What kind of preparation and gear do I need for a 250-mile hike?

My buddy and I are planning a mega-hike down one of Colorado’s mid-length trails during summer 2009. What type of preparation and equipment will we need for a 250-mile hike? What about an overnighter that I'll be doing later this summer? Jason Pace, Florida


Just get a notion to take a long hike, did you? How many beers were involved? And that’s quite a leap from an overnighter, to something that could easily take a month.

Gregory Triconi Backpack

Triconi Backpack

In this case, however, the preparation part is relatively easy. First, take a small towel or washcloth and put in under the tap. Run cool water on it, and then ring it out. Lie down in a quiet room, and place the damp cloth over your eyes. Spend at least 30 minutes in very quiet contemplation. If, after that period of time, a 250-mile hike still sounds like a good idea, then move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Start hiking. A lot. I’d try to get out on a day hike every weekend, carrying 20-25 pounds (tip: fill a plastic gallon jug with water to add weight). Find some hills and elevation, too. You want to be in a position where a 10-mile day hike is a pretty easy jaunt. Combine that with weekday aerobics and weight stuff: two aerobics sessions (fast walk, jog, and/or bike at 30-45 minutes a pop) with some weight work (45-60 minutes twice a week). I find that good upper-body strength really helps with managing a loaded pack.

Gear-wise, the list is long. The basics:
·Lightweight tent, such as a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL 2 ($319;
·A sleeping bag rated to about 30 degrees. Mont-Bell’s U.L.SS.Down Huger #3 ($270; is perfect with a 30-degree rating and weighing in at only one pound, seven ounces. And a pad, such as the Therm-a-Rest Prolite 4 ($109;
·Probably a canister-fuel stove…for two people, the Jetboil Group Cooking System ($119; is best. But the Primus Yellowstone Classic ($25; would work fine. And for a cook set, MSR’s Blacklite ($60; is fairly light and durable.
·A pack with about 3,800 cubic inches of capacity, or more if you plan to hike for a week at time without replenishing food. Gregory’s Triconi ($250; is a good starting point.
·All the little accessories: knife, headlamp, waterproof lighter/matches, first aid kit, etc.
·A mix of clothing that would start with lightweight long underwear (REI Lightweight MTS runs $32 for a zip long-sleeved tee and $28 for bottoms;, add a light insulation layer (Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Jacket, $140;, maybe a down sweater for cool nights, and a light waterproof layer for thunder-storms, such as Marmot’s Oracle ($160;
·Good mid-weight footwear. I’d probably start this trek with a pair of Scarpa Mustangs ($175; or Asolo Fugitive GTX’s ($185;

As you can see, if you don’t have this stuff now, it can add up. All of it would work well on any number of overnighters or weekend trips. All that really scales up is the amount of food and fuel you need to carry.

Good luck!

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Filed To: Extended-Trip BackpacksTentsSleeping Bags
Lead Photo: courtesy, Gregory