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Photograph of Pete Lake in Washington State with the sun about to go down behind the mountains.


Amputee Outdoors isn't just for amputees, any lover of hiking, backpacking and camping will find value in this site.  But, if you are an amputee, I hope the videos, advice, and gear reviews educate and inspire you to enjoy the beauty of nature.

  • Look through the Gear dropdown to read reviews of gear I've used and tested along with examples and discussions of hiking and backpacking gear.

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And of course, don't forget to check out my YouTube channel, Amputee Outdoors to see all my adventures, tips and tricks, and reviews. Thanks for visiting!

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Five men and women in the their twenties hiking up a trail.

There’s lots of advice on what to take on a hike, and I strongly recommend reviewing that advice from time to time even if you’re an experienced hiker. For this article, we’re going to look at some things you can skip.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but honestly, unless you’re hiking in grizzly country or hiking off-trail into mountain lion country, and you’re carrying a weapon with a caliber sufficient to make the animal notice it’s been shot, it’s just extra weight. I’ve seen several guys with their 10mm Glock in a chest or hip holster on a trail that’s so busy, most animals avoid it like I try to avoid rush hour freeways.

Perhaps they are thinking animals aren’t the problem, the people are. Have you talked with folks on the trail? They are some of the most non-threatening, easy-going, folks you’re going to meet. Now, there are nature trails near some cities where people have been attacked, so there are exceptions to this one, but other than that, save some weight, attach bells to your backpack, and bring along some bear spray. In a pinch, it works on humans too.

Makeup and Perfume

I know for many, the reason to go on a hike is to find the perfect scenic spot and take a load of photos for social media. Looking good is important. I get it. On every hike, I spend an extra hour or two just shooting videos for my YouTube channel, Amputee Outdoors. Nonetheless, makeup and perfume have strong scents that can attract unwanted attention from bugs, bees, wasps, rodents, and even bears. And for those that like to put on a little extra cologne or perfume, the smell can ruin the outdoor experience for folks. Impress your subscribers and followers with your natural good looks and authentic self.

Large Bottles of Soda

Have you ever been on a trail and suddenly heard a belch that seemed to last minutes? You can bet that person is regretting bringing along that two-liter bottle of soda that’s been in their backpack for the last hour. It’s been bounced up a down, and the sun has brought it up to a nice 80F. They opened it up only for it to go full Mt. St. Helens on them, and then taste awful at near body temperature. And of course, they’ve drunk a load of it because they’re thirsty and found a mile later that they don’t feel so good.

Bring along two of those tall one-liter bottles filled with water. If you want flavour or some electrolytes, buy one of those little bottles of electrolyte concentrates, and add that to your water.

School/Work Backpacks

There have been lots of times back at the trailhead after a hike when I’ve watched folks take off their backpack and rub their shoulders complaining about the pain. That’s going to happen when you hike up a mountain with a backpack designed to be worn for about half an hour. Do yourself a favour, scour the secondhand shops, Craigs List, or Amazon, and find a hiking backpack. One with a waist strap and sternum strap. Together they will keep the pack from moving around straining your shoulders and the waist strap will help put more of the load on your hips.

I recommend a pack with a padded waist belt and some form of internal frame to stiffen the pack and reduce the pull on your should even more.

Lots of Food

You should always bring a little more food than you plan to eat, just in case. This doesn’t mean that you need to bring a 12-inch Subway sandwich, an apple, two Snickers bars, ½ pound of trail mix, one pack of beef jerky, and last night’s leftovers. Now, if you’re planning to hike up to some alpine meadow with a romantic picnic lunch to create a moment you and your special someone will remember forever, (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it done and yes, it was very sweet), go for it. Otherwise, keep your food to something that won’t get smushed or melted, that you can snack on over the course of the day, and that will provide you with calories and protein.

Rambo Knives and Survival Tools

It’s a powerful temptation, (especially for us men folk) when we see those tacticool survival tools and big elk skinning knives. And I do have some of those tools, they come in handy when I’m doing a little bush crafting. But for a day hike? Sort of like carrying a gun, lots of weight with no benefit. I’ve done a review of one of those 15 in 1 survival tools and honestly, only about four or five of the items in the kit will ever go on a hike with me and I had those tools in my kit already. If you have the Ten Essentials, you’re going to be fine.

