Gloves and Mittens; HykLyt’s Light-Hiking Gear Guides – #1

Warmth and comfort can become everything when you’re out on the trail and find yourself in rapid cold-weather climate changes. If you’ve ever felt like you were freezing outside, then you know how important having the proper cold weather gear can be.

Being prepared for harsh weather conditions is the starting advice that any survivalist would give you. When you have the right gear, all weather conditions can be made comfortable.

That’s why it’s important to understand what you’re looking for in your gear, and plan for the worst, while hoping for the best, and packing your kit for both (lightly, of course). As the saying goes, “it’s better safe than sorry.”

In this HykLyt post, I’ll describe what to look for, and what the difference is, between gloves and mittens. It turns out, they aren’t only for cosmetic purposes.


Gloves vs. Mittens

Offering versatility and dexterity, gloves are a common pick when people shop for hand protection from the cold.

Offering more warmth, with less dexterity, mittens provide a “buddy-system” (finger to finger) insulation component for your hands, essentially locking in more heat for the harshest conditions.


Down vs Synthetic

Down gloves and mittens will be more breathable yet still stay very warm, the same way a down jacket works. Just don’t get them wet. Most down protective gear will come with a waterproof shell or system to keep them dry. Otherwise, they won’t hold any heat and actually work against you!

Synthetic fill is cheaper than the down version for gloves and mittens. Though synthetic fills are usually not high quality manufacturing and don’t hold up in the long run. These are better at staying dry without a cover, but some people tend to believe they aren’t very warm in comparison to down.


Gore-Tex vs Polar-Tec

You’ll want to find gloves or mittens with Polar-Tec or Gore-Tex if you’re looking for gear that’s fully impenetrable to water. There are other materials that can accomplish this task as well, but those two are the most common on the market and both are true to their word.

GoreTex is waterproof but still breathable. This technology is found in many different types of outdoor gear, from shoes to coats and many more. GoreTex is pricey, but worth the extra cost. It will keep moisture out of the glove while still allowing sweat to escape. a con to GoreTex is that it’s hot when you don’t want it to be. Although breathable in a one way valve system, it doesn’t allow for much penetration. If you are in the mountains and being rained on while it’s sunny, you’ll find yourself collecting a lot of sweat while attempting to stay dry. This is counterproductive at time.

PolarTec is less pricey but more breathable so will eventually “rainout” under heavy rain conditions. The pro to this material is it doesn’t overheat you because of the extra breathability.

To oversimplify, GoreTex when it’s cold and rainy/sleeting, and PolarTec when it’s warmer but rainy.

Keep this gear clean, as both tend to buildup dirt deposits over time.


Liner vs. Base vs. Shell

Liner gloves are great for 25-50 degree Fahrenheit weather. These can be worn year-round. Often found in wool or shearling, these can be stretchy and form-fitting. These typically are not waterproof.

Base gloves are great for temperatures less than 25 degrees Fahrenheit down to -30. These are usually waterproofed and can be worn layered with a liner for additional warmth, or work alone.

She’ll gloves are an improvement to either liner gloves or base gloves. These will increase insulation for either. They can also be worn as the third layer in your full glove system, if you prefer.


Leather vs. Polyester

Leather has been the primary water-resistant material that adapts for the weather conditions. Leather materials need proper care but will last a lifetime with the right amount of TLC.

Polyester, grouped with all other synthetics, unlike leather, are easier to care for, but not as durable. They are, however, better at heat regulation, and cheaper than leather.


Final Thoughts

It’s a hikers paradise out there when it comes to gear selection. There are so many different brands and different materials to try out that there may never truly be a definitive answer to which are the ultimate “best”.

Let me know in the comments below if you have a favorite glove brand (mines Overland currently, but Hestra is wearing on me).

Happy trails, and as always, thanks for reading.


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Easy Campfire Skillet Recipe; Sausage, Broccoli, Rice

If you’ve ever climbed a mountain then you know there’s only one thing you’re worried about when you get back to the bottom. Food!

Here’s a tasty and healthy recipe that brings all of the nutrients your body needs to replenish after a long hike. It’s easy to cook up, and can be prepped beforehand for a fast cook time.



Ingredients

1 Tbs Olive Oil

1 Tbs Butter

1 lb Smoked Sausage

2 Cups Broccoli Florets

1 1/2 Cups Cooked White Rice

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Onion Salt

1/4 tsp Pepper

1/2 tsp Salt


How to Store It To Be Cooked Out On The Trail

To store this meal prep to later be cooked on a trail skillet, you’ll want to leave it at your campsite in an ice chest until the day it is going to be used. If you do not plan to utilize a primary camp site and you are thru-hiking, this will need to be cooked on day 1. Provisions are better to take when thru-hiking.

For storing:

Put the sliced sausage, cut broccoli, cooked rice, butter, and mixed seasonings in separate ziploc bags. Put all of the ziploc bags in an airtight container and label it. If stored at primary campsite with an ice chest, this meal prep will stay good for five days before or after cooking.


How To Make It

1) Heat A Camp Skillet: Over medium high heat.

2) Add Butter & Olive Oil: Until Melted

3) Add The Sausage: Cook for about 5 min or until the sausage begins to brown.

4) Add The Broccoli: Cover and reduce the heat to low, cooking for about 5 min, and stirring occasionally.

5) Add The Cooked Rice

6) Sprinkle The Seasoning: Garlic powder and onion salt.

7) Stir Well: Then Serve!


After The Meal

Using the container that you had the ziplock bags in, you can store the leftovers by sealing them inside and replacing the container into the ice chest.

