Grassi Lakes near Canmore Alberta
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Balance Yourself When Exploring With a Bag

W hile exploring some of the amazing terrain in the Canadian Rocky Mountains — as well as numerous other places around the world — I often find myself on a narrow uneven trail ascending along the side of a hill where a steep incline is on one side…

…and when the trail is wet and muddy with smooth rocks on which one can slip, all bets are off.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Balance Yourself When Exploring With a Bag

To provide photographs for the trip reports which I write, I must have my camera bag with me. The technology of mobile telephones are increasingly improving — but in a number of ways, digital single-lens reflex cameras with detachable lenses are still the favorite in terms of customization and lens quality; and that is what I prefer to use…

…and that requires a bag equipped with a shoulder strap with which to carry my equipment. I prefer that over a backpack primarily for easier access to my camera.

A very simple trick — this is the Stupid Tip of the Day, after all — is when I take the bag which I am carrying and use it as a balancing weight of sorts on the side opposite of where the precipice is located. For example, if the sheer face of the cliff is on my left side, I move the bag I are carrying to my right side. I often find myself and my balance more secure as a result when trekking along uneven paths.


After recently witnessing a number of people either not taking enough care to ensure their safety or being excessively cautious while hiking along treacherous terrain — and after seeing all sorts of warning signs along trails about the possibility of serious injury or death if directions are not followed — I thought I would offer this simple tip to help. Although this is not intended to be professional advice, I find via personal experience that it helps me.

Wearing shoes whose soles have a good tread helps as well.

A backpack would keep your balance intact because weight is usually more evenly distributed than carrying a bag on the side; but it may not be as effective as a counterbalance depending on the conditions of the terrain — especially if the contents of the backpack happen to shift and throw you off balance. Keep the heavier weight slightly lower in the backpack as close to your center of gravity as possible — or if you are carrying a bag, try to keep the weight of that back as close to your center of gravity as possible.

If you are not carrying a backpack, then use a bag with a shoulder strap to keep both of your hands free while negotiating a difficult trail.

I enjoy nature and witnessing its wonders first hand; but sometimes they are not easy to access — including but not limited to the requirement hiking along the edge of a cliff on a muddy and rocky path embedded with the roots of trees. If you must carry a bag while hiking and you find yourself having difficulty keeping your balance, try using it as a counterbalance — and please practice this technique before proceeding with caution during an actual hike.

The rocky trail to Grassi Lakes near Canmore in Alberta has a steep precipice to the left where one wrong move, and…Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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