Sunday, April 12, 2015

Barbados Hiking Tips

According to the official definition laid down in 1990 by the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism means: "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."

One of the fastest growing holiday types with a year-on-year increase of 10-15%, ecotourism has become an increasingly popular alternative to larger scale, commercial holidaying.

Ecotourism is not, however, a trendy term for a camping trip as some maintain, but rather a form of tourism that encompasses an area's natural beauty - whether it be a wilderness or quasi urban habitat - whilst embracing the local mores of a community.

Exemplifying this type of holiday is the Island of Barbados - one of the jewels in the Caribbean's crown.

Ecotourism areas in Barbados are mainly located on the Island's East Coast and inward regions. One of these areas, the Highland, is located centrally and offers a 'Highland Hike' guided tour which showcases glorious landscapes; a jaw-dropping expanse which can be viewed from some of the highest points on the Island - over 1000ft above sea level.

Sightseers on a Highland Hike tour set off from the Island's Highland Adventure Centre - comfortable clothing is recommended - for a trip through an assortment of villages and lush habitats at a steady pace throughout.

Part of the fun for travellers is in keeping an eye out for the playful Barbados Green Monkeys, long-time residents of the Island that inhabit the central and eastern parishes of St John, St Joseph, St Andrew and St Thomas.

Escorted by friendly and knowledgeable hiking guides, the Highland Hike is an unforgettable excursion through one of the world's lesser known treasures.

Similarly, the experience offered by the Barbados National Trust on one of its Hike Barbados tours - 'places most visitors never discover' - is a well-paced journey through the inherently diverse nature of the Barbados landscape - ancient woodland, quarries, gullies, tropical rainforests, off-road tracks, and sugar cane fields.

A Hike Barbados trip offers a variety of starting times with a morning hike (6am), an afternoon hike known as the Stop 'n' Stare (3:30pm), and a Moonlight Walk (5.30pm). Comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear are of course required and every trip is tailored towards the fitness and stamina of the party involved.

Holiday destinations are always keen to make potential travellers aware of its 'best kept secret,' but on Barbados this is a promise rather than a hollow claim. Fulfilling this vow on the Island is the opportunity of a hike with Trekkers Hike and Cave Adventures, a traverse through the natural environments of the Harris and Jack-in-the-Box gullies - a veritable paradise of flora and fauna surrounded by imposing rock formations.

The hike culminates with a descent into Coles Cave, a thrilling exploration of a naturally formed cavern in the company of experienced local guides - the very essence of ecotourism.

For an increasing number of travellers, a Barbados holiday and an ecotourism hiking trip in particular, is a welcome diversion from the norm and an experience rich in depth and diversity.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Best For Tips For Hiker Girls

There is no greater way to get in touch with nature than a going on a hike. hiking is a great way to relax, and enjoy the world around you. Here are some climbing tips for girls looking to see a little more nature.

If you're first time hikers, you can join a group or club. That'd be a great way to get some of the knowledge and training.

Not only should a first aid kit be in your car, it really should also be in your walking gear. Basic supplies such as bandages, wound ointment, gauze, alcohol pads and tape can be very useful. These items are very light and do not take up much room. Two good additions to this first aid kit would be a few power bars and a bottle of water. A distinctive waterproof container of your medications would also be a good idea. recall to change these items frequently so they do not expire. Hygiene products for women and a container to put them in are crucial as well. There will not be any bathrooms along the way, and wet wipes may possibly be your only option.

Food and water are very important when hiking. Bring more than you think you will need. Nuts are light pounds, and do not take up much room. Water is essential, so bring a great deal.

Let people know where you are going, and how long you will be gone. In an emergency there is a much better chance of being observed if the authorities know where to start looking. Have an crisis cell phone just in case you need it. A compass is an essential tool when hiking. Make sure you know how to use one before you hit the trails.

Proper clothing and boots will make your hike more enjoyable. Wear layers so you can add or take off clothing as the weather changes. Dry socks and right fitting climbing boots are crucial as well. Getting care of your feet is vital because they take us where we need to go. If the hiking boots are new, make sure they are suitablely broke in before the hike. You can get more information about girls hiking boots by clicking that link.

When picking out new trials, make sure they are within your abilities. If you are new to mountain climbing, then pick easy paths, until you feel ready for more difficult ones. Mountain climbing should be a fun activity, and not stressful. Being prepared will ensure that you are ready for anything nature throws at you.

Ryosuke, enjoys traveling as well as hiking. Read more information about Girls hiking boots guide and reviews [].

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Guide for Hiking Chiaksan in Wonju, South Korea

Korea isn't a big place. It's roughly the size of the state of Minnesota for my fellow Yankees.

But you know what they say: great things often come in small packages. One benefit of living in such a geographically compact place is that you can visit just about anywhere in the country in a day or over the weekend.

If you're eager for an outdoor adventure but only have a single day or weekend to spare, Chiaksan in Gangwon-do, Korea is a great choice. Read on for details and directions!

A Mountain of Myth and Beauty

If we're talking mountain ranges in Korea the best known are Jirisan and Seorraksan. These are beautiful places to visit and worthy of their reputations, but they're often crowded with hikers.

Chiaksan isn't quite as spectacular as it's more famous brethren, but it still makes for a worthwhile destination and -- bonus! -- it's far less crowded.

Chiaksan is located in Gangwon-do about 30km from the city of Wonju.

Like all but the most remote and abandoned trailheads in Korea, the base of Chiaksan is a busy place. You'll find an array of stores and vendors selling everything from reliquary beads and Buddhist trinkets to kimchi pancakes and rice wine.

It might be a good idea to fuel up before your hike and the kimchi pancakes sizzling on griddles are sure to satisfy a hungry stomach.

Once you make your way through the distractions and delicious smells of this mountain bazaar you'll arrive at the entrance to Chiaksan. The entry fee to Chiaksan is 2,500 won per person, cash only.

Not far from the entrance is Guryeongsa Temple.

Guryeongsa Temple is a medium-sized temple complex built during the Silla Dynasty. Built on the side of a steep hill, you enter the temple complex through a pavillion, towering wooden statues of the "Four Heavenly Guardians" looking down at you, and then climb a steep flight of stairs into Guryeongsa Temple.

As with most Korean temples, the air will likely be faint with incense and the rhythmic chanting of monks at their prayers will echo off of temple walls. It's a pleasant and relaxing environment to spend a few minutes before setting off on your journey.

Hiking the Trails

From Guryeongsa Temple it's a 5km hike to Birobong, the peak of Chiaksan. For roughly half of that hike the trail is easygoing -- more of a leisurely walk than a hike, really.

You can follow trails through forests of towering pine, through quiet bamboo groves, down into valleys where the trail runs alongisde a bubbling mountain stream, or criss-cross between the two.

