Hit the Trails Like ‘The Genuine Hiking Viking’


Gloriously bearded year-round hiker Thomas Gathman (aka The Genuine Hiking Viking) shares some of his most-trusted gear for conquering lengthy distances.

With his lengthy, bushy beard, booming laugh, and boisterous demeanor, it is difficult to miss Thomas Gathman on the trail. And it is even tougher to maintain up with him. Gathman, who goes by the moniker “The Genuine Hiking Viking,” mentioned that he covers at least 30 miles per day when he’s in the zone.

“It sort of varies with the form of hike I’m on and what sort of knowledge I want to have,” he explained. “Ninety % of the time, the aim is to be hiking about 25 or 30 miles per day. And then there are occasions when I’m attempting to do even far more than that, like 40-plus.”


‘The Genuine Hiking Viking’: A Complete-Time Backpacker

Gathman decided to make backpacking a complete-time life style following finishing the complete Appalachian Trail in 2013. Throughout that trek, he found that what matters most to him is not climbing the profession ladder or accumulating fancy belongings rather, it is the freedom that comes from exploring the planet on foot.

His residence is a tent. His transportation consists of his personal powerful legs. And he can match the rest of his worldly possessions in his pack.

But with such frequent higher-mileage hikes, top quality gear is important. According to Gathman, what you put on on your feet ranks 1st in significance. “No matter what the rest of your gear is, what the hike is, what the view is, if your feet are miserable, backpacking sucks,” he mentioned.

So what sort of footwear does The Genuine Hiking Viking rely on when hiking miles and miles of trail? It is all about the Altras. Among the Lone Peaks and the Timps, Gathman swears that he has by no means when had a blister even though wearing the footwear on his lengthy journeys.

“I’ve also been applying Point6 Socks,” he added, “and it is a winning mixture. I do not deviate from my Point6 socks and my Altra footwear. When the feet are delighted, the rest of you is delighted.”

The Genuine Hiking Viking’s Prime Backpack Decision

A excellent backpack requires a close second to footwear when it comes to crucially comfy gear. In 2014, for the duration of his journey on the Continental Divide Trail, The Genuine Hiking Viking approached Mountainsmith hunting for some thing that could carry his camera for the duration of a hike.

His point of speak to at the time was Cam Bumstead, Mountainsmith’s promoting manager. A couple of years (“and far more than a couple of beers”) later, it became clear to the enterprise that Gathman was a excellent companion to have on board for assisting with the style of trail gear.

“He’s capable to test packs like no one particular else that we’ve worked with for the reason that of the numerous miles he racks up every single year, and he knows precisely what he desires when it comes to packs,” mentioned Bumstead.

The collaboration involving the seasoned hiker and the Mountainsmith group sooner or later yielded a fastpack it dubbed the Zerk 40 ($220). Gathman utilized a prototype of the pack in his try to snag the unsupported FKT for the Colorado Trail, for the duration of which he tackled roughly 54 miles per day.

The pack passed the test. Supplying comfort, comfort, and accessibility, Mountainsmith developed the Zerk 40 for each speedy FKT-seekers and casual hikers alike.

“Tom was seriously conscious of the distinct wants of the lightweight thru-hiking crowd,” Bumstead notes. “Things like weight distribution, access to as considerably gear as probable with out taking the pack off, and not sacrificing comfort have been all seriously significant in the style of this pack, and these suggestions all came from Tom’s knowledge.”

PCT With The Genuine Hiking Viking

Zach Davis, editor-in-chief of the Trek and fellow hiker, has shared the trail with Gathman on several occasions — such as a 100-day trip hiking all two,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. And he’s had the possibility to test out the Zerk 40 as properly.

“It’s a excellent pack,” he confirmed. “I was hesitant to use it for the reason that he is my pal, and it would have produced a strange scenario if I hadn’t liked it. But I’m genuinely a major fan of it. I’m hiking the Lengthy Trail subsequent month, and I’ll be applying it for that.”


He can also attest that Gathman is a hiking companion like no other: a genuine, what-you-see-is-what-you-get pal and adventurer.

“I’ve by no means met any individual on this planet who has very as considerably power as Tom has,” Davis mentioned with a laugh. “There are components of every single hike exactly where the trail can get a small bit lackluster, but there’s by no means a dull moment with this guy.”

If you want to get an concept of Gathman’s dynamic character and exhilarating journeys for oneself, just browse about his Instagram account. There, you will locate jaw-dropping mountain vistas, snapshots of some of the other gear he utilizes on different excursions, and the occasional selfie with his magnificent face mane on complete show.

You may just get inspired to strap on the Zerk 40 and set off for an epic adventure of your personal.


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