Girl & Her Backpack With Klymit
Girl & Her Backpack is a non-profit organization in Salt Lake City, UT that centers around getting girls ages 12-17 into the outdoors to build community, confidence, and leadership skills.
Founded by Ashley Kinney in 2019, Girl & Her Backpack gives girls not only the confidence to get outside, but the resources they need to do so. All events and camps are either free or based on a sliding scale.The nonprofit provides all participants with gear needed for their excursions, in partnership with Klymit.
We interviewed Ashley to get a better understanding of what Girl & Her Backpack is doing for our local Utah community, and how Klymit has been involved.
We started off by asking Ashley how Klymit has impacted Girl & Her Backpack to which she responded, “Girl & Her Backpack was founded in 2019, and we've been partnering with Klymit since our first summer camp. We've been super grateful for Klymit.”
She went on, “Klymit played a big part in helping us get our feet off the ground. I remember the first day that we spoke with the Klymit co-founders. We had a phone call where we discussed our mission of getting girls outside and breaking down barriers between local communities. They were really excited about empowering girls through adventure and said, ‘Yeah, we want to sponsor you guys. We want to be your gear partners.’”
“I think the entire volunteer team was so stoked because we had been searching high and low for someone to partner with… we were such a new organization, it really meant a lot to us that Klymit was taking a chance on us and willing to help us with with our mission, even though we were so new.”
Ashley said that the inspiration for Girl & Her Backpack came from a trip she went on with her mom in 2017. While backpacking on their trip, there were multiple people who had stopped them or made comments about how they were doing this alone as women. It made Ashley and her mom uncomfortable. Later on in the 53 mile trip, they passed an amazing boys camp filled with activities like a climbing wall, backpacking programs, and more. This made Ashley start to question why girls aren’t empowered to get outdoors as much as boys are.
She said, “getting outside is such an incredible thing for mental health, and it's so empowering. And so my mom and I started talking about how great it would be if there was some sort of girls camp that taught girls how to backpack, that taught them about leadership skills, made them feel empowered, and provided all of the resources needed to get outside at an affordable cost.”
“Around a few years later, I ended up moving to Utah, and realized the significant lack of resources available for teen girls to get outside. I started researching other programs across the states, reading about the benefits of backpacking and getting girls outside, and creating a program. I figured that I could figure it out as I went but we needed something for girls now. I was lucky to have talented friends, like Cassidy England, who worked at the National Ability Center at the time, rally behind the mission and really help get the non-profit’s feet off the ground. Cassidy leads our active programs now.”
Girl & Her Backpack does multiple activities throughout the year. The organization has monthly hikes along the Wasatch, Climb Nights, Mountain Bike Clinics, and more throughout the year…they even go snowshoeing! But their most popular event of the year? Backpacking trips in the summer. This summer, Girl & Her Backpack held four camping trips ranging from beginner to intermediate and Klymit gear was used at every one of them! So we had to ask, what has their experience been with Klymit gear?
“I personally love using the tents, they’re lightweight and great quality.The girls love them because they're super spacious and sturdy. We've been through some crazy circumstances, like weather, with those tents. They've held up really well which we're super grateful for. Last year, we were in the most insane thunderstorm I've ever been in and they kept us all dry and safe.”
Ashley then told us how Klymit gear has affected the girls.
“We got a comment from a girl this year about how she had been camping before, but she had never used a sleeping pad. The girl has just been used to sleeping on the ground. She said how nice it was and how much better rest she got while using a sleeping pad camping.” Ashley goes on, “It makes a big difference and allows for the girl to have fun and focus on learning with other girls rather than being tired the entire trip.”
“Klymit has been a dream to partner with. They’ve supported us from the start, are so flexible (which we need as a small organization) and you can just tell how passionate they are for breaking down barriers for under-resourced communities to get outdoors.”
To make opportunities accessible to girls in Salt Lake City, many of Girl & Her Backpack’s events are free. For paid events, they offer a sliding scale for fees paid by each family, based on household income. If someone pays over a certain amount, it gets donated to other girls who apply for a need based scholarship and get to participate for free.
“We're volunteer based and not funded by the state. So other parents will often pay more than they need to for their child, so that another child can come which is super great. It’s a huge part of building a community that wants to empower girls through adventure.”
If you would like to donate to Girl & Her Backpack, visit their website at girlandherbackpack.com. To follow along on their journey, head to their Instagram!
(All photos used with permission from Girl & Her Backpack.)