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Topic: Training Walks, Backpack Ballast< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 12:31 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Since I don't always have the time to make the roughly 1 hour plus drive to get to somewhere that I could do a descent hike in the woods I'm quite often relegated to taking a training walk around my very suburban neighborhood.  I always where a day pack (18L) and try to load it so that I am carrying some weight that is comfortable on my back.

I tried things like sand, but all that did was sit in the bottom of my pack where it became quite uncomfortable on my back.  Lately, I have been using ropes to add weight, but even though I fill the entire day pack with ropes I can't get it up to the 20 pounds that I would like to be carrying.

I’ve heard of some people using bags of rice to make the pack heavier but that seems to me that it would just feel like the sand that I already tired.  Does anyone have any suggestions to solve my problem and yet let my back still feel comfortable?  I’d like to avoid using my full size pack to achieve the weight I want to carry – carrying the full size loaded pack might get me mistaken for a homeless person wondering the neighborhood and my non-hiking wife would just be thrilled by that!!!
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 12:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use bird seed... relatively inexpensive and bags are typically semi-rigid, thin, and tall. You can "customize" weight by using similar-sized bags of different seed types (ie - cracked corn is denser than sunflower seed). Just make sure you store it in a mouse-proof container.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 12:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Most 18L packs aren't meant to be comfortable with very much weight.  For a pack that small, I would just put whatever you would be carrying.

Apart from that, water is pretty good for mass density, cost, and availability.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 1:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If what you are trying to do is walk with some weight, but not use your full backpack, then I think you are stuck with a poor carrying day pack.  You could try to put something lighter, but dense, in the bottom of the pack before you add the sandbag for weight.  Trying to keep the sandbag in the upper portion of the pack might be difficult unless what is under it is not compressible.  Try something like a plastic bowl with a lid, or turned upside down.  Stuff clothes in it before placing the sandbag on it.  Or, use various containers of water, and place them on top of clothing.  Water bottles, zip locks, anything that will hold water will work.  8 lbs to the gallon, and you can use it when you get home to make dinner, or to wash the dishes, or the clothes.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 2:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Another option is a weighted training vest:



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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 2:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'd second (or third?) just carrying what you would for a trip: either a daypack packed for a dayhike or a backpack packed for a backpack.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 6:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One issue is that it's probably not reasonable to go much beyond 15lbs in an 18L pack. Also, I agree that the best option is to fill your pack with the things you expect to carry on an actual hike.

That said, I've found a bag of charcoal bricketts works well for training weight in any pack. The bricketts don't collapse to the bottom of the bag like sand and they work well with the form of your pack.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 6:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(WalksWithBlackflies @ Feb. 26 2013, 1:15 pm)
QUOTE
Another option is a weighted training vest:

There's a guy in my neighborhood, who frequents the same trails where I run, who wears one of these vests. The first time I saw him wearing it and talking on his cellphone as he walked, I thought "Jesus Christ! Now there are guys walking the trails with bombs strapped to themselves." Being completely without a sense of social propriety, as everyone here knows by now, I actually told him what I was thinking as I passed. We both had a good laugh about it, and he explained the vest. Lucky for me, he was good-humored.

The best bet, IMHO, is to use what you would be carrying anyway - other than things that you wouldn't want to leave "packed", like a sleeping bag. I've substituted an old pillow (or two) of about the same weight.


(TrailScouter @ Feb. 26 2013, 11:31 am)
QUOTE
carrying the full size loaded pack might get me mistaken for a homeless person wondering the neighborhood and my non-hiking wife would just be thrilled by that!!
I had a similar problem, but I gleefully ignored it, and even attempted to make a joke out of it.

With a full pack (at the time, some years ago, a fully-laden GG Vapor Trail or Mountainsmith Ghost) and trekking poles, I got a lot of stares, both with and without the wife. When I saw someone pass by with a questioning look, I'd always shout out a cheery "I'm looking for a place to camp - may I use your yard?" This occasionally led to a discussion about equipment and/or my real intentions, or a "just kidding!" shout from me, esp. if they seemed to be taking me seriously.

