Humans Were Born to Carry Weight on Our Backs

Carrying weight for distance — or rucking — is part of the human design and it can keep us fit and healthy

Michael Easter
Elemental
Published in
7 min readMay 17, 2021

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Photo: Sicmanta

Last fall I found myself standing on the Arctic Tundra, about 120 miles from civilization. One hundred pounds of caribou filled my pack. I had to hoof the weight back to camp, which was five miles away. All uphill and across the tundra. And the tundra is a savage landscape comprised of dirt that exists in an ice-cream-like state: spongy layers of dense moss, mucky swamp, and basketball-sized tufts of grass called tundra tussocks. A mile out there is like five on a regular trail.

I was in the Arctic for more than a month on a backcountry hunt while reporting my new book, The Comfort Crisis, which investigates the shocking downsides of our overly comfortable (first) world and reveals how we can leverage the power of a handful of evolutionary discomforts that will dramatically improve our fitness, health, and happiness. The Arctic is one of many places around the world I embedded myself in while investigating the upsides of getting out of our comfort zones.

My career as a human health and performance journalist has sent me to train inside some of the world’s most hardcore gyms and undertake 24-hour endurance challenges. But packing out my…

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Michael Easter
Elemental

Author of The Comfort Crisis // Professor // Writing about physical + mental health, psychology, and living better 1x week // eastermichael.com