Backpacking-Clothing-Equipment-Conditioning

Wct 2015

Poor equipment, improper clothing, and lack of conditioning will not only limit your ability to enjoy your experience and compromise your safety, but will also impact others in your group.

Much of the enjoyment and success of your trip will depend on packing the appropriate clothing and equipment. It isn’t necessary to purchase expensive or trendy items. Remember that function is more important than style. It is also very important to be committed to the outdoors as a recreational past time before you invest significant sums to clothing and equipment.

If you do decide to shop for clothing and equipment, do so at outlets that specialize in these wares. Ask questions. Anything you need to know about the proper equipment is an important question. Take your time to decide. All reputable outdoors stores are more than willing to take the time to ensure that you are outfitted properly.

There is a direct correlation between the functionality/comfort of your equipment and price. It is not necessary to buy the top of the line (unless you can easily afford it) but you can be assured that if you buy the cheapest piece of equipment you’ll end up regretting it.

Special Note: With all outdoor related products, manufacturers will offer a range of prices and item options. You should be guided by your needs and your budget. The top of the line products may include options that are unnecessary. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the cheap offerings. You can bet that there are reasons why they are the cheapest and you will most likely regret your purchase once you are in the field.

Purchase from manufacturers and outdoor stores who have an established reputation for customer service and satisfaction.

 

CLOTHING

NOTE: The outdoor clothing industry is one of the most innovative in terms of product lines. We have opted to stay away from recommending specific lines as newer and better products are forever entering the marketplace. It is best to visit a reputable outfitter and get the most up to date information about items that you may want to purchase.

There are three categories of clothing; outerwear, insulation and under layers. In each of the categories there are a number of materials available. The type of fabric you choose will depend on climate, activity level, and desired amount of warmth. Certain fabrics, such as cotton & denim are not ideal for layering as they retain wetness and can quickly make you feel chilled.

Base layer
This is the layer in direct contact with your skin. Its main purpose is to transport or “wick” moisture off your skin and move it toward the surface of the fabric where it can evaporate. If your base layer holds moisture, you’ll quickly start to feel cold when you slow down or stop for a rest. Choose a thickness, or fabric weight, based on how cold it is and how active you expect to be. Look for seamless or flat-seamed garments that won’t rub against your skin when combined with outer layers or with a pack. And aim for a snug fit that isn’t constricting.

Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and recycled polyester absorb very little water, so they are quick to dry. These fabrics have good stretch and are easy to care for. They make great base layers – except that they can retain odors if worn for multi-day trips. To combat that, many synthetic base layers have antimicrobial treatments to cut down on unwanted odors.

Mid-layer
This layer adds insulation, traps body heat to keep you warm, and continues moving moisture outward. Materials that are fuzzy like fleece are a good choice because they insulate without feeling bulky. And they are highly air permeable so warm, moist air can easily pass through them. Gridded fleece and high-loft fleece trap warm air without adding bulk. Other mid-layer options are lightweight, low-profile insulated pieces – they can weigh less and compress nicely in your pack while still being warm. Mid-layers should be roomy enough to accommodate a base layer and allow movement, but should still be somewhat snug.

Outer layer
Your final layer, sometimes called a “shell,” protects you from the elements. Depending on the climate, you might want a layer that blocks wind, sheds precipitation or does both. It’s important that this layer is still breathable and allows the moisture from your inner layers to escape. Your outer layer should fit easily over your base and mid- layers, without being so loose that all your warmth escapes. And it should still allow you to move freely.

The fabrics are made of layers bonded together to form one textile; typically 2-layer, 2.5-layer or 3-layer construction. When you choose a waterproof-breathable layer you’ll be balancing weight and packability against abrasion-resistance and durability. Features like durable water repellant (DWR) coatings and seam taping are considered standard on waterproof-breathable garments, and they increase capacity to shed water and prevent it from getting inside.

This layer should be loose fitting to accommodate the insulation layer. It is advisable not to buy insulated outerwear. The idea is to add warmth with the insulation layer as it becomes colder and vise versa when it becomes hotter.

