070: Stuck in a Rut

Show Notes: Episode 070

Today on The First 40 Miles, are you stuck in a rut, or do you believe that ruts aren’t even a thing on the trail? Then we’ll share the top 5 pieces of important backpacking equipment that will probably never make it out on the trail. If you’re in the mood for a game night, we have a fun game that will have you dreaming of your next adventure. For today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, if you’re pack didn’t come with an integrated pack cover, we’ve got you covered. And we’ll wrap up the show with a secret…kind of.


  • Are you in a rut?
  • Are there benefits to being in a rut?
  • Rut or groove?
  • Is there ever really a true rut in backpacking?
  • Every element of every trip so different that no matter where you go, it’s always a new experience

Top 5 Pieces of Backpacking Gear That Stay Home

Food Dehydrator

  • Great piece of gear to have
  • You can bring your own meals
  • Experiment

Knife Sharpener

  • The chances of your knife needing sharping on the trail is very low

Sleeping Bag Storage Bags

  • These are special bags that are large, and highly ventilated, so your sleeping bags can be protected and fully lofted while in storage at home

Irrelevant Gear

  • An ice axe is on the REI packing list. If you’re not going to be ice axing it on your trip, then leave it home…
  • Same if you do all summer backpacking–those wool pants for winter hiking and backpacking, don’t bring those along just in case.
  • Too much gear gets brought along “just in case”

Backpacking Books

  • Photocopy the relevant pages and stuff them in your pack
  • Only exception, bring books in the car on your trip not on the trail!

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Appalachian Trail Game


  • Board made out of similar material to waterproof, tear-proof maps
  • Two boxes of cards
  • Everyone chooses trail names


  • Help with outdoor skills
  • Trail familiarization


  • Measures 5.5 x 4 x 1.5
  • Weighs 13 ounces


  • 2-4 people (more than 4 people prolongs game play)
  • 30-45 minutes
  • You’ll just need a few stones or coins to use as playing pieces
  • No batteries


  • $19.95
  • Gift pack: 3 copies of the game for $55
  • $70 you can buy a deluxe backpacking edition. The deluxe backpacking edition comes in a beautiful laser-engraved cedar wooden box. It’s the perfect game for game collectors and lovers of the A.T, alike.


  • Audio of family playing game
  • We tweaked the rules a little toward the end to allow trading
  • This game has a similar feel to the Oregon Trail game we played when we were in elementary school

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Poncho Pack Cover

If you want complete protection and a piece of multi-use gear, wear a poncho instead of a using a pack cover…it’s multi-use, and you won’t have water dripping down your back or have wet straps. You’d still wear your rain jacket and rain pants, and wear your pack over your rain gear, then toss the poncho on over that.

Trail Wisdom

“Is the spring coming? What is it like?”

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

-Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden