The Unoffical Official Hiking Thread

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Hiking' started by Gidds, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. Ahcuah Barefooters

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2011
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    I tend to prefer dayhiking, too. And, I have back problems. I have a Kelty Hawkeye fanny pack: 800 cubic inches which does appear to be bigger than the ones you mention.

    [IMG]
    I'll also then hang stuff (mainly my camera) off the front belt.

    For a larger pack, have you tried an external frame? If you set it up right, you can put all the weight on your hip belt, and just use the shoulder straps for stabilization (keep the pack from falling backwards). The external frame is just fine on my back, while whenever I try an internal frame it puts way too much weight on my shoulders and I cannot find a way to fix that.
  2. Ahcuah Barefooters

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2011
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    Old contrails spread out like that. Maybe weather conditions helped it spread. However, you saw it in person, and all I have is that picture . . .
  3. Gidds Barefooters

    Member Since:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Message Count:
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    In the interest of full disclosure here is a barefoot hiking story:

    The Day I Took Off My Shoes
    (a cautionary tale with a surprise twist)

    A few weeks ago, on a warm day in October, I decided to have a short hike on my favorite trail. The trail in question winds along the boundary of a state park through longleaf pine forest, oak and pine scrub, and along a lake shore. It was a sunny day and not too breezy, so I put on my hiking kilt (yes, it is still a kilt even if somebody with girl parts is wearing it!) and a pair of tall socks but then I had a dilemma. What should I wear on my feet? It was cool enough that I did want to wear socks, so about my only option was my Merrell Pace Gloves.

    My relationship with my Merrells has soured over the last year. They are the second pair of alternative shoes I purchased as an everyday shoe. I initially liked them a lot because they are well made, had nice treads, and were styled like a sneaker, which was appropriate for my workplace at the time. I first tried them on crushed gravel roads in the state forest and liked them a lot. Then I tried them on my usual trails and they immediately filled with sand. I hadn't thought about the mesh uppers in relation to the fine-grained sand we have as the main soil in Florida.

    I tried to ignore the sand problem and got blisters for my pride. I also was none too pleased when I got jabbed by prickly pears and sandspurs through the sides of the mesh a few times. I'm a stubborn person though and I wasn't going back to conventional shoes. Then I started getting teased at work about wearing "water shoes". I was completely perplexed. While I am not a status-conscious or socially-savvy person, where I come from the name brand "Merrell" commands some respect due to the associated price point (which I didn't mind at the time because I thought these were the only trail shoes I'd be needing for a very long time). On one of my rare expeditions into a big box store I realized from where the "water shoe" ridicule was stemming; the bargain bin water shoes are styled in a manner suspiciously reminiscent of my Pace Gloves. Oh, well I don't have that job anymore and I don't listen to other people's opinions anyway.

    However, the problems with the Pace Gloves continued on an increasingly sinister track, bringing us to the sunny day in October. I put on my tall green socks and my Pace Gloves and headed out into the woods. It was a nice day and there were a lot of small birds, mostly warblers, in the underbrush bordering the trail and many interesting animal tracks in the recently damp earth. But something was distracting me from enjoying these things. With every step the seam in the toe of my sock was swish-swishing across the tops of my toes, reminiscent of a playground bully's "indigenous person" burn. A niggling sensation was running through my toes themselves. They felt like they were a Victorian lady experiencing the vapors because of her corset. My feet felt like they were in jail! My toes have spread out so much in the last year that the Pace Gloves are just too narrow.

    I stomped up to the "top" of the trail where it turns south abruptly, the birds, trees and animal tracks forgotten. I hopped around on one foot, then the other, mumbling very unladylike things and yanking off my socks and the accursed Pace Gloves. The socks in question were my "good" pair of forest green kilt hose, so I didn't want to walk home in them and ruin them. I stuffed the socks into the Pace Gloves and tied the shoes together with the laces. At that point a vision from my youth took me: I used to put the shot and throw the javelin in high school. How easy it would be to hurl the offending shoes into the woods like a hammer thrower!

    After a few moments contemplation I decided I mustn't do this. After all it wouldn't be very ecologically appropriate and there were a number of bear tracks on the trail and a good chance that I might hit the poor bear in the head with the shoes, as it was no doubt lurking just off the trail, provoking it to attack, and my Merrells making me the first person in the recorded history of Florida to be killed by a black bear!