Freedom of movement is essential, especially in the neck and arms. Make sure there is a hood and that it is roomy enough to allow for a hat to be worn at the same time. The hood protects the neck and head from the worst weather conditions. Ideally the hood will be brimmed but, if not, a brimmed cap should be included in your gear. A brimmed hat will keep the rain from interfering with your vision, especially if you wear glasses.

The jacket should be longer than waist length to offer greater protection to the thighs and the rear in the rain and cold.

We discourage the use raincoats or waterproof products. These do not allow body moisture to escape. After a short period of hiking you will be wet from your own perspiration and may become uncomfortably cold.

Nylon is wind resistant, quick drying and comfortable against the skin. Shorts, pants or shirts made of lightweight nylon are suitable for paddling in warm to moderate conditions. Nylon pants that convert into shorts are especially useful for hiking environments where temperatures change frequently.

We strongly advise against wearing jeans when hiking. Denim is a heavy material that, when wet, will become heavy and certainly more uncomfortable.

 Ratings Chart
Cotton Wool Polyester Polypropylene Nylon
Water Retention High High Low Lowest Medium
Drying Time Long Long Short Shortest Short
Heat Conduction (Wet) High Low Low Low Medium
Comfort Level (Dry) High Medium High Medium Medium
Shrinkage High High Low High Low
Durability Medium Medium High Medium High
Color Choice High High High Low High
Paddling Suitability Low Low High Medium Medium
Hiking Suitability Medium High High Medium Medium

 

BOOTS & SOCKS

There are boots for trail running, mountaineering, day hiking, climbing, and of course, backpacking. Each has elements built into its construction to support the activity of choice. It’s a daunting undertaking to approach the myriad of materials, boot constructions, and manufacturers on one’s own.

My strongest recommendation is to visit an outdoors store where the choices can be explained and proper fitting take place.

As the series is about backpacking, the following will help shed some light on what to consider:

–  backpacking usually involves hiking on uneven terrain, both on and off trail. As a result, a higher boot that will give support to the ankle and limit flexing and rotation is recommended.

–  heavier soles offer better traction and foot support in most conditions that you may encounter. Soles that have been treated with an anti-slipping agent, such as with Vibram soles, are recommended.

–  the materials that are available for boot construction are many and complex. There is full grain leather, fabric, plastic, suede, nubuck, and on. Most boots will be a composite of materials, stitched together. In general, the fewer seams a boot has the more durable and water-resistant it will be. My preference is a lightweight, full grain leather boot. It offers very good support, conforms well to the foot, easy to break in, can be waterproofed with a waxing agent, and, if looked after, with last for years.

–  you can help a salesperson to fit you properly by explaining what use or trail conditions you will encounter. Don’t waste your time with a salesperson or store that cannot offer complete guidance in making the right selection.

–  don’t be swayed by what looks “cool”. Stay focused on what is appropriate for your situation.

–  feet swell during the day. It is therefore best to shop for boots in the afternoon. Bring the socks or sock combination you plan to wear on the trail when you go to the store.

–  boot sizes can be misleading. Your regular shoe size may not dictate which size boot will fit you. Let comfort be your guide. Go up or down a size if necessary. Boots should be snug and not tight. When lacing them up, leave the bottom loose, snug at the instep and tight at the ankle. There should be very little movement sideways or up and down at the heel.

–  if there is any discomfort, don’t believe that it will go away with wear. If anything, it will intensify.

Boot Care To lengthen boot life, it is advisable to clean your boots of dirt and mud. Some tips are:

–  apply a boot wax to leather boots after cleaning. It maintains leather suppleness and helps with waterproofing.

–  remove the laces as this will allow more thorough cleaning.

–  scrape off caked on mud/dirt, brush off superficial dust, and wipe clean with damp cloth. Never use detergent.

–  let boots air dry. Never place them too close to a wood stove or open fire.

–  if boots get overly wet, stuff them with newspaper to help maintain shape.

SOCKS

Selection of socks is equally important. You can have the best boots in the world but, without proper fitting socks, made of “friendly” material, blisters can happen.

Hiking socks should not be tight but should fit snugly. Make sure that there is a definite pocket for the heel and check the seams, especially at the toes. The stitching should not be bumpy or lumpy.

