How to Do Ultra-Light Backpacking

Nowadays, there are many different ways of traveling. There are the common flights by air, or if you’re on a budget, or the distance isn’t too far, one can opt for a bus or a car ride. For this article however, we’ll be focusing on another mode of travel, namely backpacking. As the name says, backpacking is traveling with a backpack while walking over long distances.

The good points of this is that you can definitely save money, you can take more time to just enjoy the nature of that particular country, there’s no rush whatsoever, and you get a good workout at the same time. When sleeping, one can either bring a tent, or opt to sleep at a budget hotel (If applicable). We’ll cover just a few points of how to in backpacking and hopefully this will give you a good idea of what it’s like.

Firstly, when packing your bag, don’t pack too much, and yet, don’t pack too little. Since you will be walking long distances it’s best to keep it lighter, or else you will get tired easily. There is a method of backpacking called “ultra light backpacking”, and although I won’t go into detail here, it essentially means to reduce all unnecessary weight in the pack in order to cover more distances.

Secondly, it’s always advisable to know your map and surrounding areas before you begin on the trip/ hike. Get a recent map from a good bookstore and check out Google maps as well for the most accuracy. Last thing you want to do is get lost, especially if you’re hiking in the wilderness.

Lastly, there’s a popular rule that backpackers have, and is an important “how to” in backpacking. “Leave no trace behind”, means that everywhere you go while backpacking, always try and leave the natural environment as it was so that others after you can enjoy it to the fullest as well.

In conclusion, backpacking is actually an enjoyable and relaxing activity. It’s a good way to break off from the hustle and bustle of the rat race, and just relax and enjoy nature as it should be enjoyed. I hoped this article on the “how to” of backpacking has given you an insight, albeit being quite small into the world of backpacking and that in a way it will motivate you to go on your own backpacking trip!



Source by Misako Ayuni

Choosing a Hiking Backpack

Backpacks are usually available in three categories: External Frame; Internal Frame; and Daypacks.

External Frame – typically constructed using a ladder-like frame of aluminum or plastic with a separate pack bag attached usually utilizing clevis pins and split rings. The hip belt and shoulder straps are attached to the frames. Volume capacity of this backpack ranges from 3,000-4,500 cubic inches (49-73 L). The external frame backpack allows space for attaching large items (eg sleeping bags) to the outside of the frame making the carrying capacity more than the volume of the backpack. Features to look for in a backpack include: good lumbar padding, a conical hip belt, recalled shoulders with good padding, and a chest compression strap.

Pro:
* Weight carrying capacity
* More air space so back does not sweat as heavily
* Weight driven higher in backpack allowing more upright post
* More outside pack capacity allowing for versatility in packing
* Generally less expensive when compared to internal frame backpack

Con:
* Raises center of gravity making hiker top heavy and less stable
* Does not hug body and risks wobbling from side to side
* Can cause difficulties with balance when skiing or snowshoeing
* Must be boxed up to prevent damage when traveling by plane

Internal Frame – uses materials such as aluminum stays, carbon fiber, plastic sheets, and foam to create a rigid spine to which the hip belt and shoulder straps are attached. The backpack extends the full height of the pack with compartmental partitions. Pack volume ranges from 3,000-7,500 cubic inches (49-122 L). Internal frame backpacks should have the same comfort features as the external frame described above. Also look for a fabric layer sewn around the top opening of the pack bag which allows the top pocket to be lifted up providing space for additional storage of gear and side compress straps that squeeze the pack down when carrying a smaller load.

Pro:
* Carries lots of weight
* Conforms to body for better balance
* More comfortable to wear for longer periods

Con:
* Back perspiration more common
* More fixed carrying capacity
* Bending over more from lower center of gravity
* May be more expensive

Daypacks – no frame, uses a foam or plastic sheet for back panel. To carry heavier weights check for the following features:

* Well-padded shoulder straps
* Foam hip belt as opposed to just a webbing strap
* Chest compression strap
* Volume capacity up to 3,000 cubic inches (49 L)



Source by Donna R. Welsh

Snowshoes for Winter Hiking

Hiking is a lot of fun, but most hikers hang up their hiking shoes when the bad weather starts, and wait for spring. But if you just cant wait to get back out and hiking again, there is an alternative, and that alternative is snowshoes.

