Ohio hiker wants everyone to go ‘Backpacking with Buckley’
By Steve Barrett
Creative Content Writer, Hilltop Packs LLC
Tim Buckley of Ohio is a backpacking/hiker enthusiast whose life motto could be one word: Simplicity.
Everything about the man – from the name of his YouTube channel to why he enjoys nature – emphasizes his passion for keeping life simple. Born and raised in southwestern Minnesota and living most of his adult life in eastern South Dakota before settling down in northeast Ohio just two hours west of Pennsylvania in northeast Ohio, Tim said he has found peace and happiness wherever he has lived, and also while helping raise his two children.
He previously worked in the field of social work and is now employed as a bartender in a popular restaurant, which he enjoys. Between his job, his family and his love for backpacking and hiking, Tim said he is living a happy and much simpler life.
“I have learned to live as poorly as possible so I can live simpler and explore and enjoy my true passion for hiking,” he said, a sly grin spreading across his face. “It’s a great lifestyle for me. It may not be permanent, but right now I am absolutely loving it. And even though I didn’t start appreciating this lifestyle until later in my life, it’s a huge part of me, of who I am. I am proof that It’s never too late to start backpacking.”
Time was raised in a hunting family – today, he no longer hunts – and growing up he was exposed to the wonders of nature.
“I was in the outdoors a lot when I was younger, I did a ton of camping,” he said. “And through my late teens and early 20s, I continued to go hiking. I always loved nature, I still do today.”
Tim said he vividly remembers when his younger sister sent him a video from a YouTube channel called “Adventure Archives,” which highlighted Pictured Rocks in Michigan.
“It was one of the most scenic backpacking trails I had ever seen,” he recalled. “Years later I hiked Pictured Rocks with Jason Kelley (of the “Jason Outdoors” YouTube channel) and that’s how we became friends. He was my tour guide for that trek, so I got the most ultimate experience.”
Tim said he received much more than an appreciation for scenery when watching that first video four years ago.
“I had never in my life seen the different gear that hikers used, and it was mind blowing to me,” he said. “I always considered myself a gear head and I was surprised how much diverse gear was available. I just started buying gear, and the rest, as they say, is history. It started with that one single video that piqued my interests and started my passion, at the age of 40.”
Even though he discovered his passion later in life, Tim vowed that he would make up for lost time.
“There is a lot of country I have not explored, and I’m going to make it happen … one bag of Ramen at a time,” he said with a smile.
Speaking of gear, Tim stressed that every backpacker regardless of experience needs to conduct research before heading out on the trails.
“I watched other videos from ‘Adventure Archives,’ before ultralight became common. I try to stay as light as possible, because of my age. I want to make sure to not put too much weight on my joints, in the interest of just being able to backpack and hike longer,” he said.
As for his history of hiking, Tim recalled his first trip, which was in the Black Hills in western South Dakota, in the Mount Rushmore area.
“I remember the beautiful mountains, and how we were relatively ambitious,” he said. “We attempted to do an eight-mile loop but we didn’t take elevation into account. We made the loop but we didn’t make the spur up to the summit of the Black Elk peak which is the highest peak in South Dakota (7,200 feet). The claim to fame there is that it’s the highest peak south of the Rockies.
“We made it to the top but we saw the spur trail and we said, ’Nope,’” he continued. “We hiked another half-mile. It was a great experience, we rode out our first thunderstorm. My daughter went with us on that trail, she was a rock star.”
Another memorable trip was the recent trek along Red River Gorge, a very non-traditional hike with 27 other hikers who have their own Youtube channel. Tim said it was a great experience.
“That was a nice, easy hike with plenty of opportunities to explore, and the camaraderie was amazing,” he said.
Another breathtaking hike was in Dolly Sods in West Virginia, where he and other hikers arrived just before a massive fog bank rolled.
“We literally watched the clouds roll in while we were eating lunch,” he recalled. It was stunning. Another memorable adventure was at Cloudsplitters in Kentucky, which was a challenging and sketchy hike but it was worth it because of the amazing overview of Red River Gorge. That was about as close to tears I have gotten in a long time while hiking and exploring nature. All the stars aligned for us to enjoy that perfect view.”
One harrowing trek occurred in the Badlands in North Dakota, which Tim said used to be his stomping grounds.
That was a 23-mile loop, an unmarked trail, which turned out to be a humbling experience,” he said. “Stupidity nearly got us in trouble. The trail offered zero water source, so we had to carry all of our water. There were moments where we could have been in serious danger.”
Tim said it is important for hikers to have a Garmin or SOS beacon when traveling along unmarked trails, or at the very least make sure to stay on well-marked trails. He also stressed how crucial it is for hikers to research weather and water sources.
“Everyone who hikes should also care about respecting the trails, about what we’re leaving behind and about protecting our natural resources,” he added. “We’ve got to take great care of the land as best as we can.”
Over the years, Tim has embarked on hundreds of hiking treks; he said he has no idea how many actual miles, but he estimates it has been a couple thousand miles total so far.
As for his Youtube channel, “Backpacking with Buckley” was born after he and his sister started exploring other backpacking videos; she started a channel called “Bohemian Adventures” and Tim later joined in.
“I learned the basics of making videos and eventually started my own channel,” he said. “I enjoy doing gear reviews, but just not be overly complicated or super detailed. I’m just being myself and I believe in keeping the videos simple and easy to digest, just like the name of my channel.”
Currently, “Backpacking with Buckley” has over 2,000 subscribers and features roughly 150 different videos.
“I pride myself on being an ordinary and genuine guy. I don’t rehearse or script anything, I shoot from the hip. When I make a video, I ask myself, what would I want to know when I watch videos? Keep it fast and simple, no fancy stuff. So if people like watching my videos, I’m very happy.”
Tim also has a presence on Facebook and Instagram.
When he’s not working, spending time with his kids or embarking on yet another journey into nature, Tim tries to find time to enjoy another passion – acrylic painting.
“I love painting, I love to be artistic, even though I haven’t painted in a while,” he said. “I haven’t really been inspired lately to create anything, but I received some blank canvases recently from my girlfriend, I’m taking that as a sign that it’s time to get my creative juices flowing again.”
However, no hobby in the world would ever compare to his love for hiking.
“Simply put, there are so many levels of emotions for me when it comes to hiking anywhere in nature,” he said. “It is an essential component to my well-being. It improves my health and self-esteem, it’s a holistic healing process for me. I bet that’s a common thread of thought among most hikers …I can’t even think of a personality type that wouldn’t benefit from hiking.
“I’m a much different person, I believe a better person, when I’m out in the woods,” he concluded. “I bet a lot of people who immerse themselves in this world feel the same.”