A walker’s “web mall”
My little cheat sheet of where to get the goods
Finding great hiking equipment, clothing, footwear, books and know-how can take quite a bit of hiking across the Internet Mountains, through the Webworld Woods and down the Hyperlink River – sometimes seeking solutions, sometimes tracking down a specific piece of gear. It’s gets frustrating when source “A” doesn’t carry the brand I want, “B” doesn’t have the model I need, “C” doesn’t stock my size, “D” is out of the color I like, “E” only sells at list price… (more…)
Have a Happy Hiking Holiday
An ultralight list of gift ideas
Every year I get asked about “the perfect holiday gift” for the friend or family longwalker. Since backpackers don’t want to carry anything extra, you don’t need anything big. Think small. Here are a few ultralight stocking stuffers.
Safety first. Some of these trails are long, and people few and far between. The next village or campsite may be “just over the next hill”, but it is over the hill. This Fox 40 Micro Whistle is basic safety gear, one of the key components of any hiker’s kit. You never know when one false step can put you in need of help, so be ready to call out. Super loud, and only 5 grams. (more…)
Getting Ready ~ Pre-Walk Checklist
One year timeline to the trail
If you’ve decided to leave your footprints on the sentiers de grande randonnée in France, make your own camino in Spain, or trek somewhere else, here’s a one-year timeline to keep your planning on track and your getaway gone. If you have less time before departure, do what it takes to catch up on the earlier checkpoints.
It’s time to start getting ready. There are a lot of tasks to accomplish and decisions to make in order to realize a fantastic, engaging, life-changing, healthy, robust journey over the land on foot.
: : Note >>> This is the general scheme we’ll be using for our 2011 longwalks. As we move through the year, we’ll update the list, and report on our progress and decisions.
Checklist ~ 12 Months
Commit. Tell your family and friends. Expressing a dream with words is the first step to making it come true. (more…)
Gear ~ Ultralight Trekking Poles
Stick it to me, baby
Most hikers don’t use walking sticks (also called trekking poles). However, many swear by them. I do. Anyone who does, or needs help deciding, should read the travel warning below. If you’re on the fence, here’s some information about the pros and cons.
Why do I like walking poles? Quite simply, it’s because I fall down less often! (Coordination and my name have rarely been used in the same sentence – but hey, maybe that’s just me). Walking with poles adds a lot of stability, particularly on uneven terrain and rough downhills. Rock hopping across streams is easier, too, as is squeezing along a narrow, bramble-bordered bank of a muddy lane. (more…)
Gear ~ Hammocks
Swinging in the Rain
Just for the record, I love sleeping in a hammock – some of them, anyway. There are some damned uncomfortable ones, made of rope with stretcher bars that make an old canvas camp cot feel like a down feather bed. Others stretch canvas between sticks strung with rope; these are the ones that lead people to think you’re going to flip out and wake up on the floor. Or the ones that make people think hammocks will dislocate your spine. With those rigs, they may be right.
But a true string hammock is a completely different animal. Unlike rope and fabric hammocks, stringers, like Mayan, and Paraguayan hammocks, stretch in all directions in a way that supports your entire spine. (more…)
Gear ~ Ultralight Shelters
Sleeping in the Great Outdoors
I don’t tend toward camp when walking through Europe, but a fair number of people do. There are quite a few campsites (campings) along some of the GR trails (sentiers), and having your own shelter may be essential in the alpine regions. On the great American wilderness trails, some sort of shelter system is required gear.
For those of our friends who are seeking their own roof over their heads, here’s a nice, consolidated, alphabetical list of ultralight tarps, tents, and lightweight backpacking shelters. (more…)
Gear ~ Compass
Suunto Clipper – 5 grams
On my first grande randonnée, I started off with a compass that was inset on top of the grip of my walking stick. Although it was a very small compass, it was all I required to keep track of which direction I was heading. At unmarked trail junctions it was easy to determine which trail was most likely the one shown on the map, and it was very convenient, because it was always out there in front of me. I just stopped, observed the needle, and moved on.
Unfortunately, it proved not to be very robust (more…)
Gear ~ Wallet
My Absolute Favorite Everyday Ultralight Wallet
Simblissity LiteFOLD – 8 grams
I like to keep my “walking around” money handy and I like my gear light. A few years ago, I found the perfect convergence in the Simblissity LiteFOLD T-Line™ Ultralight Tri-fold wallet. That may be a whole mouthful of ultralight, but it’s my favorite wallet – period! (more…)
Making Light ~ Getting Small
Smaller makes lighter possible
“Space is a vacuum”, as our astronautical friends are fond of telling us. And vacuums don’t like being that way. Space doesn’t like to be empty. It wants to be full. So if you buy a pack that’s bigger than you need, it will come with its own insidious need to fill up.
By finding the smallest pack that can accommodate your gear and supplies, you automatically limit how much extra you can haul around.
“Don’t Buy a Backpack…” …until you know what you’ll need to carry. (more…)
Making Light – Introduction
A Stroll Through Longwalking Tips & Techniques…
Making Light is a series of articles on observations and lessons learned about how to lighten the load of your backpack. The focus is preparation for a long-distance walk, mainly on trails and back roads, with occasional off-trail forays.
The context is 3-season hiking, from village to village, inn to hotel to guest house to gîte d’etape to chambre d’hote, etc. – or at least, to a dry place to throw down a sleeping bag. The pro forma trip duration is 30 days. (more…)