Hiking The Columbia River Gorge Via Eagle Creek Trail

The signature trailhead for the Columbia River Gorge is the Eagle Creek Trail. This trail is famous for its lush forest scenery and a hiking path that takes you through a waterfall. Yes, through a waterfall! Many trails offer views of the falls but nothing quite like this. Walking through what is known as “Tunnel Falls” gives you the exciting sounds of rushing water, the breathtaking views from the elevation gain, and the elemental feel that Oregon has to offer.

The Tunnel Falls exit, a hike through a waterfall!

Speaking of the elements, be sure to check the trail conditions before planning this hike. The trail is located in an area where icy weather is very possible, and, as a polar opposite, forest fires. You can see the trail conditions in the link below:

Eagle Creek Pass Weather Conditions

This trail is at risk of natural storms, high amounts of ice buildup, and forest fires, so it’s best to check the closures notifications as well. You may check the trail closure announcements here:

National Park Service Notice of Trail Closures and Conditions: Eagle Creek

The Trail

Hiking the Eagle Creek trail can be a very short trip of just 4.2 miles if you’re only doing the quick version of the hike. If you are wanting a quick, but moderate-difficulty day hike, this is your place to go. However, many people travel to Oregon to see the Columbia River Gorge because the the trip can be extended to a multi-day backpacking hike of 26.6 miles.

This is what brings me here. I currently live in the Midwest, so I wouldn’t be itching to travel to a hike that’s not worth the time. Believe me when I say, if you’re into thru-hiking and want a good training area, or if you simply want a trail that’s not packed with people, and it also offers the capability to setup camp in the wilderness, then Eagle Creek will not let you down.

How To Get There

If you’ve read my other post about planning a backpacking trip, then you’d know I highly suggest booking an Airbnb or hotel stay within 3 hours from your destination. In the morning it’ll be much easier to drive that final bit if you’ve travelled by car. Backpacking can be one of those things that make for less sleep depending on what type of environment you end up dealing with when you’re spending the night with Mother Nature. So, personally, I like to start off on the right foot *queue applause for corny joke*.

The bridges on this trail offer amazing views.

If you travel by plane. Portland is where you’ll be flying into anyhow, so I still offer the same perspective. Sometimes, my suggestion would change based on driving or flying, but, this is not one of those times.

For example: if driving to the Rocky Mountains, my wife and I found a nice little cabin in Stratton and also the city of Castle Rock was quite beautiful. If flying, then Denver is the place to stay.

I don’t get any commission for this, I just want my readers to know that there are options out there. I’ve stayed in some Airbnbs that were really nice, and I’ve stayed in some that were very sketchy. So, if you don’t mind spending a little extra, sometimes a nice hotel is a better pick in my personal opinion. Here’s a quick glance at what the prices look like per night in Portland, OR on Airbnb:

Airbnb stays are available in the Portland area if you’re interested in visiting while planning your hike through Eagle Creek.
Eagle Creek trailhead is a 46 minute drive from Portland. If it’s your first time in Oregon, I highly suggest taking in the urban scenery the city has to offer either before or after your hike.

Once you’ve planned your stay, you can get to Eagle Creek via Uber, Lyft, Shuttle, or driving. There is a parking fee if you park at the trailhead. There is also an Eagle Creek campsite that you can utilize for a fee. If you have the National Park Pass, then it’s free to enter the campsite, but you’ll still need to pay your parking fee per car. Do not attempt to park along the roadside or you will be towed.

Inside the Tunnel Falls pass.

How To Complete The Hike

You’ve got options:

It’s 4 miles to Punchbowl Falls

It’s 6.5 miles to High Bridge

It’s 12 miles to Tunnel Falls

It’s 26.6 miles to Wahtum Lake

The thing about The Columbia River Gorge is that waterfalls are concentrated in this area. There is a five mile stretch that contains 13 waterfalls. The highest waterfall available will be Twister Falls and it rises to 140 feet. So, if you’re looking for amazing waterfalls to hike to, this is one of the places to be!

Don’t venture too far off of trail without placing markers, the woods in Oregon are dense and can begin to “blend” (looking the same the further you travel, risking navigation confusion).

Completing this hike will require a couple of days so be prepared to setup camp. Wilderness campsites are not pre-plotted here, so if you hike past the 12 mile mark you’ll likely be able to find an area to yourself. There are crowds at the trailhead if you go during “busy hours” but as you hike further out they start to thin out until you find yourself only running into other hikers every now and then. Wilderness camping truly requires you to be prepared so if you need additional information on this you can read my blog post about planning your first backpacking trip.

Reminder: ice crystals form easily in the humidity out here. If the temperatures are expected to drop below freezing while you’re out on the trail, be prepared for it! 

For safety, there are cables to hold onto on the high-drop off areas. It’s rainy and muddy in the Pacific Northwest, so watch your step! Trekking poles may get in the way of hanging onto the cable system when needed. A hiking pole may be more trail-friendly in this particular setting.

There are six campsites throughout the trail. You can find the main one here, along with links to the additional, smaller campgrounds available.

Side note: this is an out and back trail.
You’ll start to see dynamic views as you climb. The best views are always from the top!

What Gear To Take

I am very fond of traveling light. That includes when I’m backpacking. I don’t just travel light, I travel ultralight. It’s really the best way to backpack and hike. You can conserve energy, make it much further between rest areas, and need for less water.

I have a guide on ultralight equipment. Click here to read the post.

Eagle Creek Park Maps

Lastly, I want to post a couple of trail maps for you. These maps are just of the public park areas but are useful when you’re in the tourist-area.

Photo credit: Eagle Creek Park Foundation
Photo credit: Eagle Creek Park Foundation

Before closing out this post I want to mention the AllTrails app has the capability to download routes before going. This allows you to pull up your location and see where you need to go to get back to the trail if you become lost, even without cell phone reception.


If you’re looking for a beautiful escape into the wild, Eagle Creek can definitely offer you an amazing experience.

Hopefully, this blog article has helped you with getting more info on Eagle Creek to better plan your stay and help you to have an enjoyable hiking experience.

This Guide Was Written By Evan Erwin

Visit the homepage to learn more about HykLyt
Return Home

Keeping Your Dog Safe While Hiking

“The journey of life is sweeter when travelled with a dog.”

Bring a small, clean bowl to supply water to your pup. This helps prevent altitude sickness.

Do Dogs Like to Hike & Is It Good For Them?

The simple answer is, “Yes, dogs love to hike!” It is physical and mental stimulation, they get to see things they haven’t yet, and best of all, they get to use their noses! It can be a little worrisome to prepare a hiking trip with your furry companion, due to the risks involved with altitude, heat, and exhaustion, but if you read through these safety tips, you’ll feel more confident with your ability to take great care of your dog while hiking.

