Trail Tough: A Basic Plan For Building Backpacking Endurance


Talk to enough guides and outfitters and you’ll find their number one complaint is dealing with doughy, out-of-shape clients in the mountains. Money might be able to buy you a ticket to hunting adventure anywhere in the world. But getting close to game in rugged, backcountry terrain almost always means hiking many miles, day after day, under the burden of a heavy pack.



This requires a special kind of fitness you’re not going to find in a gym or in the organic food section of your local grocery store. It requires the kind of stamina you can’t build lifting weights alone or racking up the miles on a weekly running schedule. To be in the best mental and physical shape for backpacking, you really have to strap on pack (preferably the one you’re going to be hunting with) get outside and do some hiking.

A 16-Week Plan

When it comes to the smartest and safest method of training average people to cover long distances carrying everything they need on their back, no one has looked at the problem more closely than the U.S. military.

Air Force PJ (pararescue jumper) and military fitness expert, Nate Morrison, introduced what is now one of the most successful conditioning programs of its kind in 2007 for the Army Times.

In soldier-speak, “ruck marching” is hiking (or marching) with a weighted pack for long distances over varied terrain. Morrison’s program was designed for both raw recruits and experienced soldiers looking to get back on track after a long layoff from rucking. A systematic, 16-week progression, Morrison’s program is simple, well organized and—for anyone planning a backcountry bowhunt this coming year—a perfect fit for the four-month window now remaining before western hunting seasons kick off in the U.S. in September.


The guidelines are simple:

During the course of routine, you “ruck march” twice per week. This should give your nervous system, bones, tendons and ligaments adequate time to recover if you rest at least two days between sessions and possibly even a third or fourth day if you’re doing any additional running or resistance training.

In the original program, Morrison recommends hiking at specific tempos (e.g. fast/slow, slow/fast), depending on the week. Generally speaking, a good tempo is one where you can still comfortably maintain a conversation; for most people, that will work out to around a 15- to 20-minute-per-mile pace.


It should go without saying, but since there are no sidewalks or paved roads in the backcountry you should hike on uneven, hilly terrain whenever possible. Use the same boot/sock combination and the same pack that you plan to use on your hunt. Likewise, you shouldn’t even attempt this program if you can’t already walk five miles, unloaded without doubling over with leg and lower-back pain.

The first week of the program starts with a five-mile hike with 20-percent of your body weight loaded in your pack. If you don’t know how to figure out the percent of a number, that’s what Google is for. The 16-week progression looks like this:



1                                  20%                                            5 miles

2                                  20%                                            5 miles

3                                  25%                                            5 miles

4                                  25%                                            5 miles

5                                  30%                                            5 miles

6                                  30%                                            5 miles

7                                  35%                                            5 miles

8                                  35%                                            5 miles

9                                  40%                                            5 miles

10                                40%                                            5 miles

11                                40%                                            6 miles

12                                40%                                            8 miles

13                                40%                                           10 miles

14                                40%                                           12 miles

15                                40%                                           14 miles

16                                40%                                           16 miles

Stone Glacier Ultralight Backpacks

Actually, the market is filled with backpacks and the options are unlimited. Big names, as Kifaru, MisteryRanch, Kuiu, Badlands, Eberlestock, traditional backpacks as Bisongear, quiver-backpacks as RanchoSafari and new ones, as Tenzing or Easton with his own line of hunting backpacks. For me, many of the actual designs are filled with non sense small pockets, zippers and hundreds of Molle type webbing to attach more non sense pouches. If one brand has all my attention this is Stone Glacier, by far less know than the other ones.

About Stone Glacier, very few “ultralight” packs can say this:

From the Stone Glacier webpage:

After three years of design and testing with loads from 70 to 135 pounds without any structural issues, the goal was to test the pack to failure.  Starting with 1 inch steel plates 13” by 25”, I worked my way up to four plates in the pack.  Each plate weighed about 85  pounds, 40 pounds a square foot.  When it was time to add the third and fourth plate, I welded the plates together, lifted them with a crane, wrapped the Solo around the plates, and set it back down on edge of the welding bench where I could get it on my back.  The final load weight on my back was 340 pounds with no damage, failure, or signs of stress.  While the goal of testing to failure was not accomplished, the load test did prove the 130 pounds plus rating structurally conservative.


The Solo model, without meat bag and with it, 3.7 pounds, around 1.7 kilos, with a load rating of 130 pounds…


And they are solids, not camo, nice !!!

A Guide to Broadhead Sharpening DVD

A new DVD about broadhead sharpenning by Gary and Connie Renfro, populars bowhunters

All the info from 3Rivers Archery

Every hunter is looking for that extra edge for hunting season. This DVD shows you how to get and keep that edge with super sharp broadheads!

Gary and Connie Renfro show you how to get and maintain an extra sharp edge on your broadheads using a variety of modern and time-tested methods. From straight edges to 3-blade broadheads to mechanical broadheads, and everything in between, you’ll learn a variety of methods using a variety of sharpeners and tools.

Over 1 hour and 30 minutes of information, instruction, demonstrations, and insights. A Guide to Broadhead Sharpening is a must-view before getting ready for the hunt!

Includes tips on how to use:

  • Carbide Sharpeners
  • Hand Filling Methods
  • Motorized Methods
  • Angled Sharpeners
  • Knife Style Sharpeners

Learn how to sharpen:

  • Radius Edges
  • Straight Edges
  • Concave Edges
  • Single Bevel
  • Double Bevel
  • 3-Blade Broadheads
  • Mechanical Broadheads

Approximately 90 minutes.

Rain skirt

Yes, the hunters are by general rule, tough guys, rudes and very “machos”. Beards are the rule, maybe tattoos, short hair…you know. To help with this “supermacho” problem, i think that add one skirt to our weardrobe is the perfect solution. I have never seen one hunter using one skirt, not at daylight, but in the backpacking world is something usual.

Pros, are very very lights, volume near zero, very cheaps and with a pair of gaiters you can be dry under heavy rain

Cons, not the best for long walks in the typical hunting terrain with brush, trees and similar and not practical for many hunting situations. Your hunting buddies can be joking about you for your lifetime.

Pics from Plenty of models in the market, this is only one option.


For sure, this is not for everyone but who knows, can be helpful

Float hunts

For one spanish bowhunter, the term “float hunt” is strange, very strange. Recently i have read the Jay Massey book “Bowhunting Alaska´s wild rivers” and from then, a float hunt is a “must have” for me.


Thanks to the Don Mealey´s youtube channel we can enjoy a long video about this

I know that is not the far north, but my friend Mick Baker, is offering canoe hunts in the Australian peninsule of Cape York, i can´t imagine a more exciting adventure than one canoe hunting trip in Australia !!!