Final Checklists

We are big believers in The Checklist Manifesto. Checklists are the way to get things done right, so I have included here a checklist of all the things I think you should know and do before embarking on a thru-hike.

Get Your Dominoes in a Row


-  How much money are you going to save total?

-  How much time do you have to save?

-  How much do you need to save each month?

-  What is the plan for saving this much money?

-  Have you cut all your monthly bills to their minimum?


-  What gear do you already own?

-  What gear do you still need to purchase?

-  Have you picked out what items you're going to buy?

-  Have you joined the email lists of gear retailers so you can pounce when a sale starts?


Research & Reading

-  Did you read every page of this website?

-  What other reading & research is left?


Commit to a Start Date

-  Choose and commit to a start date a year or more before you can apply for the thru-hiker's permit.
-  What is your start date for the Trail?
-  Have you announced this date to your friends and family?

Start Knocking Dominoes Over

-  Have you purchased and read over the PCTA databook, Yogi's town guide, & Halfmile's maps?

-  Do you have all the necessary gear?

-  Have you test-packed your backpack?

-  Does all your gear plus a week’s worth of food fit?

-  Have you hiked with the backpack fully loaded?

-  Are you comfortable carrying your pack fully loaded?

-  Does anything need to change?

Learn Skills, Gain Experience


-  Can you set up your tent/hammock easily? In the dark?

-  Are you comfortable setting up camp in bad weather?

-  Do you know the principles of Leave No Trace camping?

-  How do you fix your camping gear if it breaks?


The Cold

-  Have you experienced cold conditions combined with rain and/or snow?

-  Have you tested your cold-weather clothes in the field?

-  Have you tested your rain gear in the field?

-  What are the symptoms of hypothermia?


Health & Safety

-  What is the plan if you and your partner become separated?

-  What is the plan if you or someone gets hurt?

-  What are the symptoms of hyperthermia?

-  What are the symptoms of dehydration?

-  Are you comfortable digging a cat hole?


Know Your Limits

-  How do you know when it is unsafe to hike?

-  As a group, how do you decide when conditions are unsafe for hiking?

-  If the weather turns before reaching camp, what is the plan?

-  Who is the weakest / slowest hiker in your group?

-  How far you can travel in a day with a loaded pack?



-  Have you gone on a “dry run” of at least 3-days, 2-nights?

Pull the Trigger

-  Apply for a California campfire permit after Jan1st 

-  Apply for your PCT long-distance permit once online applications open in February 
Cut Final Ties
-  What is your last day of work?

-  Have you given them 2-weeks notice?

-  Are you moving out of an apartment? On what day?

-  When will you surrender your car's license plate & suspend your insurance?

-  Who is driving you to the tax assessor's office to surrender your tag?
-  Have you packed and labeled all your maildrops?

-  Who will be handling your maildrops?

-  How will you coordinate with them?
-  Throwing a going-away party?

-  What day will you leave for the Trail?

-  How are you getting there?

-  How long will it take?

-  Where will you stay the night before you start hiking?

-  Have you bought & packed groceries for your first week of the hike?