Your gear system as a backpacker on the AT is vital. It's carrying your food, shelter - EVERYTHING - on your back. But if you are new at this - its not always apparent at first why backpackers obsess so much on the weight they are carrying (nicknamed "gram weenies"). Once you've hiked a day or so on the Appalachian Trail with an overloaded pack though - it becomes VERY evident that you DO NOT need all that food, you only need 1 machete instead of 4 (lol - you don't need ANY), and trying to hike at other folks pace might not be the best plan.
Another surprise is that those with a baseline fitness stemming from being a runner or someone with a military background is a GOOD thing for baseline cardio - BUT - sometimes THOSE folks get really psyched out when the trail is not what they expected (the runner can't believe they have a turtle's pace now and the military underestimated the southern Appalachian mountains as opposed to Parris Island).
Also - the big outdoors stores are not necessarily the best place to get the cutting edge, "cottage industry" gear that will make your hike easier - so many folks end up getting the big retailer stuff first and then switching to the specialty stuff later.
SO - wrapping the above up in a very "un-neat" ball - where am I going with this ?
Hike a day or so out on the trail and experience it in small tastes first before making substantial gear investments. Come stay at the Top of Georgia Hostel and Hiking Center the night before your next Saturday day hike in the North Georgia mountains and hang out with our knowledgable staff, ask questions, peruse the gear shop and compare notes with other hikers - BEFORE - you run to your nearby big outdoors store - you'll be glad that you did.
Posted on 7/4/2016 at 8:00:00 PM