    I decided the best course of action was just to carry the detested shoes home and watch where I stepped very carefully. I walk around barefoot enough other places that the sensation of walking down the trail wasn't horribly alien, in fact it was rather nice. There were no prickly pears or sand spurs on that particular trail and amazingly every rattlesnake in a 50 mile radius did not instantly home in on the fact that there was a barefoot human tiptoeing through the forest. I walked on and began to enjoy the birds and animal tracks again instead of constantly staring at my feet like somebody hunting agates on the beach. I walked through sand, over pineneedles, through grass, and across tree roots at a pace, according to my GPS, not all that much slower than my normal shod pace.

    I continued walking barefoot when I got off the trail and back to "civilization", but I walk around barefoot there all the time anyway. If anybody did notice they didn't say anything but my habit of being a surly misanthrope usually discourages people from engaging me in anything that could be considered socializing anyway. I padded back into the house, with no blisters or major wounds of any kind. My husband, who often chides me for refusing to wear normal shoes, or pants, when crashing around in the woods, didn't even notice that I wasn't wearing my shoes!

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  4. Gidds Barefooters

    Member Since:
    Aug 28, 2011
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    [IMG]

    Here is the Mountainsmith with a 500mL water bottle and my foot (8.5 W US or 39 EU) for scale. I have no idea what the volume is, it wasn't really something I was considering when I bought it. I just thought about all the stuff I'd want to cram in it and it seemed like it would fit. Interestingly you can get detachable "strapettes" for this particular model that pull it in closer to the small of your back. Right now I have a similar device from one of hubby's military surpluss packs that I have tried and the concept seems to work well. I may get them after I try tying my sleeping stuff to the pack.

    I am hesitant to try a frame pack because they are pricey and I am not sure if it will work for me or not. I have a "short torso" and am very slim-hipped for a female and I wear this pack so low on my "hips" that it covers my tail bone (or more than Mike's loin cloth for those who've seen the kilt thread). If I bring the belt up higher it squishes my belly. I know there are frame packs made for women but I hate shopping and I'm not sure I actually need one just yet. I guess I could try a youth model. It doesn't actually get cold down here and I doubt hubby and I will do more than an overnight trip any time soon. It is something that I have been thinking about for the future though.

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  5. Ahcuah Barefooters

    Member Since:
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    The web page you pointed to says that it is 10 x 11.5 x 5. That works out to a bit under 600 cubic inches.
  6. Gidds Barefooters

    Member Since:
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    I guess that's another good reason to get ultralight and minimal gear for my "system" then.

    Another aspect of hiking and not wearing traditional shoes and pack choice is that it changes your center of gravity. I don't know how exactly, but it is something I would think about when planning things and trying out different systems.

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  7. Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad
    2. Presidents

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    Mar 5, 2010
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    My hubby would know what type of cloud that was. He flies airplanes and they have to learn all that stuff. He's in bed now. I hope I can remember to ask him tomorrow.

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  8. Agnesd Barefooters
    1. Washington

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2012
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    I have Katadyn Pump filter that I love, especially when there are water sources along the trail. I had it down to a science. I would carry a small camelbak, and when it got low, I would stop at a lake or stream, take the bite valve off plug it right onto the output for the filter, and pump the filtered water directly into the camebak into the drink tube. It was much less weight than carrying a ton of water, and I never got sick. I had a couple years when I lived in the mountains in California, and hiked 2-3 times a week for the entire hiking season (May/June - October). If I didn't get sick from my filtered water in that time period, then I figured it was working.
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  9. Jennn Barefooters
    1. Colorado

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2011
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    I like to be prepared for anything and always end up packing way more than I need, even on day hikes I end up with a decent sized pack.

    I've been trying to downsize and replace my gear with lightweight gear. I went so far as to try a frameless pack (pack weight just over a pound I believe), but I never did get it "right". I used it on my 4 day hike in Peru and decided it wasn't for me. I picked up an Osprey internal frame pack on sale at REI last summer and it was great on the one and only trip I've taken it on so far.

    To keep this about minimalist and barefoot - I was surprised to find out that the weight of the pack had no negative affect at all on my feet when in minimalist shoes like VFF's or Unshoes. When I first transitioned a couple years ago I was nervous about my first minimal shoe hike but my feet felt better than they ever did in traditional shoes. Barefoot is a different story for me, I love barefoot hiking as well but my soles are not conditioned for it. The extra weight of the pack makes the little rocks and variations in the terrain feel worse than it is, and my skin starts to hurt after a mile or two. Nothing some conditioning can't fix, but I'm okay with just wearing my sandals or VFF's and enjoying the true barefootedness once we've set up camp.

    I have a Hennesey Hammock, which I LOVE, but I usually end up leaving it behind and sleeping in the tent my friend brings along - she has a 2 person Big Agnes ultralight tent.