Stay away from cotton socks. They absorb moisture and keep it close to the skin. This leaves your feet feeling cold and also intensifies chafing. Any of the many synthetic materials are very good, as is wool. They carry moisture away from the skin thus allowing for some warmth even when wet. Wool has the additional advantage of bulk for cushioning.

We recommend that, whatever your choice of material, that you wear 2 pairs of socks. The first layer should be a very thin silk – like sock [special hiking socks do exist for this purpose]. Its slipperiness will limit chafing and abrasion thus reducing the chances of blistering. The second layer would then be your synthetic or wool choice. One of the benefits of the silk layer is that it eliminates the itchiness that many experience with wool.

There are socks available that are made specifically with a hiker in mind. They are reinforced in the heel and toes for additional protection.

BACKPACKS

untitled-1How big should your pack be? The length of your trip is one consideration. It will have to be roomy enough to carry your personal gear, clothing, and food. Backpacks are measured either in litres or in cubic inches, depending on your country’s standard. For longer trips, 72 liters (5000-6000 cu.in.) is a good norm.

Another consideration is your body frame. Obviously the bigger/taller you are, the greater the capacity you can carry. The measure of the length of your back is used to good order in determining the right fit, (we will discuss this in more detail in our next article).

Finally, female torsos, hips, and shoulders will, more often than not, be smaller than a male’s. It is therefore best for females to purchase a bag specifically designed for them. Fortunately, many of the top manufacturers have an array of excellent bags with design modifications for women.

How important are the hipbelt and other straps that adorn a pack? The principle behind carrying a heavy pack is that the weight should be borne by the hips and not the shoulders. For comfort and function, the hipbelt should be well padded, and the padded section should not meet in the front. There has to be ample room to tighten the belt. If fitting a bag, it is good practice to try on bags with the jacket you will wear while hiking.

The various straps that are found on good backpacks are functionally very important. Each has an engineering role to play in delivering the best backpacking experience. In essence, each helps to mold the bag to the best position on your back. Compression straps will compress the load. The sternum strap helps to keep the shoulder straps from slipping to the shoulder points. The load lifters, besides doing what its name implies, helps also to pull the bag snuggly to your back.

untitled-2It is best to stay away from bags that rely on too many zippers to close compartments, especially the main compartment. Zippers can break and dirt get into the teeth thus rendering the zipper useless and compromising the contents of the compartments.

Are more compartments better? This is very much a preference issue. I, as do most hikers and professional guides, like the one large compartment that is loaded from the top and then closed by a drawstring. The top flap of the bag is then draped over and cinched by straps.

With a little packing experience it’s an easy matter to locate items you will most likely not need during the day in the bottom reaches.

An option that is most worthwhile to have is a detachable top section. Better backpacks will include this option. This top section thus converts to a daypack/fanny pack with an attached hipbelt which can be used for any day hiking from basecamp.

FITTING A BACKPACK

untitled-3The following information will assist you in choosing the right bag on your own or to insure that a salesperson is doing their job.

Your height does not determine which backpack is suitable. You need a measure of your back from A to B (see diagram).

Have a friend assist you. Tilt your head forward as it will help your friend locate the bony lump at the base of your neck. This is A. They can use a piece of masking tape for reference if necessary.

Locate the pointy protrusions (iliac crest) on the front of your hips by sliding your hands down the side of your torso. Once you locate the crest, point your thumbs (hands on hip pose) toward each other on a parallel line. Where this imaginary line (or placed masking

tape) crosses the spine is B.

Your friend will then measure the distance, following the natural curve of your back, from A to B .

You will mostly likely fall into one of these 3 categories:

Small – up to 44cm/17.5″, Medium/Regular – 45c m to 49cm/18″ to 19.5″, Large/Tall 50cm/20″ and up.

Armed with this information you can now try on some packs. Start with weighted items supplied by the store; items of personal gear packed into stuff sacks. Distribute these throughout a pack’s interior, keeping the weight close to your body with the heaviest portion near your shoulder blades.

  1. Loosen the pack’s shoulder straps, loadlifter straps and hip belt. (see “The Backpack”)
  2. Slip your arms through the shoulder straps.
  3. Position the hipbelt so it basically straddles your hipbones (iliac crest); close the buckle

and make the hipbelt straps snug. The belt should completely, comfortably cover your hips, but its 2 ends should not touch. If the belt isuntitled-4 too loose or too tight, reposition the buckle pieces on the hipbelt straps. If this doesn’t give you a secure fit, you may have to try a different pack or hipbelt. Do not tighten your hipbelt excessively. Keep it snug, but if it’s too tight or too long on the trail, you’ll have sore spots on your hips the next morning.