Let me know what you think about this campfire recipe, and, if you enjoyed learning about it, please consider subscribing to the blog. It’s free, and keeps the HykLyt dream growing. Just enter your email below, and you’ll be kept up-to-date on everything HykLyt.

Thanks for reading, hiker!



This post was written by Evan but the delicious recipe was designed by Cass.
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How Hikers Get Their Trail Names

If you’re a part of the hiking community, then you have probably noticed that many hikers no longer go by their real-life name when they’re on the trail. Instead, they are referred to by a trail name.

A trail name is a nickname that a hiker uses to express a personality. Many people will dub themselves, but some may wait for a friend to point out a quality that makes for a good nickname.

That being said… trail names may be one of the only times it’s okay to choose your own nickname.

If you read some of the PCT and Appalachian 2,600 Miler Club logs, you’ll come across various names. Some, better than others.

There are too many to post here, in this article, but PCTA ORG has the full list for you to peruse.

2,600 Miler Club

The 2,600 Miler Club is led by the organization that covers everything PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). It is here that you’ll find the log books (which are now online) of all of the hikers who have fully completed the trail.

The Pacific Crest Trail spans from the US/Mexico border to the US/Canada border and is a top to-do on my life bucket list. People spend years preparing for it as they have to be physically, financially and most of all, mentally prepared to complete this grueling adventure.

To achieve full credit for most 2,000+ mile thru-hikes you have to complete it within twelve months. It’s okay to do it section by section, as long as it’s completed within that timeframe.

Photo credit: Thru-Hike.com

Plenty Of Time To Think

You’re going to have a long while to think about it if you can’t come up with anything, just yet. Just look at the list of cities you’ll hike through if you follow the PCT:

This isn’t the longest of the hikes, either.

California

  • Campo (mile 1.4)
  • Lake Morena (mile 20)
  • Mount Laguna (mile 41.5)
  • Julian (mile 77.3)
  • Banner (mile 77.3)
  • Stagecoach Trail RV Park (mile 77.3)
  • Ranchita (mile 101.2)
  • Warner Springs (mile 109.5)
  • Holcomb Village (mile 111.3)
  • Anza (mile 151.9)
  • Paradise Valley Café (mile 151.9)
  • Hemet Lake Market (mile 168.6)
  • Idyllwild (mile 179.4) – depends on side trail
  • Cabazon (mile 209.5)
  • Banning (mile 209.5)
  • Big Bear Lake/Big Bear City (mile 266.1)
  • Fawnskin (mile 227.6)
  • Cajon Junction (mile 342)
  • Wrightwood (mile 369.4)
  • Crystal Lake Cafe and Store (mile 383.5)
  • Acton KOA (mile 444.3)
  • Acton (mile 444.3)
  • Agua Dulce (mile 454.5)
  • Green Valley (mile 478.2)
  • Lake Hughes (mile 485.7)
  • Hikertown/Neenach/Wee Vill (mile 517.6)
  • Mojave (mile 566.4)
  • Tehachapi (mile 566.4)
  • Lake Isabella (mile 652)
  • Inyokern (mile 652)
  • Ridgecrest (mile 652)
  • Kennedy Meadows South (mile 702.2)
  • Lone Pine (mile 744.5) – depends on side trail
  • Independence (mile 789.1)
  • Bishop (mile 789.1) – depends on side trail
  • Muir Trail Ranch (mile 857.7)
  • Vermilion Valley Resort (mile 874.5)
  • Red’s Meadow (mile 906.6)
  • Mammoth Lakes (mile 906.6) – depends on side trail
  • Tuolumne Meadows (mile 942.5)
  • Bridgeport (mile 1016.9)
  • Kennedy Meadows North (mile 1016.9)
  • Markleeville (mile 1048.4)
  • Kirkwood (mile 1076.5)
  • Meyers and South Lake Tahoe (mile 1090.8)
  • Echo Lake (mile 1092.3)
  • Olympic Village (mile 1135.5)
  • Donner Ski Ranch (mile 1153.4)
  • Soda Springs (mile 1153.4)
  • Truckee (mile 1153.4)
  • Sierra City (mile 1195.4)
  • Graeagle via Gold Lake (mile 1211.6)
  • La Porte (mile 1234.8)
  • Bucks Lake and Lake Shore Resort/Haskens Store (mile 1263.5)
  • Quincy (mile 1267.9)
  • Belden and Caribou Crossroads (mile 1286.8)
  • Chester (mile 1331.1)
  • Drakesbad Guest Ranch (mile 1350.1)
  • Old Station (mile 1373.5)
  • Burney (mile 1411.3)
  • Fall River Mills (mile 1411.3)
  • Burney Falls State Park (mile 1419)
  • Castella (mile 1501.1)
  • Dunsmuir (mile 1501.1)
  • Mt Shasta (mile 1501.1)
  • Callahan (mile 1560.2)
  • Etna (mile 1599.7)
  • Seiad Valley (mile 1655.9)

Oregon

  • Callahan’s Lodge (mile 1718.7)
  • Ashland (mile 1718.7)
  • Hyatt Lake Resort (mile 1742.7)
  • Fish Lake Resort (mile 1773.4)
  • Mazama Village at Crater Lake (mile 1821.7)
  • Shelter Cove Resort (mile 1906.6)
  • Elk Lake Resort (mile 1952.6)
  • Sisters (mile 1983.8)
  • Bend (mile 1983.8)
  • Big Lake Youth Camp (mile 1995.1)
  • Olallie Lake Resort (mile 2045.6)
  • Government Camp (mile 2086.5)
  • Timberline Lodge (mile 2097)
  • Cascade Locks (mile 2146.7)

Washington

  • Stevenson (mile 2147.2)
  • Trout Lake (mile 2228.9)
  • White Pass (mile 2294.9)
  • Snoqualmie Pass (mile 2393.1)
  • Steven’s Pass Resort (mile 2464.1)
  • Skykomish (mile 2464.1)
  • Stehekin (mile 2571.9)
  • Mazama (mile 2591.1)

Canada

  • Manning Park Resort (mile 2650+)
From Start To Finish

The Hard Part

Even though you’ve got a long time to hike…

Most trail names are chosen on the first day of your thru-hike. This way, you can introduce yourself to the other hikers you come across on your trek.


