Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 19:44 | No Comments »

There is no universal blueprint as to how you should backpack. We all have our own motivations, needs and levels of experience. That being said, one thing upon which everyone can agree is that hiking is substantially easier and more enjoyable, if your pack doesn’t weigh the proverbial tonne. Here are 14 telltale signs that you should consider lightening your wilderness load:

Hiking blog

(L to R) During my three decades plus of backpacking around the world, I have carried packs of all sizes and weights. The shot on the left is from the Pyrenean Haute Route in 1999. The image on the right is from the Cape to Cape walk in 2010.

1.  Your pack has a capacity of 70 liters or more. Irrespective of the length of your hiking trip, you always find a way to fill it.

2.  You have to sit down to put your pack on.

3.  When you subsequently get up, not only do you inadvertently groan and wince, but anyone who happens to be in the vicinity also groans and winces.

4.  When fully loaded, the top of your pack is above your head.

5.  Boy scouts point at you and giggle whenever they see you on the trail

6.  When hiking in the Himalaya, porters regularly refer to you as “brother.”

7.  You have named your pack one of the following: Ennis, Bertha, Goliath, Beast or Ben (like the clock). Alternatively, if you predicate any reference to your backpack with the “F” word, that’s also a pretty good indicator.

8.  Irrespective of whether you are going up or down hill, people on horses always give way to you. Mountain bikers too.

9.  When you empty your pack after finishing a trip, you realize that there are at least five items that you not only didn’t use, but that never actually saw the light of day during the course of your hike.

10.  While out on trail, you constantly find yourself rummaging through your pack looking for items which you are sure are in there somewhere, but can’t quite remember where.

11.   After breaking camp and hitting the trail, your morning coffee finally kicks in and you realize you forgot to take a shit before departure. However, your pack is so heavy that you don’t want to go through the process of taking it off and putting it back on again. Therefore you decide to suck it up, and subsequently spend the next hour in a hide-and-seek battle of wills with Terry the Turtlehead. When the point of no return inevitably happens and you realize that there is no denying Tezza (Australian for “Terry”) when he has a head of steam up, you drop your pack unceremoniously in the middle of the trail and dash for the woods. However, you don’t make it more than ten yards before you lose all sphincter control and soil yourself prior to being able to dig a cat hole and lower your shorts. Making a bad situation even worse, you were in such a rush that you left your toilet paper in the backpack. The moral of this not uncommon story is: A. Have your coffee a little earlier, and; B. Carry a lighter, less encumbered load, which is simple and easy to take on and off whenever the need arises.

12.  You are constantly worrying about not being sufficiently prepared, and invariably overcompensate by bringing items that are unsuitable and/or unnecessary for the environment into which you are venturing (e.g. mega multi-tools and heavy leather boots for anything but winter).

13.  You regularly find yourself leaning too far forward while hiking. This is often a sign that not only is your pack too heavy, but also that it is sitting too low on your back. Given time this posture can result in rounded shoulders, neck strain from constantly tilting your head up in order to see properly, and pressure on the lumbar region.

14.  And the biggest sign that you are carrying too much stuff in your backpack while out in the woods? You focus more on how uncomfortable you feel than the beauty of your surrounds.


Obviously some of the above listed points are tongue-in-cheek. However, the premise of the article is quite serious. There are a number of reasons to carry a lighter load while out in the wilderness**, however, in my experience the big ones are simply comfort, health and enjoyment. It is better for both your body, which is less likely to incur stress related injuries, and also your mind, which will be less distracted than it would be under the burden of a heavy load.

(**Note: Always in accordance with your experience level and the dictates of the environment into which you are venturing).

Source: The Hiking Life

Wednesday, April 3, 2019, 20:10 | No Comments »

After a lot of begging and against your better judgment, you purchased your teen a new skateboard and he can't wait to get out and use it. Now you're worried he's going to get hurt.

