Mar 18, 2009 at 1:23 pm #1234907
I just finished reading Trail Life by Ray Jardine. I enjoyed the book – once I got past the accusations that I only bought my gear because the "Big" companies convinced me to through their advertising. Given that I've purchased most of my gear from GG, MLD, or SMD I struggled with Ray's accusation. I've never seen them advertise anywhere.
On to the important questions. While he proposes a number of techniques and methods, two really jumped out at me and I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some additional insight from their experiences.
1 – The Single Shoulder Carry
He says that he carries his pack using just one strap most of the time and then switches shoulders every ten or fifteen minutes. My base pack weight is around eight pounds. Fully loaded for a long weekend, my GG Murmur might weigh eighteen pounds with water. I used to carry my bookbag on one shoulder in college but can't imagine hiking for ten-plus hours without both straps the whole time. Does anyone really do this?
2 – Sleeping on a Gentle Slope with the Feet Uphill
In his "Stealth Camping" section he praises the theraputic value of sleeping with your feet higher than your head. Perhaps it is an old wive's tale, but I had always heard that if you do that you'll wake up with a splitting headache from the blood rushing to your head. I do most of my backpacking in PA and finding flat campsites is not always easy – there's usually a bit of a slope. Has anyone tried sleeping with their feet uphill?
I appreciate any thoughts and feedback.Mar 18, 2009 at 1:33 pm #1486782
@rezniemLocale: San Francisco
Yes…slightly elevating your feet reduces swelling considerably. Has to be very very slight or you'll snore, and get a headache and all that…or at least I do.Mar 18, 2009 at 1:50 pm #1486799
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
#1 Shoulder Carry – not with 18 lbs, but with 10 or less. I only do this once in a while, usually when my back gets soaked with persperation. Once it dries, I go to the standard method. Also, when grabbing a water bottle when walking. I can grab the bottle, but putting it back while walking is not easy. So I sling the pack on one shoulder and grab the bottle. It also is a good method to just change the position of the back for extended non-stap hiking. I suppose one could get use to it full time, but I am just more comfortable carrying it the conventional way. I travel a lot for business with a laptop, and tried a backpack, but for these short jaunts it is more comfortable carrying it on one shoulder. Consider Ray's suggestion as an option that might work for some people.
#2 Feet elevated probably only works for backsleepers. When I am really tired, I put my feet on my pack and start out on my back. It does help get to sleep and rejuvinate the legs. But once I fall asleep, I end up on my side and my body finds a level position automatically. If I sleep on the slightest incline, wheter head or feet up, my body ends up moving down the slope… not the slope's fault, that is just how my body functions during sleep.
Jardine has a lot of great information and techniques, but just go after those that make sense to you. No one has the perfect perscription on how to function in the backcountry.Mar 18, 2009 at 3:25 pm #1486835
Jason ElsworthBPL Member
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
I often do the one shoulder carry when I get a damp back and also just for a change. Works best for me when pack is pretty light. I use the elevated feet technique for resting and have found it to work well.Mar 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm #1486839
Piper S.BPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Shoulder carry: I was under the impression that a lot of back/neck problems for women and students are caused by always carrying your purse/bookbag on one shoulder.
Sleeping feet uphill: I do this. It really is more comfortable for me, and I sleep on my side, stomach and back. If there is no incline, I will use my pack to raise my feet/legs.Mar 18, 2009 at 3:34 pm #1486842
I'm going to try the one-shoulder carry on my next hike after my pack weight drops below ten pounds to see how it goes.
The other thing that I just now considered is that I always hike with trekking poles – I'm guessing that to try to use the poles while carrying the pack with one shoulder will be an exercise in futility. Even so – I can stow the poles and try.
Thanks all for your input.Mar 18, 2009 at 8:56 pm #1486981
Joe GeibBPL Member
@joegeibLocale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
I believe that Ray also can carry the pack on one shoulder because he doesn't really carry much water. He tanks up at water sources, and carries only what he has to. He tries to get to the next water source with no water left, so he doesn't have to tote around the water weight all day.Mar 19, 2009 at 8:39 am #1487085
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
Tanking up at water sources can be an issue sense your body typically can only absorb 4 ounces of water every 45 minutes. Assuming you’re properly hydrated tanking up on water is a waste as you’ll simply pee it out.
Now I am going to assume that the comments by Ray regarding carrying lower amounts of water is meant to be take only the water that you'll need.Mar 19, 2009 at 9:13 am #1487093
Ray does indeed comment about knowing your water consumption needs given the trail ahead. And they do try to plan it so that they take their last swallow just before reaching the next source.
Water weight was my first big step towards ultralight. In 2005 I took a trip with my daughter – my first backpacking in over 30 years. We started carrying 4 liters of water each…On a trail that crossed a stream at least every two miles! Oh the lessons learned on that trip!