Helpful tip: carry a pup-medkit with you while you travel with your dog. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises can all present problems for you dog just as it would yourself.

Prevent Altitude Sickness In Dogs

Photo credit: Sarah Kurfeß

H2O: There are a couple of things to consider when thinking about preventing altitude sickness in your dog. Primarily, make sure you keep water with you! Dogs need to be well-hydrated or they won’t be able to fight off altitude sickness as well. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I recommend setting a bowl out for hydration every 15 to 20 minutes when hiking. Your dog should intake at minimum 8oz of water an hour while hiking.

Altitude: Your dogs ears are much more sensitive than your own, so altitude can be more uncomfortable for them than what you’re experiencing. If you live at sea level or lower elevations, and that is what your dog is used to, then I wouldn’t plan anything higher than 5,000 to 6,000 feet. You can train with your dog at these levels to start acclimating toward the 7,000 to 8,000 feet range. Anything higher than that, and you’re going to need to seriously watch your dogs behavior.

Symptoms: Your dog may become confused or exhausted if altitude sickness begins to set in. You know your dog better than anyone, so make sure you keep a close eye on how your dog is acting. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

• Vomiting

• Exhaustion

• Shortness of Breath

• Drooling & Excessive Panting

• Lack of Appetite

If any of these symptoms occur, stop, hydrate, and return to your home so your pup can rest.

Keeping Your Dog’s Paws Protected While Hiking

Did you know that dogs actually sweat through their paws?

A dogs paw consists of the metacarpal pad, the claws, the dewclaw, and the carpal pad (the smaller pad in the back). They’re comprised of fatty tissue which protects them from extreme conditions in the cold, such as the need to walk on snow and ice. However, the fatty tissue does not protect against extreme heat, such as a hot metal grate along the sidewalk (which my dog always avoids walking on).

What does the heat do? It causes the same problems you would have with your feet in extreme heat. Blisters form, skin tearing happens, and burns occur. A good rule of thumb while out with your dog is if it’s something you wouldn’t want to touch, then they shouldn’t either.

If your dog is prone to foot injuries, there is a wax you can by to spread across your pups paws. “Paw Balm” or “Mushers Secret” are examples of this wax. This helps keep the paw slick and hydrated so that tough surfaces while hiking don’t crack the dogs padding.

Helpful tip: Don’t forget to carry some tweezers with you! It’s very hard to remove a deeply rooted sticker from in between your dogs toes without tweezers.

Protecting Your Dog From The Heat While Hiking

Help cool your dog down by carrying them when they seem like they are getting too hot. Wet their fur for extra cooling. Here, we’re carrying our trail buddy, Max, back to the car.

As stated above in the altitude sickness section, hydration is going to be your friend, here. But there are some extra steps you can take to help reduce the chances of your dog becoming overheated.

One thing you can use is a doggie “cooling vest”. Cooling vests work by providing a larger surface for evaporation, essentially retaining moisture, which then cools your pup down. These are normally effective for 1.5 to 4 hours and work much better in humid environments than in dry.

Helpful tip: Just like running through a water sprinkler, if you fear your pup is overheated. Sprinkle some water all over it’s fur. This is a quicker way to decrease body temp than a cooling vest.

Protecting Your Dog From The Cold While Hiking

It’s actually theorized that dogs evolved in colder environments, based on how their foot padding works, and so, many of them can thrive in snow and ice. Even so, it’s important for them to have proper protection. Just as you would gear up for hiking in the cold, you’ll need to think of the same for your pup.

Items that come in handy for cold weather gearing your dog are “paw-booties“, “heated dog beds (upon return to campsite)”, and “dog-fitted sweaters”. Dressing a dog up for a hike in the winter weather is a lot of fun, great for pictures with the family, and more than anything, protects him or her from the elements.

Helpful Tip: Ice will form in longer hair on dogs just like they would on your hair or beard. Trim the foot fur on your pup before heading out on a hike in freezing conditions. 

Keeping Your Dogs Energy Full While Hiking

Don’t take a long hike with your dog without taking some type of snacks. Your pup will thank you when you present a tasty treat on the trail. Some people are able to hike for hours without eating anything, but remember, it’s most likely after months (or even years) of conditioning for thru-hiking. Dogs are typically smaller than their owners, and aren’t capable of storing as much energy as we do. Many times, dogs have a low amount of body fat to store reserves.

It’s recommended to simply bring along your dogs usual kibble. Don’t feed a dog right before or right after a hike or they may get an upset tummy. If you plan to take a long hike (more than an hour), invest in some high protein kibble.

Can My Dog Carry Weight While Hiking?

You’ll want to spend time conditioning your dog for any pup-backpacking. Just going out on short walks, such as around the neighborhood, while your dog carries smaller amounts of weight, will help strengthen your dogs carrying capacity over multiple sessions of training. This isn’t something to rush into. That could be dangerous for your dog. Take time to train just the same as you would for yourself.

Photo credit: Wilderdog
Helpful tip: A dog should only carry up to 25% of his or her body weight. Anything over that amount becomes limiting and cumbersome.

What Age Can I Take My Dog Hiking?

It’s suggested to wait until at least 12 months of age. You may check with your vet on your pups specific breed just to be extra-safe. Some breeds, such as those with shorter snouts, have a harder time adjusting their oxygen intake per breath, so as a puppy, the hike could be too challenging.

Plants to Avoid While Hiking With Your Dog

There are many plants to take into consideration when hiking with your pup. Some plants are toxic to dogs and should be avoided if at all possible. These plants include, but are not limited to:

• Ivy

• Elderberry

• Foxtails

• Bleeding Heart

• Mushrooms

• Lillies

Helpful tip: acorn tree nuts can also contain tannins that are harmful to dogs. Do not let your dog play with or chew on acorns. These will cause severe upset stomachs, kidney failure, and possible death.

Water Sources For Your Dog While Hiking

It’s a best practice to utilize the same water you drink, whether it’s spring water, purified water or tap water. Many times dogs will drink out of creeks and rivers while we hike past, and, although their stomachs are much stronger than humans, they are just as susceptible to parasites and bacteria.

Avoiding Ticks While Hiking With Your Dog

There are specific smells that will help avoid ticks while you’re out in the wilderness with your dog. Here’s a list of scents that repel ticks:

• Lavender

• Peppermint

• Citronella

• Lemongrass

• Citrus

There are also ultrasonic tick repelling collars available on the market to help repel ticks even more.

