037: Questions for Newbies

Today on The First 40 Miles, the Top 5 Questions Every New Backpacker Should Ask. On the SUMMIT Gear Review, you’ll find a nice budget option for keeping your ten essentials in perfect order. Then, on the Backpack Hack of the Week, tenemos un pastel que es muy delicioso y es perfecto para mochileros! And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from the most quoted man in the woods.

Show Notes: Episode 037


  • Girl’s Camp Update
  • Weather hovered around 100 degrees all week
  • Girls loved knot tying, which surprised me: they loved the tautline hitch and the slip knot (tarp shelter race)
  • Takeaway: girls were happy, positive, service oriented, and focused on others.
  • Beautiful week

The Top 5 Questions Every New Backpacker Should Ask


Why am I doing this?

  • Friends planned the trip and invited you
  • Always have wanted to go out
  • Feel the need to challenge yourself
  • To impress a significant other
  • Get familiar with the area in which you live
  • Toe-dip into backpacking
  • To help your family enjoy a new activity together
  • **No right or wrong answer, it just helps to know yourself  

What are my risks on this trip?

  • Personal health (medication gets lost? old injury flares up?)
  • Severe weather (high temps, low temps, regional weather warnings)
  • Unfamiliar territory
  • Out of cell range
  • Bear country

**Know your risks, and don’t go out on your first trip thinking that Search and Rescue is your backup.

What are my pre-trip priorities?

  • Get in shape
  • Update gear
  • Learn new skills
  • Relearn forgotten skills
  • Or as simple as: break in my shoes

Are my skills a good match for this particular trek?

  • If the answer is no, then go with a group that has the skills
  • There’s no shame in short BP trips
  • If thru hiking is on your bucket list, start by doing little hikes!

Am I ignoring the obvious?

  • Planning a trip is fun, but be sure to take a 360 look at your life
  • Is your first trip after major surgery, close to a potential family crisis/death?

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Coghlan’s 3-Count Nylon Mesh Organizer Bags


  • Zippered nylon and mesh pouches that hold your stuff
  • Offered in black and yellow


  • Mesh top so you can see through to all your stuff
  • Zipper closure
  • Perfect for organizing smaller camp gear, travel items, loose gear
  • Not meant to hold the big stuff like clothing
  • Each bag has a hanger loop
  • Smallest size and medium size are perfect for your ten essentials.
  • Largest size would be great for another purpose, just not backpacking–Maybe for an emergency bag for your car to hold Purelle, cash, baby wipes, maps.
  • No small pockets inside the zippered pouch, just one compartment


  • Three Piece set: 7.5×3.5 10×8, 12×10
  • Small: .6 ounce
  • Medium: 1.1 ounce
  • Large: 1.4 ounce
  • All have 1 1/2 inch gussets, not just flat pouches


  • Handwash and air dry


  • $8 for the three-pack


  • Love the smallest size.
  • The mesh makes it so I can see everything
  • The small and medium are the best sizes for holding backpacking gear

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Tres Leches Cake

I was introduced Tres Leches Cake to by our hispanic neighbors. They often invited us over for parties. It was 100% authentic, from the mariachi music to the piñatas! They’d get out the taco cart, and start serving everyone authentic tacos in the small corn tortillas. The Tres Leches cake (which means three milk cake) was part of their celebrations. This version is as close as we could get for backpackers. If you can figure out a way to pack fresh whipped cream on the trail, let us know!

1 generous slice of pre-prepared pound cake

1-2 Tbs NIDO Whole milk powder

1-2 Tbs Vanilla pudding mix

1/4-1/2 cup cold water

Slice the pound cake (be generous) and place in a sandwich Ziploc bag. Add NIDO and pudding mix powder to the bag and shake until the pound cake is coated.

When you’re ready to eat, add 1/4-1/2 cup very cold water and let the cake sit for 3-5 minutes until it soaks up the water. Eat with a spoon.

Trail Wisdom

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

-John Muir