Joe Plenzler

Joe Plenzler


Joe Plenzler is a communication consultant, leadership coach, and backcountry expert. He writes about leadership, communication, and also reviews outdoor equipment. When he’s not running his company, he is often found climbing mountains or hiking the Appalachian Trail. He is an Eagle Scout, 20 year combat veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Infantry Officers Course, Expeditionary Warfare School, Defense Information School, Command and Staff College, and Allied Officers Winter Warfare Course in Elverum, Norway. He does volunteer work in reinforcing democracy and reducing gun violence.   


  • Expertise and interests: Alpine mountaineering, rock climbing, long-distance backpacking, cycling, and kayaking.
  • Certifications: Organizational development and change leadership consulting, facilitation, executive coaching
  • Other publication experience: Extensive. See


Joe’s first forays into the wild began when he was a member of Boy Scout Troop 195 in Toledo, Ohio. The Wilderness Survival merit badge curriculum set a hook into him that grew into a life-long love of the outdoors. While at The Ohio State University, he was a member of The Mountaineers and served as a rock climbing instructor and led climbing, caving, and backpacking trips. After graduating from architecture school, he didn’t want an indoor job, so he joined the Marine Corps and became an infantry officer. During that time he attended the Marine Corps’ Mountain Warfare and Jungle Warfare Schools and the NATO Allied Officer Winter Warfare Course in Norway. He also served in Iraq and Afghanistan and finished his military career as the spokesman, press secretary, and staff group director for the 34th, 35th, and 36th Commandants of the Marine Corps.
Since retiring from military service in 2015 and holding senior leadership positions in three nationally-known non-profit organizations, his true passion is spending time in the backcountry or traveling the world. In 2016, he began section hiking the Appalachian Trail with his partner-in-crime, Kate and has completed more than 700 miles. He’s also completed a winter ascent of Long’s Peak (14,259’), and summited Mount Rainier (14,410’), the Grand Teton (13,775’), and Mt. Fuji (12,388’) twice.


Joe holds a B.S. in Architecture from The Ohio State University, a M.A. in Mass Communication and Media Studies from San Diego State University, and Certificates in Organizational Consulting & Change Leadership, Facilitation, and Coaching (currently enrolled) from Georgetown University. He is also a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seminar XXI Fellow.

Fun Fact/Tip/Anecdote/Favorite Product

For spring, summer, and fall camping on the East Coast, Joe prefers to sleep in a hammock since they can be set up almost anywhere quickly, weigh less than tents, and provide better comfort and sleep quality. His current go-to camping hammock is the Warbonnet Blackbird XLC.

Notable Work

Get latest from Joe Plenzler