  1. Cinch the shoulder straps down tightly, then ease the tension slightly.
  2. Look sideways in a mirror. The padded sections of the shoulder straps should wrap around the crest of your shoulders comfortably and attach to the frame about 2.5cm/1″ below that point. No gaps should appear.
  3. Check your load-lifter straps. These should attach to your shoulder straps at a point just above your collarbone and just below the top of your shoulders. From there, they should rise up to join with the frame at an angle of between 40 and 50 degrees. If the angle is higher than that, your frame is too long. Any lower and your shoulders will carry too much of the load.
  4. Check the shoulder strap length and width:Check for a good torso fit. If the pack fits you correctly, you should be able to redistribute the weight of the pack between your shoulders and your hips simply by loosening and tightening your shoulder straps slightly. Adjust the sternum strap. Position it about 2″ below your collarbone. You should be able to breathe comfortably when the strap is fastened. It is not essential that you keep your sternum strap fastened at all times. It is most helpful untitled-5when you are negotiating uneven terrain.
      • The buckle on the strap should be a hand-width below your armpit that it won’t chafe. • The straps should be far enough apart that they don’t squeeze your neck, but close enough together that they don’t slip off of your shoulders during hiking. The width is sometimes adjustable.
      • Women need to pay special attention to the fit of shoulder straps. On some unisex packs, the distance between shoulder straps may be too wide, or the straps themselves are wide enough to gouge an armpit or breast. If you find a good fit is elusive, seek out a pack designed specifically for women.

    8.Check for a good torso fit. If the pack fits you correctly, you should be able to redistribute the weight of the pack between your shoulders and your hips simply by loosening and tightening your shoulder straps slightly. Adjust the sternum strap. Position it about 2″ below your collarbone. You should be able to breathe comfortably when the strap is fastened. It is not essential that you keep your sternum strap fastened at all times. It is most helpful when you are negotiating uneven terrain.

    9.Check for comfort:

  • Does the pack feel good on your back?
  • Does it pinch or bind or unusually restrict your movement?
  • Can you look up without hitting the pack with your head?
  • Can you squat down without cutting off the circulation to your legs?

This may seem like a lot to keep in mind, but all of the above will become automatic as you gain experience. Now walk around with your pack. Climb and descend a flight of stairs. Hop from spot to spot. Reach. Walk a line. If anything is pinching, try adjusting the various straps.

SLEEPING BAGS

A full article about sleeping bags would be far too lengthy and complex to hold most people’s attention. I hope to offer some basic information that you can expand upon when you visit an outdoor retailer.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself:
Where will you be using the bag?
During which seasons?
Climatically, what will you most likely encounter?
Do you like to move around inside the bag or do you like a snug fit?
How much money are you prepared to spend? Do you get cold easily?

Shape of your Bag

untitled-6Mummy: narrow, close-fitting and are designed to save weight and maximize heat retention. They start narrow at the feet, get wider toward the shoulder, then taper to an insulated, fitted hood. Nearly all backpacking bags are mummy-shaped. Positive: The slim cut increases efficiency and saves space and weight. Hoods retain a lot of warmth. Negative: A big consideration for the claustrophobic type is the narrow shape can feel restrictive and inhibit sleep.

Tapered/Barrel: are narrow at the feet, broad at the hips and shoulders. You get more space than a mummy, but also more weight and bulk. Some offer hoods. Positive: Good heat retention and a little more room to maneuver. Negative: More room means your body has more space to keep warm; some thrashers still find them restrictive.untitled-7

I prefer the barrel bag as I am one of those who cannot stand the restriction imposed by mummy bags. The lack of a hood can be compensated for with a warm hat. I also find the trade-off in weight to a mummy bag is negligible. In warmer weather I can unzip the bag and use it as a blanket which is not possible with a mummy bag.

untitled-8Quilted: In recent years sleeping quilts have started to become very popular, especially among lightweight backpackers. Using a quilt is just like sleeping under a down comforter. With a quilt, you’ll sleep directly on your sleeping pad, which reduces weight by cutting out unnecessary insulation that would be compressed under your body. Some quilts also have closed footboxes and can be attached to sleeping pads, which will help hold heat in.

