One of our oldest running blog series, and by far one of my favorites, has been Simple Steps with Wes. These started all the way back in 2013. They were the brain-child of one of our amazing associates, Wes. He was a Lead in our store and has extensive survival knowledge. He loves sharing this information and passion with others. Earlier this month, he was back in action at our store and was handling the seminars for our Family Summer Camp.
And that is one of things that I admire about him. He can give seminars to crowds of kids just as easy as talking to a classroom full of adults looking for helpful hints and tricks. Some of that ability to adapt, had to come from his military background. And that is where this month’s Simple Step comes from, his military background. Enjoy!
“I have learned many lessons in the military and in this edition of Simple Steps I hope to convey some specific ones about hiking and backpacking. “Rucking” is the military term for hiking with a full pack or “Rucksack”. As you can imagine, this is a huge issue for the military, as soldiers must wear body armor and carry weapons, ammo, water, communications equipment, and other gear critical to complete the missions. During my last training event I was carry just over 85 lbs. not including my weapon and ammo.
In order to maintain optimal capabilities military service members learn very valuable lessons along the way which can help keep you at your best when you decide to hit the trail.
1. One pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back.
Aside from selecting the proper footwear (which we covered during an earlier edition of simple steps), the weight carried at the shoe takes five time more energy to maintain the same pace of travel as it would carrying the weight at the torso level. Simply put, lighter footwear equals less strain on the body and is more energy efficiency. In practical terms, this means you could carry half a gallon more of water if you buy boots that are a pound lighter.
2. Managing pack weight needs to be a conscious effort
Packing what you need, not everything you want, will keep weight out of the pack. Researching potential weather conditions can also help you make decisions in what you leave at home as well. Ideally, a backpack should not weigh more than 30% of the carrier’s body weight. Each 1% of your body weight carried in your pack makes you 6 seconds slower per mile. Small changes such as flashlights that use smaller and less batteries, proper sleeping bag selection, aluminum cookware, and smart food selections can all help subtract pack weight quickly.
3. Comfort starts in how you pack
Packing lighter items lower and heavier items closer to the top of the pack helps keep better posture. As you hike, your upper body naturally leans forward. Weight at the top of the back will work with your body and lessen muscle fatigue in your shoulders and back. Properly adjusting should straps and belt straps will allow the back weight to be supported more evenly, rather than straining just shoulder and back muscles alone.
4. Downhill is harder on the body than uphill
Going downhill places twice as much strain on your body as going uphill. Why? Braking forces. As you descend, you have to brake your speed with your quads to keep yourself under control. The steeper the downhill, the more braking. This added load on your muscles further affects your uphill performance if you have repeated bouts of up and down work. This also adds to the risk of knee and ankle injuries.
By selecting the proper footwear, bringing only what you need and packing it properly, you can keep the strain of your body and sustain yourself for longer distances and with lower risk of injuries. Read, research and ask questions and you can experience more of life in the great outdoors.
If you have questions or would like to see a topic covered in a future edition of Simple Steps with Wes, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org. “
Thanks, Wes! With all the upcoming big-game hunting seasons and just people going out into the woods more this is really good stuff to know. Until next time! Get more of Wes at his Facebook and Webpage.
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