I've always been of the opinion that it's a good thing to boldly confront the common outlooks and viewpoints we all have, and the well-rutted lifestyle (esp. of the suburbs) as a "learning experience". I started a conversation with a guy in a grocery store only recently who was wearing what looked to me to be a "purse", and that led to a spirited conversation (documented briefly here by me a few weeks ago, I think). Turned out he had good reason to carry the "purse", which turned out to be, more appropriately, a "scabbard" or "holster". The guy was an investigative police officer.

ETA: You could repackage the sand (or other loose material like it) in separate, smaller bags - like those at the REI that are used for much the same purpose. This might keep the material from sinking to the bottom of the pack.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 7:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Weight vests and backpacks can hold a significant amount of weight although some vests have are designed with a specific loading capacity e.g. 40 pounds. A few "hardcore" vests will hold up to 100 pounds and are popular with firefighters and military personnel. Weight vests use specially designed weight inserts so that you can adjust the load of your vest. Can work with rice of sand loadings,
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 8:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A few thoughts that may or may not be helpful:

* What good does weight on your back do for flat walking?  I can see it toughening your feet a little, but otherwise it would seem to put stress on joints for virtually no fitness advantage.  If there are hills, okay.

* As others have pointed out, 18L is pretty small to put much weight in.

* Many people use water for this purpose, on the theory that you can pour it out if for some reason you get tired and need an easy stroll home.  But your containers will probably leak someday.

* I do this on a local 800-ft "mountain" for conditioning hikes.  I use bricks, wrapped tightly in old towels, sitting on top of an old synthetic sleeping bag I no longer use.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 7:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

our usual mantra is "train how you fight", which means we can often find ourselves doing pushups, pullups, etc. while wearing body armor, helmet, and with a loaded ruck on one's back.

i hate those pt sessions....but there's much wisdom to be gleaned from it.  ;)

why not just load up with some clothes, sleeping bag, tent, or whatever you usually carry while hiking?  seems like the most logical load to put in your pack.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 10:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TrailScouter @ Feb. 26 2013, 12:31 pm)
QUOTE
I’d like to avoid using my full size pack to achieve the weight I want to carry – carrying the full size loaded pack might get me mistaken for a homeless person wondering the neighborhood and my non-hiking wife would just be thrilled by that!!!

If that worries you, I'd suggest that you need to worry less what others think and just carry the pack you will hike with.

On the ballast...  Clothing and/or a sleeping bag without the stuff sack to fill the volume and water bottles as needed to add weight.  Smallish bottles spread throughout the pack are probably preferable.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 10:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wear your full size pack. It's not the weight, it's the balance of weight that you need to get used to. Your core muscles need to strengthen and you determine what angle and wear the weight sits (which should be on your hips, NOT your back). A backpack is a specialized piece of equipment. It's not even close to the same as a day pack.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 12:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

+1 to what Tigger says.  I did this last summer to prep for our trip (framed pack with weight distributed properly) and felt the best I had on any trip in years :)

Also, taking the time to strengthen the muscles you will be using to support that weight is time well spent, and you don't even have to go to the gym.  There are plenty of good body weight bearing exercises that you can do at home for just a few minutes a day that go a long way to prepping you for a bigger trip.

Good luck!


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 5:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I can only speak for myself but I found walking the kind of terrain I'll backpack in is far more important that carrying a certain amount of weight. I need to keep my range of motion limber and then I can do just about anything. If you are not stretching to your intended hiking terrain, it will not be a pretty thing when you do with any weight. They call them weekend warriors.

I hike in rocky steep terrain every week with a light day pack and put a lot of miles on my bicycle. Once a week we do a weight session with barbells and a bench so fitness is not an issue. I never pack up my full pack and hike with it except when I'm really backpacking with it. Never had a problem.

of course ymmv
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 7:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(peeb @ Feb. 27 2013, 12:43 pm)
QUOTE

QUOTE
Wear your full size pack. It's not the weight, it's the balance of weight that you need to get used to. Your core muscles need to strengthen and you determine what angle and wear the weight sits (which should be on your hips, NOT your back). A backpack is a specialized piece of equipment. It's not even close to the same as a day pack.


I also agree with tigger, +1 for me...




