This guide provides some guidance to help you write engaging trip reports that maximize your readership and hits the high points of what our readers want to see!
What to Include in a Trip Report
A trip report should include the following major sections, each designated as a Level 2 Heading:
- Trip Review
- Gear List & Notes
The first paragraph (limited to 1-3 sentences) of the introduction should state the following information:
- Where: the name of the place, and its regional location;
- What: what type of trip, i.e., hiking / packrafting / peak bagging / etc.;
- When: when (month/year) you took the trip;
This paragraph should be written in a narrative style, e.g.,
This report describes a 22-day trekking expedition traversing Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness from near Livingston, Montana to near Togwotee Pass, Wyoming in July and August, 2012. Our route generally followed the hydrologic divide, and was split approximately 70% on-trail vs. 30% off-trail travel.
Immediately after the first paragraph, insert a regional map that shows the approximate location of your trip. Here’s an example of an overview map that was included with Kevin Fletcher’s recent trip to the Escalante area:
This map was created by simply taking a screenshot of the region using Google Maps (e.g., Hillmap), editing that screenshot in software that allows text and drawing annotations (e.g., Mac OS Preview), and exporting the annotated map as an image.
Other sub-sections (level 3 headings) to include in the introduction:
- Route Plan – describe your route, and include map(s) with your route shown on it (use Hillmap, Caltopo, sketch your own, take a photo of your route marked on a paper map, whatever works!); include a day-by-day itinerary and juice it up for our data-hungry readers if you like with mileages, elevation gains, campsite locations, etc.!
- Trip Planning Notes – highlights of what you did prior to the trip to get ready for the trip; unique aspects of the area / route that require your prior consideration (bears? snow? steep terrain?);
- Logistical Considerations – description of transportation logistics, local towns for buying supplies, trail shuttling, permits and other regulations to consider, etc.
- Gear Considerations – what is affecting your decision to take certain pieces of gear? which gear decisions are the most challenging, and why?
In lieu of a past-tense narrative style, you could also write in a real-time “journal”-style, like Em’s Assiniboine narratives. If you choose this “journal” style, replace the heading name “Narrative” with the heading name “Journal”.
This section should include the bulk of your trip photos, but feel free to add them in other parts of the trip report if they reinforce the discussion in those other sections.
The trip review section gives you the opportunity to reflect on lessons learned. Be as creative and reflective as you like. Some things our readers want to know:
- Did the trip go according to plan, and if not why?
- What aspects of the trip went great, what aspects of the trip went not so great, and what would you change if you were doing it again?
- What personal goals / objectives did you hope to achieve on this trip, and did you accomplish them? Why / why not?
- How do you feel about having completed this trip?
Gear List & Notes
Include the most significant items on your gear list, with item weights:
- Clothing system
- Sleep system
- Shelter system
- Packing system
- Cooking system
- other items of note (optional)
Your gear list should take the form of a 3-column table:
- Column 1: Type of gear (backpack, shelter, ground cloth, sleeping quilt, stove, etc.)
- Column 2: Brand and Product Name
- Column 3: Weight in oz (g)
|backpack||Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400||33.2 oz (941 g)|
Provide the following pack weights in a bulleted list after your gear list table:
- Approximate starting pack weight including food, fuel, and water (lb/kg)
- Approximate base pack weight (weight of gear not including food, fuel, and water) (lb/kg)
- If you’d like to include other weights as well for further clarification (e.g., consumables, total skin out, etc.) that’s OK too.
Reflect on the significant gear decisions you made for this trip, and discuss how they panned out. What would you change? Structure this in subsections as needed, or as a bulleted list if your notes are shorter.