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…)
Clothing ~ Waterproof Rain Pants
GoLite™ Reed Ultralight Rain Pants – 168 grams
I became a big fan of the GoLite Reed pants during my 1,200 mile walk across France and Spain in 2009. At only 168 grams (5.9 ounces) these were an effortless pleasure to carry under blue skies, and were a great windproof, waterproof outer layer when the weather got rough. After months on the trail, they’re still in ready to go condition.
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 ~ 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 ~ 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…)
Clothing ~ Waterproof Rain Jacket
Mountain Hardwear™ Stimulus™ Jacket – 199 grams
I wore the Mountain Hardwear™ Stimulus™ Jacket throughout my 2009 walk across France and Spain. This jacket is one of the reasons I love my “ultralight hobby” because I first read about it in an airline in-flight magazine. (Never stop looking for solutions.)
It’s a true “minimalist” jacket that still has everything I really need. Totally waterproof! MH really pushed the envelope here, with innovative design, materials, and construction. It doesn’t have every popular feature available (but heavier) on other jackets, like underarm vents, but I didn’t miss them. Another means of saving weight is the absence of a hood. I always where my Tilley Air-flow hat, rain or shine, and I don’t like the way hoods restrict your view, so this is a real plus for me. The Stim does have an extended tail that really helps keep the water out. (more…)
Making Light ~ Take Less
Less doesn’t weigh as much
Here’s a real quick and simple one. Go through your packing list, and find at least one thing, pull it out of your kit, and leave it at home. You decide. But if you’re like most people, you won’t miss it. At least not that much. And you’ll soon forget that you miss it, or even why you thought you needed it in the first place. (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 ~ Get Rid of It
It’s never too late to lighten up…
It’s almost inevitable, no matter how hard we try. Somehow, something extra ends up in our backpacks. A week down the trail and you start wondering, “Why did I bring this? Or maybe you just end up with something extra, which can easily happen for any number of reasons.
Depending on what it is, where you are, and who you’re with, you can easily take control of this most unwelcome situation.
Get Rid of It. You can: (more…)
Making Light ~ Sharing the Load
It’s nice to have a friend…
I’ve started planning a long walk for 2011, probably through France. This time, I’ll be joined by my wife for part of the walk. Until now, I’ve always walked solo, so I’ve been looking at ways we can share our total load and still have everything we need.
Other than clothes, personal medications and some toiletries, it turns out that a lot of the gear can easily be shared. Of course, we’ll probably choose to each take a camera, but quite a bit can be left behind by one or the other of us. Here are some examples of things that might be shared by two people walking together on the grande randonnée trails of France, and the caminos of Spain: (more…)