Opinion: Quick and General Guide | High Sierra Topix  

Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
User avatar

Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby joshuacourter » Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:10 pm

Hello All,

I decided a few months back to work on a quick and general guide to backpacking. I know there are dozens of books out there and some with so many details it may seem "over-the-top." However, my goal was to offer free quick advice to someone who wants to go backpacking for the first time. With this in mind I was wondering what you all think of it? What's good, where could it use improvements, etc. Do you have links to other free resources to suggest should a reader want to go more in depth? Again I want to stress the intent of this "guide" is not to be technical and overly detailed.

Generally this guide is what I tend to inform people who want to go backpacking with me and they have never been. I also stress to them that there are things you just have to learn while hiking (i.e. your pace, stamina, comfort level, etc.). Anyway, love to hear what you think. It is my first stab at it.

http://squashchronicles.wordpress.com/backpacking/

Thanks!



User avatar
joshuacourter
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:39 pm
Location: California
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby evilgenius32 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:14 pm

Nice job! Great little guide for getting started, but what about once you have all the gear? As you said, there are plenty of guides out there on how to get started, but I would be interested in the actual process of going out and using all the gear. I find very few resources out there that tell you what to do once you are actually out there. How to you pack all your gear in the morning without it? Where do you keep your pack, with bear canister inside it? Things like that are the knowledge that is hard to find without going with an expert and watching how they do everything.
User avatar
evilgenius32
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:29 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby joshuacourter » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:31 pm

evilgenius32 wrote:Nice job! Great little guide for getting started, but what about once you have all the gear? As you said, there are plenty of guides out there on how to get started, but I would be interested in the actual process of going out and using all the gear. I find very few resources out there that tell you what to do once you are actually out there. How to you pack all your gear in the morning without it? Where do you keep your pack, with bear canister inside it? Things like that are the knowledge that is hard to find without going with an expert and watching how they do everything.


Thanks for the comment. Didn't even think of that as if someone was to do this all by themselves for the first time. If I am understanding you correctly, are you saying having a general guide of a "typical day backpacking" would be good (i.e. mornings start off typically doing x,y,z)?
User avatar
joshuacourter
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:39 pm
Location: California
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby rlown » Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:33 pm

2 things..

No pointer from your site to this site. It would be nice.

Camp Suds ad. never. there is no need. a pointer to hand sanitizer would be better.

Also, i agree with EvilG that you need a "day in the life" section, because all you've shown is potential gear and costs. Everyone of this chapters have been hashed out here again and again (and again).

"over the top" is what we do here. :D and the devil is in the details.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5358
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby joshuacourter » Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:10 pm

@rlown

Thanks for your critiques. With the two comments, yours and EvilG, I will begin working on a section about what a typical day is like from waking up to going to sleep.

Look at the camp suds part, I agree with you and will make that correction here in the future.

Yes, a good resource to point to would be HST. I will make sure that is part of an "additional resources" section as well as inserted in a few spots should one want to get help from the group here.

Thanks again :D
User avatar
joshuacourter
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:39 pm
Location: California
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby evilgenius32 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:20 pm

rlown wrote:Also, i agree with EvilG that you need a "day in the life" section,

I can say that as a dayhiker looking to get into backpacking more I could use all the opinions out there, even yours. Everyone on this site has a different way of doing things and I'm interested in hearing and applying all the wisdom you all have acquired through trial and error.
User avatar
evilgenius32
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:29 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:14 pm

WE have some of that info on our site---including a day on the trail, how to pick a good campsite, etc.

Feel free to poke around to get some ideas. If you use them, let people know where you got them.

WE can use all the guides we can get if it will help more people enjoy the backcountry.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1292
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby joshuacourter » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:56 pm

@Evilgenius32
Looking forward to working on a day in the life section. Be happy to share what I do. It will take me a few days to write something up, but should have it done soon.

@balzaccom
I will definitely make sure I reference anything I use at HST. I will add a section about resources for people to tap into as well as a thank you portion near the beginning of my guide. There will be a shout out to HST and the users who have helped me with this project :)

UPDATE: Added a thank you and link back to HST for the help on the main page :)
User avatar
joshuacourter
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:39 pm
Location: California
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:57 pm

Joshua,

This is great. Your friends are lucky that you are prepping them so thoroughly.

