The March issue of backpacker magazine featured Cam “Swami” Honan, Australian super-hiker (Triple Crown thru-hiker: AT, PCT, and CDT). Cam has a great website, http://www.thehikinglife.com/, filled with wonderful pictures of his adventures and advice for the wannabe and the expert explorer. I plan to camp out quite a bit more on his website. Cam shares in Backpacker Magazine several tips about pacing, campsites, socks, umbrellas, first-aid kits and stretching. I took notes on lots of insights but let me quickly highlight three.
First, Honan suggests that using caution and wisdom, a hiker should carry less water. Cam’s strategy is to drink at least a liter of water at the source of one’s resupply and then carry that much less on the trail. Since water weighs 8 pounds per gallon, there is wisdom in minimizing the amount that must be carried. Since the Appalachian Trail has many water sources, this tip sounds like a good one for me.
Second, Cam suggests a three step routine for happy feet. One – air your feet out at least once a day. Two – wash your feet every evening (sponge with a bandana) rain or shine. Three – wash dirty socks. “A pair of socks is always hanging from my pack. I look like a walking clothesline.”
Third, “Swami” believes that the idea that hikers need thick padded socks is one of the biggest myths in backpacking. With the right choice of socks not only will the hiker save a few ounces per pair but he/she will avoid heat-accelerated blisters. “Swami” recommends REI’s Merino Wool Liner socks – he likes the weight and shares that they are durable, affordable and dry quickly. I am going to try a pair and see.