Backpacking Gear Primer

I’ll be the first to admit that looking at “gear” is an exciting thing to do.  But, it’s really not the most important thing when it comes to long distance backpacking and hiking.  What about a properly fitted backpack?  Yep, important, but not the most.  What about a proper sleeping bag?  Sure, it’s required, too.  A compass and topo maps?  I’ll agree that those might be helpful.

All that stuff is necessary.  But, it’s not the most important thing you take with you.

Your body is.  The best gear in the world will not compensate for poor physical health, unless someone has one of those Avatar exoskeleton AMP suits.  And, I don’t think those follow the Leave No Trace principles anyway.  In almost all circumstances that I can think of, the lack of a piece of gear won’t necessarily become a life or death situation.  But, let your body give up on you and things can start to get grim really fast.

That said, it’s time to get back it into shape.  There are two things that I think are important:  core strength and overall endurance.

Living on the sailboat for the past three 3 years hasn’t really afforded a lot of convenient opportunities for strength training.  I’ve stayed in fairly good shape, but I have noticed that my core strength has suffered.  I’m certainly no physical trainer or expert, but I feel that core strength is the foundation for a successful and physically comfortable long distance backpacking trip.

I need to be able to carry around 40 pounds on my back for roughly 10 to 12 hours per day for 5 consecutive months while climbing and descending mountains and hills in sometimes rugged terrain.

Since I’m frugal (some would say cheap), I’m not enrolling in a gym, so I have to find exercises that I can do on a boat and/or at lunch at work.

  1. Sit-ups:  the old standby.
  2. Bird-dog crunches
  3. Standing bicycle crunches
  4. Spider plank crunches
    (See Daily Burn for how to do these simple aforementioned exercises.)
  5. Leg lifts:  ah, the old punishment during football practices.
  6. Band anti-rotations:  attach an elastic band about chest high to a structure;  hold the elastic band with both hands and move away from the structure so that the band is perpendicular to you;  raise your arms chest high, extend them straight out in front of you and resist any rotation.
  7. Others as I see fit

As for endurance, that will require some training, too.  My plan there is to load up my pack with 4 gallons of water and hike.  I’ll be tracking that through the Runkeeper app.  Here’s my URL just in case you want to follow my progress . . . or lack thereof.

I’ll most likely start slow, say between 3 and 5 miles total per day just to make sure I don’t injure something or stress something out.  I’ll have no speed in mind at this point, though 16 minute miles should be doable.  It’s just about getting oriented with walking while additional weight is on my back.  As I become comfortable, and as long as nothing starts to hurt in weird ways, I’ll slowly increase that as time allows.

Thoughts on a better plan?

 

Keeping the Wild . . . Wild
Boogies and Vicious Kids

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