Articles for March 2016

How to Land Big Reds in a Kayak

By: Eric Fey

I was well into my second wind by the time I arrived at the area that I wanted to fish this past Saturday morning. I was about 3 miles away from the launch at this point and the sky was growing darker by the second. I knew that I wouldn’t have long to fish before the weather got too rough for me to stay. I threw my Rapala Skitterwalk to the edge of the grass and began to walk it out towards the open water. The water underneath the lure erupted and the lure was sucked down below the surface. My line tightened and the rod bent over as the bull made her initial run down the edge of the bank before breaking into the open water. I was able to get a few cranks on the reel before she felt the pressure and took off. My drag was screaming and I leaned into the butt of the rod to slow her down. She would pause for only a moment before her second run. I was fishing 12 lb flourocarbon on my “topwater/jig rig” so I knew there was a limit to how much I could tighten my drag. I was in for a hell of a ride, and she was driving.


By applying constant pressure, I was able to turn her around and work her in closer to the kayak. As a general rule of thumb, you do not want to bring a big red with a bunch of energy too close to the boat or she might dive under it. If this happens, you run the risk of losing the fish or damaging your equipment. But make no mistake about it, some times she will dictate where the fight takes place. In this case, early in the fight she chose to swim closer to the kayak. It is important to always keep pressure on the fish, so when she swam in, I was forced to pick up line until the fight was at the kayak. In the clip you will see me pick up my retractable rudder. I also flattened out my mirage drive fins which you cannot see.  That way, if and when she chooses to dive under the yak, there is nothing for the line to get tangled on. You might also notice me tightening my drag during the fight which some believe to be a “no no”. One benefit to using a modern baitcaster is the star drag. I just recently read a great article that I will refer you to on called You Need to Start Using a Baitcaster that explains some of the additional benefits of using this type of reel. The star drag, to put it simply, consists of a combination of carbon and stainless steel drag washers that are stacked on top of one another. When you tighten down on the drag it compresses the stack of washers. The tighter they are together, the more friction exists between them when the drag is paying out, ergo heavier drag. If I am going to adjust my drag during the fight, I normally wait for the fish to pause between runs. Be sure to know what your line poundage is so that you do not over tighten your drag and pop your line. Only make adjustments when necessary. For instance, tighten the drag if you are running out of line or want to quicken the fight. If the drag is set appropriately (about 2/3 the line weight is what I like) then the drag should never need to be loosened.

During the fight, try to maintain a rod angle of approximately 45 degrees. If the fish is running straight away from the kayak, lower the angle and let the drag do its job. When the fish takes a dive under the kayak it’s decision time. NEVER release the spool. If you can swing the rod around the front or back of the yak that will be your best bet. This is something to consider when deciding how to store extra rods. If they are sticking up in the back of the yak it may make it tough to pass your rod over during a fast run under the yak. Sometimes the only option will be to maintain that constant pressure and try to turn the fish back to the side that the rod is on. You will notice that several times during the fight I readied the net when I thought that I might have a chance to land her. It is very important to do your best to get those big reds to the kayak before they have reached exhaustion. It is possible that a fish can be so tired out that it dies upon release. Although this is more common in the hot days of summer, it can happen year round and should always be considered.



Anytime I show a picture of a big red to someone who does not kayak fish I always get the same question. “That thing must have pulled you around quite bit huh?” Well, yes! And that is half of the fun. In the kayak fishing community, a ride on the back of a big redfish is known as a Cajun Sleigh Ride. If you are going to be anchored out then you better make sure that your drag is well tuned. Otherwise, pick up the anchor and let that big girl drag you around for a little while! Just make sure she won’t pull you into a pod of redfish that you would then spook off. So the question becomes, “where do I go to find big reds?” That depends on how big you want to go. While fishing the interior marshes, you will often find reds that get up to about 30-32″ long. If you want the 20+ lbers then you need to head a little further towards the coast. I caught this red in Cocodrie in a bay that is open to the gulf. Grand Isle is a common destination for kayakers in search of giant bull reds and every year several 40+ inchers are landed. In fact, Grand Isle is home to an annual kayak fishing tournament appropriately named Ride the Bull. Hundreds and hundreds of kayakers stack up in Caminada Pass hoping to hook into a 30 lber. Leeville is another big red location and so is Hopedale.

