Hello fellow campers and welcome back to another installment of Hiker’s Wisdom! Last time we focused on what new hikers can do to prepare for the trail by wearing the proper attire and how to pack a first-aid kit for emergencies, but this time we thought we’d zero-in on the best way to select a backpack and the proper communication equipment for hiking. Gear is important, but so is how you carry it all and having a solid means of communication in an emergency is just good sense.
How to Pack your Back
There are literally hundreds of backpack brands and models available on the market, but choosing the right one tends to come down to three basic elements: size, capacity and load distribution. Size refers to the actual length of the torso (waist to the top of the shoulders), but NOT to an individual’s height. It might seem overkill to measure your own torso length ahead of time, but since size directly affects pressure points on your back, your body will thank you after a few hours on the trail. From a capacity perspective, professional hiking backpacks are measured in liters and should not take into account any compartments that are not capable of being entirely sealed with zippers. For short day trips or overnights, backpacks of between 30 to 65 liters are acceptable whereas week-long camping trips can be anywhere from 70 to 100 liters. If you’re not comfortable judging by looks, read the tags; hiking backpack capacities are always listed as one of the first items in backpack identification. Last but certainly not least, take a look at how easily and convenient it is to load your pack and adjust the weight across your entire body and posture. Backpacks get their true comfort from distributing the weight of your gear across your hips, minimizing the strain on your shoulders and arms.
Find a Partner in Crime
Preparation and studying can only get you so far, which means the best possible source of information on all things hiking will be a close friend or relative that has seen a few trails. Knowledge gained in the field supersedes anything learned from books or survival classes, and having a friendly and reliable source nearby not only makes the hike more fun but keeps your encyclopedia on hiking with you at all times. For extra fun gather a group of between four and seven people, as group hikes allow you to distribute gear more easily amongst many people, have more members to find help in an emergency and (most importantly) make great memories that will last a lifetime.
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