how to and skill for backpacking in the mountains

Backpacking Skills & How To

Improve your backcountry experience by learning new backpacking skills! This how to content is written to help you hike more efficiently, safely, and intelligently. We cover a wide array of topics including training, gear, packing, safety, hammocks, insect protection, wildfires, photography, and much much more. Take your adventuring to the next level with new backpacking skills!

discussing how to choose zpacks tents

Zpacks Tents – How To Choose

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Learn how to choose the best Zpacks Tent for you needs. We dive deep into specs, features, and materials to help inform your decision.
train for hiking and backpacking quickly and efficiently

How to Train for Hiking & Backpacking Endurance

Learn how to train for hiking and backpacking as efficiently as possible with a 12 week plan based on current exercise science.
GAIA GPS wildfire map | Wildfire Safety | Hiking & Backpacking

7 Tips for Wildfire Safety Hiking & Backpacking

7 Wildfire Safety Tips for Hiking and Backpacking. Be sure you have the proper knowledge, equipment, and navigational resources be safe!
how to cut liner out of running shorts social

How to Cut Liners Out of Running Shorts & Why You Should

Learn how to cut liners out of running shorts and why you should. We give step by step instructions, and fully explain the reasoning.
wildlife photography | chimpanzee nursing in uganda

Wildlife Photography 101 a Beginner’s How To

This post will get you taking great wildlife photos in no time. We give you the 7 basic tips for wildlife photography as well as some pitfalls and beginner mistakes to avoid. And of course, we’ll also advise you on the best photo gear for wildlife pics.
Top Mistakes Using the Layering System – How to Stay Warmer and Drier

Hiking Clothes | Hike Safe and Warm

The right hiking clothes will drastically improve the overall trip experience by making you comfier, faster, and especially safer. As they say, there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!

How to Choose Hiking Shoes

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How to choose hiking shoes that work for you just got a lot easier! We'll give you the lowdown on different factors that affect your shoe choice
sleeping bag jail with campers in warm clothes

Sleeping Bag Jail & How to Avoid It

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Avoid having to prematurely get into your sleeping bag to keep warm while backpacking. Checkout our picks for the warmest & lightest camp clothes on the market.

Best Camp Coffee | Backcountry Barista Pour Over Coffee

Our camp coffee is delicious! Try our pour over coffee method to make your next backpacking coffee and be pleasantly surprised!

Free Three: Lighten Your Backpack Without Spending a Dime

The Big Three: tent, backpack & sleeping bag are expensive. The Free Three can shave tons of pack weight without spending a dime.

Shakedown Hike | Ensure Success on your Big Backpacking Trips

A shakedown hike is critical to the success of your big backpacking trip for the year. Learn how to plan and execute a shakedown to avoid costly mistakes. Think of it as "Spring Training" for backpacking.
Ultralight Backpacking Gear List | 9lb

Video: 9 LB Ultralight Backpacking Gear

Whether you are a beginning or experienced backpacker or hiker, Adventure Alan is about helping you become a better, more efficient & happier backpacker. To this I bring 50 years experience of backpacking all over the world (20 years ultralight backpacking), professional guiding in extreme places like Alaska.
Hammock Tent Camping

7 Reasons Why Hammock Tent Camping is Fantastic | How To Get Started

For much of the US hammock tent camping is fantastic & arguably the best way to sleep in the backcountry. This is true anywhere with trees—nearly all of the eastern US & much of the Mountain West.
Best Lyme and Zika Prevention for Hiking

Best Lyme and Zika Prevention for Hiking

2018 is forecast to be the worst year for tick/Lyme disease. But don't let fear of Lyme or Zika keep you off the trail! This article has tips on the clothing, gear, repellents, & techniques that will maximize your protection from Lyme, Zika & other diseases...

Non-technical Canyon Backpacking in Utah – a how to guide for getting started

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Desert canyons are some of the most stunning places on earth. And contrary to the hype of high adventure and disaster in technical slot canyons, with flash floods & amputating arms—many beautiful canyons are low risk and perfect for backpacking…
tips for your first backpacking trip

12 tips for your first backpacking trip of the year

When you haven't backpacked in months & months, getting your systems dialed back in can be overwhelming and challenging. Between gear, food and logistics, it's easy to lose track of things. But with these 12 tips for your first backpacking…
smartphone hiking photography

10 hacks and accessories for better smartphone hiking photography

Many stunning outdoor photos are shot with smartphones. BUT most are no accident. The photographer used good basic techniques & inexpensive gear to get that great photo. The good news is that you too can do this with the 10 following hacks and accessories for better smartphone hiking photography.

