Welcome to Climb & Roam the Mountain Wild
Welcome to Climb & Roam the Mountain Wild, your #1 source for backpacking needs. We are here to help you find all the best hiking and camping gear, provide insightful tips, and offer expert reviews so you can get the most enjoyment out of your time outdoors. Whether you are a through-hiker doing the Appalachian trail, or a hiking enthusiast out for a day hike, we are here to share our knowledge and experience on the trail. Our expert reviews dig deep into the details of what makes hiking and camping gear perform to the highest of levels. Regardless of your backpacking preferences, we can help you make a well-informed and enjoyable purchase.
Hitting the trail with the right pack is the one vital piece of gear that ensures you’ll be able to comfortably carry all the other trail side gear that you might need. This is one area where knowing what you want to do with your pack is pivotal. Over-stuffing a backpack that isn’t designed to carry a load of that weight and size is asking for problems. With that in mind, properly sizing your pack for your load is the key.
When the sun is shining and the weather is nice, hikers hit the trails in droves. Day hiking is the most common approach to enjoying the woods, and for obvious reasons. Along with minimal time investment, it is also an affordable option since it only requires pretty basic gear. And since the average hiking daypack is usually quite small in size, they are often a very affordable option as well.
Through-hiking is a different animal entirely from day hiking. Through hiking refers to long distance hikers that are taking on a big trail system. Three of the most popular through-hikes in the U.S. are the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), and The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Through-hiking requires a good amount of planning ahead so you have what you need starting out, and also to plan for resupplying your food and other accoutrements that you might want along the way.
If keeping your pack as light and nimble as possible for through hiking wasn’t enough for you, ultralight backpacking squeezes out every ounce of excess weight down to the very bare minimum. It’s the pursuit of a true minimalist, and requires an attention to detail that only a few strive for. But that desire for super lightweight gear has catalyzed the production of a lot of ultra lightweight backpacks and gear. Outdoor companies that know there is a market among day-hikers, through hikers, and ultra-light backpackers alike have answered that call.
Shelter is one of the most basic survival tools you have when traversing the wilderness, and tents have been used for millennia to provide a portable means of shelter. Like all outdoor gear that is meant to serve a purpose, a tent will serve you best when you know what you need from it.
You’re likely going to target fair weather for your outdoor adventures, but when the skies turn dark, you need a tent that will keep you, and any company, dry and protected from the wind. With that in mind, capacity is an important piece of the puzzle to consider. There is no exact industry standard designating how many sleepers a tent of a specific size will accommodate, so dimensions will vary across manufacturers.
For shorter hikes to set up a base camp, keeping weight to a minimum will not likely be the primary concern due to the short distance. In this case, a little added comfort can really make a lot of sense. One option is to size up your tent to one additional person larger than your party. This strategy provides the needed space to spread out and make everyone feel a lot less confined. And be sure to check the floor dimensions if you want to use a sleeping pad or air mattress.
Alternatively, if you are looking at tackling longer hikes then you’ll likely want to look at lightweight tents to keep weight down wherever possible. Accordingly, you’ll very likely be looking at a single-person tent. The compromise with lightweight materials might potentially mean taking a hit in the overall durability, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Ultralight tents from quality manufacturers are very durable. But you’ll pay more for those rugged ultralight materials since they offer a lot of extra durability.
The change of seasons is another aspect worth considering. For most backpackers hiking spring through fall, tossing up a 3-season tent trail-side is the perfect option. Three season tents are made to handle everything but the winter months, which is exactly when most backpacking occurs.
Camping trail-side in hammocks has truly exploded over the last two decades. For those accustomed to tent camping, it seems natural to assume that hammock camping is less comfortable. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Along with being super lightweight, a good quality hammock is outrageously comfortable. Not only that, but hammocks pack down into a tight space and minimize storage needs in your pack. When compared to tents, uneven ground and steep terrain has no negative impact since hammocks hang from the trees.
