Great Basin Trail Backpacking Gear List: Summary & Rationale

Great Basin Trail

Gear List: Great Basin Trail

Later this month, I’ll be heading out to hike 800 miles of the Great Basin Trail (GBT). If you haven’t heard of the GBT, it’s a roughly 1100 mile route plotted by Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva. The route is a loop contained solely within the state of Nevada and the geographic feature of the Great Basin. It traverses 26 mountain ranges and 19 basins. It travels through barren, harsh, remote, and beautiful landscapes. Water sources are unreliable and resupply points are sparse.

Image from

Due to my book editing schedule, I won’t have time to complete the entire route in one outing. However, I’ll still be able to fit in about 800 miles this spring, from Tonopah to Lake Valley Summit, hiking clockwise around the loop. 

Ryan plotted this route in spring of 2020 and has provided an incredible abundance of resources for GBT hikers. These can be found on his website, along with his striking photos and compelling route descriptions. It’s worth your time to check out his GBT resources whether you plan to hike the route or not. For those who do wish to hike some or all of the GBT, it would be remiss of me not to mention that it requires off-trail navigation and route finding skills, comfort with hot, harsh, dry environments, and a fondness for desolate, remote places.

Route Conditions

The primary factors influencing my gear selections are my intended style of hiking and the expected conditions. My preferred approach to long distance hiking is to hike dawn to dusk, spending time in camp only to sleep and charge up for the next day. Because I like to cover miles, I aim to keep my pack weight fairly light, while still being safe and comfortable. 

When researching the route to understand what to expect, I’m looking at average temperatures (adjusted for elevation), average precipitation, wildlife, amount of off trail travel, trail type, terrain type, vegetation, sun exposure, water availability, and remoteness.

The value in researching what to expect is that it helps me:

1) alleviate fears about a hike,

2) ensure I have the items I need (and not the ones I don’t), and

3) understand the skills I need to improve upon before the embarking on the trip. 

Gear List Summary

What’s in my pack for this trip?

My gear selections are based on the expected conditions. Because water sources are distant and unreliable, I’ll have a 6 liter water carrying capacity. I’m also bringing my warmer sleeping bag, warmer down jacket, and a midweight fleece as I expect to be sleeping above 8,000’ regularly and hiking along windy, exposed ridgelines. I’ll also be carrying a pack that’s comfortable at 25-30 pounds, as I’ll regularly be carrying more water and food weight, along with warmer clothes.

My full GBT gear list can be seen here

Questions about my selections or the route? Comment below.

How to Get Ready for an 800-mile Backpacking Trip

On Sunday I’m heading out to hike an 800-mile route in the Great Basin of Nevada. And in this email I want to share with you the exact strategies I used to help me prepare my mind and body.

This route traverses 26 mountain ranges and 19 basins. It travels through barren, harsh, remote, and beautiful landscapes. Water sources are unreliable and resupply points are sparse.

After many long distance hikes, here’s my current process that allows me to prepare for soul-expanding adventures so that I can embark on my journey with confidence, resilience, and excitement — and I know it will help you do the same.

*I research the route and the expected conditions*

Will I need this extra shirt? Do I need down pants? How much water carrying capacity do I need? Perhaps, like me, these are the types of things you ask yourself before a hike.

The answer to each of these questions lies in researching your route so that you know what to expect and you don’t have to guess. When you research the expected conditions, like climate, terrain, sun exposure, wildlife, weather patterns, and water availability, you know how to choose your gear and uplevel your skills so that you can head out with so much more confidence.

*I assess the potential route risks and create a safety plan*

A key component of backcountry travel is assessing and mitigating risk. Risks can fall into many categories including weather, injury, navigation, wildlife, human interactions, water, snow, and solo hiking. Mitigation strategies include gear selection, skill acquisition, practice, and education. I mentally rehearse worst case scenarios and create back-up plans. Additionally, I train my mind to remain flexible and adaptable in the field.

*I optimize my physical health with proper training and a diet that creates resilience*

Creating optimal physical health before a trip is multifaceted. It involves creating a physical training plan that creates cardiovascular fitness, mobility, strength, and includes training specificity. Building up slowly is essential to a smooth transition to full time exercise and to avoid injuries.  