I fought the beautiful redfish above for what seemed like an hour. In actuality it was just under 6 minutes. She was bigger than my measuring board but I am estimating her to be somewhere around 35-36″. The BOGA grips put her weight right at 20 lbs. When the fight was over and the pictures were taken, she was released with plenty of energy. I, on the other hand, was exhausted.

I hope this helps you to land your next big red or maybe even your first big redfish from a kayak. I am positive that I didn’t address all of the questions that you may have. So if you have any questions or are interested in getting started, stop into The Backpacker and talk to the crew about how you can get in a kayak and after these big Louisiana redfish.

Fleet Feet’s St. Patrick’s Day 3.17

by: Nicki Klein



On Sunday, March 13th, Fleet Feet hosted their annual St. Patrick’s Day 3.17 mile race (and half mile fun run). Packet pickup was at Fleet Feet on Perkins, and was conveniently available right before the race started. Those that pre-registered received a race t-shirt and glass. At 5pm on the dot, the half mile fun run began, with a number of young participants, and supportive adults, running the quarter mile and back course on Quail Drive, alongside Pennington Biomedical. As soon as the last half mile racer crossed the finish line, the 5k(+.07) racers walked to the starting line just down the street from the finish. With a quick countdown, we were off.

IMG_2962Photo Cred: Mischa Pizzolato

The weather was HOT, but the course provided some shade as runners crossed under the trees throughout the quiet residential course. After exiting the neighborhood, the final .17 or so miles consisted of what we in Louisiana call a hill, and culminated in running under the finish banner. All participants, for both races, received green shamrock “medals” affixed to green Mardi-Gras style beads. As runners finished, they walked the short distance back to Fleet Feet where they were greeted by food (chicken wraps with salsa, and cookies courtesy of Zoe’s Kitchen) and drink (water, Powerade, and Bud Lights). The top 3 finishers in each age division received a Zoe’s soft-sided cooler with a Zoe’s on-the-go cup, a bottle of their Greek salad dressing, and a bottle of seasoning mix. First overall male and female finishers received a $120 Fleet Feet credit to use on Brooks shoes or apparel.

IMG_5785My roommate Francis and I with our awards. Francis came in 2nd Overall Male Finisher, after having running the Zydeco Marathon that morning

I have to say, this is a bargain race, only costing $20 (before fees) if one signs up early. With the food, drinks, and race goodies, you’ve already made your money back.. and you get the fun of running a race! I’d recommend the Fleet Feet 3.17 to anyone, especially those looking to get in a little exercise to counteract the adult beverage consumption that tends to take place around St. Paddy’s Day; or for new runners trying to ease into the sport , who might be intimidated by bigger races.

In regards to my personal race…I set out to get a PR (sub 21 min 5k), which I missed by a bit (the weather was hot, and there was some adult beverage consumption during the BR Paddy’s Day Parade the day before so I probably wasn’t properly hydrated), but I still finished 1st Overall Female in 21:45. I was the 5th place finisher overall, finishing just behind an 11 year old boy. If that isn’t bad enough, two years ago when I last ran this race, I lost to an 11 or 12 year old girl. I guess it wouldn’t be a Paddy’s Day race without me getting beat by a child. I joke, but seriously, kudos to both those young runners-if you so choose, you have great running experiences awaiting you.

IMG_2998Photo Cred: Mischa Pizzolato

Besides enjoying the race personally, I had the privilege of being part of a group of that (painted ourselves and) cheered on our friend Chaney as she made the final push up the hill to finish her first 5k.


While my own achievements are important to me, seeing someone else reach a new distance, PR, or accomplish a set goal, is just as exciting, if not more so. Running is my passion, and to see others enjoy it as well is a feeling I can’t put into words. It’s just…awesome.

