PACK/RIFLE WEIGHT & CONDITIONING Well the consensus here is the we need to lighten our load and be in good hiking condition. As a backpacker I'm always training with a 30 lb. pack, whether it's hiking the mountains around Las Vegas or, in the hot 'Vegas summer, doing an hour on my treadmill at a hi angle while watching old reruns of Star Trek. HIKING POLES My suggestion is that we find a way to carry our rifle so that we can use hiking poles in the mountains. Hiking poles are necessary tor stability and assisting our overtaxed legs. Plus they permit the use of your otherwise "unused" upper body for propulsion. So far I know of only two solutions. 1. Eberlestock style packs with a rifle pouch between the back and pack. 2. Kifaru "Gun Bearer" rifle carrier that puts the butt stock in a Hypalon pouch hanging from the pack or pants belt and a Quick Release forearm or gun barrel strap Velcroed around the pack's shoulder strap. The rifle rides vertically at your side. The Gun Bearer is faster, the Eberlestock pouch is more comfortable. In any case both permit the full use of hiking poles. We ain't getting' any younger and hiking poles really help the knees, especially on long descents and especially "packing our heavy". If you have never tried hiking poles ask Len what he thinks about them. BTW, when using hiking poles you absolutely must use the pole straps correctly to get the true benefit. They are used exactly the same way as XC ski pole straps. (GOOGLE it and find out.) Eric B.