I pulled out my water filter, started pumping, and realized no water was filling my bottle. Somehow, it was just moving air! Turns out, the filter cartridge had cracked. I was now stuck deep in the Wasatch Range with no water.
What we do outside is not about the gear. Admittedly, though, gear can make or break an outing. If you left your bike pump in the garage and are already at the trailhead with under-inflated tires, it might leave you scrambling for a way to salvage the ride. If you hiked six miles down Uinta’s Highline Trail, made camp and went to cook dinner only to find your stove’s gas canister empty… Well, you get the idea.
Gear should be ready to go when you are. One of the greatest benefits of proper gear preparation is being able to enjoy outdoor adventures, even at the last minute.
Always Be Prepared
Two gear-heavy outdoor activities are backpacking and cycling. Backpacking gear includes multiple apparatuses that function both together and seperately to help create a great outdoor experience. Unlike backpacking gear, a bicycle requires all of its parts to operate in symphony. For a good experience, it’s crucial that everything is working properly.
This spring, as you’re putting away your winter gear and revving up for spring, summer and fall adventures, keep these basic gear tips in mind: They could make or break your next outing.
Readying Your Equipment
Sleeping Pad One of my inflatable mattress pads went flat on a short backpacking trip. I still haven’t fixed it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Double check that your mattress does not have holes from the previous camping season, otherwise you might end up sleeping on the cold, hard, lumpy ground.
Camp Stove Stoves are primarily available as either liquid gas or compressed gas units and require little to no maintenance. In both cases, make sure there is enough fuel to cook an extra meal or two before you head out. To prepare for the season, fill your liquid gas bottle or buy some extra compressed gas canisters. Also, liquid gas stoves usually have a pump, so be sure it still pumps! Oh, and it’s a good idea to make sure the stove lights before you leave the house.
Water Filters Most water filters are cartridge-based. When I examine my pump, I expose the cartridge and have a look. Is it clean? Is it cracked? Check your filter by filling a container of cold water in the sink and start pumping from it. If it is difficult to pump cold water in the kitchen, imagine the difficulty of pumping in the mountains with particles in the water! If you struggle, it may be time for a new cartridge.
Food + First Aid Other items to inspect can seem less obvious, like first aid kits and backpacking meals. However, there are items that expire in both. It is worth a look-see to verify that you won’t be eating rotten, freeze dried goodies for breakfast at Heart Lake or using ineffective ibuprofen at 10,000 feet. On that note, be sure to modify and update your first aid kit with any personal prescriptions or medications.
Time for a Tune-Up
After pulling your bike out and wiping off the dust, your bike’s brakes may feel soft. Hydraulic brakes may need to be pumped but they usually feel solid quickly. The main question with brakes is: Do they stop you? Make sure you can feel them working before you hop on for a spin around the block. You may need to replace warn brake pads before hitting the trails.
On your test ride, shift the gears. Is shifting hard? Does the chain jump off? Most of the time the chain will need lube to stop any squeaking. Your tires will need air and that old helmet should probably be replaced – they’re only good for three years.
Some folks are familiar with replacing brake pads or making shifting adjustments. Older bikes or bikes with shocks tend to require a closer look and may need the eyes of an expert mechanic. Thankfully, we have access to a couple bike shops in the Heber Valley that are ready day in and day out to get your bike back in top shape.
Ready for Adventure?
Now that your essential adventure gear has been repaired and replaced, take time to make sure everything is organized, too. Set yourself up so that in 20 minutes your bag could be loaded with everything you need for a last-minute, two-night stay in the backcountry. And enjoy knowing that, with your bike tuned and helmet handy, that group bike ride after work is suddenly much easier to make.
Get Your Gear Ready at These Local Outfitters
All about adventure, Gravity Coalition brings a collection of gear, service and support that will help you enjoy your time and push your limits in the mountains. www.gravitycoalition.com
Heber Valley’s full service outfitter Midway Adventure Company offers bike tunes, gear rentals, retail items and adventure planning.
Committed to bikes of all kinds, the experts here can help you with cruisers, mountain bikes and race bikes. They offer trail advice, sports food and everything else bike-related. www.slimandknobbys.com
WAO has everything you need in rentals from camping, fly fishing and backpacking gear to inflatable SUPS, canoes, kayaks and more!