Dogs are susceptible to tick bites and tick borne diseases. In many cases, these tick borne diseases are not able to be vaccinated against. It’s important to use a tick preventive product on your dog.


Hopefully, you feel pretty confident taking your dog hiking with you after reading through these tips. If you have other tips that could be beneficial to others, I’d love for you to share them in the comments section below. Stay safe and have fun on the trail!

Click here to return to the blog portraits section.

Return Home

The Best Backpacking Guide – Rocky Mountain Edition

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

John Muir
Heading back to the “Bierstadt Lake” trailhead.

A Beautiful Introduction

The sun is rising as you wake to the sound of elk calls just outside of your tent. Birds are singing in the trees as they watch for their early grub, and the soothing sounds of a fire crackle next to you while you warm up some morning coffee. You hear the ‘snap’ of a twig behind you as one of the most curious elk walks closer to your tent. The two of you exchange a moment of wonder. The aroma of coffee fills the air around you while the elk silently walks away to graze.

On the “Trail Ridge” of the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Getting There

Instead of flying in for this trip, we decided to road-trip. When I travel by vehicle, I like to stay a night at a different location and rest up before arriving to my destination. That way, I feel refreshed and ready to explore as soon as I get there. I recommend staying somewhere within three hours of arrival. For our visit to the RMNP, my wife and I chose a small cabin with thousands of acres of solitude in Stratton, CO before finalizing our drive. This cabin was an old-fashioned farm house, very cozy, and surprisingly budget-friendly. It’s really only for a two-person stay (because it’s small), but if you’re looking for some time away from the rat-race, or the busy city life, this is your place. If you’d like to know more about how you can book this cabin, let me know in the comments.

The perfect little farmhouse getaway.
Lightning danced in the clouds all night for us in Stratton! This looks photoshopped, it’s not!

You’re going to need reservations to enter the park. If you need help “Navigating the National Park’s Permits, Timed-Entry System, and Transportation”, click here!

In the morning, we completed the last 3 1/2 hours to Estes Park, CO (just outside of the national park). Mornings call for breakfast, so this is probably a good time to give you some insider tips on meal prep.

Meal-Prep of Champions

I don’t want to brag here, but I kind of have an amazing chef as my trail partner (my wife). She spent a lot of time planning an entire week of breakfast, lunch, dinner, after-hike snacks, and even electrolyte reserves. So, when it comes to fuel, I was never running on empty. The good news is that I get to share this meal prep plan with you, pro-hiker!

First, you’re going to need a cooler that seals well. We used an Igloo brand. So long as you’re replacing your ice each day, the cooler should keep these meals over the course of a week. Be sure to eat it in the order listed, though.

Overnight oats, yogurt, blueberries, and granola. Add peanut butter or almond butter to make it sweet!


Cooking by the campfire
The best order to eat your foods will be color-coded. This should ensure you make it through your trip without having foods spoil. 

Color for foods to eat first.

Color for foods to eat second.

Color for foods to eat third.

Breakfast Menu

1) Over night oats with yogurt, almond butter, blueberries and granola

2) Eggs, bacon, orange juice, toast and jelly (cooked on a Coleman propane burner stove)

3) Bagels w/ cream cheese

Lunch or Brunch Menu

1) Egg salad sandwiches w/ chips

2) Tuna sandwiches and chips

Snack Menu

1) Baby bell peppers with cream chz and everything bagel seasoning

2) Cherries

3) Bananas

4) Strawberries and chocolate

5) Graham crackers, marshmallows, hersheys

6) High Sugar Snacks (Luna, Cliff, Etc.)

Dinner Menu

1) Meatballs with rice

2) Broccoli sausage rice

3) Salmon w/ white rice and broccoli

4) Shepherds pie

5) Ramen & Neguri

6) Red beans and rice

Hydration and Electrolytes

1) Water

2) Gatorade powder

For this, we grabbed a five gallon water and put it in the car to keep filling our Osprey bladders with. Then, anytime we needed mixing water for the powder we had it available.

We used the Osprey bladders, they have a better mouthpiece in my personal opinion.

Utensils You’ll Need


• Large Frying pan

• Spatula

• Plastic and metal forks

• Spoons

• Knife

• Can opener

• Stove burner

• Small Propane x2

• Lighter

• Tongs

Cleaning Materials

• Wet ones

• Trash bags

• Laundry detergent

• Dish soap

For the Table

• Table cloth

• Folding chairs

• Folding table

• Paper plates

• Plates

• Paper Towels

For the Fire

• Fire starter sticks

• Lighter fluid

• Firewood

• Lighter

For Storage

• Ice chest

• Frozen water bottles

• Tupperware and foil pack meals and ingredients

Another option to cook with is the MSR burner.

Brunch, Anyone?

Though, our meal prep was amazing, there were a few places we wanted to try in Estes Park.
Seasoned Bistro in Estes Park for brunch.
Brunch Dessert!

The Places To Stay

We ended up booking three different sites during the week, which gave us the chance to experience different areas of the park.
Glacier Basin Campground
Glacier Basin

If you enter the park, setup your tent, and decide you’re ready for a hike right away (like I did), then you’ll want to check out the Glacier Basin campground first. This is what we did and Glacier Basin has access to the main drive. From the drive, you can get to the entryways to all of the campsites. Take the drive slowly, there’s tons of great scenery along the way.

Bierstadt Lake Hike Path
At Bierstadt Lake

From Glacier Basin, you can take the main corridor road down to the Glacier Basin Trailhead. It’s a nice trail, though heavily travelled. If you want to hike with less tourism vibe and more of the “get out there” feel, I recommend the trail pictures above instead. It’s the trailhead to Bierstadt Lake. It’s less travelled, gets you into that wilderness feel and if you go after 5pm on a weekday it’s unlikely you’ll run into more than two or three people. At the top, is one of the nicest mountain lakes in the park (in my opinion). It looks like a painting you’d want to hang on a wall. The clouds in the Rockies can really look airbrushed.

Aspenglen Campground
Aspenglen Campground
16 B-Loop Walk To

Aspenglen is such a great campground, but it’s even better if you get site 16 on B loop. 16B-loop is a “walk to” campsite. So, you park your car next to someone else’s car at 15B-loop, but then you walk a little into the brush to find your campsite (instead of it being near the road). This gave us a ton of privacy at our campsite, and the only thing to our north/west was the trees leading into the mountains. I highly recommend Aspenglen for a couple of reasons. The first being that the restroom is centrally located and not crowded. The next would be that everyone at this campsite has a little space in between their camp sites.

Timber Creek Campground
Elk are so peaceful! Those brown boxes are bear resistant food storage units.