Find more information about quilt bags at www.enlightenedequipment.com or https://katabaticgear.com

Fill

There are two basic types of fill – synthetic and down. Down is the fluffy undercoating found just beneath the outer feathers of geese and ducks. Synthetic is basically plastic threads. Many manufacturers will have their own copyrighted fill based on weaving, material, and construction.

Down: works well for just about everyone except people who frequently find themselves in rainy conditions. Women often value downs warmth, softness and minimal weight. Positives: the warmth to weight ratio is excellent – it can be compacted into very small sizes – it far outperforms synthetic by many years. Negatives: if it gets wet it provides no insulation – takes along time to dry – can be quite pricey.

Synthetic: the threads are most commonly a long, single strand. Positives: less expensive than down -nonallergenic – still provides some insulation when wet – dries fairly quickly. Negatives: it takes up more space than down in your backpack – heavier and takes more weight to get the same warmth down provides n- the fill gradually degrades over time – does not drape over the contours of your body as effectively as down.

Loft

Loft is the thickness of the bag. In combination with shape and size it will have a great bearing on warmth. A reasonable loft for a three season bag is 11cm/4 in to 14 cm/5.5 in. It is important to note however, that some people sleep warmer than others. You may require a greater loft.

Length

Make sure the sleeping bag is long enough to accommodate your body. Here’s a general rule: If you are no taller than 6 feet, choose a regular length bag. If you are up to 6-feet-6, you’ll want a long bag. If you are over 6-feet-6 take up basketball. If you are right on the border, maybe right at 6 feet or maybe half an inch taller, it’s a judgment call on your part. If you choose a bag that’s too short, you might tend to stretch a bag to make it cover you. Doing so flattens the bag and its insulation in spots, reducing its effectiveness.

SLEEPING PADS

Sleeping pads are the insulation barrier between your sleeping bag and the ground. With backpacking, space and weight are considerations when selecting the pad that serves you best. So, when viewing some of the options available, especially with inflatable models, the thickness may make you drool but the weight and size may be impractical.

Let’s look at our options.

untitled-9Closed Cell: You may come across a “R” with a number beside it when looking at pads. The “R” is its measure of resistance to heat loss. The higher the number the better its insulation properties.

Blue Foam – name comes from its colour. Relatively inexpensive, light, and is a good insulator. Anyone who doesn’t find sleeping on hardwood floors and rock piles as comfortable may want to look further. You can determine quality by applying the pinch test. If foam rebounds quickly then it is good quality.

Yellow Foam – name comes from colour also. Basically same as Blue Foam except more durable and performs better in extreme cold.

Ridged Foam – name comes from look. Series of built in ridges (see sample photo) offers a little more comfort and insulation. Some models can be rolled and others folded. The folded model, since it operates on a hinged system, tends to be bulkier.

Inflatables: These pads are the preferred choice of most backpackers. They are lightweight and very comfortable. Most models are self-inflating and contain an open cell foam inside for better insulation. There are many models to choose from. Your frame will determine what length and width is most appropriate. Outdoor retailers will have models already inflated that you can test.

untitled-10When you arrive in camp, one of the first things to do is release the valve of your sleeping pad and allow it to self-inflate. It does not completely inflate, but requires that you add what additional air you’d like to produce the thickness you find most comfortable.

When storing it at home, open the valve and allow it to self-inflate and put it away in this condition.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir is the model that I now use. It doesn’t include a cell foam inside nor does it self-inflate. But, it is extremely comfortable [ridge construction see photo] , lightweight, and compacts for travel far better than anything else on the market. There is a non-slide lubricant that resists slipping off the pad during your sleep.

The down side is that you have to blow it up entirely – some people hate the fact that you cannot just slide into a new sleeping position – the regular model is not very wide.

May not be for everyone – test drive it before buying.

TREKKING POLES

There is a legitimate debate about the value of trekking poles for backcountry hiking. There is a camp that consists of old guard, machismo, and younger hikers who view pole use as unnecessary and over-hyped.

