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do you train for backpacking? How?
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Henry Laufenberg
(hankj) - F

Locale: PNW
do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 11:13:41 MST Print View

I ask because hiking MT. Si yesterday (busy trail near Seattle, 4 miles long one way, 3800 vf) I saw a lot of people who seemed to be training in a variety of ways.

Many people running up and down, many people lugging big 50 lbs looking backpacks (not camping, just carrying to carry), one woman with a big pack dragging a good-sized car tire behind. Maybe she was getting ready to summit one of the volcanos or something ...

I had my dog, and he is a natural athlete, so I loaded him with 10 lbs so he gets used to hauling a load and gets the type of work out he can handle. I had 6 or 7 lbs in a daypack. We reached the top in 90 minutes, so brisk but not break-neck pace.

A woman with a big pack who I passed actually said something about if I want to be in shape the weight should all be on me. I smiled and ignored her (I am always about hiking my own hike!) but I think I disagree. For me carrying a load, on a steep trail anyway, is taxing. I'd much rather do unloaded or lightly-loaded hikes and a bit of running in town so I don't irritate my joints and tendons unnecessarily, then pack light enough that I don't need to do more than a few month of yoga in the winter to get my core strong enough to bear a pack without trouble. Come spring I do some shorter trips and adjust my "training" according to how I feel.

You? Does anyone train with a heavy load?

Edited by hankj on 03/08/2010 11:15:46 MST.

Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Training on 03/08/2010 12:11:49 MST Print View

Pay no attention to her. She was probably a PETA (people eating tasty animals) freak who thinks animals are better than humans. I'm all about treating animals humanely for the record. A few pounds won't hurt a dog.

As far as my personal training, I don't use a heavy load. It's hard on the body. After my recent motorcycle accident, i've been working out a lot to get back into shape. The stair stepper has been my best friend at the gym. I'll do 5 miles every day at levels 9-11. It takes roughly 40 minutes. My knee is tired at the end, but it gets stronger every day. For my efforts, i've recovered quickly.

Regular exercise is the key for me. You won't see me with a heavy load though.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 12:20:14 MST Print View

Does anyone train with a heavy load?

Yes, but not exclusively.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
sorta on 03/08/2010 12:28:20 MST Print View

I train for others thing, and backpacking is the beneficiary. Occasionally that training involves carrying 30 pounds of water up a local hill. Most of it gets dumped before descending.

It's generally efficacious to train for harder efforts and loads than you'll actually encounter.

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 12:31:41 MST Print View


Hatha yoga every morning, and a bike ride every other day.
I live in the city, so it's hard to get out and hike daily, but a strong day hike once a month with moderate weights helps get pack fit.


Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 12:31:48 MST Print View

I like to trail run year round. I find this with some pushup's etc gets me in the kind of shape where I am more than comfortable with the kind of trips I do. I keep motivation for trail running going by entering in local races every few months so I constantly have a new focus to work toward. Not competitive or anything, just like to go out and have fun.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
backpacking loads on 03/08/2010 12:33:33 MST Print View

Most of us are in the outdoors for pleasure, so we do little things like reduce our packweight to try to optimize the experience.

I was walking around in a local hilly park, and up the trail walked five firefighters in full gear. I think it was four men and one woman. They had their full yellow suits on (which must be extremely hot), hard hats, each carrying small packs, and they each carried a Pulaski or similar tool. It turned out that this was a training mission, and they were hiking up and down the hills with full load to get prepared for fire season. This was no walk in the woods for them. One person looked close to collapse.

That's what will happen to you if you don't lighten up your pack.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 12:44:22 MST Print View

Probably like others, I don't train. I exercise to keep in decent shape, and I backpack (and bike and run, etc.). But I don't really train for anything.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Training on 03/08/2010 12:52:50 MST Print View

No heavy loads for me.

I climb real flights of stairs.

I walk real miles carrying my loaded pack weighing 14.5 pounds.

I have an out and back route @ 9 miles long that I do regularly that has a 35' to 40' flight of stairs midway. I'll do this "stairclimb" 3 or 4 times before starting back for the house.

I supplement this with an elliptical workout at a moderate level of intensity including intervals of higher intensity.

Party On ! 2010


Paul Siegel

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Do you train for backpacking? on 03/08/2010 12:54:11 MST Print View

I do Crossfit, it's not for everyone but I feel it keeps me in shape without endless training. Plus, it's my job.

Good option if you've got limited time (most workouts take under an hour) and have an affiliate near by. I would highly recommend it.

If you've got any questions about it feel free to PM me.

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
Training for backpacking on 03/08/2010 12:56:01 MST Print View

No weight training here. I try to play year round (hike, bike, ski) and to run regularly. This is mostly to help me feel good and keep my sanity. But it also serves to keep my basline such that I can generally get out and do anything within reason. This year I participated in two events non competitively, a half marathon and a mostly uphill 14 mile charity ski tour. As was mentioned already these helped keep my motivation up. I found that not only was I in better shape for backpacking but that backpacking was excellent cross training for these other activities.

