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Camp Tricks

Hacks to Keep You Warm While Camping in Winter

December 19, 2017

Keeping cozy while camping can be a real problem during the winter. Nothing will keep you from getting comfortable like a brisk breeze creeping through your tent. If you’re not willing to give up the Great Outdoors just because of a little snowfall here are some hacks that’ll help keep you warm, and rested.

Exercise
Warmth originates from within the body and sleeping bags work by bouncing that heat back toward you to keep you warm. Right before bed do a little exercise to help get that blood pumping and your body heat rising. Jumping jacks, pushups or a quick jog are all great options. Just don’t run so hard that you sweat.

Eat Fatty Foods
During digestion the body increases energy in the body, thus helping to raise internal temperatures. The higher the healthy fat content in the food, the more energy required to successfully digest it. The process is known as diet-induced thermogenesis. It’s actually a little more complicated than that, but the point is that if you want to keep yourself warm while camping at night eating a hearty meal high in healthy fats is a good way to do so. The body takes hours to full digest foods with high fat content, which can give your internal temps a boost for most of the night.

Insulate
If you’re trying to warm up while hiking to your campsite you can do so by adding some insulation to your outfit. Homeless people have developed a knack for coming up with ingenious ways of staying warm, one of which is packing themselves with newspaper. It’s a great trick that anyone can use. Stuff old newspaper inside of your coat and jeans. It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world but it works in a pinch.

Stay Off the Ground
One of the best ways to keep warm is to stay off the ground. It might seem like common sense, but many people don’t always take this into consideration. The ground is cold and damp during the winter months and that lack of heat can quickly transfer to your body upon exposure. Avoid sitting on rocks and place multiple layers between your sleeping bag and the floor of your tent when possible.

Toast Your Thighs
Did you know there’s an artery in your thighs that helps regulate your body’s internal temperature? You can utilize this artery by placing something warm in between your legs while you sleep. Boiling water and putting it in a thermos is a great way to add a little heat down below. Just don’t put anything down there that could cause burns or, you know, set your tent on fire.

Avoid Alcohol
Drinking alcohol might seem like a great way to unwind after a good hike, but it can have disastrous affects on the body. Most importantly, it can lead to dehydration, which can throw your entire body out of whack. One of the symptoms of dehydration is that the body loses its ability to regulate temperature leading you to either feel too hot or too cold, without really knowing whether your body is warm or not. Leave the booze at home and allow nature to help you unwind instead.

Shake the Bag
Understanding how a sleeping bag actually works can mean the difference between shivering through the night and getting much needed rest. They help keep you warm by trapping pockets of air and preventing it from circulating. That air is then warmed by your own body heat and wraps you up in a cocoon. When unrolling your sleeping bag or the night be sure to shake it out well, starting from the bottom, to increase the air inside.

Camp Tricks

These Fishing Myths Are Bunk

December 12, 2017

Credit: Michael Svoboda

These Fishing Myths Are Bunk
There are so many fishing myths it’s hard to know where to start. To me, any time a fisherman exaggerates the size or number of fish he caught, that’s a lie. Anytime he is less than truthful about where, when or how he caught those fish, that’s a myth. Here’s an attempt to straighten out just a few of those myths.

Anyone Can Catch a Fish
There is an old adage that goes something like: “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats forever.” Why is this bunk? Because there are just some days you are not going to catch a fish. At least I’m not because, though I’m good at fishing, I suck at catching. The more truthful ending is “Teach a man to fish and he’ll drink beer all day.” Now, in the matter of political correctness, I don’t mean to exclude women by saying, “Men” in the adage. I certainly don’t mean to infer that women can’t drink beer all day too. If you think that, you obviously haven’t met my wife.

Fish Don’t Bite in the Rain
We were off on a fishing excursion in Florida when the rain started dropping. My young daughter asked the first mate, “What do we do now?” The first mate responded, “We fish. The fish don’t mind the rain, they’re already wet” He was right and we went about our business of reeling them in. Though the fish bite less during periods of low barometric pressure, and low pressure usually accompanies rain, that doesn’t hold true at all times. If the pressure is not low and it’s raining, just keep reeling them in.

