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Francis Tapon


Francis Tapon is the author of “Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America” and “The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us.” He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. He’s walked across Spain twice. He’s done Mont Blanc in trail runners. In 2009, he was nominated a one of the seven finalists to the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which “features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors.” Although he “barely missed induction,” he was quite honored to be nominated. Some think that they nominated him because he’s evangelized about the glories of backpacking 20,000 km (12,500 miles), but we know the real reason: they’re impressed that he backpacked for 45 days without a shower.

Home: San Francisco, CA – but usually is traveling

Age: 43


Favorite Training Ground

Sierra Nevada. Even if you go on a busy holiday weekend, if you hike far enough, you’ll find solitude.

Favorite Pack

The Mariposa Lightweight Pack – “With just two months to start my Africa trip, this looks like the backpack that I need. Of course, thru-hikers and backpackers will also appreciate this backpack, especially for winter trips or trips where you have to carry more than a week of food. Its durability gives me the confidence that it will last three years.”

Current Plans

He’s currently trying to summit the tallest mountain of each African country – there are 54. It should take at least 3 years to complete, but perhaps up to 5 years. The biggest challenge for many of them is not their height, but getting to the remote/dangerous locations of some of the mountains.