    I love my luxuries, so I use an inflatable sleeping pad instead of a Thermarest or foam pad. It's no heavier than a Thermarest but takes up less space and is SO much more comfortable. I always bring the patch kit with me but haven't had any issues with it yet. And speaking of luxuries, we always pack in a "happy hour" for our first night as well - a bottle of wine (emptied into a Nalgene Cantene so we don't have to carry a glass bottle), crackers, cheese, fresh fruit, chocolate. Happy hour contributes greatly to the weight of my pack, but once its gone the pack is so much lighter. I usually pack enough food for an extra day or two of hiking as well. I try to pack less food but I get worried about emergency situations and end up with more than I need.

    happy hour.jpg

    I have a Katadyn filter as well, never had any issues drinking water that I filtered with it. I always carry the water purifying tablets as backup but I have never needed to use them. Last year I left all the cooking stuff behind and brought food that's ready-to-eat. The only thing I missed is having hot coffee in the morning.
  10. Running Romeo Barefooters
    1. California -...

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    Sep 12, 2010
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    Hiked up to Clouds Rest in Yosemite a month and a half ago for this awesome view of Half Dome. Great little spot to relax for awhile :) P1050275.jpg
  11. NickW Guest

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    I'll have to look into those Katadyn filters I guess. I too like to hike in my sandals versus barefoot when I have a pack. When I do a day hike I just take my camelback which has plenty of space and pockets for the mre's that I take and my emer. med kit. I've had those inflatable sleeping pads before and they always seemed to go flat or develop holes so fast that I went back to the old foam pads. The foam pads aren't as cushy and comfy, but you don't have to worry about them deflating in middle of the night.

    I also take mre's usually instead of the dried mountain house type foods because I can eat the mre's cold and without a heater if need be. It's seems to be getting increasingly difficult to find the good style of mre's though that have the good heaters in them that don't create a mess. Not sure why that is... Before I leave the house I field strip the mre's to just the bare necessities because they are heavy enough without the added weight of all the stuff I won't eat and the garbage that they usually have in them.
  12. Jennn Barefooters
    1. Colorado

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2011
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    Dbf and I have used MRE's when camping before. They're not bad but they seem kind of heavy, even when I just grab what I want and leave most of it behind. I suppose the main course in a MRE is no worse than one of the mountain house meals in weight though. I've been bringing more fresh food on my overnight hikes, fruits, veggies, nuts, crackers, cheese, jerky... the happy hour stuff really makes great meals too. I made a quinoa salad for my last hike that was delicious and very filling too.
  13. NickW Guest

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    They are pretty heavy, agreed, that's why I field strip them. Still heavy even field stripped though. I think the mountain house is probably much lighter, but if you've ever had cold mountain you know it's not very good.
  14. Gidds Barefooters

    Member Since:
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    My body hates gluten, so I have been eyeballing this and this and this for food ideas. I see no reason why it wouldn't work for "normal" people too. I really like those big crackers in MREs though :(stupidglutenallergystupidglutenallergy

    I am going to drag my Thanksgiving food out to the lake in the picture if it is done before sunset.

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  15. Tristan-OH Barefooters
    1. Ohio
    2. New York

    Member Since:
    Sep 15, 2011
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    I'm late to the party like usual, sorry Gidds! :p
    Looks like we have a hiking subforum now, yay!

    Like running, hiking is something I am just getting back into in the last few years after about a decade off. It was something we always did as a family vacation. When I was young my folks didnt have a lot of money and didnt do much traveling, instead we'd pack up and head into the mountains - I grew up pretty close to the Adirondacks. Every other year we might take a longer trip over the the White Mountains next door.

    As for the previous discussion on filters, I've used an MSR Miniworks EX and it is an excellent filter but kind of big and bulky. But we have filtered out of mud puddles and had excellent tasting water. I just cant stand the tast of the drops/pills. Recently I have been upgrading all my gear to more lightweight stuff and I have got a new gravity filter setup using Platypus bladders and a Sawyer inline filter. I highly recommend looking into the Sawyers, they are very light weight (1.8oz) and guaranteed for a million gallons and seem to be quite popular with the hiking forums.

    Nick - I hear ya about the gear! I have cut down quite a lot myself, but used to be old school & packed pretty heavy. Probably not as heavy as you, but here is my last long trip and the pack was about 50# fully loaded (5 days):
    [IMG]

    I've upgraded most of my gear earlier this year but havent really been out to test it. New pack, tent, sleeping bag, pad, cooksets, filter, etc. I got an internal frame pack that is sized big enough for a weekend if its a lightweight trip...
    [IMG]
    I have it stuffed full to get a feel for the max size in that pic. The Kelty is empty, and it will still be my go-to for longer or heavier trips, that thing just hauls, and I've had it for most of my trips since the early 90's. I also got a smaller version of that pack for daytrips and cycling.