Where Aspenglen had space for campsites, Timber Creek made up the difference by packing as many people as possible into a small section. Where Aspenglen had a centrally located restroom that wasn’t crowded, Timber Creek had quite a walk to the bathroom and it was crowded; bc sometimes a line. I was sure I wasn’t going to recommend this site to anyone, but then, I woke up the following morning with wildlife surrounding us. Elk everywhere! They were peacefully grazing through the campsites. I don’t know if this is the norm for Timber Creek, but if it is, then yes, I would recommend the site to camp at.

If you’d rather stay outside of the park, such as in cabins or hotels, Estes Park has some wonderful view cabins.
There are cabins lining the river that can be rented out in Estes Park. Kick back and relax on the back porch while watching the river roar by.

Hygiene Items To Bring

To each their own, but here are some suggested items to bring:

• 8 Towels & 2 small towels

• 2 Small towels

• Body Soap & Loofah

• Shampoo & Conditioner

• Facewash

• Flossers & Mouthwash

• Toothbrush & Toothpaste

• Biosilk

• Deodorant

• Makeup if you need it

• Chapstick

• Hair ties

• Hair brush

• Head band

• Ear plugs

• Shower caddies

• Period cup

• Visine

• Standing pee device

• Lotion

• Razer

• Tweezers

• Thread

Sunsets in the Rockies

Laundry & Showers

Village Laundry, Estes Park

There’s a place called Village Laundry in Estes Park that offers $7 showers as well. Estes Park is super close to the national park entrance so we drove to Village Laundry when we needed to freshen up and/or run a wash on some clothes. Also, if they ask whether you want to use some of their towels or use your own, there’s no up-charge for you using theirs. This means you can dry off after your shower and still keep your personal towels clean for later use.

More Delicious Food in Estes Park

Ed’s Cantina was a lot of, ‘Yum!’
Everything we tried here was so good! I doubt you can go wrong selecting from this menu.
From Ed’s Cantina
From Ed’s Cantina
Cinnamon’s Bakery, Estes Park

Fun City

Fun City slide. Warning, your wife may try to hold your arm while you both go down the slide at different speeds, be ready to be ejected.
So Fun!

Estes Park offers a lot of tourist attractions, but this is the main one we went to and it was really fun to go down the slide. Behind the slide you’ll find a mini golf course and inflatable bumper water boats. If you have kids, this is a good place to visit. If you’re adults and still like to act like kids, this is a good place to visit.

Clothing You’ll Want To Bring

The clothing can really make or break the trip.

• Shower shoes

• 8 Outfits

• Pajamas

• Hiking pants

• Warm clothes

• Dress

• Camp shoes

• Day shoes

• Socks

• Bras

• Underwear

• Swimwear

Comfort Items That Can Make Your Stay Even Better

Laughter provides the most comfort!

• Pillows

• Blankets

• Speakers

• Chargers for phones & watches

• 2 Solar lamps

• Welcome mat (to wipe shoes on)

• Tent mat

• Solar string lights

• Picnic screen popup

• Ultralight rainfly for hammock

• Ultralight blanket

• Hatchet

• Toolkit

• Tarp

Neat path on the way to connect to Dream Lake


Medical Kit Items

• Medical Kit, Ultralight

• Hydrocortisone Cream

• Snake Bite Kit

• Bear Spray

• Medicine

Twin Sisters Peak

To send off our third day in the mountain we decided to do a “full send”. We decided to climb the Twin Sisters Peak. The first “difficult” rated hike of The Rocky Mountain National Park for us. Talk about a journey. To start, the elevation gain is 13,300 ft., and the air gets thin enough to starve out the trees. The tree line stops and the final climb is all rocks until you reach the very top, where there is a small patch of meadow grass. We lie there for a bit while warming up to the sunlight, but it was short lived as the 4th, and final, thunderstorm brewed overhead. We knew that was our queue to start heading down the mountain and so, we did.

ENO jungle hammocks really make for a good rest on the way back down the Mountain.
Once you’re high enough up, it’s just rocks from there to summit.
Spectacular View.
We made it!


That wraps up my blog post about what it’s like to hike in The Rocky Mountain National Park and How To Plan The Trip. I look forward to posting more quality content for you, pro-hiker! Please, remember to follow the blog and like the post if you enjoyed the read.

Click here to return to the blog homepage.

Return Home

The Most Dangerous Trails to Hike – Mount Rainier Edition

Mt. Rainier

“If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?”

Khalil Gibran

What an awe-inspiring view while walking up to Mt. Rainier. Wildflowers, evergreens, and snow-capped summits create an oil-painting inspiration that truly leaves an impression of beauty, but don’t let any of that fool you, it’s a facade, this hike has a dark secret, and I’m here to let you in on it.

If you’re planning to summit Mt. Rainier, I sure hope you’ve done your homework. But if you haven’t and you just plan to cram-study before taking the trip, then let me fill you in on the details.

Mt. Rainier has claimed over 400 lives, making it Americas Deadliest Hike. 

While you start your climb, you’ll need to be watching for and prepared for extreme weather changes that happen very quickly. Hypothermia is one of the main killers in Mt. Rainier; though, other reports are due to broken bones (falling rocks, or the hiker falling) and burial by avalanche.

Being a high summit mountain, storms will spawn very quickly, and when they do, it’s best to find a safe space and wait it out, because these storms don’t bring your typical lightning tagalong… they bring bursts of lighting. Remember your lightning safety guidelines when the mountain is active!

An electrical storm over Mt. Rainier.

Have you ever been climbing a mountain and suddenly (hopefully) woke up on the ground? This might be you if you attempt Rainier. It’s known for falling rocks, and these rocks don’t fall softly. When they break loose they create a tumbling down the mountainside, bouncing back and forth off of rock-sides. So, even if you feel like you’re out of the way, it’s possible you’re not.

Okay. I got it. rocks may fall. Once it’s passed by, you’re safe, right?


Well, the thing is, there’s also an unpredictable volcano inside of Mt. Rainier. The greatest hazard the mountain has to offer is the lahars, which is also known as volcanic mudflow or debris flow. Areas inundated with mudflow are now densely populated and contain important infrastructure, including the highways. Lahars look and behave like flowing concrete, and they destroy or bury most manmade structures in their path. Lahars are spontaneous, so there’s no safe suggestion on when to go. Icebergs break apart and slide into the valley-base of the volcano, waiting to be released into a debris flow at another time.

The good news, Mt. Rainier hasn’t fully erupted since 1450CE

Not having erupted since 1450CE could deliver a false sense of hope. It’s actually not just Americas deadliest hike.

Due to its high probability of eruption in the near future, Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world!

