Final Checklists

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

Getting 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?

Research & Reading

  • Did you read every page of this website?
  • What other reading & research is left?

Commit to a Start Date

  • What is your start date for the Trail?
  • Have you announced this date to your friends and family?

Start Knocking the Dominoes Over

  • Have you purchased and read over the databook & 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 a flooded trail?
  • 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

  • Are you comfortable hiking in a swamp?
  • 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

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?
  • Check the FTA's Trail Closures & Notices page one last time before leaving