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I've travelled long distances, but I've always had my backpack and used transport, and can get by that way fairly easily in general.

I've been reading about long-distance walkers - people who walk across America in 87 days, for example. I'm assuming they can't carry a 15kg pack on their backs this whole way, or food and drink - do they usually have support?

Put it this way, if I (or you) were to do it, what would one need to achieve a long-distance walk (aside from being fit and slightly mad :)), and how would you ensure you had enough supplies?

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I met a fellow walking cross country. He was doing about 18 miles a day. He did have a large backpack. Of course, he didn't have enough food and water for the whole trip, but he probably had a couple of days worth. –  Joel Spolsky May 14 '12 at 20:00
Added a bounty as I'd like to see if I can get some more real-world examples of how people achieved it. –  Mark Mayo Mar 13 '14 at 13:27

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

From my experience it is practically infeasible to carry food supplies for more than half a week and water supplies for more than a day. Unless you have porters or mules. Freeze-dried food can furthermore reduce the weight you have to carry.

There are a lot of people walking the Way of st. James which takes about one month. The best prepared have less than 5kg backpacks. Everything around 10kg or more is going to spoil your walk. All you carry is a small sleeping bag (100-300g in summer), one change of clothes, flip-flops, toothbrush, raincoat, snack for one day and water. Everything else you either do not need or buy on the way. You can find a lot of gear left somewhere on the way :)

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