What I Did This Week To Prep

Taking my own advice, I bought some new heavy hiking boots. I needed to replace my old Danner boots that I have owned for over 14 years – since I was in the military. I knew they had finally given up the ghost when the Danner Refurbishing Department said they couldn’t rebuild my boots again (they had been rebuilt once and resoled three times – I loved those boots). So I went to a local shop and got them repaired and resoled as best as they could, and passed them down to Ryan. When Danner said they couldn’t rebuild my boots, they did send me a 25% off coupon for a new pair. For a late Christmas gift we ordered me a new pair of Danner Rain Forest Plain Toe Work Boots. They arrived in the mail this week. I was thrilled to have them, but not thrilled to have to break in a new pair of boots. It’s much easier to talk (or blog) the talk, then walk the walk (pun intended). Fortunately today’s genre of hiking boots is far better and easier to break in then they were a generation ago. But they sure felt stiff when Kate (our Border Collie) and I went out for the first three-mile walk. Now, I no longer have an excuse when it’s time to take her for a walk.

We visited Costco this week. (For the record, this month’s coupons sucked; nothing in the way of good prepper stuff.) We purchased a cross-cut paper shredder to be able to ‘create’ more browns for our compost pile (reference last week’s What I Did This Week To Prep). We also got a three-pack set of basic utilities knives for $10 to put in our BOBs*, they’re not as cool as the Gerber EAB, but at 1/3 of the cost they’ll work just fine and they–the utility knifes and the Gerber EAB–all use the same blades so we’ll only have to stock one type. Also, interesting to note, peanut butter (that went up in price in November, see What I Did This Week To Prep 10/21/11) is still $2 higher than it’s price last fall. We’re glad we had our SWYE all stocked up with plenty of PB and don’t need to buy it now at the higher price.

I also ordered the book, The Eagle Has Crashed by Ted Lacksonen. A novel about an economic meltdown and how society collapses in the aftermath. I heard him interviewed on The Survival Podcast (Episode 814) and was impressed with his insights and attitudes. I look forward to reading his book and plan to write a review of it.

What did you do?

(Monday: Adding New Page: My Reading List)

*For my list of abbreviations and other information, open the above ‘Check Here…’ page tab.

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Walk A Mile In Your Shoes, Part 2*

Boot Selection and Common Hiking Injuries

Boot Selection

Before you walk too far–either by choice or circumstance–I’d strongly encourage you to get a good pair of hiking boots. What I believe you need (as an individual striving to be prepared) is a heavy boot made of leather, at least six inches tall, with a quality sole, and preferably with a water-proof lining. These boots will be a relatively expensive initial investment, ranging from $200 – $300. But, if well cared for, they will last for years and you (and your feet) will never regret that purchase.

A trail shoe, or light weight boot may feel very comfortable, but it won’t hold up to serious walking; especially off-trail and/or for multiple days. A heavy boot will be rigid enough to support your feet (arch and toes), will provide shock absorption for your joints (all the way up to your lower back), will provide good ankle support, and it will last.

If your feet get wet and/or cold you will be miserable. To keep your feet dry, I recommend you buy a boot with a waterproof (such as Gore-Tex) lining. To keep your feet warm, insulated boots are available. Boots insulated with 200 grams of Thinsulate will keep them warm in temperate climates, 400 – 600 grams will work well in cold climates, 1000 grams will ensure warm feet in extreme conditions.

The biggest disadvantage of a heavy boot, other than the initial cost (and the weight), is that they are stiff and require a break-in period. We’ve discussed before that you can’t  buy stuff to have ‘just in case’; this is especially true with a heavy hiking boot. You need to walk in them, start with shorter walks and build up. Figure out how to adjust and lace them up comfortably, and what kind of sock(s) to wear. As endurance improves, start going on longer walks, on dirt trails, carrying a pack.

Common Hiking Injuries

Blisters are formed when skin is damaged by friction (this is accelerated by wetness). Fluid collects between the upper layers of skin, attempting to cushion the tissue underneath and protecting it from further damage. Wet feet, poorly fitted boots, boots not properly broken in, and unconditioned feet all can result in blisters.

Shin splints–pain when you lift your toes to take a step–are frequently caused by a muscle imbalance, specifically tightness of the calf muscles and weak shin (tibialis anterior) muscles. Too quickly increasing intensity and duration of walking causes these lower leg muscles to become fatigued and makes it difficult for them to absorb the shock of the impact from each step. This impact is worse when walking uphill, downhill or on hard surfaces; wearing poor or worn-our shoes also contributes.

In addition to muscle soreness in your feet and legs, your lower back muscles can become fatigued and sore as they are forced to stabilize, along with the abdominal muscles, the upper body each step you take.

Once you throw on a pack your shoulders and neck may become sore from the additional weight. Loading a pack efficiently, with proper weight distribution, takes practice and experience. Remember to use the waist strap, and consider using the chest strap, to redistribute the weight.

We take our ability to walk for granted. We assume that if we need to we can walk as far as is required. But–in the modern, inactive, motorized world we live in–distance walking is becoming a lost skill. But it’s an easy one to regain: invest in a good pair of boots, break them in properly, and start walking.

(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)

*review Walk A Mile In Your Shoes, Part 1