Francis Tapon is an interesting guy. He has a degree in Religion and an MBA. As he puts it, "...I am well prepared to start a church and make lots of money off of it." Instead, he co-founded a successful Silicon Valley business and did technical work until 2006. Tired of being a techie, he turned his passions for writing and adventure travel into an avocation. After completing the Appalachian Trail (AT), he wrote a book, Hike Your Own Hike, 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. He used the proceeds to finance his thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2006. He plans more books and will continue to donate nearly half the profits to the Triple Crown of US long distance trails - the PCT, AT and CDT. This year Francis is attempting to be the first person to yo-yo (hike south to north, then turn around and hike north to south) the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).
Part 1 - Five Pounds of Gear: When I talked with Francis in August, he had completed his northbound CDT journey and was heading back south from Canada. We talk about his 5-pound gear list. (A preliminary version is listed here; he has since reduced the weight of his journalism gear significantly.) His list is unusual in its sparseness. Andrew Skurka is carrying a base weight of about 8 pounds on his Great Western Loop hike and Justin Lichter carried about 10 pounds during his 10,000 miles of thru-hiking last year. Francis explains how he sleeps comfortably on a quarter-inch pad (or half-inch in cold weather) and how spinnaker and cuben fiber gear hold up over a thru-hike.
Part 2 - Working for a Living: Francis talks about making a living backpacking and philosophizes about life as he is wont to do.
More information about Francis is available on his website.