Hiking the Appalachian Trail: Dutch’s Story

May 12, 2023

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At DutchWare, our founder, Dutch, is passionate about hiking and outdoor enthusiasts. He hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2003 and enjoyed Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia, during his journey. This year, DutchWare Gear will celebrate Trail Days by attending the upcoming event.

In celebration of Trail Days, we want to share Dutch’s story and tips for a successful thru-hike.

Gearing up for the Journey

Before hiking the Appalachian Trail, Dutch was not a hiker — he was simply a hunter and lover of the outdoors. During one excursion, he decided to devote his life to outdoor pursuits. He began this life change by hiking the Appalachian Trail. As he prepared and hiked the 2,200-mile trail, he learned about the best gear to bring.

His biggest regret was not bringing a larger bonded tarp to provide extra dryness as he camped outdoors. He also had several recommendations for food, including packing bars like Snickers for eating while hiking. His favorite foods on the trail were cheeseburgers he bought in town and packed for the next day.

Adapting Gear for The Seasons

Dutch learned Damascus Trail Days is an excellent place to swap out gear to ease the transition between the colder Smokies and the Virginia highlands.

His top recommendations for switching out gear during this transition are:

  • Switching a top cover for a bug net
  • Changing out rain pants for a rain skirt
  • Leaving your quilts for warmer weather alternatives

Why Choose a Hammock for Thru-Hiking?

hammock camping versus tent camping

When Dutch hiked the Appalachian Trail in the early 2000s, only a few people were using or suggesting hammocks. Everyone else on the trail with him had tents. Dutch learned that choosing a hammock brought many advantages for backpacking, including the ability to camp almost anywhere. He could also avoid snakes, mice, and the snoring that’s often prevalent at shared shelters.


Tips and Advice for Thru-Hikers

As an experienced thru-hiker, Dutch also offers advice to new adventurers setting off. His most important advice is to socialize with other hikers. Get pictures, contact information, and trail names to stay in touch with the friends you meet along the way. After hiking the trail, you may communicate with fellow hikers for many years.

Here are a few more of Dutch’s favorite tips:

  • Start early: You’ll have the most success when you start hiking before the sun comes up. Set the goal of 10 miles by 10 in the morning to motivate yourself.
  • Pack quickly: When you learn to pack up gear efficiently, you can set off earlier and get farther during the day.
  • Dine at shelters: Stop for dinner at campsites or shelters to spend time with other hikers at night. Afterward, hike another mile and set up an isolated camp.
  • Don’t give up: You may want to rest for a day and take a shuttle to the next part of the trail, but you’ll feel much more accomplished by hiking every mile.

Learn more about DutchWare’s Involvement at Trail Days 2023

Stop in Damascus, Virginia, to see Dutch along the Appalachian Trail. Check out our new gear at our booth or just stop by to say hi.

Find more information about Dutchware and our beginnings here. Want to learn more about Dutch’s thru-hike? Read his trail journal here!

Josh Weber

Josh Weber

Reviewed By Josh Weber - Josh is head of design & visual communications for Dutchware and is passionate about designing the stunning patterns Dutchware fabrics, hammocks, and tarps are known for. Josh specializes in communicating the benefits of Dutchware’s high-quality outdoor gear through video & visual designs. He’s also an avid outdoor enthusiast with a knack for finding the most picturesque spots to hang his hammock.

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