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SUL and advancing age
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Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
SUL and advancing age on 08/03/2011 18:29:05 MDT Print View

I see UL and SUL backpacking as a blessing for the more senior of us. Let's face it, as one ages (and stays in decent shape) strength will inevitably decline, as will oxygen uptake/VO2 Max.

At 68 I'm going more and more toward true UL backpacking. And I know that as I advance into my 70s I'll have to get into some aspects of SUL backpacking. By that time I'm hoping for more SUL gear to chose from that is also more durable.

Right now I have my major UL big three as:

1.TarpTent Moment
2.REI Cruise UL pack
3.Western Mountaineering Megalite down bag/15 oz. ancient reg. Thermarest Lite matress
4.Caldera Cone Ti Sidewinder stove (W/3 fuel options)

So, yeah, the tent and pack can be a lot lighter. Workin' on that.
I am still not a fan of alky stoves so I use ESBIT or wood (when permitted) W/ my Sidewinder stove.

I'm a real tent fan, having tarped "too much" when I couldn't afford a tent. But I can see getting something like Ron Moak's new Skyscape-X tent in Cuben fabric. UL solo tents seem to be more efficient and at least as light as say a Cuben tarp, groundcloth and bug netting.

As for a pack, maybe a Go-Lite Quest. I eschew "frameless" packs as much as alky stoves.

And the mattress? I'm waiting for a Cuben mattress with Aero Gel for a filler.
(Aren't we all? :o)

Edited by Danepacker on 08/03/2011 18:36:12 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: SUL and advancing age on 08/03/2011 23:09:03 MDT Print View

Hi Eric,

Yup there are a few of here in our 6th decade or even longer :) and it has been a great hike so far, hasn't it?

I agree that the new equipment has allowed me to keep hiking and to do it at the same level or even higher than in my younger days.

I have adopted most of the newest gear and a SUL kit is not unusual for me now. However, last year I broke down and got a Neo Air. Still don't use it all the time, but it is nice. Age does have its compromises.

I have always liked tarps, so a tent is not attractive at all unless I am in winter snow. I have a frameless pack and it is okay some of the time, but now-a-days my McHale is the go to pack. Yes it is heavier, but it is much easier on this "old" body.

Maybe we should put together a BPL trip and not allow anyone under 60 to go. That would be a fun trip!!

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: SUL and advancing age on 08/04/2011 11:33:38 MDT Print View

I'm getting very close to decade six.

Always am inspired by those like you two! I believe that is what keeps me going.

Thanks, and continue to blaze those trails for those like me trying to keep up with your pace.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: SUL and advancing age on 08/04/2011 11:49:37 MDT Print View

Ah, you old farts are an inspiration to us all. I mean, I think it's pretty incredible that you're still breathing and everything, much less backpacking. And you even learned how to use computers and other newer technology (though I've heard, Nick, that you actually had to have someone build an interface so you could control your computer from your slide rule). Truly impressive. You've earned your cantankerousness!

Ummmmm, so do you take dehydrated prune juice on your hikes?

Mark Primack
(Bufa) - MLife

Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland
Old and Up on 08/04/2011 14:08:08 MDT Print View

I'm in my mid-sixties. Gave up backpacking after ankle and knee problems in my mid-fifties. In the spring of 2010 I had such pain that I not only thought I'd give up dayhiking, but wondered how I'd even walk. Then after three months of 3 times a week physical therapy, I felt strong. So I tried to climb a 4000 footer in NH Whites. I didn't make it, but on another try a month later, I did. Then after two tries, I summited Lafayette and soon thereafter found this great website.

I started weighing all of my old backpacking equipment and winter clothing and comparing them with things I was reading about here. I wanted to go to my favorite winter place, Crag Camp on the side of Mt. Adams, second highest mountain in the NE, but knew I couldn't possibly do it with my wonderful but heavy older stuff. It had been ten years since I'd been able to lug my old and wounded body up there. After finding BPL, my fantastic but 7plus lb Dana Designs Terraplane pack was exchanged for a two and half lb one. My six lb old TNF bag was replaced with a three lb Montbell bag. Etc., expensive Etc., Etc. And so by last January I was able to lug a pack with four days supply up to Crag on snowshoes the entire way and made three winter ascents of Adams in snowshoes. Oh the joy.

Been on half-a-dozen hikes since. For this old guy, the new lightweight gear is a true godsend that has given me enormous pleasures that I thought I would never experience again. Thank the Lord for BPL. It is the elderly hiker's best friend.

Chris Lucas
(ChemE) - F

Locale: SC
Wow on 08/04/2011 16:12:35 MDT Print View

What a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing!

