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GoLite's "Forty Days and Forty Nights" AT Hike without Re-supply

At sunset on March 21, 2008, Demetri Coupounas, President & Co-Founder of outdoor apparel and gear manufacturer GoLite, began hiking the Appalachian Trail northbound from Springer Mountain, Georgia, carrying over 120 pounds on his back. By sunset on April 30, 2008, he hopes to have set a new world “alpine style” backpacking distance hiking record, while personally commemorating the 10th anniversary of the company that he co-founded with his wife and father almost a decade ago.

An avid backpacker and athlete, Coupounas founded GoLite in 1998 to help others experience the joy and simplicity of backpacking without unnecessary, overbuilt gear. An expert in ultra light backpacking, Coupounas popularized “alpine style” backpacking in 2004 when he walked the 480+ mile Colorado Trail from Durango to Denver with no re-supply of food or gear and water replenishment only from natural sources.

“Call me a masochist,” says Coupounas, “but I think this trip will be a lot of fun! It will call forth the very best physical, mental and spiritual effort I can put forth, and I am a firm believer that we need to test and measure ourselves on a deep level from time to time.”

Andy Burgess, GoLite Vice President for Product commented, “This is great product field testing – sick, but great! It’s useful to know how both equipment and technical apparel perform when pushed well beyond their design criteria.”
Asked about the seeming contradiction between co-founding a company named “GoLite” and carrying a 120 pound load onto a trail, Coupounas paraphrased Winston Churchill: “Never have so few carried so much to help so many carry so little.”

Coupounas has no idea how far he’ll get claiming “That’s part of the adventure!” but has targeted more than 620 miles, the current distance record. He added, “I’m carrying maps for over 1000 miles and considering that weight is an issue on this trip, it would be tragic to have carried something that far that didn’t get used!”

“Forty Days & Forty Nights” is dedicated to the memory of George Coupounas, Coupounas’ father, who co-founded GoLite with the couple. The trip will highlight the 10th Anniversary of GoLite, which will occur on April 13th, when Coupounas hopes to be closing fast on Damascus, Virginia. For more information, or to follow “Forty Days and Forty Nights”, visit


I was a bit surprised that GoLite has only been around for 10 years. I must have bought some of their gear when they first started. Somehow, I have the vague recollection that one of the 2 packs I have from GoLite I got more than 10 years ago, but I guess not. The two packs have seen lots of hard use (well, as hard as you can do when carrying a 15 pound or less pack), and the clothing I have from them also has seen lots of use. The larger of the two packs was the one I used to put the gear in that my porters carried for me up Kilimanjaro in December last year (a duffel would have worked as well, as it turned out).

Their original gear was kits and finished versions of Ray Jardine's packs (under some sort of license agreement with Ray). Somewhere I got the idea that they were the semi-official RayWay manufacturer. I heard recently, though, that Jardine has been less than happy with all the other stuff GoLite has added to their line which does not match the RayWay philosophy ("RayWay" is what everybody but Jardine calls his approach to ultralight backpacking, based on his PCT guide and the more recent "Beyond Backpacking" - a book I highly recommend whether or not you want to become an ultralight fanatic).

Somehow, I can't see carrying 120 pounds on my back, unless it is climbing gear for an extended backcountry technical climbing trip. But I suppose, if you are going to do the AT in a single push with no resupply, .... Yup, he is crazy, and will probably have a bad back and destroyed knees and ankles for the rest of his life.

It sounds like he is trying to outdo Ryan Jordan, Roman Dial and Jason Geck who did about 600 miles in Alaska without resupply in 2006. They carried a lot less than 120 lbs., more like 60. There is a whole write-up, gear list and more about that trip on Jordan's website.

I couldn't walk across the room with 120 lbs., so I can't imagine what that is doing to his back and knees, as Bill noted.

What qualifies as 'resupply'? Does purifying water count as resupplying?

turneej asked


What qualifies as 'resupply'? Does purifying water count as resupplying?

No, water does not count, obviously, since there is water frequently along the route. And if he were to catch fish (which would slow him down a bit), that part of the food would not count.

The basic rule is to carry all your food and everything else that you will need but cannot get on the trail itself. Most people doing thru-hikes carry no more than a week or 2 food, and for those doing the full AT/PCT/Continental Divide, they often pick up replacement boots or trail shoes, as well as food and stove fuel along the way. If the trip will involve major season changes (hike south to north late in the season, so major snow is a possibility), extra clothing may be picked up as well. The John Muir, Pacific Crest, Appalachian and other long trails have a number of places along the way that you can pre-place supplies either by going there yourself or mailing a package to each location. There are commercial outfits that will hold the packages for you (for a price, of course). Before you go on a thru-hike, though, go to one of the dedicated websites and ask about these commercial sites. Some of them try to get a bit of extra money (like one that tried to charge a friend storage fees from the date he mailed the supply box, rather than the date they received it - luckily he had carried his receipt of delivery card with him and could prove that he did not owe for the week in transit). The dedicated websites will alert you to those locations.

"Alpine style" climbs of major peaks are the same type of thing. Usually you can melt snow for water, but you carry everything else you need for the climb and only the people who are headed for the summit go. Traditional expedition style involves support people and/or multiple carries. For example, on Denali, we made double carries between most of the camps (move one load up, return to the same camp, then take the rest up to the next camp the next day, and repeat the process for 4 camps). On Vinson, it was simpler - carry everything from Vinson base to Low Camp, carry half to High Camp, followed by a couple days later moving the rest of the stuff up to High Camp, with the summit push from High Camp, so only one double carry).

The other alternative, which is used on Kilimanjaro (and on peaks like most Himalayan 8000 meter peaks) is to have a group of porters who relay the loads up the mountain successively to higher and higher camps, while the climbers who will summit carry only a day's worth of gear and food.

So much for that big idea. (Scroll down the page for the article.)

Thanks for the update, Tom. I was wondering why I hadn't heard an update from GoLite yet.

On the up side for him, it validates the whole go light philosophy...

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