Now that all the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and Dept. of Natural Resources (Local+State Parks/hiking trails) are closed until April 8, I can only find solace in writing. I can still go out to the city local parks, but only if you can walk/bike to them. The eight larger city “destination” parks: Green Lake, Seward Park, Alki Beach, Gas Works, Discovery Park, Magnuson Park, Golden Gardens, and Lincoln have closed their parking lots to deter gatherings. All the vehicle roads to the National Parks (Mt. Rainier and Olympia) are closed.
The Washington Trail Association says “If you do go for a walk, go alone or with people you live with… if you have to drive to the trailhead, it’s probably too far. Also consider whether or not you have to interact with others, won’t be able to avoid crowds, or will need to stop for the restroom. If you answer yes to any of these questions, change your plans.” Stay hyperlocal.
This is probably the first time in years that I have missed having a road bike. I went on Craigslist to source one, but didn’t find anything I liked. I saw a commuter bike that I’m trying to talk down to $100, but I’d replace the tires, saddle and pedals. Tomorrow, I’m off to explore and discover a new local city park.
Some outdoor things to do inside:
Watch the sun rise on Glacier Peak.
Watch 2 minutes of Washington Trails.
Watch the Banff Mountain Film Festival from home.
Since I can’t go outside – like really outside, I thought I would write about it. My topic and audience for today are people who have asked me what’s in my bag when I go hiking/backpacking. This post is meant to be helpful for those newer to this activity, or for girl anatomy specific questions, and for vegetarians/vegans wondering about nutrition/protein.
I’m not advocating for a specific brand, but I added links to the type of products I choose to wear/use. I support these brands for their mission, values, and product design. I do buy a lot of Outdoor Research and MSR. I support these PNW brands. I buy Osprey for bags. Smartwool for merino wool items. Typically, I am a fan of Patagonia products.
From head to toe- boots, I like hiking boots. They make my ankles feel secure. You can wear them when it’s raining, muddy, and if you backpack more than a day trip, I’m a believer you should have boots and not trail runners – personal preference.
I wear medium hiking weight, crew length, Smartwool hiking socks and liners. Supposedly liners help prevent blisters, but I think liners keep my feet cooler. I am prone to turning into a toddler when I get too hot. For multi day trips, I only have to change out the liner and can rewear the sock. I’ve worn Smartwool for years and value their products more so than other merino wool makers.
Pants – I like pants that have stretch. My favorite winter hiking/mountaineering softshell pant is the Outdoor Research Cirque Pant. If I could wear these year round I would. I absolutely love the design, warmth and weight. They are most comfortable for me when the temperature is less than 40 degrees. I’ve worn the cirque pant for years. Recently, I bought a OR midweight and a summer weight pant to try out, so far they are ok. I don’t have a favorite spring/summer pant yet. I love these waterproof rain pants for PNW rain days or to keep it in your pack. They are extremely lightweight, stretchy and come in SHORT length (important for us shorties).
Top – I wear a Smartwool baselayer – wicks sweat off your skin. Regular sports bra. Some people swear that you should wear wool undergarments, but I think synthetic is fine, as long as you swap them out at the end of the hike/camp for dry bra/underwear.
Hat – Warm fleece hat, trucker hat, sunglasses or goggles depending on conditions. I also like to wear a merino wool neck gaiter. Gloves – I sometimes bring 3 pairs, depending on conditions – lightweight (wet/windy conditions), midweight (skiing/mountaineering conditions), and heavy weight mitts (really super cold/camp/stop for lunch). If snow/winter, I’ll also have OR Crocodile gaiters. They are the gold standard. I might have also have a balaclava. I love my OR gloves but it has to be 30 degrees or less to wear them.
I always hike with trekking poles. They provide balance, help you use more of your core/arms (if you don’t use poles, you rely more on your glutes) and if someone breaks a leg, or sprains an ankle, you have a support system. There are two types of poles, the kind that have shock absorption, sort of bounce back when you put pressure on it, or ones that don’t. I prefer the first type.
I carry a 30+L backpack (all day) hike in winter. I carry a 20+L backpack to carry my breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks to work for 12+ hour shift. A 20+L backpack is ok for summer hiking (1-5 hours). If I’m doing a multiday hike, I use a 65L backpack. I’m a huge fan of Osprey bags. I believe they have the best products on the market and all they make are bags.
