• 100 Mile Wilderness Trip Report: 6 Days of Remote, Rugged Hiking Through Northern Maine Along the Appalachian Trail

    I just got back from completing the 100 Mile Wilderness, an epic, bucket list backpacking trip with some of the most remote, rugged hiking I’ve ever done.

    We had planned to complete the 100 mile journey northbound from Monson, Maine to Abol Bridge in 7 days, but we ended up completing it in only 6. While the trail doesn’t cross any paved roads in its entire length, we were able to schedule a resupply van to come meet us on day 4.

    I completed the hike with Nick – a hardy, life-long Mainer and friend I met in my Wilderness First Responder class back in January. He and I had done some hiking in The White Mountains of New Hampshire since the WFR class, and he is well on his way to completing the 48 4000-footers in New Hampshire. As I found out on the drive up, this was his first real backcountry backpacking trip.

    Like all good adventure tales, this one has multiple acts:

    • Act I was the first 3 and a half days, mostly defined by rain and slow miles over lots of elevation
    • Act II was the remainder of the trip, defined by sunny skies, lake-side hiking and lots of fast miles
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  • Backpacking Gear Tips: 20 Beginner-Friendly Ways to Drop Weight (Without Breaking the Bank)

    To many new backpackers, time spent on the trail can seem like a chore. You load up your heavy backpack with 40 pounds of gear until you’re almost falling over backwards, and then you do a death march down the trail until you reach camp.

    But, what if I told you that with a little bit of know-how, you can lighten your load and actually enjoy the hike?

    One of the best ways a beginner backpacker can improve their experience is to start looking for ways to carry less weight in your backpack. With a lighter load, you can hike farther and faster, see more of the backcountry and do it all with less strain and exhaustion.

    But getting started with ultralight can seem really intimidating.

    Ultralight gear tends to be expensive, hard to shop for and confusing to understand. To anyone just starting out, it might seem like you need a degree in Materials Engineering – plus a very deep bank account – to sift through all of the advice.

    Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be all about carbon fiber and titanium.

    That’s why I put together a list of easy ways to get started with lightening your load – for cheaper than you might expect. I tried to make this a list of only the most beginner-friendly ways to save weight (and cost) when gearing up for your next big backpacking trip.

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  • The Hiker's Dictionary: A Glossary of The Most Important Hiking and Backpacking Terms & Acronyms

    Like any serious hobby, hiking has a lot of jargon and confusing terms that can frustrate any beginner. Even if you’re trying to learn more, without “speaking the language,” it can be hard to follow conversations, articles or discussions about hiking or backpacking.

    You may end up feeling like this:

    Don't be embarrassed if you don't know these Hiking Terms and Acronyms

    That’s why I put together this handy glossary with the definition of 72 of the most common terms and acronyms you need to know. Be sure to bookmark it for future reference!

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  • Eating Well on the Trail: Tips for Planning Meals on a Backpacking Trip

    Just like when you’re eating in the frontcountry, there are a wide variety of tastes, opinions and preferences when it comes to backcountry meal planning.

    When you’re thinking about meals for your next backpacking trip, you should start by thinking about the foods that you already enjoy.

    Come up with a list of some of your favorites dishes and items for each main food categories:

    • breakfast
    • lunch
    • trail snacks
    • drinks
    • dinners

    Then, think about each item in terms of the following constraints and guidelines for meal planning in the backcountry.

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  • The Essential Backcountry Weatherman: Everything You Need to Know to Understand Detailed Weather Reports

    You probably already have a baseline understanding of simple temperature and precipitation forecasts. Those are the ones you check every morning to decide which jacket to grab as you’re heading out the door.

    But the details of a weather forecast become much more important when you’re going to be out in the elements over several days on a backpacking trip. When you’re considering what to add to your backpacking checklist, you need to know a bit more than just temperature and rain forecasts.

    That’s why I compiled this simple guide to the most important weather report details for backpackers and hikers.

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  • How to Find Weather Reports Months Before Your Trip: A Simple Historical Weather Data Lookup Tool

    Click here to jump to the tool.

    One of the toughest parts about preparing for a backpacking trip is planning for the weather, even when the trip is several months out.

    It can be impossible to find accurate forecasts more than a few days ahead of time. However, it can definitely help to look at historical weather patterns in your trip destination over the past few years, to get a sense of what may be in store.

    Normally, it takes a lot of clicking around through historical weather data archives to scrape all of this information together. That's why I decided to create a simple tool that pulls in historical weather data for an area for the past 3 years, so you can easily look it up, all in one place.

    The data is sourced from Weather Underground, and the tool attempts to find the nearest weather station, based on the location you type in. If you want to learn more about a particular year, click the title above it to be taken to the full month's historical weather report on the Weather Underground website.

    The usual disclaimer applies about how this is merely for reference and you should make smart decisions about what to pack based on your skills and itinerary.

    Need help understanding dew point and barometric pressure? I wrote a quick and handy guide to reading detailed weather reports for hikers and backpackers that you should check out.

    Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference. I've used it a bunch of times for planning my own trips already.

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  • Sleeping Soundly in the Outdoors: How to Get a Good Night's Sleep When Camping in the Backcountry

    Laying awake in your sleeping bag, unable to fall asleep, is one of the most frustrating experiences a backpacker can have. Not only can it feel like a mild form of torture, it will also leave you feeling tired and cranky the next morning.

    Learning how to get cozy and relaxed in the backcountry is a very important skill to ensure you’re well rested and ready to tackle tomorrow’s hike.

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  • Becoming an Ultimate Hiker: My Notes from Andrew Skurka's Gear & Skills Clinic

    A few weeks ago, someone posted a YouTube video to the /r/ultralight subreddit of Andrew Skurka’s “Ultimate Hiking Gear & Skills Clinic.” The video, from a talk he gave at Google’s HQ in 2012 has been seen over 150,000 times.

    Here are the notes that I took as I was watching his presentation. I also include some takeaways and lessons I learned at the end.

    I picked up quite a few tips and tricks from watching it, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking to take their backpacking to the next level.

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  • Preparing for the Backcountry: 10 Factors to Consider When Making Your Next Backpacking Checklist

    Talk to anyone you know who spends lots of time in the backcountry and they’ll tell you that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all backpacking checklist.

    Every backpacking trip has different challenges and conditions, and it’s important to understand what they are before you head out, or even start planning your gear list.

    To make sure you have everything you need for your upcoming trip – and nothing you don’t – you need to have a solid understanding of what you’re heading out into. Here are the 10 most important factors you’ll need to be aware of when planning and packing for your next backpacking trip.

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  • Unbelievable 1-Star Yelp Reviews of Some of America's Most Majestic National Parks

    Editor’s Note: Spelling & grammatical errors were left intact from the original Yelp review.

    "It's like a bigger version of Central Park, only with bears." Yellowstone Reviewer

    "Trees block views and too many grey rocks." Yosemite Reviewer

    "There's an amazingly deep and creepy lake." Crater Lake Reviewer

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