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Backpacking Remains Of Interest To Texans

Oct 11, 2007
For Texans, including those in the cities of Houston, Dallas and Austin, backpacking remains one of those sports that retains its popularity, even in a world where technology reigns. Indeed, the lure may have something to do with a "back to the earth" culture, in which people find they need a break from being online.
But regardless of the reason, Texans all ages have made backpacking a part of their lifestyle, one that has virtually unlimited potential for variety and enjoyment.

One of the key aspects to consider when looking at backpacking as a sport is equipment - - what's necessary to safely and comfortably engage in the activity.

When it comes to equipment -- the backpack itself being the most important - - there are a variety of manufacturers and retailers to explore, but knowing what questions to ask will help narrow down the choice.

Among the key factors in sifting through the choice of backpack is the design. Good choices abound in backpacks that give the user the ability to easily find their items without emptying everything. Having numerous pockets, for instance, may help minimize that problem.

With that in mind, having a place to stash a water bottle is an especially important idea. An even better one is to buy a backpack that has a detachable day pack, which can be used as a carry-on while the larger backpack is left at a hostel or camping site. Another strategy for seasoned backpackers throughout Texas is bringing both the day pack and main pack on a hike, using the smaller one for the crucial items (including map or bug spray).

Overall, choosing the ideal backpack is a matter of asking the right questions, assessing the real needs and then acting accordingly.

A retailer or salesperson should be able to advise a backpacker on how big the backpack should be, what adjustments can be made to make the sport more enjoyable, the maintenance required for enjoying the sport, and aspects such as warranty and availability of repairs should those be required.

Safety is another area that should be considered by newcomers to the sport of backpacking .

Those whose knowledge often comes from practical experience offer a variety of solutions to any number of situations that have confronted backpackers, among them:

- A sudden thunderstorm: Shed the pack and run downhill to a ravine or gulley, crouching on a sleeping pad.

- Whiteout: Stay together and follow a known trail down; alternatively, take cover if you are lost.

- Lost child: Backtrack to last sighting, contact authorities, enlist help.

- Bee sting: Scrape off stinger with knife, watch for anaphylactic shock, apply compress.

- Deep flesh wound: Apply pressure, elevate, irrigate, bandage loosely, keep clean.

- Avalanche: Seek shelter, swim and kick, make air space with arms, fight for surface.

- Can't climb down: Scout a better route, remove pack, call for help.

- No feeling in fingers: Remove pack and stick fingers in your armpits or underpants.

- Dropped mitten: Substitute a spare sock, sew leashes on for next time.

- Flash flood approaching: Evaluate escape routes, seek higher ground, float feet first.

- Dislocated shoulder: Immobilize joint, remove tight clothing, evacuate.

- Burn from hot water: Remove wet clothing, soak with cool water, apply dressings with antibiotics.

Someone who gets lost while backpacking would be well-advised to stay put rather than adding hypothermia or injury to the situation.

If a backpacker gets soaked, one of the first steps to take is to change clothing, putting on any rain gear that's been packed and shedding the shirt that was soaked during the climbing.

Because dehydration makes a backpacker colder, making sure there is enough water for the night is key. In climates where there is snow, filling a bottle and stuffing it inside a jacket to melt can work, as does setting the bottle beneath a steady drip from a rock or vegetation.

Those who get the backpacking bug will attest that good equipment and a mindset for keeping safe are both key to enjoying the sport for years to come.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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