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

Welcome!

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.

  • Read the articles in the Advice section for information on a variety of hiking, camping, and backpacking topics

  • Visit the Latest Videos to see where I've been or reviewed lately. 


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!

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.

  • amputeeoutdoors

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.


ADHD

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.


A woman hiking along a forested trail.

Ever had a conversation with someone and realized you’re both using the same word, but defining it differently? This has happened to me a few times when talking about hiking, backpacking, and camping. This blog post isn’t going to be the definitive definition for those words, in fact, it might cause a few arguments, but here goes anyway.


Hiking

The word "hike" is believed to have originated from the Old English word "hican," which means "to walk" or "to move quickly." It is thought to be related to the Old Norse word "hikja," which has the same meaning.


The word "hike" first appeared in the English language in the early 16th century, and it was originally used to refer to a quick, energetic walk. Over time, the meaning of the word "hike" has evolved to refer to a long walk or journey, particularly one taken in a natural setting such as the countryside or mountains.


Today, the word "hike" is commonly used to refer to a long, leisurely walk or trek, often undertaken for enjoyment or exercise. For some, if the trail is under a mile and there’s little elevation gain, it’s a ‘nature walk’ and not a hike. For others, any stroll in nature counts as a hike. So, there’s some subjectivity to the word. Going a little further into the rabbit hole of definitions, some folks will use the word 'hike' to mean any trek that includes an overnight stay, and 'day hike' for those trekking adventures where you return home at the end of the day.


Backpacking

The word "backpacking" is a combination of the words "back" and "packing," which literally means "carrying a pack on the back." This term originated in the early 20th century, and it was first used to refer to the act of carrying a pack on one's back while hiking or traveling.


The use of the word "backpacking" to refer specifically to outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, is believed to have originated in the United States in the 1960s. At this time, the term was used to refer to a style of outdoor recreation that involved carrying a backpack and camping in the wilderness for extended periods of time.


Today, the word "backpacking" is commonly used to refer to outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and traveling, in which the participants carry all of their equipment and supplies in a backpack.


Again, there’s some subjectivity here. Many of us call any walk in nature where you return that day, a hike or day hike. If you spend at least one night out, you were backpacking. And there's the definition of 'hiker' as opposed to 'backpacker'. A backpacker spends at least one night out in nature, a hiker returns to the trailhead at the end of the day.


Camping

The word "camping" is derived from the Old French word "camp," which means "field" or "open space." The word "camp" originated from the Latin word "campus," which means "field" or "open land."


The use of the word "camping" to refer specifically to outdoor activities such as hiking and camping is believed to have originated in the United States in the late 19th century. At this time, the term was used to refer to the act of setting up a temporary shelter or dwelling in a natural setting, such as a field or forest.


Today, the word "camping" is commonly used to refer to outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and traveling, in which the participants set up a temporary shelter and spend time in a natural setting. It is also used to refer to the act of staying in a campground or other type of outdoor accommodation.


Here’s where things get interesting. There’s car camping, where you drive to the location and set up your tent/hammock/lean-to within a few yards of your car. Going a step further you have camping where you stay in a pre-built structure. Leaving civilization behind, there’s backpack camping where you carry everything and set up a shelter you bring with you for the night. Finally, there’s bushwhacking where you build a shelter using the materials found in the environment you’re in.


I don’t think it matters too much what we call our outdoor adventures. A rose would still smell as sweet by any other name and nature will still be grand regardless of how we experience it.



bottom of page