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Meet Patman: Lover of Mountains and Trip Reporter Extraordinaire

Congratulations to Patrick Mason (Patman), our newest Reviewer of the Month! Patrick, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., is an avid backpacker and has been a Trailspace member since 2011.

A member of Trailspace's Review Corps gear testing program, Patman has reviewed the Sierra Designs Meteor 2 tent and BioLite CookStove, among other gear, and has written an impressive 100 Trip Reports and counting.

In thanks for his contributions, Patrick wins a $300 prize pack from AlpineAire, Black Diamond, EMS, Katadyn, Klean Kanteen, and Sea to Summit. Check out his prizes and get to know Patrick below.




Meet Patman


Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 45 years old, married with no children. I’m a self-starter in that my father died when I was 7 and my mother became critically ill by the time I was 10. I moved out on my own at 16 and started working and owning my situation. (Consequently, I can’t relate very well to the recent generations that live with their parents into their 30s and beyond, lol.) My original career path was professional music, guitar, but I discovered that I liked stable income so I eventually moved on.

Now I work in Business IT support for a giant public company. Yes, I’m actually on-call 24/7 and take my chances with all these weekend backpacking trips. I know almost every peak and spot that I can get a good cellular data connection in the mountains near me.

Postholing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2015

Some are sad about the connectivity on the trails, but it allows me to have a stable career and still backpack! To date I’ve only missed one critical call in hundreds of trips. However, a major goal is to remove the on-call pressure from my life. I’m still working on the best way to do that.

How do you spend your time outdoors?

Mostly backpacking, but I also fish lazily, paddle from time to time, and try to at least sneak in a day hike if I can’t go overnight. I’ve recently discovered peak-bagging, but it’s a lot more fun in the big open mountains than it is here in the eastern woods.

How did you become a Trailspace community member?

It was either gear research or discovering Tipi Walters's trip reports.

What led you to start reviewing your gear?

Like others, I wanted to give back for all the helpful reviews that I benefit from.

What do you do when you’re not at

I spend time with my wife, backpack, play guitar, backpack, day hike, and then I go backpacking.

What led you to start sharing your trip reports?

I so enjoyed reading others reports—and still do, even if I don’t comment on them, I read every report posted here—that I decided to try and write one. It’s fun to share and discuss with others of like mind.

And you've shared 100 so far!

I think there is some catharsis for me by posting all the reports, and I get encouragement from various people to keep doing it. This is a safe place to reveal my passion in this area. I don’t always get favorable reactions when people find out how much I’m in the mountains (44 trips last year out of 52 weeks).

Also, Trailspace is such an unusual little corner of the Internet. I know the forums aren’t a big part of the site in terms of usage, but through this connection, I’ve met many great folks online as well as in the mountains and learned much from the decades and decades of cumulative experience here.

It’s a special place to me.


Any special trips or memories you’d want to highlight?

All my trips with my wife, Susan, are precious and go to the top of the list. My first trip to the western U.S. to backpack in the Sierra with Trailspace member lambertiana will always stand out. My face hurt from smiling so much on that trip. Before then I didn’t know how awesome and fun those big mountains could be. Going across the country to pull that trip with John opened a new world of possibility for me. Since then, I've gone out west at least one week per year to backpack in some new place or mountain range.

What’s a typical outing for you?

My typical trips are really part of a fitness lifestyle. I go nearly every weekend for a two-night, two-day backpacking trip and when I have no goal but to get a good workout, I like to trek between 25 and 45 miles across the weekend as the schedule allows. I have my pack ready to go on a Friday, drive to the destination, and try to be home by the afternoon on Sunday.

Do you prefer to go out solo or with partners?

Given my current frequency of trips, solo is the only practical way to go most times. But it’s true that most everything is better when shared.


Who has influenced your outdoor life?

My love of the mountains came directly from my mom. She lived most of her life in Florida and when she would talk of the Tennessee mountains she was raised in, she had this wistful look in her eye that caught my attention and made a big impression on me. I’ve always thought of them through the filter of her love and it became my love too.

Any plans on your horizon?

I hope to get to the Wind River Range in Wyoming this year.  

