Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: May 2013


Backcountry Safety

Backcountry Safety
Tips for Staying Safe in the Great Outdoors
Written by: Chris Broughton-Bossong

There is an endless list of reasons that people feel motivated to get back to nature. Whatever it is that brings us to venture off the beaten path, it is generally to find some kind of reprieve from our daily grind and escape the worries of the week.  The best way to enjoy our outings as much as possible is to stay as safe as possible.  Whether we are veteran backpackers or getting ready for our first day hike, we all need to keep safety in mind and remind ourselves that we are out of our element.

Even though it is bears and broken bones that seem to get the most attention with regards to backcountry emergencies, they comprise a small minority of the backcountry emergencies responded to each year in the US.  In general it is injuries related to exposure that pose statistically greater risk to us when we are in the outdoors.  Dehydration, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyper and hypothermia (elevated and diminished body temperatures), superficial burns, sprains, and blisters are not only some of the most common conditions we can face but are also some of the easiest to avoid.

Dehydration is an easy pitfall to avoid but we often don’t realize how effortlessly our bodies consume water.  Of course, everyone realizes there is fluid loss through perspiration. But think about exhaling on a mirror; the fog that it leaves behind is our exhaled water vapor.  So the more we breathe, the faster we can dehydrate.  Coupled with our body’s consumption of fluids, is our management of critical nutrients and electrolytes. Our body does not store natural spring water, but rather stores and uses water mixed with sodium (salt) and other electrolytes and nutrients.  So, the activity that is causing us to breath heavier is also causing us to burn more fuel and thus use up more sugars, which will eventually cause us to “crash” or become hypoglycemic. It is not only important to make sure that we are well hydrated before and during our excursion but that the fluids we drink are actually helping to replace some of the nutrients we are using up (salts, sugars, vitamins, etc.).  In short, if you’re not drinking regularly, you’re not drinking enough.

As most of us already know, sweating is our body’s primary method of cooling down or thermoregulation.  As effortless as this function may be, it is still something we need to pay attention to during our treks.  As we discussed above, if the fluids and nutrients we sweat and breathe are not replenished, this will eventually cause us to “crash”. This also increases our chances of facing an inability to cool down (heat exhaustion and heat stroke, respectively).  On the opposite end of this spectrum is hypothermia or a decreased body temperature.  Although adequate heed to the weather and proper layering are the best ways to avoid this, one slippery slope is when we begin to exert ourselves on a chilly day. We are bundled up, start hiking, start warming up, feel ourselves start to sweat, peel off some layers and are now damp and more exposed.  Remember, it is much easier to retain body heat than it is to regain it.  If it’s hot, stay hydrated.  If it’s cold, stay insulated.

While we are thinking about thermoregulation, consider the most common first-degree burn suffered outdoors: the sunburn. As with any burn, sunburn means it is more likely that our body’s surface temperature is increased as well.  Thankfully this is perhaps one of the most easily avoided injuries. The simple solution: keep covered with clothing or protective lotion.

Lastly we come to the sprains, strains, and blisters. We are most commonly predisposed to sprains and strains when we are traversing rough or uneven terrain and push ourselves too far (too fast or while fatigued), especially if we are not in properly designed footwear.  Remember, you are there to have fun.  Slow your pace a bit and pay close attention to both footing and handholds. Blisters can be avoided with footwear designed for the task at hand.  The great thing about blisters is that they don’t sneak up on you.  We will almost always feel a rubbing or chafing that leads to the blister forming.  When you feel that you are getting a “hotspot,” take a second and loosen your boots if need be. Increased pressure (shoe tied too tight) + motion (hiking/walking, etc.) = more friction (blisters). Apply moleskin, duct tape, or nail polish, prior to the blister forming, to reduce friction on the skin.  Treat the blister before it’s even there.

So in conclusion, when we take the time to listen to our bodies when we feel thirsty or worn down, chilly or starting to heat up, soreness or aching setting in, we are able to prevent or inadvertently treat many of the most common back country calamities that we are faced with.   Although there some schools of thought that toughing through it is what it’s all about, I believe preventing incidents and injury so that we can make the most of our valuable time spent with nature is what will keep us coming back.  The safer we can stay, the happier we will be and the longer we can enjoy our outdoor adventures, whatever they may be.

