For Beginners

Practice Hikes by David “AWOL” Miller

David Miller on Mount Katahdin

In 2004 I met a couple thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and asked if they’d taken any practice hikes. The husband said; “We didn’t want to take any practice hikes before our attempt because we were afraid that we might not like hiking.” Though his response was delivered as a joke, …

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The Tentative Quilter

Ultralight Camping on the Maine Appalachian Trail

Have you ever used a quilt instead of a sleeping bag on a backpacking trip? I confess, I haven’t. But I took my first tentative  step in that direction on my last backpacking trip. Instead of a quilt, I used the 50 degree rectangular sleeping I carry in summer, a …

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Ultralight Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pig

If you want to become an ultralight backpacker, you need to be willing to experiment on yourself. There’s only so much you can learn by reading articles, asking questions on forums, or watching youtube videos. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to take some risks and try out a …

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How to Become a Better Hiker

Students in Andrew Skurka's Ultimate Hiker Course, White Mountains

I love day hiking, backpacking, peak bagging, long distance trekking: you name it. Being outdoors and propelling myself on my own two legs gives me tremendous joy…even when it rains. I also derive tremendous satisfaction from learning and using new hiking, backpacking and mountaineering skills. Learning what to do and …

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Backpacking Partner Compatibility Test

Hiker Reading New Yorker Magazine

If you stick with this backpacking thing long enough, there will come a time when everyone in your family and all of your friends refuse to hike with you because you hike too fast or too far in a given day. When that happens you are going to have to …

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How to Hang a Bear Bag

I had to laugh when I watched this video about hanging a bear bag and all of the things that can go wrong in the process. If you’ve tried this yourself, you’ll know exactly what I mean. How many times have you tried to hang a bear bag, with darkness …

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How I Got into Backpacking

Last week, one of my regular section hiker readers asked me to write a post explaining how I got back into backpacking after a 20 year hiatus. My wife blames herself for this one. To preface, I had always been day hiker from my teens on, although casually. I did …

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