Backpacking hints on footwear: boots are categorized for lightweight hiking, mid-weight hiking, backpacking, extended backpacking or mountaineering.
The primary differences are in the ankle and arch support and the durability of the boot for the terrain to be covered. Backpackers should buy mid-weight hiking or backpacking boots, but may be able to get by with lightweight boots.
The type of materials should be consistent with the use. Lighter weight synthetic materials such as Nylon, or split grain leather are more appropriate for on-trail, shorter trips or warmer weather. Full grain leather or heavy synthetics are more appropriate to carry heavier loads for longer periods and/or in very wet conditions. If you will be primarily on trails then you should buy the lighter synthetic or split grain leather synthetic type boots that may be waterproofed. The construction of the boots should be considered:
Ankle height may be low, medium or high top style. Hikers should buy medium or high top boots that may be waterproofed. Durability is less a factor for kids as they will outgrow them before they wear them out. Soles should be somewhat stiff and have lugs rather than being flat or smooth.
High Top Boots
Always wear appropriate socks when trying on boots. Wear one pair of very lightweight synthetic material and one pair of heavier wool or blended, non-cotton socks. Try on boots late in the day or in the evening when feet may be somewhat swollen. Backpackers should have at least two pair of liner and two pair of hiking socks for every outing.
The boots should be firm, especially around the heal, but not bind or pinch, and should have room to wiggle toes. The toes should not touch or jam into the front of the boot on a downhill slope. You should be able to slide one full finger between your heel and the inside back of the boot with the boots unlaced and toes pushed forward while wearing the appropriate socks. Do not buy boots that are too big. A finger behind the heal is the correct size for comfort and to minimize injury or blisters to the toes and heals.
Walk around the store or at home with some added weight such as a day pack to see if they are comfortable. Be sure they are broken in before wearing on a lengthy hike.
A Lengthy Hike!
The standard lacing technique works well for many people but not everybody. Correct lacing is taut, but not too tight, from the toe up to the top of the boot or shoe. There should be no loose lacing and the lacing should contact the boot evenly and firmly.
Below are a few tried-and-true techniques. Use this as a starting point and experiment with your own.
Loop: If laces are slipping on a hook, lace "down" a hook instead of "up" creating a loop.
D-ring lock: By bringing the lace around through the eyelet from the top, pressure is applied on the lace.
Overhand knot: The most common means of locking off tension below the knot.
Surgeon's knot: this is a very secure means of locking off any chosen tension below the knot.
Marathon loop: Improves heel lock for low-cut shoes.
Be sure to clean and waterproof the boots with Nixwax when new and after every major hike.
Always wear two pair of socks on the trail. Light / thin liners and wool or hikers blend or the made for Backpacking socks that are a blend and wick the moisture away from your feet.
Double twist your laces half way up from the bottom at the in-step.
If hot spots develop, stop and put on some Duct tape. Use Moleskin for blisters.
Use Moleskin For Blisters!
Bring lightweight shoes (sneakers) to wear in camp.
Use these backpacking hints to prevent blisters; rest your feet/body; protect the environment.
Protect The Environment
Backpacking hints on sleeping bag: Stuff a plastic trash bag into your sack and stuff the sleeping bag into the trash bag. Twist the trash bag closed before closing the sack. This will keep your bag dry in case of rain or if it gets wet. Stuff the bag starting with the foot and ending with the opening. This forces the air out as you stuff it in.
Open and fluff your pad and bag as soon as you set up your tent. This lets in air and dries out any moisture to keep you warmer at night.
Do not sleep in clothes you hiked in. Change into clean clothes before crawling into your bag. This will keep you warmer and your bag clean. Also, have clean socks, cap and mittens next to your bag and ready to put on if you get cold.
If you have a long bag and a short body, stuff the bottom of your bag with your clean clothes to take up the space. This will keep you warmer.
You can stuff your extra clothes into your stuff sack and use it as a pillow.
When you get home, air out your bag and store it in a king size pillow case bag. Do not store it in its sack.
Clean the area under the tent by picking up and moving little stones, twigs etc before setting up your tent. It will make it more comfortable to sleep and will protect the environment after you leave.
Store all the little tent stuff sacks for pegs, poles etc in the tent sack. Keep it inside your tent or backpack. Don't leave anything lying around.
Your tent is always fully zipped closed except when you are crawling into or out of it. Always zip it completely open or completely closed. Never zip it half way when crawling in or out unless you want insects and other visitors like snakes in your tent.
Tent Is Always Fully Zipped Closed!
Never put any food in your tent. I repeat, NEVER put ANY food in your tent!
Let your tent dry out as much as possible before rolling it up and putting it away. Remember how you unrolled it and roll it up the same way. Use the tent poles and sack as a roll-up guide.
Let Your Tent Dry Out
There are two types of modern backpacks:
External Frame Backpack
Internal Frame Backpack
If new to backpacking, an external frame pack is recommended as it is easier to pack and adjust, plus it helps the wearer to walk in a more upright position. Some desirable features are: adjustable torso length, integrated daypack, hydration pack sleeve, extension collar, and water bottle pocket.
Backpack With Hydration Sleeve
This is not the complete list of backpacking hints but should be enough to get you started and help you to have a safe and more comfortable backpacking trip.
Have fun and stay on the trail!
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