It’s expected to erupt anytime now. It’s even on the “Decade Volcano” list, which is a list comprised of 16 volcanoes identified as being worthy of a particular study in light of their large, destructive eruptions and their close proximity to densely populated areas.

Mt. Rainier can put on some really amazing shows.

From Wiki: “On the DC route, from Paradise to Camp Muir, it takes about 5 hours at a leisurely pace. Then from Muir to the summit, using the Disappointment Cleaver (I mean, even the route names are gloomy!) route, the climb can take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, depending on weather and your level of fitness.”

All of these things taken into consideration, I think it’s safe to say that Mt. Rainier is not to be taken lightly. This was the first of a series of “Deadliest Hikes” by HykLyt, I hope you enjoyed the read, Pro-Hikers!

The only real question: “Who’s going with me?”

Click here to return to the blog portraits and read more of the HykLyt articles.

Return Home

Ultralight Backpacking, Saving Ounces & Increasing Costs

We’re out there trying to walk on the clouds like Takayuki.

“When there’s snow on the ground, I like to pretend I’m walking on clouds.”

Takayuki Ikkaku
Dream, Emerald, Nymph Lake, RMNP

Backpacking, in many ways, is the ultimate adventure. It exposes you to everything Mother Nature has to offer. The elements don’t take your comfort into consideration, and storms can brew seemingly out of nowhere. Harsh conditions require the right amount of preparation, and at times, a lighter footstep.

After your first few day-hikes or overnights, you may realize that all of that gear, neatly packed away into your pack of choice, gets heavy. When everything in your pack weighs 1lb or more, you quickly find yourself with a 26+lb setup.

Some hikers, especially thru-hikers, find that saving ounces enhances their experience on the trails. When your hike involves multiple overnights, and long distance traveling, it’s best to keep as much weight off of your feet as possible.

On any given day, a thru-hiker may complete 14 to 20 miles hiked!

For anyone interested in saving ounces, this post is for you. I will use base equipment (similar to many hikers’ starter gear), and compare its weight and cost to some of the top-of-the-line equipment that’s available. It’ll read a bit more like an analysis than my other articles, but I feel it will truly benefit new hikers who are interested in learning about how to upgrade their gear, while downgrading the weight they have to carry.

Cutting Your Ounces & Cost Comparison

Looking through your kit, how much of your gear can you leave behind?

It’s a loaded question, really. How much of your gear can you leave behind? Let’s be honest, we don’t want to leave any of our gear behind. Our gear keeps us safe, warm, and dry.

So why would you not take all of it?

Well, you can, in a lighter capacity. This is one of my favorite subjects when it comes to gearing. Upgrading!

I’ll break down the gear into a list format and then find ultralight-weight solutions to each piece individually:

At just 1lb 15.7oz, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest is optimal for ultralight backpacking.

One of the best ways to reduce weight from your pack is by reducing the pack weight itself. The bag I use on regular hikes is the Osprey Atmos AG 50, which weighs in at 4.5lbs.

4.5 pounds is not considered lightweight, but I love the bag and how well thought out it is for multi-day trips. The hyperlite bag pictured above would be my pick for serious elevation.

Backpack frames are one of the majority’s of your weight with new setups. Exchanging the Osprey Atmos 50 ($300.00) with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest ($355.00) would cost $55.00 extra and reduce weight by 2.5lbs.

Difference estimate = $55.00, saves 2.5lbs

Sleeping Bag
Sea to Summit’s Ultralight Spark Sleeping Bag is my favorite bag by Sea to Summit.

I use a Hyke & Byke branded sleeping bag for usual outings. The brand makes a good quality bag, that’s durable, and very budget friendly. A Hyke & Byke “Quandary Down Sleeping Bag” weighs 2.24lbs whereas the Sea to Summit “Spark” weighs just 13.6 ounces. As for the pricing difference, the Hyke & Byke costs $155.00, whereas the Sea to Summit costs $359.00.

The cost starts adding up when seeking a fully ultralight setup, but if you do it, you’ll most likely never want to go back.

Difference estimate = $204.00, saves 0.5lbs

Patagonia Houdini

Rain jackets add close to a pound to your kit. The Patagonia “Torrentshell 3L”, for example, weighs in at 13.9 ounces; however, the Patagonia “Houdini” full-zip rain jacket sits at 3.7 ounces. This saves you about 3/4 a pound.

The great thing about ultralight rain jackets is in this department you can actually save money to go with ultralight options. That’s because many rain jackets are made with heavier materials and therefore require more output cost to create. The “Torrentshell 3L” costs $149.00 whilst the “Houdini” only runs $99.00. Remember though, with ultralight jackets there are more chances for it not to hold up in a heavy storm.

I suggest carrying both types of jackets. Though, that adds a pound. 

Difference estimate = -$50.00, saves 0.75lb

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2

Tents are usually your heaviest piece of equipment in your kit. In this example I’ll use a popular REI tent, the REI “Passage 2”. The weight for it is 5lb 10oz. This is a great tent if you don’t want to fork over the additional cost for an ultralight, but compared to the “Ultamid 2” (pictured above), it is quite heavy.

The cost difference is much higher in tent selections; with the REI “Passage 2” costing $169.00 compared to the HMG “Ultamid 2” costing $825.00.

This is a deal breaking budget for many, and if that’s the case, I say pick an in between.

The NEMO Aurora 3P is the best tent I’ve every had and the price is in between the other two tents I’ve discussed, coming in at $349.00.

Tents have a lot of different options. What materials were used? How many people does it sleep? Are they designed simply for survival or for comfort? All of these questions play into the weight of the tent. So be mindful when selecting.

For me, “the lighter the better”, but also that means a minimalistic campsite.

Difference estimate = $656.00, saves 4lbs

“MallowMe” Camp Set

Odolands cookware set runs just $34.99 but weighs 1lb. This is actually lighter weight compared to other ultralight sets.

The MSR lightweight cook-set weighs 1lb 12oz. Also the MSR costs $85.00. So, I’ll just estimate on this one because there are plenty of cooking sets to choose from on the market. Let’s just go with a $0.00 change and reduces weight by 0.5lb.

Difference estimate = $0.00, saves 0.5lbs

Medical Equipment
I’ve had to break into this kit before, it has plenty of emergency items stored inside.

Medical equipment is another piece of equipment that will vary. With a lot of different ones being lightweight and around the same pricing, you can’t really go wrong here. I prefer the one pictured above because it comes in a water-tight bag, keeping your emergency equipment dry.

For this, let’s zero out the difference altogether and come to a final tally for all gear changes.

Difference estimate = $0.00, 0.0lb

Sometimes, the best views are while you’re still climbing .

