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Friday, September 15, 2017

A City Girl's Guide to Bug Out Bags - Part 2

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

If you missed Part 1 - please click here.

You have your pack and you’re happy with it. You have some or all of your items packed in the pockets of your choice, and you’re ready to test it out.

Do NOT wait until the day of leaving to test out your pack or traveling clothes. It’ll be too late to make changes.

If you don’t have a lot of your items yet, fill your empty pack with a book or two, and a few bath towels. This will add a little weight for the walk and give you an idea what it feels like.

Now, Let’s Get Dressed

Just because you enjoy wearing a particular outfit, doesn’t mean it was designed for backpacking. You don’t need backpacking clothes, or fashion brands. You need something that is comfortable for you, for the pack you’re carrying, and sturdy enough to last for awhile.

JeansDon’t go there! After about five miles, you’ll feel like your legs are going to fall off. You’ll sweat buckets, chaff your thighs, and feel like you’re carrying an additional five pounds. They are also heavy. Heavier when wet! Stick to something like a medium weight khaki twill material, like Dockers. Again, choose khaki or brown colors for the trip.

Tank Tops – Nooooo! Feels good on a hot day, and particularly if you don’t have to carry a pack. But you do have to carry a pack and you don’t want those nylon straps scraping the skin off your upper arms or worse, under your arms. Wow! That hurts.

It’s time for a heavier weight t-shirt or long sleeved shirt where the sleeves can be rolled up. You might sweat in it, but it’ll dry and your skin will be safe. Not all shirt material is created equal. You’re going to have to test it out beforehand by wearing it with your pack - for at least 30 minutes.

Let’s Talk About That Underwear – Throw out those nylons undies unless you’re into yeast infections. Sweating in nylon for hours on end isn’t a good thing. Chances are, bathing is going to be limited. You don’t have to like the cotton undies – you just have to protect yourself from further ailments.

Do you need a bra? No. But for some, you might feel better. Just take two (one to wear; one in the pack). Otherwise, it’s just that much more weight.

Remember, when it comes to items carried ask yourself what do I want? Food or this item? Food or that item? You can get along with very little, but you need food and water to survive.

Socks – Your pack is not going to get you to your destination. Walking sticks aren’t going to get you to your destination. Your outfit and brand names aren’t going to get you to where you’re headed. It’s Your Feet! Your feet will become the most important part of your body. Without that, you’re not going anywhere. So let’s pamper them.

Wool sounds terrible in hot weather but the sweat will be shed away from your skin, and wool will give you an extra layer of comfort not afforded by cotton socks. Ask anyone who has walked for miles in cotton socks what it was like, and you’ll see a face of horror. Even cotton blend socks will eventually tear the skin off your feet.

Marino wool socks are great! When backpackers tell you to wear those, they aren’t joking. They cost more, but the mileage you get from them is supreme. With regular use, expect to have them for 3 years or longer. I wore mine for 600 miles and they were barely broke in.

Shoes – You just can’t throw this together at the last minute. BUT, if you do have to throw something together at the last minute, choose running sneakers. They can take a bit more abuse than the others. Again, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars, but when will you be able to purchase another pair of shoes?

Personally, I love Sketchers suede hiking shoes, but that’s a personal choice. Others like the high top leather hiking shoes, but this will always depend on the shape of your foot. Go downtown and try some on. If they don’t feel glorious in the store, you don’t want them.

If you’re on an extreme budget, or didn’t have time to acquire a pair, choose your toughest sneakers and do the best you can. Throw in a tube of crazy glue for mending.

Alright! You have your hiking clothes on, (you can train in sneakers, if you choose), you’ve thrown your pack on your back, tightened your pack’s waist belt to snug, and now it’s time to try it all out.

You can walk around the block a number of times (the more, the better), or go to the park and use their trail walks. This is the time you want to REALLY pay attention to everything that’s happening to your body.

Are you winded within moments? You may be carrying too much stuff beyond the list in the last lesson. THROW IT OUT, unless it’s a medical prescription, or medical requirement. Or perhaps the pack feels comfortable, but you’re just out of shape.

The day you leave, you’ll be combining your physical fitness with stress – one or both have to be under control. Currently, you have the option of walking with your pack every day to build yourself up (which will also make your body look great), or dealing with the results “as is.” It’ll be up to you.

**Remember - No one else is going to carry your pack for you. In survival mode, everyone is out for themselves, and you will become a liability. No one wants a liability.

Does your back or neck hurt? Stop and readjust your straps, or you can readjust them while walking. You should feel an immediate difference as you change them. Everyone who buys a new pack goes through this, so you’re not alone. Eventually, you’ll get it to the point whereby it’s comfortable.

And how much weight are you carrying? Weigh in your pack and adjust appropriately. This isn’t about want; it’s about need.

Truthfully, you will discover that the only things you truly need are food, your water bottle, and the clothes are your back. You’ll need a pair of good shoes, and your money pouch. Beyond that, you’ll endure.

With your test walk out of the way, how did those clothes feel? If you can say, “I’d wear them again”, wash them up and keep them with your Bug Out Bag. You want to be sure you have them when you need them.

If you purchased leather hiking shoes or boots, you’ll want to wear them occasionally to keep them broke in.

Stay Tuned for Part 3!

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