Appalachian Trail 3500km (Brad Friang) with TYPE-4 backpack

1.) What made you decide to travel?

I have wanted to hike the AT since I finished my time in the Marine Corps in 2016. 

I started hiking south bound in September of 2016 but had to get off due to moving to Korea. 

Since then it has always been on my mind to finish the hike. 

With there being so many restrictions for the military and their families in Korea 

due to Covid-19 I was not able to spend time with my friends and explore Korea like

I was wanting to so I figured it was a good time to head back to the U.S. to Hike the AT this time heading north from Georgia to Maine.

2.) What is the most memorable moment or event during the trip?

The most memorable experience was the day I did the four state challenge. This is when you hike starting in Virginia, 

then continue all the way through West Virginia, Maryland and end in Pennsylvania at the Mason Dixon line.

It totals a length of 43.5 miles (70Km) and you have to complete it in less than 24 hours.

I had never hiked that far in one day before and I was very excited to push myself and see how fast I could accomplish it. 

I started hiking at 3:30 in the morning at the VA / WV border and ended in Pennsylvania 13 hours and 9 minutes later.

It was a very fun and rewarding experience and something that I am most proud of from my hike.

3.) What was the most difficult moment?

The most difficult moment was at the halfway point when I did the half gallon challenge. 

This is done at Pine Grove state park in Pennsylvania and it is where you eat a half gallon (1.9L) of ice cream

in one sitting to celebrate reaching the halfway point of the AT. I have never been someone

who eats a lot of ice cream so I was not very excited about this challenge but since it is part of the tradition of the AT

I felt like I had to at least try it. I chose the neapolitan flavor and after 44 long cold minutes

I had finished the ice cream and ended up getting a very bad stomach ache. 

Looking back on the event I am very happy I did it but I am also very glad that I don't have to do that ever again.

4.) What are the advantages of the type-4 backpack used during the trip? 

The type-4 backpack had many advantages and I really enjoyed using it on my hike.

My favorite feature was the curved design of the pack, it allowed more airflow between my back and the pack 

which really helped prevent chafing and a very sweaty back. Also the size and ability to roll the top down 

as the load shrank or expand as I was leaving town with a full resupply of food.

 I was able to carry all of my cold weather gear at the beginning and a 5 day resupply of food in the pack

 and not have to worry about having enough room. With the roll top feature as my gear size shrunk

 with the changing seasons I was able to compress the pack down so the gear did not move all around

 and the pack still maintained its comfort. With other frameless bags they had issues with either having not enough room for the cold weather 

gear or were too large for the warm weather gear and would not sit comfortably while hiking.

5.) Do you have any tips for people preparing for the AT?

I thought about this question a lot during my hike. Thinking about how or what I would have done differently

 if I were to hike the trail over again or if someone asked for advice. I will give you the top three things

 I think people who want to hike the AT should do to help them prepare for the hike.

1- Exercise. Not going to the gym and lifting weights although that would help as well. 

But hike a lot, and hike with the amount of weight you are expecting to carry on your hike. 

Hiking in mountainous terrain with a fully loaded pack is very different from going on a quick day hike. 

Korea is the perfect place to train for the hike because the mountains here resemble that of what you will be hiking on the AT

lots of uphills followed by big downhills over and over again. So getting your body used to hiking up and down hills

 with weight will be very beneficial and it will make the start of your trip much more enjoyable. 

The most people I saw who quit their hike were within the first 100 miles (160Km) and 

it was due to not being physically prepared for how difficult the hike was going to be.

2- The gear you start with you should know how to use it and be comfortable with it. 

It is very easy to get caught up in trying to have the lightest pack or the coolest gear but if you don't know 

how to use what you have or it does not keep you comfortable then there is no use in bringin it. 

So many people had super light weight gear during the beginning so they could save every bit of weight they 

could but by doing this often times were very cold when the temperatures got cold or 

when it rained and it did that alot during the hike would end up getting very wet which also made them cold and uncomfortable. 

Also things like going out on overnight camping trips before you start the AT in all sorts of weather so you know how your gear will perform, 

and how you will perform with the gear during bad weather. Many people ended up getting very wet the first time 

it rained on trail because they had never set their tent up in the rain before or did not know how to properly select a good campsite. 

3- Finally my biggest tip is to not overplan your trip. The Appalachian trail is 2,193.1 miles long (3,529.5km) and 

can take more than 6 months to finish. It is great to have a general goal but be flexible, because things happen on the trail that you can't predict. 

Everything from a cool town that you want to stay a day in to check out, injuries that need a few days to heal, 

or in my case finding an abandoned dog and making sure it found a good home. 

There are also days when you might have planned for a full day off ( called a zero day) but you end up

wanting to get back on trail after your resupply or when you get to the town everything is booked up 

and you can't find a place to stay. Just be flexible and understand that most things will not go to plan on the trail 

but that is usually not a bad thing. Enjoy the unexpected and embrace a time in life where it is completely ok 

to just take things day by day since we do not get that often in our normal lives.