.
- FarOut- The #1 navigation app for long distance trails. Purchase the A.T. maps in sections or as a whole. The app works with your phone GPS, even without cell reception, and shows landmarks, water sources, campsites, and viewpoints. Calculates distance and elevation changes to landmarks and includes valuable user generated comments about water sources and campsite information.
- A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson’s account of hiking on the A.T. This humorous book includes historical and ecological information about the A.T. and is sure to give you a good laugh.
- Grandma Gatewood’s Walk - an inspirational story about the first woman to complete a solo thru-hike of the A.T.
- Appalachian Trials- written by thru-hiker Zach Davis about conquering the psychological and emotional hurdles of thru-hiking
- Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers Companion - an informational guide to section hiking and thru-hiking the A.T. Includes maps and elevation profiles, landmarks, and town maps
- The A.T. Guide - A popular choice for on-trail information. Includes maps, elevation profiles, campsites, water sources, viewpoints, and town services. Available in book and PDF forms
Backpacking / Thru-hiking Food:
- Backcountry Foodie - Recipes and nutritional tips for backpacking and thru-hiking meals. An affordable yearly subscription gives you access to loads of DIY backpacking recipes
- Gear Skeptic- an analytical approach to backpacking foods and meal planning. Check out the videos on ultralight backpacking foods to learn about calculating calories/oz and finding lightweight, high calorie foods
- Dehydrating Your Own Backpacking Food - Facebook Group to share recipes, tips, and questions for dehydrating for backpacking meals
- Backcountry Meal Planning for Thru-Hikers - Facebook Group to share tips, recipes, and ideas for thru-hiking meals
For Hammock Campers:
- r/hammockcamping - discussions of hammock camping setups and gear
- Shug Emery - A goofy guy, but has lots of in-depth videos for hammock campers, including reviews and recommendations, set-ups, and tips
So there ya have it, the Mega-List of Appalachian Trail thru-hiker resources! It's a lot of information, but I hope you find something useful in there. And if you want to learn more about my A.T. experience, you can read about the gear I packed, the mistakes I made, and some tips for on trail and in town.