Backpacking Tips II

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    "Dear George,
    May I humbly offer the following comments about a 50-pound backpack and a bicycle.
    The average adult male or female can walk between 3 to 3.6 miles per hour if they are in average physical condition and if they are not carrying a load or pushing a cart or buggy. If the person is carrying a weight in excess of 5 pounds then the distance taken with each step decreases in order to maintain body balance and minimize fatigue.

    Depending on the person, the average adult pace varies between 27 to 34 inches unencumbered. If the person is carrying a load between 5 to 35 pounds each step is approximately 4 inches less. Between 35 to 50 pounds each step is an additional 6 inches less (or a total of 10 inches less than unencumbered). Fatigue also becomes a significant factor when the load exceeds 35 pounds. Therefore the average person carrying a 35-pound load will walk between 2.6 to 3.1 miles per hour (12 percent reduction in total distance). A person carrying a 50-pound load will walk between 2.0 to 2.4 miles per hour (32 percent reduction in total distance).

    If the individual has a choice in this matter then the load should not be carried on the back or in the hands. Instead the load should be pulled or pushed on a standard folding luggage carrier. The luggage carrier should be a heavy-duty unit with the largest possible wheels. Larger wheels make it easier to push the load on smooth surfaces, and they also permit easier travel over uneven surfaces, such as grass or fields. An adult can push or pull a luggage carrier loaded with 70 pounds and travel further in one day than if they were carrying half that much weight in a backpack on his or her back.

    If the individual had a bicycle, then the person should strap the backpack to the rear of the bicycle. It is extremely fatiguing to ride a bike with a backpack strapped to your back. If you let the bike carry the load then you can invest your energy more productively in pedaling the bike.

    If you have a bicycle, then you can mount about 20 pounds above the front wheel (clothes, pillow, and sleeping bag), and about 30 pounds above the rear wheel, for a total of about 50 pounds plus the rider. An individual riding a bike can cover the same distance in one hour that he or she could walk in one day. The actual total distance obviously depends on the physical condition of the rider. For example, if a person could only walk four miles in one day, then he or she could ride a bike four miles in one hour. If the person could walk 15 miles in one day, then he or she could ride the bike 15 miles in one hour. In each case the person would then be exhausted and need to rest the balance of the day. However, the advantage of riding the bicycle is that it would permit the individual more time to focus on other duties once the day’s journey has ended.

    Or the individual could purchase a two-child carrier trailer with two 20-inch wheels and attach it to the rear of his or her bike. Remove and discard the child compartment and replace it with a large heavy-duty plastic storage box that can be locked with a standard padlock. Depending on the trailer, this would permit the addition of between 100 to 200 pounds of equipment and supplies onto the rear bike trailer.

    If you would like some additional details about bicycles then may I suggest you look at the following article on my web site: