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The Backpacking Light Podcast explores the technology, gear, skills, and philosophy of backcountry wilderness travel through stories, interviews, and investigative reports.

The Backpacking Light Podcast explores the technology, gear, skills, and philosophy of backcountry wilderness travel through stories, interviews, and investigative reports.
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The Backpacking Light Podcast explores the technology, gear, skills, and philosophy of backcountry wilderness travel through stories, interviews, and investigative reports.




The ANWR, Public Lands, and the Trump Administration

Jimmy Carter created the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1980, and it’s been a contentious subject virtually ever since. A bonanza of biodiversity, it also potentially sits atop one of America’s last untapped oil reserves. In this episode, Andrew talks to Adam Federman, a journalist covering the recent push by the Trump administration to lease oil and gas rights in the refuge. Adam is a reporting fellow with Type Investigations, where he’s spent the last few years covering energy, public...


SKILLS SHORT: Maceration and Immersion Foot Diseases

As backpackers, we spend a lot of time thinking about and managing our feet. One problem that crops up a lot (especially for those of us who choose to utilize ultralight footwear, hike in damp or snowy environments, or both) is wet feet. Feet that get wet and stay wet can cause all kinds of nasty issues - starting with maceration (wrinkly, pale, soft skin) and progressing through to immersion foot diseases like trench foot, tropical immersion foot, and warm water immersion foot. In this...


TRIP SHORT: The Tahoe Rim Trail

When Backpacking Light Gear Editor and Podcast Producer Andrew Marshall set out on a fast thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail, he knew he’d be contending with Sierra snow pack that was several hundred percent above average. The story of that trip - trail conditions, lessons learned, and gear tested - is the subject of this BPL TRIP SHORT. After a brief introduction, Ryan and Andrew spend some time discussing the Tahoe Rim Trail and conditions in the Eastern Sierra. Among other things, the guys...


SKILLS SHORT: Training for Backpacking

It’s no secret: the more physically prepared you are for a backpacking trip, the more you are going to enjoy yourself. But what are the most effective ways to reach optimal backpacking condition? That’s the topic of today’s BPL SKILLS SHORT: training. After a brief introduction, Ryan and Andrew get right to it - covering some basics like living at sea level, training on stable vs. uneven ground, and trail vs. road running. After that they talk about cycling, stabilizing muscles, core...


SKILLS SHORT: Tent-Bound in a Storm

In this episode, Ryan offers some practical guidelines for managing wet gear, condensation, and camp chores if you have to be holed up in a tent during a prolonged period of inclement weather. This podcast is brought to you ad-free by the subscribing members of Please leave us a review and rating, it helps other people find our show!


Lightweight Chairs and Other Seats for Backpacking

Tired of sacrificing comfort for a low base weight? So is Doug Johnson, a longtime BPL author on a multi-year quest to discover a luxurious-but-ultralight backcountry experience. Doug has treated himself (and his family) to extensive cook systems, thick sleeping pads, and cozy hammocks - now he’s turned his expert eye to the world of ultralight backcountry seating. It’s a fascinating gear category, and one with wildly different approaches to solving what appears to be a simple problem - how...


Upright Canister Stoves

This episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast is a deep dive into the world of upright canister stoves. Canister stoves are notoriously difficult to compare accurately. Variations in testing conditions and methodology make any head-to-head comparisons suspect at best, especially when using manufacturer generated data. That’s why we developed StoveBench and spent hundreds of hours applying the methodology to virtually every sub-four ounce upright canister stove on the market. The result is...



Today’s episode is a TECH SHORT. In this episode we talk about StoveBench: Backpacking Light’s new protocol for standardizing stove performance comparisons. We just published our huge Upright Canister Stove Gear Guide, in which we evaluated over 30 different upright canister stove stoves, eventually putting 17 through a variety of StoveBench tests. In light of that article we wanted to take a few minutes to more fully explain StoveBench. In developing StoveBench, Ryan’s goal was to...


The Sun is a Compass

In this episode, we talk to the Alaskan writer, biologist, and adventurer Caroline Van Hemert. Caroline is an ornithologist who, along with her husband Pat, undertook a 4,000-mile human-powered journey from Bellingham Washington to Kotzebue, a small town high above the arctic circle. Caroline’s written a book about her journey, The Sun is a Compass. The book weaves together a lot of threads: the path Caroline’s life took to get to the start of her journey, her relationship with her husband,...


SKILLS SHORT: Winter Backpacking

Today’s episode is a SKILLS SHORT where we'll discuss the philosophy and skills of lightweight winter backpacking. This episode marks the first of our BPL Podcast Shorts: 15- to 20-minute episodes that focus on a news item, a piece of gear or tech, or specific ultralight backpacking skills. This format won’t replace our long episodes. Instead, it will supplement them, so make sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss anything! As we recorded this episode, a huge winter storm was rolling...


Trekking Poles

This podcast is about trekking poles. Trekking poles are a surprisingly contentious piece of gear in the UL world. Their utility and usefulness is endlessly debated, and the science that backs up manufacturer claims is all over the map. It’s a murky world, but Andrew and Ryan jump in with both feet (and two poles each) to help you make some sense of it. The guys kick things off by interviewing Rob Shaul, founder and owner of the Mountain Tactical Institute. Rob makes a living training...


Backcountry Filmmaking & Photography

This podcast is about photography and filmmaking in the backcountry. It used to be that creating professional photography and video content in the mountains required thirty or more pounds of gear. Not anymore. An explosion of innovation over the last few years means that you can now tell stories and capture adventures with a high degree of quality while maintaining a low pack weight and a minimalist mindset. In this episode, Andrew and Ryan dig deep into the tools, skills, and philosophy...



In the summer of 2018 eleven people ventured into Montana’s Absorka-Beartooth Wilderness on Backpacking Light’s guided Whitetail Trek. They faced snow, hail, high temperatures, exposed conditions above treeline, and unstable footing. On top of all that, they were off-trail almost the entire way. The point of the trip was to gain the skills and confidence necessary to route plan and navigate off-trail in the mountains. Today’s episode examines navigational strategies and tools through the...


Roundtable Conversation with Wilderness Adventure Guides

In response to reader feedback and in the interest of exploring new formats, Ryan and Andrew are experimenting with new types of episodes to bring you a few different variations on the podcast. This episode features a conversation with a few of the Backpacking Light Wilderness Adventure guides. Kevin Fletcher, Dan Wielenga, and Adam Van Zee joined Ryan in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in June for our annual Guide's Training course. In the car on the way home, our conversation turned to...


Backpacking Food and Nutrition

In this episode we tackle the science, myths, and dogma surrounding backpacking food and nutrition. Featuring guest Brian Rigby, certified sports nutritionist and author. We tackle food and nutrition issues as they relate to thru-hiking, ketogenic diets, plant-based diets (veganism and vegetarianism), gluten-free issues, and macronutrient-micronutrient nutrition. Some questions we ask: what are the caloric and nutritional needs of backpackers? Why do we need to address dogma and...


Dyneema Composite Fabrics

In this episode we dive into the design, manufacturing, and applications of Dyneema Composite Fabrics. We interview Wes Hatcher, Applications Manager for DSM Dyneema, along with cottage ultralight backpacking company founders Graham Williams (CiloGear), Mike St. Pierre (Hyperlite Mountain Gear), Joe Valesko (ZPacks), Henry Shires (Tarptent), and Glen Van Peski (Gossamer Gear) and discuss the relevance of Dyneema Composite Fabrics for apparel, shelters, backpacks, and more. Click here for...


Synthetic Insulation

Ryan and Andrew explore the science, technology, and applications behind synthetic insulation. We interview Max Neale about his two-year project reviewing lightweight synthetic-insulated jackets, the nature of expedition risk, and his party's recent helicopter rescue on the world's largest mountain. Click here for show notes This podcast is brought to you ad free by the subscribing members of Please leave us a review and rating, it helps other people find our...