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Walking

  1. Take a five to ten minute break every hour, eating and drinking during each break. When resting, lay down and elevate your feet above your heart. Take off your shoes and change your socks.
  2. When leaving a campsite or a rest stop, walk a few yards away from the site, then stop and look back for items that you may have left behind.
  3. Use alligator clips to hang wet socks from your pack as you hike. They will dry out so you can change into dry socks a couple of times during your hiking day. Attach these clips to a shower curtain clip and attach it to your pack. Now those alligator clips are always handy.
  4. Walk at a leisurely pace that you know you can keep up all day. Relax and stay in tune with nature as you walk. Remember you are doing this for the journey, not the destination.
  5. On ascents, lace your boots loosely around the ankles to allow plenty of movement. On downhills, avoid toe jams by seating heels in the backs of the boots and tying laces tightly around the ankles but loosely at the toes.
  6. Gaiters keep debris and rain out of your boots, but the commercial kind retail moisture. Try making your own by cutting a slit along the center and bottom of nylon socks from just behind the toe to just in front of the heal. Punch small holes along the sides of the socks and attach a line that runs across the sole of your boot at the instep. The socks will stretch enough to slide this line off your boot when removing the gaiters. Put the socks on and pull them up your leg a bit. Put your boots on, slide the socks down over them and attach the line at your instep.The front of the sock will fit over your boot's toe or you can cut off the front section. Photo
  7. Try Trekking Poles: they reduce the wear and tear on your knees and enable your upper body to participate in the hike.
  8. To save internal water breath through your nose instead of your mouth. Walk at a pace that allows you to not sweat profusely.
  9. If you are 100% certain of your next water supply, carry just enough water to get you there.
  10. Water weighs 2 lbs./quart and is much more important to your survival than food. So plan your water supply carefully.
  11. Filter all water on the trail unless it is coming directly out of a natural spring.
  12. A one liter nalgene container weighs up to 6 oz. before you add water. A one liter Platypus bladder weighs about 3/4 oz. which is why I carry my water in them. One liter soda bottles are also lightweight.
  13. Use a drinking tube clipped to a shoulder strap to drink from while hiking. You will be more inclined to drink enough during the day.
  14. Carry a mixture of baking powder and baby powder and apply it to appropriate places a couple of times a day. Some people experience chafing, in their arm pits as they swing their arms all day, and in the crotch. This will help prevent the problem. Another alternative is to do as Ray Jardine does, and wear Spandex shorts.
  15. To prevent leaving behind gear always leave a pocket open until all items taken from it are returned.
  16. Bugs: I don't like to use Deet (it dissolves plastic so what is it doing to my body). Try other things first; wearing light colored clothing, taking a head net, putting on long pants and shirt, selecting campsites that are high, dry, and breezy. On the other hand Deet does have a good safety record and millions of people die every year from mosquito carried diseases. Check out this link for definitive info. about Deet and other mosquito related news.
  17. Spray your clothing with Permethrin (available at REI and other stores). This stuff repels and kills ticks and mosquitoes. Follow the directions on the container for application and use.

Index

Etiquette

  1. Never sweep away debris at your tent site with your feet. Get down on all fours and pick up the pine cones etc.
  2. Digging trenches around your tent is out.
  3. Practice "leave no trace". If there is an established fire pit, use it. If there isn't one and you build a fire, be sure to remove all trace of it before you leave.
  4. Don't wash with soap, biodegradable or not, while standing in a stream or lake. Fill a pan with water and wash well away from the body of water.
  5. What to do with solid wastes? The recommendations keep changing. You definitely should bury it and the most recent recommendation that I have read is that toilet paper should be carried out. You can burn it in your next campfire. I use paper towel instead of toilet paper. Cut each towel in six equal parts. You can better estimate how many you will need and I think they are less messy.
  6. Make an ultra-light backpackers trowel for burying solid waste. Mine weighs .9 oz and doubles as a tent stake. Cut a 7" X 3/4" piece of aluminum channel stock. With a file, place knotches about an inch from one end and sharpen the other end to a dull rounded point. Photo
  7. You may burn waste paper but plastic must be carried out.

