Trip Rating System

Difficulty & Solitude Ratings

Learn more about our rating system to pick the perfect trip.

Please Note: We are in the process of implementing a new rating system with 5 difficulty subcategories (Distance, Backpack Weight, Terrain, Elevation Gain/Loss and Heights Exposure). If the trip you are interested in has this rating system, you can read more about it by clicking here.

Our rating system is based on scales of 1-5, with 1 denoting the least and 5 denoting the most of a given category. For example, a difficulty rating of 1 denotes the least difficult trips we offer;  5 denotes the most difficult.

To understand our rating system, it’s important to keep several factors in mind:

  • Hiking is a physically demanding activity, regardless of the difficulty rating.
  • None of our trips or hikes are “easy.” Our rating system assumes that all guests are starting from a foundation of being active, healthy people.
  • No rating system, including ours, is perfect as it is inevitably based on subjective judgements. Please use this system as a guideline and if in doubt, start on a lower difficulty trip.
  • Backpacking trips are generally Difficulty Level 3 and above due to the heavier backpacks carried for multiple days on these trips.
  • Solitude ratings represent an average amount of solitude on a given trip over time. The number of people on a trail or hiking route can fluctuate based on temporary circumstances such as weekend vs. weekday, holidays, peak traveling seasons, weather forecasts/conditions and more.

Training Recommendations

DIFFICULTY RATINGS

Our Difficulty Ratings are based on a scale of 1-5 (1 is the least difficult, 5 is the most difficult).

We have refined our ratings over time to provide as accurate a reference as possible. Ultimately though, ratings are subjective, general guidelines. When you join a group hiking or backpacking trip, we recommend being prepared (physically and mentally) for a trip that could be a measure harder or easier than you expected.

The below tables depict our rating system and approximately what to expect on each trip in terms of difficulty and solitude. If you need or want more information about what is physically required to join a trip, we also recommend referring to our Essential Eligibility Requirements.

Please Note: The type “Hiking” refers to non-backpacking trips to include portered trips, llama treks, inn-based tours, basecamp tours and day hikes. Also, these ratings do not take into account some variables like temperature, weather, altitude, and exposure. These factors can influence the difficulty of a trip and are noted on the individual trip pages.

 

Level 1

Type Pack Wt Miles/Day Elevation Trail Quality Physical Requirements
Hiking 10-15 lbs 3-6 mi < 2000 ft Well maintained trails Ability to hike with a day pack uphill for 4-5 hours with occasional breaks.

 

Level 2

Type Pack Wt Miles/Day Elevation Trail Quality Physical Requirements
Hiking 10-20 lbs 7-9 mi < 3500 ft Bigger distances and elevation changes on good, maintained trails

OR

Smaller distances and elevation changes on more rugged trails

Ability to hike with a day pack uphill for 5-7 hours with occasional breaks on uneven or rugged terrain.
Backpacking 20-30 lbs 2-5 mi < 200 ft Well maintained trails Ability to hike with 20-30 lbs for 3-4 hours per day for multiple days on maintained trails with little elevation change.

 

Level 3

Type Pack Wt Miles/Day Elevation Trail Quality Physical Requirements
Hiking 10-20 lbs 7-10 mi < 4500 ft Rugged and demanding trails Ability to hike with a day pack uphill for 6-8 hours on uneven or rugged terrain with occasional breaks.
Backpacking 25-40 lbs 5-10 mi < 3000 ft Bigger distances and elevation changes on good, maintained trails

OR

Smaller distances and elevation changes on more rugged trails

Ability to hike with 25-40 lbs uphill for 6-8 hours per day for multiple days on mostly improved, maintained trails.

 

Level 4

Type Pack Wt Miles/Day Elevation Trail Quality Physical Requirements
Hiking 10-20 lbs 8-14 mi < 5000 ft Very rugged, possibly off-trail or semi-technical terrain Ability to hike with a day pack uphill for 9-12 hours on uneven or very rugged terrain with occasional breaks.
Backpacking 30-45 lbs 6-12 mi < 4000 ft Rugged and demanding trails Ability to hike with 30-45 lbs uphill for 8-10 hours per day  on a mix of maintained and unmaintained, rugged trails/terrain with occasional breaks.

 

Level 5

Type Pack Wt Miles/Day Elevation Trail Quality Physical Requirements
Hiking 10-20 lbs 10-16 mi < 6000 ft Extremely rugged with off-trail sections and technical terrain Ability to hike with a day pack uphill for 12-16 hours on uneven, very rugged or semi-technical terrain with occasional breaks.
Backpacking 30-45 lbs 8-14 mi < 5000 ft Very rugged, possibly off-trail or semi-technical terrain Ability to hike with 30-45 lbs uphill for 10-12 hours per day on uneven or very rugged terrain with occasional breaks.

 

 

SOLITUDE RATINGS

Our Solitude Ratings are based on a scale of 1-5, tours with a 1 rating having the least amount of solitude, tours with a 5 rating having the most.

1 – Expect to be around other hikers and travelers most of the time.

2 – Expect to have some solitude, as much as an hour at a time without seeing other groups.

3 – Expect hours of solitude at a time.

4 – Expect to see no more than one or two groups per day.

5 – Expect to see only a group or two over the entire duration of your trip.