Do you have any outdoor goals?

My current outdoor goal is to master backcountry navigation with map and compass. I’m getting really interested in off-trail travel for the challenge and remoteness it allows. It seems like the next logical step after doing so much on-trail trekking.

Do you have any outdoor regrets? Fears? Mistakes?

It’s not a major regret but I sometimes wish that I had discovered my interest in trekking earlier in life. Ever heard that line from Time in a Bottle (made popular by Jim Croce)? “There never seems to be enough time to do things you want to do once you find them.”

Do you have a favorite piece of outdoor gear?

Right now I’m loving my Gossamer Gear Mariposa backpack. I’m really picky with packs and have always wanted to use a lightweight one but had never found one that worked for me until that one. I’m mystified at how well it supports a load with such a simple wire frame. Yep, I need to review it.

What’s in your backpack right now?

It’s summer so I’m sporting the aforementioned Mariposa, just started using a Tarptent Stratospire 1, a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, the Nemo Nocturne 30, and an MSR MicroRocket stove.


What’s the best outdoor or gear advice you’ve heard?

One of the most practical pieces of advice given to me as a new exploring backpacker was to not press forward if you lose a trail, i.e., don’t panic and make it worse or fool yourself into thinking you see a trail when you don’t. Stop and backtrack to the last location you were sure you were on the path.

Anther really good bit of hiking advice is to be proactive when it comes to your body; if you feel a hot spot, stop immediately and address it. Take the time to keep your body as clean as you can. Remove the buildup of sweat and salt from all your areas as often as you can. The key to happy hiking is a clean bum. :) 

What advice would you give other gear reviewers?

I got this from Seth, but he said, “what would you tell your best friend about that gear?”

That’s what should be in the review; Be honest.

Do you have any interesting gear stories?

Patrick's first watermelon backpacking haul, Citico Wilderness, Tennessee, in 2014

Well, I’ve gotten a lot comments about the time a bear stole my pack in the Smokies.

What's your favorite book?

I’m not a big reader now, but I was smitten with The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a young teen. The Return of the King was the first book that grabbed me emotionally and actually made me cry, which was pretty embarrassing for a 15-year-old.

Do you have a life philosophy?

Not really, but I believe in forgiveness. I once had an epiphany: I realized that almost anything anyone ever did to make me mad, I was guilty of doing to someone else.

So for example, when someone cuts me off in traffic I think of the times I cut off others, intentionally or not, and I don’t have to be mad. It’s very freeing to not have to carry such things around day to day. And truly, life is too short to waste time being torqued up about things you can’t control.

What would Trailspace members be surprised to learn about you?

I’m not a gear-head. The gear is just a means to an end for me. In fact, I’m sort of anti-materialistic. I hate being burdened with the worry of “stuff”.

And less surprising based on that: I’m a big proponent of living debt free. We’ve been completely out of debt for seven years now and hope to never incur more. We live small. I’ve still never purchased a flat screen TV; our CRTs from the '90s are still working.

Where does your username, Patman, come from?

It’s a weird story. At a past job, a legacy mainframe system used a concatenation of your first and last name (along with an employee ID) as the user name; mine looked similar to PatMan and a coworker started playing on it as if it were Batman and would sing the tune from the old TV show when he saw me. The other IT folks picked up on it and started calling me Patman. It’s not even a trail name and has nothing to do with the outdoors.


Wide Photo Captions:

  • At Stoney Indian Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana, 2016
  • Susan and Patrick on the Bald River Trail, Tennessee in 2017
  • On Standing Indian Mountain, North Carolina
  • On the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee with Little Hump Mountain behind
  • At Stoney Indian Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana



2018 Reviewer of the Month Prizes

Congratulations, Patrick!

To thank them for their essential contributions, we're giving Patrick and every 2018 Reviewer of the Month more than $300 worth of gear, thanks to these generous brands:


Congratulations Patrick! Funny how we learn more things about each other with these spotlights... I moonlight from time to time recording guitar tracks as a studio player :) Enjoy!

Congrats to a great guy. Enjoy you reports  all the time. And especially the advice!

