If you or a friend has ever wanted to go on a long backpacking trip, but weren’t sure where to start, Thru-Hiking 101 with Backpacker Magazine is easily accessible, approachable, and unintimidating the holiday present you need to set yourself up for success.


This Fall, I was approached by Backpacker Magazine to develop their first ever online course, a 6-week course called Thru-Hiking 101 starting January 12th. I’ve been teaching one-on-one and small group clinics on long distance backpacking for years, but have always felt like unless a prospective hiker can make it out to an in-person session, that the resources to get started have been limited, inaccessible, not approachable, or boring. While the best way to learn thru-hiking is just to get out and hike, many people (myself included) learn best from a class—especially if there is an instructor who can help answer my questions along the way.

So why should you take this course or recommend it to a friend?

Everything You’d Find in An In-Person Session, Except Online: The Rucks (Beginner Thru-Hiker Courses) that I put on with the American Long Distance Hiking Association-West have been a great intro course for beginner backpackers—but if you live thousands of miles away from Portland, OR, Coeur d’Alene, ID or Golden, CO, your best resource is the Internet. With this Thru-Hiking 101 Online class, you can get in-person attention (in fact, it goes into more detail than the Rucks), from the comforts of your home. Much cheaper than a plane ticket across the country.

Well Portioned Classes: I’m exhausted after teaching a one-day beginner backpacking course, and I know that for beginner backpackers, learning everything you need to know about a thru-hike in 8 hours is like drinking from a fire hose. Thru-hiking 101 is a 6 week course with activities, webinars, and question sessions built into it, so that you have enough time to process the material.

Perfect Timing for Training and Prep: The class launches January 12th, which means even if you are leaving to start the Appalachian Trail on March 1st, (assuming you follow our timeline) you’ll be able to put together an itinerary, resupply plan, fitness training, gear plan, etc. all before you leave for your trip. It’s designed as a crash course for those leaving for their trip soon, or for long term planning for those with several years before their hike.

Wealth of Experience and Perspectives: The course is designed around what I’ve learned from 16 thru-hikes, and also includes the voices and perspectives of about a dozen other accomplished thru-hikers from different backgrounds, ages, and fitness levels.

I have total control over the content: within the hiking community, there has been a full range of passionate emotions about BP. One condition I had for putting together this course is veto power on everything.

Well Designed and Presented: The process of putting together the class has been me spitting out info and editors at Backpacker making it sound prettier, snappier, and hipper and adding photos that weren’t taken with my phone.

No gear ads/weird product placement: All the products in the video are things I actually use. The business model is 100% tuition based—so you’re not going to see an oddly out of place 7 pound pack and 10 pound tent anywhere in this class.

Approachable: Let’s just say they chose the promo photo of me with a double chin for a reason 😉 There are a lot of accomplished people in the hiking world, but I’d like to believe that there is a reason why they chose me. I didn’t start doing outdoorsy stuff until I was an adult, so I can articulate the process of starting from scratch well because it wasn’t that long ago that I started from zero. The class also includes the perspectives of hikers of all ages, backgrounds, speeds, goals, and physical abilities. So even if I seem intimidating (which is hard for me to imagine ;)), the course includes the entire spectrum of thru-hikers, from people who have done one short thru-hike to Triple Crowners.

Personal Attention: Over the 6 weeks of the course, you’ll be able to ask me questions on the material, as well as get personal fitness attention from our personal trainer, and get live-time questions answered in Webinars. Essentially, you’re going to get a personal coach for 6 weeks to guide you through, step-by-step, the process of planning and prepping for a hike.


Check out the Course Syllabus to see the topics we cover including How to Find the Time and Money, How to Resupply, What Gear Should I Use? and Overcoming Common Thru-Hiker Pitfalls. I hope that you and your friends will be able to join me and others in the hiking community as we present what we’ve learned about thru-hiking!