Wrong Footwear

This isn't about trail runners, folks that wear trail running shoes know their trails and aren't foolish enough to try and run up slippery, rocky, muddy trails in the mountains. This is about the folks that wear jogging shoes, Keds with no laces, Doc Martins with two-inch soles, slip-ons, etc. I've seen so many folks enjoying their day until they've slipped in the mud and taken a fall, twisted an ankle, stopped every 50 feet to massage their arches, made their calves burn from the extra weight, or ruin a pair of expensive Nikes. If you're just doing day hikes, do yourself a favour and buy a pair of mid-ankle hiking boots from a local department store. You'll be happier for it.

This list of what not to bring is just for day hikes, for an overnighter the list of what not to bring is even longer. Maybe I’ll get to that list another time. For now, enjoy the great outdoors, and see you out there!

First of all, let me come clean and tell you I solo hike a lot. 95% of my hikes are solitary. Aside from the reasons below, I have one very crucial reason for hiking alone, I record

my hikes for YouTube, (Check out my channel, Amputee Outdoors).

A person walking in the forest with the sun shining through the trees.

I will stop frequently and spend several minutes setting up my tripod, framing the shot, shooting the sequence 2-3 times, etc. I’ve found that most people get really tired of my doing that very quickly. Aside from my particular example, there are lots of good reasons to hike alone, several reasons you shouldn’t, and a few where it’s risky. Let’s start with the good.

The Good

Setting your own pace. As mentioned above, I have a specific reason for hiking an extra hour or so. This is also true for a lot of other folks. You may have a pace that is slower or faster than others. You may like to take frequent breaks. Viewpoints that others may think are so-so, you may think to deserve a longer look. When it's just you, there’s no worrying about annoying anyone by slowing them down or making them feel like they are the slow ones.

Peace and quiet. For many folks, the absence of conversation is a highly sought-after joy. The chance to just walk along a trail and let your mind wander, with no one asking you questions, talking about work, the kids, the budget, etc., is a wonderful thing. It’s sort of like meditating but you’re getting a workout.

Logistics. I don’t know about you, but if I’m hiking with others, I find myself worrying if they’ve brought enough food and water. I’ll pack along extra just in case and that’s extra weight. There’s also the problem of meeting at the trailhead at a designated time and you’re running late (or they are) and there’s no cell phone reception in the mountains to let them know.

Confidence building. You’ve planned, practiced, and packed the right gear for the environment and weather. A few challenges came your way and you, all by yourself, were able to overcome them. The feeling of accomplishment and confidence that comes from that fills the soul.

Changing your trail. There’s been plenty of times when I’ve been hiking along, found a crossing trail, checked it out on the map, and decided to take a detour. No need to discuss and agree with anyone else. You may find yourself on a trail and for you, the conditions indicate it’s time to turn back. That’s your decision, no need to feel like you need to continue on because your hiking buddies feel like they can.

Wasting time. There’s been plenty of trails where I’ve stopped for a while and played around with different ways to set up my hammock and rainfly. Or practiced fire starting. Whatever I want. I’m just playing about with no concern for how long I might take to do it.

The Bad

It can get lonely. For those that are more social, solo hiking is a bit of a strain. Having no one to talk with is unsettling and when you do find someone on the trail to talk with, you might find yourself overdoing it. Sitting around a campfire, drinking a beer, and eating freeze-dried food all by yourself can be pretty dull. Having friends sitting around that campfire with you is a lot more fun.

You have to carry more. Hiking and backpacking with a group means that gear can be spread across two or more backpacks. If it’s just you, you’re carrying the whole tent, all the food, the water filtration system, the bear barrel, etc.

No one to share the joy with. The bonding experience of hiking up to a peak and marveling at the view with your friends is like no other. It’s a shared memory that you and your friends will treasure forever. Not going to get that all by yourself.

