Top Backpacker Radio Episodes of 2020

This has been one insane and difficult year. Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down, and normalcy has flown out the window without so much as a cursory “so long.” But for devoted listeners like me, Backpacker Radio’s top-tier content has been a constant throughout all the madness. Joined by legendary guests like Courtney Dauwalter and Will “Akuna” Robinson, Badger and Chaunce brought us epic adventure sagas, hiking tips, and poop stories galore. From over 30 episodes, we’ve rounded up the most popular 2020 Backpacker Radio episodes to check out as we bring this very long year to a close.

15. Episode 80: Dr. Anne Baker on Post-Trail Depression

In the 15th most listened-to episode, Dr. Anne Baker talks in-depth about post-trail depression that unfortunately is very common in the aftermaths of a long hike. She offers great insight from her experience as a licensed therapist who has researched depression extensively, and she provides tips on how to identify and deal with the post-trail mood shift.

14. Episode 75: The Blackalachian

Blackalachian on the Underground Railroad Trail

Daniel White, aka “The Blackalachian,” joins Backpacker Radio to talk about his time thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, taking on The Great Outdoors Challenge in Scotland, and hiking Camino del Norte in Spain. He also answers questions about his thru-bike of the Underground Railroad Route and the differences between thru-hiking and thru-biking. His motto of “love and light” shines throughout the episode as he talks about dealing with racism and pessimism on his hikes.

13. Episode 64: Erik Schlimmer on the Trans-Adirondack Route, Peak Bagging in the Northeast, Toponyms, and Being a Professional Bird Catcher

In this Backpacker Radio episode, Erik Schlimmer shares his ample knowledge of the Adirondacks with Badger and Chaunce, and he talks about his own creation, the Trans-Adirondack Route. And as a special treat to all bird catchers—who rarely hear one of their own in interviews—Erik reveals his tips and tricks of the bird trade.

12. Episode 58: Donna L-Rod Saufley of Hiker Heaven on Her 20+ Years as a PCT Trail Angel

donna l-rod saufley backpacker radio fixed

We all know love and adore the trail angels who brighten up our worst days, and in Episode 58, Donna “L-Rod” Saufley gives a peek into her work of over 20 years as a trail angel. We hear about her deep fondness for the PCT community and the countless weary travelers she’s helped keep going on their thru-hikes.

11. Episode 63: Courtney Dauwalter on Ultra-Running, Temporary Blindness, and Ultra Puke Culture

Thru-hiking is one thing, but in this episode, Courtney Dauwalter introduces us to a world where people (named Courtney Dauwalter) log a hundred miles in a single ultra-run. She shares racing stories where she beats out her competition by over 10 hours, and tells Badger and Chaunce about the random wildlife she’s come across in her races.

10. Episode 59: Naps on Thru-Hiking the PCT with a Dog, Murphy’s Law, and The Sunshine Coast Trail

Wild Amanda, aka “Naps,” hops on the podcast to talk about her experience thru-hiking the PCT with her dog and all the extra planning and accommodations she needed to make for him. And with the already-extra burden of a dog on the hike, she also has endless stories about enduring obstacles such as altitude sickness, a broken nose, and food poisoning, to name just a few.

 9. Episode Number 66: Drunk Q&A with Badger & Chaunce

 In this truly unhinged Backpacker Radio episode from early 2020, Badger and Chaunce drunkenly answer questions posed by their trusty intern, Elise Ott. We hear exactly how well (or unwell) they’re coping, and how close they are to losing their sanity in the early days of the pandemic and quarantine.

8. Episode 68: Jean Muenchrath on Her Near Death Experience in the High Sierra

jean muenchrath backpacker radio

Jean Muenchrath regales eager listeners with her story of falling near Mount Whitney and her long road to recovery. She talks about the physical, emotional, and spiritual changes she endured, which she also wrote about in her book, If I Live Until Morning: A True Story of Adventure, Tragedy and Transformation.

7. Episode Number 69: Will “Akuna” Robinson

In this episode, we hear from a renowned triple crowner, Will “Akuna” Robinson. Akuna speaks to Badger and Chaunce about how his thru-hiking interacted with his PTSD and chronic pain, and what it means to him to be the first black man to complete the Triple Crown.

6. Episode 70: Sean “Shug” Emery on Life as a Circus Clown and Hammock Camping

Sean “Shug” Emery, former Barnum and Bailey clown and current hammock enthusiast, does not disappoint in this episode of Backpacker Radio. Shug speaks openly about his time traveling with the circus and how he launched a successful YouTube channel where he introduces hikers to the world of hammock camping.

5. Episode 62: The Strawbridge Family: Thru-Hiking the PCT as a Family of Six

strawbridge featured

Not yet sure if you can tackle a thru-hike? Just remember that an 11-year-old did it. In a massive deviation from the classic solo thru-hiker, the Strawbridge family completed the PCT in 2018 as one solid unit, with kids ranging from 11 to 17 years old. They join the podcast to talk about their time on the PCT and what it’s like to complete this feat as a family.

4. Episode 57: Crazy Jack Northam on Summiting Whitney ~200 Times, Listener Poop Stories, and The Top Tents on the Appalachian Trail

You may have a favorite trail that you’re “obsessed” with, but chances are you don’t love it nearly as much as Crazy Jack loves Mt. Whitney. Between the ages of 50 and 72, he has summited Mt. Whitney nearly 200 times, with still many more summits in his future. In this episode, he talks all about what it means to repeatedly hike the same trail and why he does it.

3. Episode 71: Sarah Jones Decker on Appalachian Trail Shelters

 In this episode, Sarah Jones Decker joins Badger and Chaunce to talk about her favorite subject: AT shelters. Sarah knows everything there is to know about AT shelters and gives the inside scoop on which are the best shelters and privies on the trail. After listening to this episode, you’ll be dying to flip through her new photobook, The Appalachian Trail: Backcountry Shelters, Lean-tos, and Huts

2. Episode 61: Grace and Steven “Twinkle” Shattuck on Their 15 Month Dirtbagging Adventure

This Valentine’s Day episode made single-girl me feel pangs of jealousy for all the hikes Steven “Twinkle” Shattuck, and his wife, Grace Shattuck have taken together. They spend the episode sharing their favorite memories from hikes they’ve completed all over the globe, and made me ask why I can’t even find just one friend to hike along the east coast with me.

 1. Episode 60: Girl Stuff: Periods, Pee Rags, Safety, Birth Control, Masturbation, Sports Bras, Creepy Guys, and More

And for the most popular Backpacker Radio episode of 2020, we visit all things girls. If you just need to kick back and listen to strong women who’ve conquered massive hikes and overcome obstacles men never even think about, then this episode is for you. It’s just the kind of energy I’m trying to bring into 2021, and you should do the same.


And that completes our roundup of the most popular episodes of 2020! Thanks to everyone who listens. I’m personally very excited to see what 2021 has in store for the pod and hope you are too.

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