The act of having an experienced backpacker cull through your backpack in search of unneeded items.
I have only worked one thru hiker season at Mountain Crossings, but the patterns are obvious. I see why it is a trail tradition to get a pack shakedown 31.7 miles into your thru hike. So before you even walk through the front door of the badass, climate controlled shelter you live in, chuck these things out of your pack!
Bear Mace / Pepper Spray
Just be smart, aware and make friends who will watch your back!
Spot Beacon/Solar Chargers/Battery Packs
The SPOT GPS units are the hardest thing to try to convince someone to send home. 100% of the time we tell someone to send it home. The trail is so well marked and cell service is depressingly easy to get along many parts of the AT that they are absolute over-kill. Solar charges also fall under the group of way-too-heavy-and-way-too-expensive-to-be-worth-it. There is too much tree coverage on the AT for a solar charger to work well. They share the same root problem as with battery packs. Just let go, live a little, in the moment, with your own known how and capabilities!
Half of the first aid kit
Really all you need are a few Band-Aids and a bunch of pills; things for achy muscles, diarrhea, gas, cold symptoms, a few sleep aids for the snore symphony nights. That and any special prescriptions is all you will use for the most part.
A single 2oz bottle of Dr. Bronner’s is all you need to send you off on the trail. It will clean your hair, your body, your clothes, your dishes, your pack. Anything!
People go overboard on clothes, but having the proper clothing keeps you from carrying too much. Don’t bother with more than two sets of clothes. Have one set of clothes to hike in and one for camp/town. If your clothes get soaked in the rain and you’re cold in camp, slip your town clothes on to sleep in but put your dirtier hiking clothes back on in the morning. In cold weather carry a set of base layers, any necessary hats and gloves and a heavy insulation later like a down jacket but don’t double up on anything.
The Take Away
To read more about Mountain Crossing’s shakedown process, go to page 2.