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Good advice

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Good advice

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:57 pm

As I'm planning this summer's trip and thinking about gear and such, I can't help but think of the good advice or gear recommendations I've gotten over the years. Little things I never thought of as a novice are now SOP.

What little gems of advice or gear recommendations have you been told that you can share? I'm not asking for state secrets or anything, rather things that would help a novice or less-experienced hiker better enjoy their experience.

I'll start us of with a simple one I heard from an REI employee. When I was looking for a new tarp/ground cover for use with my bivy sack, he recommended I use one of those foil-like emergency blanket. It's not the most durable thing, but more than enough for the short trips I take these days. It's really light and it packs down to nothing. I've been using the same one for three seasons.

( Apologies if this topic has been brought up before; I did a few forum searches and couldn't find anything.)
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.



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Re: Good advice

Postby Hetchy » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:28 pm

Great Topic Dead Meat! (Actually "meat of the Dead" literally..I took 3 years of Spanish.. I hope I got that right!)

Anyhow, a plastic garbage compactor bag inside the backpack.
Simply stuffing your sleeping bag and clothes into a plastic garbage bag inside you pack does more to keep them dry than all the seam sealing, pack covers, and fancy water tight stuff sacks combined IMHO.
This was the greatest low-tech piece of advice I got from a fellow hiker.

The second greatest was to ditch my sleeping bag stuff sack. Ditto the tent stuff sack. It turned out that the loose articles, when stuffed in the pack, conformed to the space better than when they were tightly stuffed. Also a slightly wet down bag becomes a slightly soaked sown bag after being compressed in a stuff sack. The same down bag does not get as soaked when simply shoved into the pack.
A fellow hiker also provided me this great free piece of advice- free of charge. :D

Your Mileage may Vary. :p
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Re: Good advice

Postby maverick » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:09 pm

Look for pieces of equipment that serves 2 functions, like a pancho/tarp
which takes care of rain gear, and tent, which in turn reduces weight.
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Re: Good advice

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:39 pm

We love our little "chairs." They are small sections of 1/2 inch closed cell foam, about 8 inches by 16 inches. They tuck into webbing on the outside of our packs, and we used them every time we sit on a rock, tree, or other hard service. They also serve as a windbreak for the stove, the bottom layer of my pillow, and a kneepad any time we have to kneel.

Can't beat them for price or variety of uses!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Good advice

Postby quentinc » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:43 pm

Hetchy wrote:The second greatest was to ditch my sleeping bag stuff sack. Ditto the tent stuff sack.


Ditto! I think that stuff sacks were invented as an implement of the Spanish Inquisition. The one thing about backpacking that could reduce me to tears was trying to put anything that came out of a stuff sack back into it. Toothpaste back into a tube would be easier. I also cut off the stuff sacks that are sadistically sewn into the pockets of down jackets, etc. The one stuff sack I'm stuck with is for the tent stakes, but that one is easy enough to manage.
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Re: Good advice

Postby rlown » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:58 pm

Hetchy wrote:The second greatest was to ditch my sleeping bag stuff sack. Ditto the tent stuff sack.


Depends on where you pack your bag. Mine is outside my pack, so stuff sack is mandatory. As always depends on your perspective and what you set out to do. I agree with bringing several compactor bags and 1 gallon ziplocks. never know.
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Re: Good advice

Postby dave54 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:32 pm

My tips are more philosophical than practical.

Measure your hike in smiles rather than miles. Distance is irrelevant.

Don't be a slave to an itinerary. If you change your mind enroute and decide to stay an extra day at a spot -- go for it. More trips have ruined by focusing on the final destination rather than the journey.

Enjoy the micro-views as well as the scenic vistas. The solitary flower clinging to the rock face is just as worthy of our admiration as the blossom filled meadow. The lone squirrel enjoying a pine cone is just as awe inspiring as a herd of elk. The little things in life are often the best.

Serendipity hiking means passing the big name Parks and Wilderness and seeking the unheralded corners of the woods. Old outdated maps often have old no-longer-used trails and roads that have fallen into hard to follow traces. A bit harder to hike and follow the route, but sometimes well worth the effort.

Life is too short to be an eco-Taliban. Nothing is more of an outdoors turn off than a preachy do-gooder lecturing on how to be as LNT as he. Hike your own hike, and let others do the same. Hike to enjoy yourself, not prove something to someone else.
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Re: Good advice

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:27 am

If you find something that works for you, don't listen to dumb advice.

I am very happy that I found hammocks, alcohol stoves, and the NeoAir before the hordes of junk advice/attitudes I got from people who INSIST that "those don't work! you'll be cold! you can't cook on a cat food can!"

Like, sure I can. Fried an egg over an alcohol stove. Slept in a hammock for years. NeoAir still hasn't frozen me or popped. Gee whiz, none of those people who were so discouraging have gone as much as me... something must be working. Coz I don't go unless I am warm, well fed and comfortable.
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Re: Good advice

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:59 pm

Some great advice—thanks all.

(And yes, Hetchy, it is Dead Meat. It's meant to be a poor translation of the term as a joke. :unibrow: )
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.
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Re: Good advice

Postby Flux » Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:16 pm

I don't know if this is necessarily good advice or not or if it's appropriate for everyone but here goes:

Because I am a flatlander I have trouble sleeping at altitude. Usually it's a half sleep and i am awakened very easily. I find myself out of the tent at first light and usually a bit groggy from sleeping crappy.

Well I had this toothache and the doc gave me some vicodin and I noticed it made me nice and sleepy so I took a couple on my last hike. I took one every night an hour before bed and I zonked right out. I slept 5 hours solid every night before waking up and then just kind of went in and out for a couple more until first light. I felt way better in the morning and had alot more energy during the day. I was even keeping decent pace with my buddies who live at altitude.

Again, I don't condone this for everyone because these types of medications have different effects on different folks. Some people probably sleep fine up high, but I don't.

Ear plugs help too, especially on those windy nights.

I always tape my heels, ALWAYS.


I agree with Dave that hiking is about getting to a place or places and spending time there. I like a loose itinerary and spending time in places just kicking around. I fish, so i can spend all day wandering around a string of lakes and taking it all in.

I once wanted to hike the Muir, but I think I would prefer to spend time seeking those places off the beaten trail. Seeing places rarely visited and a bit more wild.
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Re: Good advice

Postby gary c. » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:38 pm

Flux, I had the same problem sleeping at altitude and someone suggested Excedrine PM. Worked like a charm and I've been carrying them ever since for almost nightly use. I always carry a few vicodin or tylonal 3's but save them for medical use.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: Good advice

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:50 pm

More comfortable sleeping gear did the trick for me. The one and only time I ever slept 10 hours without waking, I was between 8,000 - 9,000 feet elevation, in my hammock. Don't even sleep that well at home.

I dislike using medication for a variety of reasons - rebound headache and stomach irritation among them. Some nights I find that I am awake because someone else is snoring #-o or there is some other ambient noise that is interfering (ongoing rain is soothing, rain that stops and starts a lot is not). Earplugs or an ipod helps with that.
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