Be Quiet for the Fishing
This isn’t a library so stop the shushing. If you’re in the water the vibrations may transmit and scare the fish off but just talking on shore will not hinder a thing. Now skipping rocks, playing fetch with Fido and/or falling in the water after all that beer may slow you down but a little conversation is fine. This may have started when some old boy just didn’t want the wife along. That doesn’t mean your fishing partner wants to hear your incessant, constant, never-ending… oh never mind,

Catfish Only Hit at Night
No that’s cats that like to prowl at night. Catfish on the other hand eat at all times of day. This may have been started by that same old boy who just wanted an excuse to fish at night. Night fishing may work better for you depending on where and when you’re fishing but there’s no reason not to expect some success during the day too.

Bass and Cold Water
There is a belief by some that bass don’t feed in cold water. That would be bunk. Though they will only eat about one-third as much food as in warmer weather, a fish has still got to eat. They feed all year long and you can even catch them through ice, though that whole ice-fishing thing is something someone else will have to explain.

Never Leave a Productive Spot
Now, if you’re catching fish, you are having a good day. That doesn’t mean you don’t want bigger fish though. Similar-sized fish seem to troll the same waters so if you keep catching small or medium size fish, you may need to move on. Just like humans, it seems fish like to hang with their equals. Put more realistically, small fish don’t particularly care to be eaten by big fish, so they prefer to avoid the big guys if possible.

Bigger Boats Catch Bigger Fish
We all know the classic line from Jaws, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” That line made sense because those guys were in a…boatload of trouble and, it was Hollywood after all. While a bigger boat can carry more gear and carry you further, a smaller boat can get you into tighter spaces that may harbor some bigger fish. It’s not the size of the boat it’s the placement: if you’re in the right spot, it doesn’t matter what your standing or sitting on.

You’re Not Deep Enough
Sure, for deep sea fishing you need to get way out where the big boys live but for everyday fishing, deeper water doesn’t guarantee anything. Unfortunately, nobody guarantees anything anymore or I’d get my money back on my fishing license when I get shutout. Fish feed wherever the food is, just like us at happy hour, so never think it’s too shallow for some big fish. Northern Pike, and some big ones at that, often hunt in shallow weed-beds so always expect success, even if you’re fishing with me.
Michael Ryan

Camp Tricks

How to Safely Sleep Without a Tent

November 15, 2017

Tents have been a camping staple since the dawn of the modern man – what better way to protect yourself in the wild from the nighttime critters, sudden downpours and voracious bugs than a miniature home you can carry with you on the go? Of course, for some people camping is a way to get outside, and enclosing oneself in another set of walls kind of defeats the purpose. So how can one safely camp outside without toting along a tent? It’s easy!

Use a Hammock
Perhaps the easiest method for eschewing a tent is to replace it with something a little less confining. A hammock is a great alternative to the traditional tent because it still provides much of the protection without removing the spectacular views of the night sky. All you need to make it work is a couple of sturdy trees or a hammock stand and you’ve got yourself a comfy bed designed for the wild.

Build a Perimeter
If you’re going to sleep in a hammock or simply rough it out on the ground you’ll need a warning system in place in case a large animal like a bear comes looking for food in the middle of the night. A good solution is to bring along some rope or string and use it to outline a perimeter around your campsite. Wrap it around tightly surrounding trees and then hang cans or bells around the length so, if an animal comes near, a makeshift alarm will sound to wake you up.

Use Bug Spray
Mosquitos and other creepy crawlers are a real problem if you’re camping in the summertime. Nobody wants to wake up covered in bites and potentially harboring an infectious disease. Cover yourself liberally with bug spray to help ward off the bugs while you sleep. Without the tent there to protect you, you open yourself up to hundreds of bugs looking for a midnight snack.

Clean Your Campsite
Whether you’re using a tent or not it’s always important to keep your campsite clean to deter hungry animals. Ensure there are no leftovers lying around and that you’ve cleaned any utensils thoroughly. Remove garbage from your sleeping area and hang any extra food from a tree at least 100 meters away from where you’ll be lying.

Eliminate Odors
The smell of food isn’t the only odor that’ll attract animals to your sleeping area – lotions, gels and candles can have the same effect. You don’t need to smell like California citrus while you’re hiking in the woods. Leave the scented deodorants and silly candles at home and stick with basic non-scented soaps when you camp.