About 2km from the base of Chiak Mountain is Seryeong waterfall and from there the hike gets steep. I'm talking a Jekyll and Hyde transformation from the earlier part of the hike, so if you plan on trekking to the peak of Chiaksan make sure you're well prepared.

If you're not up to the challenge there's a lovely botanical garden located between the Seryeong waterfall and Guryeongsa Temple. It's a wonderful place to relax and simply enjoy the beauty of nature.

When you need a break from Seoul, or if you're just in the market for your next outdoor adventure, head for Chiaksan. It's a beauty of a mountain and one of Korea's better kept secrets.

Getting There

Unless you have access to your own transportation, Wonju is going to be your base of operation for a trip to Chiaksan.

Take a bus to Wonju. Exit out the front of Wonju Bus Terminal and take local bus number 2-1, 31, 33, or 35. Any one of these busses will take you to a stop called "sanghanjuyooso".

From "sanghanjuyooso" you'll transfer to either the 41 or 41-1. It's about 10 mintue trip from Wonju Bus Terminal to the transfer, and another 30-35 minutes to get from the transfer to Chiaksan.

Chiaksan is the final stop for both the 41 and 41-1. Bus fare is 1,200 won per trip, but your T-Money card (a public transit card available from most convenience stores and at most bus and train stations -- essential if you're travelling in Korea!) will work as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mount Elbrus Guided Climbing Expedition

Climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia is supposed to be a breeze. Well, from the South route anyway. The north route on this mountain is an entirely different challenge. A proper mountaineering experience unlike say Kilmanjaro.

Climbing Elbrus involves quite a bit of preparation from a physical, mental and logistical point of view.

A typical Elbrus trip itinerary

Apparently walking to Russia could take quite a while. So you will need to make another plan to improvise. the best form of transportation being what modern man calls the aeroplane. Upon arrival in the awesome city of Moscow the fun and games begin. The first challenge is finding a taxi. Once you have done that, the task of explaining your destination and negotiating a price is next on your list. Not an easy task when no one speaks English. The drive through to central Moscow takes about 1.5 hours. The airport is about 50km outside of central Moscow and the traffic is a nightmare. Upon arrival in the hotel, its a quick vodka, shower and... time to hit the streets of Moscow. And don't try and hit them too hard as you may come off second best. There are some pretty cool restaurants where you are faced with yet another challenge. You will be required to negotiate your way around a menu in Russian and waiter who, you guessed it, only speaks Russian. What we suggest you do is close your eyes, move your finger up and down the menu and where ever your finger stops... order that. Oh, and don't forget the vodka. After dinner, a little ramble up to the Red Square to see the Kremlin is definitely in order. Please do not try and spray-paint your name on the Kremlin walls. Somehow the Russian secret service does not approve of this sporting activity.

An early day I'm afraid. Well, I'm not really afraid as days are nothing to be afraid of. The Russian Mafia is something to be afraid about, but I'll leave that story for another time. The flight to Mineralyne Vody leaves at 12H00 arriving at 14H00. Upon arrival, we load up the gear onto the bus and take the 1 hour drive through to an awesome town called Kislovodsk where we check into our hotel for the evening. Once checked in, we hit the town for dinner followed by a vodka or 10. If you are not in bed by 12H00, please come back to the hotel. Breakfast is served. Well this is not tennis. We are here to climb Elbrus remember. You get your own breakfast. After loading the 4×4 vehicles, we take the 3 hour drive through to base camp which is nestled at the base of Elbrus. Why did you think it was called bases camp? Because the camp is home to many night clubs that use excess base in their music? or is it because the camp is home the Revlon's make up production? Nope. Sorry to disappoint you on this one. Base camp in this instance refers to our base for the Elbrus climb. The drive into base camp is both spectacular and nerve racking. The roads have been carved into the mountains leaving vertical drops of up to 200m. The tracks only allow for one vehicle at a time. It is safe to say, that no one interferes with the driver at this stage of the game. The country side out here is so remote. The only reason there would be any one on the roads was to climb Elbrus. Being early in the season, we encountered no one. Once we arrived in camp, we set up the tents, of loaded our gear and made for the mess tent for our first taste of mountain food-cabbage soup. Base camp of Elbrus is situated at 2400m.

After lunch we went on a 4 hour stroll around the surrounding foothills. The two headed Elbrus dragon always keeping a watchful eye on us. The area is well known for its natural springs. The water is the best water you will ever get to taste. We came across a few of the springs where the water bubbles out. The weirdest thing is that the water is sparkling. Don't ask me how that happens. Do I look like a geologist? but man, the best tasting water I have ever had. Dinners on Elbrus are conducted in the mess tent. Conducted in the mess tent? What the hell? Couldn't think of a more appropriate word, so deal with it. If I had spent more time contemplating it, I'm sure I could have come up with a better word, but I have a appointment to get to and don't have the time. OK, so the mess tent. Yip, a place where we have dinner. And after dinner, its cards and some really awesome conversation with people from all over the world with the same interests and ambitions-to climb Elbrus. The ingredients to climbing mountains like Elbrus includes patience, determination, perseverance, self belief, physical strength, being in the right place at the right time and oh yes, the process of acclimatisation. Today, we were going test out the latter of the ingredients-acclimatisation. We took a 4 hour hike up a place known as the mushroom rocks which are situated at 3400m. A pretty easy day with some spectacular view. We are just below the snow line, so not too cold. After lunch, we head on down to base camp. With some time to waste we were challenged by the local Russian guides to a game of soccer. Playing soccer at 2400m is still going to leave you pretty winded. We lost 3-1.OK, so this is where the true ingredients of mountaineering will start to be added to the pot of climbing Elbrus. Are objective of this day was to set up high camp. Basically what we need to do is carry our gear up to high camp. High camp is situated at 3800m. We use this day not only to carry some of our gear, but as an acclimatization climb as well. Our packs weighed about 20kg and included all our high altitude mountaineering gear like crampons, ice axes, thermal gear, down jackets and a packet of peanuts for the snow monkeys that do not exist. Today is a challenging day. Not only because of the weight of the backpack, but also the cold and the angle of ascent. the last part of the climb also sees us forging through waist deep snow to reach high camp. And man is snow an energy drainer. Once in high camp, we off load, have some lunch and head on down to base camp. As mentioned earlier, to climb mountains like Elbrus you need a few key ingredients. Today you will need to cash in on your mental reserves. The day sort of pans out the same as day 5. Yip, we load up our backpacks with the gear we need for high camp and make the 5 hour trek up to high camp. this day does test you. Why, the man in the back row screams out. Well because it would have been the 3rd time that you are going up the same route. The logical part of your near frozen cerebral stump does not understand why and tries to inject your body with a flood of negative emotions. Pa for the course the experts reckon. But what if ma decides to walk on the course? Will that effect the process? 5 hours later and we are sitting in high camp of Elbrus enjoying some warm cabbage soup and our groans and mumbles of the day have been long forgotten.