Beyond physical training, I get my body as healthy and resilient as possible through a nourishing diet, optimizing gut health, and prioritizing sleep and stress management. These practices reduce overall inflammation in the body, build up nutrient stores, and ensure I’m going into my adventure strong.

A long hike is depleting for the body and going in with a full battery improves the likelihood that I’ll stay healthy and finish my hike successfully. It also allows me to have better energy and stay more present while I’m out there.

While it’s possible to come off the couch and start hiking big miles, I’ve been on trips where hiking partners have incurred injury and had to get off trail due to lack of training and overall health. It’s always unfortunate to see someone spend months planning an adventure just to go home after a week.

*I cultivate a mindful state of resilience and anticipate success*

And finally, with all of this in place, I decide that I am capable and resilient. Like anyone else, I have fears and doubts that come up when I’m planning the next big trip.

When that happens, I reflect on the preparations I’ve undergone, reflect on the many times I’ve been rewarded for doing things that felt scary, and I trust in my ability to figure it out (whatever “it” may be in the moment).

>>This is my one precious life and I want to live it fully.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing posts on what’s in my backpack for this trip, a run-down of my food bag, as well as other strategies I’m implementing to keep me healthy and happy on my hike.

To me, the gear, the food, the health, the skills are all a means to helping me get outside where I remember who I am and stay present once I’m out there.  

Are you ready to be fully prepared for your next trip?

Backpacking season is upon us and in honor of my birthday today, I’m offering all of my online courses at 20% off until Friday at midnight!!

Want to feel at home in the backcountry?

When you have a methodical process for assessing and mitigating backcountry risk, walking onto the trail is as comfortable as walking into your living room. The Backpacker Academy Stay Safe in the Backcountry Course allows you to embark on your next adventure with a complete backcountry preparation plan, knowing that you’ve thoroughly evaluated and prepared for the risks unique to your route.

Enroll here with code ADVENTURE21 for 20% off!

Want to become a better backcountry navigator?

Imagine embarking on your next adventure with a deeper understanding of the various tools for backcountry navigation and the knowledge of how to use them. The Backpacker Academy How to Become a Better Navigator Course teaches you how to use observation, logic, and topography to help yourself stay found.

Enroll here with code ADVENTURE21 for 20% off!

Want to embark on your next backcountry trip fully prepared physically, with your health battery topped off?

Our flagship course, Adventure Ready, is your guide to complete physical preparation for optimal strength, energy, and resilience on your next adventure. Learn to master your mindset, optimize your gut health, dial in your diet, and reduce overall inflammation so that you have better energy, faster recovery, and improved immunity when you hit the trail. Stay present to your experience and enjoy nature without the distraction of aches and pains.

Enroll here with code ADVENTURE21 for 20% off!

What backcountry adventures await you this summer?

Get the deals here and get yourself ready to enjoy the outdoors more this season! Use code ADVENTURE21 for 20% all the courses!

How to Overcome Fear and Embark on Your Outdoor Adventure

wind river high route

Fear is essential for our survival, but when it runs rampant in your mind, it can hold you back from pursuing outdoor adventure dreams, such as thru-hiking a long trail. At minimum, it can cause you to pack unnecessary items or to make unfounded changes to your itinerary.

If fear has held you back from embarking on a backcountry adventure, you’re certainly not alone. In my experience, personally and from working with hundreds of clients and students, fear is a universal experience. This is particularly true when facing unknown and (seemingly) unpredictable circumstances, such as in nature. In this post, I share how I personally work with and learn from my fear, so that it no longer runs the show.

Even after 8000+ backpacking miles and hundreds of nights spent sleeping on the ground, I still have fears about trips to the backcountry. As I’ve gained experience, skills, and knowledge, my fears have shifted, and I’ve learned how to examine and work with them, instead of ignoring them, suppressing them, or allowing them to run the show. 

