'CORE' ADVENTURE RACING FOR FUN
ADVENTURE RACING and hiking in the coastal wilderness is a beautiful and challenging experience; weekend loop hikes require minimal time commitment, and transects from Carmel Valley to Big Sur provide steep climbs, dramatic ocean views and endless riparian rambles. Coastal weather can change quickly however and being prepared with the right gear is imperative. In any season, it's possible to be sweating while hiking in shorts midday and then have to bundle up with several layers during the evening chill. It's even possible to experience a snowstorm in the Los Padres in winter! Check your list twice, head on out and have some fun!
TEN ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR PACK
(don't leave home without 'em)
A really good test you should perform before leaving is to dress in your rain gear and have a friend hose you down! (Alternatively, hop in the shower under COLD water with your gear--any leaks??) Dress in all your clothes; are you warm enough to spend a night outside in the open? Is your synthetic sleeping bag in good repair, or has the fill compressed beyond usefulness? More info can be found in the recommended reading (see below) or from a Mountain Tools Sales Guide.
Keep your head, hands and feet warm and dry - easier than drying out
after a storm. Half your heat can be lost via your head in 40 degree &
lower temperatures - wear a hat to conserve energy when it's cold and
"full brimmed" sunshade when it's hot. Wear waterproof glove shells in
the rain and keep a spare pair of liners sealed in a zip-lock bag in your
BOOTS AND FOOT CARE: Your feet need special attention as the coastal forest trails feature wet, slippery terrain. Hiking with heavy packs requires a good full-leather (2.8 or 3 mm full-grain leather, NOT split grain) supportive boot with a Vibram sole for traction. Different boots match different feet; some are wide, some narrow, and fit aids can be used to customize your boots. Socks add important cushioning and insulation and should be worn in layers. Your liner socks keep your feet dry and friction in the boot low; the outer sock, with a high percentage of wool, adds cushioning and insulation to the system. Snug-fitting neoprene socks can be worn in your boots for extra warmth (in winter) or in your tennies for wet stream crossings.
Carry lots of moleskin even if your boots are "old faithfuls"; mole foam or blister padding are thicker than moleskin and can be helpful in building a cushion around hot spots. Second skin is another product useful in foot maintenance. You will need to carry scissors in your first aid kit or repair kit for cutting this--your pocket knife blade is not adequate.
PERSONAL GEAR - Basic backpacking doesn't require a lot of gear, just the right gear - remember, you have to carry this stuff! Don't be bashful about weighing everything either. If you watch the ounces.... the pounds will take care of themselves. Plan ahead & source your gear well in advance of your trip (you might have to shop for just the right item or have it ordered for you). Having the right gear is a matter of personal safety and comfort and can make the difference between a successful trip and an uncomfortable epic. For those sensitive to Poison Oak consult your physician or pharmacist for prophylactic medications and ointments - avoidance is the best course, Technu (barrier) seems to work well and be quite popular. Don't forget to wash after as well.
Thoroughly test all your gear before you leave and become familiar with it; develop a pattern for packing your pack and stick with it--you'll remember where your gloves are when you need them, which side to pull your sleeping out from so it doesn't get wet, etc. Remember to break in new boots and waterproof them at least twice before your trip. If you're using old rain gear be sure to revitalize and enhance it's performance with a waterproofing product like Nikwax.
To save weight try to find gear which performs multiple functions: Insulated cup can be used as bowl, a pile sweater can be stuffed to serve as a pillow, a light day pack makes a versatile sleeping bag stuff sack. Carry the ten essentials with you on day hikes as well as in your pack on the longer trail. A repair kit can be shared among the group or be tailored for your personal needs.
TEAM GEAR: In ADDITION to this stuff, as part of a group you'll need to carry some team gear; tents/tarps, food, stoves all need to be split up throughout the group so plan space accordingly. The neatest home-packing job will get mixed up on the trail, so leave a little extra room for the Amazing Expanding Load. Also carry extra Heavy Duty trash bags (good for emergency rain gear), gallon zip-locks or color-coded, waterproof stuff sacks. These will help you separate dry clothes from wet, clean(er) from dirty(er), etc.
A team repair kit should be along for every trip and includes small pliers, duct tape, epoxy ribbon putty, aluminum wire, safety pins, twine/cord, needle and thread. Repair kits for stoves, water filters and inflatable pads (including instructions) should accompany this kit. Additional first aid items (SAM splints, extra moleskin, scissors, cortisone cream, thermometer, ACE bandages, etc.) should be carried by a designated team member.
OPTIONAL GEAR: A small camera, a disposable waterproof one for instance, keeps the trip memories alive; binoculars, candle lanterns, and inspired reading material can add to your trip.