WHO WE HIKE WITH: LIZ KIDDER
Words and Photos from Liz Kidder @lizkidder
WHO ARE YOU & WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hey! I’m Liz, AKA Handstand! I don’t think what defines me is my demographic or profession— it’s what I am passionate about and how I try to live my life: freely & fully. I’ve always been a little rebellious and rejected society’s standard for a “normal” life. I really believe in that whole cliché “life is short” concept, but no–FOR REAL–the whole 9-5 thing, and retiring at 65, is the literal DEATH of life.
But okay, for a little more context, I currently live in New Hampshire. I’m in my mid-thirties and am married to the most fun & supportive partner. I have this super random/awesome career where I do dreadlocks–long story, but it means I get to work with the coolest hippie/nomadic/free-spirited clients every day, which I’m sure has contributed to my perspective on life. I like to think of myself as semi-retired because I honestly do it for fun and the creativity, and I can do it in whatever capacity I want. I embrace a very minimalistic lifestyle so that I don’t need to make a ton of money, and I can schedule my work around my life, not the other way around.
Random fun facts: I quit drinking alcohol 9+ years ago, and I donated my kidney last year. I love anything extreme, mostly in the realm of hiking/backpacking, snowboarding, hand balancing/circus arts, and even some skydiving in the past. I love being outside, but even more than that, I just love to challenge myself.
WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE, AND FOR HOW LONG AND WHERE?
I started hiking in my mid-twenties, and I’m stoked whenever I can get out for a day trip or an extended adventure! In the last five years, I’ve thru hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Vermont Long Trail, and completed my New Hampshire 48 4000-footers. For shorter trips, I’ve almost done my New England 4000-footers, and now I’m interested in the Adirondacks High Peaks list! For bigger trips, I’m attempting to thru hike the 500-mile Colorado Trail this summer, and then if that goes well, I’m dreaming of thru hiking the 2600-mile Pacific Crest Trail next year! And THEN, of course, if I complete that, there’s no way I’m not going to TRY to be a triple-crowner. But hey, one thing at a time.
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH US AND OUR GEAR?
I was planning for my Appalachian Trail thru hike when I stumbled upon Hyperlite Mountain Gear online. Initially, I was just looking for a black pack (which was oddly hard to find), but then I fell in love with their employees, attitude, and what they stand for. On my thru hike, I used the Southwest 55 pack and now-retired Echo II shelter. I shouted them out a lot online because I was just so impressed with the company, and then at Trail Days, I really started connecting with them on a more personal level. About halfway through my hike, they asked if I would be interested in testing out a prototype of a tent they were creating, and I honestly just felt so special! The rest is history—five years and lots of gear later, I can honestly say I’ve never had a relationship with a brand like I do with HMG. I know they’ve got my back and I will be a loyal customer forever!
WHAT THREE ITEMS FROM US ARE YOU USING MOST OFTEN & WHY?
I’m going to cheat and go with plural nouns so I can get more bang for my buck here: packs, tents, accessories. Currently, I’m rocking my new Unbound 40 pack, but I’ll always be in love with my Windrider 55. I use my Daybreak often since I day hike a lot, and I also use it for non-hiking traveling. When I’m by myself, a one-person tent is plenty of space, so I’m stoked to try out the brand-new Mid-1 this season.
When my husband is out with me, we are currently rocking the new Unbound 2P, which is SO GOOD! And then for accessories— I’m obsessed with organization and having a home for everything, so I literally couldn’t live without my Shoulder Pocket, Stuff Sacks, and Pods for all my gear!
ANY PARTING WORDS?
When I think about the impact I want to make or a message that I could share, it’s simple:
Do what you want.
Figure out what your dream life looks like and create it.
Stop worrying about what you’re “supposed” to be doing.
By the way, I am writing this blurb while on a flight to Denver with my HMG Unbound 40 that fits nicely under the seat in front of me. By the time you read this, I’ll hopefully have already made some miles on the Colorado Trail!