HikeMore Online Newsletter - Appalachian Trail Edition, Spring 2004


AT Survey Guide

Getting Ready
Background Info
Making Time
Start Dates
Mail Drops
Bounce Boxes

Backpacking Gear
Top Twelve
Sent Home
Best Gear
Worst Gear
Top Brands
First Aid
Water Treatment
Maps / Guides
Seasonal Changes
Backpack Weight

Pain / Problems

Weight Loss

Trail Food
Top 5 Foods

Danger on the Trail

After the Trail
End Dates
Hiking Again
Favorite Sections
Biggest Surprise
Best of the Trail
Worst of the Trail
Lessons Learned


Appalachian Trail 2003 Hiker Survey

The majority of survey responses we received were from northbound thru-hikers, so these results are therefore representative of their experiences. To date we have received 49 replies to our Appalachian Trail survey. According to the ATC, there were 503 hikers that reported finishing the AT in 2003.

Backpacking Gear - Continued

First Aid

Some Appalachian Trail hikers start their thru-hike with a full-fledged first aid kit, while others take their chances. Most everyone comes to the realization that there are just a few essentials for backpacking though, such as ibuprofen (known as "Vitamin I" on the trail) and blister supplies. Of course, some hikers are more susceptible to certain factors such as poison ivy, bee stings, allergies, and chaffing, so supplies vary accordingly.

Top First Aid Items

Small bandages for blisters
Duct tape
Medical tape
Blister pads
Neosporin / Antibiotic ointment
Other items listed include: petroleum jelly, liquid bandage, Cortaid, Gold Bond, Benadryl

Water Treatment

Hiker opinions on water treatment vary widely. Some thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail without carrying any filtering or treatment supplies. While this may seem feasible in areas such as the south, where springs bubble up from the earth, as hikers get farther up the trail water is not always easy to come by. The only choice for water when hiking through the long hot days of summer may be a hazy pond or roadside ditch. The most popular method of treatment is chemical - products such as Aquamira and Polarpure, or iodine or bleach. This method is light and reliable, but can leave a bad taste in the water. Also, while chemicals kill bacteria, they do not filter out visible particles; when dealing with poor water sources, you'll have to drink murky water laced with particles and dirt. Backpacking filters usually provide the best tasting water, but can be bulky, costly, and heavy.

Water Treatment Methods

Chemical 66 percent of hikers used chemical water treatment 66%
Aquamira (40%)
Bleach (14%)
Iodine (12%)
Filter 24 percent of hikers used filter water treatment 24%
Boiling 4 percent of hikers used boiling water treatment 4%
Untreated 6 percent of hikers did not treat water 6%
12% of those who responded also noted that they often drank from springs without treating the water.

Trail Maps and Guides

The Appalachian Trail is well marked with white blazes for its entire length. Most areas also have signs showing mileage to shelters, roads, or other landmarks. While the trail can be hiked without maps or books, they do come in handy for decriptions of terrain and shelters, water sources, and elevation profiles. Guidebooks are especially helpful for visiting towns; they provide information for lodging, resupply, libraries, laundry, post offices, and more. Which book to use is mostly a matter of personal preference, and many hikers carry more than one source. Some hikers do not carry guides or maps at all, but you'll often find them borrowing information from those who do.

ATC Maps 27 percent used ATC maps 27%
ATC Guides 3 percent used ATC guides 3%
Data Book 22 percent used the Data Book 22%
Thru-Hikers Handbook 28 percent used Wingfoot's book 28%
Companion 20 percent used the Companion 20%

Hiker Comments:

"I wish I had known about Wingfoot before the hike."

"Carried ATC maps and pages from Companion and Wingfoot's book."

"Wingfoot rules."

"I just made copies of elevation profiles and applied water sealer to it. I found that these with data pages were a great system for me."

The following items are available through REI's website:
(click on the title for more info)

Appalachian Trail Maps
Appalachian Trail Guides
Appalachian Trail Data Book
Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker's Companion
The Thru-Hiker's Handbook (Wingfoot)

Next > More Info on Backpacking Gear

< Back to Backpacking Gear Page 4

Hiking the AT in 2003
Danger on the Trail
Agony of the Feet
Appalachian Trail Documentary
Appalachian Trail 2003 Survey Results
Trail Food Ideas and Recipes
Comics - Coming Soon
Trail Days in Damascus

Additional AT Info

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HikeMore Online Newsletter | Appalachian Trail Edition | Spring 2004

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