IMG_5802Photo Cred: Mischa Pizzolato


Thank you to Fleet Feet for hosting a great race, Zoe’s Kitchen for providing food, Brooks for sponsoring the race, and of course, The Backpacker Baton Rouge for sponsoring me!

fleet feetzoebrooks        backpacker logo


Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram

2016 Q50 Trail Extravaganza

by: Nicki Klein

q50 symbol

Let me start off by saying that I love trail running. I mean, I LOOOOVE trail running. I will gladly pick running in the woods or up mountains over roads any day. And I love to trail race. Because racing hurts. And if I’ve got beautiful scenery to distract me, that’s definitely a plus. One of the great things about the Q50 Trail Extravaganza is that it gives us trail runners an opportunity to run 1, 2, or even 3 trail races in a single weekend! Q50 Trail Races puts on a number of races every year, often held on trails in the New Orleans vicinity. Cesar Torres is the race director of these races, and if you’re looking for someone to encourage you, cheer you on, and make sure you have a great race, he’s your guy. The first time I signed up for one of his races (the 1/2 marathon at the 2015 Trail Extravaganza), he called and thanked me for registering.

This year’s races were held on Saturday, February 20th, and Sunday, February 21st. Options for races included a 10 miler Saturday morning and a 5 miler Saturday evening. The next morning, a 52 miler, 39 miler, full marathon, and half marathon were offered. Registering for more than one race “saved” runners money. The races were held at Bogue Chitto State Park. A $2 per car fee was collected at the gate, a small price to pay for the park to be closed to the public so we could run uninterrupted.

opening ceremony2016 Q50 Trail Extravaganza Opening Ceremony Saturday Morning

I arrived Saturday evening in time to pick up my bib and almost immediately start my race (the 5 miler). Because of the recent weather, and lack of rain, the trails were exceptionally dry, which means the sandy paths weren’t packed. It felt like running on a beach. Uphill. That made for a tougher course than expected, but it was marked well with tape and flags, and volunteers instructing runners where to go.











One interesting tidbit about the Q50 races-you’ll never see water cups or bottles. According to their website, “Q50 Races has a profound commitment for the protection and preservation of the Environment. We value our recognized reputation for not providing paper or plastic at our races, never leaving a trace of liter or waste at our venues, as well as our policy of BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle).” So if you don’t bring your own container to drink from, tough! And another interesting fact-you may never see water cups or bottles, but you’ll ALWAYS see the race director. I think I saw Cesar 3, maybe 4 times, during my 5 mile race. As I came around a pavilion to reach the finish line, two people were holding a finisher’s tape-this is something you usually only see when you’re the first person to cross the line. At Q50 races, EVERYBODY gets to “break through” the finisher’s tape. It’s a fun feeling!

IMG_5323Finishing the 5 miler-1st Female (photo courtesy of The Louisiana Running Company-they took hundreds of pics and provided them to runners for free)

IMG_5246Receiving my handmade plate award for the 5 miler

After I finished my race, I stuck around talking to friends, cheering on other finishers, and eating jambalaya and red beans cooked by the New Orleans Mission. Eventually, I made my way to a friend’s reserved campsite where a group of us sat around and snacked, drank a beer or two, and talked about the races we’d be taking part in within a few short hours.

I woke up the next morning at 4:30am to head back to the starting line in time for the 6am 52 and 39 milers start. Soon, the runners were off.IMG_5248

I helped these ultra runners refill their water, change shoes, and refuel until my 1/2 marathon, and the full marathon, started at 9am.

IMG_5329The start of the full and half marathons Sunday morning (photo courtesy of The Louisiana Running Company)

Although I hadn’t pushed myself too hard the night before because of my race on Sunday, I still felt pretty weak throughout, and struggled to maintain my desired pace. Meeting new people, and first time trail runners, and chatting on the course definitely lifted my spirits, as did seeing some of the ultra runners out there…how can I complain about 13 miles when they were running 3 times as much, or more!