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: SUL and advancing age on 08/04/2011 17:37:46 MDT Print View

Yes indeed! Lightweight gear and a lightweight philosophy (leave the dutch oven at home) has made this 60 year old's hikes more enjoyable.

But at the same time, it's not completely about the weight because the body needs a little more pampering as time goes by. For instance, I was adding thicker and thicker pads to make the ground more comfortable. Stacking CCF pads for insulation with air mattresses for comfort. Finally, the light dawned and I got a hammock! I'll never sleep on the ground again. It didn't save any weight (but it didn't cost me any either with all those pads) but it sure did improve my ability to hike the next day.

Also, as others have stated, when your own frame starts to give way, a framed backpack (although heavier) can extend my miles and enjoyment of those miles.

And, the reason I can carry these couple of items without weighing me down is that I've really lightened up in all other areas.

Edited by mad777 on 08/04/2011 17:38:37 MDT.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Weightlifting & Hammocks on 08/07/2011 23:08:14 MDT Print View

I'm near 33, and my body has/will have problems from a motorcycle accident. I wonder if weightlifting is part of you older guy's regime in fighting time? I know it helps me on the trail big time, but my wear and tear is different. Just curious.

+1 on the hammock. I don't "need" one yet, but they sure are comfy and I could see myself switching if I can't get a decent night's sleep on the ground. I slept really well in a friend's scout a time ago.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Weightlifting & Hammocks on 08/09/2011 20:14:20 MDT Print View

Weightlifting started for me in high school. Then I'd go through cycles of a few years without lifting and then get serious again for a year or so. One problem with lifting was I was pretty good at it and tended to spend my work out time in the free weight area and very little time on cardio work. Another problem for me with lifting is I'd eat like a wild animal. End result, I bulked up to about 225 lb (5'11"). So when I wasn't working out I would become a real fatty. Blood pressure and cholesterol numbers rising.

So about eight years ago I changed my lifestyle. Skipped the lifting. Started walking. Then hiking. Then backpacking. Then light backpacking. Now I prefer eating veggie (not 100%, but I could do so easily). Try to keep my life simple as I can. During the past four months have been running. Have become lean, mean hiking machine now. 175 lb. Good to be alive : )

I have a hammock and really like it, but just haven't spent much time on it. But I hope to in the future. Now that I'm thinking about it - I might give it a shot on one of my upcoming SUL 1-3 nighters. I will make a SUL list that includes the hammock. Thanks for bringing it up. Yes, I welcome the ruthless critique. : )

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Geezer weight training on 08/10/2011 14:18:52 MDT Print View


Yes, at 68 I weight train 3 times a week on my Bowflex to maintain strength. The Bowflex and a few dumbells are safe and take up little room. I use NO2 Red L-Arginine tablets for strength training and for better O2 uptake at altitude when backpacking or backcountry skiing.

For me weight training is essential B/C the added muscle tissue metabolizes fat faster than mere aerobic workouts. And, as we Old Farts know, metabolism slows down as we age. But I also do fast dayhikes and treadmill for aerobics, both with 25 lb. pack, for training.

Soon I'll get my Cannondale racing bike back in shape for training rides. Been off it for 10 years and that's too long.

P.S. Nice to hear from Mike, Mark, Nick and George that there are those of us who are "still on the trail". Better to wear out than rust out.

Edited by Danepacker on 08/10/2011 14:24:49 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Geezer weight training on 08/10/2011 17:59:21 MDT Print View

>> Better to wear out than rust out.

AMEN, My Brothers!

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
More geezer weight training on 08/10/2011 19:54:43 MDT Print View

I alternate between cycling and hiking four days a week, M-Th. Hiking is up and down hills with a 30# pack (heavier than I carry when backpacking!). On the days I cycle, I also weight lift - trying to keep the muscle tone up! Friday I take a walk at the beach with my wife - basically a rest day. Saturday is either a long ride or day hike, along with yard work, etc. Sunday is a rest day.

The fact that I teach both a self defense class and a road cycling class at my university (in real life I'm an applied linguistics prof) gives me extra motivation to stay on top of the fitness curve. Nothing like an old guy riding or sparring with 20 year olds to highlight any loss of fitness!

