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#148438 - 03/26/11 10:58 PM New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions)
Yosemite Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 6
Hello everybody,

I reside in the central part of California and I have a strong desire to experience backpacking and the outdoor wilderness. My short term goal for the upcoming months is to get some basic experience in overnight wilderness trips specifically in areas of cooking and food planning.

I have done A good amount of day hikes and I do have some gear but food was always easy cause all I had to do was make it at home and take it with me for my day trips, water too. For trips involving several days I know it will be much more involved than that and that's where it concerns me.

I am not so concerned about GEAR as I am about FOOD. I'm actually rather intimidated by the subject as it appears to me that this will be quite a daunting task with all the planning of meals, proper foods, appropriate cooking equipment, worrying about running out of food and not having enough etc etc...

Since I am so inept at cooking, I'm planning to do only some short over-nighters in the hills of Livermore so that I can develop my outdoor cooking skills and also to find out what I'm really up against here because, eventually I want to spend days at a time in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada's but I first need to understand the food requirements and what it takes to backpack. I understand there are a large variety of trail food to choose from, dehydrated foods such as fruit, noodles, milk, eggs, vegetables, meat etc etc... There's so much to choose from. How do I choose the best foods for me and how will I plan this and pack it for trips that last days at a time? How will I know how much to bring so I don't run out?

And gear: There's also a wide variety of stoves and cookware to choose from. Right now all I have is a small Svea stove, it has a very small little cup to cook on and I can't imagine cooking a full meal with this thing (it probably holds up to half a cup, probably less). I am willing to buy something better (bigger?). Will I need to? What kind of cookware should I be looking for?

And what about water? What do you do if there is no source of water on the trail? If there is, would you have to boil it or filter it? Bring your own water?




Edited by Yosemite (03/26/11 11:00 PM)

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#148442 - 03/27/11 12:06 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Yosemite


Since I am so inept at cooking, I'm planning to do only some short over-nighters in the hills of Livermore so that I can develop my outdoor cooking skills and also to find out what I'm really up against here because, eventually I want to spend days at a time in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada's but I first need to understand the food requirements and what it takes to backpack. I understand there are a large variety of trail food to choose from, dehydrated foods such as fruit, noodles, milk, eggs, vegetables, meat etc etc... There's so much to choose from. How do I choose the best foods for me and how will I plan this and pack it for trips that last days at a time? How will I know how much to bring so I don't run out?

And gear: There's also a wide variety of stoves and cookware to choose from. Right now all I have is a small Svea stove, it has a very small little cup to cook on and I can't imagine cooking a full meal with this thing (it probably holds up to half a cup, probably less). I am willing to buy something better (bigger?). Will I need to? What kind of cookware should I be looking for?

And what about water? What do you do if there is no source of water on the trail? If there is, would you have to boil it or filter it? Bring your own water?



Firstly, welcome to the forum.

Secondly, I suggest checking out the articles on lightweight backpacking on the home page of this site (backpacking.net) and the many tips and tricks therein. Look at the gear lists and whatnot.

Third - keep dayhiking and find a hiking group in your area. I operate a hiking group in Fresno, a friend of mine operates on in Modesto area, both are currently accessible on Meetup.com - that may change soon, but no matter, it's where they are now. Also look up Backcountry Buddies - a bay area group - and the Monterey hiking group. Also look at Sierra Club outings. Groups provide you with networks of other hikers from which to sponge up info on these matters. They will also provide you with a margin of safety - you will hopefully leave detailed trip plans and when you plan to return with someone at home, before you go, but until you are good with navigation (another concern as you go longer and farther into the backcountry) and develop the knowhow to stay safe and whole, having people with you is the safest way to go.

Navigation with a map and compass, I mean. GPS is not a substitute. It's a convenience you should be prepared to do without.