Block the Weather
Staying dry is essential to a good night’s rest so if you know there’s a chance for torrential downpours, or just a light sprinkle, you might consider bringing along a tarp. Unlike a tent, a tarp will provide you with more exposure to the outdoors but still give you plenty of air to breath. Tie one above your body just before you call it a night to keep the rain from wrecking your sleep.

Put Out the Fire
Light can attract bears to a campsite, along with bugs, just as easily as food. Leaving your fire going at night is also a great way to start a forest fire. Make sure to douse your flames before turning in. If you’ve gone the electric route you’ll also need to turn off any lanterns or other light sources too. You don’t want to bring any attention to yourself while you sleep.

Camp Tricks

How to Take Bearings While Hiking

November 13, 2017

If you are an enthusiastic hiker you should learn how to take bearings. The compass is a useful tool that can be invaluable to hikers, especially if you prefer less popular hiking routes that can be completely deserted.

Here are a few tips that will help you to take bearings when you are hiking.

When Do You Need To Use The Compass?
A compass isn’t something that you will need to use on every single hike, especially if the hike has useful features that you can follow instead, such as a stream, a lake, a fence or even a path. This means that very popular routes rarely require a compass, but if you are going for a hike in an area that doesn’t have a useful feature a compass can be invaluable.

However it can still be useful to bring a compass with you on a hike with a path or a stream, as there is always the possibility that you will lose the path and need to get your bearings.

Most hikers take a compass with them if they are planning a hike that doesn’t have a clear set route, such as a hike through the mountain without a path. In this situation a compass can be used to get you from A to B without any problems. This is ideal for experienced hikers who prefer to hike along less popular routes, especially if they are in an area with poor visibility.

It is also worth noting that you should try your compass out for the first time on a hiking route with a path that is very easy to navigate, as this means that you won’t be in any trouble if you struggle to take bearings; you can just get back on the main route and keep trying until you feel more confident.

How To Take A Bearing
There are four steps to taking a compass bearing. The first step is to approximate; decide where you want to go and what direction you want to travel in (such as North or West). Once you have done this you will need to line up your current location with where you want to go. You can do this by using the base plate of your compass, and make sure that the direction of the arrow is pointing towards the direction that you wish to travel.

Once you have done this you can rotate the bezel. Do this by twisting the bezel until the North on the bezel matches up with the North on the map. You can use the lines at the bottom of the bezel to do this.

The final step is following your bearing. Move the compass away from the map and rotate it around until the red needle is sat in the red arrow. Now you can follow the direction of the arrow to follow your bearing. Simple!

Mistakes To Avoid Making
One of the main mistakes that people make is having a bearing that is 180 degrees out, which means that the travel arrow will be pointing in the wrong direction. You can fix this problem by completing the four steps again from start to finish.

Another issue occurs if the bezel isn’t twisted correctly during step three, but you can also fix this problem by completing the four steps again.

What Compass Should You Choose?
There are lots of compasses for you to choose from, and they are available in a wide range of sizes and colours. It is often best to choose a light-weight compass as it won’t bother you when you are walking, and it can also be useful to get a compass with a large base plate as it will be easier to find in your bag or pocket.

Camp Tricks

7 Tips To Help You Pack Lighter Next Time You Go Hiking

November 1, 2017

One of the most frustrating things about hiking is carry a heavy bag around with you as you go. Many people assume that this is an unavoidable problem, but in reality it is fairly easy to reduce the weight of your backpack. There are also lots of benefits to cutting the weight; it makes it easier you to move faster and you are less likely to get tired or fatigued.

If you’re wondering what to pack and what to leave behind, here are 7 tips to help you pack lighter next time you go hiking.

Share The Weight
If you are hiking with other people, such as your friends or family, take the time to distribute the weight evenly between everyone who is coming. Remember that some items, such as water, are much heavier than other items, so it is important to make sure that one person doesn’t end up carrying all of the water while someone else carries clothes!

This means that everyone will carry a small amount of things, rather than one or two people carrying the majority of the stuff.

Repackage Your Food
Food is essential if you are hiking, but the packaging isn’t. Before you set off on your next hike repackage all of your food into air-tight ziplock bags to reduce extra weight. This is will also reduce the size of the food, as most packaging is filled with extra air that makes the product seem much bigger than it actually is.

