For Spring Break I decided to try something new and hike a small section of the Virginia portion of the Appalachian Trail. Though it was exciting to shake things up, I quickly realized that hiking is not as simple as it sounds. I'd been on day-hikes before, the kind that you can execute effectively with a stylish leggings and a cute sports bra, and with that simplicity in mind I greatly underestimated the challenge I would be facing.
Let the record show that in my defense I had picked out one of the more difficult sections of the Appalachian Trail, and I quickly realized that my lack of experience could've proved to be somewhat hazardous. Therefore, I am now fully aware of the importance of proper planning.
For one, a simple backpack just won't cut it. You need to be able to comfortably carry a sleeping bag, tent, food, water purifier, compass, rain gear, etc, all in one bag for around 10 miles a day. I found my Gregory to be very comfortable, even though it wasn't specifically designed for women. One of the most obvious differences between a normal backpack and a hikers backpack is the belt. Designed to tighten directly above the hip bones, this belt is a lifesaver. The weight of the pack, which depending on the length of your trip can range from 20 lbs to 80+ lbs, is placed on your hips instead of your shoulders. Therefore its extremely important to get a properly fitted backpack, and to adjust all the straps and clasps beforehand to increase comfort. It also improves your safety, as it balances the weight, making it harder to "topple over" when standing up or climbing.