Why Wilderness First Aid Matters and How to Take a Course

Knowing what to do in a medical emergency in the wilderness can make all the difference to someone in need. That someone might even be you! I was reminded of this as I refreshed my Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification this past weekend.…

The Ultralight Backpacker’s Guide to Leave No Trace

Want to practice good Leave No Trace (LNT) but keep your pack ultralight? No problem, this guide gives you some think-outside-the-box, ultralight (UL) options for LNT. It also covers areas of caution where UL backpackers need to pay special…

13 Essentials for the Modern Hiker – A Realistic “10 Essentials”

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This article proposes a more realistic 13 Essentials that will better keep the modern hiker safe. This is because the Classic 10 Essentials (first proposed in the 1930's) need an update for the 21st Century given the realities of a modern…
Drink When Thirsty

The Best Hydration | Drink When Thirsty

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Drink When Thirsty debunks the many myths about hydration and dehydration like "If you are thirsty, it's already too late" and "If your urine is yellow, you are dehydrated." This article suggests that Drink When Thirsty is the best and healthiest strategy for hydration during exercise.
Efficient Backpacking Tips

Efficient Backpacking Tips – Easily Increase Mileage & Fun

Any hiker can use these Efficient Backpacking Tips to get more time to do what they love best outdoors. Whether it's covering more miles, extra time to enjoy the views, take photographs, fish, get some extra swimming in a lake or even (gasp!) a mid-afternoon nap.
5 Most Important Features for a Backpacking Camera

5 Most Important Features for a Backpacking Camera

Alert! as a backpacker you are not well served by mainstream camera reviews like DPReview. That is, the 5 Most Important Features for a Backpacking Camera are quite different than those for a general use camera in mainstream reviews. Here…

The Point and Shoot Camera is Dead for Hikers

This post answers two questions. First, why is point and shoot camera is dead for hikers? And second, what are the best cameras for hiking now that the point and shoot camera...
Hiking Skirt

Why Would a Man Wear a Hiking Skirt?

I’ve wanted to wear a skirt for a while. My wife will back me up on this, but not for the reasons you think. And to be clear, I have Scottish blood (clan Dixon) so I get to wear a kilt which is pretty much a skirt. But the main reason I wanted to wear a hiking skirt...
Low Carbon Appalachian Trail Section Hike

Low Carbon Appalachian Trail Section Hike via Train – Harpers Ferry WV to Harrisburg PA

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Take the train to the AT—low carbon, low stress. No car, no complicated shuttles. Just great hiking! This AT section hike has it all—an ideal blend of natural beauty, history, small towns, great local parks, and meeting interesting people. It's a perfect example of what makes hiking on the AT a unique and special experience.

Why You Should Make a Trip Plan and Leave it with Someone for Every Trip

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Most people know about Aron Ralston of “127 hours,” who cut his arm off to save his life. A major take-away from this was that he should have left a Trip Plan with a friend. Something as simple as a short note saying where he was going…

Why You Won’t Freeze or Starve Ultralight Backpacking

It’s a myth that ultralight backpacking makes you cold, wet and hungry. It doesn’t. In fact, I’ll wager that with my 5 pounds of ultralight gear I’m more comfortable, sleep better, and eat better than many campers carrying 20 to 30 pounds of conventional/heavier backpacking gear. Here are 3 Reasons why You Won’t Freeze or Starve UltraLight .

Nutritious Backpacking Meal Recipes

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These tasty and nutritious backpacking meal recipes are healthier, have more calories and cost less than commercial, freeze dried backpacking meals. Keep it simple — there are enough nutritious backpacking meal recipes here to provide sufficient daily variety to keep meals fun and interesting. But there aren't so many recipes that I spend too much time buying ingredients and assembling a large meal inventory.

Two Great Lightweight Backpacking Gear Lists

These Two Great Lightweight Backpacking Gear Lists, 5 Pound or 9 Pound, will save you a lot of pack-weight but still keep a smile on your face. You will most likely be warmer, more comfortable, and sleep better than most campers carrying 2 to 3 times the weight in conventional/heavier backpacking gear.
6 Pound Practical Lightweight Backpacking Gear List

Techniques for Ultralight Backpacking

The lightest gear that still makes sense! Whatever you like to do: enjoying great views, photography, swimming in a lake, fishing, getting some extra camp time, or just putting in some trail miles this efficiency focused, 5 Pound Practical Lightweight Backpacking Gear List will give you more time to do it.

