039: How to Revive a Dead Pack

Today on The First 40 Miles, what kind of backpacker are you? Find out your type! Then on the SUMMIT Gear Review, a ten essential basic that may require a little educating to use. On the Backpack Hack of the Week, you’ll learn how a simple pinch may save your life. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from a man who would probably spur some fascinating discussions around the campfire.

Show Notes: Episode 039


  • Story of finding a used Gregory pack @ Goodwill
  • It was very dirty, but didn’t have any holes in it, just worn spots
  • Don’t pay more than the amount you can afford to lose $7
  • Gave it a good soak with unscented detergent
  • Used toilet plunger to agitate and remove dirt
  • I used a steam cleaner to get stuff off, but that affected the lining inside the pack
  • Left outside for a few hours to dry (not too long, to avoid sun damage)
  • It’s a good pack, it weighs more than a nice new pack would, but it has great suspension, and a hip belt

The Top 5 Backpacker Types

Mile Chomper

Lighter and faster are your by words. You believe success is measured in one of two ways: miles or kilometers. You tend to travel on the lighter side, often trading in heavy leather boots for almost weightless running shoes. It’s not that you don’t want to take time for the view, it’s that you want to consume as much of it as you can. The beauty of nature is a dish best enjoyed by bingeing. Nothing is more frustrating than an injury that sets you back, and nothing is more tempting than just powering through that to get to the next vista. Whether it’s trail running, or hiking a steady pace from sun up to sun down, your adrenalin rush comes when you’re standing on the peak or arriving at camp.

Tree Gawker

You come for the beauty, you come for the rivers, you come to see an open sky and get recharged, camera or art supplies in hand. You often pull back from the group to get a shot without people blocking it. You’ll even use the precious phone battery to set your alarm so you can capture those ethereal, misty images at dawn. You may have earned the trail name Disney Princess because you have an uncanny way of attracting wildlife and getting their National Geo moments on paper. You envy the likes of Thoreau and wish you could leave it all and immerse yourself in nature’s world with pen and paper in hand. Your dream trip may include an extra day with side trips off the trail and meadow wanderings that follow the path of an animal.

Outdoor Innovator

You love stretching your creativity with minimalist gear. You may be able to answer the question “How many ways can you use a trekking pole?” You enjoy getting creative and planning improvements for the next trip—even while on your current trip. People may shake their head and wonder why you have tree bark strapped to your feet in camp, but you smile anyway… Not every trip goes as planned, but that’s ok, because some of it wasn’t planned at all. Some may consider you to be a little unconventional or perhaps unprepared, but you see it as a chance to stretch your creativity muscle. Your dream trip may include foraging, lashing, day dreaming, bushwhacking, or mooching.

Solitude Seeker

You plan trips away from the crowds…the backcountry is where you’d rather be. Off the trail, scrambling, backpacking alone or with another Solitude Seeker. You see things that no one else sees because you are stealth, aware and prepared. To other trekkers you may seem somewhat mysterious and aloof, but you’re always willing to share grub or point out a view to another traveler you pass along the way. Your skills are honed and sharp so that your risk in travelling alone is minimized. Because of your desire for long periods of solitude, you typically set up communication plans with your close family and check in at predesignated intervals.  Your trips and your gear choices tend to be meticulously planned as another way to mitigate risk and enjoy the freedom that comes from solitude.

Gear Junkie

Speed may or may not be a priority, but having all the trimmings for when you finally arrive is a must! Meals are never an afterthought—they are always generous servings that usually get passed to your fellow travelers around the campfire. You’ve got a tough skin, made tougher by the heavy pack and the good natured teasing you endure from your buddies when you pull out your luxury items. You’re always curious to see what other hikers are packing and are eager to pull out your own for a friendly gear smackdown around the campfire. You may have earned the trail name “Santa Claus” for the never ending assortment of items that can be pulled from your pack and the numerous things that dangle or jingle on the outside.

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Silva Starter 1-2-3 Compass


  • 2 degree dial graduation
  • Clear base plate for map reading and route planning
  • Inch and millimeter scales
  • Lanyard hole on the base plate


  • More reliable than GPS or phone compass app


  • Size: 2″ x 3″
  • Weight: .9 oz.


  • Beware of reverse polarity
  • If this happens during a trip, then “south is the new north”


  • $14


Backpack Hack of the Week™: Easy Dehydration Test

  • First, use two fingers to grab a roll of skin on the back of your hand (where you can see your veins) Pull the skin up about ½ to one centimeter high and then let the skin go. The skin should spring back to its normal position in less than a couple of seconds. if the skin returns back slowly, you may be dehydrated.
  • Dehydration means more water is moving out of your cells and bodies than what you take in through drinking.
  • The Institute of Medicine recommends that most women get about 2.7 liters of water a day (or about 12 cups), and most men get about 3.7 liters a day (or about 15 cups)
  • Of course this number increases with factors like heat, wind, hiking altitude, and increased activity level.
  • Children especially are at a higher risk for dehydration.
  • Since water bottles we bring backpacking are usually quart or liter, it’s easy to track how much water we’ve consumed. It may help to track your liquid intake through the day. If you think you’re dehydrated, drink slowly and frequently to avoid vomiting.

Trail Wisdom

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”

-Søren Kierkegaard