Hello everyone I wanted to write the blog to share my experience backpacking with others and to give a few general guidelines to go by. I have quite a bit of experience in the backpacking field, everything from forced marches in Iraq and Afghanistan to day hiking Windom Peak in just over 17 hours.
I have decided to split this into 2 separate blogs. 1. Equipment and clothing 2. Distance and routes
1. Equipment and clothing
The number one rule in preparing your pack is WEIGHT IS EVERYTHING, what you decide to carry and such in your BOG and GHB has been discussed many times and I will not be covering them here. This is more for travel of a specific reason. Like you want to go and get a family member 40 miles away, or you happen to be out of town when shtf so now you need to make it back 80 miles to your home base.
The average person can carry 25% of their body weight comfortably for long periods of time (just divide you weight by 4.) For children the number is 20% if needed but 15% is better for the little ones (just divide their weight by 6). A key part to carrying this weight is what kind of pack you are using, the difference between a normal backpack and one designed for trails is as different as an elephant and an elephant seal, yeah the names are the same but they are totally different. One of the key components to backpacks is the fit for your body, don’t buy a pack you don’t find comfortable, it is not a pair of shoes you will break in, it is something that needs to carry well from the start.
Your pack, there is a few things I will personally recommend here, not a must have but it will make your travel so much easier. 1. Built in hydration system. Carrying a canteen is fine, but having something like a camel-back built into the pack (or even room to wear one under your pack) will make life much more comfortable for everyone. Its instant access to about a liter of water that you can consume while walking. 2. Comfort and fit, all good packs will have a weight disturbing waist belt and nice padded shoulder straps. This is a must for all true hikers you want something you won’t mind wearing 16 hours a day if necessary. 3. Durability, it is like everything else, you would not try to walk 100 miles in a 5 dollar pair of Wal-Mart shoes, don’t think the bargain pack will last or hold up well for you. I am not saying to go out and buy a professional 1000 dollar pack, just make sure it looks durable and the belts, pockets and such, all appear to be able to hold up to some use. 4. Water resistance. Don’t take for granted that your pack will shed water, read the labels and instructions (some packs need secondary waterproofing done on a regular basis) because having wet gear will just make it that much heavier, plus you don’t want anything inside to get wet either.
We have covered the basics of the packs now let’s cover the basics of clothing. Wear sturdy comfortable shoes. If it is cold wear clothing that is in layers and can be taken off easily. Finally always bring some form of raingear, be it a poncho or jacket, letting yourself get wet will make a day hike turn into a nightmare pretty quick.
The contents of your pack will change depending on what you are trying to accomplish and how far you are going for the day, but here is a few helpful hints to follow. Never bring 2 of the same thing, example… Find a pot/pan that you can cook your food in, or boil water if you need to. Don’t skimp on comfort but don’t try and carry the kitchen sink either, one of the roll up camping foam mats can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a restless night, but don’t try and bring a cot or a full size air mattress either. Finally plan smart, keep things simple if at all possible. Yes you can bring everything to make a full meal, but 3 MRE’s will take up a much smaller space and weigh less. Try and only bring the basics.
Finally pack for what you are doing…..Long range patrol, investigating a water or fuel source, going to pick up a family member, going to try and gather supplies? Each of these will require vastly different packs and setups make sure you are ready for what you set out to do.
p.s. I am always willing to answer any questions anyone has.