I hadn't heard that stat on the body absorbing only 4 ounces every 45 minutes. That will help. I drink a lot while on the trail and usually drink an extra liter when we stop for lunch. I've definitely experienced the "pee every 15 minutes" after that – it makes a lot more sense now. As do the comments regarding drinking small amounts more frequently. Thanks Chad!Mar 19, 2009 at 9:59 am #1487105
my body definitely does not just absorb only 4 oz every 45 minutes. If i were to take that advice i'd drop dead along the trail from dehydration. Depending on who you talk to or who's book you read the "Average" person's body consumption of water will differ from 4 oz to 1 liter. Under strenuous conditions I can drink a liter an hour and rarely have to pee, as in not have to go till i get to camp 99% of the time. I also sweat alot, and dehydrate really easy. always carry what you'll need and not any more.
a good indication of your actual hydration is the color of your pee. the lighter the color the more hydrated your body is, the darker yellow/orange the more dehydrated you are. Increase of activity requires an increase in water up take. Drink enough to stay on the lighter side of things.Mar 19, 2009 at 10:09 am #1487108
Robert BleanBPL Member
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
> your body typically can only absorb 4 ounces of water every 45 minutes
What is the basis of your statistic?
What are the assumptions?
Are you saying that even when exercising enough to be sweating heavily that is all the water that it is useful to drink?
What about drinks with electrolytes and/or CHO in them?
I am having a hard time believing that little water is correct — my own experience is that I drink far more than that at the gym or when hiking vigorously, and I do not pee it all back out.
I have drunk about your amount hiking in cooler weather recently, but in warmer weather the figures I have seen are more like a liter every couple of hours, and liter per hour if exercising to the point of sweating heavily. (Drinking in that quantity presumes an electrolyte drink.)
One can drink less, but if I do drink much less then I feel the adverse effects.
— BobMar 19, 2009 at 10:45 am #1487128
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
Whoops! It's supposed to read 4 ounces of water every 4-5 minutes! Not 45 minutes!
This figure came from on of the staff member of this site who shale remain nameless. . .uless he wants to step forward.Mar 19, 2009 at 10:55 am #1487131
@vickrhinesLocale: Central Texas
There are too many variables to generalize about water uptake rates. However, a couple of things seem important. Adding electrolytes to your water improves uptake and replaces what is lost in sweat. Any commercial or DIY hydration mix will work. Hypersaturating is an old, proven practice among desert trekkers. In really hot, dry conditions, we drink a quart before breakfast and a quart before leaving camp. If you pee clear, so what? It lets you know you are thoroughly hydrated. Water in the canteen does no good.Mar 19, 2009 at 11:17 am #1487135
Zack KarasBPL Member
@iwillchopyouhotmail-comLocale: Lake Tahoe
I fully agree with carrying as little as possible, but it can become a real gamble to try to arrive at your next water source on empty. What if that water source is dry? What if (like on the CDT) you get to your next water source and their are dead horses, cows and coyotes rotting in it? A little water insurance can be a good thing.Mar 19, 2009 at 11:34 am #1487145
Robert BleanBPL Member
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
> Whoops! It's supposed to read 4 ounces of water every 4-5 minutes! Not 45 minutes!
4 oz / 5 min = 1.5 liters per hour. I'd say that is pretty much an upper bound, and not commonly needed for many (not sure about some of our desert travelers and hot-weather endurance racers).
Under most circumstances, for most of us, that amount evaluates to your body absorbing as much as you feel like drinking. Not much of a limitation.
As mentioned in another posting, if you need a lot of water, then you also need electrolytes somehow. Also, moderate CHO in the drink (4% – 8%) aids uptake and contributes a continuing source of calories / energy.
Bottom line — watch your body — if you pee a lot it is harmless (as long as you are taking electrolytes); pee a little but clear means you have your balance about right; pee definitely colored means you may want to drink more.
–MVMar 19, 2009 at 2:14 pm #1487198
@malndmanLocale: Central NC, USA
Bob Blean (blean)posted:
"not sure about some of our desert travelers"
During the heat of the summer, a desert hiker in the sun, working hard, can lose 2 L. of water per hour.Apr 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm #1492766
Mark McLauchlinBPL Member
@markmclauchlinLocale: Western Australia
I tried the single shoulder carry, also just read the book, and found that with my total weight for an overnight hike of 6 Kg it was comfortable. If I were carrying heavier I would think twice.
My main reason for trying this was to reduce some of the heat on my back, the temperature was around 28 C on the day.
I totally agree with your comments on the big manufacturers, but hey thats just one persons opinion (he just happened to write a book about it)
MarkApr 10, 2009 at 11:16 am #1492950
I have a weekend trip planned for next weekend and am hoping to try the one-shoulder carry for the last day of the trip. My base weight is around 8 pounds but I'm carrying all the food, fuel, and much of the "meal" water for my two friends who are coming with me. It didn't seem fair that my total pack weight was 13 pounds to start and theirs was north of 25 pounds each. Not everyone can easily replace all their gear with lighter stuff.
After breakfast on our third morning I think my pack weight will be down enough to try just one strap. I'll collapse my poles and stow them and give it a shot.