Edited by gvolpe on 03/08/2010 12:57:42 MST.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 13:08:58 MST Print View

I play a lot of footbag for the ankles, knees, hips, back, and abs.

I run for my lungs.

I go for long walks with 10-15lbs in a pack, focusing on using the trekking poles to maintain cadence.

If you want to train to be faster, start by walking faster with no weight, and over time increase the weight.

If you want to train to haul larger loads, then load up a pack and start walking.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 13:49:04 MST Print View

Physically active at work. Load and unload a truck of masa and tortillas. That keeps me limber. Two dogs = lots of walking. Seems to do the trick for me.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
winter training regimen on 03/08/2010 13:57:44 MST Print View

includes ample repeats of horizontal reclines and 12 oz. curls

michael huynh
(radlations) - F
TRAIN? on 03/08/2010 15:33:15 MST Print View

I don't really have a rigorous training schedule for backpacking. I'm in okay shape. Generally I stretch in the morning, do some pullups, do a couple curls and situps before bed. I'm also a student of the ultralight philosophy so my pack doesnt put much strain on my body.

Usually a couple weeks before the hike/trip I'll know exactly what i'm bringing and i'll put everything in my pack and walk around the neighborhood park with it for a couple hours. While i'm there I do wildlife photography, fishing, and I occasionally just wander around enjoying the nature. I often forget I'm carrying my 15-17lb pack when I have stuff to do.

Edited by radlations on 03/08/2010 15:35:14 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: TRAIN? on 03/08/2010 18:05:18 MST Print View

It depends on what kind of backpacking/climbing,scrambling, etc you are doing, IME, and also, perhaps, your age. When I was younger and running seriously, I never trained specifically for backpacking. The conditioning from 60-70 miles/week with 2-3 very hilly runs, hard to avoid in the San Francisco area where I was living at the time, was more than adequate for my trips in the Sierra. Later, as my running diminished in volume and intensity, I began to use training hikes up various mountains along the I-90 corridor outside Seattle, and 2 40-60 minute sessions/week on a Stepmill at my gym. How much weight I carried depended on the time of year and what I was training for. Prior to climbing season we would work up to 40# (mostly water) in about 1 hour 45 minutes on Mt Si, dumping the water at the top, like Dave C. mentioned above. This was supplemented by Stepmill and perhaps 20 miles of shorter runs in the city, plus weight work and a couple of sessions at an indoor climbing gym and later Icicle Canyon in April. When I stopped climbing this was overkill, to say the least, and I have since found that the carries up Si, (with 30# because that is the max I carry on a 10 day trip, including water) and twice/week on the Stepmill are enough to get me anywhere I want to go in the Sierra, or the Cascades, on trail or off. I would say calibrate your training to the intensity of your backpacking, climbing, or whatever. Many ways to achieve that goal. This is what works for me.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 20:18:58 MST Print View

Nope, no time, too busy going walking ...


Henry Laufenberg
(hankj) - F

Locale: PNW
huh, so Mt. Si is something of an outdoor gym ... on 03/08/2010 20:38:33 MST Print View

From a few of the posts here it seems that some of us do some hiking with a fully-weighted pack to get/stay in shape. Great idea packing water and dumping it at the top -- solves the too much stress coming down issue. I'll have to give it a try this week if I can slip out of work a couple of hours early, maybe sneak a can of beer in there too to "dump out" at the top.

I had a conversation with a coworker today who told me many of the people hauling packs up and down Mt. Si were training for Rainier -- the 1000 foot per mile slope is the same as most of the trek up Rainier so some outfitters specifically recommend humping packs up Si as pre-trip conditioning.

Nice to know too that most lightweight backpacker out there are basically on the same low key program of not doing a lot specifically outside of staying fit in general -- now where did I leave that remote ;)

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
re;training on 03/08/2010 20:47:46 MST Print View

I don't usually carry heavy loads to train. But this year I am summiting Rainier (if all goes well) so I will be carrying heavier loads of up to about 40 pounds on Si.


Pieter Kaufman
(Pieter) - F
Re: do you train for backpacking? How? on 03/08/2010 20:59:48 MST Print View

"one woman with a big pack dragging a good-sized car tire behind"

Wow; that's comedy!

Although I'd have to wonder what that does to the trail. Can't be pretty.

Being a relatively recent UL convert, I can't imagine ever purposefully loading myself down to train. Backpacking isn't sport and it isn't competitive, and I spent way too many years of training for competitive sports, so the last thing I want to do is encumber myself when I could be relatively pack free.

I do try to do as much mid-week short hiking as possible, but that's just for general fitness and relaxation. I do also do quite a lot of very heavy landscaping, brush clearance, etc, and that often involves something on the order of third class scrambling up and down my hill, and often involves very heavy rocks. It's superb strength/power conditioning, and good for balance, but doesn't do as much for endurance. But I'd do it even if I never hiked, so its benefits for backpacking are a by-product of something I love to do anyway.

But, as others have said, hike your own hike!