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Backpacker Magazine – August 2010

New Life List: Explore Patagonia

Experience the thrill of being a pioneer: Trek to a remote corner of the globe.

by: Michael Lanza

Key Skill: Stay Dry

When you’re far from anywhere, rangers won’t come to the rescue if you succumb to hypothermia. Follow these steps to keep comfortable—and safe.

» Pretrip, make sure your tent’s guylines are plenty long and attached securely. When pitching your tent, point the low end into the wind and stake it out immediately, so your shelter can’t blow away.

» Once the tent’s up, place gear against the windward wall to temper gusts. When breaking camp, first pull downwind stakes.

» You may need to wear a shell when you’re working hard in cold rain, or in fluctuating temps that make it difficult to avoid perspiring—and getting wet inside. Adjust layers under your shell and moderate your walking pace to stay warm without overheating—speed up when chilled, and slow down or pause intermittently if you start sweating.

» Cold wind is extremely draining. Drink and snack frequently—especially foods high in fat, like salami—to keep warm and energized.

» Put key gear—extra clothes, your sleeping bag—inside waterproof stuffsacks. Fit your pack’s rain cover tightly to prevent it from blowing away.

» If your shells or baselayer get damp from rain or sweat, wear them in camp to dry them out for the next day. Pull the damp baselayer on over a dry layer, so you don’t get cold; then don a layer of insulation under your damp rainshell.

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