Snowshoes enable you to go hiking or walking even when there are multiple feet of snow on the ground, and make it so you can enjoy the outdoors all year round. Of course hiking is not the only thing you can do with a pair of snowshoes. Many people go on multi-day backpacking trips with them, and there are even people that go running with snowshoes on.

These different uses for snowshoes, however, means that there are different kinds, and you should figure out what you want to do with your snowshoes before you buy, if you do not already have a pair of them available to you.

Backpacking and hiking snowshoes will be fairly similar, with the exception that when you are backpacking you will be carrying a heavy backpack, and will need extra weight capacity to accomodate your backpack. Snowshoes work on the principle of weight displacement, so if you weigh more, that is if you have a heavy backpack on, the snowshoes need to be bigger, to displace the larger amount of weight. Many snowshoes have optional tails available, which can be attached to increase their surface area. If you want a pair of snowshoes for backpacking, a model with optional tails would be a good choice.

Running snowshoes, however, are very different from the hiking and backpacking kind. They are lightweight, first and foremost, to make your feet as light as possible. They are also quite small small, with a minimal amount of cleats. Finally, running snowshoes also typically have a spring-loaded suspension system of some kind, so that they do not flop around too much and get in the way of your running gait.

Finally, you should know that most snowshoes are gender specific. There are a few snowshoes out there that are unisex, but many that you will find are mean for one gender or the other. Beside aesthetics, the main difference between male and female snowshoes is the size. Women tend to weigh less, and need less weight displaced, and so women's snowshoes do not need to be as big as men's. So smaller men are perfectly able to wear women's snowshoes, just as long as they do not mind the more feminine paint job of most women's snowshoes.



Source by Robbie Ludlum

High-Quality Inexpensive Hiking Boots – How To Choose And Where To Find Them

This article describes where to look, what to look for, and how to choose day-hiking boots. Knowing where to look and what to look for, you can be sure to get the high-quality hiking boots you need without paying extra for features you don’t need.

Day-hiking boots range anywhere from $40.00 to $150.00. The high end of that range is beginning to cross into backpacking boots, but anything below that range is either an exceptionally good deal or an imitation hiking boot that will disappoint you badly.

So, let’s talk about the kinds of places to shop for hiking boots, features to look for, pitfalls to avoid, and techniques to make sure you have the right fit.

Where to Shop for Hiking Boots

If you have never done any serious hiking, you will want to buy your first serious hiking boots in a hands-on experience. I’m being honest here (habit of mine). Yes, it is in my interest to persuade you to buy your hiking boots through my Web site, but I won’t do that if it is not appropriate for you. Even aside from ethical considerations, it would be bad business for me to create a lot of dissatisfied customers telling their friends about their bad experience. No, I’m just being honest. I don’t want to take your money and leave you unhappy. Buy your first pair of hiking boots at a brick-and-mortar store where you can handle the boots and try them for proper fit. Then, when you have enough experience to know what you want in your second pair of hiking boots (or third, or …), you can take advantage of the lower prices available on the Web.

When shopping for hiking boots, look for an outdoor equipment store rather than a shoe store. The sales clerks in a general shoe store are not likely to know the difference between real hiking boots and fashion imitations of hiking boots. You might pay more money at an outdoor equipment store, but you will realize the savings out on the trail.

Once you’re in the store, ask about some of the things you read in this article. If the sales clerk doesn’t know what a scree collar is or why soft outer soles are better than hard, look for another sales clerk, or another store.

If you are ready to buy your hiking boots on the Web, you can take advantage of the best of both worlds. You can buy from a high-volume store that has the best prices, but first get your advice, recommendations, and reviews from affiliated Web sites that specialize in hiking equipment.

Wherever you choose to buy your hiking boots, make sure there is a reliable, knowledgeable person in the loop somewhere. If the sales clerk or Web site seems too eager about making the sale and not interested enough in discussing and comparing features, you should look somewhere else before you make a final decision.