A knee injury prompted me to employ the use of trekking poles. I saw this as a temporary measure that would be discontinued once the knee recuperated. During the process of healing, I began to appreciate the advantages of pole use. During steep sections, regardless whether it is dirt, boulder, mud, sand, scree, etc., poles helped established a natural pace/rhythm, balance, and, when descending, helped to spare pounding on the knees.

Limited studies have supported the notion that trekking poles do reduce impact on the knee joint. In a totally unscientific study, clients who hiked with us, and were given trekking poles by the company, were sold on their future use. I should add that one pole is better than none and two poles are better than one.

It is important to note that trekking poles are not a panacea for knee injuries or the need to institute a program of physical preparedness before you hike.

If you do decide to incorporate trekking poles into your future hiking, there are options available. You can use a long stick/staff (tend to be heavier than other options and clumsy to carry where some scrambling may be called for), ski poles, and the newer, lighter, and adjustable trekking poles. These come in varying prices dependent on features. A visit to your favourite outdoor store or web search will introduce you to these options.

There is an art to using trekking poles. They may initially seem awkward, but patience and familiarity will eventually make it a very comfortable experience.

PACKING

Our guides do carry most all of the group equipment. You will be assigned a portion of the group food (it will vary depending on your adventure and if there is a food drop included – it will be between 3- 6 kilos or 6-10 lbs) + 2 kg or 4 lbs for a tent + 1.5 kg or 3 lbs for a sleeping bag + 1 kg or 2 lbs for a sleeping mat, if we are providing equipment for you).  Add in your personel items and you’ll get an sense of how much weight you will be carrying.

It will be necessary to transport your personal gear in a backpack. Compartmentalize everything. Use ziplock or garbage bags to protect against things getting wet. Twist tie and double bag anything you don’t want to get wet.

Keeping your sleeping bag dry is of extreme importance. Do not rely on the manufacturer’s claim that the sleeping bag stuff sack is waterproof. Insert a plastic garbage bag in the stuff sack and then stuff the sleeping bag in. As additional protection, place that whole affair in another plastic garbage bag and twist tie it shut. One very important question to continually ask yourself when packing is whether you will really need that item. If it’s not on the packing checklist that we provide, it’s probably not necessary.

BEFORE LEAVING

  • Stricter border enforcement will require that Canadians, Americans, & other nationals carry a passport for entry to Canada or the US.
  • Clip all fingernails and toenails. You will be grabbing and clutching along the way. A bent or broken fingernail can be very painful.
  • Leave rings, bracelets, and necklaces at home. Fingers will swell during the day. If you have a tight fit to begin, it will cause some pain. Expensive diamond rings may be jogged from its setting if hit by the ground or other object.
  • Carry a cheap watch or none at all. You may enjoy the freedom of not being tied to a watch.
  • Leave behind any unnecessary credit cards. Bank card and Visa/Mastercard is usually good to carry. The means to access extra cash for unexpected needs may be welcomed. A driver’s license is a good means of identification if need arises.
  • Post our equipment/clothing list on the front door. As you are about to leave your home, make a final check.
    Remember to pack personal medication. Additional backup medication should be given to the guides in the event yours is lost.
  • Let someone know when you are due home. Leave a copy of the itinerary, with corresponding dates, with this person.
  • If you are from out of town, let someone know where you will be staying when you get to your destination/origin.
  • For foreign visitors, we recommend that some form of travel or health insurance be purchased for the length of stay in Canada or U.S. It is a good idea that it cover medical evacuation, especially by air.
  • For foreign visitors, it is best to convert currency to Canadian/U.S. before entry. You will probably receive a better value from financial institutions than from individual merchants.

 

CONDITIONING

untitled-11Preparing your body is as important as preparing with the right equipment. Proper conditioning can put an older person in better shape than someone half his/her age. You will feel better and perform better when you are in good shape.

Common sense needs to be your guide. Start with a trip to your doctor. We strongly recommend that you discuss our conditioning suggestions with your doctor to ascertain their suitability to your medical circumstances.

There are no shortcuts. Getting into shape requires work. At least two months before your scheduled trip, you should begin a regimen that focuses on building stamina, strength,

and endurance.

