Through ? No, just walk across America

If one can complete the AT Thru trail, chances are one can walk across the United States as well.

Some people like to do hard things just to do it and prove themselves while others do it to raise awareness for a particular charity or cause. Yet others need a break from the world and so travel the world on a freighter or resigning themselves to a monastery. For these and other reasons, some people take up backpacking across the United States.

Hiking across the United States isn’t all that different from completing the Appalachian Trail. Although it can be a lot less scenic crossing places like the Great Plains – long straight stretches are likely to bore someone’s brain to death without discipline.


Something to consider about backpacking across the United States

But I’d walk five hundred miles And I’d walk five hundred more Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles To fall on your doorstep

– The Publishers

Navigating your way through the United States is certainly a colossal undertaking, and much longer than traveling even the longest lengths of the Camino de Santiago. Hiking across the United States is longer than the Appalachian Trail which is set up for hiking. Every year thousands of hikers attempt a trek through; only about one in four makes it all the way.

  • Appalachian Trail: 2,190+ miles
  • Hiking across the United States: 2,800 miles

A few dozen people managed to cross the country on foot. From the time it took them to complete the trek, it would take them about six months. It can of course be done faster than that, or much shorter.


  • Time: Average duration 6 months

We can also have the Proclaimer’s song – “I will be (500 miles)” and that of Nancy Sinatra”These boots are made for walkingpermanently stuck in his head.

Related: Everything You Need to Know Before Hiking PCT, the West Coast Appalachian Trail

Be sure to plan!

If one is planning to hike across the country, be sure to plan their route. Don’t just walk along busy highways and perhaps plan the route to include places of interest. Unlike developed pilgrimage routes like the Camino de Santiago, there won’t always be places to stop and spend the night. A tent will therefore be essential.


Also consider the weather. It wouldn’t be a good idea to cross the Dakotas in the winter (they are home to the coldest cities in America), nor would it be desirable to cross the desert in the summer.

  • Point: Have a great selection of downloaded tracks!

Bring the right gear – but keep it light and compact

There are many things to plan and prepare. It’s all about packing the essentials and making the most of space and weight. It is super important to pack lightly.

The big three

  • Backpack: A good quality backpack – lightweight about 30oz
  • Shelter: A good quality tent for hiking
  • Sleeping: A warm and light sleeping bag and an insulated sleep mattress


To eat, you will need a single cooking pot, a potable hiking stove and a single cup – all of this should be gear designed for hiking. It is also necessary to filter the water from the mountains during the hike, so take a water filter designed for drinking water.

Grab an LED headlamp, a smartphone, a power bank, maybe a small solar power pack, .

Smartphones are incredibly useful. Hikers should therefore always take it with them (unless they specifically want to be disconnected from the world). And for a hike like this, you’ll probably need tunes, audiobooks, podcasts to keep you sane.

Clothes are very important. It is important to have the right clothes and not more clothes. Bring a good pair of hiking shoes. Also bring a pair of flip flops or sandals for city walks or lazy days in good weather. Or just relax after pitching the tent.


  • Point: Don’t start the hike with brand new shoes – brake them first

Related: This Oahu Hike Leads to the Best Tidal Pools on the Pacific Coast

Clothes are also important

Hiking clothes should be a mix of wool and synthetics – cotton kills. Woolen clothes and synthetic clothes still provide warmth and insulation when wet (synthetics also dry quickly). Cotton clothing draws heat when wet, avoid all-cotton clothing when exposed to mother nature’s outdoor elements.

  • Clothes: The material the clothes are made of is important

That being said, cotton is cool, so it may be okay to have a cotton shirt on sunny days – but not in unfavorable cold conditions. Even with underwear, consider wearing Icebreaker merino briefs – and a sports bra for the girls.

You need thermal clothes, rain jackets and rain pants. Down jackets are light, small and ideal for keeping warm.

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