Contrary to some parents' opinion, skateboarding can be a safe and enjoyable activity. But without proper precautions, it also can lead to everything from minor abrasions to traumatic brain injury.

In 2015, 125,145 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms after being injured skateboarding. More than half of those injured were ages 14 to 24, and about one-third were between the ages of 5 and 14, according to Injury Facts 2017, the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by the National Safety Council.

While the number of injuries caused by skateboarding is somewhat high – basketball, bicycling and football rank in the top three, skateboarding comes in eighth – making sure your child has the proper safety gear can make all the difference.

Newcomers to the sport account for one-third of the injuries. But, even experienced skateboarders fall – a lot. They most frequently are injured in falls caused by rocks and irregular surfaces. Wrists usually get the brunt of the damage with sprains or fractures, but "swellbows," or swollen elbows, also are not uncommon.

National Safety Council offers some suggestions to help keep skaters safe:


Use the proper skateboard for the type of riding: freestyle, slalom or speed.
Wear closed, slip-resistant shoes, helmet and pads to reduce the number and severity of cuts and scrapes. Padded jackets and shorts; hip, knee and elbow pads; wrist braces; and special skateboarding gloves all help to absorb the impact of a fall. (Equipment is not subject to government performance standards, so choose carefully.)
Give your board a safety check before each ride.
Never ride in the street, and obey local laws on where you can and cannot skate.
Don't skate in crowds of non-skaters. It's dangerous and annoying to those around you.
Only one person per board, and never hitch a ride from a car or bike.
Practice complicated tricks in specially designated areas.

Did you know that falling is an art? If done properly falling doesn't have to result in serious injury.

If you feel like you're about to lose control, crouch down so you don't have as far to fall.
Try to land on the fleshy parts of your body.
Try to roll rather than absorbing the force with your arms.
Try to relax your body rather than going stiff.
Practice falling on a soft surface or grass.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019, 21:14 | No Comments »

Sunday, January 27, 2019
Speeding, Impatient and Inattentive Motorists, Beware: LVMPD Is Pulling People Over Near New Ballpark On S. Pavilion Center Drive.
I've turned into that grumpy old man in the neighborhood, yelling at speeding motorists endangering lives, drivers who turn in front of me while I stroll through a crosswalk and people who think racing to a red light to just sit and wait is more important than the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.

So Sunday when I was on my morning saunter along South Pavilion Center Drive in Summerlin, I thanked a Las Vegas Metro officer for pulling over a driver in front of the new Howard Hughes Corporation baseball park being built along the road and a roundabout. The ballyard opens in early April. 

I wrote a recent story about pedestrian and bicyclist safety at the new $150 million minor league ballpark because I witnessed motorists who were speeding, inattentive and impatient along South Pavilion Center -- driving behavior that in my humble opinion will imperil the lives of people crossing the street to reach the ballpark and using the Pavilion Center Drive corridor.

You'll have to excuse if I am just a little agitated over motorist driving behavior. When an inattentive motorist slams his car into you from behind while you're bicycling and you survive thanks to the grace of God, you tend to get a little ticked off when you see people driving motorized vehicles in manners that could kill or maim someone. And yes, I have written a book about this.

Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns the ballpark and the newly re-branded Las Vegas Aviators Triple A team, said it will install pedestrian flashers so walkers can cross South Pavilion Center Drive. That's fine. But educating motorists to slow down and not speed through the roundabouts along South Pavilion Center Drive at the new ballpark would help too.

And then there's Metro traffic police on motorcycles who can stop motorists, too, to conduct their own form of behavior modification

After the distracted motorist slammed his car into me in Florida, I returned to Las Vegas in June 2017 to launch But I kept my Bicycle Stories blog alive because in a previous life I quit journalism and was a full-time community bicycle rights and safety activist in the Tampa Bay market. I see Las Vegas could use a little help, too, to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from deadly motorists, so I'll be lending my voice to this issue.

You'll be hearing more from me. Alan

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