STRETCHING

Stretching 10 minutes before and after daily workouts will help you stay limber and avoid muscle soreness. Stretches should be slow and gentle, breathing consciously. Hold each stretch for 30 – 60 seconds:

  • Lay flat on your back. Extend your arms as far as they’ll go above your head and at the same time point your toes as far as they’ll go away from your body. Inhale as you stretch.
  • Sit up on the floor. Exhale as you reach for your toes.
  • Sit up on the floor. Spread your legs as far as comfortable. Inhale and exhale as you reach forward along the floor, first along one leg, then the other.

HEART TRAINING

Walking, running, biking, swimming and aerobics are all good for this. Expect some sore muscles, but do not strain yourself. The fastest gains are made when you exercise at an intensity level of about 85 % of your maximum heart rate. You can find this rate by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying by .85 [220 – 40 (person’s age) = 180 x .85 = 153]. Periodically take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get your heart rate.

When you begin, start at 65 % and slowly work up to 85 %. Limit yourself to a 30 minute workout. One intense workout combined with three days of lighter workouts is a good start. Add speed and effort (i.e. going uphill) as you feel more comfortable. When you can do a 40 minute workout without much effort, build to a second and so on.

MUSCLE/STRENGTH/BALANCE/ENDURANCE TRAINING

These exercises should be completed after a cardio session such as running, biking, swimming or walking.

untitled-12Develops: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, hips, and climbing/descent strength.

Action:  8 – 10 reps each leg. Do with a pack. Add weight over time.

Use a platform such as a step or stool that will allow for your raised leg to be parallel to the ground before stepping up. Step up with the selected leg completely before raising the other leg. When returning, ensure that your heel touches first.

Develops: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, hips, and descent strength.

 Action:  12 – 15 reps each leg. Do without a pack.  Using a stair, stand erect with both legs. Lunge forward with selected leg until other leg is in the position depicted. Keep head and chin looking forward. Step off with back leg. Return to starting position and repeat. Change lunge leg and repeat exercise

 

 

 

untitled-13Develops: Leg and core strength, ankle stability, balance.

Action:  12 – 15 reps.

Place feet shoulder length apart. Maintain arms with elbows tucked as depicted. Jump to a selected side as far as you can and hold for count of two with both feet planted. Repeated back to other side.

 

untitled-14Develops: Quads, balance, and power.

Action: 3 sets of 10.

Extend your arms as depicted, with legs about shoulder length apart. Jump and simultaneously spread legs apart Land in a squat position as depicted. Begin again.

 

untitled-15Develops: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, hips, core and balance.

Action:  12 – 15 reps each leg

Use table, chair for support if needed. Stand straight up on selected leg and grab other leg as depicted in drawing. Slowly bend upright leg to about 90 degrees while holding other leg in position as depicted. Complete all reps before switching to other leg.


BACKPACK TRAINING

The best training program simulates the backpacking experience. You will need to incorporate steps, hills, inclined treadmills, or stair machines, while carrying a backpack, into your training. If you are active then you should begin at least a month before the trip. If not, then two months. Remember that pain is an indicator, and your doctor should be consulted if it persists or it is extreme.

The following program focuses on muscle groups and motions that will be needed when backpacking. Use the weekends to do practice hikes or cross-training activities such as swimming, skating, biking, etc.

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
1-2 Walk or jog  a course with rolling hills. 30 min. Carry 2 kg/5lb to 4.5 kg/10 lb in pack. Strength, Balance, Endurance Training Rest Strength, Balance, Endurance Training Repeat Monday.
3-4 Same. 45 min. Add 2kg/5lb Strength, Balance, Endurance Training Rest or crosstrain. 30 min. Strength, Balance, Endurance Training RepeatMonday
5-6 Same. 60 min.  Add 2kg/5lb Strength, Balance, Endurance Training Rest or crosstrain. 30 min. Strength, Balance, Endurance Training RepeatMonday
7-8 Same. 60-90 min. Add 2kg/5lb Strength, Balance, Endurance Training Rest or crosstrain. 30 min. Strength, Balance, Endurance Training RepeatMonday

All this preparation will pay dividends when you finally begin backpacking on the trail