Factors that influence the ability to carry Weight in a Backpack
Jun 14, 2021 at 3:45 pm #3718619Jim MorrisonSpectator
@plinyLocale: Pacific Northwest
Companion forum thread to: Factors that influence the ability to carry Weight in a Backpack
Factors that influence the ability to carry weight in a backpack: Conditioning Distance Elevation Gain Environment and Terrain There are many factorsJun 16, 2021 at 4:46 pm #3718955Peter StairBPL Member
I turned 71 in January. After a hiatus of 3 decades, I started backpacking again in 2011. The first trip I carried the 40 lb pack. I could do it, but my feet didn’t like it. With some research, help from BPL and spending some money, I’m down to around 26 lbs, including food and water, for a 7-day trip. My feet are much happier.
I have noticed one age-related (I think) issue. No matter whether I’m carrying a pack or not, no matter how fast or slow I walk, no matter whether I’m going up or down, after about 3-4 hours of walking, my body has had it! I wonder if other “old guys” have the same experience.Jun 17, 2021 at 1:53 am #3719005Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
after about 3-4 hours of walking, my body has had it!
That is an endurance thing. Keep going and the time will slowly stretch out to a full day. But at 71, do NOT push it too hard.: let it happen at is own rate.
CheersJun 17, 2021 at 7:12 am #3719016Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
As a cyclist, as well as a backpacker, I find that a lot of people do not fuel themselves effectively for longer days. Once I hit the trail (or the road) I need to take on some calories every hour or so, or I begin to feel weaker or tired. If you are hiking for three or four hours, and not eating anything as you go, hiking farther will not help–you need to start adding in some calories.
If I eat and drink regularly during the day, I can go for a long time. If I try to make to lunch with only a breakfast to start, I have a had time doing four hours of hiking.Jun 17, 2021 at 8:23 am #3719021Scott HBPL Member
I agree with Paul above that both water and food are omitted from the graph. Depletion of either diminishes all of the others. Climactic conditions can be highly impactful as well. My last outing I was stuck with a hot humid day and that was degrading my functionality in a hurry. I defiantly am more efficient in cooler temperatures, I prefer to hike in temperatures under 80 degrees.
I also think the biggest factor in carrying a heavy load is conditioning. Then comes age, but age may not be the all determining factor we think it is. Far more important are things that happen to individuals that come along with age but do not happen to everyone. I am speaking of chronic joint issues, arthritis and long term injuries. These can be bad knees, back issues and so on. I met a section hiker on the AT that had severe knee and maybe back issues as well, who was doing pieces and would station cars so that he could stay most nights in a hotel as his health did not permit him to camp all the time.
For myself, I am pretty lucky I am 50 years old, I have good knees and mostly sound muscles and joints. So if I wanted to condition myself for it I could carry a fairly heavy load. I would wrather not, I experimented with it in training and once I got over 35 pounds was really unhappy with how it felt. I think I went up into the 40 range and just did not like where I was. But it was a training hike so it was more lesson learned than a problem.Jun 20, 2021 at 1:31 pm #3719348Karl KeatingBPL Member
I’m the same age as Peter Stair. I too tend to tire early when hiking, but the reason usually is insufficient intake of food and water. To echo St. Paul, I know what I should do, but I often enough don’t do it.
Most of my hikes are in the Sierra Nevada. So far this spring I’ve hiked out of Kennedy Meadows and near Courtwright Reservoir. Next week it will be Duck Pass, two weeks later Bishop Pass, and still later two trips into Miter Basin, one via Cottonwood Pass and the other via Cottonwood Lakes.
Over the years I’ve hiked many Sierra trails, but, as I grow older, I become ever more interested in hiking one I haven’t been able to find yet on a map. It’s the M. C. Escher Trail, designed by the Dutch artist. The trail is said to be downhill in both directions.Jun 20, 2021 at 5:56 pm #3719385Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
I’m in my late 60s and I also suffer from the fatigue disease Chronic ME, so I’m pretty much a worst-case scenario! But outside of relapses (when I can barely sit upright) I can still bang out a long day. Just yesterday I set off for an evening walk and knocked out 15 miles and 4500′ with a 15 lb training pack and was still quite frisky at the end. I did it in Naismith time too, even though I somehow forgot my food. So don’t set your expectations too low – us oldies can still cut it! But as Roger says, you really do have to work up to it and not overdo it while you are still deconditioned.
My 2c on what it takes:
The most important thing is rhythm. I learned this talking to old guides in the Western Alps when I was a kid. They never break rhythm. Then never take a false step. They never hurry. They just churn out the miles like a metronome. I have an optimal efficient pace and NEVER exceed it because I simply bonk if I do. I just trundle along, keeping my heart-rate reasonable and my breathing easy. I let the youngsters shoot past and try to keep my ego under control (I’m a competitive sod at heart!). I’m often trundling back past them later in the day when they have burned out and set up camp and I’m still on the trail.
Obviously, keep the load to a minimum, but not so that it compromises a comfortable sleep. At our age sleep-deprivation is a real killer. I don’t compromise on a comfy pad and a warm bag. And I never skimp on calories either – we need them to regenerate overnight.
Find the most ergonomic gear setup. For me, this is the Aarn bodypack system which balances the load, lightweight zero-drop trail shoes and PacerPoles. I’m not the only one who finds this an optimal arrangement and I’d encourage you to research it. It really does make a difference.
Walk regularly. There’s no substitute. I moved to the Lakes so I can get out a few times a week, and it makes a huge difference. Obviously that’s a great privilege, but if there’s any walking at all near you get out as often as you can. Failing that, start any longer hike very cautiously and work up your miles slowly over the first few days or even weeks. Far too many people race off at the start and end up injured or demotivated.
Finally, after many years of trial and error I’ve found a highly efficient form of exercise that is helping reverse age-related muscle loss and keep me in trim. It was developed by a very well regarded exercise physiologist and widely tested on people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It’s brutal but very safe, and only takes 15-20 mins a week. PM me if you’d like details.
Oh – and partially inspired by the film Game Changers, where they demonstrate how plant-based eating can improve stamina and performance, I’ve changed my way of eating to low-fat plant-based wholefood. It really has made an appreciable difference (and I’ve lost a lot of fat as well). But I appreciate that this would be a step too far for most…Jun 20, 2021 at 6:40 pm #3719410Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
At our age sleep-deprivation is a real killer. I don’t compromise on a comfy pad and a warm bag. And I never skimp on calories either – we need them to regenerate overnight.
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