You can also repackage items that are too big, such as sunscreen or hand sanitizer. Simply buy your own small bottles that you can transfer the liquid into. This will reduce the weight of your backpack while also creating extra room for other items.

Be Tactical When It Comes To Meals
Try to consume the heaviest food at the beginning of your trip, rather than at the end. This will help to reduce the weight of the food that you are carrying, and while many people think that food doesn’t weigh much this can actually make a huge difference to the weight of your backpack!

Use Light Equipment
Equipment is normally one of the heaviest things that hikers have to carry, but you can reduce the weight of this by buying lighter equipment that is easy to transport. Many hikers choose to buy the lightest sleeping bags and tents that they can find, and this will make a big difference to the weight that you are carrying.

One great option is to buy a lightweight airbed instead of a big sleeping bag, as this vastly reduces backpack weight.

Look At Your Equipment
Do you really need all of the equipment that you bring with you on each hike? Many beginners tend to overcompensate by packing too many things, but if you have been hiking for a while you can take the time to go through your items to work out what you really need and what can be left at home.

Don’t Bring Too Many Clothes
One of the main issues that new hikers face is packing too many clothes. They worry about being too cold or too warm, and this means that they end up feeling fatigued from carrying so many clothes around with them!

Check the weather before you head out for a hike, and then plan your wardrobe around that. Remember that you can reuse clothes multiple times; the only thing that really needs to be changed is the layer of clothing that actually touches your body.

Take A Windshirt
Windshirts are extremely light, but despite this they will help to protect your body from the elements, including wind and rain. This means that they are ideal for hikers who want to pack light, as the shirts weigh very little but make a huge difference if the weather is cold or windy.

Camp Tricks

Hiking In An Area With Bears

September 14, 2017

Some of the best hiking trails in the U.S. are in areas populated by bears. Despite this, a chance of a bear attack isn’t too likely. In general, bears tend to avoid humans, and the likelihood of a bear attack is miniscule.

Beyond packing bear spray, there are a few other things you can do to reduce the chance of a bear encounter. Here are some useful tips for anyone who is planning on hiking in an area with bears.

©istockphoto/Umkehrer

Grizzly Bears
Grizzly bears are commonly found in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska. They are less common than black bears, but they’re also larger and more dangerous. A grizzly has a smaller snout than the black bear, and they can run very quickly. For this reason there’s no point in trying to outrun them, as they will be able to catch you quickly. Grizzlies can’t climb trees well, but they can reach up to grab things in trees—such as yourself!

©istockphoto/KeithBinns

Black Bears
Black bears are more common than grizzly bears, and they’re found in most parts of the US. They come in a variety of sizes and colours, including black, brown and cinnamon. The black bear is around 7 to 10 feet tall, and males can weigh between 125 and 550 pounds, whereas females tend to weigh between 90 and 300 pounds.

When are bears are most active?
Bears are generally shy animals that prefer to keep themselves to themselves, so they normally avoid humans if they hear them or smell them. However they do become more aggressive during mating and birthing season, and they will also be more aggressive if they’re injured or protecting their young. They are most active during the cooler hours of the early morning and evening, and during the daytime they tend to seek shade in the under bush.

©istockphoto/monkeybusinessimages

Tips For Hiking in Bear Country

  • Hike in a group instead of hiking alone, and try to make as much noise as possible as you go. You can whistle and sing as you walk, or you can carry bear bells to create a sound.
  • Stay in open areas as much as possible, as this minimizes the chance of you surprising a bear and scaring it.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Avoid the underbush during the day as it could be a bear’s bed, and look out for running water or lush vegetation as this could signal a bear’s home. If you’re in an area that you think could be a bear’s home, leave immediately.
  • Avoid going off-trail, as you’re more likely to encounter a bear in an area that’sn’t regularly used by humans.
  • Don’t wear strong perfumes, soaps or hair spray, as a bear will be able to smell it and they may think it’s a food scent.
  • Make sure that your cooking area is at least 100 feet away from your tent. Bears are attracted to the smell of food, even if it’s just a dirty pan, and this can increase the risk of an encounter in the night time. If you’re further away from the food the bear is less likely to notice your presence.
  • Make sure all of the food is properly packed up before you go to sleep to minimize odors.
  • Change your clothes before you go to sleep, especially if you cooked in the clothes or kept snacks in the pockets.
  • Consider all personal items as food (such as your deodorant and your toothpaste). Pack them away securely and keep them away from your sleeping area.
  • Be careful if you’re traveling in a windy area, as a bear may not smell you before you arrive so they’re more likely to be startled by your presence.
  • If you come across an area with berry patches or dead animals leave immediately, as you could be hiking through a bear’s food source.
Camp Tricks

