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Backpacker Magazine – January 2013

Multisport Maniac Skills

Learn these skills for trips that involve more than just hiking.

by: Rachel Walker

PAGE 1 2
Learn to self-rescue with a paddle float. (Supercorn)
Photo by Learn to self-rescue with a paddle float. (Supercorn)
Learn to self-rescue with a paddle float. (Supercorn)
Kayaking can be a great way to experience the backcountry. (by Cheryl Botts)
Photo by Kayaking can be a great way to experience the backcountry. (by Cheryl Botts)
Kayaking can be a great way to experience the backcountry. (by Cheryl Botts)

Get Rescue Insurance
How to pick wisely

Medical evacuations can cost more than $100,000, and many insurance plans don’t cover international trips or injuries sustained while practicing “adventure sports.” Check with your insurer before departing to see what coverage they offer. Ask specifically about “international emergency medical clauses.” If you’re not covered, purchase accident insurance from a provider like Global Rescue ( which has comprehensive extraction plans starting at $119 (annual plans start at $329).

Pack Smart for Every Sport
What key parts of your kit should you bring overseas? Use this chart to decide.

Sport: Climbing
Gear to Take: Unguided trips: harness, helmet, belay device, rope, shoes, protection. Weight: 19 lbs.
Why: If you’re going on your own, bring all of your gear; it may be impossible to rent. Guided? Reputable companies will provide equipment (bring your shoes). Find certified guides and outfitters at the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations or through the American Alpine Club. Inspect gear for fraying and fading indicative of UV damage, and request replacements if anything looks old or worn.

Sport: Skiing/snowboarding
Gear to Take: Boots, goggles, gloves, transceiver, helmet. Weight: 6.5 lbs.
Why: Leave your skis/boards at home; carrying them is nearly impossible if you plan to take public transport, and all big mountain destinations will have well-equipped rental shops. Always bring your boots (as a carry-on), and arrange rentals online ahead of time for discounts of up to 30 percent.

Sport: Kayaking
Gear to Take: PFD, dry top, spray skirt, helmet Weight 4.5 lbs.
Why: Contact boat shops in your destination and rent from the shop with the best brands. Inspect boats and paddles carefully (and check for emergency gear) before committing. Option B: For casual floats, consider taking an inflatable boat like Alpacka Raft’s Yukon Yak ($850; 4 lbs. 15 oz.;

Sport: Scuba diving
Gear to Take: Regulator, buoyancy control device, safety knife. Weight: 12 lbs.
Why: Rental gear O-rings and valves aren’t always inspected, and gear failure on dives below 30 feet can be fatal. Bring your own breathing apparatus (and safety gear), but rent bulky and heavy items like fins, a wetsuit, air tanks, and weight belt.

Sport: Mountain biking
Gear to Take: Helmet, gloves, padded shorts, shoes, pedals, seat. Weight: 3.5 lbs.
Why: Some airlines tack on $200 for bike transport (check airlinebagfees. com), and frames are susceptible to irreparable damage in the cargo hold. Bikes are also easy targets for theft and not usually covered by insurance abroad. Unless you’re on a bike-specific trip, pack comfort essentials but rent the bike.

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