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
weight lifting on 08/14/2011 19:46:27 MDT Print View

after decades of pretty diligent weight lifting, I've given it up (at least temporarily) and instead have embraced body weight exercises.

a variety of pushups, pullups, situps/crunchs, squats and dips have replaced my lifting regime and thus far (three months into it) I really enjoy it- my number of reps have really jumped up since I started

I vary my routine every go round (there is a plethora of info on different routines on the web) and hit it three times a week, trail run on days between workouts- w/ Sunday being a day off

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
in a perfect world on 08/16/2011 15:40:03 MDT Print View

At 60 I went through a hip replacement,the blood supply to my hip became impaired and the hip joint was necrotic. I was very lucky with the procedure and returned to work in 9 days. I trained for the surgery just like I would an extended backcountry trip; a mix of aerobics, strength, and flexibility.
In a perfect world I would balance all three of these to maintain my hiking longevity but in the day to day reality of jobs and family I would lean more heavily on the flexibility. Any decent yoga discipline is going to address this and build strength too.
A couple of years have passed and I can't say I've scaled back any outdoor pursuit at this age, I think I'm actually moving and climbing better since the surgery or the previous decade.
Strength is important, lean muscle mass is important, aerobic fitness is important, but I believe an enhanced range of movement is key to aging "gracefully." If you are a hiker or a cyclist and want a test of the state of your body have a massage therapist or someone with knowledge do some pressure work on your IT band.Yowzah!
If you feel you are beginning to lose your bounce do some yoga, practice some other form of intelligent stretching, possibly try some body work like Alexander Technique or Rolfing or any of the many other disciplines if you think it would help but take responsibility for your bod and you will see changes for the better.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
flexibility on 08/16/2011 17:44:53 MDT Print View

^ I'm starting to work on that component, it's not easy- w/ decades of weight lifting, came decades of not stretching :(

it's a slow go, but I am seeing gradual (very gradual) results :)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: flexibility on 08/16/2011 17:51:57 MDT Print View

I keep hoping that I will still be going when I get as old as Mike.


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: flexibility on 08/16/2011 18:02:11 MDT Print View

^ those reverse aging pills must be doing the trick- send some my way :)

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
think about how we refer to folk on 08/18/2011 16:48:09 MDT Print View

Many times when we refer to someone being older we use body dynamics; he/she is "spry",or bent over like an old man, or moving stiffly , creaky.
Aging seems synonymous with joint issues and movement or lack of the same.
I agree that strength training is at times at odds with flexibilty shortening muscles, affecting tendons; body builders do not flex their muscles they contract them [but a magazine called Contract wouldn't sell to well] and that is why we need to consciously do the opposite too when we train. Everytime we injure a joint or limb or muscle group scar tissue builds up and we learn to immediatly compensate for the injury. Instead of building strength and flexibility in the injured area but in other muscle groups surrounding the area or on the other side of the body even.
One of the eye openers for me was participating in a study of muscle balance, one of my legs was an 1.5" larger than the other at the quad, same with the shoulder girdle from playing racquetball, and for every group that was weaker I could relate an injury or chronic problem.
I believe there is now an establish correlation between muscle balance and injury in athletes and the same applies to we weekend warriors.
Stand up in bare feet and pay attention to where your weight is balanced, are you favoring one leg over the other? Side to side, front to back? See what I mean.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
RE: "SUL and advancing age" on 08/18/2011 16:55:38 MDT Print View

Thanks for posting this. You guys a real inspiration for me! I've been giving this a lot of thought lately. I'm only 49 but it seems like the 40s and 50s are when things start happening to our bodies that we don't want. So, I weight train 5 to 7 days a week and I do cardio about 5 days a week.

My diet is lean during the week, lots of salmon, chicken breast, sardines and salads in very small portions. On the weekends, if I'm not hiking, I take a 24 hour period(either Fri. evening into Sat. bed-time or sat. into Sun.) and eat anything I want. This keeps the body fat very low.

I've been pretty fit like this for most of my life since high school and the military. Of course, there are times when life happens(surgeries, etc.)and one time I had to take about 5 years off, but getting back on it is never too difficult.

The question and worry I've had is, can I continue to be physically fit and continue to hike into my 60s and 70s? You guys are living proof that I can. Seriously, thanks to all of you guys for being role models for those of us who will be where you are pretty darn soon.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: SUL and advancing age on 08/18/2011 18:40:54 MDT Print View

I'm 57 and UL allowed me to start backpacking again after about a 20 year hiatus. Critical to me was "Beyond Backpacking" by Ray Jardine, and later, BPL. Also, the inner fortitude to give up my wonderful but heavy Gregory Snow Creek pack and similar heavy, traditional gear.

Concerning staying in shape, I find martial arts (in my case Tae Kwon Do) to be just the thing. It enhances strength, balance, and especially flexibility. You also develop a very keen sense of body awareness, important while hiking with bad knees and ankles over rough terrain. Hiking poles are mandatory for me.

I just earned my second degree black belt a few months ago. Also, I'm not the oldest active black belt at my guy I think is 60 and started as a white belt in his late 50's.

Edited by ewolin on 08/21/2011 14:50:40 MDT.