In MY opinion there are 3 essential books to not only help you hike the AT but all future hiking endeavors. Is this a shameless plug? Yes, because these books really helped me out a bunch so if I can introduce them to new people so they can incorporate these tips to their backpacking, mission accomplished. The first one is quite popular because the guy is a fucking backpacking legend. That of course would be Andrew Skurka himself, who has gone on long distance trips from the AT to Alaska so this guy knows his stuff. It’s called the Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide and it basically explains the type of gear to get, the pro’s and con’s of different materials/fabrics/etc, different hiking methods, and of course how to be an Ultimate Hiker. It even has these little sidebars of Skurka Picks which is his endorsement of a good product and how it applies to him. It’s a really good book to get you started with backpacking and how to build your gear from the ground up. Here’s the link for that one if you wanna check it out http://andrewskurka.com/product/ultimate-hikers-gear-guide/
Next is the one I just finished reading and thats Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips by Mike Clelland. In Skurka’s book you learn what kind of gear is out there, in this one Clelland reveals tip after tip on how to use this gear effectively and most importantly as light as possible. A light backpack is a happy backpacker so this one is a must read. There’s 153 tips (I think don’t quote me on that one) on how to lighten your pack and become a more efficient ultralight backpacker. PLUS there are hilarious illustrations in there and a whole section on pooping, the most intimidating thing in the wilderness. Needless to say I won’t be using bundled up grass or snow to wipe my ass but there is a ton of useful information in there. Here’s where you can get this one http://www.amazon.com/Ultralight-Backpackin-Tips-Inexpensive-Lightweight/dp/0762763841 or you can do what I did and go to your local REI and pick one up if they have it.
Last but certainly not in any way, shape, or form, least is this book Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis. Zach thru hiked the AT and later discovered that there really was no book that even mentioned the psychological factors that go into hiking the Appalachian Trail. So he got writing, and what he came up with was GOLD! I heard about this book and decided to order cause hey why not!? I din’t even give my brain the time of day when it came to prepping for a big hike but Mr.Davis changed all that. There’s so much more to it then I could of ever thought of, and basically what it comes down to is your psychological prep is more important than your backpack! Zach Davis breaks down for you the honeymoon phase of hitting the trail, when that ends how things can change for the worse if you don’t prepare for it, the Virginia Blues, why some people drop out, the social science of the AT, and mistakes he made that future thru hikers don’t wanna make. If you do any sort of long distance backpacking you NEED to purchase this one! Not only is this book great but Zach is a great guy also who runs a blog too!
The link to his book is http://www.amazon.com/Appalachian-Trials-Psychological-Successfully-ebook/dp/B0074U5L58/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383575642&sr=1-1&keywords=appalachian+trials
And the link to his blog is http://zrdavis.com
Go check all of these out! Knowledge is Power people!