10 Pound Backpack to Hike 100 Miles

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That's the total weight of everything in my backpack—gear, food, water, and stove fuel to hike 102 miles of the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park in 3 days. No fair weather hiking: with rain, sleet, light snow and hard freezes at night. I think I am very close to dialing in a Light Pack that is also supremely efficient at covering long trail miles.
Method to Manage Hammock Tarp Doors

Great Method to Manage Hammock Tarp Doors

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This is an excellent Method to Manage Hammock Tarp Doors. It's fast and simple to use. It keeps the tarp doors neatly and securely out of the way dry weather or when you are getting in and out of the hammock. But it also quickly secures the tarp doors if needed—like when a rain storm quickly moves in. And it's a great do-it-yourself project.

Lightweight Backpacking Camera Selection 101

This article addresses the selection of a lightweight backpacking camera and photo gear. In particular, you will understand the tradeoffs of camera size and weight vs. image quality. (Photo: A sudden opening in the clouds illuminates a lone tree and a small outcrop overlooking Loch Marie in Wester Ross.)
The Big Three

Quick ways to reduce backpack weight

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Want to shed backpack weight with the minimum of effort? The following are quick ways to reduce backpack weight. A few may surprise you...

Recommended Lightweight Backpacks

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Do-it-all Packs: These are your first choice if you want one light pack to work for all your trips. These packs will carry gear and food for trips up to 7 days or more—yet at around 2 pounds they are not too heavy to use for a long weekend on the Appalachian Trail.
a pyramid tent in the moutnains

Recommended Tents, Tarps and other Shelters

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Possibly the best all-around, lightweight shelter is a pyramid shelter. I have used Pyramid Shelters on trips to Alaska, Patagonia, the Sierras, major European treks and around the world. (Picture of Alison in a Mountain Laurel Designs…

2.4 Pound Extreme Ultralight Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail

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2016 Update: I have redone this with a a new post "5 Pound Practical Ultralight Backpacking Gear List" which I believe is a far better approach to light on the AT. This new gear list is both light and practical. It can be used by many AT…
Backpacking Food

30 Pound Weight Savings for Lightweight Backpacking

Food and food storage: 6.5 lbs (5.2 lbs food, 1.3 lbs bear cans) The biggest weight savings of the trip and nobody went hungry. Again the greatest weight savings was in food. See below. Clothing:  5.5 pounds Less clothes, no Polarfleece,…

Why Hike Lightweight?

"A heavy pack is never a highlight or happiest memory of a trip..." Disadvantages of a heavy pack It sucks the joy out of the trip... It will not keep you warmer, safer or more comfortable Slow, tedious hiking Exhaustion,…

1999 Sierra Trip – Discussion of Weight Savings

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Killer Packs - Never again! Good planning (e.g. having a light pack) can make or break a backpacking trip, especially with kids. I found this out the hard way when I took my kids on their first extended trip to the high Sierra. Our experiences sparked my interest in ultralight backpacking

1999 Sierra Trip – Photos & Narrative

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This was a fantastic trip! Even a heavy pack can't spoil the incredible Sierras. Fabulous scenery, rugged routes, solitude, remote campsites, and great fishing. Please look at the photos of this trip as they say a lot more than anything I can write.
Backpacking Food

Text Summary of Weight Savings 1999 to 2001

All weights savings are per person Food and food storage: 6.5 lbs (5.2 lbs food, 1.3 lbs bear cans) The biggest weight savings of the trip and nobody went hungry. See a special note on food and food storage. Clothing:  5.5 pounds Less…
Backpacking Food

Table of Weight Savings from 1999 and 2001

A savings of 30 pounds in 1999 - His pack was 55 pounds in 2001 - His pack was 25 pounds Sierra trip comparison 1999 and 2001 (Note: this is not a complete list) Note: 1999 trip had 3 people. 2001 trip had 4…
Backpacking Food

Hammock Camping Part III: Helpful tips and resources for a virgin hammock camper

"In locations where trees are readily available—nearly all of the eastern United States plus a fair amount of the Mountain West—a hammock is likely the best sleep system." This is part of a three part series Part I: Advantages…
Backpacking Food

Hammock Camping – Part II: Types of backpacking hammocks, and spec comparison to ground systems

"In locations where trees are readily available—nearly all of the eastern United States plus a fair amount of the Mountain West—hammock camping is likely the best sleep system." Types of Backpacking Hammocks: is the second part of  this…
Backpacking Food

Backpacking Food List – Simple and Nutritious for 7 days

NEW June 2016 - Meal Recipes are Posted. See Nutritious Backpacking Meal Recipes here This list is packed with nutritious backpacking food for a "week long" trip of 7 days 6 nights of dinners and breakfasts 7 days of lunches and daytime…

Conclusion: Backpacking Skills & How To

We hope you have learned some new backpacking skills! Try them out on your next hike and let us know how it goes. Happy trails!