The final count for change of cost is $865.00 and it reduces your backpacking weight by 7.8lbs! Of course, these numbers vary greatly based on what gear you actually have; but, my hope is that this article provides a little insight into how to get your pack under 16lbs when fully packed out.

Ultralight = Ultra-minimalist.

If you’re like me and you want to reduce your weight even further, you can start browsing ultralight versions of all of your gear, including utensils, rainflys, hammocks, and more. Every little bit counts when you’re thru-hiking and have 1600 miles to complete (or more). Some, would rather save the money and learn to live with the extra weight in their bag, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Thanks for reading, pro-hikers.

Click here to return to the list of blogs.

Return Home

Navigating The National Park’s Permits, Timed-Entry Restrictions, and Transportation

Photo credit: National Geographic

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.”

Mary Davis

Taking The Right Steps

Does the park you’re planning to visit require a timed-entry reservation? If so, you’ll want to book it in advance.
Will you be camping? If so, reserve a campsite as well. Wilderness camping requires a backcountry permit in most parks. 
What means of transportation do you plan to use when you’re there? Look into the public transportation options your park offers.
Dispersed camping is an option but typically requires an additional permit. Check your national park requirement if you are planning an overnight in the wilderness (outside of the main campsites).

National Park Timed-Entry

If you’re planning on visiting a national park anytime soon, you’re going to want to look up the entry-limitations to the park. There was a time when all you had to do to enter a national park was drive up, pay the entrance fee, and enjoy the scenery. Many are still like that now, such as San Juan National Forest (September 2022), but some, like The Arches or The Rockies, require the new system of reservations.

So, how do the timed-entry reservations work?
As an example, here’s The Rocky Mountain National Park Flyer for timed entry.

As the flyer above states, you’ll need to arrive to the park within your reservation window. Upon ID verification, and reservation confirmation, the park ranger at the entrance booth will give you a paper tag. This tag allows entry and re-entry into the park. It doesn’t matter what time you leave as long as it’s by park closing, unless, of course, you’ve booked a night or more of camping. If camping, you’ll be able to enter, exit, and re-enter as you please, so long as you have the paper tag viewable on the drivers side dash or windshield of your vehicle.

Pro: This limits the amount of people within the park at any given time, which enhances the outdoors experience many are looking for. This reduces the possibility of long lines to wait in during the “busy season”. 
Parks that don’t have timed-entry, such as Zion (pictured above), can become overcrowded.
Con: You have to book your time at the park in advance. Because spots book quickly, you’ll need to keep an eye on the available entry times and/or campsites on the specific parks website. 
Parks with reservation requirements, like Arches, allow much more space to individuals to explore. Photo Credit: Discover Moab

Where To Book Your Timed-Entry

Click here to visit the National Park Service website. In the drop down menu to the top-right, you can click in the “plan your trip” section, and select your park. Search booking availability on the parks calendars. Remember, there are multiple camp grounds at each park if you’re camping so if one is booked already you may have some luck at a different campground across the park. Be sure to read any disclosures on the booking availability to know which areas of the park the booking allows access to.

Annual Passes

There is an annual pass you can buy to assist in entry. These come with a few nuances of their own, which I’ll explain in greater detail below.

Annual passes are available online at NPS or at most outdoor retailers.

Although the passes allow you to enter the parks, they don’t replace the need for the reservation. Reservations are free (with a $2.00 service charge) though, so I recommend having the pass, and also making the reservation.

The pass does not allow you to utilize a campsite just because you’re a pass-holder. You’ll still need to book your campsite based on availability on the park’s website. Campsites on the NPS site currently (September 2022) cost $30.00 per night stayed (plus a $2.00 service fee).

Are There Campsites Available Without Advance Reservations?

Some parks have “first come, first serve” campsites. This is when the annual passes really come in handy. With this option, you can show up to the park early, use your annual pass, pay the vehicle fee (usually $6.00) and if a campsite is available, you’ll be able to claim it for the evening. You can keep doing this each morning. Often, the limit to stay within a single campsite is six days in a row.

Park Transportation

Always give wildlife the right of way. Remember, you’re a visitor in their home.

Most of the parks have shuttle transportation. So if you are planning to fly into the state and catch an Uber or Lyft to the park entrance, it won’t be a problem. The shuttle bus stops may be a bit spread out. So, if you plan to visit the parks this way, pack what you can manage carrying. Many of the busses will have an overhead to store your bag while riding.

Taken directly from the National Park Services website:

As visits to national parks continue to increase, some parks suffer from the increased use of private autiomobiles: traffic congestion, parking problems, exhaust and noise pollution. The resource suffers, and the visitor experience is diminished.

Several units of the National Park Service have implemented bus and shuttle systems to alleviate the impacts of private automobiles.
Park Rangers are available to call if you find yourself in serious trouble or lost.

Thankfully, we have a National Park Service that aims to create a high-quality experience for everyone. This includes, but is not limited to: recycling requirements, food storage bins, quiet times, and sanitary conditions.

Enjoy Your Space

Enjoying the peacefulness that timed-entry parks can offer.

Now that you know all of the steps required to reserve your time at the National Parks, it’s time for you to go enjoy everything the parks have to offer! For clarity sake, here’s a short pricing recap for you:

Reservation: $2.00
Campsite: $30.00 a night
Uber or Lyft to park: $30.00
Park Shuttle Busses: FREE!

Click here to return to other blog articles by HykLyt!

Return Home

Ultralight Gear List for Hiking

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”


If you’ve read the post about how you should prepare for your backpacking trip by selecting the right boots, bag, and training for the adventure, then you’re ready to start learning about the essentials to gearing. Gear comes in all shapes, forms, and sizes and it can get a little overwhelming when you’re trying to sort out what you need and what you could live without. This list will introduce you to the gear that I find absolutely necessary for successful backpacking, especially if the trip is planned to be a multi-day.


Photo credit: Magnetic Mag
I’m going to list a little bit of information about ultralight tents, as they have become my favorite gear piece and irreplaceable in my opinion, but feel free to select the type of tent you prefer, or one that works well with your budget. For some people the tent, is “just” a tent, but for me, it’s what makes my trip great vs. a little less great. 

Choosing your tent (if you’re planning overnights) is going to be crucial to how you can pack the rest of your kit. Many tents take up a lot of space in certain bags so in this case, the smaller and lighter it stows away, the better!

I suggest spending a little extra to get an ultralight tent. These tents can be purchased from single person to four person in most cases and stow away around just 4lbs! The greatest thing I’ve found about ultralight tents is how quick they are to setup and stow away.

