FKT: Demetri "Coup" Coupounas - Long Trail (VT) - 2004-08-31

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
12d 19h 53m 0s

As far as I know, Demetri "Coup" Coupounas, the founder of GoLite, was the first person to hike the Long Trail entirely unsupported, that is with no resupply of any kind (except for collecting ambient water). Coup hiked the trail in 12d19h53m, August 18-31, 2004. His trip was part of the "Triple Gem" of backpacking -- the John Muir Trail, Long Trail and Colorado Trail -- each of which he completed unsupported. The "Triple Gem" project also served as promotion for GoLite. Coup had these comments:

Enjoying an alpine style thru-hike of a trail as long as the Long Trail wasn’t even thinkable a decade ago. Now with 1 ¼ pound packs, 1 pound shelters, 1 ¼ pound sleeping bags, ¾ pound waterproof-breathable parkas and the like, it’s totally achievable. Actually, the load I started with was less than what I used to carry for a weekend before my wife Kim and I founded GoLite.

GoLite's press release on the Triple Gem is here:

September 27, 2004

Lightweight Gear Guru Sets Thru-Hike Record on Colorado Trail

Boulder, Co – Demetri Coupounas, a 38 year old Boulder resident and co-founder and President of GoLite, a Colorado-based lightweight outdoor apparel and gear manufacturer, will become the first known person to walk the entire length of the 470+ mile Colorado Trail without re-supply or support of any kind when he reaches the trail’s Northern terminus at Waterton Canyon in Denver on Wednesday, September 29th at 3 pm. Press, family and friends will greet Coupounas with champagne and cheers to celebrate this enormous accomplishment.

With over 75,000 feet of elevation gain and an average altitude of 10,000 feet, the Colorado Trail winds its way from Durango to Denver amidst almost 500 miles of rugged peaks and valleys along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. The variable weather, altitude, and enormous vertical gain of this trail pose immense physical challenge for even the most seasoned long distance athlete. When thru-hiked, the trail is normally completed in 30 to 45 days with numerous re-supply points. Coupounas will complete the trail in 20 days with an average hiking day over 24 miles. Coupounas’ accomplishment becomes all the more impressive given the significant early snow that has accumulated in Colorado’s high country in recent weeks.

The completion of the Colorado Trail marks the third of three unresupplied long distance hikes for Coupounas, enabling him to stake a claim to his own sort of “Mini Triple Crown.” Prior to the Colorado Trail, he hiked the length of the 218 mile John Muir Trail in July 2004 as well as the grueling 280 mile Vermont Long Trail in August 2004, both without re-supply, becoming the first known person to do these thru-hikes unsupported. All three regional trails are considered gems among the nation’s long distance hiking trails.

Through these three hikes, Coupounas, an avid backpacker and lightweight gear expert, has been attempting to establish a new style of hiking that he calls “Alpine Style Thru-Hiking” that entails hiking a major trail from one end to the other continuously without re-supply or support of any kind. Other than water, readily available from sources on the routes, everything is carried by the hiker from the start including all clothing, equipment, and food. Coupounas feels that his hikes are highlighting how lightweight gear can enable outdoor enthusiasts to get outdoors more easily and to see and experience far more when they do go outdoors, important in a nation plagued by epidemic levels of inactivity and obesity.

In addition to highlighting the benefits of lightweight travel, Coupounas is also spreading the word about Big City Mountaineers (BCM), a Denver based non-profit that challenges inner-city teens to step out of their comfort zones by taking them on weeklong backcountry trips. For many BCM participants, these trips have been life-changing experiences as they realize their own potential to overcome personal challenges and fears while they discover the wonders of the outdoors. Outdoor industry members and friends have been making contributions to BCM throughout the last three months by contacting GoLite customer service at 888-546-5483. Additional information about BCM can be found online at