Many years ago, inspired by Alastair Humphrey’s concept of microadventures, and to feed my insatiable desire to sleep in wild places, I started creating video journals of trips where I spent less than 24 hours in the backcountry, including:

In addition, I recently published a video featuring winter skills and gear in a vlog-style format of a 24-hour winter trip I recently took in Wyoming:

But it’s been a while since I video-journaled a more conventional 24-hour trip (in a shorter-form video format like the original episodes of the 24 series) and I really wanted to share a recent trip that Stephanie and I took in the mountains of Idaho.

Not in Idaho! Ryan and Stephanie hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (Photo: Lindi Chatterton.)


Over the past few years, our family has taken a couple of extended road trips across the west in our popup camper. Our usual loop travels through Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, California, and back, spending time hiking and camping in the Rockies, Wasatch, Uintas, Sawtooths, and High Sierra.

Road-trip, Jordan-style. A solar-powered popup camper on our Tacoma carries bikes, skis, packrafts, and backpacking gear as we travel the west. Venue: an off-grid USFS campground in Idaho.

These road trips are time to regroup, visit our favorite places in the west, and enjoy some time in the wilderness.

So while spending some time in Ketchum, Idaho (where our son Chase was attending the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Music Institute) during the summer, Stephanie and I figured we could steal away on a quick “24” up in the mountains north of town while Chase was in class! Poor kid.

watching goats ryan stephanie jordan
One of the highlights from our trip was watching mountain goats and kids traverse the steep hillside across from our camp.

Watch the Video

Enjoy the video, and stick around to the end, where we answered questions submitted via social media on the topic of “couples hiking”.

YouTube video

Q&A: Couples Backpacking

We solicited questions about couples backpacking via our social media channels and answered them in the Q&A at the end of the video. Here are the questions:

  1. What happens when you are both equally convinced that you are correct about opposite navigational decisions? – andrewmarshallimages via Instagram.
  2. How do you cope with inclement weather and expectations of things that cannot be controlled? My partner is new to backpacking so weather can be discouraging for her. Especially because I am a magnet for bad weather it seems, but I’m used to it at this point. – Carlos via YouTube.
  3. Do you find yourself getting out together more now that Chase is away at college? – b_rogers_99 via Instagram
  4. When I think back on all the times I took girlfriends camping when I was in my 20s I can’t help but feel remorse for being such a blowhard ‘expert’ that mansplained everything and had to show off my cool gear. My way was the best way and we had to hike big miles, etc. I constantly see young men who have no self-awareness and are blind to the wants and needs of their partner like they are in Ikea, not in the woods. How do you get people to weigh their own wants and expectations to their partners? – hoagietime1 via YouTube.
  5. What is the best way to cope with physical and mental differences during the hike? How to keep your partner’s morale high? Especially during hard stretches – multicam_sokol via Instagram.
  6. Do you pack extra luxury items when you go backpacking together? – NaLona Brato via YouTube.
  7. What are the benefits of having “break hikes” where you hike separately but end at the same location? – jsherman51 via Instagram.
  8. Do you find that when you are backpacking with a romantic partner you have more or less conflict than with a non-romantic hiking buddy? How about when you and your partner are with a larger group? – TheBestBackpacker via YouTube.

Gear Notes

Sharing: We shared some stuff – repair, first aid, water treatment, and firestarting supplies; stove, and shelter.

katadyn befree filter
We shared a number of essentials, including our water treatment kit, which consisted of only the Katadyn BeFree 20 oz filter bottle. For the clear mountain streams of Idaho, it served us well enough!

Sleep & Shelter System: We’ve used couples’ bags, quilts, and our own bags, and we sleep more comfortably in our own sleep systems (pads, quilts, pillows). That way, Stephanie can have her 10 deg F quilt and I can have my 40 deg F quilt and neither one of us gets too hot or cold! We used the My Trail Co. Pyramid 3 shelter with netting insert (it was the peak of bug season!). It’s weather resistance, reasonable weight, and terrific living space (including headroom) makes it one of our favorite shelters for couples.

mytrail co pyramid
The MyTrail Co. Pyramid 3 is spacious for a couple, reasonably-priced, and offers a solid, stable, taut pitch. We’ve weathered some pretty severe winds in this shelter through the years. Our only advice if you expect to encounter bad weather is to upgrade the four load-bearing corner stakes to 8″ MSR Groundhogs. Ounce-counters will want a lighter inner tent as well. At 34 oz, the stock Nest inner tent is heavier than it needs to be, unless you desire the durability of a heavier floor.

