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#201863 - 05/15/10 01:56 PM The second most important piece of equipment
roberttheiii Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 329
Loc: Connecticut, USA
I've been posting for a while on another thread where someone passed away after what can only be described as a heroic effort to walk to safety. I seem to be getting a bit of heat saying I think I could walk 40 miles. Lots of people have posted about how I'm unfamiliar w/the conditions there, etc, so that situation aside, I stand by this basic belief: If you're in terrible shape, all the equipment in the world isn't going to do you much good.

So here we go, I think the most important thing any of us carries is his or her brain, a little bit of careful thought and planning can substitute for a lot of gear and avoid a lot of bad situations.

Next up I'd say what kind of shape you're in is essential. I'm sure there are people here who are physically disabled and if I'm frank, I think that is a huge disadvantage in a bad situation. For the rest of us though, and I consider myself one of these people, the fat and lazy, I think we have to work on physical fitness. I'm no guru. I regularly run 3 miles in 30 minutes, I have run 6 miles in 60 minutes, I know I can run 5 miles. With that in mind, I think going nice and slow I could walk a great deal further. I could use to lose 30 lbs (maybe 40? wink ), I could use to build some upper body strength, I could gain from building more running endurance. In other words, I'm far from perfect.

I should say prior to October of 2009 I'd attempted to run 3 miles ONCE and failed, that was when I was 17. I'm now 27 and through a bit of hard work, I can do it pretty easily.

So fellow members, where do you stand, do we all spend more time typing and when the going gets tough will be collapsed on the side of the road or trail catching our breath or does everybody make sure to spend some time keeping their second most important piece of gear fresh? If I had to guess I'd say we run the spectrum from people who are out of breath if they run up a flight of stairs (I know I still do sometimes!) to those who regularly run marathons and hike the Appalachian, etc.

How important is physical fitness to being equipped?

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#201866 - 05/15/10 02:23 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: roberttheiii]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3117
Loc: USA
In many situations, it's more important to know your limitations and plan around them than to be physically fit. You're better off conserving sweat and energy while making yourself easy to find in almost any situation where you can expect people to be looking for you. It's up to you to have a responsible person know when you should be checking in so that there is a search if you do get in trouble.


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#201867 - 05/15/10 02:34 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: chaosmagnet]
roberttheiii Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 329
Loc: Connecticut, USA
I certainly can't argue with the logic of staying still and making your whereabouts known in outdoor survival situations, but I do stand by my fitness concerns for natural disasters and I still believe some basic level of fitness (which I may not have yet achieved myself) is beneficial if you plan on building fires, etc, wherever it is you're staying still.

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#201868 - 05/15/10 02:39 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: roberttheiii]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1389
Being equipped to survive does not equate having to run miles on end. This leads to a bigger question as to what are you trying to survive. In a hypothetical situation if you are in a plane crash in a remote area and survive (and say for the sake of argument, help is forthcoming and the weather is reasonable), would it be expected that you need to be in great shape to survive until help arrives? In this particular case, probably not, as a person in even poor shape (not severely disabled) can survive hours or a couple of days until SAR finds you.

At one time, I did high altitude mountain climbing (above 15000') and can tell you that I seen and heard of climbers who were my friends....even those who were in great physical condition who failed at survival. Other times, we hear incredible stories of survival from ordinary people who could not run to the end of block if they had to, yet walked for days and miles to help and safety. Other then an extreme medical emergency where help is very close by, I cannot foresee where a person would have to run for miles for help. If this occurs in the back country then the person running for help may have their own survival situation after they trip on an unseen tree root et al...

Due to bad knees after years of outdoor abuse, I can no longer run as much as I want...nor climb the high mountains for days on end. However being in my mid forties I am still in decent enough shape and can and have out walked/hiked people 1/2 my age who thought they could beat the "old man" which brings to mind the tortoise and the hare...

Young age + physical condition + boasting of the ability to run 5 or miles does not come nowhere close to equaling the years of wisdom and knowledge gleaned from actual hands on outdoors (or urban) experience. If I had to choose a person to help me when the chips are down, it would be an easy pick...
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#201869 - 05/15/10 03:24 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: Teslinhiker]
roberttheiii Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 329
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Tes - I'll take that last paragraph as a personal attack, thanks so much, I think that's what these forums are really for, attacking people on a personal level. It is really heart warming and makes me want to continue to participate in the community.