I've written a few things myself (they are not online), and have taken many many newbies out, especially in the last 5 years or so. Based on my experience, here are some things I'd encourage you to consider:

A newbie in relatively OK shape (perhaps a regular hiker or runner) will probably *think* 10 miles sounds easily do-able. What I find in the field, is that they are surprised by the strains of wearing a full pack (even a light one, 25-ish pounds), by the altitude, and by the ruggedness of most trails. They will often get a much later start than anticipated - just a lot of logistics, checking equipment, etc. Once on the trail, they'll want to stop and take breaks often - to give themselves a mental break from all the new things, and also to look around, take pictures, and go "wow" a lot. So the group may be moving at an extraordinarily slow pace.

All of this translates, in my experience, to a max of 5 miles/day on your first trip. They might be still making their Mile 5 at sunset. Seriously. And most of my friends have been in excellent shape when they started backpacking. After their first days out, they are shocked, SHOCKED if I tell them that I normally do 10+ mile days.

I'd encourage them to plan for a destination that is a max of 5 miles in (and possibly just 3-4 miles), camp there for 2 nights so they have a layover day and can walk as short or as long a distance as they want, and then come out on the third day.

For "Choosing the right gear" - I did not find it realistic to ask people to buy most of their major gear in advance. That required a ton of research, which completely overwhelmed them, not to mention a ton of money buying something they wouldn't be sure would work for them. What has worked better for our groups is to borrow from people, or to rent most of the equipment from a place like REI. Only after they've done a trip or two or three, will they know what they really want to invest in. I see you have "borrow gear" as an option. Personally, I'd make it the default option, for a first trip.

Lightweight emphasis - glad to see this. What I've found, though, is that this is a topic people can't really absorb until they're out in the field, where they can contrast someone's heavy 2-person tent with someone else's light 2-person tent, and feel how heavy one feels versus the other, and see how the heavier tent takes up half the space in someone's pack. That is when the lightbulb moment happens. Prior to the trip, unless you offer specific weight thresholds - e.g. "Aim for a 1-person tent that weighs under 2 pounds, or a sleeping pad that weighs 12 ounces or less" - people will have *no* idea what you mean by "lightweight." Most medium-weight things in stores like REI are now marketed as "lightweight" and don't deserve that label.

Clothing - rain jackets and down/insulated jackets are items that I require people to bring on my trips if they are newbies. But the majority of people do not own a non-bulky rain jacket, nor a non-bulky down jacket. (A bulky down jacket can take up too much room in a backpack.) These can be extremely expensive items, so they are another thing I encourage people to borrow, rather than buy, for their first trips.

Food - You cover it well. One thing people always wanted me to do was to share a simple list of typical lunch and snack foods. Trail mix, dried fruit, nut butter in mini-packets, cheese, etc. They did not want to read my treatise about food. They just wanted the damn list. So give it to them, here (at least for lunch food). You could consider a short list for breakfast foods, too: Instant tea or coffee; instant oatmeal or cream of wheat or granola with powdered milk; a couple of other options.

Typical day - I try to talk people out of building campfires generally, so personally I'd leave that part out, but that is just my philosophy. I am amazed that you get out of camp in one hour. Even after all these years, I have trouble doing that (unless I skip a cooked breakfast). My experience with newbie groups is that I can count on a minimum of 2.5 hours from wakeup to walk-out. They are getting used to how to do things, so we can't pressure them too hard to do them efficiently, yet.

Benefits of starting early: This is something I *always* talk about, because starting nice and early can drastically improve the quality of the trip and can also improve its safety. In addition to the benefit you mentioned - that you sweat less by starting early - I talk about the other advantages. You reach camp earlier, which means you are more likely to get the prime pick of campsites, if there are other parties there. (Start late = end late = lousy campsite, at times.) If you are hiking to a lake or a nice streamside campsite, the swimming is spectacularly nice if you can get there at 3 pm, take your time swimming, have plenty of hours to dry off in the still-hot sun and wash your socks, etc. If you start your day late and swim/clean off at 6 pm, your swim is going to be rushed and cold. You may be hurried/harried attempting to set up camp before sunset. An early start on Day 1 often means better parking (no long walks to the overflow parking), and an early start on the final day often means getting home by sunset so that you can prepare properly for your work week. Most importantly of all, in mountain environments, dangerous thunderstorms predominantly occur in the afternoon hours. So 12-5 pm is not the time you want to be going over the highest pass of the day and exposing yourself to lightning risk. If you plan to cross over high passes or highly exposed areas that day, get an early start to get through most of the exposure during the morning hours.

