Meet onX Backcountry Ambassador Jeff Garmire

In this series, we’ll be highlighting a series of four of our Backcountry Ambassadors. They will shed light on why they’ve endeavored on a life spent outdoors, what conservation means to them, and how you can play a part.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your sport of choice? How long have you been doing it?

I grew up in Vancouver, Washington, and discovered long-distance hiking, backpacking, and fastpacking at 20 years old when I took a term off of college to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Over the past 10 years, I’ve racked up over 30,000 miles and 16 different trail records. Trail running and multi-day efforts in pursuit of new records on trail are my passion. 

What was a catalyzing moment for you to create a life in the outdoors?

The moment I entered the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 2011. GPS apps were not a large part of navigation and, as a group of four, we had to find our way through a record snow year. The beauty, difficulty, and camaraderie of working through such a tough challenge together pushed me to recreate more in the outdoors. 

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How do stewardship and preservation play a role in your career as an athlete?

With the continually rising number of people recreating each year, spreading the skills, knowledge, and education about how to do so responsibly is essential. Through public speaking, writing, and even by example, I have tried to illustrate the right way to treat public lands. 

What are some ways for recreationalists to easily start adopting more responsible practices? Expanding on that, what are some more intermediate/expert level stewardship opportunities that they could endeavor in?

The Leave No Trace principles are the best place to start for anyone new to the outdoors. They provide a good baseline for how to act and use lands responsibly. Beyond LNT, amassing knowledge that allows critical thinking when using trails to avoid things like trail braiding, unnecessary off-trail travel, or even how to pick a campsite are important. 

How has your thinking about conservation and stewardship changed over time?

When I recreated with my family growing up, I didn’t think much about the impact of fires on the wilderness, but these days they have increased exponentially to an almost uncontrollable level. Working to reduce the risk of forest fire and man-made catastrophes involving public lands has been a big shift in my thinking over the last few years. 

What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen in your community that ignited your excitement for the future of responsible outdoor recreation?

I have been impressed with the acceptance from people in the outdoor community this year. Especially with the year’s controversial topics that were brought to the forefront, it’s been nice to see people working to be more inclusive. We have a long way to go, but our slow progress is headed in the right direction. 

Where do you see the future of environmental stewardship going?

There is a large gap in funding for different land agencies and trail organizations. This makes deciding how to use their resources paramount. I see a future push for more hands-on support like trail maintenance and actual volunteers over giving money. From the trail crews I have seen, the experts are aging out and younger people need to take their place. 

You’ve shared before that you’ve been hit with bouts of depression, could you explain how being outside, recreating, and perhaps giving back to the environment has helped you cope with that?

Being outside simplifies life and represents the natural rhythm of how things should be moving. Connecting back to that allows my mind to slow down and appreciate the present instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Going after trail records and pushing my body really helps center my mind and allows it to focus on one single goal. 

For more information on Jeff Garmire, follow him on Instagram.


Mitch Breton

Mitch Breton was raised on the shores of Maine's coastline chasing fresh snow, trout, grouse, and the best darn mosquito repellent money can buy. Covering topics from fly fishing, car camping, and beyond, he thrives on a story well-told.