6. KEEP SPARE BATTERIES, FIRST-AID SUPPLIES, AND FUEL CANISTERS AT THE READY SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOP ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
7. Make Training Part of Your Routine
Good fitness improves your health and makes backpacking more enjoyable. Here’s how to make exercise habit-forming. >> Have kids? Incorporate them into your workouts. Buy a good kid-carrier pack or jog stroller for younger ones; run alongside older children as they bike.
>> Make your commute–and even errands–part of your fitness plan by biking or walking instead of driving.
>> Get the most out of short workouts by increasing intensity. Make them trail-specific by adding a 15-pound pack while you’re on a StairMaster, running hills or stairwells, or doing intervals.
>> Run laps around the soccer field while your kid plays. You’ll feel like a goof, but you’ll get an hour of aerobic exercise without missing the game.
>> Pick up a new sport like nordic skiing, swimming, rowing, or bicycling: Cross-training builds under-used muscles, prevents repetitive-motion injuries, and lends variety to your routine.
>> Backpacking-specific exercises like lunges, step-ups, and one-legged squats help prep your legs. Do them while you watch TV or listen to the radio.
8. OBSERVE THE FIVE RULES OF SMART PACKING
Follow these tips for carrying the right amount of equipment–neither too much nor too little–on every trip.
>> Bringing gear and clothing for the worst weather on record adds unneeded pounds. Pack for the forecast (check weather.gov).
>> Buy equipment for your typical trips–a lighter 30°F bag instead of a bulky 15°F one, for instance, if you primarily backpack in the summer.
>> If you consistently finish hikes with pounds of uneaten food, you’re carrying too much. Keep it to 1.5 pounds per person per day. >> Ditto with water. In many mountain ranges, water sources occur frequently enough that you don’t need to carry more than a liter at a time.
>> Lighten your load by making key gear upgrades: Ultralight packs, shelters, and bags are often one-third the weight of their traditional counterparts. On a budget? Start by replacing your heaviest item first (probably your tent). The goal: Keep your base load (everything but food and water) below 15 pounds.
9. PACK EFFICIENTLY: SEPARATE STUFF SACKS FOR CLOTHES, FOOD, TOILETRIES, AND SMALL ITEMS LIKE HEADLAMPS, BATTERIES, AND REPAIR GEA .
10. HIKE WITH A PLAN
Be smart about when–and how far–to walk, and you’ll be able to cover more ground with less effort.
>> Vary your daily mileage. Effective hikers often increase it as their packs lighten. And they adjust it according to terrain: fewer miles on days with big climbs, and more on the flats.
>> Watch the thermometer. On hot days, hike in the cool hours of early morning and evening. Don’t exhaust yourself climbing a big hill in the sizzling afternoon.
>> Do the obvious: If you want a mellow trip, plan for more days or fewer miles–and lighten your load.