Today sees up taking a crucial acclimatization climb up to a placed called Lenz Rocks which is situated at 4600m. The route is notorious for its crevasses and many a climber have lost their lives on this section. for this reason we climb alpine style. All of us are clipped into each other via a rope. The idea is that if someone falls into a crevasse the weight of the other climbers should stop them from falling all the way in. And crevasses are pretty hard to detect. What happens is that the snow that falls creates a 'bridge' of snow over the crevasse. Sometimes when you walk on them and they are not that thick, the weight of the climber will cause the snow bridge to collapse. Besides the crevasses, today is pretty challenging. The snow is knee deep which gets pretty exhausting to do especially when the effects of altitude and the cold start to take effect on a climbers body. But once again, perseverance and sheer will power sees us siting at Lenz Rocks enjoying the view. After lunch its back down to high camp with the anticipation of a rest day.

Today sees us just chilling out and recovering. We spend the day eating, sleeping and playing cards. The objective is to build up some energy reserves for the final summit night. AAhhh, the final summit night. Something, that is on everyone's mind. Elbrus boasts one of the longest summit nights on any mountain.

Summit day. One of the dangers on Elbrus is the extreme weather conditions. We were all pretty apprehensive as there was heavy snowfall on our rest day and we were worried that it would get worse, thus hampering our summit attempt. We checked the weather at 12 a.m. and made the call. time to make like a Jewish foreskin and be off. Getting kitted up, coffee and a quick bite to eat took about an hour. We were on the ice by Our first port of call being the Lenz rocks at 4600m. The climb to Lenz took us about 4 hours. A quick break and we headed off to our next waypoint at 4900m. We took a temperature reading here and found it to be -25 degrees Celsius. One the group was starting to get frostbite on his fingers. We helped with hand warmers and an extra pair of gloves. As for myself, I could feel the numbing feeling in my toes as they started to freeze. Something that started to gnaw at the back of my mind. Our next slog took us to 5200m. The area is know as the saddle and is the 'saddle' between the 2 peaks of Elbrus. We took a 30 min break and started our final slog up a 50 degree solid ice slope that leads to the summit. OK, I can't say it was exactly 50 degrees as I forgot to bring my protractor with and my knowledge of oblique angles is scary. he group census agreed on 50 degrees so there!!A place where you do not want to fall as you will find yourself sliding all the way down to the bottom of the slope. Most of the group where pretty strong until 5400m. From there on in, it was welcome to Zombie land. The altitude, cold, and pure exhaustion was starting to take its toll. These are the moment that requires your deepest mensal skills. Your body us crying out for you to turn around. Your heart is saying no way. You are walking a think line between, life and death. Once foot in the living. One foot in the dead. Being at altitude is pretty weird. It is like you are on something. And we don't mean the mountain either-that's obvious. Its like you are floating. Tying your shoelaces becomes a challenge as you can't remember how. Anyway, After what seems like an eternity, we reach the summit. Our time of summit is 15H00. We started our summit at 01H00. 14 hours to the summit and we are only half way. The descent takes about 6 hours. We were a bit concerned as a snowstorm was brewing and it would be dark in a couple of hours. Luckily for us a box of ping pong balls was looking after Elbrus for the week and they gave us some magic dust that made us all make it back to high camp alive.

Today was a late start. Not sure why given our easy climb the day before. We packed up or gear and made the 6 hour trek down to Elbrus base camp. Our average pack weight was about 35kg as we had to take all of our gear down in one shot instead of two. Once we reached base camp, it was Russian Vodka time!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Vietnam Trekking Guide

So you've decided on the trip of a lifetime. You're going to Asia to see the sights, take in the intoxicating smells and probably eat a lot of fantastic food!

So how do you burn some serious calories whilst on your trip?

Well, forget about the hotel gym (if you're lucky enough to be staying in a place with one) and combine your experience of seeing the country with some burning calories exercise! That's right, in time to get out of the city, and see the countryside by trekking in Vietnam!

So where is the best place to go trekking in Vietnam? Well in our experience, the views and treks on offer in Northern Vietnam, near Sapa are some of the best available! But beware of some of the pitfalls of trekking here.

First things first, you've decided to go trekking in Sapa, but you need to get there first! Your best method is to take an overnight train from Hanoi, which will take all night but you save a nights accommodation and a days travelling! Its pretty comfortable, with a bed and you'll probably share a room with 3 others.

You'll also want to consider going with a tour agency if you're unsure of where to go and how to do it. They can organise your train and trek with homestays all for a reasonable cost.

Now the bad part about trekking in Sapa.

When you arrive in Sapa, a small town near the border with China, you will be inundated with groups of local women who will approach you wanting to talk and chat with you. This is a ploy they use to latch onto you as you wander around Sapa. This is the key point: if you do not get rid of these women now, they will continue to stay with you all day. They will walk alongside with you as you go, talk to you as you try to take in the scenery, and generally be overly helpful as you trek in Vietnam. Sounds good doesn't it? Well, the novelty soon wears off, particularly when at the end of the day they ask you for money for the pleasure.

This is why it is important you are honest with them from the very beginning. We told the women in very strong tones that we did not want to walk with them that day. They were confused and a little upset, but we didn't want them to waste their time all day with us before we didn't give them any money. We thought that was fairer than leading them on all day. Other people in our group didn't say anything, and ended up in arguments at the end of the day. It was a sad situation.

If you do pay them, they will come back the next day and walk with you again!

So when you go trekking in Sapa, just make sure you prepare yourself for the groups, and be polite and firm when you say you don't want any help. It's only fair for you and the groups of eager women waiting.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Best of New Zealand Hiking Trails

Like all Kiwis, we love our backyard and reckon you will too. The New Zealand Southern Alps and surrounds offer an amazing natural environment that makes it so easy to get right into the heart of the outdoors and enjoy easygoing activity in that famous New Zealand scenery. Add to that a unique and colourful history, a burgeoning food culture and genuinely friendly people you've got all the ingredients for the trip of a lifetime.

Over the past 14 years, I have been planning and guiding outdoor experiences in the great New Zealand outdoors so have learnt a lot about what kind of experiences people enjoy and lots of local secrets that add so much to travel memories. The challenge for people visiting for a limited time is to find the best walks and build them into a travel itinerary that suits you. This list is the product of these years of guiding and listening to guest feedback, we are trying to bottle the best of the South Island and package them together in one active easy going fully guided itinerary. So here's our take on the best of New Zealand's South Island, all of which can be enjoyed in a leisurely 11 - 13 day itinerary of the South Island.

