The debate about “trail music” never seems to end. I’m not going to get too far into it, but I’ll give you my preference. If I’m hiking or paddling with someone else, no music; if I’m hiking or paddling by myself, yes music, but only one ear bud. I don’t want to totally drown out the entire wilderness, but after 9 hours of hiking with no one to talk to, it’s nice to drown out the voices in my head. So here’s my music mash-up for hiking on the trail. I hope you’re ready to get weird, because it’s about to.

Greensky Bluegrass – Live: All Access, Volume 1Greensky Bluegrass

There’s some strange connection between bluegrass music and backpacking. It has nothing to do with Greensky Bluegrass specifically, they just happen to be one of my favorites. I grew up hiking throughout the Appalachian Mountains and continued my experience climbing and paddling through areas like the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, and the New River Gorge in West Virginia. I suppose this is where I’ll attribute my love for bluegrass in the mountains. I find the tempo of the music to be both encouraging and calming at the same time. It’s got just enough beat to walk to and not too much beat that it’s confusing. There’s nothing better than bluegrass on a sunny afternoon.

The Lumineers – The Lumineersthe lumineers big

Mostly for the early mornings, I think this is one of the best albums to come out in the past few years. It’s best listened to during breakfast, sitting in your crazy creek camp chair while overlooking the stunning views of Hangover Peak (NC) with a cup of coffee in your hand and a bowl of oatmeal by your side. It’s my favorite for barreling down the trails, but it’ll sure as hell start your day off the right way.

Bone Thugs n’ Harmony – E. 1999 EternalBone Thugs

I told you we were going to get weird. This album is my motivation album. The rhythm, the beats and the vocals just get me moving down the trail. The rolling bass matches the rolling hills of southern Kentucky and just lets me haul down the trail. The first time I heard this album I was on my way up to northern Michigan, headed to Isle Royal. Arguably one of my favorite trips, we rented a car after crossing the bridge and the previous renter had left the cassette in the tape deck. None of us had brought any other cassettes with us because CD’s were the new hip thing, so we listened to it on repeat, and it might have partially changed my life.

Jimi Hendrix – Are you experienced? Electric Ladyland? Greatest Hits?Jimi Hendrix

It’s hard to pick an album. Honestly I don’t think I can. If I had to, I think I’d pick the greatest hits. I know, its super cheesy to pick a greatest hits album and all of you purists out there are probably going to call me crazy. But Jimi Hendrix’s greatest hits album stands alone amongst the rest. I love thinking about how the guitar would just echo across the mountains like a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado.

Well I told you it was going to get a little weird. People tell me that I’m “eclectic.” Who knows? I’d love to hear what you enjoy. What you listen to and what gets you moving down the trail. Post up on the comments below, maybe we’ll discover someone new!


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