Category Archives: Trip Planning

Winter Backpacking Sleep System

Today I’ll review my winter backpacking sleep system. Your daytime shelter system consists of your clothes. Your nighttime system is a bit more complicated. It is important to think of both as “shelter systems.” A system isn’t just one thing, it is several components working together. A winter backpacking sleep system is a layered set of defenses designed to protect you from the environment.

winter backpacking sleep system
Black Diamond Firstlight Tent
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Stealth Camping in the Catskills

Stealth Camping in the Catskills is a nice solution for camping further from roads and other people than designated sites allow. Designated sites in the Catskills tend to be near roads or trailheads and fill up early in the day. You’re allowed to camp outside of designated sites if you follow a few rules. Keep reading to learn more about stealth camping in the Catskills.

stealth camping in the catskills
An Ideal Stealth Site in the Catskills: off the plants and well away from the trail.
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Planning Backpacking Trips

Planning Backpacking Trips is both an art and a science, but I know more about the science. When I plan a backpacking trip, I always start out by making a chart. I include as many campsites, road crossings, and other useful way-points as possible. I then list the cumulative mileage and elevation gain from the beginning to each way-point. Then I calculate cumulative hiking hours to each of these way-points. I use this chart to decide the ideal starting and ending point for each day of the trip.

planning backpacking trips
Trip Details with Peaks and Campsites
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Maine Appalachian Trail: Flagstaff Lake to Monson

In July of 2019, I took a small group of Argonauts from Hudson Valley Hikers up to Maine for a week. This was a real multi-adventure. We spent the first few days in Baxter State Park hiking the Appalachian Trail and climbing Katahdin. Then we took a day off hiking to raft down the Penobscot River. This post discusses the last leg of our trip: a 4 day backpack from Flagstaff Lake to Monson.

St Greg, Publius, and Ravioli at Pleasant Pond Mountain.
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Maine Appalachian Trail: Rangeley to Grafton Notch – ABORTED!

In May of 2019, I lead a group of backpackers from Hudson Valley Hikers on a trip in Southern Maine. Our plan was to hike from Rangeley to Grafton Notch, some 34 miles over rough mountains. Southern Maine has a reputation for being one of the most rugged sections of the Appalachian Trail. My biggest concern in the weeks leading up to this trip were late season snow conditions. The northeast had seen an unusual amount of snowfall in April and May. Many locals I spoke with warned me that snow in their yards had just recently melted. No one had any information on the trail at high elevations. There are no 4000 footers in this section, so no one had made any trip reports. We were going in blind.

Height of Land
Height of Land on Maine 17 near Rangeley (Photo Credit: Paul Ferlazzo)
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Maine Appalachian Trail: Rangeley to Flagstaff Lake

In September of 2019, I went on a solo hike of the Appalachian Trail from Rangely Flagstaff Lake. You can read about my the trip in detail in my multi-part trip report. This post serves as a summary for those who may want to hike this section themselves.

Saddleback Horn
Descending from Saddleback to The Horn.
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Three Season Backpacking Gear List 2018

2017 Gossamer Gear Gorilla
2017 Gossamer Gear Gorilla

When I was learning to backpack, I found it helpful when others posted their gear lists.  It gave me a reference point for the kinds of things I needed, what I was doing right, and what I could be doing better.  That said, there is no “one size fits all” gear list.  There are a number of personal factors that go into making a gear list, such as size, weight, fitness level, and need for comfort.  It also matters where and when you plan to go backpacking.  One must factor in temperature, precipitation, terrain, water availability and natural shelter, among other things.

Updated for 2018!

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Planning Group Backpacking Trips

An HVH Backpacking Group ready to Go!

Ahead of my upcoming “Intro to Backpacking” event, Katherine asks about planning group backpacking trips:

I have gone on several week-long backpacking trips before, but have not been the one to organize them; what does planning a 3-4 day backpacking trip involve?  I don’t want to be responsible for … weighing people down…  How do you distribute gear that everyone will be using?

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Using Historic Weather Data to Select a Quilt or Sleeping Bag

Advanced Trip Planning: Camping in extreme cold conditions
CampingJay camping at -25F

A few months ago, I started planning a series of backpacking trips to take place in New Hampshire’s White Mountains this coming summer. Because I was planning the trips so far in advance, weather forecasts were not yet available.  I wanted to give my participants a good idea of what weather we might expect so that they could buy the proper equipment, particularly quilts or sleeping bags.  To do this, I looked historical records to produce my own long-term weather forecasts for advanced trip planning. Continue reading Using Historic Weather Data to Select a Quilt or Sleeping Bag

Sample Backpacking Meal Plan

sample backpacking meal plan: Data enjoys some tuna on tortillas with olive oil.
Data enjoys some tuna on tortillas with olive oil.

This post discusses a sample backpacking meal plan.  The fourth priority on our Rules of Three list is food. While you can survive for about three weeks without eating, you won’t be able to travel very far. In order to keep up a strong traveling pace, a backpacker must consume anywhere from three to five thousand calories per day. Calories are energy and energy is what keeps you moving. Continue reading Sample Backpacking Meal Plan