1. Arthur's Pass and Castle Hill, Canterbury.

Amazing high country only a 2 hour drive from the international airport, a real alpine national park with great hiking trails and a world renowned alpine train experience - there aren't too many places in the world that can say that. Some great characters in local history too.

2. The Nile River Caves in Paparoa National Park.

Surely one of the most natural glowworm caving experiences anywhere on the planet and you'd be hard pressed to find a more idyllic spot than nearby Punakaiki. We're not sure why but think it's got something to do with the native Nikau Palms and white sandy beaches!

3. Glacier Country, Westland.

South West New Zealand world heritage area - The native bird haven of Okarito lagoon followed by the ice world of Fox glacier makes for a pretty memorable 24 hours. The drive south and over the Haast Pass looks like a perfect place to shoot car commercials.

4. The Southern Lakes - Wanaka, Hawea, Wakatipu & Te Anau.

It's hard to imagine that these huge lakes were carved from the rock by a river of ice hundreds of metres thick, but that's what happened. To give you an idea of how impressive these lakes are, the longest is 80km (50 miles) from end to end! The roadside views alone will be worth sending home to the family but we really rate the high country of Mount Aspiring National Park and the Lake Wanaka district for some great walking with picture postcard photo opportunities around every corner.

5. The Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring National Park.

One of New Zealand's great walks, the Routeburn offers what we think is the best one day walk anywhere in New Zealand, from Routeburn road end to Routeburn Falls. Don't be surprised if the views around the head of Lake Wakatipu make you feel every so slightly Hobbitish, this is real Lord of the Rings country!

6. Milford Track & Milford Sound.

We should also mention the Milford road, a journey you won't forget in a hurry - for all the right reasons. The added bonus of hiking Milford Track from the 'wrong' end is visiting Milford Sound before we hike - Milford Track and Milford Sound in the same day, we like the sound of that.

7. Martins Bay and the Hollyford Track.

Martins Bay, on the Tasman Sea at the end of the Hollyford Valley, is one of those special places on earth and somewhere we think you'll remember for a long time. Wildlife up close, a real 'Wild West' history and the untouched Hollyford valley make this real New Zealand and one place we think you must visit!

8. Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo.

The glaciers and peaks of Mount Cook National Park were the training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary and have a deserved spot right in the heart of New Zealand life. The perfect backdrop for great days hiking in Mount Cook, right at the foot of Aoraki, the cloud piercer. One hour away, is Tekapo, the home to Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and a night sky the likes you have never seen before awaits.

In a country like ours, it's no easy task recommending where you should go when on your New Zealand vacation, but we are sure that if you are looking for real travel experiences, not just a whistle stop tour of famous landmarks, then you'll love these 'bucket list' hiking destinations.

For more information on New Zealand travel itineraries including these bucket list hiking areas, please contact us now, we'd love to hear from you. New Zealand Trails operates small group guided tour including some of New Zealand's best hiking trails, iconic Kiwi activities with all the comforts of home. For more information about our tours please visit us at:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Nepal Trekking Guide : Best Hiking Trails For Adventurers!

If you check the global map, you will discover that the territory of Nepal is nothing but of mere ant size, while its neighbors are passable as a baby elephant in contrast, and I mean no disrespect when I divulge this stale discovery. The topic here, as you know, is of Nepal, and despite its humble land coverage (which is just 0.03% of world's total land area), the presence of mighty Himalayas, including eight tallest peaks of the world, have given the country a remarkable reputation among hikers and mountaineers. In fact, some even remark it to be the trekking capital of the world. Applause aside, we would like to introduce to our fellow hikers 5 of the best trekking routes of Nepal, around Everest and some other tall mountain peaks.

1. Everest Base Camp

Touching the Everest is every human's fantasy, and while mountaineers dare risk their life to touch the mighty summit, we hikers have another challenge - making it to the Base Camp of this towering peak, and it is not easy. Your greatest fear, while tramping over the Himalayas, is not the steep slopes, wild animals or the freezing cold; what you must be really afraid of is the ailment called altitude sickness. Word of advice is to acclimatize properly to the mountain environment before you proceed to climb above 25000 meters. Let me add that this spectacular Himalayan trail requires hikers to stand at a whooping 5545m altitude - they say the view from this height, i.e. Kala Patthar, is simply awesome. It's Mount Everest, after all, the summit of the world.

2. Upper Mustang Trekking

In a country so green and lush that the thought of a desert would never cross your mind, travelers tramping over the Upper Mustang area, aka the land beyond the Himalayas, have been rendered speechless. They had entertained a mental picture of green Nepal, and therefore were unprepared to behold the sight of barren hills and arid desert-like landscape.

While geologists have a complex theory for this strange phenomenon, suffice it to say that the area falls in the no-rainfall zone, an obvious trait of a land in close proximity to the Tibetan plateaus. Amidst this rare geographic diversity of Nepal, there lies a mystical city, La Manthang, from where a king, now retired, once ruled the Himalayan country. All the same, you will find the city's varied attractions truly hypnotic. Along the trail, hikers will also have the honor to visit the sacred temple called Muktinath, where they say an eternal flame blazes from time immemorial.

3. Annapurna Circuit Trek

Just type "what are the most beautiful hiking routes of the world", and Google will retrieve back numerable web pages, all touting about the enchanting trail of Annapurna Circuit area, which blossoms with lush vegetation and stunning mountain vista. Let it be noted that Annapurna represents thirty mountain peaks, with, of course, Annapurna I (8091m) as the tenth highest peak of the world; it's siblings are generally above seven or six thousand meter high. You see, you are going to make a circuit of this amazing mountain landscape, and along the pleasant trail, you will be sometimes admiring the green landscape; sometimes witnessing the queer lifestyle of the hillside villages; sometimes gawking at the magical scenario of the sun setting or rising behind the mountains; and, most of the times, shooting pictures of the lovely snow peaks.

4. Manaslu Base Camp

It never fails to shock us that a young British lady, novice in mountaineering and in her early twenties, made it to the summit of Manaslu, creating a sensation as the youngest British woman to acquire such a daring feat. From then on, crowds of mountaineers and hikers came from all over the world to touch the summit and to make it to the base respectively. I would like to address the brave hikers, and warn them that this challenging and restricted trail to the Manaslu Base Camp, while spectacular with wonderful villages, Buddhist shrines and picturesque landscapes around, is fraught with peril. Bear in mind that the trail is quite far away, requiring you to spend several cold nights under warm tents (pray that weather doesn't go on a rampage), and you will also be daring to cross the Larkya La pass (a glacial saddle), which lies at an incredible height of around 5213m (beware of altitude sickness) and, admittedly, offers a breath-taking panorama of the Himalayas.

