052: Cutting the Switchbacks

Show Notes: Episode 052

Today on The First 40 Miles, there are times when shortcuts are a bad idea, and times when they’re a great idea! We’ll help you figure it all out in today’s Top 5 List. Then, on the SUMMIT Gear Review, a light, lightweight way to deal with microorganisms in your drinking water. Next, on the Backpack Hack of the Week, we’ll show you a great resource you can take advantage of that will improve your outdoor skills and knowledge. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from a guy named Woody who wrote the handbook on Trail Construction and Maintenance.


  • Cutting the Switchbacks
  • Americans are big fans of trail blazing, making our own path…but there are times on the trail when that is not such a good idea
  • http://www.backcountryattitude.com/switchbacks.html
  • Trails are graded and sloped for ideal drainage, if people do “cut throughs”, the land is changed and major sections of trail can be wiped out if vegetation isn’t in place to hold the dirt to the earth.

Top 5 Gift Subscriptions for Backpackers

The Feed: Food for Athletes (Three-day Backpacker Box)

  • 3 meals (theFeed)
  • Fun mix of high quality food
  • You can subscribe
  • $66
  • Great mix of sweet and savory


  • $15 to sign up, and $15 on the 26th of each month (which you can pause)
  • or $50 for 3 month gift subscription
  • Items in box: most are items that would appeal to BPers and runners alike.
  • Great if you have a recipient who is a trail runner


  • Don’t let the name fool you, this is not organic
  • Calorie-dense snacks
  • 3 snacks for $14
  • 5 snacks for $20
  • Free shipping within US
  • OPTIONS: Once a week, every two weeks, once a month
  • Change, pause or cancel your membership at any time.
  • These are not desk snacks–these are burn it as you hike snacks!


  • Their gear is curated based on: Durability, Pack-ability, Seasonal Relevance, and Social Impact
  • $35 a month plus shipping
  • Will soon be offering a Trail Package Service
  • Gift giving is a wee bit awkward in that you have to give gift cards
  • They have plans to roll out CBX Kids—which is a camp box for the younger crowd.


  • 13 bars for $47 (that’s with shipping included in the price)
  • You pick from a long checklist of bar bases, mixins, sweetners, and infusions.

SUMMIT Gear Review™: SteriPen Freedom


  • UV light (purification works as the cells of microbes absorb ultraviolet energy emitted by the lamp so they can’t reproduce)


  • Rechargeable! Yay!
  • USB rechargeable – no batteries needed. Power up via wall outlet, computer or USB compatible solar charger. Full charge lasts for 40 treatments
  • Easy-to-use: just remove lamp cover, place lamp in water and stir. In 48 seconds up to a half-liter of water is purified. Lamp automatically shuts off when treatment is complete.
  • Includes water sensors safety feature so the UV light only turns on when safely below water surface.


  • 2.6 oz.


  • Comes with carry case, instructions and 3-year limited manufacturers warranty
  • The UV lamp provides up to 8,000 one-liter treatments.
  • Use when nodes are submerged


  • $100
  • $.01 a liter (one cent)


  • It is designed to purify 16 oz. of water, so the only tricky thing is remembering to do two rounds of treatment for your liter.
  • We never had any problems with the lamp, however we had a friend who never got his to work. If that’s the case, return it and try again.
  • A huge convenience when you’re traveling in areas where the water is fresh and clean looking.
  • Will do nothing for water that is murky, brackish or silty. In fact the lamp may not be able to work in that water.
  • Option: Prefilter

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Sierra Designs Videos with Andrew Skurka

  • Sierra Designs with Andrew Skurka 1 hour videos about one topic
  • Heading into winter…good time to increase your knowledge base and skills!
  • Food, Feet, First Aid, Insulation (more to come!)
  • All you have to do is enter your email address and it will let you into the site
  • These are recorded videos that were recorded live.
  • If you participate in the live event, you have the opportunity to ask questions that may be answered on the video!

Trail Wisdom

“Trails help humans make sense of a world increasingly dominated by automobiles and pavement. They allow us to come more closely in touch with our natural surroundings, to soothe our psyches, to challenge our bodies, and to practice ancient skills.”

–Woody Hesselbarth