In 2006 Sheri and Randy Propster sold their home and most of their belongings, gave their car away, got married and set out to enjoy a 253-day honeymoon, backpacking the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail together. Their blogs from the adventure became an educational "virtual fieldtrip" in partnership with several high school teachers and helped land them a dream gig five years ago with the Backpacker Magazine Get Out More tour.
They've been getting out more ever since, living what the Propsters call a "3 miles-per-hour lifestyle," and last night stopped by REI Denver to share some wisdom from their travels. We've got their top five tips:
1. Get knowledge. Although the Propsters' visits to shops like REI on the Get Out More Tour are partly about what gear to buy and bring with you, last night they emphasized even more important ways to prepare for a trip: Researching your route, location, weather variables, terrain and hydration options along the route should be the first steps in any adventure, according to Sherri and Randy.
2. Get organized. The Propsters travel "comfort light" -- not ultra-light by any means, but they aren't trying to break their backs, either. To make sure they have what they need, they categorize their gear priorities: Communication (trail radios, mirrorstrail radios, mirrors, locator beacons, cell phones, headlamps with strobe lights), Navigation (printed map, compass, GPS units), Skin Protection (sunglasses, sunscreen, bug protection, blister protection) and Hydration (the Propster suggest carrying both a hydration bladder and a hard-shell waterbottle, in case of puncture).
3. Get geared up. Randy and Sherri's Get Out More tour sponsors include Woolrich, Cordura Fabric, Spot, Leki, PrimaLoft, DeLorme, Vasque, Pentax, Celestron, Deuter, Sawyer and Sea to Summit, but their gear tips are widely applicable. Get the right backpack and pack the essentials first -- layered clothing, sleeping bag, trekking poles, backpack liners and covers, hydration system -- then think about "enhancements" like a pair of binoculars or luxury items like the Celestron SkyScout GPS Star Locator. (Sherri, who likes to keep her ears clean, also suggests packing some Q-Tips. Sometimes it's the simple things that can make all the difference.)
4. Get the right boots. Randy and Sherri each went through nine pairs on their honeymoon and say it's the number-one gear item to splurge on. "If your feet aren't happy, you won't get outside again: It's that simple," says Sherri. "Do your homework with a good shoe/boot fitter to find the right shoe last (platform) for your foot."
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5. Get out more. Randy and Sherri know that 253-day hikes and year-round adventure tours like theirs (they're currently working their way through Backpacker's Reader's Choice list of the Top 10 Hikes in America) aren't feasible for everybody, but their message is simple: Getting outside more will improve your life in almost every measurable and immeasurable way.
If you missed them last night, you've got one more chance before they move on: The Get Out More tour stops at Jax Mercantile in Lafayette, 900 South Highway 287, tonight at 6:30 p.m.