Backpacking Forums Round-Up: Getting Real Feedback on Your Equipment Lists

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Last week, I shared my pack list on Prep.a.Trip and posted it on all the forums I could find in search of valuable feedback.  First thing I learned?  MY PACK IS NOT “ULTRALIGHT” but rather “lightweight”... in other words, a 15 lb base weight instead of a 10 lb one.  

Anyway,  amidst the technical jargon whipping, I had around 40 experts write responses for my gear list.  How cool is that?  And all over Labor Day weekend!

But before you get all post-happy and start sprinkling your equipment list all over the internet, I have a couple of disclaimers for you:

First, UGLINESS.  It’s everywhere!  Brace yourself.  I can almost guarantee that, on your first sweep through these forums, you will run into more ads than you do mosquitos in July.  But patience, young grasshopper.  Though the outdoor tech space is a bit lacking in finesse at the moment, understand that you can still reap great benefit for your efforts.

Secondly, as a general rule, signing up for these forums can take forever... if it happens at all (see my note on PracticalBackpacking.com below).

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s the list of places I would NOT recommend for posting your equipment list for feedback:

  • Quora - Ultralight Topic - 1 response
    • I had to try it!  Quora is good for some things... but a ghost town for others.
  • Reddit - Ultralight Subreddit - 0 responses
    • Here, I got no cred.  Didn’t even pop up on anyone’s radar.  No thumbs either way.
  • Portland Hikers - Gear, Gadget, and Grub - 1 response
    • I totally mistitled my post, but still!  I didn’t get many views, let alone responses.  But hey, it’s a region-specific forum, so it’s understandable.
  • PracticalBackpacking.com
    • This site simply didn’t work.  I went through like 10 steps to login, and then I wasn’t even able to post.  Then the site crashed the next day.  Now, I can’t even login or request a password reset.  I must’ve caught them on a bad week.


So now -- drum roll, please -- here are the places you SHOULD post to!

  • Backpacking Light - Gear Lists - 5 responses
    • Definitely the cleanest and with the least trolling.  However, I expected more people to give feedback, which didn’t seem to happen.  The good: tons of legit expert people posting in this forum.  The bad: your post could just be noob noise in the forum.
  • Backpacker.com - Gear - 35 responses
    • The highest number of expert responses, but, in my opinion, the constant pop-up ads and the occasional troller can taint the expert environment.
  • Trailspace - Gear Selection - 13 responses
    • Probably the most polished out of the official forums!  It’s just way prettier and not ad-filled like the other ones.  Good work!
  • Backpacking.net - Lite Gear Talk - 6 responses
    • These guys definitely get the highest quality award.  Everyone who responded was a dedicated member of the site with thousands of postings each, and they were so very thorough.


Ok, I’m going to be honest here.  A lot of these forums are so old school that wading through all of them took way too much time, but the information people shared was worth it.  If I were to go back and choose my favorites, they would be Trailspace and Backpacking.net.  They had the best balance of ‘not too much noise’ and expert advice.  

I hope that you can receive some helpful feedback on these forums from your fellow backpackers - I know I did!

And there you have it!

Next week, we’re going to feature the BEST practices of organizing a group trip on the internet.  Sign up now to be the first to know.

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