Who are you, what do you do?

The name is Paul Magnanti. Paul Mags or just Mags for short. I work as an IT Monkey (TM) during the day to fund my outdoor habits.

My personal home in Cyberspace is pmags.com where I post my trips reports, photos and advice. It's been described as down-to-earth, straight forward, and practical. Kinda describes me as well. :)

I've been fortunate enough to hike an alphabet soup of trails (AT, PCT, CDT, and so on) and try to get out every weekend. In addition to backpacking, I'm an avid backcountry skier. In the past few years, I've also taken up alpine and trad climbing. Besides my website, I also co-host a podcast at thetrailshow.com. We discuss the hiking lifestyle. Our motto is "Less gear and more beer"! :) I'll occasionally assist Andew Skurka on his guided offerings.

Where do you hike mostly?

Though I call Boulder, Colorado home—my jaunts take me all over the West. Favorite places include the San Juans of Colorado, the canyon country of Utah and The Winds in Wyoming. When I want to do something closer to home, there are numerous places that are only 45 minutes to 2 hours away—have peaks as high as 14k ft tall, alpine lakes nestled along the mountains, and high passes over the Continental Divide. Not bad. Not bad at all.

What do you take on the trail?

My gear changes based on the season, trip type and activity, I'm also a minimalist and tend to view gear as a tool to enjoy outdoors. As opposed to going outdoors to enjoy gear. :) Here are some of my favorite pieces of gear that always seem be on all my trips:

  • Thrift store dress shirt: $4, sun and bug protection, dries quickly and takes a licking.
  • Balaclava: Roll it up for a hat, roll it down a scarf, wear it all the way for full face coverage and a back country ninja-look! A very versatile item.
  • Boonie hat: Sun protection, light rain and snow protection and comes in the ever popular OD Green.
  • Surplus wool liner gloves: Another surplus special. With these gloves and a shell mitt, my hands can handle all kinds of conditions. Be it the cold and rainy south east Appalachians on a Benton MacKaye Trail thru-hike or ski touring in -12F weather (not counting the wind chill).
  • Bandanna: A simple cotton bandanna. Even in winter, this item has so many uses. Be it soaking up sweat, making a cooling rag on a hot summer day, a pot grip, a part of my first aid kit, or getting excess moisture off my skis so I can skin up the mountain.
  • Craft Canned Beer: Colorado has an amazing craft beer industry. And many of these breweries now sell beer in cans. Now I can pack in a brew or two, not have to worry about a heavy glass bottle or bottle opener. Lightweight gear at its finest! :)

What would be some of your ideal kit?

I don't think it's possible to have an ideal kit. All gear is a matter of compromise, seeing what works and adjusting as needed.

Smoke Blanchard, well known Sierra climber, put it best:

"There is no real hope of traveling perfectly light in the mountains. It's good to try, as long as you realize that like proving a unified field theory, mastering Kanji, or routinely brewing the perfect cup of coffee—the game can never be won"