177: BEGINNERS: One Step at a Time

Show Notes: Episode 177

Today on the First 40 Miles, if you’re a beginner backpacker, you are on the threshold of one of the most thrilling adventures of your life.   We’ll help you navigate this new adventure with confidence.  For today’s SUMMIT Gear Review, a monthly subscription service that will keep you excited about backpacking all year long.  Today’s hack will help you repurpose a Pringles can.  And we’ll leave you with some Trail Wisdom from our favorite mountain goat.


Top 5 Things Beginner Backpackers Worry About

Choosing the “Right” Gear

  • Easy to get hung up on researching the perfect pack, the perfect sleeping bag and the perfect tent
  • We are tricked into believing that the better the gear, the better the hike.
  • The truth is that perfect gear doesn’t equal the perfect backpacking experience.
  • If choosing the perfect gear is your number one priority, then stop.
  • Make “getting out on first trip” your number one priority.


  • Wait, isn’t nature supposed to be free?
  • Cost of gear, cost of travel, cost of food…

Making Mistakes

  • Why is so important to with a friend

Getting Lost

  • That freedom makes you feel incredible
  • Start small, build navigation skills

“What if…?”

  • Which is why beginners tend to over pack
  • Bear spray, guide books, solar shower, extra clothes beyond what you need

SUMMIT Gear Review:  Cairn Subscription Service


  • Cairn is a subscription gift box service
  • Each box comes with a newspaper called Cairn Scout, that gives you information about the things in the box and how to use the discount codes.


  • Items in a Cairn Subscription Box…in this specific box we received gear from Uco, Hydrapak, and Skout.


  • “Up to 6 amazing outdoor products”, but realistically, around 3 to 4 things will be in the box.
  • Depending on your interest, they try to suit the box to your type of outdoor activity.


  • Your card will be automatically billed unless you cancel
  • Earn points for reviewing your new gear.
  • Redeem your points in the Cairn Shop for apparel, free boxes, and gifts for friends
  • Sometimes, Cairn will throw in a surprise gift to your box that no one else gets


  • $30/month for the monthly service (free shipping only applies if you have a subscription)
  • $250/quarter for the premium “Obsidian” quarterly service (5–10 premium products—up to $350 value—quarterly)


  • We’ll be reviewing the items in the Cairn Box over the next few weeks

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  Muffins in a Pringles Can

Have you ever tried to bring homemade muffins on a backpacking trip, only to have them end up in a smashed crumbly mess at the bottom of your stuff sack?

Did you know that homemade muffins fit perfectly into an empty Pringles can? You can fit 5–6 homemade muffins in the can.

Muffins are great because you can make them savory or sweet.

  • Bran
  • Cornbread
  • Cheddar Bacon
  • Carrot
  • Zucchini Chocolate
  • Apple Oat
  • Blueberry
  • Coconut
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
  • Double Chocolate Muffin
  • Maple French Toast Muffin
  • Molasses Bran Walnut Raisin
  • Cranberry Apple Walnut
  • Coffee Cake
  • Lemon Cream Cheese Poppy Seed
  • Ham and Cheese

Trail Grazing includes some great muffin recipes.

Trail Wisdom

“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.”
—John Muir

NOTE:  You can order our most recent book, 40 Backpacking Hacks Volume 3, on Amazon or iTunes.