I have tried the Whiteblaze. My discharge is in 11 days; and the Army firewall prevents my access to it. I shall check it out soon, though; unless there are some excerpts you think I should see immediately, please cut and paste. I apologize if that would create unnecessary work for you.
What about hygiene and poo disposal? I suspect the hippies would not appreciate a gas burn, and I don't want to carry the stuff...
Keep movin', keep believing and enjoy the journey!
If you have never been on the AT or other long trails, then it is easy to think that you need a lot of maps and such. Not the case. The AT is white blazed to death, before long you will probably find yourself wishing for a bit more of a challenge, direction wise. There may be a few isolated areas where you get to think about which way to go,but not many. Compasses and maps will find most use if/when you need to go off the trail to a mail drop or such, and even then you will likely find another hiker who will know or else is heading you way. Some good study and note taking pre-hike should help with locating water sources, again, ask another hiker if you need to.
A wood burner stove is great, just don't get in a hurry. An alcohol back up stove with a few ounces of alcohol can be a really wonderful extra. You have the ear of a good trail man in Fireinmybones, listen to his council, read a lot, weigh everything. Before taking off for any long duration, try to take a two or three day hike just to test and validate your gear, real time use has a way of showing things we have missed. Thanks for serving this country, I hope you have a really great time on the trails.
Welcome to HF, Grampy. FIMB said to look for you.
+1 on Andrew Skurka's book. I was just looking at a copy this past week. Being new to backpacking , you might find it to be helpful. In it he covers all the bases of backpacking. Andrew has made a name for himself by hiking long distances, so he understands lightweight, but more so taking what you will need for a given area and season. That's the point I would emphasize as you prepare for the AT.
Talk to other thru-hikers. Keep in mind that everyone does his/her own thing -- HYOH (hike your own hike/hang our own hammock), but I have learned lots from others who have thrued.
For your gear list:
You shouldn't need both of these. The new maps should contain the same info, but the book will have more detail.
Pocket Profile AT maps – antigravitygear
2013 Southbound: The AT Guide, David Miller
A button compass is plenty for the AT. The trail is obvious.
BDUs are heavy and contain cotton. I'd suggest a synthetic something more suitable for hiking, especially in the rain.
I wish you well on your journey.