2. Hiking Gear
Trekking Poles, Hydration Systems, Daypacks, Socks & Boots (again)
Trekking poles or walking sticks.
Use one…two…none??? The choice is up to you. Just make sure that you decide while you are in the training program, not when you arrive at the adventure hike. As a member of the SOL Team, you should have received complimentary hiking poles with your registration. If you plan to use them on your Arizona/Grand Canyon adventure, please bring them with you. We will not have extra poles on site.
Utilizing trekking poles during the descent helps spare your knees to some degree. They add power to the ascent and can help establish a rhythm to your pace. Poles can reduce the external and internal loads on the knee joint up to 20% so they are a good tool, especially in the early season as you get your legs ready for longer and harder climbs. Remember though, they are just a tool so whenever possible, try to develop the balance and leg strength necessary to be pole-free if the need arises.
Though 3 liters is preferred, you are required to carry a hydration system with the capacity to hold 2 liters of water. We encourage you to use some type of hydration system rather than carry water in numerous or large bottles.
What exactly is a hydration system? Essentially it is a bag of water with a drinking tube that can be inserted into a pack. These bags are made of a specialized plastic that is so durable they can be frozen without cracking, and don’t have that “plastic taste.” Hydration systems come in various sizes and are usually measured in liters. Again with any hiking equipment, it is important that the pack that houses the system fit comfortably. Check out a sporting goods store for the hydration pack that best fits you.
Some of the benefits of using a hydration system include:
Easy to use. Drinking tube makes it easy to hydrate, no need to remove pack or fumble around for water bottles.
Compact in size: Soft sided bags fit easily into backpacks.
Durable: The tough plastic storage bag will not leak or puncture under normal use.
Each hiker is required to carry their own provisions for the day. We strongly suggest that you consider a day-pack/hydration system combination. We really like these for two reasons. First they come with a built in bladder and convenient tube so you don't have to mess around with finding one that fits properly and is easy to use. Secondly, they are small and lightweight, which will help keep the amount of stuff you take with you to a minimum. Our motto is "take all you need, use all you take." Anything more is just added weight and makes your ascent up the canyon or hike along it more difficult and feel longer than need be.
Whether you are using an existing backpack or purchasing a new one, be sure to get one that fits you. Just like boots, they come in all sizes, widths and weights, and many are designed with different purposes in mind. So as you begin your training, test the size and feel of your old pack to be sure it still fits you properly. For good measure, visit a local outdoor store and talk with a knowledgeable representative. Tell them what you are doing and get their suggestions. Try on several packs to see if any offer newer features, less weight or more convenience that will make your life on the trail easier. Your current pack may be still be best for you, but at least you will have an idea what else is available. If after your first few training hikes you are finding yourself uncomfortable, or if you are experiencing any lower back or shoulder pain, consider revisiting the store and trying something new.
You may have your own favorite style or brand of socks. Though we don't recommend any specific brand, we do recommend they be made of an acrylic blend and contain extra padding along the bottom to provide extra cushioning and prevent blisters.
Recommending the best boots is difficult. The number one consideration for boots is the fit. We recommend visiting a store that specializes in proper hiking gear. We also suggest trying a wide variety of brands to find one that feels the best. Both boots should be tried on prior to purchasing a new pair. When at home, walk around the house in them for a few days to feel for hot spots.
If you are purchasing new boots, you should do so at the beginning of training. This is the time to test and break in hiking boots. They are by far the most important investment the trail-bound adventurer can make. They are definitely not an impulse purchase! Fit and function are first. Cost is a distant second or third among chief considerations.
It is not necessary to buy more than one pair of boots, but think carefully about what type of boot meets your hiking requirements. Remember that one pound on the foot equals five pounds on the back. Fabric boots allow more air to your foot, are low-maintenance and have short break-in time and are appropriate for a canyon hike, especially since wet weather is unlikely. However, leather boots offer superior support, especially on rocky and uneven trails. Depending on which type of boot you choose, make sure that it is suited to the level of hike you have selected. Whether you opt for fabric or leather boots (most frequent day hikers have a pair of each) and remember that one pound on the foot equals five pounds on the back – don’t scrimp on quality.
As a general rule, purchase a hiking boot that is one-half size larger than your street shoe size. But don't go by numbers alone. Fit is far more important. Don't compromise at all on how a boot fits your feet. Make sure your boots give plenty of toe room for downhill hiking, sufficient width and large toe box for comfort.
Once the boot fits properly, customize the final fit with such techniques as skipping eyelets, loosening or tightening laces, and tying different knots. Ideally, hikers should wear two pairs of socks: a thin, inner synthetic one that wicks away moisture, and a heavier outer sock for cushioned comfort. Not only does double-socking control moisture, it reduces friction as well. Wearing one sock means the material rubs directly against your foot; with two socks, the socks' friction point is against each other-sparing your feet a lot of rubbing.
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