This summer, Sheri and Randy Propster will drive 35,000 miles to conduct 70 backpacking clinics at outdoor shops across America as part of BACKPACKER’s 11th annual Get Out More tour. Along the way, the veteran thru-hikers and gear junkies will dispense our staff’s best advice on trip preparation, recipe planning, and equipment selection—and how to do it all faster so you can spend more time on the trail. They’ll also share top-rated reader hikes near each store. I recently caught up with them as they were prepping for a long six months on the road.
JD: When you walk into an outdoor store for a Get Out More presentation, what are you trying to achieve vis-à-vis the attendees?
Propsters: Our goal is to create a nation of outdoor enthusiasts. If we can provide the appropriate information, inspiration, and motivation to our Get Out More Tour attendees, they will be empowered with the ability to safely and comfortable enjoy their time in the great outdoors. The more time they spend outdoors, the more quality they add to their lives. It’s a simple concept with powerful results.
JD: What do you do to help people get out more? Should attendees expect to walk away with actionable advice?
Propsters: Most definitely. We attempt to provide the information needed to create an educated consumer. We highlight the skills attendees should focus on while planning and preparing for their adventures, and introduce attendees to the latest and greatest gear available to enhance their adventures.
JD: If you could boil down all of the advice you give to the three most important tips that every hiker should know, what would those be?
Propsters: Our three top tips are really principles, or ways of thinking about your adventure.
1. Think Essentials: We teach something we call the Eleven Essential Systems (First-Aid, Insulation, Fire, Emergency Shelter, Hydration, Nutrition, Navigation, Communication, Illumination, Tools and Repairs, Sun and Skin Protection). These are time-tested and adventure-proven methods of ensuring a safe return home.
2. There is More Than One Right Way to Backpack: Some call this principle Hike Your Own Hike; we call it finding your backpacking balance. Backpacking is about finding a very personal balance. Consider an appropriate balance of weight, comfort, convenience, and (in this current economy) cost when creating your personal style. Some go ultralight, some go comfort-light, and some bring the kitchen sink. They can all be successful styles. As long as you enjoy the experience, Mother Nature won’t judge you based on style points…besides, see #3.
3. Function is Fashion: Backpacking fashion is based entirely on functionality. If your wicking layers don’t match your shell and your insulating fleece clashes with both but you are warm and dry, then you are a supermodel in the backpacking world.
JD: You’re basing some of the tour this year on BACKPACKER’s Readers’ Choice issue (January). Tell us what that means for the presentation and the attendees.
Propsters: BACKPACKER’s tagline is the “Outdoors at Your Doorstep,” and the Get Out More Tour is coming to your doorstep to get you out into your backyard wilderness. The January issue highlights the top day, weekend, and multi-day adventures in ten regions of the country as decided by our reader’s votes. The Get Out More Tour will bring the pages of BACKPACKER to life by visiting nine of those regions (sorry Alaska), experiencing one of the top adventures in each region, and creating a presentation that not only inspires and motivates attendees to want to experience a similar adventure, but also informs them how we went about planning, researching, and preparing ourselves to safely explore in their backyard. We will share our experiences in a multimedia platform that will utilize the tips and techniques found on the pages of BACKPACKER.