I didn’t come to backpacking by myself, I was first introduced to the concept by my incredibly outdoors-centric boyfriend, Aaron. I was an avid day hiker, rock climber, and ice climber so I already had a healthy appetite for the outdoors. Therefore getting into backpacking was a natural next step.
Due to Aaron’s outdoor experience, I was able to come into backpack light years ahead of most beginners. Aaron had already backpacked the whole Colorado Trail solo and done multiple other short backpacks in the Grand Canyon and around Colorado.
When I started to backpack, I was educated about three different type of backpackers.
- Traditional: This is what most backpackers are, they have standard gear and usually a base pack weight* over 20 pounds.
- Lightweight: This is a subset of traditional backpackers that have learned that the weight of your pack and gear makes a HUGE difference and they usually have more specialized gear and have a base pack weight of 10-20 pounds.
- Ultra-Lightweight: This is a group of highly weight conscience backpackers and they have very specialized gear and their base pack weight is 10 pounds or less.
I started as a lightweight backpacker thanks in large to Aaron’s knowledge and experience as a traditional backpacker. My very first backpack was to Blue Lakes in Colorado close to Ridgeway in the San Juan Mountains. This was a great first backpack since the hike to the lower of the lake was only 3.1 miles and the trail gained 2424 feet of elevation.
The challenges of the hike were starting elevation and just general lack of experience. My base pack weight was 17.19 pounds and with food and water for 2 days I was at 23 pounds. It was a nice introduction to the sport. I was 28 years old and hooked on caring my house on my back.
Since this initial trip in 2009, I have also completed many trails.
Arizona Trail, (800 miles)
John Muir Trail (240 miles)
The Wonderland Trail (93 miles) in Washington.
I have done so many shorter 3 to 5 day trips I have lost count. I have explored the depths of the Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park, the Colorado Rockies and the San Juan mountains.
On my journey’s, I have come to the one main fact backpacking is ALL ABOUT THE WEIGHT and EVERY ounce counts! I am now embarking on an even more interesting aspect of my backpacking journey; my new goal is to transition from a lightweight backpack to an ultra-lightweight backpacker and I hope writing about it will inspire others to do the same.
*base pack weight – is all the gear in your backpack minus consumables (food and water)