IMG_5268Running alongside my friend Liz, who finished 1st Place Female in the 52 miler (notice us both carrying our own water-mine courtesy of Orange Mud)

The race culminated in another finisher’s tape, and more food and beer.

IMG_5265Finishing 13.1 looking rough

Thanks for keeping my beer cold, Backpacker Baton Rouge!

I didn’t get to stay to watch all the runners finish, because I had to catch a flight to Vegas (that’s another story), but I was excited to see my roommate’s first place marathon finish (he’d also placed first in the 10 miler and 5 miler on Saturday), and see my boyfriend as he went out for his final lap of the 52 miler (his first ultra!).

IMG_5256 My roommate, Francis, clinching another 1st Place Overall finish (26.2)

Besides the great people and beautiful courses, Q50 races are notorious for their awards-each finisher received a handmade “medal,” and the 52 mile runners were awarded a handmade cane for their hard work. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place overall finishers in each race were given handmade pottery-there were plates, jugs, serving dishes, and other similar items. They’re absolutely beautiful, and one of a kind.


IMG_5251Receiving another handmade award for my 1st Female 1/2 Marathon finish

The 2016 Q50 Trail Extravaganza weekend was so much fun. Camping, friends-both old and new, food and beer, and TWO days of trail racing…you can’t beat it. As always, thank you to The Backpacker Baton Rouge and Orange Mud for gearing me up, and Forge Racing for supporting and sponsoring my running endeavors. They too put on some great trail races all over Louisiana, and are even holding the first ever 100 mile race in the state of Mississippi during the Equinox Camp Fest the weekend of March 18th. I’ll be running my third ultra, and my first at the 50 mile distance, that weekend. Come join in the fun, or stay tuned for the race recap!

backpacker logoorange mud logoforge-racing-logo






Other helpful websites:

The Backpacker FB

Forge Racing FB

Q50 FB

Ales and Trails FB

Nicki Klein’s Instagram

Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day.





Backpacker On Water Paddle Demos

Lafayette On Water Kayak Demo 2016 Kayak Demo poster BTR

Join our Backpacker crew to paddle and pedal the coolest kayaks and SUPs on the planet from Hobie, Wilderness Systems, Yolo, Perception, Mad River Canoe, KC Kayaks, and Dagger!  Times subject to weather cancellations.  Get updated information by following us on our Facebook page or get more info by contacting out store.

Demo days are free.  Anyone under the age of 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.  Noone under the age of 10 is permitted on the water.

Members of the Backpacker Kayak Fishing Team on hand to answer you questions!
Lafayette kayak demo at Sugar Mill Pond
Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville, just 10 minutes from River Ranch.
BREC Milford Wampold Park at LSU Lakes in Baton Rouge.


Backpacker On Water Paddle Demos in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge On Water Demo schedule


Join our Baton Rouge crew to paddle and pedal the coolest kayaks and SUPs on the planet from Hobie, Wilderness Systems, Yolo, Perception, Mad River Canoe, KC Kayaks, and Dagger!  Times subject to weather cancellations.  Get updated information by following us on our Facebook page or get more info by contacting out store.

Demo days are free.  Anyone under the age of 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.  Noone under the age of 10 is permitted on the water.


On the Trail


Now that we’ve got you gear ready, it’s time to hit the trails! Using proper technique is going to minimize injury and keep you trucking along. Be easy on your body! Remember, it’s learning new movements and using a lot of energy over those ravines and rocks.


  • Short quick steps when running uphill
  • Use your arms
  • Some hills are meant for walking
  • Long smooth strides on gradual downhills
  • Treat steep downhills like stairs

Uphills:: shorten your stride. head up. lean forward. relax and find your rhythm.

Streams:: Keep running! High step it and barely get your socks wet. Get through it as quickly as possible.

Sand:: Hop from hard spot to hard spot. The hardest spots are near the edges.