5. Gokyo Trek

Call it the sweat of the Himalayas or its tears, either way the glacial lakes are a wonder to behold. And, the alpine valley of Gokyo, with six sacred glacial lakes, never fails to enchant the hikers with its picturesque beauty. Nonetheless, let me warn you that the Gokyo valley, which lies at the altitude of 4970m, commands a rogue reputation as the Valley of Death, owing to the death of numerous hikers caught in the grip of altitude sickness. And, there's this one hill, actually a small peak, called Gokyo Ri and hikers, in pursuit of the perfect viewpoint to capture the ultimate picture of the majestic Himalayas, climb this 5357m high peak, often falling or slipping down in their recklessness. All the same, I must say the view is worth the climb.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trekking Guide in South America

South America's most famous trek is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, now heavily regulated with limited numbers of permits due to its enduring popularity - and it is a stunningly beautiful as well as challenging four day trek, albeit one that attracts many people along its route with numbers now being strictly limited each day.

For those who love to lace up their boots and grab a rucksack but want a more remote location, there are some absolutely breath-taking walks all over South & Central America worth considering. Peru trekking holidays can offer treks to Inca sites such as Choquequirao as well as other civilisations such as Kuelap or the stunning remote traditional communities of the Apu Ausangate. I will happily advise on some great alternatives for keen walkers, being a fan myself of using my own two feet to explore and slow down the pace a little. And of course if you prefer a little more comfort, I can recommend some beautiful mountain lodge to lodge treks along quieter and alternative routes to Machu Picchu such as the Lares or Salkantay trails.

Chapada Diamantina National Park, west of Brazil's Salvador de Bahia is a truly awe-inspiring landscape ideal for trekking with its verdant table-top mountains, waterfalls, underground lakes, and caves. What about combining a visit to the Glaciers National Park in the stunning rugged wilderness of southern Patagonia with a few days spent in El Chalten where your hiking guide will take you walking past remote glacial valleys towards Mt Fitzroy or spend time across the border in Chile trekking the W circuit around Torres del Paine National Park. You could also combine your trekking adventure in this region with a chance to track one of South America's most elusive wild cats, the puma.

Heading further north into Ecuador brings you to the stunning peaks of the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes', where we can suggest a beautiful new trekking programme where you can take on some of this small country's more challenging peaks as well as experiencing stays in delightful small, locally run haciendas and lodges, perhaps combined with a more relaxed journey aboard the newly re-opened train line between Quito and Guayaquil on the coast. If you like the thought of combining iconic rail journeys with using your own two feet, then you could also venture northwards again to Mexico. After journeying by train through the Copper Canyon, get off and take to pathways deep into the canyon to remote settlements of native Tarahumara Indians.

The list goes on and on. It's important not only be able to discover a great list of active adventures, but also ensure the little details of your journey all go to plan.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Guide Hiking on Oahu Island

Mountain peaks covered with eye catching greenery, surrounded by crystal clear water and blue sky above can be observed in one place, and that is "Oahu Island" in Hawaii. It is the third biggest island of Hawaii. The beauty of the island cannot be conveyed in words. It is a peaceful resort where people come to enjoy their vacations.

If you are passionate about Hiking, Oahu island provides you the opportunity to enjoy. The island has many interesting trails, natural elevations and slope to experience. Many of the trails were laid down by the people who first came to Hawaii. To assist people, the state of Hawaii does not charge a single penny. Similarly, using tracks for hiking is totally free. No expense incurs over hiring a navigator.

The Hawaii Sierra club offers free excursion plans for hiking, along with the navigators. Log into the club's website to find details, and plan your vacations in Oahu. Various hiking plans are available on the site for you to select.

If you decide to go for hiking alone, or in a group of two or three. It is advised to contact Na Ala Hele. It is a section of the forestry department, which can assist you in knowing the trails across the mountains and the forest. The department also provides you details about the safety procedures, and guide you through trail maps.

The elevated lands, steeps turns and hills make hiking very much different from the areas near the city. The administrations fully support you to make your trip memorable. You are strictly instructed to take care, and not to harm or destroy the natural habitat. You are allowed to take along the plants, flowers, leaves or ferns against permit issued by the authorities. This is done in order to maintain natural resources on the Island. All guidelines for safe hiking are available on the web, or can be obtained from the administration in the printed form.

Honolulu, a place where nature speaks for itself is worth visiting. The most famous hikes can be listed as;

Diamond Heads Trail: The hike is famous for a 225 foot long tunnel. The amazing part you can observe is the array of light coming across the tunnel, which resembles a flashlight. People come here and enjoy this place for a picnic.

Aiea Loop Trail: The trail at the Keaiwa Heiau State Park is open for bikers. The place, is at an extreme height, with steep cliffs and hills. The healing temple, forests of eucalyptus is the prominent features on the hill. From this point you can clearly view majestic canyons, Pearl Harbor, Koolau range and central Oahu.

Manoa Falls: It is a lovely waterfall, but a dangerous place for swimming. People are allowed to enjoy the landscape from a safe distance. The danger of trembling rocks is always present.

Maunawilie Falls Trail: Meanwhile, fall leads to the foot of the Koolau Mountains. The place is worth visiting in the summer. White and yellow ginger and mountain apple tree adds beauty to the mountain scenery.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

El Chalten Argentina Hiking Guide

Argentina is the go to place for many backpackers who are interested in hiking and skiing. It boasts of ample tourist offerings such as the Bariloche Ski Centre, the Iguazu National Park, the Andes Mountain, Los Alerces National Park as well as some popular Incan sites. Aside from these popular tourist sites, Argentina also has other places that are less travelled which backpackers should take advantage of before commercialism takes over. One such place is the town of El Chalten.

Capital of Trekking

The town is one of the newest ones that were founded in 1985. It was established by the Argentinian government to encourage settlement in the Andean range. The town is accessible by El Calafate which is 220km. away. The town attracts many visitors because of its natural surroundings that are well-maintained and preserved by the local people as well as its trekking paths which allow many novice trekkers to practice their mountain climbing skills.

Beginner's Trekking - Cerro Torre and Piedra del Fraile

For novice or beginners who are still starting out or those who just want to enjoy the scenery without the difficulties of trekking, a private tour that includes the Cerro Torre and Piedra del Fraile is available. The trek will include a short and easy trek which will allow you to see the views of the peaks in just 2 to 6 hours of trekking. A private camping place is also available near the Fitz Roy. Some treks will start at the Lago del Desiertos or Rio Blanco y Laguna de los Tres which will shorten the trekking time.

Intermediate Trekking - Mount Fitz Roy

Many trekkers would practice their trekking skills by visiting Mount Fitz Roy or the Chalten "Smoking Mountain". The trekking will take about 6-8 hours and includes visiting the Rio Blanco basecamp after which trekkers must do a steep climb to reach the Laguna de los Torres. For advanced trekkers, you might also wish to visit the Piedras Blancas Glacier which is an hour's ascent from the Laguna de Los Torres.

Advanced Trekking - Glacier Grande, Torre and Continental Ice

For advanced trekkers who want to challenge their skills, trekking to the Glacier and the Continental Ice is a must. The trek will usually take about a few hours for the Glacier trek and a few days for the Continental Ice trek. Although basecamps are available especially for the Continental Ice, hikers must ensure that they are equipped with all the necessary equipment as well as have an experienced guide. As the hiking grounds are maintained and preserved, all garbage and leftovers must be removed from the campgrounds. Permissions must also be obtained as some trails will cross through private properties.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Guide for Hiking in the Bibbulmun Track, Australia

Southwest Australia is one of the worlds 25 biodiversity hotspots and this walk will take you through many of the habitats that make this region so spectacular and world renowned. The entire walk takes six to eight weeks to complete or can be done in shorter stages and is exclusively for walkers only, if you are interested in mountain biking please see the Munda Biddi trail article. The Munda Biddi trail takes a similar course and runs from Kalamunda to Albany as well.

Towns along the trail can be days apart, the longest being 12 days walk so it is important that you carry plenty of food and water. The only source of water on the track is at the campsites which are located a days walk apart, the rain is collected in rainwater tanks which are not filled by any other means. Water may be limited after summer so if you are planning on walking in April/May keep this in mind.

Unlike other famous trails the Bibbulmun is not very crowded and it could be days between seeing other hikers. But it can get busy on long weekends and holidays particularly at the campsites that are easily accessible.

When to go:

Temperatures in the region varies during the year, summer (December - March) is hot and dry with bush fires being a real threat. So the track should be walked in the cooler months (notice cooler- don't be surprised if in the middle of winter there is at least a few days with temps above 25OC) any time between April and November. October and November can be really hot and dry, and nights get cold in late winter and early spring. Most rain falls in July and August and the southern half of the trail tends to get more rain.

The wildflower season peaks in September and October, can vary based on rainfall and temperatures. The bush comes alive with hundreds of different flowers and colours and should be seen.

Mosquitoes are found throughout the year on the track and the open shelters don't provide protection from them so a mosquito net is recommended to prevent possible infection with River Ross Virus, some walkers will use the shell (sealed inner) from their tent for protection.


The track can be walked in both directions, with walkers choosing the direction that suits them or is easier to travel too (more on this later). The most common way to walk is from north to south. The track passes through the towns of Kalamunda, Dwellingup, Collie, Balingup, Pemberton, Northcliffe, Walpole, Denmark and Albany where hikers stay for one or two nights to resupply, wash their clothes and enjoy the hospitality.

The track is well marked with triangular markers with a snake on it, although snakes are commonly found in the bush it is not a warning to walkers, the snake is the Waugal which is a mythological rainbow serpent from the Aboriginal dreamtime. The track is broken down into 9 sections with 8 maps:

Getting There:

If you are walking the entire track you will need to get to/from Kalamunda and Albany. The northern trailhead is on the corner of Mundaring Weir Road and Railway Road, Kalamunda. From the Esplanade busport in Perth you can catch the 282, 296, 299 buses. Check out Transperth for timetables and fees. A taxi from Perth cbd to Kalamunda cost approximately Aud$55, and Aud$36 from the Airport.

The southern trailhead is 409km south of Perth at the Old Railway Station on Proudlove Parade, Albany. Transwa provides buses between Perth and Albany for Aud$59.90 one way. Skywest provides flights to and from Albany for min $186.

Transwa also offers buses from many of the towns along the track to Perth if you want a shorter walk.


For the majority of the walk you will be camping. There are 49 campsites spaced a day's walk apart and each has a three-sided timber shelter and are designed to sleep 8-15 people. They are free and offered on a first come first served basis so you should be bring a tent for times when the shelter is full. Each campsite also has a sit-down pedestal pit toilet, rainwater tank, picnic tables and tent sites.

In the towns there are no campsites so you will need to stay in alternative accommodation,


Their are no fees to walk the track and stay at the campsites, you will need to pay for accommodation in the towns, food, maps and equipment. There are 8 water resistant rip-proof colour maps that cover the entire track and are essential when taking on the Bibbulmun track as well as 2 compact guidebooks which show car access points, campsites, terrain profiles and distance tables. These are available here, and at some visitor information centres.

Individual maps (1-8) cost Au$11.50 each ($92 total)


Northern half map pack (1 to 4) cost Au$42

Southern half map pack (5 to 8) cost Au$42 ($84 total)

Northern Guidebook - covers Kalamunda to Donnelly River Village and includes map 1 to 4 cost Au$35

Southern Guidebook - covers Donnelly River Village to Albany and includes map 5 to 8 cost Au$35

Guided or Solo:

This is a walk that is best done at your own pace and with your own itinerary, if you want to stay a couple of days in a town go ahead or want to skip one you can. But because of the length of time required (not many people have 8 weeks free), or lack of hiking experience there are tours along the track that take in the best sections. The foundation offers tours in May and September that run for 9 days.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Guide for Hiking in the Pindus Range, Greece

The Pindus Mountains, which bisect the country, running from North to South, are often referred to as 'the spine of Greece'. This 160km long mountain range runs from the Albanian border all the way to the north of the Peloponnese Peninsula. Its highest point is Mount Smolikas, which is 2,637 metres tall. This range is one of the best places to hike in Greece, with its varied geography of high mountain peaks, rolling hills, lush valleys and deep, dramatic gorges. Along its varied length there are two National Parks, Aoos-Vitus National Park and Pindus National Park.
One of the most popular walks in the Aoos-Vitus National Park is the walk through the Vikos Gorge. This route, it should be noted, is not a walk in the park. While well-maintained, this is an ankle-twisting trail which traverses the limestone uplands of Mount Gamila for 20km. Be sure to check conditions before you set off as the snowmelt of April or early May can often make the end nearest Monodhéndhri impassable. Be warned that heavy rainfall can also lead to landslides on the sides of the gorge. Still, if you set out well-prepared then you will be rewarded by the spectacular scenery - the gorge walls are sometimes over 1000 metres in height and tower over you in rocky splendour.

Another option is the beautiful walk along the banks of the river Aoos. This gorge walk as also dramatically stunning. You can walk from Konitsa and those who have a good level of fitness could consider continuing the walk up to the summit of Mount Papigo. There are many signposted trails around Vikos and Aoos that provide walking options for a range of fitness levels, ages and abilities.