Fear exists for a reason

This post is not about crushing your fears or becoming fearless. Fear exists for a reason, which is to keep us safe from physical danger. It’s important and necessary. WIthout a healthy amount of fear, we wouldn’t last long. The problem with fear is that we allow ourselves to fear things that aren’t actually life-threatening and we often exaggerate the perceived danger to the point where it becomes an unkillable dragon in our minds. 

My approach to fear is to work with it and learn from it, not fight against it or ignore it. I believe my job, as a somewhat rational adult, is to get to the root of the fear, determine its validity, and use it to help me make decisions and learn.

What is there to fear?

While there might be concerns that come up in the planning process, such as fear of leaving a stable income, this post is about the common fears that arise when you think of going on a multi-night trip in the backcountry.

For instance: 

  • Being cold 
  • Navigation challenges and getting lost
  • Cold, wet weather
  • Sleep comfort (cold temperatures, things crawling into tent while you sleep)
  • Hunger
  • Wildlife – especially bears, bugs, and big cats
  • Being alone
  • Unexpected medical issues
  • Terrain – river crossings, heights, exposure

These types of fears prevent many people from going out into the backcountry and causes them to miss out on incredible life experiences. Each of these concerns does include some degree of risk, but often it’s much less than we think and the risks can be mitigated. 

The following process is how I’ve learned to work with these types of fears and how you can too. 

Note that this does not apply to circumstances where I’m in actual physical danger. When real danger is present, fear is a healthy response, one should “listen” to that fear and extract themselves from the source of the danger as quickly as possible. 

This process is for working with fear of an event that hasn’t actually occurred. 

Name it. 

Acknowledge that it exists, feel the fear, and name it. Get to know the sensations and behaviors that indicate to you that you might be dealing with fear of a situation. Sometimes, you can’t always pinpoint what it is at first, but you may be experiencing a tightening in the chest, a pit in the stomach, anxiety, irritability, and procrastination. Get honest with yourself about what you’re feeling. Example: I’m afraid I might get lost if I go on this trip solo and it’s causing me to feel anxious about my trip, and I’m thinking about canceling.

Write it down. 

When things stay up in our minds, they can get blown out of proportion and feel larger than life. Putting your fear down on paper helps you see it for what it is and begin to process it. Write down everything you’re afraid will go “wrong”. 

Question it. 

Once you have it on paper, question it. If this thing happens, what’s the consequence? Playing the scenarios through in your mind accomplishes a few goals. 

  • It takes some of the power away from the fear because you’ve dissected it and explored exactly what the consequences might be and how bad they actually are.
  • It allows you to determine how likely those consequences are to occur.
  • It helps you to make a realistic plan for how you can avoid the worst case scenario. 
  • It allows you to have a plan for what you’ll do if it happens.

On a piece of paper, write down what you’re afraid of. In a column next to that, write down the consequences if the thing you’re afraid of happened. Next to that column, write out how you could respond if that thing happened. Next to that column, jot down some ideas for how you could prevent yourself from that situation in the first place. 

Research the likely conditions. 

How realistic is your fear? Researching the likely conditions for your trip allows you to know what to expect. That provides a sense of safety and allows you to prepare yourself with the correct gear and skills. Research conditions such as expected temperatures, precipitation, weather patterns, wildlife, remoteness, navigational challenges, and more. The more data you have on your trip, the more confident you will be. Your fears begin to dissolve when you realize the likelihood of them happening is often very small and that you have a plan if they do.

Prepare yourself.

Once you know what to expect, you can prepare yourself. Educate yourself on how to handle animal encounters or safely cross snow fields, for example. Plan your clothing choices and sleeping bag based on the expected weather conditions. Skilling up for your outing helps to increase confidence and diminish fear. 

Avoid the risks you can and brainstorm on how you can make choices that mitigate the risks you can’t entirely avoid. For example, there’s inherent risk in hiking solo, but you can carry a satellite communication device and leave a detailed itinerary with someone at home to reduce the risk. 

Check out our Stay Safe in the Backcountry Course and Become a Better Backcountry Navigator Course to prepare you to embark on your next outing with greater skill and confidence!

Get into action. 