Mud:: Shiny = Slippery. Look for dull dry looking mud. Don’t run around mid on narrow trails because it widens it more than they intend.

Rocky terrain:: High step it. Keep an eye on each of your next steps to avoid tripping.

Forests:: Leaves may be slippery. Shade promotes slippery spots. watch out for low hanging branches and spider webs.

“When I’m on the trail I feel…Happy, peaceful, and fluid.” – Ed Melancon


“To me being on the trail is about being back in touch with nature. You can’t hear the kingfishers calls or the wings of owls overhead over music in your ears. If you do have to listen to music turn it down to make sure that you can hear others on the trails. You need to be able to hear if someone is passing or if someone is warning you about a hole you are about to step in.”- Robin Cobb


  • Take it easy. Trail running can be harder than it feels. Slowly build up to it.
  • Slowly add to your running regime
  • Proper hydration
  • Ice baths vs high heat
  • Compression clothing

“Hydrate. One of the biggest problems especially in the sub tropical Louisiana is heat. Hydrate to make sure that you don’t end up over heated and dehydrated on the trails. We talked about dressing for 10-20 degrees warmer than the current temp, add a couple extra for the woods. It’s like running through a blanket. There is no breeze and the air getting stifling. It can easily add 10 degrees in the summer and makes it really easy to over heat and get dehydrated.” – Robin Cobb


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Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all Backpacker news and more classes like this one led by Forge Racing and BREC Outdoor Adventure at our Baton Rouge location. 



2015 Louisiana Rock Climbing Comp Series

by: Nicki Klein

Louisiana probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about places to rock climb. Or the second. Or third. Or…   And that’s understandable. Yet, you’ll find quite the devoted group of climbers here—if leaving straight from work on a Friday evening and driving through the night only to climb for a day and a half in the likes of Texas or Alabama, then drive back home Sunday evening isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is. With that level of passion for a sport, comes the need for a place to practice. And luckily, Louisiana has a few places for people to perfect their skills. Three of those places were showcased in the 2015 Louisiana Rock Climbing Series. The Rock Climbing Series first began in 2013, but this was the first year I’d ever taken part in any capacity because 2015 was the first year I’d ever tried out climbing.




This year’s series consisted of three separate competitions, each held at a different climbing facility in Louisiana. The first was held at Lafayette’s Rok Haus, a gym that offers both top rope climbing and bouldering. Top rope climbing is a style in which a rope, used for a climber’s safety, runs through carabiners connected to an anchor system at the top of the route wall and attaches to a climber’s harness, whereas bouldering requires no ropes or harnesses and consists of climbers covering shorter heights at various angles with mats underneath to prevent injuries from falls. This event was held July 12th, and got off to a late start, due to tremendous traffic jams on I-10 (this will come as no surprise to fellow Louisianians). When I arrived at the facility, the comp was well underway. Although there was a competition consisting of climbers holding hands with another person and partner-climbing up the top rope wall, the majority of the competition took place on the bouldering surfaces. After a few hours of watching climbers cheer each other on, signing off on each other’s score sheets (to verify that a specific route was followed correctly and finished), time was up. As scores were being tallied, a friendly challenge involving toe-touching a board with ones feet (a motion similar to a bicycle ab workout) while hanging from plastic climbing holds, took place. The winner was determined by who could do the most toe touches within a certain amount of time, or before falling. By this time, the bouldering scores were tabulated. There were Male and Female divisions, each including Advanced, Intermediate, and Beginner (3 awards deep), and winners received both bragging rights, and some sick prizes.. The Rok Haus Comp winners included:


Advanced: Jeffery, Brad, and Michael

Intermediate: Nicholas, Hunter, and Mikey

Beginner: Brett, Levent, and Courtland



Advanced: Libby Smith (only entrant)

