What's a "knapsack," and why does it need a subcommittee?

This site is intended to be both a resource for leaders and an introduction for trip participants.
It is not sponsored by the Sierra Club, and is owned and maintained by volunteers without official Sierra Club support.

This is a knapsack This page is a home for the Knapsack Subcommittee, a volunteer group of Sierra Club leaders that has been organizing backpack trips into the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges in California and Nevada for 60 years. Our trips are an outgrowth of the first Sierra Club High trips, started in 1901, and carry on the tradition of taking people into the high mountains to see the beauty and splendor that can be found only there.

It has always been our goal and intention that showing people the magnificent natural areas of the Sierra Nevada and California would motivate them to speak out on behalf of efforts to preserve the remaining wilderness we have, and protect all natural lands for the benefit of humans and wildlife. (It's also been our goal to have as much fun as we can while leading our trips!)

Look around on this page to learn about the trips we lead. You'll find reports from past trips, sample menus, photos of people and places on our trips, techniques for minimal impact camping, a guide to hanging your food so the bears won't get to it, and much more. There is also a collection of articles by Dr. Gordon Benner, Medical Officer of the Sierra Club's Outing Committee, on various aspects of wilderness medicine.

You can go directly to the Sierra Club Outings Web Site and read descriptions of trips that we lead each year.

Backpack Trips

We lead backpack trips. Not day hikes, not overnight car-camping trips, but week-long or longer outings through the wilderness, carrying everything we need on our backs. Typical trips have several moving days and one or two layover days for relaxing and exploring. We usually seek out the high country; most trips will take you at least up to timberline, and many go well beyond. There are chances to climb peaks, to swim in beautiful (and often chilly!) lakes, for fly and lure fishing, and abundant opportunities to lounge about and relax.

Some trips are fairly easy, with all hiking on trails and short moves between campsites. Others are more challenging, venturing off the maintained trails, or moving greater distances each day.

You'll learn a great deal about the human and natural history of the Sierra Nevada, and meet people much like yourself, with an inclination to a hardy vacation and a concern over protecting our natural lands.

We lead trips in California, primarily in the Sierra Nevada, but also in the Marble Mountains, Trinity Alps, Cascade Range, Nevada, and along the Coast. Some of our trips are small, with only seven people and one leader, others are larger, with up to 13 participants and two staff.

Volunteer Outings Staff

All of our trips are organized and led by volunteer staff. There's always a leader, almost always an assistant leader, and occasionally there's a trainee.

All leaders start out as regular participants on trips, then initiate an apprenticeship that includes recommendations from current leaders, attending Subcommittee meetings and learning the basics of leadership and how Sierra Club trips are run. They then go on a seven-day leader training trip where they are given a chance to hone their leadership skills and get substantial feedback from a select core of current leaders. They will then typically assist on a trip with an experienced leader, and finally propose, organize, and lead their own trip. (See the section on "How to Become a Leader" for more information).

If you have an interest in leading or assisting on our trips, send a note to JoJo Lauer, New Leader Coordinator for the subcommittee.

Meals on our trips
Our leaders pride themselves on their tasty mountain cuisine. You can expect filling meals, good variety, and plenty of surprises (it is possible to bake bread on a backpack trip). We carry a central commissarry (pots, stoves, and utensils), which means you don't have to bring your own cooking supplies. Look here for a compilation of menus, recipes, and menu planning resources.

Meeting Minutes:

Spring Meeting 2003
Winter Meeting 2004

Some Knapsack History

(For a more comprehensive history of the Sierra Club, see the Sierra Club web site)

The Sierra Club is the largest conservation organization in the country, and one of the oldest. It was founded in 1892 by John Muir, with the credo "To explore, enjoy, and protect...". One of its enduring efforts has been providing members with trips (outings) whereby they can experience the beauty and serenity of our natural lands firsthand.

History of the Outing Committee

History of the Outings ProgramNEW!

Look here for a list of wildlife seen on a trip in 1997.

This site last updated 25 April, 2004.