Guide to Lake Verna/East Inlet Backpacking

Lake Verna, located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park and accessible via the East Inlet trailhead, offers some of the most spectacular backpacking in the region. Less…

Lake Verna, located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park and accessible via the East Inlet trailhead, offers some of the most spectacular backpacking in the region. Less crowded than other areas of Rocky Mountain National Park, Lake Verna and the East Inlet trail make for a fantastic backcountry adventure in Colorado’s most famous national park. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to plan your own Lake Verna backpacking trip.

Lake Verna

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Guide to Backpacking to Craig Meadows

Craig Meadows, located just south the town of Bailey, offers a great Colorado weekend backpacking trip. Reachable in less than an hour from Denver and often free of snow early…

Craig Meadows, located just south the town of Bailey, offers a great Colorado weekend backpacking trip. Reachable in less than an hour from Denver and often free of snow early in the season, Craig Meadows makes for an easy backpacking escape from Colorado’s Front Range. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to plan your own trip to Craig Meadows.

Backpack to Craig Meadows

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Backpacking Gear List

Camping Gear Personal Gear Women’s Clothing Men’s Clothing

Camping Gear

ItemOur recommended gear 
Map & CompassSportneer Compass
TentSierra Designs - Clip Flashlight 2 This is the best budget tent on the market!
Sleeping bagMarmot Trestles 15
Sleeping padNemo Astro Sleeping Pad If you are a side sleeper this is a must!
PillowTherm-a-Rest pillowIf you're camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
HeadlampBlack Diamond Storm headlamp
StoveMSR Pocket Rocket StoveIan has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Bear canister (or nylon cord to hang food)Bear Vault BV500
Backpacking potGSI Halulite
UtensilsHumangear Spork Best $4 you will ever spend!
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR Deep Dish plate , MSR Stainless Steel mug

Personal Gear

ItemOur recommended gear 
Water-treatment systemMSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter
Multi-toolGerber Suspension Multi-Plier
First-aid kitAdventure Medical Kits
Camel BakCamel Bak Crux - 100 oz.Way easier than a water bottle!
Small day-packCotopaxi Luzon 18LGreat for side hikes.
Pack-coverSea to Summit Pack coverThe best pack-cover we've ever used.
Men's backpackGregory Baltoro 75L
Women's backpackOsprey Aura 65L
Trekking polesBlack Diamond Trail Back Trekking polesEssential for long downhills!
Fire starter
Dry bagsSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry SackKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour!
Sunscreen

Women’s Clothing

ItemOur recommended gear 
UnderwearAdidas Climacool underwearVery packable and easy to wash on the go!
SocksDarn Tough Hiker Micro CrewIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports BraBrooks Rebound Racer Sports BraThis is the most versatile, comfortable, and high-quality sports bra that Emily has found on the market.
Long sleeve base layerSmartwool Women's NTS Mid 250 Crew
Short sleeve hiking shirt Mountain Hardwear Wicked shirt
LeggingsNike Power Essential Running Tight
Running shortsLululemon Run Speed ShortsThese shorts are so comfortable, packable, and quick-drying, that Emily didn't even feel the need to buy hiking-specific shorts.
Down jacketPatagonia Down Sweater JacketLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain jacketKelty All-Weather JacketAn affordable and high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Hiking bootsKeen Targhee II Mid Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
GaitersOutdoor Research Crocodile GaiterEssential for steam crossings and thick willows.
SunglassesSuncloud Loveseat Polarized SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you're in the mountains all day. And these are stylish too!
Hat
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco ZCloudThese are a must for the stream crossings!
BandanaBuff UV Headband
PonchoTotes Rain Poncho

Men’s Clothing

ItemOur recommended gear 
UnderwearExofficio Give-N-Go boxerHighly recommended!
SocksDarn Tough Hiker Micro CrewIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long sleeve base layerSmartwool Men's NTS Mid 250 CrewVery versatile mid-weight base layer
Short sleeve hiking shirt Moutain Hardwear Wicked shirt
Hiking pantsPrana Brion pantsThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking shortsPrana Brion shortsAwesome shorts that are great for hiking.
Down jacketPatagonia Down Sweater HoodieSuper warm, and super packable
Rain jacketOutdoor Research Helium II jacketA good rain jacket is a must!
HatOutdoor Research Performance Trucker hat
SandalsChaco Z1Great for stream crossing and hanging around camp.
GaitersOutdoor Research Crocodile GaiterEssential for stream crossings and thick willows.
Hiking bootsVasque Talus UltradrySuper comfortable and super waterproof!
BandanaLevi's bandana
Digital watchCasio Classic Sports watchAll you'll ever need
PonchoTotes Rain PonchoThis is often the most effective way to stay dry while hiking. And it's cheap!
SunglassesSuncloud Mayor Polarized sunglasses
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Our Top 5 Travel Essentials

We’re big fans of traveling as light and efficiently as possible. Whenever possible, we strive to bring the smallest carry-on bags we can pack. This reduces the stress of waiting…

We’re big fans of traveling as light and efficiently as possible. Whenever possible, we strive to bring the smallest carry-on bags we can pack. This reduces the stress of waiting for our checked bags to come out of baggage claim, makes walking to our hotel that much simpler, and provides the satisfaction of knowing that we can get by on less. To this end we have a few essential pieces of travel gear that make the “carry-on only” mindset much easier to pull-off. Here are five of our favorites:

1. Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

The first and most essential piece of gear for traveling light is a good backpack. You want a pack that is big enough to fit everything you need, but not so big that it exceeds carry-on requirements or feely bulky when walking around. Enter the Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack. The Farpoint is incredibly spacious and includes great  pockets that make staying organized on the road a breeze. It also comes with an awesome removable day-pack that gives you the flexibility to take only what you need on your daily adventures.

