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Thru-Hiker Maintenance Checklist

Before every hike you should carefully inspect all your backpacking equipment to make sure everything is in good working order. For thru-hikers, gear should be thoroughly inspected and maintained at every town stop along their hike.

Paul Bodnar       Educational       06/30/2021
Paul Bodnar
Educational
6/30/2021
Hiker Maintenance List
a zipper on a black puffy jacket

1. Check and clean zippers

Check the zippers on your jackets, tents, backpacks, etc. While inspecting the functionality give them a quick clean wipe down with water and a towel. Most zipper problems occur because of accumulated dirt and grime.

A backpack with a $20 bill in it.

2. Empty your backpack out and inspect for tears

It is important to clean out all the debris that accumulates in your backpack before each hike. It is very important that you don’t have any food crumbs or remnants that can attract rodents. Wash off any stains with mild soap and water.

Two hands holding up a part of a tent

3. Clean out your tent and inspect for wear

It’s important to clean out your tent everyday. Accumulating dirt inside the tent will prematurely wear it out. It’s also important that you don’t have any food crumbs or remnants inside your tent because you don’t to attract bugs or animals at night while you sleep. You should also inspect seams and repair any areas that require attention.

the bottom of a hiking shoe

4. Check your shoes for any structural damage

Shoes rank as one of the most essential pieces of hiking gear. A poor functioning shoe can easily ruin a hike, especially when they start to hurt your feet or cause blisters Replace your shoes before they become a problem.

a pair of hiking socks

5. Check socks for wear

Check for unusual wear patterns in your socks. The toes and heals normally wear out first. If you see any signs of wear it is time to replace them. Most hikers carry at least one extra pair of socks.

Man holding Smart Water bottle, which is attached to a Sawyer Squeeze filter using the plastic coupler provided by Sawyer.

6. Check your water filter flow rate

You should know what your normal water filter flow rate is. Most water filters have a flow rate of about 1 liter per minute. If your water filter flow rate has diminished it might be time to backwash or treat for calcium deposits.

An empty smart water bottle

7. Check the cleanliness of your water containers

Water containers need to be periodically sanitized. If you add any additives to your water containers you will likely have to clean your water bottle more frequently.

A black puffy jacket sleeve with a hole in it

8. Inspect general equipment for holes, tears, rips, or wear and then replace, repair, or replenish needed items

It’s important to look over all your gear for signs of premature wear. You should be aware of the condition of all your equipment at all times. Replace, repair, and replenish items regularly.

A first aid kit spread out including gloves, bandages, and medicine

9. Check your first aid kit

It’s important to check your first aid kit and replenish any missing supplies before each hike. You don’t want to get to a point that you need something in an emergency and don’t have it anymore because you already used it.

A headlamp and three AAA batteries

10. Check your headlamp

Make sure your headlamp is functioning properly and you have fresh backup batteries. A headlamp is an essential piece of emergency equipment, so you’ll want to double check to make sure it still works.

Summary

It’s super important to keep your hiking equipment in the best condition possible. By keeping up and maintaining your gear, it will last a lot longer.


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Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

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About the Author
A man wearing an Arizona Trail baseball cap stands in a field in front of a mountain.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail again in 2010 to do research for his guide book Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now with the help of a team of great people they have created over 50 guides for trails around the world.