What Do You Want To Be Known For

So, start up the self-assessment and come up with that perfect name!

Thanks for reading, hiker!



This post was written by Evan.
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Hiking For Treasure

Psst. Want an introduction to a secret world that exists right under our very noses?

Well, you’re in luck!

Geocaching is a real, GPS-enabled, outdoor treasure hunting game that many hikers have been participating in playing for over twenty years!

Somewhere, out there, there’s a swag box! If anyone is going to find treasure in this expansive world of ours, it’ll be my wife (pictured). She is able to see better than me. I’d walk right past it!

What Do You Need?

Yourself. Your GPS device. Swag-items for swap out (described below). Snacks, water, safety materials that you’d bring on any other hike. Trekking poles are great for poking around while searching for a container inside say, a log, or a hollowed out tree, as well.

There are so many out there!

How Do You Play?

Geocaching (geography + cache) has two different roles to play.

1) Seekers: As a seeker, you’ll follow coordinates to a specific location where another geocacher has hidden a container, know as a swag-box. To locate the coordinates you’ll utilize your mobile phone or other GPS-enabled device. Once you’ve arrived at the cache location, you’ll need to search around, as many of the cache locations are hidden, making it all the more fun and challenging. Upon discovery, you’ll open the cache filled with what are called swag-items, and swap out one piece of swag for one that you brought with you. 1:1 etiquette.

2) Cache-Owner: A person who has stashed their treasures for others to find and listed it on the main geocache website so that participants know it is available to be found. A cache owner may place multiple items into the cache container. So long as seekers are practicing proper geocaching 1:1 etiquette, the containers will never run out of new items to be discovered.


What Are The Rules Of The Game?

Geocaching does come with a set of rules to follow. The rules listed below are to ensure that you, and others, have a great time while joining in on the hunt.

1) Leave No Trace. This is the most important rule in many peoples opinions. You’ll hear this rule everywhere when you’re visiting the great outdoors. It’s a good habit to get into. When you are out in nature, it’s usually to get away from the business that circles our cities. There is nothing as exhilarating as finding yourself alone, in the wilderness. Therefore, it’s best to practice this rule with anything you do. Don’t leave food, trash or any other personal belongings out on the trails. And, this can’t be emphasized enough, don’t mark or graffiti the natural scenery along the trails. I’ve read complaints on different forums for things like this happening on trails such as the PCT or the Appalachian. It’s very sad to see it becoming a problem.

2) Caches Have A Logbook: When you find the cache, sign the book. Later, go to the main geocaching(dot)com website to let the owner of that swag-box know that you located the container.

3) Don’t Change The Cache Location: When you find the cache, remember, it’s the owner’s decision on where it is hidden. Do not change the cache location. Some will be harder to find than others. Some, you may think you could hide better. Unless you’re the cache owner, place the container back where you found it.

4) Take A Penny, Leave A Penny: Remember when you’d see a plate out at gas stations offering loose change that someone decided they didn’t need, and you could use it to round up your dollar on the sale; or, to not have to dig around for a nickel? Geocaching is similar, except, for every item you take, you are supposed to replace that item with a different one. When you open the cache there’s no telling what you may find. Many caches will have multiple items inside, and some may even hold value. Your job as the seeker upon opening the treasure chest is to choose one item, and then replace it, and return the container where you found it.

5) Some Items Are Not Allowed: You most definitely do not want to leave food items inside of a cache container. Even if it’s made to last a lifetime and dried. The scent will still attract wildlife and endanger them. Remember, Leave No Trace. Only use family-friendly items, and your items should fit into the ‘swag-box’ without force being required.


How To List Your Own Cache ‘Swag-Box’

To become a cache owner you must first understand what a good cache is. You can research other peoples containers or better yet, seek them out yourself and determine which ones you thought were the best.

Essentially, to hide your cache, all you need is permission from whomever manages the land you are wanting to hide your cache at.


Want a little-known fact reserved for only pro-hikers? There are multiple caches located within National Parks.

Most Importantly, Have Fun

You’re on a treasure hunt… have fun with it! Don’t forget to come back to HykLyt.com to let me know what you discovered on your geocaching adventures!

If you liked the article, please consider subscribing to the blog. It’s free, and helps the HykLyt dream continue. Simply enter your email in the box below to stay up to date with HykLyt articles.



Thanks for reading, hiker!

CoverArt by Andreasrochas


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Mindful, Meditative Hiking

People have a hard time stopping. Usually, we start a new activity just as we wrap up a different one. You may be thinking, “Yea right, I can easily hang out on the couch and Netflix my day away.” But the truth is, this is still a form of engagement. Just because it’s sedentary doesn’t mean you’re not constantly processing imagery, perceiving emotions, and your mind is flaying with brain activity!

When we start new activities back to back in our normal, busy, day-to-day lives, we forget to take a few moments to simply stop. When we don’t stop, we don’t decompress. And, if something bad happened early on, it puts a real damper on the rest of the day. Ever heard the phrase,tomorrow is a new day” …anyone? We’re constantly seeking the “what’s next?”, and we find ourselves losing touch with our own personality.