2. Eagle Creek Compression Cube Set

Let’s say you’re all set for your next big trip. You’ve booked the flight, reserved the Airbnb, and arranged your ride to the airport. Your only problem is that you can’t seem to fit everything you need inside your bag. Compression packing cubes solve this problem by compressing your clothes down to a fraction of their original size, allowing you to fit everything you need. Our favorite are the Eagle Creek Pack It Specter set. Not only do they reduce the size of your bag, but they’re also great for staying organized and keeping dirty clothes separate in your bag!

3. Anker Power Core Portable Charger

Nothing is worse than touching down in a new city only to see the ‘low-battery’ warning pop-up on your phone. If you’ve got to catch the train to your hotel and don’t remember the address, a dead smartphone is a major problem. The Anker Power Core charges an iPhone up to 7 times, ensuring that you’ll still have plenty of battery even after that long bus ride.

4. Sea to Summit DryLite Travel Towel

A big, fluffy towel is the enemy of a small travel bag. A musty wet one at the bottom of your backpack is even worse. Travel towels are light, can absorb huge amounts of water, and dry much faster than traditional cotton. They also pack down nearly flat, saving valuable space in your bag. Our favorite is the Sea to Summit DryLite Travel Towel.

5. ExOfficio Underwear

ExOfficio’s line of packable, quick-dry underwear is truly one of our travel favorites. It weighs next to nothing, can be easily washed in a bathroom sink, and dries incredibly quickly. Plus, it’s so comfortable that we find ourselves wearing it even when we’re not traveling! You can check out the Women’s Give-n-Go here and the Men’s version here.


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Southwest Companion Pass: How We Earned 2 for 1 Southwest Flights for the Next Two Years

We’re big fans of planning  our travel in advance to take advantage of the incredible savings that can be achieved through travel hacking. As part of our planning process for …

We’re big fans of planning  our travel in advance to take advantage of the incredible savings that can be achieved through travel hacking. As part of our planning process for  2018 travel, we decided that this would be the year that we finally earned what many consider to be the best deal in the miles and points world: the Southwest Companion Pass. The Companion Pass is truly an incredible deal. We’ll go into more detail below, but all you really need to know is that it allows you to bring a companion (friend, family member, etc.) on any Southwest flight you’ve booked for nearly free! You only need to pay the taxes and fees for your companion’s ticket. Keep reading to see how we earned the Companion pass for nearly TWO full years, and to learn how you can too!

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How We’re Flying to Scotland and Ireland for Nearly Free

It’s the start of a new year, which means we are busy planning our upcoming summer travel. In July of 2018 we’re heading to Ireland for a good friend’s wedding….

It’s the start of a new year, which means we are busy planning our upcoming summer travel. In July of 2018 we’re heading to Ireland for a good friend’s wedding. Given our love of long-distance hiking, we quickly got to work on finding a trek we could add on to our trip. After exploring some options in Ireland we ultimately decided to tackle the West Highland Way through the Scottish Highlands. We’ll spend 8 days hiking this 96-mile trail before hopping over to Ireland for the wedding. We’ll have many more posts on our West Highland Way trip in the future – but for now let’s focus on how we’re getting across the Atlantic and back for less than $100 per person!

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Snowshoeing Packing List

While snowshoeing shares many similarities with summer hiking, it does require some different gear.  Our packing list will ensure that you have everything you need to stay warm and get…

While snowshoeing shares many similarities with summer hiking, it does require some different gear.  Our packing list will ensure that you have everything you need to stay warm and get the most out of your next snowshoeing adventure.

ItemOur RecommendationComments
Snowshoes (Men's)Crescent Moon Silver 9 SnowshoesThis local Colorado company makes the best snowshoes around. They are lightweight, comfortable, and durable.
Snowshoes (Women's)Crescent Moon Silver 13 Women's SnowshoesThis women's-specific model is engineered for the female body to make walking in them feel more natural.
Men's Snow BootsSalomon Men's X Ultra Winter BootsIan has used and loved his Salomon winter boots for over 10 years! They still keep his feet warm and dry.
Women's Snow BootsSorel Women's Caribou BootsThese boots are comfortable enough to hike in all and stylish enough to wear into town at night.
BaselayerSmartWool Merino 150 Baselayer- Long SleeveThese shirts are expensive, but they are truly amazing! Always warm, not too hot, never smelly, and they last for years!
GaitersOutdoor Research Men's Rocky Mountain High GaitersHigh-quality gaiters are an essential piece of snowshoeing equipment for keeping your feet warm and dry. These gaiters stay firmly in place and they are completely waterproof.