If you are unfamiliar with hammock camping, ultralight camping hammocks require some minor learning to get a good hang. Learning to hang a hammock is not any more difficult than learning to pitch a tent, but some of the accessories might be unfamiliar initially. Pitching a hammock rain fly and adjusting an underquilt are usually unfamiliar territory at the outset. But the simplicity of a good hammock hang setup quickly comes clear.
Some of the accessories worth looking for in modern day hammock designs are lightweight suspension, removable bug nets, built-in under quilts, and a sufficiently large rain fly for your hammock.
Whether you are spending a night on the trail, or eight months, a comfortable sleep system is how your batteries will get recharged for another day on the trail. In the long term, sleeping well is essential and knowing you will sleep in comfort is something worth looking forward to.
Comfort and warmth go hand-in-hand, and a good sleeping pad can provide both. For backpackers using a tent, a bivy sack, or even ground sleepers, sleeping pads are an absolute necessity. Without insulation, direct contact with the ground will conduct heat away from your body very quickly. Even a little cool weather will leave you shivering and sleepless.
Warmth is equally important with hammock camping. Even though direct contact with the ground isn’t in place, keeping warm at night can be a challenge. There are basically two options to place beneath your hammock. The first is a high R-value sleeping pad that maximizes the insulation provided. The second is an underquilt that suspends snugly beneath your hammock, like the lower half of a sleeping bag. Both have their pros and cons, but both work very well.
On the top-side, experienced backpacker’s warmth most often comes from using a high quality down sleeping bag. But more and more hikers are finding extraordinary warmth over that provided by a sleeping bag by switching over to a backpacking quilt. Whichever option you choose, getting the temperature rating right is important. A 20 degree bag is one of the most popular options, but don’t hesitate to acquire a 0 degree sleeping bag if that’s the gear you know you need. Knowing the conditions you’ll be facing is the key.
There’s no missing the fact that walking many, many miles is going to require keeping your feet comfortable. Choose the wrong footwear, and all forward progress will quickly come to a screeching halt. Footwear designed for the trail conditions can make all the difference in the world.
It is easy enough to assume that hiking requires a pair of hiking boots to withstand abrasive rocks and protect your feet. While that may be true for some, hiking boots are not for everyone, and all trail conditions.
You might be surprised to know that many through-hikers use trail runners to minimize weight and to allow their shoes to dry quicker after crossing creeks and streams. Importantly, through hikers are very often traversing the majority of their miles on well maintained trail and relatively even surfaces. Lighter footwear is ideal when primarily hiking these trail conditions. But different trails require different footwear.
For backpackers tackling a mountainous section with a lot of rock-covered trail, a good pair of stiff soled hiking boots are going to support the sole of your foot, and protect against abrasion and injury much better than trail runners. The trade-off being, a pair of backpacking boots will almost always weigh more than a lightweight pair of trail runners. There’s really no one-size-fits solution here, so you’ll have to decide what is best based on your environment.
Cooking food on the trail is really an enjoyable experience. Of course, it’s much simpler and less frilly than cooking at home, but well worth it. Even a very simple meal in the woods can be incredibly enjoyable. Backpacking and camping away from home means you’ll have to start making your meals more portable. One of the challenging aspects of making portable camping food in the woods is focusing on lightweight foods. Dehydrated foods and backpacking meals require a heat source for preparation, and settling on what type of stove will offer the necessary performance vs. weight is a pivotal point to consider.
Ultralight backpacking is likely to go the route of a super lightweight option, like an alcohol stove. For those accustomed to heavier camping stoves like the classic Coleman stove, alcohol stoves are somewhat comedic. Some of the most popular designs are made from what most would consider rubbish, like aluminum bottles and cat food cans. But don’t be fooled, they’re perfect for boiling water for freeze dried meals.
For a more capable backpacking stove that’s one step above the ultralight category, some of the offerings from MSR or Jetboil are among the most popular models available. Some backpackers like to have an alternative that avoids relying on a petroleum based fuel source. In that case, a backpacking wood stove is a viable option. These stoves can burn the natural biomass from the surrounding area like sticks and branches to provide reliable cooking heat at super low cost. They also remove the need to carry the added weight of a butane fuel canister, but they are slower to cook with.