Picking and Packing a Rucksack
Picking and Packing a Rucksack
I can’t overemphasize the importance of having a good fitting, well packed rucksack and this “Tip” is to try to explain the best way of achieving this – Based on my own experiences for over 20 years of Long Distance walking, Trekking in Nepal and Camino Walking
First of all, choosing your rucksack.
Rucksacks come in many different shapes and sizes, so you need to have an idea of the volume of the equipment that you are going to carry, I have never seen any reason for buying an overly small rucksack, and then strapping extra items on the outside (Tents and Carry- Mats being the exception to this “rule”).
There are Rucksacks specifically designed for females (After all, Females and Males differ in shape so it’s Definitely not a “One Size Fits All”.
Many rucksacks have double entries and /or are compartmentalised, so these can be useful as t you can keep lighter things like your sleeping bag in the bottom section, while still having it easily accessible at the end of a day’s walking without having to unpack the rest of your rucksack to get at it. The main downside is that you then can’t use a one piece rucksack liner.
Modern Rucksacks have several adjusting points so that you raise and lower the ride height, Lengthen and Shorten the shoulder straps, waist belt and chest strap, as well as adjustments to tension the sides to bring the bottom of the rucksack into the waist belt and also an adjustment to bring the top of the rucksack in towards your back. This all might sound a little confusing at first, so if you are at all unsure then it is worthwhile buying your rucksack from a reputable outdoor shop as then the assistant can explain what all the adjustments do as well as roughly fit your chosen back to your own body.
Packing your Rucksack
The first thing to mention is that rucksacks aren’t waterproof, so you either need to use some kind of liner, or pack things into waterproof bags before putting them into your rucksack (Some rucksacks now have rain covers and these are useful as they keep the outside of your rucksack reasonably dry, but rain still gets down the back of them, so you should still take the additional measures to help ensure that your kit is dry at the end of your days walking, no matter what the weather has thrown at you)
Personally I use the Rucksack Pro-Tector
as apart from it protecting your rucksack on the journey to the starting point of your walk, it has valuable second function as a water resistant liner for the inside of your pack.
The most common myth is that you pack your heaviest items into the bottom of your rucksack
So – Ideally you want have light items in the bottom, the heaviest items in the middle and light items on the top. The reason for this is that the centre of balance of your rucksack will reflect the centre of balance of your body – If heavy items are packed in the bottom, this pulls your rucksack down and increases the weight on your waist strap, therefore you have to keep this overly tight to prevent the rucksack slipping down and when this happens it increases the weight on your shoulder straps causing you sore shoulders as well as an increased risk of back pain.
You also want to ensure that you distribute the weight evenly left and right inside your rucksack, therefore keeping it evenly balanced – You would be surprised at the number of walkers that I have seen wearing rucksacks tilted over to one side, this putting extra strain on one side of the body and again increasing the risks of back and shoulder pain.
Finally, once your rucksack is fully packed, you then need to fine tune the adjustments.
Before putting the rucksack on, ensure that all the compartments are buckled / zipped up and compression straps are adequately tensioned
Then put your rucksack on - The waist strap needs to be snug enough so that it is carrying the bulk of the weight of the rucksack, the shoulder straps need to be reasonably snug, but not over tight so that there is a slight gap when standing between the shoulder strap and the top ofyour shoulders, you should also pull your chest strap reasonably tight to help prevent any movement. The bottom tension adjusters should be pulled in evenly so that your rucksack is a snug fit to the waste strap and the top tension adjuster should be pulled in so that the rucksack is parallel to your body when standing upright.
As you start to walk, you will no doubt find that small adjustments are needed, getting the ride height takes a little bit of doing, there isn’t a simple answer to this but personally, I find that a higher ride height is more comfortable than a lower one
When ascending a big hill, it is worthwhile loosening the top tension adjusters and letting the rucksack fall back a centimetre or two as we naturally tend to lean forwards when going uphill, so by loosening them off a little it keeps your rucksack upright.
I Hope that you find the above info useful - It might well sound like you have an awful lot to do before even taking the first steps of your walk, but I would Definitely Recommend that you choose the right rucksack and pack it carefully as an ill fitting rucksack is something that can Ruin an otherwise wonderful trekking experience
- Budget Travel
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There is an English joke that goes: What is the difference between a trampoline and a set of bagpipes? Answer: Eventually people get tired of jumping up and down on the trampoline.
Although the Asturian and Scottish bagpipes are played differently, the sound is still enough to make me head back to the wood-banging and whistling Basques.
Take a flashlight
Okay, you might think this is a really, really bizarre recommendation, but trust me-- you will thank me. If you are going to be a guest in someone's home, you might consider taking a flash light. You see, since most homes in Spain are located in densely populated urban areas, the Spanish have come up with a brilliant way to shut out the noise, pollution and yes LIGHT, when it's time to sleep. Almost all homes have external shutters that roll down and literally shut out ALL light and noise. This is all fine and dandy if you live in a house and know exactly where the bathroom is in the middle of the night. It just so happened my hosts didn't believe in nightlights either. So one of my first nights there I was stumbling around in the dark looking for the bathroom and ended up in their bedroom. VERY embarrassing! Groping your way around in total darkness in a foreign environment can be a bit disconcerting. That's why I suggest taking a teeny flashlight. Take my word for it, or you might have an "I told you so" moment.
Not too much to worry about.
You don't really have too much to worry about in Asturias, other than the things you would normally worry about at home in the same situation. The food is totally safe (but buy bottled water), transportation is pretty reliable, etc. The only concern is walking alone in the city at night, just like anywhere else (especially the parks- I almost got mugged in the San Francisco park in Oviedo one night.) Also, you should be wary of some gypsies selling wares at market or carnivals. Just like home, some will try to get over on you.
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