Unfortunately, the surprisingly little-known Pindus National Park does not benefit from such good signage. Even getting there from the main road is a bit of a mission as there are no proper signs. You can gain access to this rugged wilderness by way of the village of Perivoli to the north.

The dirt roads that cross the mountains and weave their way through the dense black pine and beech forests of this area are perfect for hiking and more than likely if you are in search of peace and solitude then you will find it. If you are lucky you may see a glimpse of a brown bear - this is one of three regions in Greece still populated by these shy animals. If you walk in Flegga Forest, you may also catch sight of wolves, lynxes, wild cats, deer or wild boar. If you are looking for somewhere different to go, then Pindus National Park could be the perfect place as it is unlikely that anyone you know has been. This is the least known and least visited national park in Europe, which is a shame, unless you are looking to escape the crowds that is.

The Pindus Mountain Range is ideal for a real escape into nature, on hiking trails you are likely to have entirely to yourself.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Tips Buying a Hiking Backpack

Being lifelong travelers, we all love our lightweight, multipurpose gear that can withstand the rigors of the road. Gear should be dependable, multifunctional, durable and perform beyond expectations. Nothing could be truer when it comes to buying a good hiking backpack, especially considering it's going to be your home away from home. Traveling, especially long-term, will literally test the limits of your bag and your body, and as such this decision should never be made impulsively. Buying your backpack should not be a rushed decision and factors like trip length, capacity, material, functionally and comfort should always be considered. When I first got serious about investing in a good pack, I was at REI for a good 3 hours -I think they started to suspect I was applying for a job.

If my three hours was any indication, buying a good backpack is not an easy task. With hundreds of backpack manufacturers and styles, it can understandably be overwhelming. Whatever you do, don't go cheap. You'll be doing yourself a disservice and end up buying a new one anyways. A good backpack is an investment. You needn't spend $500 on a backpack, but be wary of cheap, no-frills, run of the mill $70 brands, as you'll regret the design flaws and absence of extras. Spend a little more for a good backpack from a trusted brand, and it will be your companion for many trips to come. The Osprey pack I eventually settled on has traveled with me from the U.S to the Middle East for 10 awesome years and I know it has another good 10 years to go.

Travel Backpack or Hiking Backpack

Before you begin shopping for the right pack, it's important to know the difference between travel backpacks and hiking backpacks. A travel backpack is a backpack-suitcase hybrid with a zippered side panel similar to a suitcase. Hiking backpacks are the more commonly seen cylindrical top loading packs with straps, clips and a top lid. Some people have an opinion that hiking backpacks are only suited for the backcountry and has no place for the backpacker, I disagree. What works for you ultimately comes down to personal preference and style of travel. Travel backpacks are great for easy, organized access to gear and transporting from hostel to hostel. They also function well for short walks or even as a daypack.

On the other hand, if you possibly have camping or long treks in your travel plans, you may want to consider a hiking backpack. Hiking backpacks are designed for comfort, proper weight distribution, and toughness. Unlike a travel backpack, hiking backpacks will have enhancements like full-sized hip belts, shoulder and back suspension systems along with plenty of load bearing straps to mitigate discomfort. Granted the top down packing isn't as convenient to access your gear, but that's part in parcel to proper weight distribution. A good compromise would be to get a hiking backpack with side load access.

I am generalizing a bit as they do have travel backpacks that are in the upper capacity range with more advanced suspension systems, but if you're going to get a 70L travel backpack, you may as well go with a hiking backpack. Trust me, you'll be glad you did for that unexpected 20 mile trek to the next town.

Personal Backpacking Style

Next, determine the style of travel you normally like to do. Unless you're willing to buy a different backpack for each trip, figuring out your travel style will save you a lot of money in the long run and give you a piece of foundation gear that's ready for any trip. For instance, if you generally go on week long trips you needn't get a high capacity bag and could probably get away with a 35 liter to 50 liter (L) pack, whereas living long-term on the road may require 65L or greater.

Size is pretty subjective though and shouldn't be the only determining factor. Some people are able to pack very bare bones, where others require a bit more. Consider these factors:

How long is your trip:

Depending on the length of your trip the capacity and overall weight of your pack will vary. Short trips require less capacity, and long trips typically require more. But be aware that the bigger the pack the heavier it will become. 50lbs may not seem a lot at first, but 2 months in and it will feel like a ton of bricks.

What Type of Activities will you do:

I personally feel that one bag can rule them all since I generally use my pack for everything. However, this may not be the case for everyone. Knowing what type of activity you'll be doing will help you zero in on that perfect backpack. If you're not planning on carrying it around much, consider a travel backpack or even a wheeled backpack, whereas if you foresee yourself doing long treks then a hiking backpack may be more suitable. I like to be prepared for any type of spontaneous activity, so I lean more towards hiking backpacks. Also, hiking backpacks are generally made a bit tougher, so keep in mind that the more challenging the activity, the greater the stress on the bag.

Lightweight or the kitchen sink:

Although I mentioned earlier that size is not the main determining factor, it's still important to consider capacity based on what you plan to bring. If ultra light is your goal, avoid high capacity backpacks as you'll invariably bring too much or if you do manage to pack light your backpack won't distribute the weight properly. Conversely, if your backpack is too small, you won't be able to fit everything in. Have an idea of the gear you're bringing and pick the capacity of your bag accordingly. Don't hesitate to bring your items to the store to see how it fits in the packs. A reputable retailer, like REI, won't have a problem with this.

What To Look For In A Hiking Backpack

Backpacks vary in functionality as much as they do in appearance, with the more expensive models having the most bells and whistles. As with everything, your decision here is closely related to what type of traveling you like to do.

Water Resistant

Your pack is probably not going to be completely waterproof. Meaning, if submerged, or in a torrential downpour your clothing and equipment will still get wet. Although most backpacks now come with a rain cover, you still want it to be made of a tough, rip proof, and lightweight silicone coated nylon or Cordura type material that allows rain or water to bead off and not soak through.

Detachable Daypack

this option is really a personal preference, and not really a deal breaker, as many travelers bring an additional pack for day trips. But for those focused on traveling light, carrying two bags can be cumbersome. I personally like the option of a detachable daypack as I have it only when I need it. On my Osprey, the top lid doubles as a daypack. Not as comfortable as a dedicated daypack, but it serves its purpose.

Heavy-duty Lockable Zippers

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. No matter how good the material of the backpack, if the attachment points, like zippers, are weak the whole bag is worthless. Make sure the zippers are tough and lockable where applicable.

Pockets and Compartments

The more compartments the better. Good backpacks usually have a number of compartments to help store and separate your gear so you won't have to sift through layers of clothes just to find your chapstick. For instance, maps can go in the top flap, while your flip-flops are stored conveniently in the side pocket. However you decide to pack, separate pockets allow easy and quick access to your gear. Most backpacks will also have strategically placed pockets, like on the hipbelt, so you can get to your gear without having to drop your pack.

