Liz Thomas is a well-traveled adventure athlete most known for breaking the women’s unsupported speed record on the 2,181-mile long Appalachian Trail in 2011. She has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking–the Appalachian Trail, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, and 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail–and has backpacked over 12,000 miles across the United States and internationally on other long distance hiking trails. In 2013, Liz hiked the Inman 300, the world’s first urban thru-hike, a 200-mile hike across Los Angeles. Liz is among the most experienced woman long distance hikers in the country and is known for hiking light and fast. In addition to having a lot of experience hiking, Liz also received a Masters in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the prestigious Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship for her research on long distance hiking trails, conservation, and trail town communities. Liz has been featured in Backpacker Magazine, LA Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal and gives talks about her experiences at colleges and hiking clubs across the country.
Favorite Sawyer Product and why:
Sawyer Point One Filter: This baby revolutionized the way I hike. I used to use chemicals which required me to wait for my water to be ready to drink. In the desert, if I wanted to “camel up” and drink lots of water at a water-source, and then walk away with all my water bottles filled, hydrating could easily turn into an hour-long affair. Hooked up to my Platypus tube, the Point One makes drinking water instant. There’s no waiting, there’s no mixing, and there’s no worrying about spilling chemicals all over the front of my already ratty looking t-shirt. Unlike other filters, which are heavy and require a lot of pumping, my Sawyer Point One weighs less than chemicals and is doesn’t require arm strength (a plus for hikers like me who like to keep their muscles in the lower half of the body). I suspect that over the course of a 2,000 mile hike, using a Sawyer Filter vs. any other water system can speed a hike up by a day. This is good news for record attempters, but even better news for all hikers. That means more time enjoying nature and less time waiting or pumping.
Favorite outdoor location:
Eastern Sierra, CA
One piece of advice or something you’ve learned spending so much time in the outdoors:
It’s OK for a woman to go into the woods alone. Women shouldn’t feel like they need to find a hiking partner of any gender just to feel secure in the woods. Statistically, the outdoors is a lot safer than the city. Women can and continue to excel at outdoor activities. If you keep a cool head, learn the skills, and have the right gear and know how to use it, anyone can thru-hike with little fear.