How To Repair A Ripped Tent

September 11, 2017

©istockphoto/freemixer

One of the most frustrating things when overnight backpacking is a rip in the tent. Maybe you pitched your tent on a sharp rock, or a stray branch fell on your shelter and ripped a hole right through it. A rip can even be caused by strong winds if you’re camping in an exposed area.

But you don’t need to throw the tent away—and if you have the tools, you won’t even need to cut the trip short. Here is how to repair a ripped tent in the field.

Small Tears
Little tears are much more likely to occur than a big rip, but they can be just as difficult to repair. Normally little rips occur when the tent is dragged against a stone or a rock, and this small hole can let wind and water into the tent. It can also release your scent and that of your food, so likely attracting wild animals.

For a quick fix, duct tape works. It will stay for a short amount of time, but when you get home from the trip you should take the time to fix the hole with tent repair tape.

For a more permanent fix, you want tent repair tape. Start by pulling and holding the rip in the tent together, then apply tent repair tape to one side of the rip. Let go and apply tent repair tape to the other side of the rip. This will help to reduce the chance of the tear re-opening.

Once you have done this you should cover the inside and the outside of the rip with seam sealer. This will help to guarantee that the rip won’t re-appear the next time you put strain on the rip area.

Big Tears
A bigger tear will take longer to repair. It is possible that you will be able to temporarily fix the tear using tape so that you don’t have to cut your trip short, but if you don’t have the right tools you may need to head home to do a proper repair.

A proper repair starts with you trimming away any loose threads, as they could make the rip worse further down the line. You can simply use a pair of sharp scissors to get rid of any loose threads.

Then clean that area of the tent. If your tent is dirty it will be very difficult to repair since dirt will get in the way. Clean the tent using warm, soapy water and then use rubbing alcohol to clear the tear.

An optional third step involves steaming the area around the tear, as this will help to iron out any creases in the fabric. This may seem unnecessary, but creases in the tent can make it very hard to effectively sew the tear up.

Once the tent is clean and crease-free you can start to repair the tear. Hold both sides of the tear and pull them together, folding the top side slightly over the bottom side. When the fabric is in place (you may need a second set of hands to hold the material) you can tightly sew the tear together. Use waxed thread as this is durable and strong (sturdy floss can work, too), and once you have finished sewing apply seam sealer to reduce the chance of the hole ripping open again later.

If the hole is too big to be pulled together you may need to buy a new tent. Alternatively you can buy patches of tent fabric that you can use to cover the hole. Simply iron or sew the patch over the hole using waxed thread and then apply seam sealer.

©istockphoto/SolisImages

How To Avoid Tears In The Future
Tent tears are one of the most frustrating things about backpacking, but you can reduce the chance of them happening in the future if you follow these tips:

  • Don’t pitch your tent too rigidly; instead make sure that it’s able to flex a bit in the wind.
  • Check the campsite for rocks and sticks before pitching your tent.
  • Use shock cords and guy lines to stabilize your tent.
  • Don’t go to bed with sharp tools on your belt.
Camp Tricks

How to Address Kids’ Misbehavior on the Trail

August 2, 2017

©istockphoto/monkeybusinessimages

You’re just far enough into the hike to make the trek back impractical when your kids begin acting up. Whether they’re stepping off-trail in sensitive wildlife areas or planting themselves like trees, refusing another step, there’s a whole host of bad behaviors that can ruin your day. Here’s how to get your rowdy young explorers back on track.

Give Them the Opportunity to Succeed
Young ones act out for a reason. If you set them on a task beyond their physical or emotional capacity, you’ll have trouble on your hands. Be aware of their unique abilities before mapping out your route. Remember, they might tire easily or become fatigued without lots of snacks. Consider any sensitivities or fears that might make the journey prohibitive. It’s great to challenge them, but don’t ask more than they can possibly give. Try to avoid problems in the first place by planning a hike that is appropriate for your whole crew.

