Risk of Hiking Injury

A survey of more than 700 John Muir Trail thru-hikers gave researchers insight into what makes a hiker more likely to get injured or ill while backpacking. …

First off, the (2018) study didn’t find sex to be a determinant of getting hurt or sick on the trail.

Here are the factors correlating with injury:

  • younger age
  • higher BMI (body mass index)
  • higher BPW (base pack weight)

Surprisingly, older hikers reported fewer adverse events on the JMT.

… Often abbreviated as BMI, body mass index is a measure of the size of the human body, calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms dividing by the square of their height in meters. …

The study’s authors found that base pack weight correlated with an increased risk of illness and injury; the heavier the pack, the greater the likelihood of morbidity.

This Study Predicts Who Is Most Likely to Get Hurt in the Wilderness

I hiked the John Muir Trail myself in 2021 at age-63. And found myself ‘healthiest’ on finishing after 19 days. I got in ‘shape’ by hiking.

Helly’s LifaLoft jacket – my review

Kraig Becker sent me an early prototype of a Helly Hansen LifaLoft jacket for my 2019 trip to Patagonia. I wore it non-stop for a couple of months cycling and hiking in wet, windy and sometimes cold weather.

LIFALOFT™ is not down. It’s arguably lighter and warmer.

The idea is to trap a maximum amount of air in a small space. And due to the hydrophobic properties of LIFA®, LIFALOFT™ has an inherent water repellency that should keep you warm, even when wet.

It worked for me as advertised.

Glacier Vinciguerra, Ushuaia, Argentina

Cerro Guanaco trail, Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina under a rain shell

The best test came when I got caught in a surprise downpour while hiking without my shell. I was worried.

But next morning the LifaLoft looked and felt 100% perfect.

UPDATE:  I bought two more LifaLoft jackest – in different colours and sizes.  I often wear two rather than a heavier down jacket.  

I machine washed and dried one jacket.  It come out looking like new. 

Kraig sent me this to replace my FAILED Columbia OutDry down jacket. It was useless after 7 months.

The Helly Hansen is far superior. The Colombia failed — I think — because it couldn’t handle being frequently compressed into a stuff sack. The HH LifaLoft seems much more durable.

In Patagonia Helly Hansen is the go-to brand for serious sailers and outdoors-people. Developed in Norway, HH is tested under the worst weather conditions.

For future hikes in moderate weather where weight is a big consideration, I’ll be carrying the LifaLoft and just a waterproof ultra-light Frogg Toggs shell.

Stein Valley Divide hike, B.C.

Stein Valley is one of the best hikes in North America.

It’s high on my personal list of hikes to do … SOON. 

Wild and remote, the “route” is about 90km and has a total elevation change of at least 4300m. High elevation is about 2150m.

It’s tough. You probably want to schedule 7 days. Perhaps 9 days to enjoy some side tripping. Carry ALL your food.

Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo.

Without question you should purchase the only guidebook. And perhaps maps, as well.

2nd edition 2013

purchase at MEC

Best Independent Hikes Peru

by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Friends are planning to travel Peru in May / June 2022. Hiking will be part of that adventure.

They’ll bring tents, gear and sleeping bags, looking to hike independently as much as possible.

Both are experienced in the Rocky Mountains. Peru trails can be higher — but I’d consider them no more difficult. Weather is always a factor. I’d recommend they book nothing in advance.

Our #1 independent hike in Peru is Ausangate Circuit and Rainbow Mountains out of Cusco. They’d fly into and acclimatize in Cusco 3326m (10,912ft). Next head for Machu Picchu.

Our favourite hike to Machu Picchu is Salkantay. (Even better would be Choquequirao to Machu Picchu — but that might be difficult to do independently. One guided 7-day adventure for 2 people would cost USD $2275 each.)

I’m recommending they instead take the bus Cusco to the Ollantaytambo ruins. Stay there one night. Then take the train to Aguas Calientes. Walk up to Machu Picchu – 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) in about 90 minutes. Best is to walk in the early morning to arrive at the gates before the tourist buses.

So … Cusco and Machu Picchu to acclimatize. Their first hike would be Ausangate , about 100km south of Cusco.

Next they’d head south towards Lake Titicaca on the well trod Gringo Trail. There are many tourists stops en route.

From the lake they are hoping to detour into Bolivia. La Paz and the local attractions.

For hiking, I’m recommending they bus up to the mountain town of Sorata, Bolivia. Speak to locals on recommended hiking options.

Returning to Peru they’d continue up the coast towards Lima.

From Ariquipa they could hike Colca Canyon and/or climb Misti. Both excellent short adventures.

From Lima it’s a long bus ride north up to Huaraz — one of our top 10 hiking towns in the world.

But when you get there it’s a pleasure to hang out at Cafe Andino planning your next hike or cycling trip.

Many acclimatize on a quick walk to Laguna 69.

Then set off for the very popular Santa Cruz trek.

If time and energy allow, they could resupply and continue immediately on the Alpamayo trek.

Ultimately my personal favourite hike in Peru is the long and challenging Huayhuash Circuit near Huaraz. But it’s not easy to do independently. We hired a mule driver / guide and were happy we did so.


Questions? Suggestions?

Leave a comment.

Related – Best Hikes in South America

Airlines and Camping Stoves 😕


I’ve made hundreds of flight over the years with camping stoves in both carry-on and luggage — and only really had problems in New Zealand. They are VERY strict on all camping equipment, not wanting to introduce foreign pests.

But in 2021 I’ve had stoves questioned twice. The were not confiscated.

Friends had stoves taken and not returned!

Air Canada last week — for example — took my very clean JetBoil and had to have it approved by SOMEBODY before I could take it on the plane.

Here’s the Air Canada policy on that.

Here’s some advice from Backpacker magazine.

And some advice from CyclingAbout.

And advice from MSR.

I’m flying to Europe Nov 1, 2021 with a NEW camping stove in the box. In my carry-on.

Photo by Vanessa Garcia on Pexels.com

Crossing Iceland on Foot

Łukasz Supergan posted a terrific summary of options for hiking across Iceland.

I’m looking to do some bike touring and hiking summer 2022. #research

Łukasz did the #4 route (green) in winter, for example.

He recommends we do it in summer.

Variant no. 2 may be the easiest, but it leads through the roads used by cars, which may be tiresome.

Variant no. 1 is more demanding.

Variant no. 3 is the fastest traverse from all of the options. Going east-west requires more time and planning, and it is combined with bigger difficulties (less roads, more paths and sometimes the wilderness, crossing the rivers, long distances with no water). Choose it, if you are sure of your skills and you can survive far away from people. …

Crossing Iceland. Part 1: the route and preparations

I’m also researching options for bikepacking Iceland.

Sun-hoodie for Hiking?

The biggest surprise for me on the sunny 😎 John Muir Trail 2021 was the number of hikers wearing sun-hoodies rather than the more traditional button down shirt, buff and/or bandana (that I was wearing).

Sun-hoodies are particularly popular with the ladies.

Should I switch?

Click PLAY or watch a review on YouTube.

Julie has been wearing the Columbia Hiking Sun Shirt. Her daughter thinks she should switch.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

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