In my backpack, bottom to top: emergency bivy, first aid kit, “ten essentials“, navigation tools, fire starter, water purifier, headlamp with extra batteries, microspikes. Middle of my bag: extra layers, toilet paper/hand sanitizer in a double zip lock bag (poop), Kula cloth (pee). It’s important for girls to wipe dry after peeing otherwise you risk getting an infection from moisture build up. It’s also a good idea to trim down there, between your legs for the same reason. Nobody wants to get a UTI. I’m looking into a freshnette pee funnel – but I haven’t really needed to stand up while peeing yet. I heard they are super useful for climbing/kayaking expeditions and this brand has been recommended to me based on the best design. If you’re having your period, you might also consider a diva cup. I have yet to try the diva cup, but my friend said it’s life changing. Also, freshnette and diva cup should be practiced at home before going out on the trail. Both require a learning curve for application. Also cut your toe nails and nails short so they don’t snag on socks or gloves. Lastly, I have a sit pad, so you can sit on the ground and have a barrier between you and the ground for insulation. (5) or so bubble padded envelopes also will do the same job.
Nutrition is like a sport in of itself. It’s hard to figure out and should not be neglected. Take as much time to figure out what works for you on the trail.
Drinks: I carry 2L of 3L capacity of water mixed with Skratch hydration drink mix in a camelbak hydration bladder. Typically I will only drink 1L of water. If I am expecting freezing conditions, I won’t bring the hydration bladder and swap out with Nalgene bottles. The hydration bladder tends to freeze in cold conditions even with an insulated sleeve. After lots of triathlons and biking the US, Skratch is my go to electrolyte drink mix. This brand does not upset my stomach, it’s not fizzy and I like the taste/formula. They make bars too that aren’t bad.
Based on personal experience, if you only drink water, you create an imbalance in your body. By sweating out a lot of electrolytes and only putting back in water is not effective. Your hands and feet will be swollen at the end of the day. Your body has swelled because your cells have too much water and not a lot of everything else it needs. Drinking an electrolyte mix will help balance the needs of your body while exercising. Electrolytes are a personal decision, some people like nuun because they are easy tablets that dissolve. I don’t like them for their fizziness, it upsets my stomach. Some people drink gatorade, but I think it’s too sweet. You’ll have to find something you like by trial and error.
Bars: I like to eat Go Macro. They are vegan and have a good taste/variety. You can buy them at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc. They are a little more on the pricey side, but I would argue way better than any other brand. I aim to eat only one bar per day on a multiday trip. Having eaten every type of bar on the market – Go Macro is the best while I am at work or on the trail. Sometimes I make my own protein bites, but I like them out of the freezer cold, so I usually don’t bring them out.
Chews/fast digestible sugars you can eat while walking and biking.
I carry a 17 oz thermos of hot water, and fill it with instant tofu miso soup mix packet for lunch. If you don’t want the weight of a thermos, you could also put hot water in a Nalgene and use an OR water bottle parka. There are lots of different types of instant miso soup packets. The type I like has a funny cartoon guy on the package. You can shop for it here. Instant miso soup is a great way to get back needed electrolytes, protein and fills your stomach with a warm broth. If I’m feeling fancy, I might add instant ramen.
Other snacks: stroop wafels (quick sugars) – don’t melt/freeze in variety of conditions, Trader Joe’s dried persimmons and hummus sandwich (pre-made from TJ) or sourdough bread or tortilla with banana/peanut butter. I also like these pb bite size banana snacks. Sometimes I might also carry dried edamame, or other type of nuts like almonds. It’s important to bring a variety of savory snacks and test them out at home before going out on a trail. I only eat on the trail, what I would be willingly to eat at home. I don’t eat trail mix at home so I would never eat that out on a trail. You might want to pair a savory with a sweet treat to have an even ratio, but I almost always tend to eat savory after sweating.
If I’m going on an overnight, I’ll make dehydrated meals and more dehydrated snacks, like tofu jerky, or dehydrated tomatoes. If you don’t want to make a dehydrated meal from scratch you can also buy a Tasty Bite pre-made meal, and dehydrate it. An average hiker, consumes ~3000-4000 calories on <10 mile day, ~4000-5000 on <10-20 mile day. You can do the math but I eat the above items and usually have half leftover when I get back to the car on an all day hike. Having half leftover makes me feel safe because if I were to get lost on the trail, I’d be prepared with extra food. I don’t ever like to be hangry.
You also don’t need any specific gear to go outside. You can hike in anything you already own, but once you start getting gear specific, your experience will be 100x better. I hike in the rain happily because a day outside is better than any day inside.