By: Rochelle “Ruby” Altman


The wonders of nature and the personal growth it fosters draw many to hiking. Yet, what is often understated is the strong sense of camaraderie that exists among hikers that significantly enriches our outdoor experience. This is exemplified by our community’s willingness to uplift others, whether it’s offering help to a first-time hiker, lending a hand on a challenging trail section, or sharing resources and knowledge. By embracing and sharing our experiences, we strengthen our collective sense of belonging and promote equity in outdoor spaces.

Many of us can recount how a fellow hiker’s kindness profoundly impacted our outdoor journeys, from a backpack adjustment or a lesson in Leave No Trace principles. These gestures enrich our outdoor experiences and break down barriers, fostering a sense of connection and safety and extending nature’s transformative power to others. Through these interactions, my own experiences have led me to venture on trails further from home and make meaningful connections with fellow hikers.

Creating positive trail experiences entails more than open access to the outdoors. It is also about fostering an environment where everyone feels safe and valued, regardless of their background or identity. Cultivating a culture that welcomes and celebrates diversity is essential. This ensures that everyone, especially those who have historically felt on the outside looking in, feels fully accepted and included. As members of the hiking community, we have the opportunity to lead by example, advocating for mutual respect, confronting and challenging outdated prejudices, and actively promoting equality for all. Here’s how we can contribute:

  • Embrace welcoming language and actions to make everyone on trail feel they belong
  • Be open to conversations with those different from you by engaging, listening, and, with their permission, sharing their stories with others
  • Raise awareness by spreading the word on social media about the importance of creating welcoming spaces on trail for everyone
  • Support others using your knowledge and experience to help everyone find their path in nature
  • Collaborate with organizations and change-makers dedicated to promoting outdoor equity

Everyone deserves the right to connect with nature and be part of an outdoor community, regardless of background or identity. By actively fostering outdoor equity and inclusivity, we create welcoming spaces for all and advocate for every hiker’s right to enjoy the outdoors without facing systemic barriers to trail access.

You are invited to share your own stories and efforts toward making the trail more inclusive. How have you helped broaden the hiking community’s culture and spirit? Share your experiences with us by tagging Gossamer Gear on social media (@gossamergear) and using the hashtag #takelessdomore. Your story could inspire others and amplify the message of outdoor equity.

To learn more about organizations and individuals leading the charge to support outdoor equity, check out some of the other articles on Gossamer Gear’s Light Feet blog:

Rochelle “Ruby” Altman is a Gossamer Gear brand ambassador and an avid hiker between raising a family and life in academia. She is passionate about social justice, health equity, and climate change. Rochelle lives in low elevation near Charleston, South Carolina, and carries the Mariposa 60 backpack.

March 13, 2024 — Gossamer Gear