At least 90% of my anxiety dissolves as soon as I get into action and start doing the thing. Once I take the first few steps of a hike, I’m so glad I didn’t let me fears hold me back. There are very real dangers in the backcountry, but like in other parts of life, there are ways to prepare yourself and mitigate the risk. Remember that your mind is a very powerful force. When you allow your fears to grow unchecked, it can lead to a life of regrets and unlived dreams. 

One of my favorite quotes on the topic of fear:

“A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd

Enroll in our free healthy, UL meal planning course to help you prepare for your next backcountry adventure.

What would you add to this list that helps you deal with trepidation about heading out into the backcountry? Comment below.

Backpacking on a Healthy, Gluten Free, Dairy Free Diet: Meal & Snack Ideas

After completing the PCT as a vegetarian and the CDT on a gluten free, dairy free, and low grain diet, backpacking with dietary restrictions is something with which I have a lot of experience.

Nutrition is the primary way that I manage my autoimmune condition and keep debilitating symptoms at bay so that I can continue doing what I love—hiking big mile days in remote wilderness environments. When I’m backpacking, not only do I need foods that keep inflammation as low as possible, I’m also looking for energy-dense foods that keep pack weight low and which are shelf stable. 

That said, backpacking on a restricted diet isn’t nearly as difficult as most people assume. In this post, I lay out some nutritional considerations to keep in mind if you’re on a restricted diet, and then provide a variety of meal and snack options. While I haven’t tried everything on this list, many of these are tried and true favorites.

For an intro on my healthy lightweight eating philosophy, read more here and here, and find a sample 5-day meal plan here.

Plan Ahead

On multi-month hikes, I’ve found the least hassle and most success at having the food I need by planning ahead and mailing at least a few resupply boxes. I send boxes to locations with limited options, and purchase from local grocery stores in larger, full service towns. For me, it’s worth the extra preparation time at home to be sure I have what I need to feel my best on trail.  

Nutritional Considerations

For vegans and vegetarians, particular considerations to be aware of are specific nutrient deficiencies as well as protein intake. The most common deficiencies in this population are Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, and Zinc. These all play a role in energy and immunity and the best way to know your status is to get tested.

The other concern is adequate protein consumption. Vegetarian or not, everyone should be paying attention to protein intake as it’s easy to overlook on trail. Protein is critical for muscle repair and synthesis, as well as proper immune function. The best way to know if you’re consuming enough is to track your intake/plan your menu.

Overview of Backpacking Food Options

In general, most backpackers’ food choices fit into the following 4 “styles”:

  • Freeze-dried meals
  • Typical thru-hiker “convenience” foods
  • Home-dehydrated meals
  • Assembled meals from purchased/bulk ingredients (my pick)

You could find options on a restricted diet with any of those approaches, but freeze-dried meals tend to be pricey (especially on a long hike), and gluten free/dairy free/vegan convenience foods tend to be low in nutrients and no healthier than their traditional counterparts. Dehydrating your own meals at home is a great option if you have the time and interest. My personal preference is to purchase dehydrated or freeze dried ingredients and assemble my own, simple meals at home. Here are a few recipes

Gluten Free Meal & Snack Ideas

In addition to everything on this list being gluten free, 90% is dairy free, and a few options are vegan. All are suitable for cold-soaking, if that’s your preference.

For the most part, this list focuses on “healthier” options because that’s my personal preference and I’ve found that the quality of my diet directly correlates to how well I feel and perform on trail. Healthy is a nebulous term, but I’m using it here to mean foods that are nutrient-dense and low on the inflammation spectrum.  

Keep in mind that just because a product is vegan, gluten free, keto or has any other specialty label, that doesn’t make it healthy. Oreos are a classic vegan cookie! Read ingredient lists and stick to whole food-based products. Many hikers get caught up in only thinking about calories, which matter, but your food can do so much more for you.  

Do your due diligence when purchasing any of these products. If you have Celiacs, confirm that products were manufactured in GF facilities. 

For more gluten free, dairy free hiker foods, sorted by calories per ounce, grab the Healthy Hiker Grocery Guide!