Couldn't pick a better guy-Congratulations

I always enjoy your trip reports and gear reviews.

Still looking forward to the day we run into each other around Citico/Slickrock/Joyce Kilmer. (I'll be there the last week of June.)

Well deserved!

 Well deserved! I’m thrilled for you! Congrats!

Congrats Patrick! Funny how quite a few folks along the trail like Lord of the Rings books. They are, after all, a story of a really long walk if you think about it.

Sounds like we need to have a Stratospire camp in the mountains soon!

Your future trip to the Wind Rivers will be awesome!  My two favorite trips are the long pack in to the Titcomb Basin to climb Gannett Peak.  The highest point in Wyoming.  It is an epic trip and one of the most beautiful places I have encountered.  Long and hard but well worth it if you hike into Titcomb Basin and then on to the pass at the end of the basin just to see Gannett.  Also, the trip into Cirque of the Towers is epic.  Absolutely beautiful at Lonesome Lake.   I admire your tenacity and love of the outdoors.  Good luck in the future.  Joe S

This is pretty awesome to go to a deserving individual that stands out in outings...Which still love to get everyone to hit a trail together and make memories

denis daly said:

This is pretty awesome to go to a deserving individual that stands out in outings...Which still love to get everyone to hit a trail together and make memories

 Pat hasn't mentioned it, but his Wind River trip this year is just to scout things out for the rest of us to go with him next year Denis. We'll make sure you get the invite :)

I'm glad you are writing reviews now too Pat. Love the trip reports and always think of you before I dip into an icy water crossing :p but all those trips you go on are valuable testing opportunities. Thanks for taking some of your limited time to share both your reports and reviews!

You make this place go. 

After reading your bio I like you even more. 

Well deserved and thanks for sharing! I have the same picture from Standing Indian Mountain...I was planning to put it in my next review of my Hyperlite pack. It's a great overlook. Also, I listened to the LOTR trilogy audio book while walking Te Araroa. You better believe I was sobbing at points, but mostly because I was experiencing the storyline almost in situ. It's an epic tale to relive while you're on your own long journey. Very inspiring.

Wow, what an honor and thank you all for the kind words, sincerely. 


Yeah I still play pretty much every day that I'm home. If we get together on trail maybe we'll have to endure a little extra weight. I have a Baby Taylor that I bought just for backpacking. It's a bit too nice for the trail though, I rarely take it out anymore. 


It's actually surprising we haven't run into each other yet. I know we've only missed by hours a few times based on Tipi's reports.  


Yeah until I saw your Stratospire up close I wasn't ready to pull the trigger but that's a neat little shelter.

Thanks Joe Sadler, I'm not set on a route yet but that does help to know. I'm actually struggling a little bit; there is so much there that I want to see but only have a week. 

LS and Denis, sure enough we should all try to do that next year. 


thanks very much! and likewise you are one that I've learned a lot from reading, as Ed has mentioned before, you have an incredible amount of knowledge and experience in places that I want to see....


thanks, I'm looking forward to see your reviews after all those epic adventures! It worked out for me to camp on Standing Indian just a bit higher and behind that overlook. Was it already burned out when you were there? I heard the fires from two years ago decimated it. 

Congratulations again, Patrick!

You have been a long-time, loyal, positive member of Trailspace and I always appreciate your experiences you share with us.

And, as I've already admitted to you, I've also cried reading The Return of the King out loud to my kid.

Yes, the fire did hit the can see the scorched trees to the side in my picture. But the destruction was spotty so there are still live trees around too.

Patrick may be a solo hiker mostly but he is also great company on the trail and one of the nicest people you can meet. And I'm not just saying that to make sure I'm on the invite list for future Wind River trips!

Congrats Patman! Maybe we'll figure out a way to do some miles together one of these years...

Well-deserved Patman! 

You know when you have a vivid dream and days/weeks/months later that experience comes to mind and you have to ask yourself, "did that experience actually happen to me or was that just in a dream?" I sometimes have to ask myself that question when later talking about places that I've read Patman write trip reports about. 

It seems that Patrick always has a smile on his face. That is inspiring, I think.

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