Fourth - Go overnight somewhere. You don't even have to buy gear yet - you can rent a bag, pack, stove, etc from REI or similar outfitter. In fact, I suggest renting first and buying later particularly in re: sleeping bags and tents. Get measured for a pack and have a look at the freeze dried meals they sell for big bucks - then go get food you are used to eating and use that instead. It doesn't take much. My typical overnight trip fare isn't anything special - cheese, crackers, packets of instant cereal, VIA coffee (or cocoa packets, or tea bags, depends on my mood), PB&J, maybe some couscous primavera I threw together from the bulk aisle - couscous needs hot water and Just Veggies will go well with it, or broth and mushrooms, or whatever you feel like throwing in it. Heck, I've taken Nile spices cup a soups and repackaged them in snack size baggies - they work great. very compact. You can just pack a pile of sandwiches. It's not a week - take what you like. That's how you choose. Backpacking is when I let the "junk food junkie" out to play! You're working hard, eat what you like, within reason - you need carbs, protein and fats to replenish and repair your body and to keep yourself warm all night in absence of the space heaters and insulated walls at home.

Nutrition is more of a worry if you are doing the entire PCT - you should be doing more short backpacks well before you take on something of that scope and will therefore have better insight into your personal needs by then.

Take notes on what works. Take notes on features you think would work better for you, or on problems you have. Look at the gear list - if you didn't use something and it doesn't fall into the 10 essentials category, toss it.

Then you start to plan longer trips. You keep learning from there.

Some light reading:
http://www.verber.com/mark/outdoors/gear/index.html
http://trailcooking.com
http://onepanwonders.com
http://thru-hiker.com/articles/pack_light_eat_right.php

Stoves... My favorite stoves cost me hardly anything and weigh hardly anything. I made a cat stove and windscreen, and use denatured alcohol - it will boil 2-3 cups of water in 4-5 minutes. I use a .9 liter REI titanium (unlined) pot, more often than not, but have also used a cheap two dollar grease pot from walmart/kmart. When you are only boiling water (entirely possible) it's all you really need. I also have a couple of canister stoves, a simple 3 oz top of canister model will boil water efficiently and quickly and is quite adequate to 3 season use. For a thorough primer on all things backpacking stove, http://zenstoves.net will be of much help to you. I know folks who haul around a white gas stove in summer despite the fact that it's total overkill - they like their stove. That's a factor too.

As for the Sierra Nevada... you need a bear canister from the approved list for Yosemite. You can rent the very heavy Garcia each time you go, or pay forty bucks and get one of the Bare Boxer Contenders - which is perfect for a weekend backpacker. I have one of those, a Bear Vault Solo, and will rent one of the large Bearikades for any trip 7-? days long. They are also required for various areas around Sequoia-Kings Canyon and in other areas, such as wilderness areas in Tahoe and the Lost Coast trail. Practicing how to pack one of these will also help you - it will have an impact on the foods you take to these areas as well.

Water is only a problem in the Sierra when there is too much of it and you can't cross the stream safely! Deserts are another issue. Generally the pre-trip research you do should involve calling the entity having jurisdiction over the wilderness area in question to inquire about trail conditions, water sources, etc. well before you go. I always filter, boiling takes too much fuel and time. Especially in Yosemite and in areas where there are lots of stock animals and people - it's not just giardia, there's e coli and other "critters" - but filters don't take the place of research, since there are things filters do not remove from the water. Chemical contaminants from old mines, for example.

Now that I've overwhelmed you, feel free to keep asking questions. wink
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#148446 - 03/27/11 03:15 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: lori]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Nutrition is more of a worry if you are doing the entire PCT ..."

In fact, not even then, for most thru-hikers it's more about just getting some protein every day and enough calories, then make up for on-trail omissions by various difficult-to-carry foods at restaurants and grocery stores in towns.

I.e., just keeping it simple is a great way to start. If you choose reasonably light & dry foods without too much packaging, you might shoot for something on the order of a pound and a half of food per person per day, assuming you're not a particularly large person or one that has a high metabolism and/or starts out with zero body fat.

In fact, for short trips you might keep it even simpler by going no-cook entirely, or just make a simple alcohol stove for essentially nothing before spending money on another type of stove (and you might well be happy with the alcohol stove). My favorite "easy to make and effective" stove is the Andrew Skurka Fancy Feast stove.

