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May 2001

Make The Big Jump

Are you a dayhiker who's ready for an all-nighter? A weekender longing to try a 5-day trek? Or are you ready for a thru-hike? Regardless of your skill level, here's the information you'll need to go that extra mile.

Laugh At The Weather

Soggy gear and wrinkled toes get mighty old when there’s no blue sky in sight. Here’s what you can do to lessen the strain.

Before the trip:

  • Check that all seams exposed to weather are taped. If they aren’t, use a commercial seam sealer to waterproof tents and rainwear. Revitalize water-repellency treatment on tired raingear and pack covers.

  • Line your sleeping bag’s stuff sack or your entire pack with a garbage bag.
  • Seal everything-first-aid kit, maps, extra clothes, food, sleeping pad-in doubled zipper-lock plastic bags.

During the trip:

  • Look for sheltered camping spots away from drainages on the lee side of hills or bushes, or in a grove of trees.

  • Get dressed and store wet gear in your tent’s vestibule. Use a bandanna to mop up any droplets that sneak inside that inner sanctum.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Invent or play tent games (see “Backcountry Games”), write in a journal, or make up songs about the rain. You’ll be back to the dry life soon enough.

gas mileage

Weigh In

Ideally, your pack should weigh 25 to 30 percent of your total body weight. With the exception of a first-aid kit, basic repair kit, compass, and spare clothes, leave behind gear you won’t use every day. For example:

Use… Instead of bringing…
Wool socks Pot gripper, mittens
Single-blade knife Multitool
“Spork” (fork/spoon combo) Fork and spoon
Large bandanna Cooking-water strainer, prefilter for mucky water, washcloth, pot gripper, hat, bandage/sling
Mug or bowl Mug and bowl

Attitude Check

Longer and more demanding trips tax body and spirit, so take extra care to keep both healthy.

  • Plan for easy days at the beginning, then add more miles as you get stronger.

  • Make sure someone at home knows your trip plan, then stick to it. Before the trip, identify an emergency bailout route midway along your route.
  • Prevent group dissension by making certain before you go that all members of the group know their responsibilities. Assign tasks and write down who’s responsible for the tent, meals, maps and permits, and so on.
  • If you start to feel angry with a hiking partner, walk by yourself for a while.
  • Know when to modify your plans. Weather, fatigue, and mishaps add stress that can ruin a trip if you insist on meeting a difficult goal.

More Information

Trail Grub Guidelines

Sports nutritionists and backcountry-food experts agree that for hikes of up to 1 week long, a diet of energy-rich carbohydrates with smaller percentages of protein and fat–about a 60:20:20 ratio–is best. Choose dried and lightweight foods like pasta over prepared, weighty foods like that super-size can of beef stew. Check the lists below for other suggestions.

Carbos (60% of diet)

pasta, instant mashed potatoes, beans, bagels, rice, tortillas, lentils, dried fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, granola as cereal or bars

Protein (20%)

canned tuna or chicken; beef, chicken, or fish jerky; salami, summer sausage; cheese; tofu; peanut butter; nonfat powdered milk

Fat (20%)

olive and canola oils; cheese, nuts and nut butters; chocolate and other candies; beef, chicken, or fish jerky; salami, summer sausage; cookies

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