11.GET YOUR PACK DIALED
Purchase the correct size
1. Choose a pack that’s big enough for your average load: It’s easier to cinch a pack down on a small load than overburden a pack with a load that’s too big. Make a list of priorities–pockets, waterproofing, etc.–and stick with them.
2. Measure your torso length using a soft tape measure (or a string, then hold against a hard tape measure). Standing erect with hands on hips, trace a line connecting your thumbs. From that spot, measure the distance to your seventh vertebra–the prominent bone at the base of your neck.
3. Try on several packs loaded with your typical trail weight. Walk around.
4. Double-check the fit: Hipbelt padding should wrap over your hipbones. Shoulder straps should have no gaps or bunching and extend a hand’s width beneath your armpits.
Adjust the correct straps
>> Loosen all suspension straps. With the hipbelt resting atop your hipbones, pull the belt snug. Tighten the stabilizer straps connecting the belt to the pack’s bottom. Next, tighten the load-lifters, which should lie at a 45-degree angle to your shoulders. Finally, tighten the shoulder and chest straps.
>> On long ascents, loosen the hipbelt and stabilizer straps to increase mobility for hips and legs. When going downhill, retighten.
>> Loosen compression straps before loading; tighten them when done. >> Place heavy items (food, fuel, stove) close to your back and pad with your jacket. >> Keep snacks, suncreen, and other items you’ll need on the trail accessible.
12. WRAP FIVE FEET OF DUCT TAPE AROUND A TREKKING POLE OR PENCIL NUB TO KEEP HANDY FOR REPAIRS, EMERGENCIES, AND PREVENTING BLISTERS.
13. KEEP YOUR CAMERA IN A HIPBELT POCKET SO YOU NEVER MISS A GREAT SHOT.
14. EAT AND DRINK METHODICALLY
>> Mom was right: A hearty breakfast is the key to a powerful day. Start yours right by eating a good mix of carbs, protein, and fat (oatmeal with nuts and blueberries or a bagel with peanut butter).
>> Monitor how much you’re drinking. Your body absorbs fluids at a steady, slow rate of about a liter an hour; get in the habit of sipping every 15 minutes–not waiting until you’re thirsty and guzzling.
>> On long days, supplement your calorie intake with a powdered energy drink in the afternoon.
>> Don’t go more than two to three hours on the trail without eating something–even if you’re not ravenous. Recognize signs that your tank’s low, like feeling tired or irritable.
>> During the day, snack on no-prep foods high in carbs like dried fruit, chocolate, bagels, and energy bars. At day’s end, your body craves fat, protein, and salt; reach for cheese, pepperoni, crackers, nuts, beans, and canned fish or meat. A high-sodium soup can also help you rehydrate.
15. DRESS FOR SUCCESS
>> Research the weather for your destination (park websites typically show average climate data and give links to the local forecast). Bring layers that, combined, will suffice for the lowest temperatures, but allow flexibility for handling the expected range of conditions. (Example: a light fleece vest and midweight puffy jacket.)
>> It’s been drilled into your head: Cotton kills. The exception? A hot, dry desert hike, where a damp T against your skin has a welcome cooling effect. >> Minimize sweating by stripping down before hard ascents. You’ll avoid getting chilled when the temperature drops up high–or the wind kicks up.
>> Pull on extra layers right before reaching a windy summit or pass, and as soon as you stop for a long break.
>> Hike in one set of clothes and keep a dry change of baselayers for camp.