062: Is the Pack Half Full or Half Empty?

Show Notes: Episode 062

Today on The First 40 Miles, is the pack half full or half empty? How you answer that question may determine your experience on the trail. We’ll share five tips for new backpackers that will help ensure that your next trip will be even better than your last! Then, on the SUMMIT Gear Review, a solution for hikers who don’t want to waste a minute fumbling with shoelaces. On the Backpack Hack of the Week, an “Oh Duh!” solution to keep your homemade meals from tipping over. And we’ll leave you today with a little trail wisdom from our good friend Henry.


  • Is the Pack Half Full or Half Empty?
  • Optimism on the Trail
  • Heather vs. the Mosquitos

Top 5 Ways to Have a Great Time Backpacking, Even if You Didn’t Like It the First Time

Figure Out What’s Normal

  • If you had a rough experience, listen to what others are saying
  • Words like: unseasonable, freak, swarm, stampede, torrent, uncharacteristic, brutal
  • That may be your clue that it was tough for everyone
  • It doesn’t give you an open season pass to complain, but it may just give you a glimmer of hope that things can and will be better next time.

Write Your Experience

  • Make it raw, unfiltered, detailed, and descriptive
  • It can be as simple as an email written to yourself, or a bulleted list that you keep in a notebook as you hike.
  • That way you can see your personal growth
  • Perspective: Was it really as hard as I remembered? Could I do it again? Would it be better next time? How could I make it better?

Increase Your Preparedness

  • Study the map so you feel confident on route
  • Read trail reports, so you have a heads up on what other people have to say about the area
  • Know the weather

Zip it

  • I’m not saying there’s no room for an honest breakdown of what went wrong and what to do different next time, but maybe next time you feel like pointing out the obvious negative, maybe try looking for the gem of hidden beauty that you might have missed.


  • Yeah, squatting by a tree may not be the most glamorous way to use the bathroom, but I think there are lots of funny things about hiking and backpacking.
  • You don’t have to laugh while it’s happening
  • Remember, bad experiences make great stories

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Hickies Responsive Lacing System


  • Memory-fit performance elastomer
  • Expands and contracts responsively
  • One end of the Hickie has a knob, and the other end has a loop.   When you pull the stretchy loop over the knob, the little tab at the end tucks behind the knob, so you have a seamless look that is quite secure.


  • Three different lacing techniques
  • Regular fit: Just insert the Hickies from the eyelet on the left to the eyelet on the right, and attach the ends.
  • Tight Fit: Take two Hickies and criss-cross them. Then attach the ends.
  • Loose fit: Insert the Hickies vertically through the eyelets, but connect them horizontally. Tricky to explain, but very easy to do. This is the fit that Heather found most comfortable.
  • You may not even need all the Hickies that come in the package.


  • A Hickie is about 4 1/2 inches long
  • A box of Hickies weigh .5 ounces (14 grams) for 14 Hickies—which is almost equivalent to a set of shoelaces.
  • Here’s something you gram weenies can appreciate: traditional laces weigh around .4 ounces, however when they get waterlogged, they more than double in weight to 1 ounce!


  • There require no maintenance, however if you have extras after you’re finished lacing, you may want to keep those in your 10 essentials


  • $10-15, depending on what style you purchase
  • Also there’s the $350 for the Black Label Hickies, 14-karat gold fastenings, hand assembled


  • You can slide your foot right in without having to tie laces
  • Easy to put in, easy to take out
  • Can be used in kid shoes or adult shoes
  • Can be reused
  • Very durable, flexible, fun way to personalize your shoes
  • These won’t drag in the mud, or get waterlogged

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Keep Your Ziploc from Tipping Over

If you’re using a Ziploc bag with some homemade dehydrated soup mix, and you want someplace to stick your rehydrated meal so it won’t tip over, try your cooled mug.

Trail Wisdom

“So far as my experience goes, travelers generally exaggerate the difficulties of the way.”

–Henry David Thoreau