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Come Test Gear in Alaska with Outside Editor in Chief Christoper Keyes

On this trip of a lifetime, you'll explore and trek through Katmai National Park in Alaska with Outside's editor in chief Christopher Keyes

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

I’m trying to get to Alaska—my last state—before I turn 50, and I want you to join me. We won’t be watching glaciers calve from a cruise ship or fighting for photo ops from a crowded tour bus in Denali. This is a rugged six-day expedition in the heart of Katmai National Park, complete with bush plane flights in and out, endless brown-bear watching, and the chance to test cool new gear—all overseen by renowned travel outfitters Modern Adventure. Outside+ members will get a $200 discount off the trip price. Read more below, and then sign up for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to visit a place few people ever get to see. —Outside editor in chief, Christopher Keyes


Inaugural Trip Dates (with Chris): August 15–21, 2022 | Price: $5,700 | Outside+ price: $5,500 

Few adventures bring you face to face with Alaska’s immense beauty so viscerally as blazing your own trail through the remote wilderness of Katmai National Park and Preserve. Here you’ll find volcanoes soaring above salmon-choked rivers and brown bears feasting on berries. The only way in and out is by boat or plane; what happens in between is trekking at its best. This seven-day, ten-person trip for experienced backpackers will show a side of the state that few have seen. It begins with a floatplane that departs from the hamlet of Port Alsworth and drops you deep inside Katmai, landing wherever the pilot can safely touch down. You’ll set a pick-up spot about 30 miles away, shoulder a pack full of food and survival gear, and set out across the treeless tundra. No two trips are ever alike.

Typically, groups begin near Kukaklek Lake, at the headwaters of the Alagnak River, and walk six to eight miles per day, with up to 2,000 feet of elevation gain, to reach Mirror Lake, an area rich in wildlife. There are no trails, so exactly how you get there depends on weather, visibility, and how rugged your group is. Do you circumnavigate that 3,000-foot peak or head right over it? At night you’ll camp wherever you get tired and share in the ­cooking duties. The rewards for working this hard include a look at some of the densest populations of brown bears on the planet—­multiple sightings are nearly guaranteed—and herds of curious caribou that thunder across meadows to check you out.

“I’ve visited every state except Alaska, and backpacking in Katmai represents a life-list opportunity,” says editor in chief Chris Keyes, who’ll be joining you. “I cannot wait to share my passion for the outdoors—and Outside—with readers participating on this amazing trip.” Be forewarned, however: the sound of the plane coming to fetch you at journey’s end will be distinctly jarring to the wild person you’ve become. —Tim Neville

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