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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 4:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

+1 Tigger

I consider any one day hike a training hike, so I ware my full sized, fully loaded pack on all of them (Osprey Argon 85 with 40-45lb base weight). I am sure some people see me on my local day hike trail and think I am nuts, but I am also sure I don't give a damn what they think.

I have had a few people ask about it and I tell them its a training hike for me and they all seem quite accepting of that explanation. As for looking homeless, first I wouldn't care and second most homeless people don't hike around with hiking poles and $3000 of gear on thier back.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 11:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We did this at the largest city park here - about 20 of us loaded our backpacks and hiked at top speed around 3 miles or so out to the river and back.

I'd dare anyone to think a bunch of folks in clean hiking clothes and expensive backpacks are doing anything but training.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 11 2013, 10:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Another option, if stairs won't do you.  

20 pound (or larger) kitty litter bags are fairly inexpensive.  Repack in 1 gallon Zip locks - doubled up.  They weigh about 5 pounds each.  Use fluff filling in the bottom of pack and be creative with straps - or even a padded board inside the pack to strap the bags on.  Put a 20 pound bag laid along the spine of the pack and cinch it in.  Add additional bags near the top to get the right weight distribution for balance and hip load.  Actually not a bad experiment to fine tune a good adjustment then pack with your real stuff and try to get the same feel. I've done that at outfitters (MEC/REI types) and spent an afternoon loading up packs.  Mainly to find out if they have the kinds adjustment straps (external compressors) and to see what it takes to get the balance to my hips comfortably.   Also to see if they squeak too loudly when over stressed.

Go light to start with and add a bag a week or when what you have on is reasonably comfortable.  Amazing how much a new 5 pounds will slow you down when you've become adjusted to the load you have.

The problem with a weighted pack on streets is that you are putting considerable stress on your body and using the same muscles and motions repetitively.  Much better if you take your weight to the stairs even one flight will do it.  Boring of course.  If you have long flights of stairs best to just put your unweighted body on it and get a good playlist going for a few hours every other day or so.  Catch your breath going down 3-4 stairs at a time SLOOOWLY with a death grip on the railing. Learn how to step/breath.

If you can find a reasonably priced gym ($1/day no entry fee is nice), you can get waaaay more fit per hour of effort exercising specific pre-planned muscle groups using weights, than you will lugging a weighted bag around.  MUCH less chance of injuring yourself in training as well.

As she said, don't worry about the stares.  Mother's used to hide their children when I'd be out with mismatched socks, tie dyed shirt, shorts, umbrella, ear plugs while memorizing sheet music, with a pack on and pulling  a couple of tires to mimic a pulk.  Don't tell the cops - at 4AM - that you have silver plate lifted from that house over there - in your pack.  Its hard enough to explain the kitty litter and the tires.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 11 2013, 11:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just did such a hike yesterday carrying weight about 35 pounds in a 24 liter climbing day pack going 7.5 miles 1200 feet up/down at a nearby redwood park.   Except I put camera gear inside that I figured had about a 10% chance of actually being used so it was really just ballast.  Did same thing a couple weeks ago on a similar day hike.   Before backpacking trips I may pack up most of my gear a week or two early then do daily sets of 10 reps of aggressively walking up and down 9 feet vertical of stairs inside my 2-story place.   Really does help.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 11 2013, 4:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have a cheap pack, but nice padded straps. USe Cat Litter bags, fertilizeer bags, seed bags....whatever loaded into it.  I train with 45lbs, as thats what I have to carry and do 3 mile in 45 minutes to pass the Wildland Pack test.  The test is on the flats so thats what I do...  Works way better for me than the gym. I start about 1 month ahead.  Remember you are walking not running.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 11 2013, 7:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i use metal hand weights - 10s and 25s - and pack them in with old, crummy sleeping bags so they don't sink to the bottom of the pack.  i vary the weight depending on what kind of workout i'm looking for.  the old sleeping bags, properly squeezed in, do a good job of keeping the weights in place.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 11 2013, 8:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Water is roughly 2 pounds per liter so still heavier than the average weight  of the gear in your pack.
A 28L pack will not actually hold 24L of water but maybe in containers you can fit 15L or so and that is already 30Lbs, thus  having the weight probably better distributed than with other systems.
Anyway we all have loads of water bottles so cheap and easy to do.
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