Taking Care of Your Feet

  1. Carry a small hard rubber ball and roll your bare tired feet over it at rest breaks.
  2. If you feet are dry and cracks begin appearing (as happens sometimes when wearing sandals for long periods), use a skin moisturizer several times a day. Some people use Bagbalm (bagbalm.com) or Utterly Smooth (uttercream.com) which, as you may have guessed, are products normally used on cow utters.
  3. Carry duct tape and apply it to a hot spot as soon as you feel it while hiking. The tape made of cloth works best. Athletic tape works also.
  4. Try different socks. For me, switching to Smartwool socks when wearing hiking boots made all the difference.
  5. Be creative when lacing your boots. With my last pair of boots, I found that if I didn't' lace the bottom two islets my toes had a little more needed room.
  6. If your going to have to hike for a while, the surest way to get relief may be to take a knife to your boots or trail shoes. Cut out the part that is causing the pain.
  7. When taking a rest break, take off your shoes and socks and let your feet air out. Also, rub your feet with alcohol and elevate them to reduce swelling.
  8. Colin Fletcher rubs his feet daily with alcohol to toughen them before going on a long hike. At the least this would dry them and discourage bacterial and fungal growth, which softens skin.
  9. The test results are in and rubbing the feet with deodorant has been shown to prevent blisters, apparently by shutting down the sweat glands in your feet. Do it daily for three or four days before the hike. Rub everywhere except the tops of your feet, which are more sensitive.
  10. Also at that rest break, if your socks are wet, change into a dry pair and hang the socks that you have removed from your feet on your pack to dry as you walk.
  11. If you usually get a blister in a certain place, apply duct tape, athletic tape, or Compeed to that spot before you start your hike.
  12. Wrap duct tape around your trekking poles so it is always readily available. Wrap it just below the handles.
  13. Sometimes Vaseline applied ahead of time, will prevent blisters.
  14. Make sure your boots fit. Try on boots in the afternoon as your feet swell as the day wears on.You should have 1/4-1/2 inch of room at the end of your toes. If in doubt opt for a larger size.
  15. Buying a larger size means a wider boot, not a longer boot. New Balance Trail Running Shoes come in all the widths up to EE.
  16. Compeed Skin Protector is a special cushion for preventing and/or healing blisters. There are other brands such as Band-Aid Blister Block. Look for a product featuring Compeed moisture seal technology. It is very easy to apply, and, because it breaths, it does not have to be removed for the several days that the blister is healing.
  17. If you have a painful blister, clean it and lance it near the bottom with a sterilized needle. Apply a little tincture of Benzoin which will help later dressings to adhere to your skin. Then either apply a compeed strip or if using moleskin, cut a hole in the piece of moleskin that is just larger than the blister. Place the moleskin on the blister to create a pressure free pocket for the blister. Next apply a small circle of Spenco 2nd Skin directly on the blister. Cover it with a second piece of moleskin and secure it in place with strips of medical tape or duct tape. I remove all this at night and recreate it in the morning.With Compeed this is not necessary.
  18. When making moleskin or duct-tape patches, round the corners to discourage peeling.

Index

KnotsFor Backpackers

These knots are useful for backpacking: Yes you could probably get by with just two or three knots, but you will be faster, more efficient, and feel the satisfaction that comes from a task performed well. For more knots see Knots, UK Scouting Resources, or check out Animated Knots.

I use two kinds of cord. Mason's twine is cheap and very lightweight. I use it only for clothes line as I have found that it tangles very easily. For tarp and tent tieouts, and for hanging food, I use Triptease Light Line from Kelty. It weighs about 1 oz per 50 feet which is about half the weight of the line you will find, for backpacking, in outdoor stores. Triptease is constructed of a fibrous Spectra core surrounded by a sheath of reflective Scotchlite. It has a wiry feel which is why it holds a knot so well and why it resists tangling. Because of the reflective surface it glows at night making it less likely that you will trip over it. One drawback - it is not cheap. Sealing the ends of Triptease involves a different procedure as the fibrous core doesn't seal well. Pull out about 1/2 inch of that core, twist it, and cut it off. Now grasp the sheath between your thunb nail and index finger nail several inches back from the end, apply pressure and draw your finger nails toward the end of the sheath. The core should no longer be protruding. Finaly seal the sheath in a flame and you should be all set.

Beause it is wiry, one needs to be careful when using Triptease for hanging food from trees. Avoid sawing motions with the rope as it drapes over tree branches.

  1. Overhand knot: the first knot most of us learn. The same knot you begin with when tying your shoes.
  2. Overhand on a bight: For attaching guy lines to a tarp. Pass the line through the tie-out or grommet bringing it back on itself to form a loop. This is called a bight. Now tie an overhand knot where the free end lies parallel to the trailing line (called the standing part).
  3. Square knot: tying bandages and packages.
  4. Figure 8: For temporary prevention of frayed ends on a cut line.
  5. Hitching tie: a slip knot..
  6. Miller's Knot Tying your food bag before hanging it from a tree or securing the tops of plastic food bags and ditty bags
  7. Double half-hitch and quick release version: Tying line to a post or tree.
  8. Sheetbend: For tying out the corners of a plastic tarp. Generally for tying two lines of unequal thickness such as cord and fabric.
  9. Double fishermen's knot: For tying two ropes together.
  10. Bowline: A rescue knot. For looping around a waist and pulling.
  11. Clove-hitch: For tying something in the middle of a line such as tent stakes. When you pull up the stakes and slide the knot off, it falls apart.
  12. Tautline hitch: Can be tightened without being retied. I use it to attach a line from a tripod of sticks to the cook pot thereby allowing me to raise or lower it with ease. Hikelite also has photos of this knot.
  13. Tarbuck. The tarbuck is a modified tautline hitch and is stronger and more stable than the tautline, but is a little harder to tie.

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