Backpacking & ThruHiking with Heather Anderson and Tom Gathman

Join two to the most accomplished backpackers on the planet to dissect all things trip planning, gear, food, navigation, pro tips, and more!

Online Videos
Multiple Resources
Live Webinar and Q&A
One-on-One Mentorship

About the Course

Crux Academy is thrilled to partner with some of the most accomplished and recognizable athletes in the world of backpacking and thru hiking. Heather Anderson and Tom Gathman have almost 100K hiking miles logged between the two of them (that's more than 4 times around planet earth)! In this course, that hard-earned knowledge and experience is distilled into an easy to understand structure, so you can take learn from their mistakes and make that next hiking trip your best yet. So whether you're aiming to just do your first overnight trip, or you're planning a month's long trip on the Appalachian Trail (AT), this course is designed to be your guide, and trust us you're in good hands.

What you're going to learn:

  • How to set yourself up for success during the trip planning phase
  • Trail logistics: gear, camping, food on the trail, navigation, and more
  • Training and fitness exercises for hiking and long-distance backpacking
  • Pro tips for each experience level: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
  • And much more (see course contents above for full syllabus👆🏼)

Course Introductions

Meet Heather
Meet Tom

Course Introduction: Meet Your Instructors Heather and Tom

Every success story has an origin, in this lesson we'll be exploring what makes Heather and Tom great, as well as some thoughts on what the trail can offer you, the difference between backpacking and thru hiking, and an overview of what you'll learn in the course.

Planning Your Trip

There's a lot that goes into planning an extended trip in the mountains. In this section we'll discuss some of the main things to consider as you start to plan your trip: your why, weather, seasonality, terrain, and the time commitment.

Financial Planning for Thru Hiking

Spending multiple months on a thru hike has its challenges. We've got you covered on knowing how much everything will cost so you set yourself up for success from the beginning.

Mental Aspects of Long Trips

Bigger trips have a huge upside: personal growth! In this section, we'll cover how to develop much needed resiliency, having the right mindset, how to deal with loneliness, and what to expect when you go back to your life after your trip.

Physical Preparation

Training and fitness is key for enjoying your time on trail. From training basics to hiking specific exercises you'll learn from seasoned pros their tips and tricks for staying in shape and preventing injury.


Cooking (or not cooking) on the trail, understanding your caloric needs, tips for recommended foods, and even how to deal with your trash are all covered in this section.


Item by item, what do Heather and Tom carry in their packs.


Staying safe on the trail is something you may not consider, but it's of utmost importance and something you want to be prepared for. We'll discuss equipment, hygiene, wildlife, other people, hitch hiking, and also special considerations for female hikers.


A game plan for staying the course, especially for less traveled routes, is worth some extra thought. From recommended resources to navigation apps, we've got you covered.


There are some does and don'ts when choosing a campsite, Tom and Heather share their years of experience on topics like proximity to water and other campers, etiquette, camp fires, sleeping systems, tents, and even how to handle pooping and peeing.

Recommended Trips for All Levels

This is one of our favorite sections, because we get to hear Heather and Toms favorite trails and why you might want to consider certain trails over others based on your ability and needs.

Recommended Trips for All Levels

This is one of our favorite sections, because we get to hear Heather and Toms favorite trails and why you might want to consider certain trails over others based on your ability and needs.

Finding Your Community

Wanting some resources and tips for connecting with other hikers? Look no further.

Leave No Trace and Trail Etiquette

It's our responsibility to take care of the places we travel. Be sure you're not "that guy" on your next trip, because let's face it, none of us want that plus it's just the right thing to do.


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