Lightweight Internal Frame

Backpacks generally come with an internal frame, external frame, or no frame at all. I strongly recommend a lightweight internal frame made from strong carbon fiber rods. This provides more load support and just looks better. External frames are bulky, conspicuous, and use dated technology and frameless backpacks have awful load support at higher weights. Trust me, without proper weight distribution, you're shoulders are going to feel every single one of those pounds.

Side Load Access

I'm seeing less and less of this function on the newer backpacks, but if you do happen to find one with side access you're golden. You'll be able to access items from the main compartment of the bag without digging in from the top. You're life will just be that much simpler.

Suspension System with Padded Shoulders and Load Bearing Straps

Don't even consider buying a backpack unless it has either an adjustable or fixed suspension system, along with a bunch of load bearing straps. The suspension system is the part that usually rests against your back and where the padded shoulders connect. Fixed system means that it fits to one torso size, whereas the adjustable system can be calibrated. The whole system is meant to help stabilize load and transfer weight to your hips. The load bearing straps, like the sternum strap, will also help move the weight around minimizing pain and discomfort.


To minimize the discomfort from an annoying sweaty back, get a backpack with ventilation. Most internal-frame packs will have some sort of ventilation system or design feature that promotes airflow, creating a permanent breathable layer between yourself and the backpack. Although not essential for load support, it certainly increases your comfort level.

Padded Full-size Hip belt

This is probably the most important feature of any backpack since your hips will be carrying 80% of your backpacks weight. The padding in the belt will help you avoid fatigue, discomfort, and of course load distribution. Make sure you get one that's full-size, where the padding comes around your hip bone to the front, and isn't just a thin strap with a clip.

Multiple Straps and Tool Attachment Points

This feature is a personal preference and doesn't really impact comfort and load distribution but I do feel it's just as important. I like the idea of having excess straps, clips and tool attachment points. You're able to perform on-the-fly spot fixes for a variety of unexpected circumstances, making your backpack function more than just as a bag. You're able to tie, hook, and rig a whole mess of things while on the road without having to carry additional gear. Some backpacks have begun to include "daisy chains" (typically found on climbing packs) which is a series of tool attachment loops.

Internal Hydration Reservoir

An internal compartment that holds your favorite hydration bladder (i.e. Camelpak, Platypus) so you have hands free access to H2O. Openings on the backpack will allow you access to the sip tube making it a very practical feature during your long treks. You won't have to dig into your pack or stop your momentum looking for your water bottle.

What size backpack do I need

There's no definitive rule for this question, as it completely depends on your own travel style, trip duration and weather. Generally, the colder the weather the greater the capacity needed; the greater the capacity the greater the overall weight. I try to pack light and bring only what fits in the backpack. So the best advice is to find a bag capacity you're comfortable with, and pack in only what you absolutely need and what fits. I've provided a very broad guideline below:

Trip Length /Capacity in Liters (L)

Day Hikes 25-35L

1-3 Nights 35-50L

3-5 nights 50 to 75L

5+ nights 65+L

How to find the right fit

For the best comfort and proper load distribution you need to make sure your backpack fits correctly. Ideally, you should try it before you buy it, but that's not always an option. To find the correct fit you'll need to find your torso length, not your height, which is the distance, in inches, between your 7th cervical vertebra, and your iliac crest. In other words, from the base of the neck to the top of your hip bones. Once you have this measurement, use this guide:

Backpack Size /Torso Size in Inches

Extra small 15 ½

Small 16 to 17 ½

Medium/Regular 18 to 19 ½"

Large/Tall 20 +

As for your waist size, most backpacks have adjustable hip belts so finding your precise hip size is not as important as determining your torso length. Just make sure the belt sits on top of your hips, with about an inch above and below the belly button.

How much should I spend on a Hiking backpack

You'll find backpacks ranging from under $100 to as high as $600. Unless you have an unlimited budget and want the latest model just because, it isn't necessary to spend more than $300. With that being said, I would also stay away from anything under $150 as they will be lacking on essential features like a suspension system or a padded hip belt. Buying a backpack is an investment, and the last thing you want is for the seams to rip or a shoulder strap to tear off when you need it most. Just make sure your backpack has, at a minimum, the above features and fits comfortably.

The Best Backpack Brands

There are hundreds of great brands out there with an equally daunting number of styles and models. I'm not really the authority on which brand is better than the next. I can only tell you the brands I prefer and those whose quality I have confidence in. I've been using the same Osprey backpack since 2004, and my wife has been using a Gregory for nearly as long. I can honestly say, that after relentless airline abuse, backcountry trips, and overseas adventures, not a single strap, zipper or clip has ever needed replacement. Worth mentioning as well, Osprey and Gregory offer lifetime warranties on all their bags. You'll probably never need it, but it's great to know that the company stands behind their products.


With 40 years experience manufacturing backpacks, and a lifetime warranty, Osprey exudes quality. They have one of the largest selections of styles and sizes for all sorts of adventuring, and their packs sport the latest backpacking technology. Osprey is my personal favorite and go to brand of choice; you really can't go wrong with these guys.


Like Osprey, these guys specialize in backpacks. My wife will attest to their quality and comfort. She has used her backpack for close to 10 years without a need to ever repair or replace. Gregory also stands behind their products with a lifetime warranty.

The North Face

Originating in San Francisco, The North Face has been developing adventure gear for over 40 years. I've never had the pleasure of using their backpacks, but with their pedigree and lifetime warranty, I would feel confidant carrying their packs any day of the week.


Along with having a really cool name, Arc'teryx pumps out some pretty awesome products. They are one of the more expensive brands out there, but if you're willing to pay the price, you'll most certainly get the quality


A low to mid range brand, Deuter is a solid choice if you want function for a reasonable price. They've been in the backpacking game since 1968 and are very popular amongst Europeans.

Backpack Accessories

Rain Cover (separate or built in)

Most backpacks are water resistant but not waterproof, making them susceptible to persistent rain exposure. It's a worthwhile addition if your backpack doesn't already come with a built in rain cover. You needn't get a fancy one or spend a lot of money, just make sure it fits your pack size. I use REI's Ducks Back Rain Cover, and it works perfectly fine.

Airporter Bag

The last thing you want is to have your backpack damaged before you even start your trip. With all the straps, exposed shoulder, and hipbelt, it's easy for something to get caught and tear right off. An Airporter bag will cover your entire backpack (think bag within a bag) and protect it during transport. As well, you can put a lock on the lockable zippers as an extra layer of theft deterrence. I have the Osprey Airporter LZ. I wish it was lighter (weighs about 1lb) but I suppose it's worth it for the extra peace of mind.