Meet Bill Heiser, Trailspace's Reviewer of the Month

Kaweah Gap, Sequoia National Park

Congratulations to community member Bill Heiser, Trailspace's May Reviewer of the Month! The Trailspace community rated Bill's gear reviews (and Bill's reviewer reputation) the highest in May.

Join the Trailspace community in choosing June's most helpful reviewer by voting up the reviews you find most helpful. Check out the Top Reviewers to see who's on track to be crowned June's most helpful reviewer.

Congratulations, Bill! You win a goodie pack of gear from A3, Ibex, Injinji, Kind, ProBar, and Trailspace for your contributions.*

Write your own helpful gear reviews and you could be next month's most helpful reviewer.




Bill on the John Muir Trail
Bill on the John Muir Trail, entering Kings Canyon National Park, in 2012.

How did you get started exploring outdoors? Any favorite stories, memories?

Growing up my family went car camping. From an early age I started using my own tent while the rest of the family stayed in the travel trailer. Often on these trip we'd go hiking, and even then I enjoyed the experience.

This eventually culminated with my spending a whole summer on my own in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at the age of 17. Having neither a driver's license nor a car, I did a combination of backpacking and bicycle camping at roadside campgrounds.

When backpacking I camped at dispersed campsites and stayed at AMC trailside shelters. I rode my bike into nearby towns to buy supplies, and my Dad drove up from Massachusetts periodically to help out with my shopping trips, laundry, and gear repair.

That summer was a tremendous learning experience and I really enjoyed it. While there I encountered lots of AT (Appalachian Trail) thru-hikers and imagined someday I'd do the same. I still haven't done that, but did finally do a thru-hike of a different kind on the John Muir Trail in 2012.

What do you enjoy doing outdoors?

Mt Whitney at the terminus of the JMT in 2012
Bill on Mount Whitney, the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail.

I'm mostly a hiker and backpacker. I especially enjoy the feeling of freedom I get from going on multi-day backpacking trips, as I'm able to see places I wouldn't be able to reach on day hikes.

I also enjoy photography and my trips typically offer ample opportunity to practice it.

Tell us about your favorite outdoor areas/places.

While there will always be a place in my heart for New Hampshire's White Mountains, in recent years I've developed a strong affinity for the High Sierra in California. I love the wide open spaces, the rugged remoteness of many areas, and the diversity of the scenery I encounter.

On a recent trip, for example, over a period of five days I encountered trails through chaparral with expansive views, sub-alpine lakes, trails that traversed dramatic granite terrain, a remote glacial canyon, a rocky and still-snowy 11,000 foot pass, and sequoia groves.

What’s your perfect outdoor day?

Smith Peak, Yosemite
Bill on Smith Peak in Yosemite National Park.

I think my favorite would be hiking someplace remote and quiet, in beautiful natural surroundings... someplace with great scenic views, when it's warm and sunny (and without any insects) :-).

What are your favorite pieces of outdoor equipment? Why?

In terms of favorite equipment, I tend to favor those pieces of gear that work well for me over a period of time. When I've used an item for a while, and I feel like I can count on it, it becomes a "favorite".

An example is the Kelty D4 frame pack with the Mountaineer frame that I bought in the late '70s. I retired it only recently when it finally got too worn to be reliable. But it was an old standby.

A more modern piece is the Patagonia R1 Hoody. It's ideal in a variety of conditions — as a mid-layer when it's cold, a top layer when it's just cool, or (when treated with Permethrin) a protective layer when the 'skeeters are bad. It goes with me on every trip, and if anything happens to it I will definitely replace it with another like it if they're still available.

Have any stories to share about your favorite (or least favorite) gear? Good, bad, funny gear experiences?

I have one gear experience that's funny now, decades after it happened. On one of my very first solo camping trips in my teens, I thought it would be a good idea to store fresh peaches inside my tent. This was in a roadside campground named Dolly Copp at the base of Mount Madison in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. After "safely" stowing the peaches, I went off to do some other things.

When I came back there was a huge gash in the side of my tent and the peaches were gone.  As it turns out there were raccoons in the area... That was one of my first "learnings" about what not to do while camping :).

What motivated you to share your outdoor gear reviews with the Trailspace community?

