Dave “Lucky” Brunstein


Lucky is an avid ultralight backpacker that absolutely loves hiking in the Southwest. He feels blessed to have so many great hikes within a 6-hour drive of his home!

To help build up a backpacking community in Arizona, he started the Arizona Backpacking Club (ABC) in 2008 and the Backpacking, Canyoneering, and Hiking Club (BCH) in 2011. He volunteers to lead about 25 trips every year. The BCH has loads of fun on its trips and Lucky really enjoys helping others start their way on their ultralight journeys. He’s like a proud daddy when he sees someone shave 20 pounds off their pack weight after only a couple of trips!

The BCH tries to include education as a key component of what our club offers for our members. We have a show & tell at each monthly meeting, regularly host beginner trips, offer an annual 2-day backpacking clinic, sponsor hike leader training, and have lots of written material available online. But most of the knowledge transfer comes from one-on-one communication and hands on experience. The BCH has absolutely incredible volunteer hike leaders and they do a great job at teaching by example.

Other than the Sierra which is in a league of its own, Lucky’s favorite hikes include Rainbow Bridge, Buckskin/Paria, Black Canyon, Deer Creek/Tapeats Creek, and anywhere in the Superstitions. He seeks out water hikes because they’re pretty rare in Arizona. Lucky usually does Aravaipa, Verde Gorge, West Fork of the Oak Creek, and East Clear Creek at least once every year.

Lucky got into ultralight immediately after his very first backpacking trip (as an adult) and hasn’t looked back since. On that first trip, he struggled and stumbled for about half a mile, dropped his 70 lb pack and said “That’s it, we’re camping right here. I’m not taking another step.” To which his 11-year old son said “But Dad, I can still see the car!” With hundreds of trips and several thousands of miles under his belt, he’s proud to say he can now hike further than that!

Home: Phoenix, AZ

Age: 54

Outdoor Organization Involvement: Leader at the BCH

Favorite Training Grounds: I usually do my fitness hikes in South Mountain Park–It’s close and has a lot of nice hills.

Current Plans: I like to do new and inventive hikes mixed in with the old classics. I enjoy finding great new places to hike or routes that are not well published, especially those with a real wilderness feel to them. But I also never get tired of some of the world-class trips that the Southwest offers. I always enjoy the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah.