What are you carrying?
NOW THAT is A HUGE Backpack!
As you hike, you see people who have all sizes and types of backpacks. I’m sure you’ve never seen someone is a back like this! Or is you have, I hope you didn’t laugh (too much).
But as hikers, especially new ones like myself, we find ourselves overloading out packs with everything including the kitchen sink. I mean for real, you’ll never know what you “need” on the trail until you are…On the Trail!
I tend to think that I don’t want to be cold at the beginning of the hike since I’m starting my adventure in March. So, I’m willing (I think I am) to take a few extra pounds of weight along to ensure I won’t be cold. One of those questions I keep asking myself is “What’s the R value of that piece of equipment?” So to be safe and have peace of mind, I’ve included an emergency blanket…just in case I get real cold out there on the trail. With a 90% heat radiant rating, that’s a lot of body heat I could be reflecting back at myself if I get cold!
From the experts, they have a few recommendations to help those overburdened with their packs, like…
If you haven’t used it, don’t take it! But when was the last time you used let’s say your thread and needle? But it’s important to have this along if you need to do a little needle point (I mean mending of your tent or sleeping bag).
Do a shakedown hike to check out your equipment and weight. Well, some of us are unable to get in any real hiking trips before the Start Date. Yeah, I need to make it a priority, but I’m still recovering from some surgeries that have halted my preparation. I just want to be healthy before I set out on my thru hike…so I’ll forego (for now) the shakedown hike.
Buy your equipment first and then buy a backpack that will accommodate the gear. Well, if I followed this advice, I’d have a backpack like this:
And would still need more space.
But there is the opposite side of this HUGE pack issue and that’s going ULTRA ULTRA light! I’ve seen, and I’m sure you have too, those hikers who are carrying less than 10 lbs base weight. WHAT….10 pounds is what my underwear weighs…so how can that be. Guess it’s time to think about going Commando, so watch out ladies…don’t look my way! Or maybe those ultra lighters are skipping on the shelter! But I’ve read too many stories about the endless days of rain…that’s enough reason for me to pack a tent. I’ve even went with a larger/little heavier tent (2P) just to ensure my gear will fit during those torrential downpours.
So as I continue to prepare for my 2017 Thru Hike, I find myself making continual adjustments to my pack and gear list. I am a little conservative (views and hiking), so I think a little extra peace of mind will go a long way to completing the trail. I know a lot of thru hikers say the gear list they started with is NOT what the finished with. So as you prepare, think about what you’d end the hike with vs what you are going to start it with.
So…as you get ready for your Thru Hike, remember, what works for someone else may not work for you. It’s been said (a million times) “Hike Your Own Hike!” and this goes for equipment as well has hiking pace. This is YOUR hike…and best of luck getting that pack into a manageable size!
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I’ll tell you something, Larry. In the past 25 years, I have said “I am so glad I brought this!” about my emergency blanket maybe 30% of the times I’ve brought it. Is 1 in 3 good enough? I think so, because every time I’ve used it, it made a difference. I have the “Space All-Weather Blanket” that weighs about 12 ounces. I have used it as a ground sheet for my tent; to protect my pad in shelters; folded up in my hammock to keep the cold off the underside; as a quick shelter in a downpour; as a tarp so I could make a meal; as a blanket on wicked cold nights; and, on a couple of occasions, to keep someone who was hurt or sick warm. I know a lot of people wouldn’t carry it because of the weight, and would carry one of the single-use true emergency blankets instead. Those are great in a real emergency, but for day to day versatility, the larger one wins the prize.