Especially when you are shopping the Web sites, you may need to pay attention to brands. Certain brands have a well-deserved reputation for good quality, and you should not ignore that. On the other hand, some brands have an overblown reputation that often has more to do with fashion than with genuine quality. The only way to know the difference, and to find the quality you need without paying for fashion that you don’t care about, is to talk to those who know the difference and to read reviews from people who have actually used the hiking boots in the field.

Features to Look For in Day-Hiking Boots

Here is what you need to look for:

* Deep tread in a soft sole for traction.

* Appropriate height (just above the ankle).

* Soft, wide, thick scree collar (the padding around the top that keeps pebbles out without chafing your Achilles tendon).

* Fiberglass shank. Steel is okay, but fiberglass is better in day-hiking boots because it’s lighter. Full-length is preferred, but shorter shanks may be acceptable if you are planning more moderate hiking.

* Tongue attached at least up to the top of the foot, or higher if you plan on crossing streams frequently.

* Crampon attachments (good, but not essential, unless you do a lot of hiking in icy conditions).

* Hooks for the laces above the top of the foot.

* Choose eyelets, D-rings, or webbing for the lower lace attachment points as a matter of personal taste. My experience does not indicate any one to be better than the others for day-hiking boots.

* Good insulation and padding all around, firm on the bottom, with a tough but smooth lining.

* Double stitching on all visible seams.

* More leather and less fabric is better. Split leather is fine (and you’ll almost never find full-grain leather in a day-hiking boot), but not full suede.

* Fewer seams is better.

Most of these features are self-evident, but here are a few techniques for evaluating specific features.

* Tread should be at least two fifths of the total thickness of the sole.

* Measure the softness of the tread surface by pressing your thumbnail into it. You should be able to make a visible indentation that springs out in a second or so.

* Measure the stiffness of the shank by holding the heel in one hand and the toe in the other, and twisting the sole. You should not be able to twist it at all.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Hiking Boots

The biggest problem you’re likely to find in shopping for day-hiking boots is cheaply-made “imitation” hiking boots. They look like hiking boots, but they’re not built to stand up to trail conditions. They will not last long, and they will not give you the traction and water resistance you need.

You can tell an “imitation” hiking boot from the real thing by these characteristics:

* Mild tread, less than about two-fifths the thickness of the sole.

* Hard tread surface that you can barely indent with your fingernail.

* Non-attached tongue.

* Non-rigid sole that you can twist by hand.

* No scree collar. There may be patches of leather or a different color of fabric that look like a scree collar, but if it doesn’t have thick, soft padding around the top, it’s not a real hiking boot. It won’t keep the pebbles out, and it might chafe or constrict your Achilles tendon.

Fitting your Hiking Boots

You must fit your hiking boots with any orthopedic inserts, off-the-shelf insoles, and the hiking socks you intend to wear with them. A good rule of thumb is to start with one full size larger than your regular street shoes.

With all the inserts and insoles in place and your hiking socks on, but with no laces in the boot, put the boot on and push your foot all the way forward until your toes touch the front. You should have just enough room behind the heel to slide your finger all the way in.

Next, lace the boot up snugly and walk around. The boots will be stiff and uncomfortable because they’re not broken in, but they should not allow your foot to slide or rub.

Stand on a steep slope with your toes pointing down. (Use the fitting horse where you’re supposed to put your foot to lace the shoe while sitting. Go ahead and stand on it.) You should be able to wiggle your toes, and they should not touch the front of the boots.

If you bought the boots via the Web, do this fit-test as soon as you get them. Even if you think you know your size, boots from different manufacturers might fit differently. Check the size and fit immediately, and return them for a replacement if they don’t fit right.

Conclusion

If you are looking for your first pair of serious hiking boots, you must do your shopping in an outdoor equipment store where you can handle the boots and talk to knowledgeable sales staff. Only if you have some experience with day-hiking boots, take advantage of the bargains available on the Web.

Check for the features that identify a quality hiking boot, and avoid “fake” hiking boots.

Bring all the inserts and socks you will wear with your hiking boots, and check for a firm but comfortable fit with no rubbing or sliding.

Look for quality, and expect to pay for it, but don’t pay more than you have to for features that don’t contribute to the durability and comfort of your hiking boots.



