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Training before a big trip can make it easier to cover long distances.
If you're training for a long backpacking trip or just looking for a way to boost your workout, carrying a weighted backpack is a sound way to prepare your muscles. You'll use muscles in new ways to maintain your balance and offset the pack's weight, while each step you take burns more calories as your legs and back work harder. If possible, walk parts of the trails you'll take during a future backpacking trip to increase your experience with the terrain.1.
Fill your pack with items that you'd need for a normal hike. Your rain coat, snacks, water bottle and anything else you think you might need should go in before you add weight to the pack so you don't overload yourself.2.
Add some filled water containers to the backpack. Water weighs about 8.3 pounds per gallon, so filling your pack with 2 to 3 gallons of water should roughly equal the weight you'll carry on a regular backpacking trip; but start with just 1 gallon. Flexible water containers are ideal, since you can fill your pack evenly and adjust the bottles along your spine. Try to keep the weight close to your back.
Hoist your loaded backpack safely. Start with the backpack on the ground, and then grab the haul loop between the top of the shoulder straps. With your knees bent, slide the pack up one thigh and slide your other arm under the strap. In a slow motion, swing the backpack up onto your back and slide your other arm and shoulder into the second strap, then cinch down the hip belt. Once the hip belt is tight, adjust the shoulder straps and tighten the load lifter straps.4.
Find a local trail or walking path where you can walk continuously for a few miles. State and national parks are ideal for weighted backpack training, since most trails are rated for difficulty. Start on easier trails until you get a feel for your balance and the difficulty of carrying the weight. Depending on your experience and fitness level, you can adjust the difficulty of your hike by choosing a more challenging patch with a greater overall elevation gain, which will burn more calories.5.
Increase your caloric burn slowly over time. The weighted backpack will make your hiking more difficult, increasing the calories your body needs to match the additional muscle use. As you become more comfortable with the weighted backpack, you can add more water containers or lengthen the distance of your hike. Pushing yourself to go about 10 percent farther each week is a good goal until you reach the pace you'll want to maintain on a backpacking trip.
- Large backpack with a hip
- Water containers
- Trail shoes or hiking boots
- You can weigh your backpack down with the gear you expect to take on your hike instead of water to make your carrying weight more realistic. Pack your tent, sleeping bag, clothing and camping gear so the heaviest items are close to your back to reduce the strain on your shoulders.
- Wearing your backpack improperly can be dangerous on certain trails. Secure your load so it can't shift from side to side if you lose your footing. Cinch down your hip belt tight so the weight is redistributed to your legs and hips, rather than your back.