Sara “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” Dhooma

My life was changed forever after collapsing and nearly dying from a pulmonary embolism.  While recovering in hospital, I vowed to live life to the fullest and complete my trekking bucket list.  Since quitting my 15-year office job in August 2017, I have been full-time long-distance hiking around the world.  I truly feel most alive and connected to the earth while walking a long-distance footpath.

I’ve always been an adventurer.  My first overseas trip was an international development program living in a small northern Vietnam rice farming village.  Since then I’ve visited 75+ countries and have many wild tales such as wrestling an anaconda in Venezuela, cast as a Mafia assassin in an Indian Bollywood film, and surviving a plane crash in Uganda.  As I travelled, I discovered my passion for backcountry trekking.

My first mountain climb was Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and I was instantly hooked.  I’ve completed numerous world-renowned hikes solo such as Annapurna Circuit, as well as off-the-beaten path ones like the Golan Heights Trail in Israel. It has now become my mission to complete all the major Camino de Santiago routes across Spain.  So far I’ve walked 3500+ miles on different criss-crossing medieval pilgrim paths including the Camino Primitivo, Via de la Plata, and the Ruta de la Lana.

The Appalachian Trail in 2014 was my first major long-distance hike in America - a LASH from Georgia to Connecticut.  In 2018, I completed the Pacific Crest Trail minus a very smoky section in Southern Oregon.  My 2019 hike of the Continental Divide Trail is incomplete due to the huge snow year.  My goal this summer is to complete my missing sections on the three big American trails to obtain my Triple Crown designation.

I’ve been a full-time long-distance hiker and YouTube video blogger since August 2017.  Between international trips, I briefly come home to Kitchener, Canada to switch up gear, have medical and dental check-ups, and to visit my very understanding family.  My hobbies include craft brewery visits, Star Trek, and playing strategic board games.  Please visit my YouTube Channel if you would like to follow my daily hiking vlog as I thruhike on five different continents this year.

Why I Use Katabatic Gear:

I used to dread overnight trips in the backcountry.  There is nothing worse than being exhausted after a challenging hiking day, and being unable to sleep comfortably.  My attitude to sleeping outdoors changed when I switched to a Katabatic quilt.  I unpacked my Katabitic Sawatch 15 sleeping quilt for the first time in San Diego the night before starting the Pacific Crest Trail.  Immediately, I was impressed by the quality materials and top-notch workmanship.  On trail, the innovative pad-attachment system kept me toasty warm in cold conditions. If it gets too warm I can simply drape the quilt over myself as a blanket.  This lightweight quilt has accompanied me on every hike since the PCT, including the Camino de Santiago, the Israel National Trail, and Continental Divide Trail. I happily look forward to snuggling inside my warm, poofy quilt each evening.

Best Tips for Reducing Pack Weight

The best way to keep my backpack as light as possible is to select multi-purpose gear.  I carefully choose each item that goes into my backpack to maximize utility.  For example, my rain skirt unzips flat to serve as a sit pad on wet ground, and also goes underneath my inflatable mattress as an extra layer of protection against punctures.  Instead of traditional tent poles, my tent sets up with my trekking poles.  A buff is the ultimate multi-purpose item – towel, water filter, handkerchief, plus numerous configurations to protect your head against the elements.  When assembling your gear for your next trip, get creative!  When on trail I often take my empty quilt stuff sack into town to serve as a purse for errands.  With a bit of multi-purpose thought, you’ll be efficiently reducing ounces, or even pounds from your pack!

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Photos by David Xiao