Altitude – Information sheet

High altitude is defined as heights between 1,550m and 3,500m above sea level, very high altitude ranges from 3,500m to 5,500 and extreme altitude is 5,500m and above.

As we gain altitude air pressure reduces and oxygen content reduces, this makes it harder for us to take oxygen into our body. In addition to this barometric pressure is higher at the equator than the poles so ascending Kilimanjaro near the equator will seem easier than Mt Vinson in the Antarctic.

Get mountain fit

Most people who have an average level of fitness will be able to survive a trekking adventure, however there is a big difference between surviving the trip and being comfortable and enjoying it.

Preparing for your trek You should start your fitness training at least 4 months before your departure with a focus on key muscle groups: core, lower back, glutes, quads and hamstrings. Coming down is a lot harder on the knees so put some focus on the muscles that support your knees.

Looking after your feet

If you’re going trekking the most important part of your body are your feet, because without them, your not going anywhere. Picking the right boots and socks, training and general foot care and maintenance are all part of the strategy you will need to keep your feet in ‘tip top’ condition during your trek.

Take a look at our leaflet ‘LOOKING AFTER YOUR FEET’ for more information and tips…

Fitting your backpack

Correct fitting is very important to the comfort and fit of a backpack, it’s not simply a matter of throwing the pack on your back and fastening all the straps.

Improper backpack fit can also lead to poor posture and can lead risk for backpack-related injuries and discomfort.

Also, backpacks with tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves.

These types of straps can contribute to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands. Select a backpack designed for the activity you are undertaking and download our backpack fitting info sheet.

Packing your backpack

Even the best backpack available if packed badly can be uncomfortable and even lead to more serious problems. Here are the key points to making you backpack work for you;

Get Organised
Lay your kit out before you pack it, this will make you more aware of where items are packed. Pack your sleeping bag in the bottom of your pack along with any additional lightweight items you don’t need during the day. Cluster related small items together in colour coded or labeled bags, if you are carrying fuel make sure it is adequately sealed. Split the weight of large communal items, with others in your group, so spreading the load. Keep often used and emergency items where you can get to them (ideally in the lid pocket), this includes your map and compass, phone, emergency contact information and first aid kit.

Keeping Dry
Most backpacks are not waterproof even if they have a rain cover they still tend to get wet after a period in the rain, so you will need to use a waterproof liner with all your kit inside it or use individual dry-bags for different groups of kit. If you are using individual bags you may want to write on them what they contain i.e. WATERPROOFS so it makes it easy to find what you are looking for. Also remember that sleeping bag compression sacks are not normally waterproof either so you will need to place your sleeting bag inside a dry-bag or use a waterproof compression sac.

Hydration Options
Most packs today are hydration compatible, this means they will accommodate a water bladder and have an access point to feed a drinking tube through to the outside of your pack. If your going to a cold environment you may consider using a wide mouth drinking bottle with a tube conversion kit and insulated tube sleeve, which enables you to drink from the bottle if the tube freezes.

Sleeping Bag Ratings

Selecting the right sleeping bag for your trip can be very confusing and expensive if you make a mistake. Labelling by sleeping bag manufacturers can be unclear and the rating identification system can be confusing ‘COMFORT RATING’ ‘LOWER LIMIT’ and ‘EXTREME RATING’ what do they all mean?. Shop staff also seem to get confused when giving advice; so we have produced a short and simple guide to selecting the right sleeping bag for your trip. Feel free to download and print it, to help you in making the right decision.