When we lose touch with ourselves, we carry the stress and anxiety of the previous activities into the new one that we’re about to embark on without even realizing it. Our brains are constantly storing memories and the bad memories will affect everything else, if you let them! Unless you actively change those thought patterns, you may find yourself dwelling and replaying scenarios over and over to catch a glimpse of the “what-ifs”. “What if I would have said this?”, or, “What if I never even bothered going to visit?”. What if I just did the work myself instead of relying on others?”

The truth is that these “what-ifs” have now robbed you of the enjoyment you were seeking in whatever it is you’re doing (hopefully hiking). So, how do you regain your sense of self? How do you reconnect with the fun in life? How do you rediscover that positive aura you want to surround yourself with?

If you practice the following techniques, you can train yourself to see the silver lining in even the worst of times. Give them a try on your next hike and feel the negative energy dissolve from around you. Report back here, on HykLyt, in the comments section, if any of these exercises seem to work for you. And, if you like the blog, please think about subscribing. It’s free and will keep you up to date on everything HykLyt!

How-To Meditate While Hiking

1) Focus On The Steps: While you’re hiking, begin to train your mind to fully acknowledge each step. What do you feel around the soles of your boots? How does gravel give way underneath you? What about sand? Think about the dampened and matted grass underneath you as morning dew wets the trail. Staying grounded is simply that, live in the moment, and experiencing your surroundings.

2) Breathe In Your Nose & Out Your Mouth: It may seem silly, but this is a very calming exercise. I used this in the army. In fact, I used this technique to stay calm while treating casualties in a combat environment. It steadies your breathes and soothes the mind. Paying attention to involuntary breathing mechanisms can relax you and relieve stress even under the most extreme circumstances. Side note: This simple exercise actually helps with headaches and migraines, as well!

3) Find The Wildlife: As you focus on your steps, and you concentrate on your breathing, your next goal is to find the critters. We can learn so much from the wildlife that we cross paths with along the trails. Learning something new about any animal is a great exercise that will provide a friendly challenge to yourself while you hike. It’s a blast to discover new things and personally I have been surprised by wildlife plenty of times!

4) Bring A Sketchbook: Look, I’m far from a great artist (or even being called an artist), but there’s something special about art. As you hike, take a pit stop at a scenic overlook and stay awhile. Sketch the landscape or your close surroundings. Jot down the trail and date to look back on it in the future. Ever hear that “putting it on paper” makes it easier to remember? Well, I figure I might as well put my happy memories on paper in some form.

5) Move With Each Breathe: So, you’ve already been mindfully breathing while meditation hiking. Now, let’s add an element of fluidity. Feel your fingers by wiggling them at your sides. This breaks the outside distractions. Upon inhale, take a step, and on exhale, another. This will make you move slower, but deliberately. Concentrated.

6) Listen And Respond To Your Thoughts: I won’t call you crazy for talking to yourself when you’re out on your own in the wilds. This is a good time to really hear yourself out and work through anything that you feel may have been holding you back lately. Many times, our problems are only our problems because we continue to ignore them. They want to be validated, just the same as individuals. Everyone wants their place in life. Your problems do to. Address them. Work on solutions.

7) Practice Physical And Emotional Awareness: This could look different for each person, but as an adventure guide, I would recommend to hikers to feel out their surroundings and listen to themselves. This step is essentially putting all of the previous 6 steps into one. And once you’re able to do all of these things, you’ve found your way into mindful and meditative hiking.


Let Me Know What Works For You

This practice of mindful hiking is not the only way to expressly meditate while on the trails. I plan to write more articles on this subject but I’m curious to know what others have discovered that works for them. If you have grounding techniques that you practice often and it seems to help relax you, let me know in the comments or email me at hyklyt@hyklyt.com

Thanks for reading, hiker!


This post was written by Evan

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Land Navigation For Hikers


Terrain Association Via Topographic Map

Terrain association is a comparison of what you can see in real life and matching that with your map. The best terrain association develops when you’re able to locate specific ridges and mountain tops on your map thanks to what are called topographic maps .

With a topographic map you’ll be able to triangulate your location rather easily; simply by finding the largest landmarks around you. A tall rock formation, a tree line, or a riverbed can help you determine which way you need to go.

Topographic maps add contour lines where a regular atlas does not. You’re able to quickly find hotspot locations thanks to how much easier it is to follow the pathing when curvature and depth have been added to a map, unlike the paper maps you’ll come across at every travel center.

There will be multiple colors for different contour lines. These colors will represent a different level of “steepness” and when you have more than one contour line following the same path you can expect a very steep ridge.

Check the map legend for elevation measurements on contour lines.

After having a topographic map, you’ll see that your compass apps are a bit lackluster in comparison. There are apps such as AllTrails Pro that have some topographic features built into it, but those cost a subscription to continue to utilize.


So, How Do You Perform Land Navigation?

In its truest form, land navigation is done with a protractor tool, a 1:25,000 full color topographic map, and a compass that doesn’t stick.

The protractor would be used to encapsulate a radius and that radius would be laid out multiple times, plotting the landmarks along the way, until you reach your destination.

However, for the hiker’s land nav, all you need to do is practice your pace, and familiarize yourself with the direction you’re wanting to travel.


Practicing Your Pace

You’ll want to have a full understanding of how far your pace gets you while hiking. For many, 100 steps is equal to one Klik, or kilometer. A kilometer is also equal to a little over half a mile (0.62 mile/3280 feet).

How do you tell when you’re planning a klik off of eyesight alone? 

