any last min advice and tips welcome

3:47 p.m. on May 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Have logged several miles in day hikes, registered and paid for with an outdoor group for a 20 mile overnighter shortly and just looking for any tips or things you can share for new backpacker who has some age on thier side :)

5:31 p.m. on May 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Well we certainly wish you happy trails, hikergammy!

Please tell us more! What kind of terrain are you walking, what are your camping arrangements, how's the weather?

Here's hoping the answer to the last question is, "Just fine!"

5:44 p.m. on May 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Assuming you're camping in the midwest based on your profile, so keep in mind that even in the summer it can get cold, especially to "older friends."  A base layer, tops and bottoms are multi-use,  weigh little, pack small, and can be worn by themselves or on a cool night to make your bag a bit warmer. Throw on rain jacket on top and youhave a nice layering system for the evenings. 

Also, you probably don't need as much stuff as you may feel is essential, I knew one hiker who insisted on carrying two D cell flashlights when one lightweight headlamp would have been fine for an overnighter. One of the things my "older friends" swear by is an air mattress, like a thermorest neo or a big agnus aircore; getting a good night's sleep is critical to getting you through the second day of the hike, and these help. 


6:11 p.m. on May 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Definitely second Mike on the importance of sleeping comfort.  When I was younger I could sleep on rocks and shake it off.  Now that I'm not younger I don't sleep as soundly or shake it off as well.  A good pad is worth its weight.

My own tip is to keep hydrated.  Small sips of water steadily throughout a hike work much better than gulping down a quart once you realize you are thirsty.  Keeping the body in balance is easier on it than wild swings.

9:58 p.m. on May 26, 2013 (EDT)
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islandess..The terrain is pretty smooth although there are a few steep hills but it is for the most part well cleared and marked is a 20 mile backpacking loop that the venture outdoors group uses for beginners :) bring your own tent ect.and the weather still dips to chilly or even cold at night but adding an extra layer seems to do the trick. mike Russell I am definitely working on the carrying only what is truly essential as I am always wanting to take everything but the kitchen sink when only a little is needed but I think that is from doing a lot of day hikes on my own and worry if i would become lost and need this or that.. And mike and lonestranger you have helped me make up my mind on not spending the money verses spending on a sleeping pad.think its something worth the investment.tested without it in backyard and slept but not very good and thought eh I could make it w out it but I also did not have to hike 10 miles the next day. Going to work on drinking more water.i do have a habit of waiting till thirsty.(I have tested a few things in backyard lol hope im not the only one)

2:10 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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You will feel it!

A twenty mile overnighter is a big chunk of distance to get beginners saddle broken, especially if "mature" in age.  Personally I think the group is doing a big disservice compelling first timers to go such distance on their very first back pack trip.  I always try to introduce newbies initially using much shorter hikes.  Should you get dispirited by the physical demands of this hike, don't give up; try a hike half that distance the next time, and stick to that mileage until you feel ready to bite off a bigger chunk.


6:45 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm glad we were able to help a bit.  One thing to keep in mind about the sleeping pad, it serves two purposes.  The first is comfort; on this past weekend's trip I didn't realize I was sleeping on a big root until I deflated by Big Agnes pad.  The second, and I think more important, purpose is insulation.  If you just throw your  bag on the tent/ground cloth floor you will loose a lot of body heat.  A foam pad, insulated air mattress, or even extra clothing put underneath your bag will help insulate you and help you be ready to tackle the next day's adventure.


7:27 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Whomeworry I should have explained the trip a little better.the beginner trip is only part of the 20 mile backpacking loop as there are 44 miles of trail and various ways to loop and connect. It is 5 miles the first day and 7 the second.however I have been doing 8 or more miles one day and 3 the next by doing a day hike on my day off and then 3 miles to work the next day (one of my days off goes to grandchildren :) ) and have done several of the trails allready and am quite familiar wih them so I will be with the group at the beginning and overnight and part of the next day but am choosing to finish the trail at the end so I will complete my first backpacking trail :)

8:41 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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+1 on sleeping comfort. That is a major key role in having an enjoyable time. I value my sleep comfort so much I switched to a hammock setup(though hammocks are not for everyone and are a love or hate kinda thing)

9:37 a.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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TheRambler said:

+1 on sleeping comfort. That is a major key role in having an enjoyable time. I value my sleep comfort so much I switched to a hammock setup(though hammocks are not for everyone and are a love or hate kinda thing)

 Absolutely, another plus 1 on comfort.

I use a hammock in the warmer months (very comfortable) - and a tent in winter. I sleep on an Exped Air Mat in the tent that is 3' thick and just as comfortable as being in my bed at home.

I have always been able to find a solution for being uncomfortable whether it's sleeping, bugs, footwear, etc.

Sometimes I have to ask for advise and/or experiment some, but being outside should be an enjoyable experience.

Mike G.

1:23 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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For a long time I just used a closed-cell foam pad (went from an old blue cheapie to a Thermarest RidgeRest) and then I got a light self-inflating pad about 1.5 inches thick. But the foam pad is so light to carry that I always take it too and layer them. Warm and cushy! It's also protection and backup for the inflatable. And it makes a great seat anytime, being indestructible. I expect the folding Z-Rest type is even better as a chair, but you can cut any of them up to suit, and they're not expensive. I like the reflective coating option, it's a much warmer pad than my old blue foam, and the old one was thicker. Those squishy ridges are nice too.

Have you tried a hydration bladder? I've only had one a year or so, but I can see how the convenience makes staying hydrated easier. You don't even have to stop walking to take those frequent small sips that are recommended. (Speaking of bladders, an ice cream tub makes a great chamber pot. :) )

Sounds like you've got a great trip coming up, enjoy!

5:57 p.m. on May 27, 2013 (EDT)
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definitely invest in a sleeping pad. I use a ridgerest. good for summers and really light to carry, darn near indestructible. a hydration bladder would be a good thing too. it makes staying hydrated easy. nothing gets you tired faster than being dehydrated. if you wait till you're thirsty, your already a quart low.

10:48 a.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Rambler and trouthunter,I have checked out the hammock thing,I think I'm definitely a tent gal :) traijester and islandess ill have to Try out the hydration bladder.i usually have a water bottle clipped to the outside of my pack but seem to not worry about water till I stop for lunch but probably not a good thing.

10:52 a.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Thank you all for not just these replies but all the ones who reply to new hikers questions as I used this site a lot to get started :) been a one year journey this march and I have went from not bieng able to walk down the street to 8 to 10 mile day adventures and have found something I love to do

5:22 p.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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good that your enjoying it. we expect a trip report!

4:01 a.m. on May 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Good to hear hikergammy! Keep it up! Can't beat a nice hike.

1:07 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Breathe twice speak once

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