Your friends can reality-check you. I’ve fallen victim to the “I can do this” thinking once or twice and really wish I’d had a friend with me to provide a more reasoned opinion. With a group of friends on a trail you have a mix of experiences and skills that can provide insight into a situation that you alone might not have.

It’s all on you. You’re setting up the tent, building the fire, rigging up the bear bag, filtering the water, cooking the food, chopping the wood, etc. Just you. Dividing that work among friends gets it all done sooner and you all move onto the camaraderie being out in nature together brings.

The Ugly

No one to help you if you’re injured or sick. This is the worst-case scenario. You’ve cut your hand, broken a leg, drank some unfiltered water, whatever the case is, there’s no one to help you. Knowing this is a possibility, as a solo hiker, you have to take it into consideration. Plan for this. This will mean that your First Aid kit is a little larger than if you were with others. It also means that you must be honest about your abilities and limitations and by doing so, prevent problems. Is that stream flowing fast? Don’t cross it. Is it getting late? Set up camp now, it’s going to take longer by yourself. Is the trail steeper and muddier/icier than you planned? Time to turn back.

Help! I’m lost! Even the most experienced hikers can get lost and one person alone in the woods is vulnerable. Don’t let those shows on the Discovery channel tell you otherwise! You have fewer resources, collective knowledge, and experience. Combine being lost with an injury and you’re very close to being on the news for the wrong reasons. Again, prevention is the key to making this problem not happen. A map, compass, and navigation app on your phone or a dedicated GPS device should be part of your gear every time you hit the trail. Check your map or navigation app frequently. On many trails, I will check my location at every junction, stream crossing, or landmark just to confirm I’m where I’m supposed to be.

Whether you are solo hiking or with friends, preparation is key. Know where you’re going, and what the conditions will be like, review recent hiking reports, check your gear for wear and tear, make sure you’re taking the right gear for the conditions and environment, and most importantly, know yourself.

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A man sitting on a chair holding his head and looking stressed.

After you’ve been hiking and come home exhausted, have you also noticed you feel good? This is because hiking in nature is good for your mind and emotions. You also get an excellent physical workout too, so that’s a bonus. The benefits of hiking and being in nature are so great that some doctors are now prescribing it to their patients.

Reduce Stress, Anxiety, Depression

Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase feelings of physical well-being. This isn’t just the opinion of your crazy, tree-hugging friends. A study in 2018 showed that “…walking through forest areas decreased the negative moods of “depression-dejection”, “tension-anxiety”, “anger-hostility”, “fatigue”, and “confusion” and improved the participants’ positive mood of “vigor” compared with walking through city areas.” Got that? Hiking in nature is better than walking through town. Find some trees to walk amongst.

Be More Creative

Want to be more creative? Then take a hike. Hiking in nature removes us from the information-dense, high-impact, 5-second attention span world many of us live in. A peer-reviewed study in 2012 found that “…the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50% in a group of naive hikers.” That’s naïve hikers, newbies. If you’re a regular hiker you’re already operating at a higher level of creativity than your non-hiking co-workers.

Stay Sharp as You Age

Worried about losing your mental edge as you age? Hiking can help your brain stay sharp and functioning as you age according to the American Academy of Neurology. In their 2018 study, they found that physical exercise was associated, “with improved cognitive performance in older adults with and without cognitive impairment.” A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found, “Aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in older women with probable mild cognitive impairment.” I’m 59 and plan on hiking until I drop.

Stay Sane

Hiking can help save you from mental illness. That’s a bold statement, but there is data to show it’s true. A study in 2015 showed that “Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment.” The opportunity to relax our minds, and just enjoy the natural world is something we don’t get to experience a lot in our modern world.


When I was a kid, I was called fidgety and unruly so my parents would kick me outside and tell me to go play in the forest near where we lived. Turns out they were helping me with my undiagnosed ADHD. In a study published in 2004 by the National Library of Medicine, it was found that “Green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children across a wide range of individual, residential, and case characteristics.” Seems our parents and grandparents knew where we needed to be.In nature.

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