Carl’s Outdoor Addiction: Putting your best foot forward on the trail

We’ll start with general things to not be a junk show on the trail.

Respecting the environment

Leave no trace, other than maybe some sweet snaked lines in the snow or rappel anchors. Be mindful of microtrash (the small torn off piece of an energy bar wrapper etc.), letting light weight trash blow away. And yes, you should be cleaning up after your dog. Yes, it bio degrades, take care of it anyway.

Do not impede on others

  • Not crowding others out in the same area. Covid or not, give people space and when space such as on a summit is limited be mindful of your time if others are coming up.
  • Carrying a portable speaker and busting out your favorite jams is not cool. Earphones and earbuds still work and don’t interfere with other’s experience. I do play podcasts on my speaker phone but its when I’m running and first person on the trail at zero dark thirty to help alert critters that I’m coming.
  • Yield to those moving faster than you. Communicate, step aside.

Working within your limits but still challenging yourself

Maybe a contradiction but knowing how to be challenged without pushing to a point where you need to call for rescue is a great skill. Accidents happen but many are stemmed from poor judgement or lack of preparation on how to deal with situations if things do go sideways.

Looking the part!

Yes this may seem judgmental but if you look the part, outdoor pros will concede it translates to good preparation (hopefully!). That’s where we get back to backpacks. Having a nice clean (it can have dirt on it), self-contained pack is a sign of a PRO, not a Joe. 

Fit things into your pack.

If you’re hiking up a trail and your backpack is the looks like the Beverly Hillbillies 1921 Oldsmobile, not only packed to the brim but with chairs tents bottles etc. dangling and clanging off that’s not a PRO move, it’s a Joe move.

Climbing ropes draped over main compartment, secured under the lid (brain) of the pack is a notable exception. Sharp objects are also okay stowed outside of your pack, but when I see an ice axe on a pack that’s stowed incorrectly, it’s like wearing a neon sign saying “ I don’t know how to use an ice axe.” ALARM!

Saying you did a 2-3 night overnight with a large day pack is immediately voided if you have a bunch of stuff strapped to the outside of that pack. Have the pack fit the outing!

If every piece of gear shiny and new

Obvious outdoor rookie. That’s ok everyone is at some point and we learn by doing, trial and error but PLEASE cut the tags off your gear at home or at least at the car before heading up the trail.

If you have a rain cover on your pack

No. No. No. It’s the pacific northwest so yes it rains…rain often has wind so it looks sloppy and becomes a sail. Invest ~$8 in a box of plastic compactor bags. Line your pack with one and everything needing weather protection goes in that. There’s also some rolltop waterproof packs on the market. Either way – but ditch the sail.


By Carl Swedberg Fitness Services Director at PRO Club

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