Source by Chuck Bonner

Types Of Hiking Boots And Hiking Shoes

There are many types of hiking boots and hiking shoes, and the choice can be bewildering. While there are some kinds of hiking footwear that will not fit neatly into any category, I will discuss hiking footwear in terms of four categories, based on the general kind of hiking for which they work best.

1. Hiking shoes and sandals. For short walks in the outdoors, for knocking around in camp, and for easy interludes in an otherwise serious hike.

2. Day-hiking boots. For moderate hiking, such as day hikes or short hikes in rough country.

3. Backpacking boots. For multi-day backpacking trips.

4. Mountaineering boots. For the most serious hiking, mountain climbing, and ice climbing.

As you move up the scale of categories, you also move up in price. That means you have to give more serious thought and do more careful shopping the higher up the scale you look. But before you begin your serious shopping, get a handle on what types of hiking boots are available so you will be sure you are looking for the right kind.

Don’t be scared off by the prices, and don’t make the mistake of assuming that you don’t need special-purpose hiking boots. You probably don’t need $200 mountaineering boots, but that doesn’t mean you should try a twelve-mile day hike in your tennis shoes, either. In this article, you will learn how to decide which general type of hiking boots are right for what you want to do. Then you’ll be prepared to look deeper into exactly what you need.

Hiking Shoes and Sandals

Hiking shoes can be multi-purpose footwear. If you are new to hiking, and planning only short hikes on well-maintained trails, you might already have suitable footwear. Cross trainers or any reasonably sturdy sneaker may be suitable for light hiking.

Shoes expressly designed for trail running and light hiking typically rise a little higher than conventional sneakers, and they usually have a “scree collar” (a collar of padding around the ankle to keep pebbles out). They are usually not waterproof, though they may be somewhat “water resistant,” and the tread is not very aggressive.

Hiking shoes are suitable for short hikes on reasonably dry, reasonably smooth trails where you will not be carrying much weight. If you will be crossing streams, climbing steep slopes, walking on snow and ice, or carrying more than about twenty pounds of gear, you should probably look into day-hiking boots or backpacking boots.

Hiking sandals are a special class of hiking footwear. When you consider the four main purposes of hiking shoes – warmth, protection, traction, and keeping dry – sandals might seem like a joke. But think again.

Obviously, you’re not hiking in winter in hiking sandals, so keeping your feet warm is just not a consideration that hiking sandals address. Sandals do protect the soles of your feet from rough surfaces and sharp objects, but they can’t protect the sides of your feet from rocks and brush. They also provide good traction.

But what about keeping your feet dry? Don’t laugh! No, sandals will not keep the water out as you wade across a stream, but neither will they keep the water in when you step out of the stream. Many hikers carry sandals in their backpacks and switch to them whenever they cross a stream that they know is going to overtop their hiking boots.

If all you are going to do is short hikes on relatively clear, level trails in warm weather, sandals are worth at least a little consideration. More importantly, if you want a pair of hiking shoes to switch out in the middle of a long, serious hike, hiking sandals may well be worth the space they take up in your backpack.

Day-Hiking Boots

Day-hiking boots are purpose-designed for hiking. If you are planning to do any moderate hiking, such as all-day hikes or short hikes on rugged trails, you will need to give some serious thought to your footwear.

Day-hiking boots typically rise just above the ankle, and they always have a padded “scree collar.” They usually have a fairly stiff fiberglass shank to reinforce the sole and arch supports. The tongue is partially attached, sometimes fully attached, to provide waterproofing.

Day-hiking boots nearly always have hooks for the laces on the upper part of the boot. Some have eyelets all the way to the top, but these are hard to keep properly tightened.

Beware of imitations! The fashion industry has caught on to the style of hiking boots, and you will find many shoes that look like hiking boots, but are better suited to hanging out at Starbucks than to hiking the backwoods. Look closely, and you can tell the real hiking boots from the wannabees:

* Scree collar

* Stiff shank

* Attached or partially attached tongue

* Genuinely aggressive tread

None of these features show when you’re just looking cool, so the imitation hiking boots don’t have them.

Backpacking Boots

Backpacking boots are designed for long wear under fairly harsh conditions. If you are planning to do a lot of hiking, especially multi-day backpacking trips or all-day hikes on rough trails, you will need backpacking boots. And don’t be put off by the prices: A hundred-dollar pair of boots that lasts five years is cheaper than buying a forty-dollar pair every year. And more comfortable, too.

