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Preparing for a Trip
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Simon Wurster
(Einstein) - F

Locale: Big Apple
Preparing for a Trip on 07/27/2007 10:32:08 MDT Print View

We all know the benefits of physical preparation for a trip, and we all all have ways of developing physical strength and stamina, short of actual hiking. Maybe we take a loaded pack to the gym and workout on the stairmaster. And of course, we examine and test our gear ad nauseum at home to understand how it works (and how it breaks) so we're more prepared in the field.

But how far do you go with the preparation before an actual trip? Do you sleep in your bag on the bedroom floor to make sure silicone dots really do keep the bag in place? Do you pop open a few of the new dehydrated meals to to see how they really taste? Do you let a headlamp rundown with fresh batteries to see how long it takes to reach 50% brightness?

It seems that there would be a certain utility in the few days leading up to a trip to simply getting re-accustomed to sleeping in a bag again, or getting your stomach used to 4 oz of beef jerky per day, or simply rehearsing putting up and taking down your tarp or tent--before the actual task miles or days from home.

Aside from the physical conditioning, gear dumps, and exhaustive gear list scrutiny, I've never done any of this kind of trip preparation. And with limited time each year these days with a small child at home, it seems more-and-more that this would make a lot more sense to maximize the enjoyment of the trip.

How far do you go?

Simon

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Preparing for a trip on 07/27/2007 10:59:14 MDT Print View

I learned in the Army that you don't need to "learn how to suffer" too much in advance to be able to successfully suffer when needed.

Seriously, rather than messing with the actual gear, what I have found helpful is to keep a list of techniques I don't want to forget (and/or of things that have gone wrong for me in past trips) and review this if I haven't been backpacking in a while. For example, to remind myself of what conditions to look for when using a tarptent to minimize condensation, or to do some jumping jacks before getting into the sleeping bag on colder nights, etc etc.

Most of this comes back pretty fast when on the trail, but for me a kind of summary sheet of stuff like this is helpful to review to get my head back into it if it's been some months (and winter hiking dynamics can be pretty different than summertime). Alternatively, reviewing summaries I've written of past trips helps bring this stuff back too.



Brian Lewis

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Preparing for a Trip on 07/27/2007 11:04:29 MDT Print View

I have a standard set of gear now. New gear gets tested on S24O's. That's sub 24 hour overnighers. I grab the standard gear, head out Friday night usually and I am back early on Saturday. It's pretty non-disruptive to the job and weekend plans with family and friends. You're limited a bit in distance but you still get to see how that meal tastes or how that jacket works or if the pad is good enough.

Then when I go on a longer trip I am pretty used to all my gear and know just how long my GPS lasts on lithiums, how many batteries my light eats if I want to go all night etc. I've slept in the backyard too but I'd much prefer to head out somewhere away from home even it's just for a night. That is unless I'm trying to see how far I can push a 15 deg sleeping bag into the sub 0 ;)

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Preparing for a Trip on 07/27/2007 11:47:44 MDT Print View

Us gear addicts need to learn new techniques with every equipment change.

I fire up stoves on the patio, on training hikes and test weekenders. I test all my food choices before hikes. However, when I have decided that a meal is a "keeper" I do not eat it at home because I want to look forward to eating.

I hike a training hike at least once a week. Physical training, but also I will make a meal/hot beverage and set up a shelter. I like to challenge myself myself physically then practice technique and test gear.

When I get a new sleeping bag the temperature rating needs to be tested on the patio or car camping.

Preparation is related to the gear choice. I always maintain, test and practice with my Optimus Nova before I take it out for the first time each year. I do not go to that much effort with an alcohol stove.

When I wanted to add the mooring hitch to my repertoire of knots I carried a cord in my pocket and made a real nuisance of myself. A repertoire of about 10 knots will make everything easier.

I plan, but fail, to take a field guide and learn to identify two new things on each training hike.

I purchased the outrageously expense Bushbuddy Ultra so that I could practice my fire making skills with minimal enviromental impact. My fire building skills have slipped since I quit building campfires.

When a new shelter is seal sealed it is a good time to turn on the lawn sprinklers to test for leaks.

A periodic first aid class is a good idea.

Orienteering meets are good training and fun.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Preparing for a Trip on 07/27/2007 21:50:41 MDT Print View

Sure, I test every piece of gear I buy. The initial tests result in a pass/fail at which time the item might be returned. I return a lot of gear. If it passes I figure out how the item fits into the lineup. Usually the best I can do is integrate the gear into my daily life to give it a workout. Headlamps and rainwear on my rainy night bike commutes, wool shirts on hot weekend days, sleeping mats on my tatami flooring, pots and stoves in the kitchen, recipes for lunch/dinner, altimeters in downtown skyscrapers, packs on my daily commute, first aid kit contents experimental trials on friends/co-workers, compasses in urban canyons, etc.. Unfortunately some gear gets much more use in an urban setting than out in the field. :(