Frequently Asked Questions about the Virtual Shake Down

What is a Virtual Shake Down?
A Virtual Shake Down is an online version of Mountain Crossings famous tradition of offering a Shake Down to new thru hikers. Our specialty outdoor retailer sits at mile 31.7 on the Appalachian Trail and for decades the Shake Down has been a service offered to hikers who need a little bit of help lightening up the load of their packs. Our experienced thru hiker staff can help you eliminate some of the extra pounds and ship it home for you from the shop. With the Virtual Shake Down, our hope is to help you feel more confident in your gear and your knowledge of that gear before you are out on the trail by answering any and all questions as well as teaching you more about the gear you have and the gear you need.

Why do I need a Shake Down?
There is so much information out there about light weight backpacking but nothing teaches you as well as experience. After three days of walking on the AT, you have a much better sense of what you need to carry and what you can leave behind than when you were standing on Springer. If you’re still unsure, our staff make of former thru hikers can help you trim down on the unneeded items. Take it from those who have already learned the hard way, carrying every thing you think you want 1,500 miles and then finally dumping it only to realize you wish you had done it in the beginning is a tough pill to swallow. Don’t make your thru hike tougher than it has to be. Get a Shake Down!

Why should I get a Virtual Shake Down instead of waiting?
With the increasing popularity of the Appalachian Trail, more and more people are attempting a thru hike each year. Most of them opt to get a Shake Down when passing through the shop at Mountain Crossings. You can avoid some of this hustle and bustle and be able to focus on relaxing and recuperating during you stay if you get your Shake Down before hand. Plus, that is 31.7 miles less that you have to walk with a backpack full of things you don’t need!

How does a Virtual Shake Down work?
The Virtual Shake Down is a video conference using the Google Hangout platform. Google Hangout requires one Gmail user to set a time and date and invite another Gmail user to a ‘hangout’. To streamline the process, we have created two “dummy” Gmail accounts, one of which you will use to access the video conference so no personal email account is needed. You can select a time from several available dates on the Mountain Crossings website or we can arrange a specific time if one is needed.

How much does it cost?
A Virtual Shake Down costs $100.00 but that $100.00 can be applied to the purchase of gear or gifts from the shop. Few people make it out of a Shake Down without needing to pick up or switch out a piece or two of gear. The $100.00 you pay for the shakedown is a 100% rebate for item online or that you saw during the Shake Down. Even if you have an item you want to pick up that you may not have talked over (Mountain House meals, socks, water bottles), feel free to ask the staff member who does your shakedown about it so you can take advantage of the rebate.

Woah, a Shake Down that costs money? Why?
Traditionally the walk-in Shake Down that happens in the shop has always been a free service but with the extension of its reach now being global, a cost is now associated. The aim of the Virtual Shake Down is to make the experience a more convenient option for those who are not within a reasonable driving distance to North Georgia while still keeping it personalized. Those who have begun to purchase gear know the high costs of quality products and may recognize that a $100.00 rebate to be spent on gear is an easy mark to hit when preparing for a thru hike.

What do I need in order to do a Virtual Shake Down?
For a Virtual Shake Down you will need a laptop or desktop computer with built in or external video camera and microphone capabilities so that we can see your existing gear, show you new gear and talk with you.

What if I don’t have all of my gear yet?
No worries if you don’t have your full gear set up! Simply come prepared with whatever gear you have for your thru hike thus far at the time of your Shake Down. We can start anywhere and the more gear you have left to buy, the easier it will be to use up your $100.00 rebate.

How long does a Virtual Shakedown take?
A traditional Shake Down last anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the hiker, their experience level, the amount of gear they have or need and how much fun we are having. No need to cut a good time short! For the Virtual Shake Down, we are setting aside two hour windows for each person. If more time is needed, we can make special arrangements.