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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?