That said, I think you've met what I suggest as a minimum criteria for fitness, you can walk/hike a fair distance.

Also, please explain "If I had to choose a person to help me when the chips are down, it would be an easy pick..."

Best,

R

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#201871 - 05/15/10 03:53 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: roberttheiii]
roberttheiii Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 329
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Tes - Also - I wouldn't consider what I've said to be "boasting." 6 miles in sixty minutes is about how fast some people would walk that distance, it is pretty slow.

Surely, by your standard, if I'm boasting so are you. Not too many people are out playing at 15,000 feet wink That said, I don't think you're boasting and I have no doubt you're a superior hiker/climber than I, the point of my post isn't to to aggravate people, I'm merely stating that I feel physical fitness is an often ignored factor in being properly equipped for bad situations and asking if others agree, apparently you don't.

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#201873 - 05/15/10 04:26 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: roberttheiii]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1389
Originally Posted By: roberttheiii
Tes - I'll take that last paragraph as a personal attack, thanks so much
That said, I think you've met what I suggest as a minimum criteria for fitness, you can walk/hike a fair distance.

Also, please explain "If I had to choose a person to help me when the chips are down, it would be an easy pick..."

Best,

R


Personal attack, I hardly think so. I take it you did not read my reference to the tortoise and the hare. There are many people who make claims they are bigger, better, faster. And the point I made is that people who lay claims of being better then faster (hare), they do not always beat slower paced people (tortoise) who have the knowledge and wisdom to know that speed is not what is always important 99% of the time. I also know people who are much older then me and I forever humbled by their superior physical abilities and knowledge in comparison to mine...

As for your question, my previous post and the above illustrates that I would rather have a person who has the knowledge and wisdom beside me when the chips are down.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#201874 - 05/15/10 04:30 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: roberttheiii]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1389
Originally Posted By: roberttheiii
Tes - Also - I wouldn't consider what I've said to be "boasting." 6 miles in sixty minutes is about how fast some people would walk that distance, it is pretty slow.

Surely, by your standard, if I'm boasting so are you. Not too many people are out playing at 15,000 feet wink That said, I don't think you're boasting and I have no doubt you're a superior hiker/climber than I, the point of my post isn't to to aggravate people, I'm merely stating that I feel physical fitness is an often ignored factor in being properly equipped for bad situations and asking if others agree, apparently you don't.


I don't believe I boasted about anything by simply stating I have done high altitude climbing and seen and heard of people of whom many I considered friends that have met untimely deaths. This is not boasting, rather it is actually very heartbreaking to even write about it. You may want to search for the very first post I made on this forum as it would explain this.

Anyways, can we get this thread back on track? You brought up some very good points in your original post and I am interested in hearing other peoples responses.


In the meantime, we are running late to get for an afternoon hike...have to stay in shape you know smile Hopefully I will have a few good photos to post tonight.

_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#201876 - 05/15/10 04:46 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: Teslinhiker]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 857
Loc: Colorado
Fitness isn't everything but it offers a wider range of options in every situation.

About the only place where fitness, if defined as having a low % body fat, would be a negative is cold water survival or near starvation. I suppose that it might contribute to over-confidence as well sometimes.

I spend time sweating my brains out on the stair climber during the week so I can go on 10+ mile hikes on the weekends. (Got turned back by a sudden snowstorm at the 5 mile point on an out-and-back 2 weeks ago. Hoping to do the 12 miler tomorrow in better weather.)

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#201878 - 05/15/10 05:21 PM Re: The second most important piece of equipment [Re: roberttheiii]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2747
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: roberttheiii
How important is physical fitness to being equipped?


I have always considered a reasonable level of physical fitness to be an important part of my overall readiness for the unexpected.

I'm not much of a runner (trick knee) but I am a pretty good walker (slow and steady, but I can jog short bursts in hiking boots).

To my mind, mobility is a critical part of my "kit." My minimum requirement is to be able to walk/run five miles in just over an hour without dropping dead of a heart attack, or walk ten miles in under three hours at an efficient pace. This is paired with always having the footwear, clothing, and basic gear to do so at any time.

For me, fitness contributes in many ways:
- helps prevent injuries when dealing with the unexpected
- contributes to coordination, balance, and flexibility
- helps a lot in maintaining a positive mental attitude and mental alertness/concentration
- gives me increased confidence that I can assess and handle situations in a hands-on way (this is a gut-level thing; hard to describe but it's real for me)


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