Breakfast Ideas

Oatmeal w/ GF oats, chia seeds, hemp hearts, coconut milk powder
Skip the Sugar Crash Trail Smoothie

Gluten Free Snack/Lunch Ideas


My approach to dinner is to start with a protein (meat or beans), add a carbohydrate (beans, noodles, rice, etc), add healthy fat (olive oil or coconut oil), add veggies, add spices.

  • Instant hummus
  • Instant black beans, refried beans
  • Dehydrated veggies
  • Rice noodles, like Lotus Foods
  • Coconut wraps
  • Corn tortillas 
  • Instant quinoa
  • Minute Instant rice
  • Freeze dried meats

Additional Gluten Free Ingredients

  • Protein powders: collagen or plant-based
  • Cheese powder
  • Whole milk powder
  • Butter powder
  • Coconut milk powder
  • Olive oil packets
  • Coconut oil packets
  • Mustard packets
  • Hot sauce packets
  • GF tamari packets
  • Avocado mayo packets


  • Instant coffee
  • Instant tea (I like Cusa)
  • Electrolytes: EmergenC, Nuun, Replenisher, LMNT, Bumble Roots
  • Treehouse drinking chocolate

Pre-packaged Options for Gluten Free Hikers

  • Food for the Sole
  • Heather’s Choice
  • Outdoor Herbivore
  • Patagonia Provisions
  • Fresh Off the Grid
  • Next Mile Meals
  • Wild Zora
  • FirePot
  • Mary Jane’s
  • Good-to-Go
  • Nomad Nutrition

Sources if you’re creating your own meals from purchased ingredients

  • Vitacost
  • Harmony House
  • North Bay Trading Company
  • Karen’s naturals

Ready to take the next step? See our Backpacker Academy courses on pre-hike physical preparation, backcountry navigation, and backcountry safety. 


Healthy, Ultralight Meal Planning Course (free)

Trail Food Makeover: How to Eat for Optimal Energy and Endurance

Oregon Desert Trail Resupply Planning

Thru-hiking with a Chronic Illness: Strategies Anyone Can Use to be a Stronger Hiker

What would you add to this list? Do you have any dietary restrictions? Share your favorite snack below!

Macronutrients for Backpackers, an Introduction

Planning your food for a long distance hike can feel overwhelming: How much do I eat? What do I eat that’s going to provide energy for 10+ hours of hiking per day? How do I plan food to keep my food weight down?

There are a lot of misconceptions about what constitutes ideal backpacking foods. My intention with this post is to give you some factors to think about that will help you choose backpacking food that provides stead energy and keeps your pack weight lower. Note that this is specifically speaking to macronutrient ratios that make sense for backpackers. What you do in normal, daily life will likely be different because your body is not under the same demands.

Why bother meal planning at all? For backpackers, thinking about your macros is mostly helpful if you want to achieve:

  • lower pack weight
  • better performance (e.g. better energy, better endurance, faster recovery, better immune function, better mood)

If you’re asking your body to perform optimally, it makes sense to provide it with optimal inputs.

The first step in backcountry meal planning is figuring out roughly how many calories to pack each day. Rather than using broad ranges, such as 2 pounds per day or X,000 calories per day, which will probably result in you over or under packing food, you can use an online calculator like the one at or to get an activity-adjusted estimate.

Once you know how much you’re eating, what should those foods consist of? That’s where macronutrients come in.

What are macronutrients?

Essentially, macronutrients are the 3 components that make up all of our food. They include protein, fat, and carbohydrate. All three are important. For this conversation, we’ll focus mostly on fat and carbohydrate. Each day, you need a minimum amount of protein, which is important for muscle repair and building, as well as immune function, neurotransmitter production, and much more.

We need a certain amount of protein each day to prevent muscle wasting and facilitate repair. The remainder of your calories consist of either fats or carbohydrates, the primary sources of your cellular energy. Your exact needs for carbohydrate and fat depend on you, but I’ll provide some factors you might want to consider when planning macros for your next backpacking trip.

