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Jeff “Legend” Garmire

The thrill of adventure first spurred me to take a term off college and hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011. Since then I have hiked over 23,000 miles on eight thru-hikes ranging from 200 to 8,000 miles. I have been charged by grizzly bears, attacked by moose, swam frozen rivers and sprinted through lightning storms. The simplicity of living out of a backpack, being self-sufficient and covering every mile on foot is the allure. Somehow the same Katabatic Flex 22 quilt has accompanied me on over 15,000 of these miles!

After my first thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011 I have goneon to complete the Pacific Northwest Trail (2014), Calendar Year Triple Crown (2016 – Detailed in my book Free Outside), Great Western Loop (2018), Arizona Trail (2019), Pinhoti Trail (2019), John Muir Trail (2019), and the Long Trail (2019).

In my book Free Outside, I tell the story of my Calendar Year Triple Crown in 2016. I quit my job in February and traveled to Atlanta with the dream of completing the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail all in the same year. It had only been done four other times and I had no idea what I was in for. It was a race to fit 8,000 miles of hiking into one season. I was faced with blizzards, frozen rivers, wildlife encounters, shady characters and numerous injuries. It was the true adventure and adversity I was looking for!

Beyond long thru-hikes I enjoy mountaineering, backcountry skiing, running, and competition. In 2015, while working full time, I climbed the 58 peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado along with Mt. Rainier in Washington. It was also the year I completed my first backcountry ski race and developed a love of moving in the mountains.

By 2018 I was ready for another giant adventure. I settled on the Great Western Loop. The loop connects the Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, Arizona Trail and a cross country 700 mile route through the Sonoran and Colorado Deserts. I became the second person to complete the 7,000 mile route, joining Andrew Skurka. At the conclusion of the hike I was ready for shorter, faster hikes and began attempting Fastest Know Times (FKTs or Speed Records).

I got my first taste of moving fast when I attempted Nolan’s 14 as part of the Great Western Loop. Nolans links 14 different 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado on a 100 mile route consisting of bushwhacking and rugged trail. I was able to complete the challenge in 59 hours before finishing out the last 2,000 miles of the loop. With the joy of fast movement cemented in my mind, in 2019 I set off to break trail speed records. I started by breaking the Arizona Trail FKT, followed by the Pinhoti Trail and then the Long Trail. This was a completely different experience than I had ever had but I learned “Fast is Fun.”

I grew up in Vancouver, Washington with a brother and a sister, as well as two very supportive parents. I have perfected the art of juggling and enjoy reading and writing when I am not on a trail. On every adventure I keep a daily blog and it eventually spurred the most difficult challenge yet: writing a book. Continually balancing work to fund my adventures and my love of the mountains is the puzzle I am working at perfecting.

Why I use a Katabatic quilt:

I began using a Katabatic quilt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in May 2016 in the midst of my Calendar Year Triple Crown. I switched from a traditional sleeping bag to the quilt. From there the rest is history. The Katabatic Flex 22 remained the only constant in an ever-changing gear kit for over 11,000 miles. I trusted the quilt through blizzards, subfreezing temperatures, heat waves and even used it as another wearable layer in the bitter cold. The flexibility of the quilt (obviously why it is called the Flex 22) has never failed me. In 110-degree desert heat I have used it as a light blanket. In 10 degree cold, I have zipped and cinched it up to somewhat comfortably sleep through the night. The lightness and packability of the quilt have even caused me to take it on the most barebones lightweight FKT attempts. Maybe I got the most well-made quilt Katabatic has ever produced, but I would have never expected a down quilt to survive 11,000 of the roughest miles a hiker can put it through.

Best Tips for Reducing Pack Weight

Clothing. People often pack the same clothes for every trip and often too many of them. You will not be showering in nature, although I love a quick jump in a lake, so you will never be truly clean. Taking multiple changes of clothes is in my mind a frivolous effort. This is the easiest way to reduce pack weight without spending any money. I pack enough clothing to stay warm at any possible temperature I could encounter but then little more. There is a very fine line separating what you “might” need and what you “won’t” need and solidifying this line is one of the easiest, cheapest and most comfortable ways to reduce your pack weight.

Website: freeoutside.com

Instagram: @thefreeoutside

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