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Backpacker Magazine – November 2012

Expert Panel: Instant Upgrades

Expert
Problem
Solution
PLANNING
Sheri & Randy Propster
BACKPACKER’s Get Out More team
Caught in a storm, without a rain jacket or pack cover
“Move your least-absorbent layers (a plastic bag, an extra stuffsack, a fleece jacket) to your pack’s outer pockets, and use a bag or rainfly to cover your pack and keep your extra clothing dry. If temps are above 60°F, hypothermia danger is relatively low, so it may be all right to get wet; if temps are much lower, damp clothing can accelerate hypothermia risk (see page 45), so seek shelter. Stop and set up your tent to keep yourself and your gear dry, or if there’s no threat of lightning (much less frequent in fall storms compared to summer storms), seek shelter under dense trees or in shallow caves. Stopping to wait out a downpour or dry out gear will slow you down; dial back mileage plans accordingly. Next time, pack a raincoat.”
Expert
Problem
Solution
FITNESS
Rob Shaul
Founder, Mountain Athlete Training



Pain on the outside of the knee, especially when you’re hiking sidehills
“You may have inflamed or injured your illiotibial (IT) band, the connective tissue that stabilizes your knee. On the trail, keep your back straight and your butt tucked in to minimize strain. Taking an anti-inflammatory can also help. To prevent future pain, do this exercise when you get home: Lay on the floor with a foam roller (a dense, 4- or 6-inch-wide foam log that’s a common tool for physical therapy) under your injured leg. Support your upper body with your arms and/or by planting your opposite foot, and roll forward and backward over the tube, rotating to focus pressure on major muscles including the psoas (on the front of your hip joint), hip abductors (A), outside of the thigh (IT band) (B), quadriceps (C), and soleus (D). Spend 10 to 15 minutes per day stretching in this way; try to engage all of the muscles in one flowing sequence.”

Expert
Problem
Solution
FIRST AID
Buck Tilton
Cofounder, Wilderness Medicine Institute
A splitting afternoon headache
“As many as 90 percent of trail headaches are related to dehydration, which sneaks up on you in winter because hydration tubes often freeze. Keep yours free-flowing by insulating your drinking hose in a neoprene sleeve, and by blowing into your hose to fill it with air after every drink of water. That should help keep the liquid accessible in temps below 32°F. Try to consume at least a liter per hour while you’re on the move. If you feel a headache coming on, take a break to tank up; the body processes water most efficiently while at rest. If the discomfort worsens, consider an over-the-counter painkiller (800 mg of ibuprofen usually works for me). If it remains severe or lasts longer than 24 hours, the cause could be more serious; consider getting to a doctor.”
Expert
Problem
Solution
NAVIGATION
Andrew Matranga
BACKPACKER’s Map Editor
Don’t know how to plan for and find good sites in wilderness camping zones
“Start by checking your topo map and planning your day so that in the afternoon you’re passing near pond systems or areas with well-spaced contour lines, which are signs of flatter ground (see below). Begin actively looking for a site several hours before nightfall; move a few hundred feet off the trail and walk roughly parallel to it, scanning for clearings on durable ground surfaces (rock slabs, gravel, sand). Avoid pitching your tent within 200 feet of the trail or a water source, or near animal traffic zones. If you find a well-established site, use it, but if you spot a lightly used one, keep looking for an undisturbed area so the light-use site can recover.”

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