Many will have hooks on the outside of the tent that you can attach to the tent structure itself. See the image below. These make it very easy to setup camp. You simply lie your tent on the ground. Set the poles up over it, then clip the clips to the tent poles and cinch down the corners.

NEMO Aurora 3P is a great example of how these ultralight tents are so simple to setup.

Most of the ultralight tents will come with their own rain fly to attach over the tent when necessary.

Do you think ultralight means less durable? Think again! Many of the ultralight lines are actually built with a higher quality component such as Silnylon (nylon impregnated with silicone to create waterproofing). These lighter weight, high quality materials used in ultralight gear design have “ripstop” stitching and endure the elements of all 4 seasons. Some may only be made for 3 seasons; so double check the listing when purchasing. For tents that aren’t 4 season, they’re intended for this, and usually have a lot of venting for summer-time or very little venting for harsh winter storms. It’s important to know which seasons your tent is made for. The last thing you want is to wake up in a puddle because the tent you purchased didn’t have the proper breathability.

Fun fact: Did you know that are mm measurements in the stitching of tents? This isn’t millimeters, it’s micrometers. That’s right! There’s a micro-science to how the stitch patterns are sewn. “Ripstop” stitching is more than just “tough material”. 

Sleep Gear

Important to note that when you are buying a sleeping bag, make sure to check it’s degree rating. You will want a sleeping bag with a rating lower than the lowest temperature you plan to be sleeping in. 
Photo credit: Switchback Travel

Sleeping bags are an essential item. Do not skip it, even if the weather is supposed to be hammock-able (amicable?) (I crack myself up!). As noted above the degree rating could literally save your life!

Something else to think about when choosing your sleeping bag is the material used for insulation. You have plenty of options here: flannels, down, down-alternative, cotton, and many more. I like to use down-alternative sleepwear. It’s soft, lightweight and packs down small to leave as much space as possible in my pack.

If possible, stow your sleeping bag in a keep-dry stuff-sack. It’ll make for a very unfortunate evening if your sleep gear is soaked because you dropped your bag in a river! I get it, things happen… that’s why we prepare! 
My wife and I love our ENO jungle hammocks. I’ve spent the night in mine on multiple occasions when the weather was nice and the sky was clear. There are rain fly separates purchasable for these as well if you just want a hammock setup more than a tent setup. I live with the extra weight and bring both.
Because sleep mats/pads aren’t really an essential, I’m going to leave them out of this post. Just know that those are an option as well. Life-hack: get an ENO hammock with bug net, a rain fly, light sleep bag and a lightweight mat, and you’ve got yourself a wilderness castle that folds down to the size of your tent pocket in the 50L bags, which leaves a ton of room (and carry weight) for other items. This life hack is not storm or snow friendly.

Click here for more info on jungle-hammock camping setups.


Such great heights.

You’re going to want to have a change of clothes to stay dry and clean. Probably more than one, honestly. Especially if you find yourself in the mountains, where weather conditions change rapidly.

I’ve been on the mountainside and caught in three different storms within a four hour window before. Being properly outfitted made the journey so much better, and; while my wife and I were pressing forward, we watched as the less-prepared turned back to escape the harsh mountaintop elements.

We learned something that day. We learned that some rain jackets get way too hot for intermittent rainstorms in a temperate climate. We ended up finding lighter weight “The North Face” jackets that retained a lot less heat for this type of weather. I’d say Gore-Tex material is not really needed unless it’s going to be colder out, or you’re planning to endure heavy rainfall.
Dress appropriately and be prepared for the weather to shift.
Again, I’ll list something that’s very useful but not considered an essential: water-hikers!

With attire there are a few things you’ll want to keep on the list: a non cotton-top (such as a polyester, for easy and quick drying capability), if your trip involves any cold conditions then pack insulating gear such as thermals and down-alternative jackets. Things like beanies, gloves, buff, face mask, etc. are dependent on where your trail leads.

Smart-wool socks will keep your feet dry by wicking moisture away from your feet. 


Ask yourself: Are you staying long enough to need to cook? The cookware is awesome stuff, but remember, it adds weight to your pack, even if minimal.
Amazing campfire meals by Cass! For our campsites that we had booked in the Rockies, we used a Coleman propane double-burner and it perfectly suited our needs. For backpacking, an ultralight MSR burner would do the trick.

If you plan to cook, don’t forget the fire starter or the fuel! Without one or the other, the rainy days can really ruin your trek, especially when you’re out in the middle of “nowhere” (lucky!). There are people who put a lot of trust into starting friction fires, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it when push comes to shove. I highly recommend that no matter how good you are at starting a natural fire, you pack accordingly.

Many outdoors stores sell food provisions that come in full meal kits. You can have a salmon dinner with broccoli and rice tucked into your side pocket these days! Check out some of the local favorites as well. There are a lot of tasty options at places like Cabelas or REI (or any of your area’s large outdoor retailers).

Keep snacks like trail mix, protein  bars, or dried fruits stored safely. In a bear canister would be best. Yes, they take up space in your kit. Yes, they’re worth it. Check and know your local guidelines for wildlife safety precautions. 


Lighting is hard to come by when the clouds are out to play and there’s no city lights bouncing reflection back to you. Things like string lights and lanterns are good to have, but add weight. There’s really one solution I’ve found for this: my wife and I used many different lights but both of us agree that these were the most useful, packed small & light, and gave off plenty of light.

Goal Zero Collapsible Lanterns. Fun fact: they make string lights too!

Emergency Equipment

Water filtration devices keep you from having to carry excess bladder space, which would add a lot of weight to your bag.

Pack your emergency equipment.

Short note: first aid kit, snake bite kit, emergency blanket, bear spray, pouch of medicines, life straw, iodine tablets, epi-pen if you require one.

Long note: I’m posting another article just about emergency equipment.

Click here to learn more about emergency equipment.


To each their own on this. Just remember to pack your toiletries! For safety reasons, use unscented wipes that are also biodegradable. You’ll want unscented-everything. Scents attract bears! If you’re in bear county, have your toiletries stored safely in a proper bear canister.

What’s left?

Honestly, the rest is simply for comforts. If you have these things covered, then you’re packed! Next step? Step! 

The only thing left to worry about your pack out now, is getting it lighter!

Click here to learn how to navigate the National Parks timed-entry.

Return Home

Planning Your First Overnight Backpacking Trip

Finding Your Perfect Boot & Secondary Shoe

The North Face Vectiv Exploris Mid boots are comfortable to hike in, however, they have a very narrow toe. Keep in mind that feet swell during long hikes! Although they look very stylish, they did not work for me on the trail. I ended up with a pair of Merrill Moabs.

