Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is Fitpacking?

Fitpacking is fat loss through backpacking. Come join us on a one or two-week backpacking adventure vacation. You burn off excess weight by carrying around all your food and equipment. Plus, there are no stores, you can only eat what you carry.

Who would go Fitpacking?

Anyone who loves the outdoors, wants to lose weight or hike slowly and has a week or two. You also may be interested if you are seeking solitude, trying to de-caffeinate, reduce stress, or stop smoking.

I don't know anybody, can I sign up alone?

On occasion, some participants know each other before their trip, however the vast majority of Fitpacking participants arrive knowing no one. But by the end of the trip, most people have forged close friendships, especially on the two week trips.

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Why don't the people in the website photos look fat?

TV has conditioned us to believe that all weight loss programs are comprised of and appropriate for clinically obese individuals like those seen on The Biggest Loser. Fitpacking is decidedly not for medically obese people and is targeted for the rest of us who are heavier or less healthy than we'd like to be, but are not in a range where strenuous exercise would cause injury. Besides, what client wants an unflattering photo of themselves on our website?

How much weight can I lose?

Google will not let us say***. Fitpacking is more about body composition change. Presumably you are interested in looking and feeling better. While weight is certainly related to how you look, it is just one of many measurements to examine. Most people rely on it because it's so easy to measure, but body fat percentage is a better indicator.

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Who guides Fitpacking trips?

There are typically two trip leaders, but sometimes just one and occasionally three. All trip leaders are either SOLO, Wilderness Medicine Associates, Wilderness MedicineInstitute, or NOLS certified Wilderness First Responders.

How many people are signed up for my trip?

There is no satisfactory answer. The first person who considers signing up for a trip will often back away when they find out they are the first. But somebody has to be the first. So unless we lie about number of participants, there will almost always a pool of several people waiting for others to sign up before they will. When there are 3 spots or fewer remaining, the website will indicate the number of spots left.

Where do we stay at the beginning and end of the trips?

Fitpacking trips are typically bookended by a front country campground at the outset of a trip and a hotel stay at the end. We usually (but not always) stay in the same lodging facility at both the beginning and end of a 1-week trip. For 2-week trips, there are sometimes 3 or even 4 hotel nights, but expect to stay in 2 or 3 different places. On occasion, there is only one hotel at the end of the trip and we may stay in a frontcountry campground the first night.

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Can I bring an extra off-trail bag or two?

Yes, it's expected. After a trip, you won't want to shower in the hotel only to put your smelly trail clothes back on. Your extra bags are either placed in a storage unit, held by the hotel or kept by the ground transportation company. However, please limit your extra bags to 2, preferably 1.

Can kids or teens participate?

Yes, teenagers 13 and older are welcome when accompanied by an adult. We do not accept unaccompanied teenagers as some parents try to ship off their surly teens who don't want to be on our trip to begin with.

Can I bring my dog(s)?

No. Most National Parks and many trails prohibit them from the backcountry, so we must as well. Dogs also pose a challenge in transporting a van full of them to and from the trailhead plus there's no guarantee they'll get along with the other dogs or the backpackers. And then who carries a week's worth of their food? We have been trying to put together a dog-friendly trip for quite some time, but have not as yet found an appropriate venue or worked out all the logistics.

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Who carries all the food, group equipment and tents?

We all do. Groups of hikers require a fair amount of food and common equipment to independently thrive for a week in the wilderness. At the outset of each trip, food and group equipment such as stoves, fuel, water filters, pots and trash bags are distributed among all guides and participants. While guides carry more than participants, each participant should plan to carry their fair share. There is no pre-determined amount anyone is required to carry, as we don't expect a 60 year old, 145 pound woman to carry the same amount as a 33 year old, 205 pound man.

How much will my pack weigh?

It depends. Your pack weight will vary from day to day and from morning to night. If you are carrying say, a 10 pound bag of food at the outset of the trip, by the end of the trip, the food bag will weigh almost nothing. Fuel also gets lighter as the trip ensues. If you happen to be carrying trash, it weighs nothing at the start of the trip, but may be a smelly 5 pound albatross by the end.

Your pack weight changes during the day too. On a desert trip, you might start out one morning carrying 16 pounds of water (8 liters / 2 gallons) to last you 2 days until the next water might be available. By the end of the 2nd day, you are carrying 16 pounds less than you were. So determining an exact weight is difficult. That said, "empty" pack weights are around 25-35 pounds.

What star rating is right for me?

Star ratings are attainability, not difficulty. Every single trip can be very difficult at least part of the time, even flat locations like Florida. On the other hand, the most difficult, unattainable trips may have days that most anyone could do successfully and comfortably. It all depends on mileage, terrain, elevation and even climate.

We rate trips on a perceived overall average. Even our most difficult trips are attainable by people who are out of shape. In order to insure success for everyone, we hike as a group, struggle together, and triumph together (don't worry, this is not an Amway meeting).

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I placed a deposit. When is final payment due?

Final payment is due 1 month prior to the start of the trip. If you sign up within one month of a trip, you should pay the entire amount when you register.

What time should I plan to arrive on the first day?

Although arrival and departure times can vary from trip to trip, plan to arrive between around Noon - 3PM. Hotels generally won't let us check in before Noon, but we have a lot of things to do as participants arrive. We want to make sure there is enough time to go through your equipment and get to the store to pick up essential items you may have forgotten. If you can save a substantial amount of money by flying in a few hours earlier or later, then do so but let us know this.

What time should I plan to leave at the end of the trip?

