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What we’re about

Chicago Backpackers is a club for those interested in wilderness backpacking - hiking self-sustained for consecutive days in a wilderness area carrying all necessary supplies in a backpack.

We have three main areas of focus:

*Trip and event organization* 
The group's volunteer organizers plan a variety of trips throughout the year, from one-night beginners-only trips up to week-long advanced trips. Individual organizers choose the location, plan the route, and take care of other trip logistics. Members are solely responsible for their own gear, their own food, general well-being, and communicating with the organizer to ensure that they fully understand risks and challenges and are prepared for the activity.

*Backpacking education* 
The club shares knowledge about backpacking: We do this through trips, clinics, and online presentations that provide opportunities for all members, old and new, to continually improve their skills and learn from one another.

*Backpacker community* 
By going on trips, attending events, and frequenting the various online message boards, members are encouraged to connect with other backpackers who share similar interests. Members can also plan their own trips and ask questions using the Meetup Discussions page to further connect with other members.

We follow several organizing principles:

*Practice low-impact, Leave No Trace backpacking.*
( Our trips usually consist of 6 to 12 people to minimize the impact we have on our favorite locations and new trails, to keep them as fresh as possible for ourselves and other backpackers.

*Work together on the trail.* 
The organizers and event hosts volunteer their time and experience to make our trips as safe and smooth as possible, but we can’t do everything ourselves. In addition to preparing and carrying your own gear and food, lend a hand, volunteer to get water, gather firewood, etc. If you have any concerns or are having a difficult time on the trail, speak up. Clear communication makes it safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

*Be safe, be sensible* 
Safety is everyone’s responsibility, not just the organizer. Do not endanger yourself and others. Keep in mind that backpacking is an intense cardiovascular activity that may involve a variety of potential health and safety risks, and is subject to unexpected weather, trail conditions, animal encounters, etc. While organizers and other trip participants may help to facilitate trip planning and logistics, each trip participant must know their own capabilities and is solely responsible for their own safety. Withdraw from trips and situations where you may feel unsafe or unprepared.

*Be respectful and inclusive*
Treat others with respect and tolerance. Avoid bullying, sexism, racism, or bigotry of any type. If your words or actions unintentionally offend others, take responsibility and make the appropriate apology.

*Communicate with event organizers prior to the trip* 
Until we get on the trail, most of the information we have to give you is written down in trip descriptions, emails, and announcements. Pay attention, or you will miss valuable information which could lead to a poor experience on the trail. If you have questions, please ask. You are required to confirm your understanding of trip logistics and sign a Release of Liability form which will be provided electronically prior to the trip. Members who fail to complete these steps, or who do not respond promptly, may lose their reservation on the trip.

*Gear sharing, ride sharing*
Each participant is responsible for obtaining and carrying their own meals and gear and getting themselves to and from the trailhead. Anyone interested in gear sharing (water filter, stoves, etc.) is encouraged to post trip comments on  The same is true for ride sharing (offering a ride, asking for a ride). This is purely optional and not something managed by the club or its organizers.

*Use of*
Virtual and local events are open to all members and their guests. Overnight events require an RSVP on If a trip is full, post a comment to reserve your place on the waitlist. Message the organizer with any questions. Attendees must be at least 18 years old and individually registered (no +1s). Prior to participation, attendees are required to communicate with event organizers, confirm their understanding of trip expectations/logistics and sign a Release of Liability form. Members who fail to complete these steps, or who do not respond promptly, may lose their reservation on the trip.

We have a variety of ways to participate:

Follow us online on Review our upcoming or prior trips (Under Events link). Post comments on the trip descriptions themselves. Engage with other members by posting comments in the Discussion area. Direct message organizers if you have any questions.

Attend a local event in the Chicago area. Over the years we’ve offered work days for local habitat restoration, seminars or clinics, training hikes, and purely social events. These events are a great way to meet like-minded people, learn something new, and build our local backpacker community.

Join us on an overnight event. In typical years we host overnight trips, ranging from single night beginner trips to multi-day advanced trips, and most anything in between. Geographically, the majority of trips are within a 6-hour drive from Chicago, and typical events are 1-3 nights in duration. Trips vary greatly, based on terrain, mileage, hiking pace, weather, park conditions and degree of experience required. Always read the individual trip descriptions for more details. The vast majority of our overnight trips are backpacking, but we may also post a car camping trip in the winter season, or include a boating component along with a backpacking route.

At any time, message one of our organizers or post questions to the Discussion Area.

Upcoming events (2)

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  • River to River trail section backpacking
    Shawnee National Forest, Herod, IL
    • Photo of BrianY.
    • Photo of Fiona West
    • Photo of Elise
    • Photo of Mari Mack
    • Photo of Andre
  • Intro to Backpacking at Forest Glen Preserve
    Forest Glen Preserve, Westville, IL
    • Photo of BrianY.
    • Photo of Katie Adams
    • Photo of Nathan