The main things I eat on backpacking trips are trail bars, jerky, dried fruit, gorp, some sort of bread item with peanut butter, and some sort of "just add hot water" meal for dinner. It doesn't have to be complicated, and the "just add hot water" meal can be a variety of things that are easy to find in your local grocery store (cheaper and easier to get than the dehydrated meals sold in sporting goods stores).

Ultimately you have to decide what sort of food you want (or are willing) to eat outdoors, running the gamut from dead simple all the way to backcountry gormet. I personally like the KISS principle here, but as with so many aspects of backpacking, a person has to figure out their own individual priorities and style.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#148447 - 03/27/11 03:20 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: lori]
Yosemite Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 6
Wonderful. Thank you Lori very much for your reply.

So if your standard filter won't rid your drinking water of all pollutants what then do you do? Use a chemical of some sort?

Typically how much planning and $$$ goes into meals? $ for food per day.

How much would you estimate it cost to get completely outfitted to go backpacking with decent, quality gear? I assume this varies with season winter being more expensive.



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#148451 - 03/27/11 09:31 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
We have a section about equipment on our website. I think we started with an outfit that cost about $400 total for both of us, and tht included bags, packs and a tent.

I want to reiterate a couple of things that Lori said. Find a local hiking group and join them. you will meet great people, and you will learn how they do things---a great start for deciding how you want to do things.

And as for food---you are overthinking it. OVernight backpacking trips are simple. Take ready to eat food---the weight isn't going to be an issus--and just eat what you like. On longer hikes you'll have to start thinking about this, and using more dehydrated and freeze-dried foods. But not now. You don't even know it you'll like sleeping in a tent miles from other people!



Edited by balzaccom (03/27/11 09:31 AM)
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#148455 - 03/27/11 11:00 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Yosemite
Wonderful. Thank you Lori very much for your reply.

So if your standard filter won't rid your drinking water of all pollutants what then do you do? Use a chemical of some sort?

Typically how much planning and $$$ goes into meals? $ for food per day.

How much would you estimate it cost to get completely outfitted to go backpacking with decent, quality gear? I assume this varies with season winter being more expensive.


You select your water sources. It's not so hard as you think. The old mines and logging camps are often part of the history of an area, which rangers often know, and rangers will be able to tell you about water quality - there's usually nothing really to worry about in the way of chemicals in the Sierra. The only way I'm aware of to remove chemicals is through distillation, which you aren't going to be able to do without a unit so heavy and expensive it's not worth carrying.

You worry overmuch - food is easy. Take things you already eat, typically things that don't crush easily. Those Orowheat thin bread rounds may as well have been made for hikers. Tortillas or round flatbread from Trader Joe's too - fit in bear cans nicely. Boil in bag meals from Trader Joe's too, if you like 'em.

Worry about food for long trips, which you would do after you get more experience on short ones. I spend less on backpacking food than I do on food at home, actually, thanks to the bulk section at Winco, with the dehydrated hummus, trail mixes, candies, bars, etc. Shelf stable meats are easy to come by, and cheese keeps longer than you think, especially if you buy the Tilla-moos or cheese sticks.

As for gear, it costs as much or as little as you want it to. Most of the expense will be in the sleeping bag and shelter and pack. Some people do dollar store and clearance sale items only, some go high dollar, some find a compromise in between. That's why I gave you Mark Verber's website above - he has gear lists for cheapskates, gear lists for ultralighters, gear lists for winter....

A little advice here - don't think about winter at all. Yet. Focus on late spring and summer, and early fall before the snow starts to pile on. It's not that it's just a different gear list - it's a different skill set, and the margin for error becomes much thinner. When you start to go, make sure it's with people who've done winter backpacking before.

Another place to read - backpackgeartest.org. Reviews of many current gear items done by people who've used them for at least five nights - unlike the reviews you find on products on the REI website.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#148457 - 03/27/11 11:54 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: lori]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

If it's food you're worried about, you're making it way harder on yourself than you need to..