When you are in the wilderness, a klik is usually going to be what you can clearly see along your horizon. Not the furthest back on the horizon, but the closest horizon object you can make out without any problem. On a clear day, with nothing blocking your view, a person can clearly see roughly 3 miles. So, if you are on flat ground and can see all the way to the curvature of your horizon line, then divide that out by six and there’s your klik!

Remember that terrain will affect your pace. It takes, on average, 100 steps to reach a kilometer on flat land, but if you’re heading uphill you can count on 120 steps, and if you’re heading downhill, you can reduce it to 90 steps.


Plotting Your Kliks

After you have a good understanding of what your pace looks like you can use the legend on your map to estimate how far your destination is, and how many kliks you will be trekking. The map-key should have a mile or half mile stretch measured on the legend of the map.

Use those half mile stretches to get a base understanding of which landmarks you should be able to see at each klik plot point. Then plot the point at these landmarks. 

If you travel your first kilometer and reach your landmark, then check the horizon for your next landmark, rinse and repeat, then you’ve now learned how to Land Nav!


The Best Land Nav Checkpoints

You’re going to do a lot better with your land navigation skills if you learn to seek out the best plot points on your map.

The best land nav checkpoints are going to be rivers & streams, ridges, valleys, roads, trail crossings and railroads.

The second best land nav checkpoints will be elevation changes such as hills, cliffs, and spurs.


Now That You Are Ready To Practice Your Land Nav Skills

Keep in mind that you should have tie-offs in your pack. For survival purposes, if you are using land nav to get to safety, or find a source of water, use tie-offs on tree branches every few hundred feet to help guide your way back, if needed.

If you’re just out exploring and going for a trek, remember that the best thing for the great outdoors, is to leave no trace!


This post was written by Evan
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The Seasoned Thru-Hiker; A Guide On Preparing For Destination Hiking

Training for a thru-hike, especially one rated “difficult”, is something that every hiker should do before taking the long journey to that end game. These are some tips to get you started:


Find Your Training Spot Close To Home

This is one I struggle with myself, because where I’m from, there isn’t much elevation to work with. I typically travel to destination hikes to get the real adventure going, but not all is lost if you live in the prairie-lands, like me.

One of the most important aspects to training, is having a training spot that is close to home. I found a Nature Park near my house and began to utilize that area as my “thru-hike” spot. Sure, there were lots of people there with their kids or churches and schools bussing group visits around (because this park was in the heart of the city), and they probably were wondering, “why in the world is that guy wearing a full climb get-up in this 3 mile stretch?”. I like to think they understand that I’m simply out there to train and I’m not as crazy as I look!

So, I walk the paths, and because each path is only 2 or 3 miles long, I walk them several times. This helps the legs stretch and get used to a cadence that will keep your momentum moving when you’re on a thru-hike that takes months to complete. You essentially change your walking/hiking stride. To cover lots of terrain you want a good stride, and you want to be able to work with that stride, even while wearing your full pack.


Should I Train On Other Things Besides Just Hiking?

Absolutely. I mountain bike regularly. In fact, I was mountain biking every day for quite some time. This helped shape me up, grow the muscles in the legs and really help with my core balance, strength and posture.

Recently, I’ve started adding the gym into the mix. I felt like the cardio from the bike alone was beginning to plateau and I needed to stir things up a bit. Now, I’m just as addicted to the gym, as I am to biking, hiking, backpacking, and writing!

There’s really no way to go wrong with training, as long as you’re training. So, don’t feel like you’re not owning up to some sort of expectations just because other people seem to know what they’re doing. The truth is, no one truly knows what we’re doing. As science and medicine and mathematics, etc, continue to evolve, and as humans continue to learn, we will continuously shape our ideas on what’s right.


What About Acclimation

Thru-hiking will take you on a serious journey. You’ll come across some of the lowest zones, and then find yourself on some of the highest elevation gains, all on the same trail as it spans across it’s 2,100 miles (or more!). Thinking about acclimation is definitely something to take into consideration.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is, for some thru-hikers it can take a month to fully acclimate. If that’s the case, then they’d already find themselves a third of the way into their thru-hike and guess what?… the terrain has shifted, no longer requiring the acclimation.

When it comes to acclimation there’s not much of a way to truly get used to the elevation gains unless you are nearby and can constantly train there. Another way would be to rent a place in the area for some time and live there for a bit, but that’s really taking a stretch just to go on a destination hike.

So, get out there, and have fun with it! Listen to your body, rest when needed, eat when you’re hungry. Thru-hiking doesn’t require someone to go on a full on keto (survival mode) diet. It only requires the person to be able to carry themselves well.

My best advice is that if you’re like me, and live somewhere that has very little elevation gain, you take it slow at first when you arrive to your thru-hike. The first time I experienced very high elevation gains was when I backpacked the Rocky Mountains. I could feel the air thinning out with every step up after a certain height. It made me feel lightheaded, almost dizzy at times, and exhausted. I wasn’t acclimated and wouldn’t have had the time to acclimate anyhow as I was only there for 6 days.

Something super important to note, is at times like the above paragraph, you need to understand what your body is trying to tell you. Do not push through a dangerous attempt when your body is literally trying to shut down on you. Stop, rest, sleep if you need, eat your snacks, hydrate and then go ahead and cancel the climb for now. The mountain will most likely still be there to try again later, when you’re not at risk of serious injury or illness.

Rangers are usually available to help someone off the mountains when needed. Know your emergency numbers at each location you trek.


Carrying That Backpack

One of the best (and worst) parts about backpacking is getting used to carrying that pack. I say it’s the best because once you’re familiar with your setup you will be prepared for anything. Did it just start raining out of nowhere? No problem, my rain jacket is easily accessible from the front stretch pocket. Do I want to setup camp but don’t feel like digging through all of my stuff right now? I can just pull my sleeping bag from the bottom stowaway pouch. Did I just get a bee sting? No worries, my safety kits are in the top zip-pouch.

