Archive | Philosophy

Hiking my own hike, on a 3-month thru-hike of the AT in 2002. But doing it "the wrong way," with gear, supplies, and skills that were inappropriate for my trip objective and the conditions.

Actually, there is a “right way” to backpack: The limits of “hike your own hike”

One interaction I distinctly recall from the Appalachian Trail was in Virginia, with a fellow thru-hiker who was outwardly critical of my approach. I had been moving at a relatively quick clip, in the hopes of finishing the entire trail in about three months, before the start of my fall semester. “You’re hiking too fast […]

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Stubblefield Canyon, Yosemite National Park

What inspires you to backpack? The hiking, the camping, or both?

Earlier this week I cheered the death of the “lightweight backpacking” label, along with its misguided ultralight (UL), super ultralight (SUL), and extreme ultralight (XUL) derivatives. With this post, I hope to offer a more representative, more useful, and more inclusive framework for thinking about backpacking and backpackers. For those of you who have read […]

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Is the “lightweight backpacking” label dead, along with its UL, SUL, and XUL derivatives? I hope so.

Recent posts by Martin Rye, Dave Chenault, Mike Clelland, and Jaakko Heikka on the state and future of  “lightweight” and “ultralight” backpacking have given me the motivation — and a good opportunity — to dust off two related posts that I first drafted six months ago but that never went live. This is the first. When I […]

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“Stupid light”: Why light is not necessarily right, and why lighter is not necessarily better

On most trips, my primary objective is to enjoy my hiking experience. Camping, from my perspective, is simply an 8-hour opportunity to recharge before another rewarding day of constant forward progress (CFP). To be this “ultimate hiker,” my gear, supplies and skills must be optimized with regards to: Weight, because carrying less allows me to […]

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Founder's Bridge over the Nantahala River, with Chris Willett and Daddy Mention. Note the 75L pack, which still wasn't big enough to fit all my stuff plus my sleeping pad. I bought trekking poles at the NOC shortly after this photo was taken.

Learning to backpack “the hard way”: How I wasted my money and (nearly) ruined trips through trial-and-error

Nearly ten years ago, on May 5, 2002, I started my first long-distance hike: the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail. The AT was one of my first backpacking trips as well — the first had been only two months earlier during Spring Break, when I’d gone to Yosemite Valley by myself and had gone on two one-night trips, to […]

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Objectives in writing The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide

My first book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Guide, is officially released today. If you pre-ordered a signed copy directly from me, thank you, and you will be getting it shortly—I shipped an quantity of orders last week. It has been both exciting and interesting to read feedback from early reviewers, like Kraig Becker at The […]

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Hiking should be fun, not work, so lighten up

Light is right and less is more, especially when you are backpacking. A lightweight pack is safer and more comfortable, and more FUN, than a heavy pack full of overbuilt and unnecessary stuff; and it makes the backcountry more accessible for anyone who does not want to (or cannot) carry a traditional pack, which should […]

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