What NEMO Ambassadors Learned On the Trail (So You Don’t Have To)

Experience is the best teacher.

And there’s really no way to avoid making mistakes until you’ve gone out there and made them yourself — that is unless our NEMO Ambassadors made them for you. Let us explain.

Every year, we join forces with a few of our favorite brands to get a group of dedicated thru-hikers geared up for their trek. Since each of these backpackers is tackling one of America’s longest trails, they get outfitted in top-of-the-line products that can withstand the elements and go the distance. By providing them with the best gear, we like to feel like we were out there with them and anxiously wait to hear all about it once they’ve returned.

As any adventurer knows, spending weeks or months out on the trail leaves you with a lifetime of memories, insights, hilarious stories, and of course, some epic failures that you won’t ever forget. Call it FOMO, but at NEMO — we love to hear it all.

It’s not just about the gear hacks or travel tips that are gleaned from their stories, it’s about having a reinvigorated sense of adventure and fresh inspiration for your next mountain exit. And yeah, we definitely want those tips.

Here are some of the best advice, stories from the trail, and lessons our ambassadors learned so you don’t have to. See you out there!

Trail Hacks and Mishaps

The pro-tips you’ll be glad to have in your back pocket whether you’re tackling the beginning, middle, or last few miles of your hike.

“I forgot my pack cover and as fate would have it, it rained every third day on the trail on average. I used my Nemo Hornet rainfly as a makeshift pack liner. To my surprise, it worked like a charm.”

Aaron Grafing aka Blue Beard, Superior Hiking Trail Thru-Hiker

 

“Early on during my AT hike, another hiker gave me a great piece of advice. They said, “The first piece of gear that pops into your head when you’re ascending a steep climb — get rid of it.” This wisdom has definitely helped me get my pack weight dialed.”

– Lindsey Brisko (NEMO employee) aka Outro, AT, PCT, CDT, and Oregon Desert Trail Thru-Hiker

 

“I learned to do a daily foot care regimen: Body Glide on any high friction areas and Gold Bond to reduce moisture, shoes off and feet elevated whenever you’re not hiking, and keep feet as clean as possible “

-Brittany Bendel (NEMO Employee) aka Peaches, AT Thru-Hiker

Tips to Boost Your Confidence

Use some of these tools that our ambassadors found helpful for providing a little more peace of mind for family and friends, or yourself.

Personally, I think the risk and danger of the trail are what makes it an adventure. However, having a little peace of mind while having that adventure is not a bad thing. I would highly recommend carrying something like a Garmin InReach. Besides having an SOS feature, it also can track your location on a map so that family and friends can follow along. I never had to use mine, but it gave me a bit of peace of mind as I traveled through the High Sierra in a record snow year.”

-Justin McCormick aka Schoolbus, PCT Thru-Hiker

 

“I was apprehensive in the beginning, but I found the longer I was on the trail the more at ease I became and more confident I was in my ability to navigate the unexpected. I also came to appreciate and rely on the supportiveness of the thru-hiking community where people really look out for each other. That being said, one rule I followed was not camping too close to roads, especially if I was by myself.”

-Nalini Ravindranath aka Hoops, AT and Wonderland Trail Thru-Hiker

Favorite NEMO Gear

The NEMO products that they loved to have with them on every mile.

“It was my NEMO Cleo™ Sleeping Bag. Along with a Marmot Jacket I had, I found myself totally in love with Down Feathers, which I had absolutely no experience with before. Our first night out got down into the twenties, and paired with a liner, even the Cleo 35 kept me comfortable. The best part was DEFINITELY the foot box at the end; since I had a 1-Person tent, I occupied every bit of space, and found the foot box often had condensation in the morning, which I was super thankful didn’t find its way to my toes!”

-Hannie Glenn aka Green Bean aka Rocket, AT Thru-Hiker

 

“NEMO Rhapsody™ bag. It was super warm and light, and I loved the colorway!”

Brittany Bendel (NEMO Employee) aka Peaches, AT Thru-Hiker

Best or Most Surprising Trail Meals?

Get all of the snack inspiration, plus, the do’s and don’ts of eating on the trail.

“Peanut Butter Cliff Bars” and “Mac & Cheese!”

-Aaron Grafing aka Blue Beard, Superior Hiking Trail Thru-Hiker

 

“Tuna creations on tortillas!”

-Nalini Ravindranath aka Hoops, AT and Wonderland Trail Thru-Hiker

 

“Pop-Tarts, specifically when lemon merengue was available.”

-Brittany Bendel (NEMO employee) aka Peaches, AT Thru-Hiker

 

“One day, in particular, I was having a rough go all around and then it began to snow. Exhausted and with my body aching, I crumpled down beneath a pine tree for some shelter.  I took out my stove and began to cook a meal not really knowing what else to do and hoping something warm in my belly might help. That day under that pine tree was the best trail meal I’ve had to date.”

-Lindsey Brisko (NEMO employee) aka Outro, AT, PCT, CDT, and Oregon Desert Trail Thru-Hiker


A huge thanks to all of our ambassadors who inspire us to go out there and get after it, and generously passed along their insights and advice. We loved getting to relive the experience with you — wins, fails, and everything in-between!