Intermediate: Mary, Erin, and Carolina

Beginner: Erin, Jasmine, and Natalie


Dyno Comp winner: Jake Judice

Bicycle Challenge Winner: Hunter Wagnon

Kid’s Division: Eric, followed closely by Lennon












The location of the second comp in the series was the BREC Climbing Tower at the BREC Extreme Sports Park on Perkins Road, in Baton Rouge. This event was held on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in September (20th). Unlike the first comp, this one was all top roping. Also unlike the first comp, this one involved me as a competitor. The Backpacker was one of the climbing series sponsors, and because I’m a Backpacker employee, I offered to get to the event early to help get people signed up and ready for the event. Although this comp was top roping instead of bouldering, the mechanics of the competition were similar in that it lasted a certain amount of time, and you had to have at least two people watch you climb a specific route, and initial that they’d seen you climb the whole thing correctly and without cheating. Based on the degree of difficulty of the route, a certain number of points were earned. One of my friends that had come along with me to watch the event, decided to sign up to compete when he found out he’d be sitting around watching for 3+ hours. This comp was a lot of fun to be a part of. At that time, I’d been practicing at the Tower a couple of times a week for a few months, and had even gone on two out of town climbing trips. A lot of my friends were competing, there was music being played, and there was FOOD—jambalaya and lots of doughnuts! When the allotted amount of time for the competition had ended, a table was set up for another competition. The rules of the game: start off on top of the table, and make your way under the table, and back to the top, as many times as you can within a minute…without touching the ground at all. Watching the different strategies people came up with to do so, based on size and strength, was interesting, and sometimes quite comical!  After everyone interested in participating had had their turn, winners of the afternoon, and now evening, activities were announced:



Advanced: Jeffry Wittenbrink, Houston Siegerist, Mark Jolisaint

Intermediate: Jon Rogers, Steve Barnes, Angus Armstrong (at only 14 yrs old)

Beginner: Gines Sanchez (my friend that spontaneously decided to compete)



Advanced: Libby Asteak Smith

Intermediate: Michelle Kim, Rachel Lee, Jessica Beauvais

Beginner: Natalie Del Pino, Nicki Klein, Emily Stafford


Kids under 13: Cedric LaPeyre, Hayden Palmer, Patrick Scott


The night winded down with a showing of a climbing specific movie played on a big screen setup on the lawn outside the tower.















The third and final comp of the 2015 Louisiana Climbing Series took place at the recently opened New Orleans Boulder Lounge. This gym is bouldering specific, but also comes equipped with a yoga/fitness area, a café with organic food options, a lounge area with free wifi, a performance area, and a private event space. On the morning of November 8th, the last of the 3 comps took place. This was the only comp I was unable to attend in any capacity, but I was told it was a lot of fun, and that the newest addition to the climbing facility family is pretty spectacular. That day’s winners included:


Advanced: Jeffery Whittenbrink, Jaret Salas, Barrington Becnel

Intermediate: Houston Siegerist, Steven Phillip Porter, Luke Simpson

Beginner: Angus Armstrong, Ben Rosenburg, Michael Wong



Advanced: Elizabeth Asteak Smith, Tedi Setton, Taylor Wolf

Intermediate: Valery Nataro, Kristen Wernstrom, Sunny Wong

Beginner: Natalie Del Pino, Stephanie Crumm, Victoria Nixon

Kids Division: Mark Tsimis, Ayaco Belka, Mason Burger


The Overall Series Champs were also announced and included: Jeffery Whittenbrink, Libby Asteak Smith, and Cedric LePeyne.







The 2015 Louisiana Rock Climbing Series culminated with numerous comp winners, raffle prizes recipients, and lots of money raised ($800 total) for The Access Fund, a non-profit started in 1991 to represent climbers and keep climbing areas open. Thanks go to The Backpacker, a key sponsor in this series, and an integral promoter in all things outdoors; as well as other groups that gave their time, money, and/or gear: Black Diamond, Flashed, Dirtbag Climbers, Element Climbing, RockWerx, LaSportiva, Lululemon Baton Rouge, Jonathan Rogers Woodworks, Asana, Forge Trail Racing, and The Louisiana Marathon. Also, a huge thank you goes out to the photographers for their time, and awesome shots: Nick Martino, Eric Svendson, and any others that contributed. Stay tuned for the 4th Annual Louisiana Rock Climbing Comp Series later this year (probably between August and September, and including the 3 locations above, as well as Slidell Rocks Climbing Gym)! And if you live in the Baton Rouge area and are looking for another place to get your climb on, there’s a new indoor climbing gym set to open on Coursey in the near future!

