Meet the Gear Testers: Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Elisabeth has been testing gear since she was a BACKPACKER intern.

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Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Freelance Writer

Seattle, WA


Height: 5’9″

Boot Size: 10 womens

My most memorable gear testing story: On day 2 of a rainy 4-day hike along Kootenay National Park’s Rockwall (BC), our tester tent sprung a leak–well, make that leaks. At first, water was only pooling in the corners, but by morning, my sleeping bag, puffy, and extra clothes were soaked. After shivering through a 40-degree morning in the rain, we bailed and hiked out a side trail to dry off.

How I got involved in gear testing: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker since I started as an editorial intern five years ago and finagled an invitation on the Great Sand Dunes NP Editors’ Choice trip.

My coolest backpacking trip: My first trip to what still reigns as my favorite national park–Olympic. On a sunny, perfect, 4-day September stretch, I hiked through the primeval Hoh Rainforest, climbed up to the High Divide, camped with stadium views of Mt. Olympus, and saw my first bear (and then seven more!). 

My dream adventure: South America special: Hiking the Torres del Paine circuit, watching glaciers calve at Los Glaciares National Park, and wandering the edge of the world on the Dientes circuit.