I research most of my gear extensively before laying down my money to buy it. This involves reading numerous reviews written by other people. I like to think that by writing my own reviews, I'm providing a benefit to others in return.

Where does your username come from?

Well my username isn't very creative. I've spent years working in technology jobs where it is typical to have a username simply reflecting one's name. When I joined Trailspace I just followed the same practice.  More recently, with my involvement in the Trailspace Gear Review Corps, I'm considering just using my real name and doing away with the "username".

Anything else you'd like to share with the Trailspace community?

I'm really glad to have this community. There's a wealth of knowledge here and bunch of great people always willing to share their experience. I've "met" some great people on the site and have even met several in person through contact established here. This support network even played a part in my 30-day John Muir Trail thru-hike last summer.


Great job, Bill!

*Besides Trailspace glory and appreciation, Bill gets a goodie pack with a pair of Injinji Performance Micro Socks, a selection of tasty bars from A3Kind, and ProBar, a Trailspace-Ibex Zepher Skull Cap, a Trailspace pint glass (for après-backcountry use), and Trailspace stickers.

Wondering how you can be as lucky as Bill? Write some great gear reviews of your own. Next month the Trailspace community will recognize another reviewer (who'll win some prizes), and it could be you!

Help recognize the best reviews on Trailspace by clicking that up arrow whenever you read a truly helpful review. You'll not only recognize good reviewers, you'll help highlight the best reviews of products for other members looking for outdoor equipment.

Filed under: Reviewer of the Month


848 reviewer rep
3,899 forum posts
June 11, 2013 at 10:02 a.m. (EDT)

Congratulations, Bill!

It's great to have you as part of the Trailspace community. Thanks for all of your contributions.

1,422 reviewer rep
1,344 forum posts
June 11, 2013 at 10:20 a.m. (EDT)

Thanks Seth & Alicia! :D

848 reviewer rep
3,899 forum posts
June 11, 2013 at 10:38 a.m. (EDT)

You're welcome, Bill.

I forgot to add that I enjoyed hearing about your summer in the Whites at 17. That's great that your parents supported that endeavor and that you were able to have that experience. 

I'd like to think I'd let my kids do something similar when they were old enough and capable.

denis daly
271 reviewer rep
1,872 forum posts
June 11, 2013 at 12:51 p.m. (EDT)

Congrats Bill! Keep up the great work!!!

6,158 reviewer rep
1,625 forum posts
June 11, 2013 at 12:58 p.m. (EDT)

Well earned. Strong work!

1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts
June 11, 2013 at 10:56 p.m. (EDT)

Congrats Bill!

Well deserved, and I know you'll have a use for all those goodies.


775 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts
June 12, 2013 at 9:56 a.m. (EDT)

Congratualtions, Bill!  

592 reviewer rep
1,522 forum posts
June 12, 2013 at 3:13 p.m. (EDT)

YAY Bill! Well deserved!

andrew f. (leadbelly2550)
5,642 reviewer rep
2,036 forum posts
June 12, 2013 at 4:51 p.m. (EDT)

Well done!

1,711 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts
June 12, 2013 at 7:08 p.m. (EDT)

Bill, sorry I am late to the party...

Congrats man. 

I hope you enjoy the goodies. 

Oh, btw...

Those sure are some pretty schnazzy gaiters. 

Jake W
3,760 reviewer rep
948 forum posts
June 12, 2013 at 9:44 p.m. (EDT)

Congrats Bill. Way to go!

Lodge Pole
0 reviewer rep
437 forum posts
June 12, 2013 at 10:15 p.m. (EDT)

Great story Bill. Love the red and yellow gaitors too :D

1,422 reviewer rep
1,344 forum posts
June 13, 2013 at 9:38 a.m. (EDT)

Thanks everyone!  It is good to be part of this community.  As for those gaiters, they're the ones I reviewed here :).  Unfortunately a large rodent stole one of them on a recent trip, but I kept the other one as a souvenir of my JMT trip :).  I now use another pair just like it, but in plain black ...

Lodge Pole
0 reviewer rep
437 forum posts
June 13, 2013 at 10:07 a.m. (EDT)

I read that story too. I am a nuisance it's official.

4,098 reviewer rep
147 forum posts
June 13, 2013 at 4:34 p.m. (EDT)

I enjoyed reading about your adventures and profile, thanks for sharing.

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