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Gear Review: Exofficio Underwear

Antimicrobial Unmentionables
Gear Review: Exofficio Underwear
Written by: Joe White

There is one thing that the gear magazines don’t talk about enough, one piece of gear that a store employee may shy from mentioning, and it is the most important piece of outdoor clothing! It is something you use every day, well most of us at least. Talking about skivvies gets people red in the face but I’m saying it anyway, “Exofficio boxers are amazing!” I got my first pair of Exofficio boxer briefs two years ago and I’ve never been happier. Every birthday, anniversary, or Christmas; I get more as gifts. I no longer have to wear cotton underwear, that’s right; I’ve thrown it all out!

There are many benefits to this performance underwear: they are quick drying, moisture wicking, antimicrobial, and odor resistant. All of these things help keep everything a little drier. Call it swamp ass, monkey butt, rainforest rash or whatever you want but it is plain uncomfortable to have. A slick, no grab material works perfect for layering pieces as it does not add any friction. Less friction will result in less bunching and riding up while in motion.

Personally, I prefer hiking in one pair and sleeping in another while out on the trail, they are light and packable so if you want three for a trip don’t sweat it. They are made to wash easy in a shower or stream and dry overnight. The Exofficio slogan is: “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of award-winning underwear. (Ok, maybe two.)”

There are several styles available but the boxer brief is most popular. The boxer brief has more leg coverage to cut back on thigh friction or contact. They fit multiple body types well and it doesn’t lose its elasticity like other brands. I’ve been happy with the longevity as well; while I enjoy merino boxers, merino can be delicate and mine have lasted just over a year at $35 each, versus multiple years of use at about $26 for the Exofficio. With almost a dozen color options they make it easy to color coordinate with friends or family. Although my review is obviously male dominant don’t let it fool you; Exofficio also makes several styles for women including lace, thong, boy short, full cut, or bikini briefs. How dare you ask what I think of them! Underwear is a private thing thank you very much!

Roads Rivers and Trails proudly carry Exofficio underwear and we’d be happy to show you and discuss our selection of unmentionables.

 

Barefoot Running

Barefoot Running
How I Fell into Barefoot Running
Written by: Bryan Wolf

Why do I barefoot run?  There is one good answer and it is the one that is most important.   I barefoot run because I would not otherwise run.  It is the only running I’ve ever enjoyed. It can be called a trend, a fad, a dangerous endeavor, or whatever you’d like to call it but what I experience is a freedom.  Barefoot or Minimalist Running from the very beginning has enlightened me to another set of awareness and senses.  I can hardly remember what made me start minimalist running. I have no idea why I bought a pair of Vibram Fivefingers more than 5 years ago.  When I put them on though I noticed a mental difference, I had the confidence to move.  I also noticed the physical differences; I could feel the ground that I stepped on, the textures, the temperatures, they fit more like a glove, I could move with full dexterity and control. I felt good, I felt barefoot.

What barefoot enthusiasts will tell you is that they feel connected, light, balanced, natural, and healthy.  Having a sense of awareness in motion and in correspondence with the ground beneath you has benefits of both body and mind. What is the first thing you do when you come home? Chances are you take off your shoes.  Besides a housemate angry about the mud you tracked in you took your shoes off because it is the most comfortable. Despite thousands of designs and attempts at correcting a “problem” there is no modern footwear that is more comfortable than simply being barefoot nor is there footwear that has stood the test of being injury free or even preventive.  You wear a cast on your foot everyday!

Vibram Fivefinger slogan is “You are the Technology”.  It is the first and only footwear that can protect you and allow for full utilization of our human engineering. When you first switch however minimalist running requires a patience and dedication that allows for your body to prepare for its new journey.  Through exercises and a slow but purposeful integration you can experience a transformation that ready’s you for running.  We have 52 bones, 66 joints, and 40 muscles in our feet, make no mistake that each one has a purpose and a place.  As a perfect creation there is no better mechanism for movement than that which we were given; remember “You are the Technology”.

I trained and transitioned slow, working my way to the hills of Clifton; up Ravine or MLK (does anyone feel my pain there?), to the Little Miami Scenic Trail where I would increase distance and speed.  I ventured out to our public parks for trail runs in East Fork or Mt. Airy Forest to discover a whole new sense of awareness and joy carefully bouncing down the muddy banks, through soft pebble creeks, and up grassy hills. I find myself now signing up for regular 5k and 10k events and the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon.  I run now, and I enjoy it.

I have been injury free through Appalachia to Cincy streets.  I have to say that if you can abandon your misconceptions or fears you too can find this same joy in running.  This type of running style or footwear may not be for everybody so start with the proper education. There are lots of resources and I’ve included a few here.   Your feet are beautiful, get to know them!

Online Guides/Resources:

Harvard Study:  barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu

“Born To Run” best seller: borntorun.org/

“Born To Run” best seller: Blog Review

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