This is your brain on GPS

In her new book, Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World, author M.R. O’Connor makes the case that over-reliance on GPS can cause an entire region of our brain known as the hippocampus to shut off. Why is this important?

Bearproofing your food in the backcountry

Few things are better than enjoying meals in the backcountry. Few things are worse than encountering a bear intent on them away from you. There are three methods for minimizing the likelihood of a bear (or bears) marauding your stash: bear bagging, bear canisters and the latest invention, using an Ursack. Bear bagging Bear bagging […]

Thoreau and Life at 3 mph

Appalachian Trail ©2019 www.JeffRyanAuthor.com

“What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”  Henry David Thoreau I’ve always felt that one of the greatest gifts of hiking is its ability to make us slow down to ponder the world. When I step onto a trail, any trail, I feel the pressure […]

How to load a backpack

Katrine Connelly, the editor/adventurer behind the website My Open Country, kindly suggested referencing her site’s post on The ABCs of Packing a Backpack. I am thrilled to do so because the piece not only shows you how to load a backpack — the ideal “carrying zones” for heavy, medium and light items — but also […]

5 Reasons Why Autumn Hiking is Astounding

It’s Insect-Free. Gone are the gnats, mosquitos and other pests that can keep you swatting and itching in warmer months. It’s Comfortable. There’s nothing like hiking in cool temperatures and sleeping soundly through crisp autumn nights. It’s easy to keep food fresh. Cheese, meat and other perishable foods stay fresher and last longer. I often […]

Three Lines of Defense for (almost) Insect-Free Hiking

Summer is a great time for hiking. The days are long, the footing is as good as it gets (no ice and snow to contend with) and you don’t have to carry a lot of extra clothes (or, if you’re backpacking, a cold-weather sleeping bag) in your pack.  But one thing that can be an […]

A Backpacker’s Guide to Loop Hikes and Trail Shuttles

Photo of Skyline Drive. ©2018, www.JeffRyanAuthor.com

When it comes to planning a hike, particularly a multi-day adventure, my first priority is designing a trip that won’t require going back the way I came. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing an “out and back” hike, I’m hard-wired for seeking new ground. There are two ways to achieve this: designing loop hikes […]

Introducing 30 Second Hiking Hacks

I’ve created a new series of tips and tricks I’ve learned over 8,000+ miles of hiking, called “30 Second Hiking Hacks.” I hope you find them useful for your day hiking and backpacking trips.

Lost no More — How to Stay on the Trail (and what to do if you get off it)

“Have you ever gotten lost?” This question (or some variation of it) comes up often in my presentations about hiking. The answer isn’t simple. While there have been plenty of times I’ve been “temporarily disoriented”, there have never been times when I was “hopelessly lost.” The difference lies in making general awareness a priority. In […]

Start here, hike anywhere

Lookout ©2018 www.JeffRyanAuthor.com

American Trails is a non-profit dedicated to building and protecting trails. Their searchable database helps you find trails in the USA (by state), as well as Canada and 30 other countries. If you’re looking for a place to hike, it’s a great place to start. Resources available include An online database of over 1,000 National Recreation […]