Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5 Things Tuneup: Hiking Gear

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1) Boots
Before you embark on your hike, take a second to think about what you need. Are you going on a marked trail? Do you know exactly where you’re going? What do you need to make sure you’re smart and safe? Here is a list of some gear to consider taking with you to have an enjoyable outing in Oregon’s many amazing hiking destinations.
1) Boots
When choosing a boot, the most important thing to pay attention to is structure. Ankle support is key, considering you will likely be hiking on uneven trails with a higher potential for ankle rolling. Boots that cover your ankle are better suited for these conditions. The next thing to look for when buying a boot is how waterproof it is — especially in Oregon’s rainy spring weather. Gore-Tex, a waterproof and breathable fabric, is the newest technology in terms of staying dry. After that, overall durability should be considered so that they hold up when you tromp through mud, on rocks and in creeks.
2) Socks
Just as important as your boots, if not more important, are socks. Socks — two layers — play a large role in a hiker’s comfort. An outside layer of wool socks are better for comfort and warmth. An inside layer of cotton socks or sock liners are also important because they prevent “hot spots,” or rubbing areas where blisters form. A good substitute for sock liners are dress socks because they are often similar in size, weight and material. Even if it’s warm outside, your feet will thank you later.
3) Water
Bring water. Period. When you sweat, your body is losing fluids and so to replace that, you drink water. And don’t be afraid to bring too much. Your body can survive three weeks without food but only three days without water. If bringing extra water will weigh you down, consider bringing a water filtration system or water purification tablets. Both provide easy ways to be sure that you won’t be dehydrated if you’re stranded for longer than you anticipate.
4) First Aid Kit
Even if its just a day hike, it’s never a bad idea to bring a first aid kit. Things to include: Band-Aids, sunscreen, mole skin, disinfectant and an anti-inflammatory such as aspirin. All of these things should be able to fit into a small Ziplock bag. You never know what situations you might encounter, even for the most experienced outdoorsmen, so better to be prepared than not.
5) Hiking poles
Although not necessary, hiking or trekking poles can make hiking easier, especially when you’re carrying a heavy pack. Poles add two more points of contact to the ground, dispersing weight and reducing impact on knee joints and leg muscles. A study published by Dr. G. Neureuther in 1981 proved that use of “ski poles” while walking reduces the pressure strain on the opposite leg by approximately 20 percent. There is some debate in the hiking community about whether hiking poles have benefit, so whether you bring this item or not is up to you.
And don’t forget ...
Other essentials that can easily fit into a day pack to bring on your hike are a map, compass, extra food and water, extra clothing, headlamp or flashlight, a whistle, fire starter, matches and a knife. Although these things may seem excessive to some, they are necessary in planning for the worst such as an unexpected overnight stay in the wilderness.

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