A marathon runner turned trail runner learns to slow down – Guest Post

Hello, followers of Hiking the Trail! My name is Bryan and I am a friend of Adam’s from the days when we both lived in Kansas City. I was asked to write a guest post to discuss my current move into the world of hiking and backpacking. Allow me to start by giving you a little background into who I am and why I am getting involved in backpacking, then I will tell you where I am currently in my journey. Read More….

Life update January 2015

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2015 started out with me hitting the ground running. I flew back from visiting family in Iowa and had a few days of down time before flying to Las Vegas for the SHOT Show. The Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show is the worlds largest gun, knife, and outdoor sport accessory trade show on the planet. They fill the Sands Expo Center with thousands of companies sharing their new products. The building is  2.25 million square feet or roughly 40 American football fields. It is nearly impossible to see everything. Read More….

Tips for choosing a proper fitting backpack – Part 2 Packing and Adjusting

In part one we discussed how to measure yourself or a friend to help choosing a properly sized pack. The next step in making sure the pack fits is to fill the pack with weight and adjust the straps.

Packing the backpack!

When packing a backpack especially for long hikes you will want to make sure that the weight is distributed evenly so that when wearing the pack it is not top heavy.  Here is a handy diagram for packing  a backpack to ensure comfort.

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Your most heaviest items such as water and food need to be packed so that they are the closest items to the middle of your back. Sleeping bag, clothes and lighter items are best packed furthest from your back. Also make sure that if you put weight on one side of the pack the other side has the same amount of weight. If your pack is heavier on one side you will notice that there is more weight on one shoulder strap than the other. Having a lopsided pack can cause shoulder pain, back strain and even muscle and joint discomfort in your hips and legs.  Many gear shops will allow you to pack up a backpack full of weight bags or even test gear to help you find out if the pack you are looking at fits your frame and needs.

Adjusting the straps for a comfortable fit.

Before you put the backpack on your back make sure to loosen all of the straps. Hip belt strap, sternum strap, shoulders, load lifters and any other straps that you find. Put the pack on and you will instantly feel all of the weight on your shoulders. To get the pack seated properly on your back following these adjustment steps.

Step 1. Clip and adjust the waist belt.
Step 2. Adjust your shoulder straps to bring the pack up against your back.
Step 3. Clip and adjust the sternum strap.
Step 4. Locate the load lifter straps.
Step 5. Pull the load lifter straps out and down. This will shift the entire load from your hips to your shoulders.
Step 6. Release both load lifter strips until you feel the shift of weight from your shoulders to your hips. (There will be a noticeable shift if the pack has weight in it)

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If you try to adjust the pack while empty, you will end up adjusting it again once pack it. It is also recommended that you adjust all of your straps before any big trip. However, it is not necessary to adjust the straps daily unless you find hot spots from the straps. As you use your pack more often you will learn and adjust to the pack’s quirks.

When you pack your backpackpack do you find you pack certain items in the same places all the time? What do you find works the best when packing your backpack?

Tips for choosing a proper fitting backpack – Part 1 Sizing

Having a backpack that does not fit properly can potentially make any backpacking trip painful and not very fun. Today we are going to take a look at how to measure your torso and your waist to ensure a proper fit. All major retail stores and outfitters who specifically cater to outdoor sport like hiking and backpacking should know how to properly measure you. This may not be the case at every store and if you know the sizes you need you can make shopping for your next backpack a breeze.

Measuring your torso.

MeasuringTorsoTo measure your torso you will need to first ask a friend or family member to help you. You also need a piece of string, shoelace, or a flexible measuring tape.

Step 1. Place your hand flat on your neck. Slide your hand down your neck until you find a bump. That is your C7 Vertebra.

Step 2. With your hands extend your thumb and pointer fingers to create an L in your left hand and a backwards L in your right hand. Place your “Ls” on your waist at your hip bones.

Step 3. Make sure you are standing up straight and lower your head to look at the floor.

Step 4. Have your friend place the measuring tape or string on your the C7 Vertebra and create a straight line down the middle of your back stopping where your thumbs meet.   If you you are using a measuring tape have your friend tell you the number they measure. If you are using string or rope measure that with a ruler. That number will be your torso length.

Backpack Size Measurement Chart.

Men’s and Women’s
Pack Size Torso Length
Extra small Up to 15½”
Small 16″ to 17½”
Medium/Regular 18″ to 19½”
Large/Tall 20″+

 

Measuring your waist.

Using the string, rope, or measuring tape have your friend measure your waist making sure the measuring tool is going around  your waste just above your hip bones.

Now that you know your measurements you can take that information to your local outfitter and try on some packs.  Having the proper measurements to provide you with a proper fitting pack is key to comfort when on the trail. 80% of your pack weight will be transferred from your shoulders to your hips and if not sized correctly you will experience pain and could potentially harm your back with prolonged use.

In our next post we will discuss a few tips on how to get the pack feeling perfect for the trail.