Give Everyone a Task
Boredom is a huge factor in misbehavior. When everybody on your tiny team has an important task, you all feel you’re pulling together for common good. Help older kids to stay focused by giving them more important tasks, like assistant navigator. Make sure everyone has some responsibility for their own trip, carrying their own water and snacks. You’ll foster independence and increase their investment in making the trip go smoothly.

Be Firm but Sensitive
There’s always a nice way to give directions. Wilderness can be overwhelming, so deliver all expectations in an authoritative yet calm manner. Present yourself as the leader of this little pack and you’ll earn their respect and trust. True leadership never requires empty threats or screaming. If you’re too exasperated for words, take a quick time out until everybody is on the same page. Drink some water, eat a snack, get back to it.

Apply Consequences that Can be Carried Out in the Moment
Sometimes the gentle approach isn’t enough. But if you tell them they’re going to lose privileges at some far off future point, you won’t have the same impact as if you can respond immediately to the behavior. A navigator who refuses to stay on-trail, for example, loses map holding privileges until she can demonstrate she’s ready to take the responsibility seriously. Major misbehavior at the beginning of the trek might result in heading back to camp and performing cleanup chores. Let consequences follow as naturally as possible from the misbehavior to help them make those connections and take control of their behavior.

Always Encourage First
Even if you do need to discipline your young hikers, always use positive messages. As soon as the behavior turns around, congratulate them and move forward. Nobody feels good when the focus of a trip is on poor choices. Give them the tools to make good decisions then give them a high five. Outdoor time is a growth experience for all of us. Your youngest members of the family are no exception.

Camp Tricks

5 Things to Put on Your Overnight Hike Checklist

July 21, 2017

©istockphoto/DieterMeyrl

For some obvious reasons, overnight campouts are very different animals than day hikes. You don’t need to turn around and retrace your steps after hours of hiking or worry about getting back to the car before dark; instead you can sit down and enjoy the stunning views for even longer. There’s nothing better than relaxing at the end of a long hike with a hot drink and some food, knowing that you can spend the evening relaxing in nature. You can lie beneath the clear night sky, and in the morning you can watch the sun rise as you enjoy your breakfast.

Now is the perfect time to go for your first overnight hike as the weather is warm and the sun is shining for longer. Here are 5 tips for an overnight hike.

Appropriate Shelter
Your shelter should be determined by your region. If you live in a wet, cold area you’ll need a proper backpacking tent with a waterproof floor. But if you live in a warm, dry area without too many insects, you can try a tarp between two trees and a bivy bag; or put the tarp underneath your sleeping bag and sleep out under the stars. Most people are happy to invest in a quality camping or backpacking tent as it provides the most shelter—especially important if the weather is unpredictable.

Enough Food
Going on an overnight hike you’ll need to pack plenty of food and water. Some people prefer to pre-cook meals, some utilize dehydrated backpacking food, while others are happy to eat packaged food, snacks and sandwiches. The most important thing is to pack high-calorie food that will give you energy to keep hiking, as well as lots of water to stay hydrated.

You should also remember to hang the food from a tree so that it doesn’t attract insects or wildlife. If you are hiking in an area with bears, you should use a bear-proof bag or a bear canister.

Proper Clothing
The clothing you pack will depend on the temperatures and weather. You must also consider trail time and sleeping when you are getting dressed for your overnight hike. The temperature will drop at night time so you should wear some long-sleeved, thin shirts as they will help to keep you warm. You may also want to pack a warm fleece jacket and some spare socks; most people struggle to sleep in the damp socks that they spent all day hiking in!

Sleeping Options
Consider your sleeping bag options carefully before making a purchase, as you need to find a sleeping bag that is lightweight, warm and well fitted to your body. For instance, lots of people choose to buy women’s sleeping bags as they are smaller so it they warm up quickly. You can choose between a synthetic sleeping bag or a down sleeping bag; synthetic is normally cheaper but heavier, while down is fairly expensive but it is easier to carry and packs down much smaller. You should also buy or borrow an insulated sleeping pad—for comfort and so that the coldness of the ground doesn’t keep you awake.

Heading Home
When it’s time to head home, clean up your campsite properly. Hikers are normally very respectful of the wilderness, but it can be more tempting to leave rubbish behind after an overnight hike, if only because you’ve got much more garbage. Keep your overnight campsite clean, and when you leave in the morning, leave no trace of your presence. Pack garbage bags you can use to dispose of your waste when you get home.