High carbohydrate diets are traditionally recommended for endurance athletes, but that’s not necessarily what’s best for long distance hikers.

Here’s why:  the body’s preferred energy source depends primarily on exercise intensity and duration. Basically, when a person is exercising at high intensity, carbohydrate is the predominant fuel source, while at lower intensities, such as walking, the primary fuel source is free fatty acids.

For the most part, hiking is a low to moderate intensity activity with bursts of more intense efforts, such as when climbing a mountain or crossing difficult terrain. Therefore, backpackers have high aerobic needs, low anaerobic needs, and low strength needs. This is one reason healthy fat is an ideal fuel source for backpacking. 

Fat also makes sense for backpackers from a pack weight perspective since fat is 2.4x more calorically dense than carbohydrates or protein. This means you can carry less food weight overall by carrying more high -fat foods.  Basically, a high-fat diet weighs less than a high-carbohydrate diet with the same number of calories. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you decide to consume a diet higher in fat, it’s important to choose healthy sources of fat, consume adequate protein and a lower ratio of carbohydrate. It’s also important to note that high fat here is being discussed specifically for how it can be conducive to a long distance hiking trip. With any dietary changes, it’s valuable to get tested to see how changes are affecting your bloodwork.  

So, how do you put this info into action? To recap, 

  1. Figure out your total calorie needs with an online activity-adjusted calculator.
  2. Identify your ideal ratio of macronutrients.
  3. Figure out your protein needs first. Anywhere from 15-25% is probably appropriate for most backpackers.  You can research recommendations online and choose the ratio that feels most appropriate for you.
  4. The remainder of your daily calories are come from a combination of fat and carbohydrates. Favoring fats can be ideal for backpackers to help them lower pack weight. Nutritionally, fats are also ideal for low to moderate intensity activities. Carbohydrates are helpful for when you need quick bursts of energy as well as for restoring glycogen and sleeping better at night.

Interested in better health and an expanded skill set so that you can embark on your next backpacking trip with more confidence? Explore our Adventure Ready Backpacker Academy!

Backpacking Solo: Tips + Strategies

Have you ever felt called to go on a big adventure, or even to hit a local trail for a day hike, and then you ended up canceling on yourself because you couldn’t find a hiking partner and didn’t quite feel safe going alone?

I get it. The thought of taking off on a solo trek can be both alluring and frightening. And unfortunately, it keeps many otherwise avid adventurers from hitting the trail. Even for more experienced backcountry users, solo hiking can be intimidating and brings up fear. Undoubtedly, hiking with a partner is safer. That said, there are ways to make hiking solo more comfortable and safe so that you can get outside with more confidence.

Hiking solo can also be incredibly rewarding. It can help you increase your self confidence, your skill set, and your connection with yourself and the nature around you. I’ve hiked thousands of miles alone, and while it’s been unnerving at times, it’s also been one of the most satisfying parts of my times spent outdoors.

Here are some tips to get you started: 

  1. Trust your gut. This goes for life and on the trail. If someone seems creepy, get away as quickly as possible. Don’t be afraid to lie. Don’t tell people where you’re camping if they ask. Just give a vague answer like “Whenever I get tired”.   We’re taught not to be rude to others, but you don’t owe anyone any thing and your safety is your top priority.
  1. Identify what exactly scares you about solo backpacking. Is it getting caught in bad weather? Is it wildlife? Is it interactions with other humans? Often when something scares us, it feels like this nebulous overarching fear. If we can narrow it down exactly what makes us uneasy, we can take steps to prepare for that risk and that helps reduce fear. Take a moment to get honest with yourself and get to the root of your fears so you can work through them.
  1. Educate yourself. As we just covered, a lot of fear stems from the unknown and by educating yourself on likely conditions, common wildlife, and learning best practices for how to confront these scenarios, you can increase confidence.  The Backcountry Safety Course goes into depth on how to create a backcountry preparation plan and walks you through the most common risks you’ll encounter on a backpacking trip.
  1. Be prepared. There are measures you can take to make solo hiking safer. Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return. Give them contact info and instructions for what to do if you don’t return as planned. Carry a personal locator beacon (PLB) such as a SPOT or Garmin inReach. Carry runner’s mace if that makes you more comfortable. Take the proper gear for the conditions you expect to encounter. Additionally, avoid posting a detailed itinerary of your trip anywhere public, such as social media.
  1. Work with your mindset. Some fears are rational and some aren’t. The mind can take over if you allow it. I think it’s helpful to read, watch, and learn about others who you can relate to who are doing what you want to do. For example, if you’re a mature female and you want to start solo backpacking, seek out others in your demographic doing what you wish to do and read their stories, watch their videos. Normalize it in your mind. 