    And some more new stuff:
    [IMG]
    Thats my Henry Shires Tarptent (http://www.tarptent.com). He is a guy out west that makes tents to order. Its super light at about 1.5#, has no poles - uses my trekking poles (plus some carbon fiber struts in the ends) and is a nice double wall tent thought the inner lining isnt really visible in the pic. Goes up faster than any other tent I have had too. And my new air matress that is super comfy and still pretty light. The trekking poles are carbon fiber with speedlocks and cork grips.


    I did get out for a quick daytrip this year up Mt LeConte in the Smokies... got to test out minimalist footwear for the first time hiking...

    [IMG]
    I think I posted about that trip earlier, but it was a bit much for the VFF's at the time. They did work out well for most of it though, I was feeling great until the last 2 miles.

    Some of the earlier pics really have me salivating about the views. I seriously hope to be able to hit the mountains again in '13. It just kills me not to hike, its probably my most favorite thing to do. :)

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  16. NickW Guest

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    Tristan, I like that internal frame pack you got. I've got one that I'm not real wild about. It has three large floppy pockets on the outside and I have to wrap a bunjee cord or two around the pack to keep those pockets from flopping while hiking. I've been eyeing a couple packs from REI, which I may get one this winter sometime. Besides not wanting floppy external pockets I've found I really love the separate compartment at the bottom of the pack for quick access to my tent and sleep gear. My foam pad still gets strapped to the top though.
  17. Gidds Barefooters

    Member Since:
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    Just a note on VFF hiking if anybody reading is thinking about trying it for the first time:

    I wear my Bikilas most of the time at work (hafta wear shoes at work, since I work in a lab and drop test tubes fairly regularly, but I am allowed to wear toe shoes) and I don't recommend hiking a long distance in them if you don't wear them a lot. I certainly notice when I am out on the forest service roads that are covered in large crushed gravel, but my feet are none the worse for wear in the end, I think because my feet are used to it. I think VFF hiking is safest eased into like any barefooting or alternative shoe running.

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  18. Ahcuah Barefooters

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    What kind of air mattress is that? My back requires something thicker than the standard Thermarest, and that one looks ideal.

    Thanks!
  19. RunningPirate Barefooters
    1. California -...

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    Mar 23, 2012
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    I was groovin on that quinoa salad you had pictured, above. I started backpacking last year and was using the Mountainhouse/prefab stuff. Not bad, but agreed a bit heavy (and 'spensive!). I've shifted over to ramen noodles mixed w/ packs of tuna or chicken and lots of Tabasco (worth the weight in the pack, IMO)...

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  20. Tristan-OH Barefooters
    1. Ohio
    2. New York

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    Ahcuah - Thats my big pad, the Nemo Cosmo. Its 3" thick, 25"W x 76"L, but a tad bit heavy. That one leaked when I got it though, and Nemo replaced it, and I opted to upgrade to the insulated version for replacement (same pad, just with insulation inside it and a bit heavier). I had originally bought a smaller one for use with that tent - since the tent wasnt suppose to fit the bigger pad (but as you can see it fits but bulges out at the corners a bit) but I got a really good deal so I have both. The bigger more luxurious pad (that will also work well in cooler temps) and then the smaller Nemo Astro 2.5" thick and 20"W x 72"L and about a pound lighter at 1# 4oz. The Astro rolls down to the size of a Nalgene bottle, and should suffice for warm weather lightweight trips.

    The pad that gets all the rave on the backpacking forum is the Thermarest Neo Air, its the ultimate lightweight inflatable but comes at a higher cost. For the slight weight penalty I got my Nemos for about half the price of the Thermarest. A lot of folks like the Expeds too. Though if you don't mind spending an extra $50 or more, you might want to take a closer look at those two.

    I personally go for thicker pads now - even at a slight weight penalty for me its worth it to get better sleep. I've tried the egg-crate foam pads and some thin 1" or so inflatables, and am miserable. Its one thing I dont skimp on anymore. Unless you do like Gidds and get a sweet hammock!
    Yeah any minimalist footwear should be eased into, and I was pushing my limits at the time. But thats not really what got me, it was more specific problems with soaked feet and really rough rocky last two miles that I couldnt really see where I was stepping.

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