Packs: Stephanie carried a frameless pack (My Trail Co. Backpacking Light 70L). A frameless pack is critical for her back comfort – she has a degenerative spinal condition called spondylolisthesis and most internal frame packs have not been so great for her. I carried a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 5400, which allows me to carry the bulk of the load, and the large volume makes it really easy to pack – just throw stuff in and call it good. With a light load on short trips, less attention needs to be paid to precision packing and weight distribution!

mytrail co backpacking light 70
The MyTrail Co. Backpacking Light 70 is a well-built and highly functional pack suitable for light and bulky loads. Its frameless design makes it very comfortable for people with spinal discomfort who suffer from pressure points caused by internal frame components. Plus, it’s one of the best value packs on the market, at only $165.

Some other gear we used on this trip that Stephanie and I really like:

Type Brand/Model Are we going to use this gear in 2019?
Ryan’s hiking shirt Patagonia Sun Stretch Shirt Yes! One of RJ’s favorite hiking shirts ever. Articulated arms, useful chest pockets, very breathable, bug-resistant. Review here.
Ryan’s Hiking Pants REI Screeline Durable and comfortable with good articulation and fit.
Ryan’s Trekking Poles Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Pretty much the only carbon pole I trust not to break in difficult terrain. I’ve used this pole (or an earlier version) for years.
Ryan’s Hiking Shoes La Sportiva Ultra Raptor My go-to trekking shoe. In 2018, I also took some trips with the Akyra which I like even better for rough terrain (more lateral stability).
Stephanie’s Hiking Shoes La Sportiva Bushido My favorite shoe for rocky terrain (talus, scree). I brought two pair of shoes on this trip (my second pair – Altra Lone Peaks) for some side-by-side testing. I definitely prefer the Lone Peaks for trail running and backpacking on trails.
Stephanie’s Base Layer Top GoLite C-Thru Vintage! Has since been replaced by a hexagonal knit shirt that only costs $19 – which is hard to beat.
Ryan’s Sleeping Quilt Katabatic Gear Chisos My Chisos 40 is seven years old and has been my summer staple for hundreds of nights. It’s still going strong and I don’t see myself retiring it anytime soon.
Stephanie’s Sleeping Quilt Enlightened Equipment Enigma I just don’t think I can ever go back to being confined in a mummy bag again. The Enigma 10 offers an impressive loft:weight ratio if you customize it with the lightest possible materials.
Ryan’s Sleeping Pad Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite I’ve since switched to the new UberLite, which is lighter and quieter. See our UberLite review here.
Stephanie’s Sleeping Pad Sea to Summit Comfort Light Pad No wobbly tubes. No slippery fabrics. No loud noise. A terrific pad that’s very comfortable and stable.
Ryan’s Camp Chair Helinox Ground Chair Now discontinued, which is too bad. It’s the most stable and comfortable chair design I’ve used. Helinox could have knocked it out of the park with a lighter fabric and pole set…
Stephanie’s Camp Chair REI Flexlite Air Chair A higher chair if you need to sit in a more upright position – one of the lightest and more comfortable chairs available.
Ryan’s Sunglasses Smith Challis Photochromic Photochromic, polarized lenses in a lightweight wrap design; lightweight glass is durable and scratchproof. A nearly perfect feature set for backpacking.
Our Stove MSR Windburner Fast, fuel efficient, and it works in direct wind without having to protect it. See our review here.
Our “Cooking Bowl” AGG 4-Cup Screw-Top Bowl with Cozy We’ve used these for years. A great addition to a two-person cook kit to supplement an integrated canister stove like the Windburner. One of us eats out of the cook pot, the other out of this bowl.
Our Water Treatment System Katadyn BeFree Filter In spite of reports of failures and slow flows, we’ve been using the BeFree since it came out a few years ago and have never had a problem with it. A fast, easy-to-use system. Read our review here.
rei chair helinox
Camp chairs give us relief for our aging backs and allow us to cook and enjoy the fire in comfort.


Thanks to the following companies who provided gear and financial support to help us put this video together:

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