Finding an active hiking/backpacking community is invaluable, regardless of whether it’s on Reddit, Facebook, or a dedicated forum. Not only will you find a new, fun way to spend your free time, but also get some useful tips along the way and become a smarter hiker.
In this article, I list my 7 favorite backpacking forums (backpacking, as in hiking in the wilderness, not traveling), ordered from best to worst. Each one is slightly different – some are better for beginners, and others for more experienced hikers, some talk about ultralight gear, and others about survival. That said, you’ll probably find something that’s good for you.
Community: 442 000 users
Posts per week: 28
Personally, the subreddit r/Ultralight is my favorite hiking community, which I check daily for new posts. It’s a very active community and has a few new posts every day with an average of 30 comments on each post.
The general idea behind it is to discuss various topics around ultralight hiking. If you didn’t know, “Ultralight” just means extremely lightweight gear, with a base weight of under 10 lbs. Even if you don’t consider yourself an ultralight hiker, it’s still a very rewarding community to be contributing to. I’ve learned so many tips and hacks over there on making my backpack lighter, which are beneficial to anyone who goes outdoors, not just ultralight hikers.
Most discussions around there revolve around the following topics: ultralight gear lists, thru-hiking, ultralight and lightweight gear, pack weight-saving tips, “leave no trace” principles and all kinds of other topics around hiking and backpacking in general.
At times, the community there can be a bit narrow-minded. For instance, a lot of people there will recommend complete beginners to spend tons of money on gear that weighs only a few grams less, which is a bit annoying. But if you’re willing to deal with that, you can find a lot of hidden gems in there, that are relevant for anyone interested in the outdoors.
Instead of posting pictures and videos, almost all of the content there is in the form of discussions. Also, no self-promotion is allowed, which is actually one of the main reasons why I like this subreddit more than others.
2. Backpacking Light Forums
Community: 20 000 active users
Threads: 77 000 threads (not counting gear trade threads)
Outside of Reddit, I consider the best hiking and backpacking forum to be the Backpacking Light forums. The only downside to it is that it’s a paid forum but it costs only 7$ per year. The good news is that you can read the whole forums without paying a dime. You only need to pay if you want to comment or make a new thread yourself.
Even though it’s a very old forum and has seen a bit better days, it still has a very active community. You’ll find a few new discussions every day with plenty of responses on each. And what I really love is that the people there are really knowledgeable. Backpacking Light forums are filled with old-timers who know every trick in the book, so they’re especially great for beginner hikers.
The main topics over there involve ultralight gear, lightweight gear, weight-saving tips, gear reviews, gear suggestions, gear lists, thru-hiking, and all kinds of other hiking and backpacking advice.
I consider Backpacking Light to be r/Ultralight on steroids. The r/Ultralight subreddit is more active, but its community can be a bit toxic at times and the people there aren’t as experienced.
Community: 262 000 users
Posts per week: 15 (not counting pictures, videos, and news)
Another community on Reddit that I really love is the r/WildernessBackpacking subreddit. It has almost zero self-promotion and most of the content there is pretty interesting – even most pictures and videos.
The main idea behind this subreddit is to create discussions, photos, and videos around hiking in the wilderness (untouched, wild places in the outdoors with very few people). The main topics involve gear, camping, hiking, survival, specific trail discussions, and general tips for being in the outdoors.
It has a pretty active community with about 20 responses to each post. Most of the advice there is actually really good, and I’ve personally learned quite a few things there. The discussions will be suited both for beginners and more experienced hikers.
Community: 1 800 000 users
Posts per week: 28 (not counting pictures, videos, and news)
Another great community on Reddit that revolves around hiking is the r/CampingandHiking subreddit. It’s essentially a mix of everything. You’ll find pictures, videos, and quite a bit of self-promotion there, but it also has a healthy amount of discussions, with about 10 responses on each post.
I’ve found that the best way to use this subreddit is to only select the filters “Gear Questions”, “Food”, and “Destination questions”. This will filter out most of the spam which comes in the form of self-promotion through pictures and videos.
In terms of discussions, it covers a broad range of topics around hiking and camping – mostly for beginners, but occasionally for more experienced hikers as well. It also contains a great deal of content around survival.
5. WhiteBlaze Forums
Community: 68 000 total / 900 active users
Threads: 110 000 threads (not counting gear trade threads)
WhiteBlaze is a US-based backpacking forum, which originally focused only on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) but developed into much more. Nowadays, it covers all kinds of topics – mainly about thru-hiking in the United States but also about gear, ultralight hiking, DIY gear, gear reviews, hiking tips, and other topics.
WhiteBlaze is a very popular hiking forum, especially among thru-hikers. It has a pretty active user base, with a few new discussions every day and a healthy amount of responses to each one. Even though it’s mainly about thru-hiking, you can find all kinds of useful advice there, which can be applied to regular backpacking or camping as well.
Unfortunately, it isn’t available in certain parts of the world. For instance, from Latvia, I’m able to access WhiteBlaze only by using a VPN and changing my IP address to the United States. This also speaks greatly about its target audience – it’s mostly focused on hiking in the United States.
6. Hammock Forums
Community: 58 000 total / 2300 active users
Threads: 126 000 threads (not counting gear trade threads)
Hammock Forums is essentially a spin-off of WhiteBlaze. So many people were interested in hammock camping, so they launched another forum dedicated just to that topic. And even though it’s mainly about hammock camping, it also covers a lot of other topics, which are also usable for people who sleep in tents or tarps.
Similar to WhiteBlaze, it’s popular only in the United States and focuses mostly on thru-hiking (albeit much less). If hammock camping is something you’re interested in or would like to try, this forum is definitely the go-to place to learn the ropes (pun not intended).
Even though Hammock Forums is a spin-off of WhiteBlaze, it’s become more popular and now has a bit more active community. You’ll find a few new posts every day with a few responses to each one.
7. NWhikers Forums
Community: 15 000 total / 200 active users
Threads: 60 000 threads (not counting gear trade threads)
NWhikers Forums is a backpacking forum that mainly focuses on hiking in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. That said, it also covers a wide range of other topics, including thru-hiking, gear, food, trip reports, gear lists, hiking tips, and others. It’s useful to check for anyone, not just hikers in the Pacific Northwest. It also has enough content for beginners and a pretty responsive community.
Although NWhikers forums is the smallest backpacking forum on this list, it’s still a pretty good one. It has plenty of active people and you’ll find new posts every day with a healthy amount of replies to each one.
Personally, I actively participate only in r/Ultralight, r/WildernessBackpacking, and I sometimes check out the Backpacking Light forums. But for this article, I did a lot of research and I checked out all the main backpacking forums. I included only the best ones which were still active.
If you’re looking for a backpacking community that only keeps growing and will stay active for the upcoming years, you should probably look for something on Reddit, as more and more people move from forums to Subreddits. There are a lot of hiking, backpacking, and camping Subreddits but I only included the three best ones in this list. Others were mostly about pictures and videos or included too much self-promotion.
Anyway, hopefully, you found a backpacking community that’s worthy of joining – whether you’re a thru-hiker or a survivalist.