If you're planning on a multi-day bushwalk with a full pack then you need to train so your walking experience is pleasant not painful. Here are our tips:
Don’t Rush: Preparing your body for carrying extra weight takes time. Making a last minute decision to hike the Larapinta Trail a week before, with no training is asking for trouble. Ideally, start 8-12 weeks out so you’ve got time to build up gradually. This will help prevent injury and make the journey to being pack-fit more enjoyable.
Research & plan your pack weight: There’s many different approaches and opinions about how much weight you should carry in a pack. However, what is unquestionable, is that you will have a much better trip if you’re carrying the lightest weight possible. The weight of your pack will be determined by the type of trip you’re planning on, the number of days food you’ll need to carry and access to drinking water. It could be anywhere from 10kgs for a two-day trip, to possibly 20kgs for a couple of weeks. So plan and train for the pack weight you intend to carry and set yourself a challenge to have it as light as possible through smart equipment choices and clever food planning.
Build up gradually: Let’s assume you’re planning to do the Overland Track in Tasmania with a planned pack weight of 16kg. With 8-12 weeks of training, head out on walks every few days with your normal day pack weight, then add 2kgs each time (bags of rice or bottles of water are good), until you are at the goal pack weight.
Train with your actual backpack: If you need to buy (or borrow) a new pack for your adventure, make sure you do this early so that all your training is done with this pack. As you gradually build up the weight you’ll become familiar with how the pack behaves and how the straps respond to the increasing weights.
Hills and stairs are your friend: They might not feel like it now, but by gradually adding in hills and stairs to your training walks, you are fast tracking your body’s changes to the new routine. Going steadily up stairs and slowly controlling your descent downhill, will help build strength in not only your ankles and knees, but also your core.
Fitted pack and learn to adjust: If possible, set yourself up for success by using a pack that has been properly fitted by a professional in-store with weights equivalent to your end goal weight. A properly fitted pack will transfer and distribute the weight of your pack off your shoulders and down onto your hips. If you feel you’re ‘shouldering’ the weight, then they need adjustment.
Consider walking poles: Research from the Journal of Sports Sciences tells us that hiking poles can reduce up to 25% of force and compression on knee joints, especially when going downhill. In addition, the increase in balance that they can bring when lugging a heavy pack across mixed terrain is a huge benefit.
Words_Caro Ryan (lotsafreshair.com)