Try a few prepared dehydrated meals and go to trailcooking.com, make them *at home* and find out what you like to eat and you can make easily.

_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#148458 - 03/27/11 12:12 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
For food, I'd suggest keeping it simple to start. And as far as cooking gear, I'd use the Svea (assuming that you've used it and are comfortable with it - if not, get an MSR Pocket Rocket.) With the food plan I'm going to suggest, you'll only need one pot - a quart will be plenty; a quart and a half will work OK - and it's up to you whether to bring a cup. Bring one if you like a hot beverage; don't bring one if you're happy drinking water only. There are a lot of good quart pots out there: my own favorite is the MSR Titan Kettle; the Pocket Rocket nests inside. You'll also need a spoon (long handled, like an iced tea spoon, if you're cooking in a bag; any old metal or durable plastic spoon otherwise.)

OK, with gear selected, here's a very simple plan you can follow for now.

How do you eat at home? Many people eat a cold breakfast and lunch, and cook supper. That's the same framework I'm suggesting for backpacking. (What follows is what I used before a borderline diabetes condition forced me to be a bit more careful about my sugar intake.)

Cold breakfast: Oatmeal to Go bars, energy bars (Clif is a favorite), those cereal bowl packs you can find at the store, bagels with peanut butter, Pop Tarts and similar things all seem to work well for a cold breakfast. (If you like a hot breakfast, you can't beat a couple packets of Quaker Instant Oatmeal, and can add dried fruit bits or nuts to it.)

Lunch: Granola bars, energy bars, beef jerky, nuts, dried fruit, bagels with peanut butter, and those little "tuna salad lunch kits" they sell in the canned-tuna section will allow you to put together a meal that works for you. Mine was often a stick of beef jerky, a Clif bar, and a handful of trail mix. (If you want a hot lunch, Cup-of-Soup mix or ramen noodles are simple to add to this basic cold lunch.)

Supper: There are tons of freeze-dried choices out there, and they're not too bad tasting. Depending on how heavy you eat, you will choose between single-serving and two-person servings. Most can be prepared in the bag they come in, by pouring boiling water into it, and letting it stand for about 10 minutes. (You may prefer to dump the food into the pot, simply because cooking in the bag is a bit messy, and leaves you with sloppy trash.)

Trail snacks and desserts can be anything you like: candy bars (Paydays were my favorite - sweet, nutty, and wouldn't melt), trail mix, granola or energy bars, raisins, cookies (vanilla wafers and Oreos worked OK), Pop Tarts, or just about anything you can think up.

After you've gotten your other backpacking techniques down pat, you'll have enough experience at cooking and eating to start experimenting with different foods and real cooking - if you find that appeals to you. After 30+ years, I never graduated beyond the simple cooking I've described above - except that this year I'm experimenting with hot breakfast and lunch, using some Enertia brand breakfast and lunch freeze-dried meals. I just want see if I like it better. No big preference so far; it's starting to look like I'll end up back at the cold breakfast and lunch, just because it's less hassle and lets me get back to hiking.

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#148459 - 03/27/11 12:21 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: phat]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Worrying about food is a change from the usual ongoing newbie fears about animals and wild mountain men, at least.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#148463 - 03/27/11 01:00 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: lori]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
If you are unsure of your cooking and camping abilities, nothing wrong with setting up the tent in your backyard and pretending you are on a weekend trip. If you choose a rainly weekend, it will really give you a good idea of how your gear works and what it is like to spend a night in the rain. If gear fails, you simply go inside! You could also do this car-camping. Once comfortable with the simple mechanics of camping, then venture out on a short (5 mile or less) overnight. Start out on a well marked trail, but get the map and pretend the trail signs are not there. Have the map out ALL the time, look at it, figure out where you are. All that said, the easiest is to find a mentor who will take you under thier wing. Here is where the organized hiking groups are the best.

Have you ever fasted? Simply going without food for a day and realizing you are not going to die is a great confidence builder.

