Liz Thomas is among the most experienced female hikers in the U.S. and is known for backpacking light, fast and solo. In 2011, she broke the women’s unsupported speed record on the 2,181-mile long Appalachian Trail, besting the previous record by almost a week. She has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking–the Appalachian Trail, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, and the 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail–and has backpacked over 15,000 miles across the United States on 16 long distance hikes, including the pioneering traverse of the Chinook Trail across the Columbia River Gorge, and the pioneering traverse of the Wasatch Range, which she did solo. Liz is affectionately known as the “Queen of Urban Hiking,” having pioneered and completed routes in five cities across the U.S.

In her time not on the trail, Liz attained a Masters in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the prestigious Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship for her research on long distance hiking trails, conservation, and trail town communities—a project she is applying in her work with the trail non-profit Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC).

Liz has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! News, Men’s Journal, Women’s Health, Outside Online, and Gizmodo. She gives presentations about long distance hiking around the country, especially to college outdoor clubs like the one where she first learned how to backpack. Liz is honored to serve as Vice President of the American Long Distance Hiking Association-West (ALDHA-West) and as one of four ambassadors for American Hiking Society. Liz is the instructor for Backpacker Magazine’s first-ever Introduction to Thru-hiking Course and guest editor of their January 2016 Long Trails issue. When not hiking, Liz splits her time between Denver, CO and Los Angeles, CA.

One reason I love my Katabatic Gear: It has the warmth, comfort and fluffiness of a big sleeping bag at 2/3rds the weight. The design is so good, I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything by going ultralight. It feels like I’m cheating at the ultralight game.

Favorite tip for reducing pack weight: Ask yourself if you can really live without it. If the answer is yes, then dump it. If you still think you need it, take it with. If you notice you didn’t use it, don’t take it next time.

Outdoor organization involvement: American Long Distance Hiking Association-West, American Hiking Society