Finally, remember that you’re capable of great things. Solo backpacking may feel out of reach or scary right now, but by using these strategies you can get more comfortable with it and reap the many rewards of going into the backcountry alone.

Solo hiking is just a fraction of what’s covered in the Backcountry Safety Course, which also covers Navigation, Weather, Wildlife Interactions, Human Interactions and more!

Find more free resources here.

Is inflammation slowing you down on your backpacking trip?

Chronic and persistent inflammation can take a toll on your body and impact your hike by causing decreased energy and endurance, slower recovery, stiffness, joint aches and pains, brain fog, GI issues and more. Not fun when you’re out to enjoy nature! This post will cover how inflammation affects your backpacking trip, common sources, and what you can do to prevent it and have a more enjoyable hike.

So, what is inflammation?

It’s a critical component of your immune system which occurs when the body is injured or under threat. 

In the short term, inflammation is great because it can help the body protect itself and heal. The problem occurs when this response gets stuck in the “on” position because the body is under low level stress that doesn’t go away. This is what’s referred to as chronic inflammation and is the focus of this post. 

It shows up differently for everyone, but here are a few of the impacts it can have on you as a backpacker:

-decreased energy and endurance 

-slower recover

-decreased immune function

-slower wound healing

-increased susceptibility to illness 

-persistent joint aches and stiffness

-brain fog & inability to navigate or accurately assess backcountry risk

Dealing with any or all of the above can put a damper on your time in the backcountry. Consider the following sources of inflammation and which ones might be at play in your life. 

Sources of inflammation

-dietary triggers 

-poor sleep

-stress (physical, chemical, psychological)

-environmental toxins


-guilt, shame around food & body

-social isolation

-social media addiction

-lack of a higher purpose

Steps you can take to optimize performance

The sources directly inform the steps you can take to mitigate systemic inflammation. Nourish your body with good food, prioritize sleep, manage stress, reduce toxin exposure from cleaning products and personal care products, spend time with loved ones, look for the positive, and most of all – love and respect the body you’re in. 

Ready for the next step? The Adventure Ready online course walks you step by step through the process of reducing systemic inflammation and dialing in a personalized training plan so you’re ready for your next backcountry outing. Find details here.

Renew Yourself in the New Year

If you’re feeling off-kilter in the wake of 2020, you’re certainly not alone. The beginning of a new calendar year presents a time to refocus on what we want in our lives. We can choose for it to be a time to regain the balance that may have slipped away in the previous 12 months. Utilize the following practices to renew yourself in the new year.

Set the Vision

How do you want to feel? It can be easy to forget that we have a choice in the matter. After a whirlwind of a year, you may find that you’ve been in reactive mode for quite some time. Take a moment to tune into how you actually desire to feel moving forward. Write it down. Next, write down the things which make you feel that way. Perhaps it’s phone calls with friends, time in nature, eating healthy food, or donating your time. Make a plan for how you can do more of those things each week, even if you have to start small. Life will likely continue to test you, but having a guidepost for how you desire to feel and remembering that you get to choose is a powerful step to renew yourself.