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#148484 - 03/27/11 05:32 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: wandering_daisy]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
I am one of those walmart Greese can users. Lori mentioned that in her post. The wall mart greese pot weighs less than a ounce more than most ti pots costing ten times the money!I use some freeze dried meals and some home dehydrated meals. You live in a good area for backpacking. If you find you are going to do it often I would bye a decent dehydrator! I have one and just dehydrating bellpepper, onions etc add allot of flavor to freeze dried meals. Start out slow and see what you like and what works. Your options are many, Happy Trails

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#148485 - 03/27/11 05:49 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Kent W]
Trower Offline
member

Registered: 03/23/11
Posts: 15
Loc: Northern Maine
Originally Posted By Kent W
I am one of those walmart Greese can users. Lori mentioned that in her post. The wall mart greese pot weighs less than a ounce more than most ti pots costing ten times the money!I use some freeze dried meals and some home dehydrated meals. You live in a good area for backpacking. If you find you are going to do it often I would bye a decent dehydrator! I have one and just dehydrating bellpepper, onions etc add allot of flavor to freeze dried meals. Start out slow and see what you like and what works. Your options are many, Happy Trails


Wal-mart Grease can? Whats it look like? How much does it hold? Interested in this:)

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#148489 - 03/27/11 06:59 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Trower]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Trower


Wal-mart Grease can? Whats it look like? How much does it hold? Interested in this:)


There are a number of sizes in the store. But this is the basic idea.
http://www.amazon.com/Imusa-Aluminum-Grease-Dipsenser-Quart/dp/B0018EA048

The one I found had neither lid nor strainer but I paid two bucks for it. Foil as a lid works when you're just boiling water.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#148490 - 03/27/11 07:59 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: lori]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
KMart also has a grease pot, found in the cooking accessories with rolling pins, etc.

If I said anything, I would only be replicating what Lori and several others have already said here, so I won't. Welcome to the forum!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#148498 - 03/27/11 09:59 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
Trower Offline
member

Registered: 03/23/11
Posts: 15
Loc: Northern Maine
Cool thanks for the info and the welcome:) Great forum for sure grin

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#148760 - 04/01/11 10:18 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: wandering_daisy]
Yosemite Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 6
Thank you everyone for your replies your efforts have not fallen on deaf ears. I am a bit more confident now about food the food issue it seems it will not be as complicated as I originally feared.

I am getting acquainted with my Svea 123 it is a great little stove I haven't had too much problems with it so far. The only thing that I'm concerned about the Svea is that in order to heat up (pressurize?) the fuel inside you have to pour a little gas in the dip in the middle and then light it on fire, essentially lighting the whole thing on fire. Is this safe? Is there a possibility that the stove could explode? Is there a better way to do this? That's my only concern, other than that I love this stove it has an estimated burn time of 70 minutes on one fill.

I am now looking into a decent tent and backpack. All I want to get is a decent, somewhat roomy single person tent. I've looked around on the internet somewhat and I'm appalled by the expense of some of these tents, $450 seems rather steep to me for a one man tent. I'm looking in the price range around $200 for both backpack and tent, though I am willing to spend a little more.

As always, input is greatly appreciated.


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#148762 - 04/01/11 10:33 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
thecook Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 541
Loc: Minnesota
For the Svea, take along a small squeeze bottle of denatured alcohol to prime the stove. It flares less than white gas and the bottle will make getting just a little in the priming area easier. As I remember, there is a pressure release on the tank filler lid to prevent explosions.

For tents, check out the Eureka Spitfire. Goes as low as $80 at places like Campmor. Just remember to seam seal it.
_________________________
If I wouldn't eat it at home, why would I want to eat it on the trail?

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#148764 - 04/01/11 11:54 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Remember that this stove design is older than you are;it is even older than I am. While the ignition procedure is not totally foolproof (that is one reason you should not use it in a tent) it has worked for a very long time. Alcohol is a better priming fluid, but if you only have white gas, it works - just be very careful.

An accessory pressure pump has been used in the past to avoid liquid priming. i am not sure if they are still available. The pump is handy but hardly critical.