Backpacking boots usually rise well above the ankle. Very high-rise boots, like military-style “combat boots,” may not have a padded “scree collar,” but lower-rise boots will have one. They have a rigid shank, which may be fiberglass or steel, to provide stiffness and arch support. The tongue may be partially attached on high-rise boots, or fully attached on lower boots. Backpacking boots always have a very aggressive tread design.

Many backpacking boots have eyelets for the laces all the way up. This makes the boots harder to put on and take off. It also makes the laces more difficult to adjust than if they had hooks, but the eyelets are less prone to catching on brush or getting bent closed when you bash your leg against a boulder. D-rings, used on the upper parts of some hiking boots, are a good compromise. They are less prone to damage than hooks, but more easily adjustable than eyelets.

There are heavy-duty boots out there that are not suitable for hiking. Work boots can be very similar to hiking boots in every detail except the tread. When choosing backpacking boots, make sure the tread is designed for the trail and not for the workshop.

Mountaineering Boots

Mountaineering boots are specially designed for serious expeditions in primitive and rugged conditions. The term “mountaineering boots” generally also includes such specialized footwear as ice-climbing boots.

I’ll be perfectly honest here (habit of mine): I have no personal experience with mountaineering boots, nor with the conditions that require them. So I don’t have much to tell you about them other than that they exist and that, depending on your requirements, they may be what you need. When you are ready to take a good look at mountaineering boots, I can only advise you to look for suitable advice.

Mountaineering boots are generally completely rigid, made of thick, heavy leather or molded plastic. They are quite heavy, and difficult to walk in under most normal conditions.

Don’t be oversold. If you are looking for backpacking boots, you don’t need special-purpose mountaineering boots. This is one case where buying more hiking boot than you need can actually be a bad thing. Mountaineering boots are what you want for climbing Mount Everest, but not for hiking in the typical National Park.

Conclusion

Now you know now to recognize the four main types of hiking boots. That will help you in your search. Choose the type of boot that is right for the type of hiking you are planning to do, then go do it!



Source by Chuck Bonner

Hiking Boots – Parts And Construction

When shopping for a pair of hiking boots, it is important to know how they are made. No, you don’t need to know how to make your own, but you have to understand what goes into them and how it affects the comfort and durability – the overall quality – of the hiking boots. In this article I will describe the parts of a hiking boot, what they are made of, and how they come together to form the ideal hiking boot for you.

Like any shoe, a hiking boot consists of an upper and a sole joined together by a welt and with an inlet at the front covered by a tongue, and the whole is lined with various pads and cushions. I will discuss each of those parts in detail, in terms of what they are made of and what to look for in various types of hiking boots.

Sole and Welt

Let’s start at the bottom. The soul of the hiking boot is the sole.

Soles are usually made of synthetic rubber in varying degrees of hardness. A harder sole will last longer, but generally will have poorer traction on hard surfaces (such as bare rock) and will provide less cushioning. A softer sole gives you the cushioning you need for long hikes and the traction you need on rough ground, but it will wear out faster.

Manufacturers have made their trade-offs in choosing the materials to make their boots out of. The final choice is up to you when you choose which boot to buy. If you expect to do most of your hiking on soft surfaces, such as desert sand or bare soil, you might lean more toward harder soles. But most of us hike on fairly rugged trails with a good deal of bare rock, and we need the traction of a softer sole.

Inside the sole is a shank. It is a stiffening structure, either fiberglass or steel, that prevents the sole of the boot from twisting and that provides arch support. Shanks may be only three-quarter or half-length. Hiking shoes generally have no shank at all, deriving all their stiffness from the molded rubber sole. Good day-hiking boots may have a full-length fiberglass shank. High-quality backpacking boots will give you the choice of fiberglass or steel. It will depend on how strong you need your hiking boots to be, and how heavy.

Look for deep, knobby tread. Deep cuts in the sole allow water and mud to flow out so you can get traction. “Fake” hiking boots, designed to look like hiking boots but not to perform like them, may have thinner soles and shallow tread. Working boots also may have shallow tread, and they generally have harder soles than hiking boots have.