They don't need to fill their water bottles to capacity. I've told people they need 3 liters of capacity, or so, and it's nice to fill up all 3 of those liters when one gets to camp, to have some left over for the morning, HOWEVER, you don't need to CARRY the full 3 liters unless you are certain to be going all day without water sources. And water weighs A LOT if you are hiking with it. I've had to clarify this a couple of times, after asking people to bring 3 liters of capacity, then having them wonder why their packs were so heavy...and then I discover that they have filled all 3 liters to the max (that's 7 pounds of water!) for a 4-mile hike in along a stream where more water is easily obtained if they run out. I usually default to filling 1.5 liters, again unless it is a really hot day or there is poor water access.

Some things, such as "Day in the life," are things I wish I'd thought of writing up for my newbies. I think I'll be directing people to your website! My newbie friends never have time for a *book* about how to backpack. They want something quick and dirty, and you've done an uncommonly great job with that here.

- Elizabeth
User avatar
oleander
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby joshuacourter » Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:39 pm

@oleander (Elizabeth)
Wow thanks so much for the lengthy insights, comments, and suggestions. You make some great points ! I will look over what I wrote to make some adjustments and additions.

I saw your PM and responded there too.

Oh I am honored that a Typical Day may be helpful to people you hike with. However, a big thank you should also go to the users of this forum for suggesting it earlier (see above). I didn't think of it at all initially, so what a great suggestion by the HST community :nod: . Today was my first stab at it so I will likely add to it over the next few days as things come back to mind.

Again thanks for taking the time to read and critique :D
User avatar
joshuacourter
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:39 pm
Location: California
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby rlown » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:58 pm

on that note. day one and day two are the most challenging to beginners. So maybe a roll-over into day two, when your hips hurt and you still have to go. Day two usually ends a beginners attempt at future backpacking, esp if they overloaded their pack.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5358
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Opinion: Quick and General Guide

Postby markskor » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:00 pm

Went through your blog...some good insights there...Kudos on that...
Respectfully though, not exactly the gear I would recommend to anyone just starting out, especially if they were serious about doing hiking long-term. Obviously my own gear choices have evolved differently than yours over time - BTW, my comments here are based solely on my own limited hiking experience.
Some of your named selections would work OK, if just beginning...but for the same money, you could do better. Looking at your personal carried-gear listed: While your named items might serve as a good jumping-off spot, something to ponder for unknowing first-timers, however, as one's backpacking knowledge grows, one would then be forced to buy anew (read more $$$) many of the first choices you have named. Specifically these items...
Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy 39 $299.99
Personally I find a bivy too confining, especially if tent bound long-term, and at $300, believe there are more palatial and less-expensive options.
GoLite Ultra 20F (Long) 21 $225.00
A good bag but... for another $100 (on sale?), I would opt for something WM and be warmer at altitude... Easier to resell too if you don't like the sport.
Therm-a-rest NeoAir (Reg) 14 $149.99
Not my preference...Personally, a short Pro-lite+ is lighter and cheaper?
Snow Peak Ultralite Stove 1.9 $59.95
I do more than boil water (cook fish and cook/simmer), even at that, a pocket rocket is much cheaper...but a remote canister stove would be my choice...yes, heavier but it gives one more options. Yours would work fine too but...
REI Ti Ware Nonstick Titanium Pot - 1.3 Liter 6 $59.50
If just boiling water, why the expensive nonstick titanium? My $10, 1.7 liter, 20-year-old, aluminum pot weighs about the same and no worries...lots cheaper too.
Light My Fire Spork 0.2 $1.39
Here the long-handled Ti spork works better, doesn't snap as easily, and you can reach to the bottom of the boil bag.
The Extractor for Snake, Bees, Bites 3.5 $14.99
For me, not something ever needed...not allergic to bees...snakes are rarely seen. YMMV.
Sea to Summit Pocket Shower 5.5 $24.95
A lot of weight for something I would never use...
Nalgene 32 oz Everday Bottle x2 70 $19.90 Includes water
Too heavy...a plastic 1 liter water bottle (or two) from the market also would work just as well and save 1/2 pound.
Sea To Summit DryLite Towels (XS) 1.3 $9.95
Towels?
Campsuds Soap with Citronella 5 $3.75
No soap in the backcountry...ever..
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter 3 $59.95
A Sawyer drip filter works better - same price. (BTW, I have not filtered water Sierra the last 15 years but HYOH.)
MSR Dromedary 4.0 Liter 6.9 $32.95
2 Nalgenes and a 4 liter reservoir? No comment.

BTW, Where is the waterproof shell? Fishing gear? Fleece layer? Compass? Wool cap?

Just my 2¢
Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2048
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Next

Return to The Campfire



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 6 guests