 

10 Hiking and Backpacking Documentaries you can stream from amazon.com

While looking for something on Amazon.com  I saw a recommended instant video.  It happened to be Flip Flop Flippin. A documentary I had been wanting to find. I took at look and ended up renting it.  From there I ended up going down this rabbit hole of videos and shows I could rent very cheaply. I also learned that if I had Amazon Prime account some of them are even free. Here are some of the videos that I put on my watch list.

1. “Flip Flop Flippin’ – One man’s search for character(s) on the A.T.”

Scott “Squatch” Herriott section-hiked the 2,650 mile-long Pacific Crest Trail and made four films about his adventures (“Walk” films available here at Amazon). Now he attempts to hike the entire 2,100+ mile-long Appalachian Trail in one hiking season while searching for the interesting, inspiring, sometimes whacked-out and always dirt-laden folk who make up the long-distance hiking community.

Runtime: 1 hour 26 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

 2. Flip Flop Flippin’ 2 – A Search for Character(s) continues on the A.T

Scott Herriott attempted to hike the entire 2,175 mile-long Appalachian Trail in one hiking season. While his film “Flip Flop Flippin'” was completed, he only ended up doing half of the trail due to injury. But the joy he experienced along with the wonderful and strange folk he met along the way, coupled with the desire to finish the trail, led him back for more interviews and shenanigins in 2012.

Runtime: 1hour 21 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

3. Trail Angels

‘Trail Angels’ is an inspiring portrait of unsung heroes who have made it their quest to help the seasonal thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail, a pilgrimage of five million footsteps.

Runtime: 1 hour 22 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

4. Alone Across Alaska: 1,000 Miles of Wilderness

“One summer I set off alone in an attempt to cross a thousand miles of the most remote wilderness in America, the Brooks Range of northern Alaska. It was a journey of mountains and solitude, river crossings and rapids, mountain passes and gravel bars, wolves, grizzlies, and caribou.” Join the adventure with this documentary of an epic solo adventure across the trackless wilds of Alaska!

Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

5. Beauty Beneath the Dirt

Beauty Beneath the Dirt follows the story of three young urbanites as they attempt to balance family, friendship, and personal happiness while hiking from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail.

Runtime: 1 hour 9 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

6. Mile Mile and a Half

A group of artists hike the John Muir Trail & bring back their experiences. 219 miles in 25 days. Come laugh, limp, sing & walk with us.

Runtime: 1 hour 28 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

7. Walk

Scott Herriott, a self-proclaimed lazy***, had no desire to hike 2,658 miles (at least in the same calendar year). So, instead, he went out and interviewed those who were attempting to do so on the Pacific Crest Trail. Blisters and hilarity ensue.

Runtime: 1 hour 24 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

8. Walking The Camino: Six Ways To Santiago

A profile of six pilgrims taking the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage through Spain.

Runtime: 1 hour 24 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

9. The Art of Walking

Australia’s most spectacular coastline is the setting for this very special documentary. A journey that conjures the beauty held deep within three remarkable people.

Runtime: 48 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

10. Las Peregrinas…the Women Who Walk

Las Peregrinas chronicles a group of first-time women pilgrims on their own individual journeys of self-discovery as they walk on the ancient pilgrimage route in Spain known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

Runtime: 1 hour 18 minutes

Learn more and rent it!

Climbing and Hiking are Synonymous – Guest Post

Even if we don’t get to climb and we just hike, I don’t care, I’m happy as long as we’re in the mountains. That’s what my friend told me a few days before we left for our first outdoor climbing trip. We were heading to the mountains of North Carolina with no knowledge of the climbing, other than what we’d scoped out online. No guidebook, no beta(information and advice about a particular climb) from friends, nothing.

After arriving in Asheville, we were smart enough to pop into the local outdoor store, get some beta about the area, and a guidebook for the bouldering at Rumbling Bald. 45 minutes later and we were at the trailhead, ready to get our hands on some real rock for the first time. We strapped on the backpack and crash pad and started trekking along the trail to the boulder field.

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The first section was downhill that quickly turned into a quick uphill hike that lasted at least 15 minutes until we finally reached the boulder field. We climbed, hiked to different boulders, and repeated that process for three days straight.

At the end of our trip we had technically only climbed, but when I look back on it, I get the best of both worlds being a climber. I get to do what I love and climb, while also getting to hike. I mean the approaches to these climbing crags can be anywhere from a quick 5 minute stroll through the woods to a couple hours that allow adequate time to rethink the choice in climbing crags.

When you’re a climber, you realize that climbing and hiking are synonymous and you get to enjoy the best of both worlds at the same time. Sometimes the climbing even pales in comparison to the hike and the best part of the day is the hike.

Don’t tell my friends I said that!

About the Author: Justin Fricke is an office dweller by weekday and rock climber, hiker, surfer, cyclist, runner, and all around adventure junkie by night and weekend. The Weekend Warrior is where he keeps records of all his adventures, gear reviews, tips and tricks. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

First Look at the OFFPISTE UltraPack 7+3 – Join the #UltraPackRevolution

The Offpiste Ultra Pack is a new twist on old technologies. Backpacks have been around for years and have come a long way, but the Offpiste takes the backpack to a whole new level. This pack is extremely comfortable and easy to use. The coolest part of the pack is its ability to be adapted to the situation or activity you will be using it for.

What is the pack all about and how does it work?

Read More….

Find the peace in Eastern Europe: Climb the mountains of Romania! – Guest Post

Hiking in Romania’s mountains offers a powerful experience, which can only be compared to what adventurers felt, while exploring areas where people haven’t, or rarely set foot before. The untamed wilderness is harsh, beautiful and mesmerizing, demanding and rewarding at the same time, giving you the opportunity to reconnect with nature at the most basic level, leaving you with an inner peace that modern man seldom finds.

Wildlife or your wild side?

It doesn’t really matter which area of the Carpathian’s you want to explore, once you leave your vehicle behind and start your journey you will soon leave behind all evidence of modern civilization. There are trails that lead you across dense forests, with rich local flora and fauna, with almost no sign of humans ever existing. Wild animals are not uncommon. Brown bears, wolves, deer, wild cats, and other wild animals roam across the land freely, usually avoiding contact with humans. Still, there are areas where there’s a chance that you can come across them, so don’t be alarmed if you see them in the distance. Bears and wolves are elusive animals, that won’t attack groups of tourists. Meeting them, watching them in their natural habitat is a strong, unique experience that will always stay with you. If you plan on doing this always look for a local guide with experience to keep safe.

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(view in the Sureanu Mountains)

Read More….

5 ways to increase your hiking speeds!

 

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Hiking is a learned skill. Sure it is simply walking but we can always improve our techniques to allow for faster hiking speeds. Here is a list to help you begin increasing your hiking speeds.

1. Invest in your footwear.

Finding the right shoes and socks are key in helping you increase your speeds. When I say investing this means both money and time. Maybe this means switching from thick socks to thinner socks. It could also mean that you switch from a heavy hiking boot to a light weight trail runner. Finding what works best for you can take time but it is well worth the investment. Having shoes that feel as if they were created just for you helps your speeds up by creating less strain on your foot, ankle, and knees. Also finding the right sock and shoe combination to help decrease foot perspiration and the creation of hotspots also helps. The happier your feet are the happier you are.

2. Finding your pace and getting into a rhythm.

Your pace will adjust based on the terrain you encounter, but getting into a rhythm or cadence is key. Your cadence is the length of your stride on every step, how you place your feet, how you swing your arms, and how you control tour breathing. Everyone will hit their stride and forget that they are hiking. This cadence allows you to keep a steady pace and keeps you in a comfortable mindset. The quicker you can find that rhythm and the longer you can stick with it the quicker your hiking will become. Each person is different and if you are hiking with a group you might not be hitting your cadence because you are trying to keep up with the group or fall into the troop mentality. A troop mentality is when everyone is hiking, walking, or marching at the same pace matching strides and body movements. It happens with a large group of people or even when its just another person. You begin to match their stride and pace and the next thing you know you are 100% in sync with their movements. This can be good if you both have the same natural cadence but if not it can wear you out quickly.

3. Eat Fuel not just food.

Making sure that you body is properly fueled up for the hike is key. No matter if you are going on a day hike or thru hiking a long trail. Making sure your body has the proper food and hydration will help you maintain your hiking speeds. If you do not eat enough calories your body will begin to consume the nutrients already in your system and can cause what is called “Bonking”. “Bonking” is a term used mostly by runners and cyclists to explain when the person has hit a point in which they have become sluggish and tired. When you begin to feel like your pace has slowed and it is harder to hike than it had been you need to immediately stop grab a snack and hydrate. I always enjoy some type of food bar or GORP.  Loading up on the calories at night and in the morning will keep you going but always plan to have several snacks during the day.

4. Take breaks.

Taking breaks will help break up the day but will also allow for a nice recharge. Drop the pack take off the boots and get comfortable. Have some food hydrate and relax. I am not saying that you need to sit there for several hours but let your body recover. Depending on the length of the hike for the day you might want to take more than one break. Having breaks like this not only helps your body but it also helps your mind relax.

5. Learn to use and properly use hiking/trekking poles.

Using hiking / trekking poles is an acquired taste. Those who use them love using them. They help with your cadence, they provide stability, and they transfer away stress from your hips knees, and ankles. Make sure they are properly adjusted and if they are at any way hindering your cadence you will most likely will just end up throwing them in your pack. Learning to use them takes time but once you can get comfortable using them you will find that it is easy to also find your cadence. They are not for everyone so do not get discouraged if you truly do not like them. Try using one pole instead of two. Switch hands to see where the one pole fits into your cadence. It takes adjustment so you will need to try it a couple of times before completely writing them off.

How have you sped up your hiking pace? Have you used any of these techniques with success?

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