Knowing your pack out like the back of your hand is going to help your hikes feel successful and second nature. To get used to carrying it everywhere, just take it training with you. Practice using the different slots and pouches available to see what works for you. And remember to add more miles each week. By the time you make it to your destination hike, you won’t even notice the weight of your pack.


Add Miles Weekly

Like I’ve mentioned above, this is how you’ll get used to the weight you carry, adjust your hiking stride, and prepare your lungs for efficient oxygen intake. You want to push your limits on this exercise.

For the first week, walk as much as you can until you’re noticing you really need a break. Then stop. Record how far you’ve made it and rest until the next week (you should get to the point where you’re hike-training three days a week, but when you first start it’s okay to feel like one day a week is plenty).

When the following week comes around, hit your recorded marker, then add a mile. Then record, and head back home again.

Continue this rinse and repeat until you’re hiking 10 miles a day without problem. Many thru-hikers hike around 16 miles a day. If you train at 10 that’s a great starting point for beginners. If you’re able to get it to 16 before your trip, even better!


Understand Provisions

Something we don’t want to skip: food!

You need to know what provisions you have and you need to understand how to ration them based on how much area you still have left to cover before a restock.

You’re going to feel hungry on a thru-hike. Let me reiterate, You’re going to always feel hungry on a thru-hike. It’s the nature of the beast when it comes to long distance hiking. Remember, thru-hiking requires you to burn an exceptional amount of calories every day while you’re on the trail.

A great way to prepare yourself and train for this, is to understand your body and to learn how to eat for fuel instead of pleasure or out of boredom. Eat healthy, provide the nutrients your body needs, and eat small portions five times six times a day. This will make sure your body is intaking the proper nutrients it needs. It will help with digestion. And, you’ll only be taking in the calories you need, instead of excess.


Have An Escape Plan

A seasoned thru-hiker doesn’t just head out into the wilderness without some sort of escape plan. Don’t allow yourself to get into a bad situation due to lack of preparation. Spend some time thinking over anything bad that could happen, and then prepare for it. Then do it again and make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Have maps downloaded and ready to show your routes even without cell phone reception (AllTrails is one of the apps that offer this).

Locate and know the ways to get in touch with “Trail Angels” along the paths of your thru-hike.

Understand where the restock locations are, and take note on where your at while on the trail so you know how much farther you may need to go. I’ll post a Land Navigation post and back link it here in the near future to help with this topic.

Have a way to signal that you need help.


This post was written by Evan
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Top 4 Destination Day-Hike Trip Ideas In The United States

One of the best things about hiking is that you can roll an entire adventure into just a few hours of the day. With the way Mother Nature is constantly bringing us joyful surprises, you’re bound to have a good time out in nature, for free! Here’s a list on some of the best (by popularity) day-hike trips available within the United States. Be on the lookout for the next list of (not-so-notable) day-hikes, which I plan to post next week for those who are seeking a little more off-the-grid day-hikes.

#4 Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

A well-known rock formation in Yosemite National Park, Half-Dome is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the United States when it comes to day hikes. It’s popularity also makes it a high-traffic day hike so if you’re looking for solitude then this is not the trail for you.

Though it’s considered a difficult hike, a cable route has been developed to help guide hikers to the top of the dome and be completed in one day. Many people camp in this area too, however, so don’t be surprised to cross paths with wilderness sites along the way.

The course runs a little over 8 miles and the elevation tops out under 9,000 feet. Starting at 4,000 foot base, this isn’t considered a great hike for beginners. The difficulty and elevation gain may be a bit too much for inexperienced hikers. For reference, this dome is 3,000 feet taller than Angel’s Landing in Zion National, which is one of the high points of visiting Zion.

#3 Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

One of the top bike destinations in the United States, you’ve probably seen this one on blankets, posters, and stickers galore. Angel’s Landing makes the list thanks to the unique view it provides.

With a valley of fauna and flora below, take in the amazing scenery Zion encapsulates thanks to the active volcanic fields and previous eruptions (32,000 years ago) of Southwest Utah.

Now considered one of the most beautiful places to live in the US as well, Zion has become a staple in the hiking, backpacking, bouldering, climbing, geocaching, and downright exploring industries.

With a second park located nearby, Bryce Canyon, which provides an even better experience in some peoples opinion, it’s no wonder Zion has become one of the most populated National Park based on foot traffic. There’s no permits required to enter Zion National Park (you can pay the vehicle fees at entrance) which makes it all the more perfect for a great day-hike, date or personal getaway.

Just be prepared to run into lines in the most popular areas of Zion, Angel’s landing being the top of that list as well.

#2 Skeleton Point, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

In my opinion, the prettiest site from the Grand Canyon is Skeleton Point. It gives you a panoramic view of the National Park while also keeping it a single day hike.

Where many people want to complete the rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon, which is an out-and-back whopping 47 miles trek, Skeleton Point is just six miles in on the South Kaibab trail of the Grand Canyon.

Averaging a time of 3-4 hours for the casual hiker, this is a great way to spend the afternoon if you are near the GC park. This trail is considered beginner friendly and only climbs 2,000 feet in elevation.

However, this is no tropical resort. If you plan to hike anywhere in the Grand Canyon, make sure to come prepared. Hydration and sun protection are very important in this region. Also, having a bike and sting kit won’t hurt.

#1 The Kalalau Trail, Nepali Coast, Hawaii

There is a tropical trail making the list, after all. The Kalalau Trail of Hawaii is incredibly beautiful.