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#148796 - 04/03/11 01:37 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: oldranger]
Yosemite Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 6
Thanks again for the suggestions!

I liked the using the alcohol as the primer a little bit better than the white gas as it isnt as volatile but I am settling with fire paste because I can control it A LOT better as it doesn't spill all over the stove like it does when you use a liquid to prime it.

I checked out a wide variety of tents and backpacks and settled with a REI Camp Dome 2 Tent (http://www.rei.com/product/731378. for a backpack, well, my budget is limited so for now I'm settling with a MossyOak RedHead Spike Camp Frame Pack (yea I do realize this is a hunting backpack) because for one it was on sale for a huge discount and because it's adjustable + has 7,130 cubic inches of space, plenty for a beginner like me that doesn't know how to pack a bag efficiently yet.

I got fitted and tried on a few packs at REI and found the Kelty Coyote 80 works for me very well. I'm going to get this one and return the RedHead eventually.

Question:

What do you guys do to protect your knees when you hike downhill? I've been using techniques such as zig-zagging and hiking backwards to reduce the strain but I wonder if theres a better way?

How effective are hiking poles?
How about knee wraps or a brace?




Edited by Yosemite (04/03/11 01:45 AM)

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#148798 - 04/03/11 02:22 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"What do you guys do to protect your knees when you hike downhill? I've been using techniques such as zig-zagging and hiking backwards to reduce the strain but I wonder if theres a better way?
How effective are hiking poles?
How about knee wraps or a brace?"


Trekking poles are the way to protect knees on the way downhill, or at least they are for me and many others. I don't recommend using any sort of knee brace unless you have a specific problem that requires you to wear one (!).
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#148802 - 04/03/11 10:17 AM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
The single best thing you can do for your knees is to pack light. That tent you bought weighs a lot--more than five pounds, trail weight-and you don't need that much space. Trade it in for something that weighs under three pounds and you will save you knees a ton of work. (well, at least two pounds of work!) with every step.

As for walking backwards downhill....please don't. I don't want to find you on the trail and have to help carry you home.

All of this ties together. Pack light, and the rest all follows.

_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#148826 - 04/03/11 08:01 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Exercises that strengthen your thigh and calf muscles will strengthen the muscles that support your knees. If you haven't been doing these, start slowly and work up gradually. The idea is to strengthen the muscles rather than aggravate anything in that extremely complex joint! I tore nearly all the ligaments in my left knee 23 years ago, requiring extensive surgery, and the daily exercises (when I'm home) are what keep it going. I do wear a lightweight neoprene brace on that knee for long downhills, but don't unless your physician recommends it.

Trekking poles will help. Here is a good site on how to use them. So will lightening your load--see the articles listed in the left-hand column on the home page of this site.

But please don't walk backwards, and stay on the trail. Please!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#148830 - 04/03/11 08:24 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: Yosemite]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Trekking poles do a lot of things, including taking some of the strain off your joints. Please don't walk backwards unless you have eyes in the back of your head...

Don't use braces that you haven't been prescribed to use. If you have the wrong kind of apparatus for what's really going on you can do more harm than good. Talk to a doctor if you think there's something going on in the knee. If it's just general soreness after hiking, exercise to strengthen the legs are a safer bet. I hike, a lot, and the transient knee pains I had more often a few years ago have diminished with the increase in exercise, and, I figured out that the seat in my car was positioned too far forward, so I was overworking my knees on the long drives to trailheads or to the coast.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#148833 - 04/03/11 08:44 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: lori]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
IMHO, totally unsubstantiated by any kind of systematic research, bicycling works well with hiking and running to develop a relatively strong knee. When I have strained a knee while running or hiking, I would increase my relative cycling time and it seemed to help the knee come around.

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#148837 - 04/03/11 09:23 PM Re: New & upcoming backpacker/adventurer (questions) [Re: oldranger]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Cycling is what I was told to do after my knee surgery. It's a major part of physical therapy for knees. Strengthens the muscles without putting a lot of pressure on the joint. However, the exercises are just as important. Do both!


Edited by OregonMouse (04/03/11 09:24 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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