New Trail Trend: Ultra-Heavy Hiking
If you're training for a big climb or a long-distance trail, it's important to practice hiking with lots of weight, since you'll be toting all that you need to stay outside overnight for several days. Some hikers want to make more of a statement with their weight training. WTA has created a roundup of alternative weight training choices, but we definitely recommend keeping the water in your pack, just in case.
If you're training for a big climb or a long-distance trail, it's important to practice hiking with lots of weight, since you'll be toting all that you need to stay outside overnight for several days. Most people like to carry a few extra gallons of water with them, which creates extra weight without having to pack up all your stuff every time you go training.
But the recent trend of ultra-heavy hikers has a subset of participants who want to make more of a statement with their weight training. We've created a roundup of alternative weight choices, but we definitely recommend keeping the water in your pack, just in case.
Toting your tots
The most popular ultra-heavy choice among families is the Child Double-Carry Technique. Start with them in the pack or keep the carrier on during the hike and offer to carry them when they get tired. You'll be able to stay out longer (great for your endurance training) and the kiddos will have a fun time riding along.
Note that they get heavier as they get older, so be aware of just how much more weight you're carrying--even the backs of ultra-heavy hikers have limits.
If you don't happen to have two kids at your disposal, one works just fine. A slightly older child can be about the same weight as two younger kids, and their more sophisticated motor skills means they can help with documenting your trip.
Taking out the trash
Another ultra-heavy method is slightly more pungent (though diapers can be stinky, too). Some of your fellow hikers may be more impressed by this than by the Child Double-Carry. Many hikers know to Leave No Trace when they hit the trail, but still traces are left.
Some earth conscious ultra-heavy hikers have taken it upon themselves to clean up and pack out the extra weight. Hikers we've passed on trail with packs like the ones below always make an impression.
The Take-Out-The-Trash Technique makes your training weight bulky and unwieldy. That means you not only get strength training but agility training as well as you try and balance the load. Go the extra mile with a hiking buddy. You can practice your communication skills, and carry even more weight as you navigate your cumbersome load back to the trailhead and waste facilities beyond.
This regimen means you pack in light, but your trip out is ultra-heavy, so be sure to pick a trail where extra weight on the way out won't ruin your knees. Or bring trekking poles!
Training with your best friend
Maybe you don't have kids and you have plenty of experience taking the trash out at home, but you still want to join the ultra-heavy community. Look no further than your best friend.
Dogs make great impromptu weights on trail--often you can simply pick them up and plop them on your pack, though sometimes if conditions are unfavorable, you'll want to tuck them into your coat so they stay nice and warm. Don't forget your leash in case they decide they've had enough of being carried.
Be warned that with doggy weights, you may lose time if you're speed training--pups of all stripes are pretty cute, and fellow hikers may want to stop you and snap a photo. Bonus points if you're the proud owner of a St. Bernard or Irish Wolfhound, if you can figure out how to get them on your back, you're a natural-born ultra-heavy hiker.