How to Prepare for a Thru-Hike

How to Prepare for a Thru-Hike

How to Prepare for a Thru-Hike


Thru-hikes aren’t for beginners. These typically longer hikes need preparation both physically and mentally. Before jumping on the trail head, it’s important to start training yourself. Here’s how to start.

Get in Shape

Physical training is essential in order to get yourself fit. Develop a program with a good mix of cardio and weight lifting. Strength means nothing if you don’t have the stamina to carry your pack for 10-15 miles at a time. Similarly, you need the strength to do the same. Your workout plan should be your own – find one that works for you. Just make sure that, whatever you do, you take at least one day off per week to let your body recover.

Put on Weight

It doesn’t matter if you’re an ultralight backpacker or you’re hauling camera equipment with you – there’s no way around carrying some weight on your back while you’re on the trail. Getting yourself ready for that weight, strap your pack on with weight, or your actual gear, while you’re doing some of your cardio workouts to get used to the weight

Get Limber

Injuries are a great way to end your trip pretty quickly. To help avoid injuries, keep yourself stretched and limber. I’m not saying you have to spend an extra hour a day doing yoga (although that is a great way to keep yourself limber) but at the very least make sure that you’ve got a stretching regiment factored into your workout time.

Get Out on a Hike

The terrain on your thru-hike will vary, typically with a lot of uphill and downhill climbing. The best way to get ready for that is to get out on a trail and start hiking. If you don’t have any trails near you find a tall building and take the stairs up and down. Most people don’t realize that the downhill climb is harder than the uphill climb so be sure to factor that in to your workout.

Ian Campbell Ian Campbell is the founder of Love the Backcountry and a long time lover of adventure travel. When not writing about the backcountry, he can typically be found hiking, backpacking and camping in the mountains and looking to lay his head beneath as many trees as he can find.