This park has a waterfall near the trail that would make it an 8 mile trip from the beach. Reservations are required as it is a wilderness site and State Park.

Temperate and on an island to boot, this is probably my most sought after trail (other than Eagle Creek, in Oregon, which doesn’t make the list for single day hikes).

Kalalau Trail is considered one of the most difficult trails of the Nā Pali State Park (located in the Northwest of Kauai, Hawaii, so it’s not very user-friendly for beginners. It is considers to be located on “The Garden Isle” as you can see from the picture above, the island really looks like a well manicured garden.

If that wasn’t enough motivation already, here’s a picture from Hawaii.com showing off the waterfall at Kalalau Valley.

What’s Your Favorite Day-Hike?

I’m curious to know the places you enjoy the most when it comes to spending your afternoon hiking. Let me know via email at hyklyt@hyklyt.com

This post was written by Evan
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Check Out The Previous Post; Botany For Hikers

How-To Guide To Advanced Ultralight Thru-Hiking

This post is for those who are already familiar with ultralight hiking and want to make changes to their pack to trek even lighter. I’m excited to share this post because this is what HykLyt is all about. Innovative gear design is the backbone of the HykLyt brand. For those thru-hikers out there who constantly want to hike lighter, I plan to launch our own items that are made with minimalist designs in mind that are not only lighter than what the market currently offers, but also eco and budget friendly.

Sometimes the greatest memories can be found while climbing to the top. You don’t always have to be at the top to find the beauty of the view.

Thru-Hike Clothing

Good clothing for your thru-hike is step number one. Here’s the crazy part: pack ONE set of hiking clothes, one set of sleepwear and one set of cold-weather thermals… and that’s it. You’d be surprised how much weight you can remove from your pack by doing away with all of the extra clothing you’re trying to bring along.

But what about staying clean, and warm, and dry… and all the other things?

Alternate the clothing as you would on a normal day at home, day clothes for the daytime, night clothes for bed time. Except this time, choose your alternation wisely. One thing about hiking light is that you have to hike smart. Let’s give an example of hiking smart when you only have two pairs of clothes to alternate if it’s not cold out (remember, thermals are your third set, but only to be worn underneath your ONE hike set or your ONE sleep set).

Example: If the evening is approaching and you only have another two hours of daylight, swap clothing. Wash the day set with unscented cleaner. Use little amounts of water to rinse the clothes. Then, hang the set on the back of your pack to dry while you slow your hike down on a cooldown as not to sweat in your sleepwear, keeping your night set dry and warm. In the morning, swap back to your day set. Also, you can save weight and skip the cleaner altogether. Water streams work wonders.

Thru-Hike Quilts

Quilts can save you more weight. Many people start out hiking with mummy-shaped bags with degree ratings lower than the weather that’s anticipated. That’s exactly what they should do.

Though mummy bags can be very comforting, they are by far the lightest option for overnight warmth. This tip is not to be taken lightly, I only recommended swapping to quilts if you know the weather you face, and are an experienced hiker with the knowledge to warm up via friction or fire making techniques if the weather drops quickly without warning, which can very well happen when you find yourself in the mountains.

Quilts are super comfortable and lightweight, but do not retain the heat a mummy bag can simply due to heat escaping from the top of your head. Take this into consideration if you choose to “quilt” instead of “bag”. A beanie is a good idea in case extra heat retainment ends up being needed.

Swapping your sleeping bag out to a lightweight quilt will save you a good amount of weight. In recent surveys of thru-hiker experiences, many are opting to bring a quilt instead of a sleeping bag.


Thru-Hike Sleeping Mats

Preferably, you’ll be carrying an ultralight foam cell sleeping mat on your bag. The air up mats may be a bit more comfortable than the foam cells that can sometimes feel rigid, but the foam cells are usually always lighter weight unless you’re venturing into the more costly ones like Klymits or Thermarest. as a budget friendly option, Nemo switchbacks are only around $50. If you do use an air up mat, leave the pump at home and breathe your way to inflation. Either of these options are both viable ways to cut down on your pack out weight.

Want an insider tip for foam cell mats to make it even lighter? Cut 1/3 of the foam cell mat off. You read that right. You most likely won’t notice much difference from your legs no longer being on the mat. Primarily, if you keep your upper torso on your sleep mat, then you’re getting it’s use as your hips, back and head are the heaviest pressure points.

Thru-Hike Water Storage

Our HykLyt chef taking in the crystal clear water.

One of the most popular brands of lifestraw squeeze tops are the Sawyer Squeeze tops. If you’re into thru-hiking you may already know this one, but I’m going to jot it down here just to cover all of our bases.

The Sawyer Squeeze top filters fit perfectly on a one liter Smartwater bottle. Don’t be surprised if you come across die-hard thru-hike enthusiast who do not carry a 3L water bladder with them. Not only are those super heavy, but take up precious space. Get yourself two one liter Smartwater bottles and fill the empty one every time you pass water sources. While setting up your sleep area, take the time to make sure both water bottles are filled.

You should be sleeping near a water source to be able to fill both for the night and to start your morning. Remember, you need at least a liter of water for every two hours spent hiking, and that’s on a ration. Don’t catch yourself straying too far from a water source for too long. This tip is not for beginner hikers! Take your bladder if you’re new to hiking!

Thru-Hike Rain Gear

My wife and I found ourselves battling the option of heavy duty rain gear in comparison to lightweight rain gear.

One one hand you have heavy gear but it provides warmth. On the other hand you have very little weighted gear but it is nearly breathable and the wind cuts right through it.

