Go­ing ‘Wild’ …sen­si­bly

‘Back­pack­ing 101’ lends ad­vice to those wish­ing to hit the trails

Cape Breton Post - - Destinations - BY PAULINE FROMMER KING FEA­TURES SYN­DI­CATE Pauline Frommer is the Ed­i­to­rial Di­rec­tor for the Frommer Travel Guides and From­mers.com. She co-hosts the ra­dio pro­gram “The Travel Show” with her fa­ther, Arthur Frommer and is the au­thor of the best-sell­ing “Fr

We can blame Cheryl Strayed — or, per­haps, her cin­e­matic al­ter-ego Reese Wither­spoon, who por­trayed the au­thor in the movie ver­sion of her mem­oir “Wild” — for the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of back­pack­ing. Per­mit re­quests jumped 300 per cent for the right to hike the trail fea­tured in the tale (the Pa­cific Crest Trail) af­ter the film came out. And, anec­do­tally, more peo­ple than ever are at­tempt­ing this com­bi­na­tion of sport and va­ca­tion — which likely means that more peo­ple’s toe­nails are fall­ing off.

That was a piv­otal mo­ment in both the flick and book, a re­sult of novice-back­packer Strayed hav­ing cho­sen the wrong fit of hik­ing boots. It il­lus­trated, pretty grue­somely, how im­por­tant plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion is for what can be an in­cred­i­bly chal­leng­ing ac­tiv­ity.

For ex­pert ad­vice on that plan­ning, you’d do well to turn to the about-to-be-re­leased book “Back­pack­ing 101.” Writ­ten by Heather Balogh Rochfort, the gear editor for Back­packer Mag­a­zine, as well as au­thor of www.jus­ta­col­orado­gal.com, the book is a sur­pris­ingly read­able, deep dive into all of the nitty gritty that goes into prep­ping for a trip.

For ex­am­ple, the book de­tails how to choose the right back­pack, a cru­cial and com­plex first step. Sur­pris­ingly, tall peo­ple don’t nec­es­sar­ily need the big­gest packs, nor should shorter folks nec­es­sar­ily go for small ones. Balogh Rochfort in­cludes an in­tri­cate dis­cus­sion of how packs should fit, and which part of the body they must con­form to (the torso). So a tow­er­ing man who is all legs might ac­tu­ally need a medium-size pack rather than a larger pack; the au­thor gives spe­cific di­rec­tions on how to mea­sure your body to tell.

In ad­di­tion, women, who tend to have nar­rower shoul­ders and wider hips than men, might go for dif­fer­ent types of packs al­to­gether.

Balogh Rochfort also gives solid ad­vice on pick­ing the right trail; why you might choose “real food” over the de­hy­drated meal pack­ets that are sold at out­fit­ting or­ga­ni­za­tions; and the right way to choose clothes for the trail - down to your un­der­wear.

There’s also po­ten­tially life­sav­ing ad­vice in the tome, re­veal­ing why re­ly­ing on a GPS de­vice or cellphone for di­rec­tions is a fool­ish strat­egy. In­stead, Balogh Rochfort gives easy-to-fol­low in­struc­tions on how to use a com­pass and a topo­graph­i­cal map, as well as where best to buy these sorts of maps. She also dis­cusses the what-to-do’s for snakebite, bear and moun­tain-lion en­coun­ters, get­ting lost and med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.

She does all of this in a light, fun-to-read 256-page book. So even though one of the key bits of ad­vice in the guide is to keep your back­pack light, this book may be a bit of ex­tra weight you’d be wise to carry along.

WAYNE DITSCHNET/FLICKR

Back­pack­ing in Utah

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