Camp Tricks

7 Hacks for Camping in the Rain

July 19, 2017

©istockphoto/Maridav

Nothing ruins a good hike like a sudden downpour. Rainstorms are always a risk when camping, especially in the spring and late summer, but that doesn’t mean your trip has to end when a little water falls from the sky. Here are some hacks to help you enjoy your camping or backpacking trip, rain or shine.

Pack Kindling
Rather than trudge through the rain and attempt to find a few twigs that haven’t been drenched, try packing your kindling before you leave. This way you’ll keep it dry in your pack and won’t have to struggle to make fire. If that doesn’t work for you, pack a bag of Doritos instead. They’re highly flammable.

Cuddle Your Clothes
The best way to keep your clothes dry and warm is to sleep with them. Slip them into your sleeping bag at night and cuddle up next to tomorrow’s shirts, socks and underwear to keep them out of the cold and toasty for the next morning. They’ll draw heat from your body and the bag will keep everything insulated so it won’t escape.

Sleep in a Hammock
Setting up a tent on a soggy patch of ground is never a fun task. It’s even worse in the morning when you have to clean up mud and dirt off the bottom before you can pack up. Avoid this by using a hammock while you camp instead. Attach it to a couple of sturdy branches and you’ll be safe and dry above the ground. Just remember to put up a tarp overhead first.

Bring Trash Bags
Trash bags are the ultimate camping resource. They can be used to keep your clothes dry or as a makeshift poncho in a pinch. Most importantly they’re great as impromptu pads to sleep on. Just pack a trash bag with surrounding moss, leaves and other soft plants (or even mud) and you’ve got yourself a cheap DIY sleeping pad that’ll keep your backside dry and comfy in the dreary weather.

Shellac Your Matches
If you’re the type to keep things old school when you camp and still try to light fires with matches you’ll want to keep them dry as possible. Or, you could just cover them with shellac or clear polish. It’s perfectly safe to coat your matches with the gooey resin and they’ll still light up when you strike them. Best of all, water basically rolls right off of it.

Camp in a Clearing
While it might seem smart to pitch your tent under a tree in order to mitigate the amount of rainfall on your roof, you’re actually more likely to get soaked this way. The buildup of rain in the leaves comes down more heavily beneath a tree so you’re better off setting up camp in a clearing. You’re going to get wet either way, so you might as well get a decent view out of it.

Bring a Sponge
If there’s one thing that holds true no matter where you camp in the rain, it’s that water is going to find its way in. Whether you spring a leak or just end up tracking some in on your clothes, rain has a nasty habit of sneaking inside the tent and dampening your gear. Rather than wiping it up and leaving damp towels lying around the campsite, which take forever to try, bring along a sponge. You can find a cheap one at the dollar store nearest you and they mop up water like nobody’s business. Once you’re done, give them a quick squeeze and they dry out within an hour.

Camp Tricks

How To Dress For A Hike In The Sun

July 5, 2017

©istockphoto/pixdeluxe

While hiking in the sun is fun (and a great chance to get a tan), it can also be quite dangerous. The sun can leave the ground baking hot and some trails have no shade, so you and your four legged friends can quickly end up overheating. This can turn an enjoyable hike into a stressful situation, but you can help avoid this situation if you wear the right clothes.

This list might be simpler than you were expecting, but it’s all about preventing the sun from even hitting your skin. Here’s how to dress for a hike in the sun.

Long Sleeves
Hiking can be a strenuous activity, so many people assume they should wear short sleeves in the summer so they don’t overheat. Sadly, arms that are exposed the sun are much more likely to burn, and they will probably feel just as warm due to the bare sun beating down on them.

This is why it is best to wear woven long sleeve shirts on a hike, just like the cowboys do in the Texas sun. Make sure that the top is loose fitting so that warm air can still easily escape your clothes. It is also advised to wear clothes in light colors, as light colors trap less heat and reflect heat more than dark colors. There are plenty of synthetic fabrics out there with built in SPF protection.

Long Pants
Shorts are another popular hiking option, but it is likely that they will leave you with sunburned calves and thighs, and a few itchy insect bites for good measure. Loose fitting, lightweight long pants are your best option for a summer hike, as they will protect you from insects, thorns, scrapes and the sun, while still providing you with some ventilation.