I recommend investing in ultralight weight non-breathable rain gear. Something made with impregnated silnylon will do wonders for warmth and rain protection. Adding to this, grab a lightweight rain cover for your pack. You don’t want to risk getting all of your stuff wet if you’re pushing long distance.

Though this Patagonia jacket is really nice. It’s heavy and doesn’t fold down to a very small size, which takes up more pack space than I find worth when it comes to long-distance hiking.

Thru-Hike Tent

Tents are one of those things that I consider to be of utmost importance. A good tent with good ventilation goes a long way, unless you like waking up in a puddle of water form moisture collecting on the inside walls of your tent. However, tents are often the heaviest portion of your kit. Even with an ultralight tent, you’re looking at around 2 to 3 pounds. Unless you’re able to purchase hyperlites which can run you upwards of 700 dollars!

To seriously reduce the weight in your pack, you can utilize a makeshift tent. To do so, find a cutout of impregnated silnylon (so it’s waterproof) that’s larger enough to circle you completely and still be raised in the center to cover you while sitting up. Then, use that cutout of fabric, a trekking pole, and six ultralight tent stakes. Voila! You now have an extremely light option for shelter.

This is an example of how a makeshift trekking pole tent would be setup. If you’re interested in buying a tent like this straight off of the market instead of finding a nylon fabric cutout, you can shop this brand at KUIU.

Tents like this won’t provide a whole lot of cover, so it’s best to prepare for the elements if you choose this option as shelter. However, in favorable weather conditions, saving a couple of pounds out of your bag is huge in the ultralight world.


Thru-Hike Pack

If your tent isn’t the heaviest thing in your bag, then it’s probably the bag itself that’s weighing you down. You can reduce your total weight by a great deal if you invest in a durable, but hyperlite bag.

A frameless bag is one of your best options when wanting to hike at the lightest weight possible. I recommend a Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack for this option, though, they are a bit costly.


Thru-Hike Recharge

You can get turned around easily in snow. Everything can start to blend and look the same!

This one will be short and sweet. Don’t go without a lightweight battery pack. You need the capability of charging Gaia GPS and your phone for downloaded map systems. These are getting lighter with new releases, so see what’s available on the market when you’re preparing. Do not risk your safety to shed a few ounces. This is one of the few times I’d tell you NOT to save weight.

Thru-Hike Final Thoughts

If you have taken these steps to lightening your pack, you’re probably amazed by how little your pack weighs in comparison to its prior state. Remember, sometimes lightening the load means sacrificing comforts and even safety measures. I strongly suggest slowly incorporating these tips into your thru-hiking routine. Just like HykLyt, take it One Step At A Time.

This post was written by Evan
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The HykLyt Meal Plan For Camping

Disclaimer: this is a repost to make the meal plan article easier to access. It was originally posted in my guide to the Rocky Mountains. 
The talented HykLyt chef

I don’t want to brag here, but I kind of have an amazing chef as my trail partner (my wife). She spent a lot of time planning an entire week of breakfast, lunch, dinner, after-hike snacks, and even electrolyte reserves. So, when it comes to fuel, I was never running on empty. The good news is that I get to share this meal prep plan with you, pro-hiker!

First, you’re going to need a cooler that seals well. We used an Igloo brand. So long as you’re replacing your ice each day, the cooler should keep these meals over the course of a week. Be sure to eat it in the order listed, though. 

This stuff is delicious!
The best order to eat your foods will be color-coded. This should ensure you make it through your trip without having foods spoil. 

Color for foods to eat first.

Color for foods to eat second.

Color for foods to eat third.

Breakfast Menu

1) Over night oats with yogurt, almond butter, blueberries and granola

2) Eggs, bacon, orange juice, toast and jelly (cooked on a Coleman propane burner stove)

3) Bagels w/ cream cheese

Lunch or Brunch Menu

1) Egg salad sandwiches w/ chips

2) Tuna sandwiches and chips

Snack Menu

1) Baby bell peppers with cream chz and everything bagel seasoning

2) Cherries

3) Bananas

4) Strawberries and chocolate

5) Graham crackers, marshmallows, hersheys

6) High Sugar Snacks (Luna, Cliff, Etc.)

Dinner Menu

1) Meatballs with rice

2) Broccoli sausage rice

3) Salmon w/ white rice and broccoli

4) Shepherds pie

5) Ramen & Neguri

6) Red beans and rice

Hydration and Electrolytes

1) Water

2) Gatorade powder 

For this, we grabbed a five gallon water and put it in the car to keep filling our Osprey bladders with. Then, anytime we needed mixing water for the powder we had it available.

We used the Osprey bladders, they have a better mouthpiece in my personal opinion.

Utensils You’ll Need 

Cookware

• Large Frying pan

• Spatula

• Plastic and metal forks

• Spoons

• Knife 

• Can opener

• Stove burner

• Small Propane x2

• Lighter

• Tongs

Cleaning Materials

• Wet ones 

• Trash bags 

• Laundry detergent

• Dish soap

For the Table

• Table cloth

• Folding chairs

• Folding table 

• Paper plates

• Plates

• Paper Towels

For the Fire

• Fire starter sticks 

• Lighter fluid

• Firewood

• Lighter

For Storage

• Ice chest

• Frozen water bottles

• Tupperware and foil pack meals and ingredients

Another option to cook with is the MSR burner.

Final Thought On Backpacking Meal Prep

It’s awesome. If you follow this list you can make it through a full week at your campsite. This allows you to store all of your food in bear safe containers and it doesn’t matter when you return, your food will still be ready to go. This is for our and back hiking. If you want to thru-hike you’ll need a provision list, which I’ll post at a later time. Thank you for reading!

This post was written by Evan
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