**This is a work in progress!**
There are a LOT of resources out there for backpackers. So many that it can be entirely overwhelming. I’ve done a ton of research and have come up with a list of resources I personally love and use, or have used, often.
Mile, Mile and a Half – Simply the BEST! When I was contemplating my very first backpacking trip (attempting the entire John Muir Trail!), this movie helped me realize it was more than possible. No offense to the documentarians, but the fact that they were all around my age (read: middle aged), had no real prior experience AND were not always in great shape was incredibly inspirational to me. I’ve watched this movie more than ten times, for sure. It was a big part of my research for my JMT trip (what are they wearing, what tents do they carry, where are the getting blisters?). It’s also just a damn good documentary. A must-see.
Massdrop – Looking for sweet deals on all kinds of gear, gadgets and gizmos? This might be my favorite place. Massdrop essentially approaches a vendor and says, “Hey, if we can get X-number of people to agree to buy your product all at once at a super discounted price, will you do it?” When you join a “drop”, you HOPE enough other people will join to get that super duper deal. If not enough people join, the deal goes away and you are charged nothing (that never happens). But once enough people do join, you get charged and the product ships. The downside is this process isn’t fast. If you need something for a trip next week, this won’t work for you. But with a little planning, it’s the bomb!
OutDoorGearLab – My favorite website for researching gear, especially for beginners. For example, you can search for “best backpack for women” or “best men’s hiking boots” and they will show you all their top choices with extremely detailed reviews and comparisons. They do rigorous testing on everything they review and aren’t paid by the vendors to do so. It’s where I started for every product I’ve ever bought. That said, always keep in mind these things are personal! Just because they loved it does not mean it will necessarily be the right product for you. But it’s the very best place to start!
The Clymb – Watch out! This site is addictive. You can find all sorts of great deals on everything from nutrition bars to hiking socks to folding knives. Everything is discounted and offerings are only available for a limited time. They have a great app, too. Try cross-referencing what The Climb is offering with what OutDoorGearLab says about it in their reviews before you buy.
The First 40 Miles – The definitive podcast for beginning backpackers! I loved this podcast when I was just starting out and I still listen today! Heather and Josh Leggler are sweet, dorky and dedicated. Each podcast includes some great hacks, a gear review and a top five list associated to their theme for that edition. If you have kids and want to get them out there, they do, too! They commonly include tips and info for parents trying to foster a love for backpacking in their children. Heather recently self-published two books with her backpacking hacks and she has wonderful, easy recipes for great backpacking food (her Oreo cookie pudding is my personal favorite!).
Sounds of the Trail – Sure, you’re a beginner and just starting out, but want to know what it’s like to be a thru-hiker, tackling the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide or Appalachian Trails? This podcasts enlists thru-hikers to lug some extra gear and record their adventures, and the adventures of other thru-hikers. Episodes focus on themes like: dealing with injuries; keeping spirits up when the going gets tough; exploring how retirees handle the trail; and more. The correspondents divulge their personal conflicts, trials and difficulties and it’s all very…real. Sometimes the goofiness of some of the young thru-hikers they interview can be a tad annoying, but it’s totally worth it for all the great stories and knowledge you get out of it! Very inspirational.
S’More Outdoor – This is the equivalent of porn for me! The host, Brett, interviews people who have made a life out of the outdoor industry in one way or another. Each interviewee shares how the outdoors has had an impact on his/her business and their personal life. Sometimes he interviews people who didn’t start out working in the outdoor industry at all; they were congressional aids, lawyers, etc. Those are my favorites!