Whatever you do, don’t do what I did and select your first pair of boots because they “fit perfectly” in the store. It’s an easy mistake to make as a rookie, but trust me when I say you’re going to want boots that feel a little bit wide around the toe area, and not too snug anywhere else.

This is because after multiple miles hiked your feet will swell and, when they do, you’re going to be happy you have a little extra room to avoid friction burns and blisters.

There are plenty of boot options to go with. From ultralight-weight ones that don’t offer much toe protection, to ones that have reinforced siding to decrease the chances of a foot injury while you’re out on the trails, to water hikers. If you can swing it, I’d get at least two of the three listed. In my personal pack I carry my Teva (sandal style) water hikers so I don’t need to worry about soaking my daily hike boots when it comes time to cross a river or creek. When you’re just starting out, I recommend starting with a versatile boot. Find a pair that fits well, offers stability for your ankles, and has a little extra protection with mesh-venting the sides.

Teva’s feel great while walking and even better when dipping your feet in a fresh stream! These water-hikers are perfect for times when you don’t want to risk getting your primary boots soaked, but need to cross a waterway.

It’s important to keep in mind the traction of the soles as well. If you’re planning to hike off of the beaten path or do any wilderness thru-hiking, you’re going to be traversing a lot of different types of terrain. A good amount of “grip” on the earth will keep your ankles from rolling easily, and avoiding injuries on the trail is typically my biggest concern. I’ve acquired a weaker ankle from a previous injury so mid-level support is important to me. You’ll want to find your weak spots as a backpacker and then seek out the gear that supports you the best. There will never come a time that one particular brand always outweighs another, but, I do prefer quality, so I highly suggest a good brand when selecting your boots. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with soles trying to tear away, or holes in the scuff areas.

Finding Your Perfect Pack

While I was at Nymph Lake and Emerald Lake in the Rocky Mountains, The Osprey Atmos/Aura AG 50s are great packs that really came in handy for my wife and I. They have a rain cover already built into the bottom compartment of the pack which made it much easier to protect our gear. Thunderstorms brew quickly in the mountains so anything that offers a faster gear swap out is a big deal!

Now that you’ve found the right boots, you’ll want to spend time fitting your pack.

To properly select the pack I recommend remembering to take these few things into consideration:

How much water will the bladder section hold?
Personally, I prefer the Osprey mouthpiece for my kits.

As you already know, water is extremely important when the body is expending energy, and hiking works a lot of different muscle groups, which can quickly lead to dehydration if not properly prepared for. It is estimated that for every 2 hours of hiking a person will need to drink 1.5 liters of water, even more so in higher heat temperatures. I carry a 3L bladder in my pack and I’ve made it 7.5 hours up mountainous terrain while rationing that 3.5L. However, keep in mind there are additional sources of water when you’re out on the trails so that you don’t have to ration like I do. You can bring emergency equipment such as a life straw or water treatment tablets. These will allow you to drink from natural sources of water without carrying additional weight like you would with a secondary hydration pack or hip bag. Make sure when you’re shopping for your water bladder that it will fit in the bladder section of your bag without a problem. Most hydration bladders fit the majority of bag spaces, so you shouldn’t run into too many problems when purchasing this essential gear accessory.

How much storage capacity is required for the time I spend backpacking? 
I prefer a 50L bag when taking multi-day trips, but for a single day/6 mile or less hike, I use a Cotopaxi 24L Luzon.

The carrying capacity of your pack can come in many different shapes and sizes but here is a short breakdown to help you plan.

0-10 liters – A few carry items, snacks, emergency kit.

Osprey Small Day Cinch

10-20 liters – Great for a quick and light hike.

Osprey Daylite

20-30 liters – For full day hikes, this would be a proper size. It allows you to carry light rain gear, snacks, a decent-sized bladder, water hikers and an extra set of warm/cold weather gear dependent on your destination.

Cotopaxi 24 Luzon

30-50 liters or more – These are best for overnight and multi-day trips. The extra space does add weight to your pack, but it allows you to pack all of the gear you’ll need to embrace the elements. Don’t forget to throw in a bear canister if you’re trekking bear country.

Gregory 50
How do I size my pack?
Technology Side-note: Osprey have started using their new anti-gravity technology and it really has been a game changer in load bearing.

Contrary to popular belief, packs aren’t just measured by your height. This means taller people don’t have to have a taller pack, and it also means shorter people don’t need a smaller pack. To properly measure your pack you will need a measuring tape and measure form the C7 (cervical section, where the bone sticks out from the back of your neck) to the iliac crest (top of your hips). Most packs are adjustable to a certain extent when it comes to length, but width around hips is usually within a few inches for snug-fitting. Be sure to try your pack on for comfort before taking it out on a trip. Many retailers will not replace used gear unless it’s a warrantied manufacturing defect.

Example measurements, but make sure you try your bag on when it arrives or while you’re in the store. Sizing varies individually.

Train, Before You Go

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the adventure part of backpacking and forget to do the training first. Just know that some trails are marked intermediate and difficult for good reason. Most hikers plan for 5-6 miles a day when starting out, but some experienced thru-hiker may go 16 miles a day or even more!

Intermediate and difficult rated trails are usually rated by technicality of terrain, the strenuous level, and dividing the vertical distance by the horizontal distance.

Sometimes you just need a breather in a meadow.

But, what does all of that really mean? It means if you’re not careful you can find yourself in a very bad situation very fast. Mother Nature has a strange sense of humor sometimes and many times it’s at the hikers expense. But if you properly train before taking on these endeavors, you’ll find a great sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed the trail.

I recommend starting at a local trail, and tracking your time, distance and usage of water during the hike. AllTrails Pro is an app that will track your route, even if you take a detour from a main trail. Trust me, it’s saved me before in a situation where I found myself lost in the wilderness. Check out the blog post for mapping your trail if you’d like to know more.

Fun fact: When my best friend (my wife) and I completed the first difficult-rated trail system it felt like we’d hit a huge milestone. It was life-changing and brewed up the idea of an innovation and technical gearing company, now known as HykLyt. Thanks to this milestone in our journey, we get to help others live theirs!

Pick Your Trail, Gear Out Essentials, And Go!

Now you have your boots, your pack, and you’ve trained. To really get out there, the only thing left is listing your essential gear, and then making sure you have any permits (wilderness/backcountry permits) required to enter the areas you plan to hike. There’s a bit of information to list out for both of those subjects so I’m going to break those down into separate articles for those who are interested. You can find the links at the bottom of this page.

Click here to see list of essential gear.

Click here to learn how to navigate national park permits, timed-entry to wilderness areas, and gain travel tips when visiting parks systems.

Return Home