Firstly I apologize for all the unnecessary imspirational pics. I'll try to redact this later on and bring it down to just text or whatever is more fitting.
So, I didn't find a primer on how to take your pack and carry it as far as the road goes, and then continue on where there is no road. Maybe my search -fu is weak but anyway. I consider this to be bushcraft 101. If you can't get anywhere without blisters, what good are you? I've dug up some old pictures from the fells. I try to go twice a year, once in the summer and once in the winter. Not primarily to keep my skills up but more because I just plain miss it. Hope they aren't too shoddy, and I've redacted some faces here and there.
Dump your experiences on foot care, boot selection and how to get the best mileage on a hike here so's we can compile it. Links to feet care posts, hiking gear posts etc are all wanted. OK, so thats where we're going! Yes, those are wool socks drying on the ruck between breaks.Why hike?
So, why hike? Well my simple answer is why not? Getting good distance on foot with a heavy pack isn't a skill you can perfect online, you can however learn from the mistakes of others. I've done enough of them in my lifetime to serve this whole forum a 3 course meal á person.Enjoying a three course meal with a view.Boots:
The boots are tremendously important and because of that you will get varying and often contradictory advice on what to get. There is a science unto its own to see what makes a quality boot. However there is no sure way of finding the perfect one for you. It depends on terrain, load and foot.
My advice would be to start out with a generic surplus boot [unissued surplus] and mold it to your foot. Molding a boot is standard military fare but I have no idea how common this is in a civilian setting. You fill them w. warm water, let them sit for a while and then put them on, lace them up tight and go outside and walk. Allot.
When you've worn those out you will know what to look for in a boot and you will know not to listen to internetgurus when it's something as important as your feet. My feet are warm, comfortable and dry inside my cheap leather surplus boots, in turn nested insite gaiters.Socks:
Without good socks life will be much harder on you. A trick we use here is to use double socks all the time. Even in summer. We have thinner wool outer socks for summer, and thicker for winter. This will no doubt be a little sweatier, but it will save you chafing and blistering and also provide you with warm socks when you need it, such as when walking through snow or if it gets cold at camp.
There are two main ways of drying your socks between breaks.
- On your ruck, if it's not raining.
- Inside your rain gear. Either in the jacket, on the chest or arm pits, hanging downwards, or in the pants. Handing down the thighs. Tape:
Taping your feet is another of those things you should give a go. Sure, you could have native american super hard feet that can run on gravel without even noticing it, but chances are you don't. That's where tape comes into play.
- One piece of tape from the Achilles tendon down and over the ball of your foot.
- One piece across your front sole just running beneath your toes and up on the sides. The most important part IMO is balancing the load, which allows you to move naturally. No matter how expensive a pack is, if you pack it like an ass, you'll carry it like one.Rucksack:
This is another one of those areas. Like the big Kifaru holabaloo in another thread. You know what works for you, even if you don't know, you will know what doesn't work after a few 100 miles of rough terrain. You could go bush hippie Cody and tie it all in a large tablecloth Hudson bay style.
IMO it's more how you pack and if you have a pack that's meant to haul the kind of load you bring.Clothes:
Unless it's the category below this one, it's fairly simple. For exposure you need layering, for walking you need air flow and comfort. Groin airflow is pretty much one of the most overlooked aspects of ruck humping pants. Infantry fire is what we call the chafing of the groin. Brought down too many proud men! [baby powder, vaseline and so forth. There is a shitload of ways to guard against it but airflow is IMO king among them. I envy the kilt-users in this aspect.]
Gaiters are a real luxury. Not a necessity but really, they make a heap of difference on morale. I'm not talking about the open bottom kind, I'm talking about the full boot wader kind that allows you to tromp through water. Like pack down wellingtons.Going for the summit!Winter:
Is another ballgame. And to be frank, you shouldn't attempt it unless you know this shit inside out. So I'll leave it for the other great threads on the subject, Murph's, CypherNamedRaven's etc. Breaks:
Breaks are key to gaining ground. I've lost count how many times I've gone past units who didn't take regular breaks. A normal march holds the 50/10 pattern.
50 minutes of march and then 10 minutes of active rest. So, what do I mean by active rest?
- Get your warm coat/shirt on if it's a bit windy or chilly.
- Get your boots & socks off.
- Feet check.
-- Massage your feet
-- Check for soreness, red or white areas.
-- Check tape, change if needed.
- Put feet up on backpack while lying/sitting down. This reduces swelling and gives you more wind on ze footsies.
- Eat yer crackers or trailmix.
- Drink a bit of water.
- If you have exceedingly heavy loads you should massage each others shoulders. (No, it's not "gay", it's the difference between professional and amateur.)
Think you can manage that in 10 minutes? If you do, it'll let you pack on considerably more miles in one day than you would otherwise trying to forge on hour after hour.Ya gotta drink. (Yes, that is a cotton shirt. U mad? )Hydration:
How much water you can absorb varies something along the lines of who are you, what are you doing and where are you? Many folk nowadays use hydration bladders but I still think a canteen gives you two distinct hiking advtantages.
1. You get an excuse to pause briefly and enjoy the view.
2. You have something that you can easily share or use for first aid purposes is it comes down to that. Just not practical to pass the hose around.
But that's just me and we already talked about listening to internet people when it comes to these things.Some places the sun just never sets during the summer. The downside is it never rises during the winter either.Sun:
Sun or warmth, it can give you sunburn, dehydration problems, heat stroke and a load of other malevolent issues. Anyone who has been deployed in the desert can tell you that you almost want more clothing than less. But for gods sakes don't wear a t-shirt under your shirt.
A cap for the eyes is good for both sun and rain.The common mosquito is the most common wildlife encounter here.Wildlife:
Don't go out and about without knowing what inhabits the area you are going to visit. Whether it be bears, mosquitos or rednecks like me, you need to understand the possible threats and how to prevent and mitigate them. Washing your clothes in deet is awesome, but it does clog the fibers and make them a bit warmer. Something to think about.
Then again, getting a few hundred mosquito bites isn't all that bad if you compare it to a few hundred bear bites. So you might chose to go my route instead.
Interestingly after a few weeks you seem to develop a seasonal immunity. Even a 4 season tent can fail if set it up in the wrong place.Terrain & orienteering:
Choosing the right path can make or break your hike. Don't cry if you take the wrong route, just buck up, back track or skirt it and get back on track. Everyone does it at least once, and probably more times. I prefer a map and a compass over a GPS since I've found that riding around in my APC with a GPS made me less adept at normal orienteering after a while.Gaiters. Hell yes!
Sometimes it's unavoidable that you'll have to cross difficult terrain and other times it comes down to outright dangerous terrain or plain going back home. Those are decisions only you and your friends can make, my only tip is if you reach an impasse, paper, rock, scissors can be a good tie breaker.
Crossing water is one of those things. I'll try and find a video on it and link because it's really not something you explain w. words. I have a pic but it refuses to scale properly. Will look into this later on.
More detailed posts on feet & tape, muscle soreness, trail mix recipies, boot waxes etc will follow. Please chime in with the ZS wisdom!