As I get older, one life priority seems to resonate louder than any other: Injury Prevention. I spent my twenties poo-pooing stretching, had no clue what a rest day was, and generally pushed myself to the literal breaking point. But when training hard, I’m not always able to heal up completely during my rest day. I’ve found that the vast majority of lingering pain stems from muscle and tendon overuse issues. In the last two years I have become a fanatic in the church of self-massage and stretching. But all that body work can tire out fingers—and there are some places fingers can't reach. So on those days where I can hear my body pleading with me for extra TLC, I turn to the following five gadgets.
Blisters are a common injury that affects both novice and experienced hikers in surprising numbers. These insidious and painful little bastards form—and become an issue—when hikers ignore the warning signs. So that’s what we’re looking at today: How to detect the warning signs of, and avoid creating blisters when hiking or backpacking.
Have you heard hikers recite the phrase “Cotton Kills” with a sort of blind devotion reminiscent of a fully brainwashed member from a religious cult? Have you ever wondered what the heck they were talking about? In this post, we’ll look into the thinking behind that blanket statement, examine the why cotton is a fabric that is dangerous to use in the backcountry. We'll also look at what fabrics are most ideal to wear and why.
Sure, the gram weenies and ultralight all stars rocking their Pa’lante packs, with their sub-five-pound base weights will scoff at the title of this post. They’ll boast how they don’t need a scoop for their water, because they use a leaf. Or they’ve perfected the art of sweeping their dirty water bladder through a half-inch deep stream 1000 times to get half a liter of water. But, for the rest of us, who value a bit of practicality—albeit at the expense of an entire ounce—here’s an easy, and cheap way to make a durable water scoop that nests with your water bottle like a Russian doll. It takes up virtually no space and adds a mere ounce to your ultralight hydration system. Let’s get started!
If the thought of shopping for a hiking pant makes you roll your eyes, then we have something in common. For me, finding the perfect hiking pant is an exercise in frustration. Several years ago, I stumbled on the Ferrosi Pant by Outdoor Research, and I’ve been in love with it since. In this review, I’ll dig into the features of this pant… you already know I think it’s great, so keep reading if you want to know why.
Let’s face it, if you want to spend any serious amount of time in the backcountry, at some point you will have to poop in the woods. I remember hating when nature called on me—while I was in nature. I found it inconvenient and uncomfortable to squat. But mostly I suffered from an intense fear that after relieving myself I would look down only to realize I had pooped right into the crotch of my pants. I’m not kidding, for a long time this was a huge fear. I’d been backpacking for seven years and still hated pooping in the woods. However, after only a couple weeks on the Pacific Crest Trail, I very quickly became a pro-level backcountry defecator. Many of the techniques I figured out I wish I had learned about years earlier, so hopefully this article helps you.
Are you planning for an upcoming thru hike? If you're anything like I me, you're probably spending a lot of time determining how to handle hydration while thru hiking the PCT—especially the first 700 miles in Southern California. You may be wondering: What is the best way to filter water on the PCT? Or maybe you're pushing your limits and wondering if you need to treat your water at all. If you’re reading this post, I assume you've opted for the more conservative approach and are intending to treat your water in the backcountry. In this post I examine four different categories of water treatment and provide a recommendation on what I think the best water treatment system is for thru hiking the PCT.
In your quest for an ever-lighter pack, have you pondered tossing your water purification system to the curb to cut the last few ounces from your base weight? Are you enamored by super-hikers who brag about their six-pound packs? Or by hikers who casually gulp from groundwater without breaking stride? Maybe you can be one of those ultralight gods as well. Just take the plunge. So, with the promise of an ever lighter and more comfortable pack, you ask: Do I need to filter my water on the PCT?
While on vacation in Marrakech, we took a day trip to Amizmiz to hike in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. We visited a local souk, hiked five miles toward the mountains, had mint tea and a proper feast with a Berber family and then hiked back to town.
Just off the coast of Spain, Mallorca and its jagged limestone mountains offer some truly beautiful and challenging hiking. We signed on for a guided hike of Torrent de Pareis, a gorge that runs through the Tramuntana mountains to the sea. One way, this intermediate-level day hike was a beautiful way to spend a day in Mallorca.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a life changing experience. It's the highest point in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Reaching the top and returning safely requires being fit, determined, having the right equipment, and knowing how to use it. Here is my recommended packing list for Kilimanjaro.
The baselayer. This unassuming layer sits next to your skin, transporting sweat away from you and into itself—so that it can evaporate slowly without leaving you chilled. It's the first thing we put on. (And often leave on the entire trip!) Baselayers can help stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Choosing the best baselayer is super-critical to your comfort and enjoyment of more intense climates outdoors. The market is full of brands. Full of styles. Full of Fabrics. How does one choose? It's a bit overwhelming. This post chips away at this problem by examining the two main baselayer fabric categories to head to head to determine which fabric is makes the best baselayer: Is it wool or polyester?
YES. I'm sorry, but this is a stupid question. Of course you should train for a multi-month physically demanding hike. The more physically fit you are, the easier the trail will feel. And the happier you will be. This article discusses some of the common concerns and excuses when it comes to training for your thru hike.
In Februrary 2016, Heidi and I set off for Tanzania. Our goal: Climb Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, and tallest free-standing mountain in the world. This was a super-adventure for us. Read our story, peruse the photos, or learn from the resources gathered in this section.
The air was crisp and still. Ice crystals formed over our packs and outer layers. The digital thermometer died in the cold and I was too miserable to pull my analog one out. It felt like it was in the single digits—which is actually quite good weather for this section of the climb. Our team of climbers, the guides and two summit porters slowly made their way through the night toward the summit another four-thousand feet above.
With Heidi feeling slightly better and myself well on the way to recovery, but still nervous about altitude issues, we took our sweet time on the short hike to basecamp. With the summit attempt beginning only seven hours later, my mind was filled with doubts.
Overnight, my altitude-related issues disappeared but Heidi came down with severe gastro-intestinal distress — conveniently on the day we had to hike the steepest section, and she's afraid of heights. What could go wrong?
We plotted a course straight at the summit cone and slowly crossed the massive lava flow known as Shira Plateau. And then everything started going wrong. The group pushed on to Moire Hut, and completed a slack-pack acclimatization hike. Then I was rocked with altitude-related nausea and headaches.
Getting to Tanzania is an adventure in itself. We flew Qatar Airways and had a multi hour layover in Doha. If you are keen on the logistics behind the trip, check this out. If you prefer to learn about the actual hike, just skip ahead to Day 1. Otherwise, read more...