Thursday, October 18, 2012

Equipment Review for Hiking the Rocky Mountains

365fitt is proud to lead Healthy Active Living Trips to Rocky Mountain National Park.  These trips are often the trip of a lifetime for someone who has not had the opportunity to previously.  There's a certain amount of excitement as you begin your preparation for a trip to the Rockies.  Where do we begin?
  1. First step:  Sign up for a trip!  If you haven't done so already, see what 365fitt has to offer.
  2. Get excited; tell a friend;  get a friend to sign up with you for added fun!
  3. Prepare for your activities.  A training plan is included with every 365fitt trip because our trips are "Healthy Active Living" trips.  If your goal is to participate in an active group activity, then training is the process or journey to achieve that goal.
  4. Gather your equipment, which brings me to the message of this blog.  What do you need for a hiking trip to the Rocky Mountains?
For a nuts and bolts list, Packing for Your Hiking Trip.

For a clothing specific list, Rockies Trip Clothing To Pack

Now, I get to tell you about some of my favorites, because shoes/boots and a camelback are probably two of the most important items, I'll go into greater detail with some recommendations.

Hiking Shoes/Boots

Be sure to read Selecting a Hiking Shoe or Boot on my website.  It will help you with the details of picking a good shoe/boot.  I have at least four pair of hiking shoes/boots as I have tried several different ones over the years.  I have high tops solid boots, trail running shoes, goretex water resistant shoes, and low cut hiking shoes.  All of these have Vibram soles, probably the most important feature of a hiking shoe for the Rocky Mountains.  Vibram is simply one of the best soles out there, offering rigidity and "grip" while walking on loose and slippery rocks.  There are MANY good hiking shoes out there, but my favorite of all time are my Salomon's.  They offer a great sole, cushioning, rubber toe (for you'll kick a few rocks and roots) and overall comfort.I also have a pair of New Balance goretex trail hiking "shoes" which I love because they are lightweight and are water repellent, for the times you'll cross a stream.  I have a pair of Asics Trail Running shoes that are great for when I "fast hike" a trail, but I wouldn't use them for a strenuous hike as they do not offer enough support in the sole, but they are a good option for easy to moderate hikes.  I've offered a few suggestions below:
For an full boot for ankle stability.
Notice the solid structure of the heel!
This is my overall top choice.

Keep in mind that these are only suggestions, you may find a similar boot at a lower price online or at your local sporting goods store.  My suggestion regardless of where you get your boot/shoe is to try it on and wear it around the house a couple times to assure proper fit and comfort.  If it's not comfortable, return it immediately.  Most companies will take returns as long as the shoe has not been worn outside.  

Fit.  Comfort.  Sole.  Lightweight.  Ankle Stability.  Waterproof.


Be sure to read Selecting a Hydration Pack on my website. It will help you determine what is right for you.  For the 365fitt trips to the Rockies, I require my participants to carry 100 oz of water with them for our longest hike, and while you can carry 3-4 water bottles, it's so much easier to drink from our backpack that has an integrated drinking system built in.  Your pack will come with a bladder (40-120 oz), a tube and bite valve, and a backpack.  The fact is, you'll simply drink more water if you don't have to stop to get your water bottle out and drink.  With a hydration system, you can drink and hike and not have to stop.  Simple!  While Camelback is a brand name associated with hydration packs, there are other very suitable alternatives.

Fit and comfort are very important as well.  Your pack should cinch across the waist and across the chest to keep your pack from bouncing on your back.  It should have at least one or two easy reach pockets for you to stash a ready supply of nutrition or your camera perhaps.  It may also have bungee cords across the back to tie up extra layers of clothing.  

Be sure not to buy a pack that is too large either.  Remember that your pack, with 100 oz of water, food, and rain jacket, will add 10-20# to your back. With a good pack that fits properly, this added weight should be evenly distributed across your back, not placed directly on the shoulders.  In the end however, that extra weight at the end of a long hiking day could feel more like 30-40# (even though you will be drinking your water) lighter is better.  Here are some suggestions:

Great all around pack at 1 pound 13 oz.
And in at just 16 oz, a super lightweight pack.
A great pack with great hip supports and pockets at 2 pounds.


You will need a headlight for the 365fitt trip to the Rockies because one of the highlights of our trip is a night hike, starting at around 2am!  (You might be asking yourself, WHY the need to start so early?  How you can see the stars from 11,000 feet? you can see the sunrise from 12,000 feet? you do what few people have done before? you can reach your goal at 13,150 feet and return safely before afternoon thunderstorms roll in!)  Anyway, a headlight will be required equipment and there's really no need to get fancy here.  If it fits around your head and is not too heavy, it will work.  Try not to spend more than $20 on a headlamp.  Your local hardware store (or Home Depot) carries them for $10-15.  Check out one at Amazon.

Happy Hiking!


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