So you want to be a Fitpacking guide?


Being paid to backpack provides an incredible quality of life. But despite spending all day in the beautiful wilderness, it's not your vacation. You're responsible for keeping participants safe, happy, and inspired . You also need to cook, wash dishes and carry extra weight. Most times, you'll be blisfully happy, but other times, you'll be working assiduously hard in order to make sure clients are blissfully happy.

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Are you OK backpacking as few as only 3 miles per day at what you might consider a very slow pace?

Can you inspire a slow hiker who is physically and emotionally drained to continue?

Are you willing to help 10 people hoist and adjust their packs after every rest stop?

Will you do all camp chores (water filtration, tent set-up, cooking, cleaning) while participants are learning to do these things?

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Can you handle loading your pack up with a tired hiker's personal items towards the end of a long day?

Are you OK escorting trip dropouts many miles to the nearest road, waiting several hours until a ride comes along and and hiking back alone several miles to join the group?

Do you know how to buy the right amount of food for a group of 12 for a week?

Can you shake-down a first time backpacker's gear and instruct them in proper usage?

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Can you anticipate clients' needs even before they are aware of these needs?

Are you able to mediate disagreements among participants?

Have you ever popped, cleaned and wrapped someone else's disgusting blisters?

Are you sensitive and compassionate? Can you put yourself in someone else's shoes?

How is your disposition after 4 straight days of rain?

How are you at anticipating an incoming storm?

The Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts (so that's why they call the AT the Green Tunnel)

Guide Requirements

Current Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT Certification (SOLO, WMA, WMI, NOLS)

Current CPR / Basic Life Support Certification

Versed in Leave No Trace principles, preferably certified as LNT Trainer or Master Educator

Thorough knowledge of backpacking equipment

At least 100 "bag nights" of backpacking experience.

Experience leading groups in an outdoor setting (preferably, but not necessarily backpacking). Leading NOLS, Ropes, Sea Kayaking, or summer camp is OK, but leading a project development team in releasing an operating system isn't.

Can backpack a minimum of 15 miles per day carrying 60 pounds

Map & Compass Skills

GPS Skills

Valid driver's license

An ability to relate to a wide variety of individuals

Patience. Ability to listen.

Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Desirable Skills

Certified Food Handler

Excellent Cooking Skills

Versed in nutrition and weight loss

Difficult to upset

MacGyver-like improvisational Skills

Great sense of humor

Good Videographer / Photographer

Firebuilding Skills

Knows some camp / campfire activities

Good Phone Skills



Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

For Ultralighters Only

Many of you are no doubt ultralighters. You pride yourself on being able to hike 30 mile days with an 18 pound, 3300 cubic inch pack.

Ultralighters often like to evangelize their minimalism. While this is fine, you should realize that many of our participants have never slept outside in their lives, have never experienced total darkness, and have never lived a day without electricity or plumbing. While you may love wearing a single pair of underwear for 2 weeks to save 1.5 oz., some participants desperately wish they could shampoo their hair every day.

Because of this, we as a group carry a lot more equipment than you would ever consider carrying on your own. And when participants can no longer carry their own loads, you may have to strap some of their equipment on your pack.

The point here is that when you guide with Fitpacking, you will be expected to give up your ultralight pack and carry big, heavy loads as you are there to make things easy on participants, not yourself.

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Cryptobiotic soil (you knew that, right?) in Canyonlands National Park, UT

How it works

To become a Fitpacking guide, we ask that you join us for a trip as an unpaid assistant. If you are the type of person that we think would make an excellent guide, we will ask you back for a future trip with pay.

We pay a pittance unfortunately, but there are worse things than getting paid to backpack all day. We pay a set amount per week ($600 for your first 1-week paid trip, more thereafter). This includes travel, lodging expenses, and all trail meals.


Making pizza over the campfire on the Ozark Trail, Mark Twain National Forest, MO

Other Employment

We are also looking for people who have a flair or talent for the following (whether they want to guide or not)


Wild Horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

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