Smaller women: Be sure to buy the women's-specific model, as the men's may be too large.
Ski GogglesBolle Mojo Snow GogglesThese offer much-appreciated protection from the wind, snow, and sun.
Snow Baskets (for hiking poles)Kelty Snow BasketsPoles offer great stability and support when hiking on deep or slippery snow/ice. These inexpensive baskets will keep your poles from slicing all the way through the snow.
Hydration BladderCamelBak Unisex Crux Hydration Reservoir- 1.5LWhile not a necessity, a bladder will allow you to drink frequently without having to stop hiking and take off your gloves to open a water bottle. It also keeps your water from freezing, since it's kept warmer near your body and inside your pack.
Down JacketPatagonia Down SweaterSuper warm when you need it, and perfectly packable and lightweight for when you don't.
Fleece JacketMarmot Norhiem Women's Sweater Knit Fleece JacketThis is the perfect mid-layer. It adds a lot of warmth without being too bulky.
Glove LinersSeirus 2116 Innovation Heatwave Glove LinerSure, these shiny silver liners look a little silly, but they work! They add quite a bit of warmth, while being thin and flexible underneath your heavier outer gloves.
GlovesHestra Fall Line Leather Gloves These are the warmest, most flexible gloves around. Well worth the money!
Hat and/or Ear WarmerThe North Face Triple Cable Pom BeanieThis hat is warm and cozy, stays in place on your head, and looks great.
SnacksBananas, peanut butter, dried fruit, and nuts all make great fuel
Thermos of Hot Cocoa or CoffeeTrust us, you'll be glad you brought it.
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The Complete Guide to Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park

If you’ve read any of our other posts on this blog, you’ve probably figured out by now that we really love to hike.  If you ask me, there’s only one…

Dream Lake in all of its frozen beauty.

If you’ve read any of our other posts on this blog, you’ve probably figured out by now that we really love to hike.  If you ask me, there’s only one thing more fun than hiking…hiking in the snow! You might be thinking, “Well, no. It’s cold and difficult and boring.” Or maybe you’re thinking, “She’s crazy. Skiing is WAY better.” Before you click over to one of the six other tabs you have open right now, hear me out.  Snowshoeing allows you to see familiar trails in a completely new way, it’s a challenging and rewarding workout, and it gives you the opportunity to experience popular hikes without the crowds. Oh, and unlike skiing, you don’t have to get up at 4am to do it.  Snowshoeing for the win! As I’ve gotten into the sport in recent years, I’ve found it surprisingly difficult to find good information about snowshoeing near the Front Range.  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this post, I’ll share everything you need to know in order to have a fantastic snowshoe outing in one of our favorite places: Rocky Mountain National Park. RMNP is a great place to snowshoe for a number of reasons: it has a pretty consistent snowpack throughout the winter months, it is significantly less crowded in the off-season, and it has a wealth of trails of varying lengths, difficulty levels, and terrain types.

Also, be sure to check out our Snowshoeing Packing List to be prepared for any winter adventure!

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Colorado’s Best City Hikes

Recently, I took a trip to Palm Springs, California to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.  We’re spread out all over the country, so the desert city is always…

Sunset over Palm Springs. CA

Recently, I took a trip to Palm Springs, California to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.  We’re spread out all over the country, so the desert city is always the perfect place to meet up and get some early winter sun.  One of our favorite traditions is to hike the iconic Museum Trail.  This trail winds straight up from the parking lot of the local art museum (hence the name), and is accessed from the center of downtown.  We like to do the hike late in the afternoon so we can watch the sun set and the city lights turn on below us as we descend.  My family likes to cap off this annual hike with a trip to the Mexican joint a few blocks from the trailhead for margaritas.  This year, I came to an important realization: city hikes are awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate the solitude of trekking the remote backcountry as much as any nature fanatic.  However, there is also something fabulous about walking or biking to a trailhead, savoring spectacular urban views, and having an array of apres-hike venues mere steps from your finishing point. In this post, I’ll share my five favorite city hikes right here in Colorado. I hope they’ll make you love urban hiking as much as I do.

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5 Essentials for Hiking from Aspen to Crested Butte

The hike from Aspen to Crested Butte is no doubt one of the quintessential Colorado adventures. The 11-mile trail linking the two mountain towns is full of incredible scenery, stunning…

The hike from Aspen to Crested Butte is no doubt one of the quintessential Colorado adventures. The 11-mile trail linking the two mountain towns is full of incredible scenery, stunning wildflowers, and will reward the hiker with a sense of accomplishment unmatched by most trails. Have we convinced you to do it yet? Before you go, be sure to check out our guide, as well as a trip report, packing list, and our custom art prints. These resources offer everything you’ll need to make the most of your trip.  As for big picture advice, here you’ll find the five most essential tips for hiking from Aspen to Crested Butte.

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