Create Space

Creating space for what we wish to create in our lives requires removing the old. Examine each area of your life and evaluate how you can simplify and remove the clutter. In your home and office, remove trash and tidy up your space so that it feels calming and grounding. Is your closet full of clothes that you don’t wear which could be donated? Similarly, review your calendar and determine what tasks can be delegated or deleted entirely. Often, we don’t realize the mental energy required to make hundreds of tiny daily decisions ranging from which outfit to wear to what tasks to complete. I even invite you to audit your beliefs and determine what you may be holding onto that no longer serves you. Clear the clutter to renew yourself – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Feed Your Mind

You know that phrase “You are what you eat”? Similarly, your mind becomes what you continually feed it. Take inventory of what you’re mentally consuming on a daily basis. How much time are you spending on social media (check ‘screen time’ under your phone’s settings menu)? How much news are you taking in? Staying informed is one thing, but getting caught in the 24/7 news cycle is maddening. Taking a break from consuming any media at all can be a powerful way to regain balance by allowing you to connect with yourself, your intuition, and what actually matters to you. At minimum, set boundaries around what level of usage feels good to you and choose your sources intentionally. 

Nourish Your Body & Love Yourself

Instead of going on a new diet this January, what if you decided to focus your attention on loving yourself to the best of your ability? Can you practice self compassion and give yourself credit for doing the best you can? One of the most powerful ways to renew yourself in the new year is to honor your mind, body, and spirit. This might include eating healthy food, staying hydrated, and getting 8 hours of sleep each night. It may also include creating a morning routine that fills your cup, carving out more time to spend in nature, and being mindful of your self talk. Choose for this to be a time of prioritizing yourself and regaining your own sense of groundedness so that you can enter the new year feeling refreshed and ready to support those around you.

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How to Reduce Holiday Stress

The holiday season is a time to gather with loved ones to celebrate and connect, but it’s also a time of anxiety, overwhelm, and stress for many. Most of us know the familiar feeling of pressure to get the right gifts, make the perfect meal, and attend every event. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way! With foresight and intention, you can transform the holidays into a time of joy, gratitude, and connection rather than a flurry of stress, burnout, and loneliness. Use the following tips to cope with holiday stress and make this year your most easeful yet.

Prioritize Self Care to Stress Less

During a time of year when much of your focus is on giving to others, don’t forget to give to yourself too. The most powerful gift is self-care in the form of good nutrition, movement, and sleep. Focus on whole foods and keep sugar consumption in check. Aim to fit in daily exercise, whether it’s a 30-minute walk in nature, a gym session, or another favorite activity. Make this time non-negotiable. Similarly, block out 8 hours for sleep nightly and create an effective bedtime routine.

Rely On Stress-busting Herbal Allies

Herbs such as lemon balm, linden, passionflower, lavender, and milky oats can be wonderful for supporting the body during times of stress. Adaptogens are another great option for regulating the stress response. WishGarden has several formulas to help you cope with holiday stress including Deep Stress, Emotional Ally, Serious Relaxer, and Liquid Bliss. 

Maintain a Daily Gratitude Practice

In addition to keeping the physical body functioning optimally, don’t forget to nurture your mind and spirit. Practicing mindfulness meditation or spending as few as 10 minutes per day writing in a gratitude journal can profoundly shift how you interpret any stressful events that may arise. Not only does gratitude reset your stress response by shifting you into a parasympathetic state, it reconnects you to what truly matters to you.

Plan Ahead

Holiday overwhelm often stems from the feeling of having too much to do and not enough money or time. Prevent these feelings by taking time now to review your finances and create a realistic budget for the holidays. Seek out alternatives to traditional gift-giving, such as homemade gifts, upcycling, or creating an experience rather than purchasing an item.

You can approach your time similarly. Pull out a calendar and schedule events which are non-negotiable. Be realistic with what you can attend and accomplish. Evaluate what truly matters and what can go by the wayside. Discerning the vital tasks from the trivial ones helps you determine where your energy will be most effective.

Ask for Help

Remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Identify which tasks you can delegate and to whom. More than likely, the people in your life would be happy to support you. You just have to ask (nicely). Asking for help can also mean seeking out community if you’re in need of connection. Even when it feels hard to reach out, remember that others are there to support you.

The essence of the holidays is communing with loved ones and experiencing gratitude for our many blessings. Proactively managing holiday stress allows you to be fully present and enjoy this special time of year.

*this post was originally published on the blog of WishGarden Herbs.

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