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Improve your balance on uneven terrain, figure out if your water filter is still working, and determine the crossability of a questionable river or stream during spring and early-summer.





Rob Shaul

Founder, Mountain Athlete Training

Off-balance and wobbly when scrambling through uneven terrain

“You’ll benefit from a steadying, strong core. At least once a week, build agility and balance by participating in a fast-paced sport like soccer or basketball that forces you to move dynamically from side to side. To build those all-important abs and lower back muscles, also try the following exercises twice a week:

Weighted sit-ups Lay down and extend a weight above your head (start with 25 pounds and add more as you gain strength; keep your elbows locked). Complete four sets of 10 sit-ups, holding the weight above your head.

Sandbag get-ups Throw a 40- to 60-pound duffel bag or weighted sack over one shoulder. Lay down on your back, then rise to a standing position, keeping the weight on your shoulder. Do four sets of five reps on each side.

Face-down back extensions Lay on your stomach, with your hands and feet on the ground. Quickly lift your chest as high as you can (keep your arms level and feet planted), then lower slowly. Perform four sets of 10 reps.” 






Kristin Hostetter

BACKPACKER's Gear Editor


Not sure if my water filter is still working

“Keep a usage diary so you know when to replace your filter; their life spans are measured by the volume of water treated (200 gallons is common), not time. You’ll know your filter’s doing its job if pumping occasionally gets difficult. When this happens, clean it by backflushing or scrubbing the filter itself (check owners’ manual). Also:

» Do regular maintenance. Inspect your pump, filter cartridge, and O-rings every six months (or after dropping the filter). Lubricate or replace dry/cracked seals, and replace your pump if the housing is damaged. Disinfect before or after long-term storage by pumping a diluted bleach solution (two drops of bleach to 1 liter of water) through the filter.

» Don’t overclean. Zealous scrubbing may shorten your filter’s life. Some have a visual replacement indicator; inspect it each time you dry your filter.”





Andrew Matranga


Planning a route across a potentially dangerous river crossing in spring and early-summer

“It’s impossible to know a river’s status weeks in advance, so use these tips to maximize your chances of a successful trip:

» Build extra time into your itinerary. Plan stops at overlooks to observe river conditions from afar. Think a crossing is doable? Allow time to scout up- and downstream for the best-possible position (wide shallows, downriver of falls or strainers, etc.).

» Time your crossing right. Camp near melt-fed rivers so you can cross first-thing in the morning, when the water level is lowest. For watershed-draining creeks, be alert to nearby or approaching storms, which can raise water levels for as many as 48 hours after the storm.

» Plot alternative routes. Consider trailheads or trails that don’t require a crossing, and off-trail routes that cross the river along straights, through flats or current-calming wetlands (A), or above confluences (B) and river sources like lakes (C).

» Know your limits. Sometimes a raging river is an impassable roadblock. Don’t risk your life to get across one.”