Trips are officially over after the dinner / awards ceremony on the last night of hiking. Most people plan to stay in the hotel and leave by 9AM the next day, but it's up to you. Sometimes people plan to leave after dinner and forego the final hotel night. This is especially popular on West Coasttrips where people take a red-eye back East that departs around midnight. People who drive in also sometimes decide to return home that night. Note: Showers are still available for you if you decide to leave early.

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I'm driving in. Where do I put my car while Fitpacking?

This is often a challenging issue. We are sometimes able to leave your car in the parking lot of the hotel we congregate on the first day or the hotel we stay at on the final day (usually the same hotel). We cannot guarantee any security for your vehicle while it is parked there and you will be asked by the hotel to sign a waiver and possibly pay a daily fee. You can also park in airport parking or rent a storage unit at your own expense. On some trips, you will have the option of parking your car at a trailhead for free, possibly using it as a shuttle vehicle for yourself and other participants.

I live near the hotel. Can I get a discount for staying at home before and after my trip?

Yes, you can receive $50 off your trip for each night you don't stay at our hotel if you tell us far in advance so we can reserve rooms accordingly. That's $100 off for skipping the first and last nights. However, you must plan to meet us in the hotel on the first day of the trip so that we can shake down your pack, run your body compomsition, make-your-own trail mix, and have you meet the other participants at the welcome dinner where we disseminate various trip information and logistics. Even if you do not stay at the hotel at the end of the trip, you can shower there in one of our rooms.

Do you have any weekend or 3 day trips planned?

We have, on occasion run half-week trips and will do so again. But it can be a lot of overhead to fly to a city, drive to a remote destination and possibly have it rain all 3 days. Note: These trips can seem pricey since it costs us almost exactly the same to run a weeklong trip as a half-week trip.

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Why do the trip details change sometimes?

We endeavor to plan our trips a year in advance. However just because we do, doesn't mean that National Parks, National Forests, various campgrounds or the hotels we stay at do. We are often subject to short reservation windows and capacity controls. Some destinations require us to enter a lottery with other organizations and individuals for a limited amount of wilderness access. Sometimes these lotteries and permits are determined only a month before a trip begins, so we can't always guarantee that the itinerary will be exactly as proposed a year earlier. Rest assured, our 2nd choices are interesting and beautiful as well.

What do I do about snakes / spiders / scorpions / alligators / bears etc.?

All sorts of animals live in the wilderness and you may not be completely comfortable with every one of them. While some participants may consider bears a rare joy to behold, you might be paralyzed by fear of them. And although this fear may be completely natural and warranted, wild animal encounters are rare and attacks are almost unheard of. That's precisely the reason such incidents make the national news, whereas people who die from say, heart attacks don't. Although statistics mean very little for deep seated emotional fears, you are statistically in far more danger anytime you drive a car or enter a bar.

Any bathrooms or running water?

For our backpacking trips, no. However our day-hiking trips usually have running water, flush toilets and sometimes showers although occasionally therd are nly pit toilets. Our backpacking trips are wilderness experiences. At times, we may pass through a town or cross a road or frontcountry campground where plumbing is available. Showers are even available once in a while. And some trails and campsites have privies or outhouses but in other areas, there are only trees (which are far preferable to some public restrooms).

Please note: We practice Leave No Trace which means that there is no bathing in water sources such as streams and lakes, although you can go in them without soap or other contaminents.

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There's nothing to see on this hike!

I guess that depends on your perspective. Some people find endless miles of trees, rivers, big skies, and solitude disquieting or dull. Others find that the amazing panoply of nature taps into long neglected facets of their being. Be honest with yourself. If you're likely to find mountains and lakes unremarkable, these trips may not be for you.

There's nothing to do!

The Digital Detox is actually one of the best features of a Fitpacking trip. Most of us experience continual stresses and stimuli from day to day. After a few days of hiking, the tranformation from daily anxiety to complete relaxation that participants experience is really quite something.

What do we do at night when we get to camp?

We spend time setting up tents, unpacking, changing clothes, cleaning up and eating. We are allowed to have campfires in some destinations and in others, there are opportunities to go swimming or on short bonus hikes without packs. However, many people who ask this overestimate their end-of-day energy level. Most participants (and guides!) are extremely happy to just sit, rest and talk after carrying 50 pounds over 10 miles. When darkness falls, your circadian rhythms quickly kick in and you'll find yourself sleeping dusk to dawn. But bring something to read in case you decide to self-caffeinate or have insomnia.

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I'm not enjoying myself right now

Most participants will experience occasional challenging times during a Fitpacking trip. This may be a result of a blister, insects, rain, snow, brush, blowdowns, mental fatigue, or physical exhaustion. Pushing yourself through these infrequent low points (with the support of a guide) may not only help you expand your limits, but will render the subsequent emotional highs that follow much more exhilirating.

Is it Fitpacking or Fatpacking?

It's whatever you want it to be. Not everyone likes to tell their friends they're going Fatpacking. Yet people consistently click on Fatpacking twice as frequently as they click on Fitpacking. So although we may someday differentiate the two for differently targeted trips, they are currently one and the same.

How long has Fitpacking been around?

Fitpacking was originally conceived towards the end of 2002, but our first trip was in March 2005 on the Arizona Trail through the Superstition Wilderness and Four Peaks Wilderness.

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Are firearms permitted?

We do not permit firearms on our trips and National Parks do not allow firearms to be discharged within the parks. Plus they can be quite heavy to carry for 50 miles.

How much do Fitpacking trips cost?

It depends on the location and length of the trip. Currently, 1 week trips are typically around $1300 - $1500, two week trips as high as $2000 and international trips over $2000. You are responsible for the cost of transportation to the airport / hotel in the city closest to the trailhead, personal hiking equipment, restaurant meals, and incidentals on days off.

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