198: Rewired Backpacking Brain

Show Notes: Episode 198

Today on the First 40 Miles, wilderness backpacking has the power to rewire your brain—and we’ll share the top 5 ways it’s changed us.  Then, an epic way to stay clean while backpacking.  Next a listener shares her one pound solution for oil painting on the trail.  And we’ll wrap up with a little trail wisdom from our good friend on the trail, John Muir.


Top 5 Ways that Backpacking Has Changed our Lives and Rewired our Brains

How I confront challenges

  • Backpacking helped me break things up into smaller chunks—hike, day by day, one step at a time.

How I leave the house

  • I always have water and food and insulation. It’s my three essentials gleaned from the ten essentials.

How I pack for everything

  • Whether it’s a road trip or we’re moving—which we are…
  • Backpacking has changed the way we pack
  • Comparmentalize
  • Easy access
  • Prioritize what we bring

How I create 

  • For Heather: This has affected how I approach recipes, and what tools I allow to take up space in my kitchen
  • Is it truly essential? What’s its purpose?  Do my tools have dual purpose?
  • How I create other art.  Artist have a way of collecting tools, media, paper
  • Even with watercolor, I love having a pallet with me, but then I discovered that any water soluble ink pen plus an aquabrush can be used as monochrome watercolor ink.  That’s two tools.  Simplified watercolor.

How we dress

  • More wool, less cotton
  • Clothes we can move in

SUMMIT Gear Review: Epic Wipes 


  • Bamboo-based wipes
  • 100% biodegradable
  • Moistened mainly with water + eucalyptus essential oil


  • “Shower on the go”


  • They come in two sizes: Large + Extra Large


  • Is biodegradable, but can be used over and over
  • Hand wash to reuse


  • Single package with one wipe, about $2.50 (but can be reused)
  • Also come in packs of 10


  • Durable, reusable, soft, absorbent
  • Smell great—naturally
  • Convenient to use
  • Store in glove compartment or dry out and use like a towel

Backpack Hack of the Week™:   UL Oil Painting Kit

  • From a listener
  • About one pound (which is UL for oil painting!)

Trail Wisdom

Wherever we go in the mountains we find more than we seek.
—John Muir

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