The First 40 Miles

Heather Legler is a novice backpacker, but her husband Josh began backpacking as a Boy Scout years ago.

Heather says: “I haven’t solo hiked the Pacific Crest Trail or sawed off a frost-bitten limb with a credit card. I have never eaten raw squirrel meat or slept under a blanket of pine needles and steaming bear dung. I haven’t been stranded for weeks in the woods with only a knife and a camera crew. But, I have discovered a simple love for hiking and backpacking and it all happened in the first 40 miles.”

Last December the two began publishing a series of audio podcasts under the title “The First 40 Miles.”  As you might imagine, the podcast is aimed at beginning backpackers. They talk about the essentials you need to bring along as well as what you can easily leave behind. Heather is particularly inventive, coming up with various light-weight items to bring along and creating them herself, often reaching into her recycling bin.

They also offer product reviews using their “SUMMIT” system that looks at structure, utility, mass, maintenance, investment and trial. For example they reviewed a Ozark Trail Egg Crate Camp Pad purchased from their local big-box store.

  • Structure: closed cell foam with low egg carton bumps. Heather says the pad is indestructible.
  • Utility: It’s water proof and she was able to trim it to save weight
  • Mass: 72X24X½ inches and 13 ounces without straps.
  • Maintenance: wipe with a damp rag and roll it opposite each time to keep it from curling.
  • Investment: Under $15
  • Trial: She woke up after sleeping on it with bruised hips so she changed over to Josh’s Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite SOL pad (same weight but $45). Josh likes the fact that the Z-Rest folds rather than rolls. Heather found that if she used a pillow for her hip, it resolved the issue with bruising.

Whether you agree with all the advice and ideas or not, I think you’ll find the pair entertaining and perhaps they will motivate you to either start backpacking or do more of it.  You can listen to the podcast via iTunes or their website.  They are also on Facebook @TheFirst40Miles.

2 Responses to “The First 40 Miles”

  1. Kim Golden says:

    Hi, I am trying to make a small, cheap light weight mat for placing in front of my backpacking tent to keep from tracking in dirt. I am new to listening to your podcast (enjoying very much). Have you talked about such a thing? If not do you have any ideas for materials? Thanks.

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