**You do not need climbing experience to try out any of these 3 facilities, nor do you need to reserve a spot in advance. But, to check for closures (such as weather at the BREC tower), or to sign up for a private lesson or class, calling or checking Facebook/websites may be a good idea:

Rok Haus:; 337-981-8116

BREC Extreme Sports Park and Climbing Tower:; BRECs Extreme Sports FB

New Orleans Boulder Lounge:; 504-510-2990; New Orleans Boulder Lounge FB


Before You Run


So the weather is starting to warm up and your treadmill just isn’t cutting it anymore. You find that your feet (and your heart) are longing for the gentle crunch of the trail underneath.

“I started running to get back in shape around 8 years ago. The more I ran the better I got and the better I got the more I liked to run. Running has now just become a part of my life and my identity. It is my sanity and my escape from the daily grind. It also has a recharging effect on my vitality.” – Ed Melancon
Whether you are trying to knock a few pounds off or just get out there, here is what you need to know.

What do you need to get started? 

Not much, that’s part of the beautiful simplicity of the trail run. Let’s break it down.

  • Be prepared for rips and snags. You are running through trees and brush after all.
  • Dress for 10 degrees warmer. You are going to warm up, we promise.
  • Synthetic or lightweight wool tops and nylon shorts are a must. These will keep you from staying damp.
  • Sunglasses! These are not just for sun protection, they offer eye protection from low branches and spider webs.
  • Choose running shoes with good grip. You can start off with your normal running shoes.
  • No cotton socks so your feet stay dry too.
  • Optional: Lightweight rain shell and a lightweight hat.

_MG_7328-smallIf your shoes get muddy: Once they are wet, take your insoles out and the shoe laces off. Wash them out well. By getting the mud out and keeping them clean, they will last a long time.If its super wet, avoid a Gortex lined shoe that would hold water. Instead, opt for a nylon mesh shoe so that water can get out. _MG_7283-small

  • Water.
  • Energy supplements for multi hour runs.
  • I.D. in case something happens.
  • Cell phone in a ziploc to prevent moisture damage.
  • Whistle for safety
  • Insect repellant. It’s Louisiana.
  • Optional : Trekking poles for landscapes with higher elevation change and gaiters.


  • Tell someone where you are going and when you should be back.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Bring a headlamp if you are running near sundown. Even if you think you will make it back in time.
  • Pack your trash out. Food may attract wildlife and may make them aggressive.

Be sure to follow the rules of the trail!

  • Run the posted direction.
  • Let faster runners/bikers go ahead of you. Step off the trail when you stop to take a breather.
  • Don’t zoom past slower runners

“Don’t be ashamed to stop and walk. I still have to fight pride on trails and force myself to stop and walk from time to time. I have a heart condition so I have to be extra cautious on the trails. On the roads it’s predominately flat, you are not straining your heart that differently through the miles. On trails each tiny hill adds up and adds extra strain and before you know it you’re in trouble. Force yourself to stop and walk when you are beginning, I tend to use this time to drink water or take pictures of flowers or birds before trying to run again.” – Robin Cobb

Ready to get started? 

Here’s where you can find some likeminded folks.

“I started running with Forge Racing and have found that joining the Ales and Trails group is a great way to get in runs on the trails in a group setting. Another way is to participate or even volunteer at a race. You never know who runs the same trails as you until you condense us all into one space and time to be able to meet each other.” – Robin Cobb-small

Be sure to check back for our next post on where to go and tips on technique and recovery!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all Backpacker news and more classes like this one led by Forge Racing and BREC Outdoor Adventure at our Baton Rouge location.