Thanks for the note Mark,
-KevinApr 19, 2009 at 2:45 pm #1495422
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
I always elevate my feet, either with my pack or site selection. As for shoulder carry-NO WAY. I do not appreciate ANY weight on my shoulders, plus I couldn't use two trekking poles.
Water needs are pretty individual. I used to go the "Ray Way" and tank up at stream crossings. I also used to get wicked headaches from hiking. A sports physician finally recommended that I try drinking a little and often, and my hiking migraines magically went away. But that means I carry more water weight (but it's worth it). I can drink a litre an hour and not pee all day, while my partner drinks the same amount, pees constantly, and gets dehydrated. You really need to figure these things out for yourself, and do what works best for your body.Apr 20, 2009 at 7:00 am #1495576
I just got back from a weekend trip (the West Rim Trail in northern PA). I picked a site with a slight slope and tried sleeping with my feet uphill but after a couple of hours I had to flip…Something didn't feel right. I'll attribute it to the site and will try it again, but I definitely slept better with my head on the uphill side.
I never tried the single shoulder carry because I use two poles as well. It might be more appealing during the summer months when it gets hotter – put the poles in the pack and sling it over one shoulder for a while. We'll see on my next trip in May.
As for water I think I've finally figured out what works best for me. I have a 2-liter Platy Hoser that I load with enough water to get me to the next water source. I've found I also enjoy the Camelbak Elixir tablets in my Platy (I don't think there's anything illegal about that). At the water source I also drink enough to make up any deficit I may be feeling regarding my hydration levels. I use an AquaStar water purifier (which purifies a liter at a time) so I may decide that I need 1.5 liters in my Platy and I'll just drink the other half liter on the spot.
When hiking with others it's always interesting to see the amount of water consumed. I have one friend who consumes one liter of water in same time period that I'll down four! We're all different – no magic rule.Apr 20, 2009 at 8:16 am #1495594
@cfigueroaLocale: Santa Cruz Area
I agree with Ray’s assertion about sleeping with your legs elevated. Personally, I do not look for a gently sloping hill to raise my legs since as I sleep I seem to always slide back down. However, the reason why I use a 3/4-sleeping pad is to put my backpack under my feet and raise them slightly. Speaking from my experience, it makes a tremendous difference in helping to reduce swelling in my feet.Apr 20, 2009 at 11:14 am #1495629
In regards to having your feet uphill… I specifically make sure not to do this because I always wake up with a huge headache after sleeping this way (head downhill and feet uphill). Perhaps merely elevating your legs but having your head remain level is the best way to go about this so that you reduce swelling in your feet and don't wake up feeling like crap. backpack on one shoulder thing seems kinda dumb to me as it would swing around and, unless you have a ridiculously light load, eventually be very uncomfortable. I see the benefits of doing it sporadically though to help cool your back and air it out.Apr 20, 2009 at 12:07 pm #1495640
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
I do so, somewhat, in hammocks as it keeps me from sliding footward during the night and smashing up against the hammock end, necessitating a struggle to wriggle upward and get stretched out again. Tying the foot end a little higher takes care of this and means a much more comfortable night.
On the ground, when the site is sloped I prefer to have my head uphill, period.
Backpackers can borrow a self-massage technique from long-distance cyclists that I’ve found hugely helpful in bringing tired, swollen legs back to life. Lie down, face up, with your legs elevated against a tree or some other support. Beginning at the ankles, massage each leg, working towards the knees. This helps force accumulated fluid out, presumably including lactic acid.
I don’t know how much science there is behind the technique, but I can testify it’s helped me stop cramping and seems to lessen pain and stiffness the next morning. I’ll sometimes use it on rest stops during the day.Apr 23, 2009 at 4:29 am #1496391
"Shoulder carry: I was under the impression that a lot of back/neck problems for women and students are caused by always carrying your purse/bookbag on one shoulder."
Yep. And also a double shoulder carry if the pack is too heavy and the weight is too low. It pulls their shoulders back and causes back pain. Another good reason to pack heavier gear / food / water high. Real, honest to goodness, studies relating packs to childhood back problems are easy to find with google.Apr 23, 2009 at 6:36 am #1496415
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
I have noticed after tdrinking a lot of water at once as opposed to sipping causes me to urinate more often. However, although I never had that "dying of thirst" feeling or ever felt dehydrated, I did develop blood in my urine. This was later traced to kidney stones which are caused by dehydration.
One a previous hike I had similar symptoms, but since no pain, and the blood stopped when I finished my hike, I ignored the problem until it happened again and more vigorously. The symptoms can be a sign of bladder cancer, but I was lucky and found that staying hydrated solves the kidney stone problem.So drink up. Keep the color of urine pale!
If you travel or hike from a desret climb into altitude, your intake can change a lot which can also result in stones. It happened to me in my 20s when I went from living in the tropics to living in high mountains.
Apologies for my medical histroy, but it was related to hiking and hydration.
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