The welt is the connection between the sole and the upper. Virtually all hiking boots these days are glued together rather than sewn. If you are buying a very expensive pair of backpacking boots, give preference to a sewn welt. Boots with a sewn welt will be easier to resole when the original sole wears out. For hiking shoes or day-hiking boots, when the sole wears out, the upper is not worth salvaging, either, so a glued welt is just fine.

Upper

The upper of the hiking boot provides warmth, protects the sides of your feet from rocks and brush, and repels water. It must also allow your feet to “breathe,” so that moisture from perspiration will not build up inside the boots and cause blisters.

Uppers of hiking boots are usually at least partially made of leather. High-quality backpacking boots are often made of full-grain leather (leather that has not been split). Lighter boots may be made of split-grain leather (leather that has been split or sueded on one side), or a combination of split-grain leather with various fabrics.

Fabrics that are combined with leather are usually some type of nylon. Heavy nylon wears nearly as well as leather, and it is much lighter and cheaper than leather.

In any hiking boot, especially those made of combinations of leather and fabric, there will be seams. Seams are bad. Seams are points of failure. Seams are points of wear, as one panel of the boot rubs against another. Seams are penetrations that are difficult to waterproof.

The uppers of backpacking boots are sometimes made of a single piece of full-grain leather with only one seam at the back. This is good, for all the reasons that seams are bad, but it is expensive.

You’re going to have to deal with seams. But as you shop for hiking boots, look for customer reviews that mention failure or undue wearing of the seams, and avoid those brands.

Inlet and Tongue

There are two things to look for in the inlet and the tongue:

1. How the laces are attached and adjusted

2. How the tongue is attached to the sides of the inlet

The inlet may be provided with eyelets, D-rings, hooks, and webbing, alone or in combination. They each have these advantages and disadvantages:

* Eyelets: Simplest and most durable way to lace a boot. Not so easily adjusted.

* D-rings: Easier to adjust than eyelets, more durable than hooks. More failure-prone than eyelets. (They can break, and they can tear out of the leather.)

* Hooks: Easiest to adjust of all lace attachments. Subject to getting hooked on brush, or bent or broken in impacts with boulders, main cause of breakage of laces.

* Webbing: Cause less chafing of laces, slightly easier to adjust than eyelets, slightly more durable than D-rings. More failure-prone than eyelets.

The most common lace attachment of any hiking boot is eyelets below ankle-level and hooks above. You may see eyelets all the way up, as in classic military-style combat boots, or a combination of either D-rings or webbing with hooks.

The attachment of the tongue is a critical factor in how waterproof the hiking boots are. Provided the leather and/or fabric and seams of the upper are waterproof, water will not get into the boots until it gets higher than the attachment point of the tongue.

Most hiking shoes and day-hiking boots have the tongue attached all the way to the top. If the tongue is not fully attached, consider carefully whether you will need that extra inch or two of waterproofing.

High-rise backpacking boots have the tongue attached only partway up, but that still reaches higher than most day-hiking boots. It’s difficult to get the boot on and off if the tongue is attached very high.

Linings and Pads

There are many pieces that go into the lining and padding of a hiking boot, but two in particular you need to pay attention to:

1. The sole lining

2. The scree collar

The sole lining must be appropriately cushioned. You want a firm, durable surface in immediate contact with your socks, but enough cushioning below that to absorb impact.

The scree collar is a cushion around the top of most hiking boots. It enables you to pull the boots tight enough to keep out loose rocks (“scree”) but without chafing against your ankle and Achilles tendon. This is the thickest and softest cushion in the whole hiking boot. It must be soft enough to conform to your ankle and Achilles tendon as they move, and still keep close enough contact with your leg to keep the rocks out.

Very high hiking boots, such as military-style combat boots, may have no scree collar at all. The height of the boot is what keeps the rocks out.

Throughout, the lining and padding of the hiking boots must be thick enough to provide warmth, durable enough to last, and smooth enough that it will not cause chafing and blisters.

Conclusion

So, these are the things you need to pay attention to when choosing a pair of hiking boots. Be prepared to compromise, and pay attention to which features are really important to the style of hiking you intend to do.



Source by Chuck Bonner