Our goal is to make backpacking easier, safer, and more enjoyable for everyone. We hope to inspire travel and increase conservation of our cherished wild spaces through skill-based tutorials, comprehensive trip guides, and in-depth gear reviews.


Our website encourages hikers to experience nature at it’s finest, and that mission comes with a great responsibility. We emphasize low-impact travel and Leave No Trace backpacking methods in all of our resources. We also encourage wilderness conservation donations and trail maintenance volunteer opportunities.

In addition, one of CleverHiker’s main focuses this year will be expanding our partnerships and donation efforts with environmental conservation groups. We have an immense respect for mother nature. We believe all of us need to be stewards of the natural world to protect our wilderness for generations to come.


CleverHiker was created in 2012 by backpacking nut Dave Collins and has grown in scope every year since. While preparing to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, Dave wanted to increase his knowledge of all things backpacking. He couldn’t quite find the detailed, direct information he was looking for, and so the idea for CleverHiker was born.

CleverHiker started with two tutorial video series projects: Lightweight Backpacking Gear Basics and Essential Backpacking Skills. Since then, CleverHiker has grown into a comprehensive online backpacking resource with three pillars of focus: skill-based tutorials, comprehensive trip guides, and in-depth gear reviews.


Dave Collins


Dave Collins is the founder of CleverHiker and he oversees day-to-day operations. He grew up in Michigan in a backpacking family and spent much of his childhood on the trail while earning his way to Eagle Scout. Dave has been fortunate enough to travel the world, trekking on every continent and experience some of the most pristine wilderness areas on the planet.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Dave spent a couple years working in soul-crushing corporate jobs before deciding to embark on a life-changing adventure: thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Post PCT, with a renewed outlook on life and a craving for more adventure, the idea of CleverHiker was born. When Dave isn’t crushing miles on the trail, you can find him hanging with friends and family, surfing the coast, playing sports of all kinds, traveling the globe, and getting active outside in pretty much any fashion.

Annie Hopfensperger

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Annie is Dave’s partner in life and all things CleverHiker. She helps with content creation and day to day operations of the site. Growing up in Wisconsin, Annie’s family always made spending time outdoors a priority, especially at her cabin in Door County.  In 2011, Dave took Annie on her first backpacking trip to Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington. It was there that she was introduced to the second love of her life, backpacking. Since then she’s traveled all over the world from the Himalayas to the Andes, but hiking in the Pacific Northwest still has her heart. She’s a gear nerd at heart, always looking to maximize comfort and minimize weight.

For ten years Annie was a teacher in Portland, Oregon. Feeling a bit burnt out with teaching, and wanting to spend more time on the trail, Annie joined CleverHiker full time in 2017. With her enthusiasm for the outdoors and an insatiable appetite for adventure travel, you’ll usually find her planning the next epic CleverHiker trip. She’s also a pretty big fan of tacos, getting her passport stamped, the Green Bay Packers, and hugs.


We hope you find our resources to be helpful, direct, and inspirational. Though we consider ourselves highly experienced backpacking experts, we also consider ourselves lifelong learners. So if you ever have feedback on how we can improve any of our resources, please know that your suggestions will be welcomed with open arms.

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