Next Meetup

LM W1: Bear Run Nature Reserve
More winter fun! We'll be heading out to Bear Run Nature Preserve, a lovely spot near Fallingwater, for some winter backpacking. We'll meet at Grosvenor Metro at 8 a.m. on Saturday, and then head out for the approximately three hour drive ( to Bear Run Nature Reserve. Once there, we'll do a mini-circumnavigation of the reserve, starting with the trails on the western side and then aiming for one of the group sites in the middle of the park. While the terrain is quite easy, winter backpacking brings a number of challenges--managing your layers to strike that balance between staying warm but not sweating, managing your water to make sure it doesn't freeze, and managing your gear to keep it free from snow. To attend this trip, we'll need a detailed gear list from everyone--not just applicants. The only exception will be for members who have already been out on a winter trip with DCUL. Send it by Dec. 15. So, what should be on that gear list? For your sleeping bag, you should have one that can get you down into teens. For your sleeping pad, consider supplementing it with a foam pad to increase the warmth. No hydration bladders or bottles with small openings: they will freeze. You'll need good insulating layers for camp--jacket, gloves, hat. Both Brian and I will be happy to answer any questions--plus we both have extra gear to lend out if needed. Sunday, we'll hike out and head to Falls City Pub ( for tasty food and beer. DCULers have maps! This is the one to print out and bring: The fine print: - By RSVPing to this trip or any other DC UL trip, you agree to DC UL's waiver liability terms ( - As per our carpool policy, riders should pay drivers $0.10/mile. This trip is ~360 miles roundtrip so anticipate paying $36.

Grosvenor Metro Station

10300 Rockville Pike · Bethesda, MD


What we're about

Public Group

DC UL Backpacking specializes in high-mileage, light-weight, overnight backpacking adventures. Most of our trips are in the Mid-Atlantic--Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania--but we also organize backpacking trips across the U.S. and internationally. We have a membership structure that is designed to help backpackers gain or enhance their outdoor skills as they progress to longer and harder trips. In general, our trips are quite challenging but you’ll find a wealth of experienced backpackers who are eager to share advice.

Our goal: To cultivate a community of independent outdoors men and women who want nothing more than to have a fulfilling backcountry experience--to wake early, to walk far, and to travel light.

How do I join DCUL?

Because our trips are demanding and involve nights spent outdoors in remote areas, we have a more involved application procedure than many meetups. You’ll be asked a couple of questions about your outdoors experience when you apply. Please fill out the form fully--even if you are new to backpacking--and submit a photo that displays a clear image of your face.

New members are assigned the rank of “Applicant,” and can attend our low-mileage (LM) overnight trips and our social events. The point of this phase is for us to get know each other before you embark on one of our more adventuresome trips (MO, VM, VM+).

When you sign up for your first backpacking trip, you’ll need to submit a gear list to the event organizer so we can make sure you have the necessary and required items for the trip. We’ll promote you to “Member” once you’ve completed a trip with us in good form.

Once you are a Member, you are required to pay our $10 yearly membership fee at the next event you attend. These fees help us run some of our events, but we do not charge for individual backpacking trips. Applicants do not have to pay the fee.

Liability Waiver: By joining this group, you agree to all waiver terms:

What about this UL stuff?

The UL gearing aspect of this meetup can be a little intimidating, even for experienced backpackers. The short answer is that you shouldn’t be deterred from joining DCUL just because your gear is heavy. Many of our members are very serious about going light, but we also have longstanding members who are not ultralight. Others are in various phases of transitioning, trying out one piece of gear against another.

The concept of being ultralight, however, is not that you are leaving gear out but that you are choosing what gear you need for the conditions you will face on your trip--whether it is a hot day along the Pennsylvania ridges or temps below freezing in the Adirondacks. You pack what you need for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Is this group is right for you?

• You’re an experienced backpacker who likes nothing more than to walk big days and you’re looking for some like-minded folks to keep you company and explore the Mid-Atlantic.

• You’ve done some backpacking before, but you don’t enjoy sleeping in, stopping early, base-camping, cabin-camping, etc. You know that dawn and dusk are the best times for walking.

• You’ve never been backpacking before, but you’re athletically minded, and fairly accomplished as a runner, triathlete, cyclist, day hiker, etc. You want to take on some backcountry challenges and you want to get up-to-speed fast.

• You’re an experienced ULer who thinks anyone who hasn’t cut the handle off his toothbrush is crazy.

• You just heard of this UL stuff (and you’ve never weighed your gear before), but you’re really interested in NOT carrying a 50-pound pack on a weekend trip. You’re quite curious how anyone can go backpacking with a sub-10 pound (or even a sub-5 pound!) base weight. You may even be skeptical, but it sure sounds like a good idea.

• You don’t care at all about gear and want to have a single set of equipment you can use in all seasons.

• You’re a total gearhead and like nothing more than buying and trying out new stuff.

• You think keeping a walking journal sounds like fun. And the prospect of making a spreadsheet with your gear all listed and weighed sounds incredibly cool.

• You buy all your gear ready-made at REI.

• You constructed 13 different alcohol stoves in your basement and tested their boil times with a stopwatch till you got one you liked.

• You think it would be pretty awesome to backpack a ton this year and rack up a few dozen nights under the stars.

In short, one size does not fit all. Different people come to the group with different backgrounds and expectations. On the balance, we’re interested in cultivating independent outdoors men and women who want nothing more than to log quite a few nights (and challenging days) in the backcountry.

Join us. We look forward to meeting you.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”—Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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