Monday, April 28, 2008

How To Chose The Right Backpack

I would have to say that the two most important pieces of backpacking gear are boots and of course, a backpack. The backpack will make or break the hiker. Too small and you can't carry the gear you need. Too large and you are carrying around extra weight that can cause discomfort and lead to injury. But which backpack is best for me? How do I decide?

Backpacks come in three capacity groups. Depending on what you read or who you talk to, these sizes may be called different things. They could be day packs, assault packs and full packs. Or, day packs, overnight packs and multi-day packs. They can be broken down by measurement. You can use 1800-2500 cu in for day hikes and general everyday packs. 3000-5000 cu in packs are used for overnight and multi day trips. The packs over 5000 cu in are for adventures lasting longer than a week or for cold weather overnighters.

Another distinguishing feature is a pack frame. A backpack can have an internal frame, an external frame or no frame at all. The internal frame pack carries the load close to your body and can help spread the load evenly across the back. The disadvantage of an internal frame can be it's lack of extra pockets and places to attach gear. The external frame pack is ideal for carrying heavy loads and can be easier to pack. It also provides better airflow across the back. The disadvantage of an external frame is its high center of gravity and the potential to be a bit bulky.

You'll also need to choose a backpack length based on the length of your torso. Measure from the 7th vertebrae, (The bumpy one at the base of the neck) to the small of the back (level with the top of the hips) This will put you into either a small (under 18 inches) medium (18 to 20 inches) or large (21 inches and up)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Genesis: A Blog Is Born

Ever since childhood I have had a strong desire to climb things. I remember when our family planted a maple tree in the front yard of our small house in Peoria, Illinois. The tree was very small but my Dad assured me it would be ready to climb in 15 years. I promised I would come and climb that tree in 15 years when I would turn 23. By age 23 I was living in Southern California, a proud member of the United States Marine Corps. I never went back and climbed that tree.

Looking at a satellite image of my childhood home, it appears that old maple is still there. It does seem, however, that the small forest behind that house is now gone. The victim of our ever expanding population. I would imagine the construction workers must have found hundreds of tools we kids had taken from our father's tool boxes and left out there to rust.

I now live in the Temecula Valley, about 50 miles North of San Diego. This area is full of hills and there are some mountains nearby as well. If I'm standing in the right spot, I can see Mount San Jacinto, San Gorgonio Mountain and Mount San Antonio (Commonly called Mount Baldy). These three are known as the "Three Saints" a slang term used by hikers to refer to the three tallest peaks in Southern California.

I want to climb these mountains. I see them every day and they call to me. In the winter the snow enhances their dominance over the valley and they call to me. No matter the size of the local hill I decide to trek up, these three peaks are higher and they call to me.

I've never climbed a mountain. I've never climbed anything that took more than an hour. I know that reaching the summits of the Three Saints is no joke and no easy task. This initial web log entry marks the beginning of my quest. I'll need to train, research, train some more, learn, get proper equipment and train some more. I'm 33 years old and the mountains call to me.

In this blog I'll be documenting my quest. I'll post product reviews, information about our local mountains and I'll document my training. Others are welcome to comment. Leave your experiences. Leave a link to your website. I'm happy to hear from others.

Images from top to bottom are; Temecula valley, San Gorgonio, San Antonio and San Jacito below.

I'll see you on the trails......................

San Jacinto