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How to Prepare for the Ultimate Backpacking Trip

By Jim Burch

John Muir once said, "The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” And there is no better way to see America's wilderness than to strap your gear to your back and walk. But it's not that simple, is it? Backpacking, while fun and rewarding, is sometimes difficult and requires real preparation.

Get in Hiking Shape

Even at no grade and low altitude, hiking for 10 miles and 25 plus pounds on your back takes a toll on your body. If you're a beginner hiker or you spend most of the day sitting in an office chair, there are a few simple exercises to get your legs and core into prime hiking shape.

  • Core - Deadlifts are crucial to back and core strength. Learn to do them safely and properly.
  • Legs - Squats and lunges target both the front and back muscles all the way down the leg.
  • Mobility - The "Limber 11" is a great series of stretches to make long hikes safer and more comfortable.

Get the Gear

The toys needed for a backpacking adventure into the wilderness are minimal, but you should still invest time and research into these key items before exploring the backcountry:

  • Backpack - A good backpack should carry 35-45 liters of gear and have an internal frame to distribute the weight off your shoulders and onto your hips.
  • Tent - The giant tent you use for family car camping won't do for this excursion. Backpacking tents are light, small and only big enough to fit the exact number of people in your group (usually 1-3). Make sure it has a rainfly and consider the additional footprint if you'll be camping on rough ground.
  • Sleeping Bag - If there is one item to splurge on, it should be the sleeping bag. Down feathers pack down and loft out better than synthetic material. You should also find one with a temperature rating below the coldest night of your trip.
  • Sleeping Pad - Most people think the primary function of a sleeping pad is to give cushion, but it's actually to separate you from the cold ground below. The best sleeping bag does nothing if it's pressed up against the cold ground, but a sleeping pad offers a buffer between your body and the dirt below. It also just so happens to be more comfortable.
  • Water Filtration - When you're more than a day's hike from the nearest clean water source, you need a method to filter your own from a stream or pond. Water filters filter out impurities from any water source so you can have safe, clean water to drink and cook with.

There are dozens more items to consider, such as headlamps, a knife, and first aid, but any good backpacking checklist will help ensure you have everything you need.

Get Your Itinerary

You've got the gear, you're in great shape, now it's time to prepare for the actual trip. Controlled land, such as National and State Parks, will usually require backcountry permits for wilderness camping. Popular parks such as Grand Canyon and Yosemite are very difficult to get permits for, so you should sign up for them the moment they're available.

Even if you're backpacking through a national forest or wilderness area, which usually does not require permits, it's a good idea to have an itinerary and share it with someone before you leave. National parks use permits to control crowds on the trail, but also to know where you are if something happens (a fall, an animal attack, etc.).

Make an itinerary, share it and stick to it and you'll be just fine.

Focus on the Journey

Multi-day backpacking trips can be physically challenging, but try to enjoy each moment — even when your body is tired — instead of just thinking about completing your journey. After all, you're off the grid and among nature to savor every step and take in every sight.

 

About the author:

Jim Burch studied creative writing and journalism while working as an editor for the Murray State News in Kentucky. These days, he writes diverse copy -- from sports and movies to tech and health.

 


10 Important Items for Your Vacation Safety Checklist

By: Jessica Thiefels

image from exchange.aaa.comYou feel at ease on vacation—and you should—but that doesn’t mean you should completely let your guard down. Unpredictable circumstances can still happen while on vacation, from sickness and car problems to having a lost or stolen passport or getting injured.

While you can’t predict what will go wrong, you can prepare by taking these ten safety items with you.

 

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4 Ways Travel Insurance is a Life Saver in Countries with Civil Unrest

Albania-Riot-PoliceAll of us have a little bit of wanderlust in our systems. Whether we simply want to head over to a creek near home, or venture out into the unknown, all of us like to do a little bit of traveling and go on adventures. However, for those of you who like to venture out into the unknown and visit foreign countries, there’s always a risk that your dream getaway destination may be going through some civil or political unrest. And this could pose a risk to the safety of yourself and whoever you’re traveling with. One popular example we can see right now is with Brazil. The South American nation is gorgeous and well-known for its rich, diverse culture and its breathtaking beaches and coastal cities - one of the reasons Rio de Janeiro was chosen as the destination for the 2016 Olympics. However, Brazil is also one of the many nations dealing with political corruption, with a president that is currently suspended from office. Many times, countries dealing with these issues could pose risky situations for the common traveler, as they run into violent strikes or riots, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately however, travel insurance can be of assistance to those who are traveling to nations dealing with civil or political unrest. How? Let’s find out!

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In Rio For the Olympics?
Follow These 4 Safety Tips!

MaxresdefaultIt’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for! The start of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While some of us are going to be lounging back on our couches as we enjoy the various Olympic competitions, some of us are actually going to be in the breathtaking, picturesque Rio de Janeiro, watching the Olympics up close and live. It’s an amazing experience that everyone who’s a fan of the Olympics should get a chance to experience at some point in life. The 2016 Olympics is going to be a real treat for those attending it live; not only because of the various competitions to be viewed, but also because it’s going to be in one of the most beautiful seaside cities in the world. However, as gorgeous as Rio de Janeiro and the entire nation of Brazil is, there are also many safety concerns associated with being a tourist there. So how can you make sure to stay safe? Let’s find out!

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4 Safety Tips for the Republican National Convention 2016

Republican-National-Convention-Cleveland-2016In light of the Orlando shooting and other tragic events that have occurred this past year, security has spiked around large events. You can bet this will be true for the Republican National Convention 2016 in Cleveland, as hundreds of thousands of protesters are expected. As one of the most heated elections in American history, this year’s election will raise a lot of tension and emotions from everyone. With that being said, it’s very important that all of you are equipped with the right information so you can ensure your stay in Cleveland during the National Convention is as peaceful and pleasant as it can possibly be. So here are four safety tips for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland!

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