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Expert
Problem
Solution
PLANNINGSheri & 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
FITNESSRob 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 AIDBuck 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
NAVIGATIONAndrew 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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