Some people swear by cotton as it is so light and comfortable, while other people prefer wool due to its natural temperature-regulating properties. And these days, synthetic blends are all the rage. Try on a few options in a store to see which material you prefer.

Hat
One of the most important things you need to wear for a hike in the sun is a hat. Your head is getting the most contact with the sun and your face and scalp are extremely sensitive. This could leave you feeling thirsty, achey and nauseous, so it is very important to wear a hat, especially if you have thin hair on top or fair skin in general.

Lots of hikers favor baseball caps, but these hats don’t cover your ears, your shoulders or the back of your neck. They are still better than no hat, but a better choice is a wide brimmed hat that will cover your whole head, neck and shoulders.

If you’ve decided to wear a baseball cap, add some extra protection by tying a bandana or wearing a Buff to cover your ears and the back of your neck.

Sunglasses
If you’re going out on a sunny day sunglasses are always a good idea, and that rule applies to hiking. You will be spending a lot of time in the sun on a hike, sometimes with nowhere to escape, and you will want full visibility even if you are walking toward the sun. A setting sun can be blinding without protection.

Sunglasses will do more than just make it easier for you to see: they will also protect your eyes from harmful sun rays. You can actually sunburn your eyes if you’re not careful. If you regularly hike in the sun, make sure to invest in a pair of sunglasses with 100-percent UV protection.

Spare Socks
Hiking in the sun your feet will soon be sweaty. This might not seem like much of a problem—after all, you are doing physical activity—but sweaty socks increase the chance of blisters. Make sure to pack a spare pair of socks so that you can swap them out if you notice they are sweated out and causing hot spots or blisters. Clean socks will also be less appealing to bugs.

Camp Tricks

How to Prepare Young Campers for Their First Trip

July 3, 2017


Knowing that spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, it’s ironic that getting into those great outdoors can provoke a lot of fearful, anxious responses—especially in small kids.

If you’ve got an anxious little one who could use a dose of wilderness, here are a few pre-trip tips to get everybody in the best frame of mind.

Get Them Involved
Having your kid help plan some aspects of the trip gives them a sense of control, which can help ease anxiety they may have about such a new experience. Let them assist with meal planning, to ensure that they’ll still have things they enjoy eating on the campout, or let them choose some comfort items to pack. If they don’t have basic necessities, like a sleeping bag, take them with you to choose their own. Consider giving them a choice of campgrounds: would they feel more comfortable near water or in a forest?

Keep it Simple
An easy trip may be dull for you, but for anxious kids, it means less pressure and fewer unknowns. Camp close to home to avoid long travel times and plan to camp near your vehicle if possible—backpacking adds a layer of complexity that may be too intense for little ones. The further kids can wander without leaving sight of the tent, the more boldly they can explore and the more confidence they gain in a new environment, so try to choose sites that have interesting features—downed logs, water, and small boulders are all popular choices.

Do Your Homework
Anxiety thrives on the unknown, so hit the books to help your kids get familiar. If you’re going somewhere iconic, chances are good there are picture books and documentaries about it. Loads of popular kids’ characters have gone camping, from Little Critter to Amelia Bedelia and Fancy Nancy, so try to tailor your picks to their interests. Maps won’t go amiss either—if you’ve booked your site in advance, you’ll be able to show your kiddos exactly where you’ll park n’ pitch, and you can use it to tempt them with nearby trails and points of interest.

Do a Test Run
It’s a good idea anyway, especially if you’ve got new gear that wants testing, but pitch your tent in the yard or the living room first. Lay out your bags, stow your gear, and spend the night in there with them. Having a chance to practice sleeping in the tent in a safe environment will build positive associations, and it’ll give them a better idea of what to expect at the campsite.

Plan an escape route
This is worst-case scenario, but it never hurts to be prepared. Figure out in advance what kinds of conditions call for an immediate change of plans—a serious injury necessitating medical care isn’t out of the realm of possibility, even in well-traveled, furnished campgrounds, and unanticipated weather can rain on anyone’s parade—and then figure out how you’ll evacuate your crew. You don’t need to discuss this with your anxious kids, but being able to communicate that you’ve got a plan in the event of an emergency can help ease their fears.