How to Find the Right Outfitter

It’s about to be a new year, and with it comes new gear and new adventures. While COVID halted many travel plans, things are slowly starting to open back up. Ever wanted to try mountaineering on another continent or take that epic hiking trip to the Grand Canyon? Many adventurers have so many bucket list items but lack the experience of being able to execute on their own. We recommend hiring an outfitter for these types of expeditions. They’ll handle all of the details, navigation, food, housing, and most importantly, keep you safe.

We understand that booking a trip with an outfitter for the first time is a huge leap of faith! After all, adventure travel typically involves a tremendous amount of trust, and we want to make sure that you select a guide that best matches with you so you can have the adventure of a lifetime. 

When looking for a potential outfitter (and there are SO many), here are a few questions we recommend you ask yourself: 

  • Does the company match your travel style?

Do you like to rough it and carry your pack while the company prefers to go hut to hut with mules carrying your supplies? Do you prefer to make your own lunch or have it prepared ahead for you? Make sure to find an outfitter aligned with your adventure style, as well as food accommodations, housing, etc. 

  • Does the company provide good value?

Your vacation time is precious! Time is valuable, and you want to find the right itinerary so that you can maximize your experience. Try to find an outfitter who can maximize the bang for your buck. AKA, be able to hit the highlights and “must sees” while staying on budget and schedule. 

  • Who will be guiding the trip?

There are two main types of expedition leaders: a paid chaperone, and the local expert. The paid chaperone is typically someone who works seasonally and travels from place to place doing guide trips. They brush up on the navigation and local knowledge, but it is one of many trips they lead. We prefer local experts! Someone who lives in the area, has a deep knowledge of history, and eats, sleeps, and breathes the mountains. Their connections run deep and pride in their piece of the world is contagious. Opt for a local team to get a richer cultural experience.  

  • What is the guest-to-guide ratio?: 

Outfitters can range anywhere from 8:1 to 40:1! It’s why you see so many photos of traffic jams on trails. Larger groups, while cheaper, are much slower moving and not as hands on. Opt for a sub 12:1 ratio so that it’s large enough for natural camaraderie to develop, but small enough to ensure personalized attention. It also tends to be faster paced. 

  • What do other guests say about their trips?

Check out reviews from what others have said about their trips. Pay attention to the type of client leaving the review and see if their profile and experience resemble someone like yourself!  

  • How long has the company been running trips in this country or region? 

Look for companies that have decades of experience, happy guides who have been with the company for 10+ years, and are owned by fellow adventure junkies, not large corporations. 

No matter where your adventures may take you in the new year, Out&Back wants to be part of your story. Whether you’re looking for new gear and want the best deal, saving money and shopping for lightly worn gear, or want to sell your old adventure gear, we are here for all of it and couldn’t be more stoked.