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Camp Tricks

6 Things to Do to Make Her Want to Camp Again

June 20, 2017

©istockphoto/valentinrussanov

Believe it or not there are some adults who have never gone camping. I found this out when I was single and constantly trying to get my girlfriends to camp. I didn’t have a lot of luck on return campouts and for a while there I thought it must be me. What I found out was, yeah, it probably was me, but if I had done a few things differently, well who knows?

Location, Location, Location
If she doesn’t fish, don’t opt for a reservoir in the middle of nowhere with high winds and no trees. You may want to teach her, but if you don’t catch anything, you’re just drowning worms in an ugly location. Find out what she wants to do. Does she hike? Then camp near some excellent trailheads. Does she want to go canoeing, kayaking, or waterskiing? Then head to that lake that may or may not have fish and wow her with scenery. If she’s nervous about being in the middle of nowhere, then go to a campground, preferably one in a National Park. Hopefully she’ll opt for the wilderness next time.

Bigger is Better
Not everyone cares to crawl into a pup tent at night. For a first timer, a bigger tent makes more sense than trying to cram into a tiny tent to sleep. Having enough room to stand in a tent is a luxury well worth the trouble and price of a bigger tent. Having a place to change clothes and relax is important to a lot of folks, so make it important to you. As a matter of fact, just changing clothes will help. Maybe that’s another reason I never got return camping dates. Anyway, if a tent says it sleeps 3, it should be big enough for 2 and their clothes at least, but you can always go a bit bigger. I once had friends bring a tent for 12 to sleep just the two of them. It was a bit ridiculous until it poured rain for about 20 hours the first day and we all had a great time hanging together in the circus tent.

It’s in the Bag
Bring good sleeping bags and make sure they zip up as well. These days you can easily get oversized bags that are way more comfortable than those old bags we used to squeeze into from the Army Surplus store. Stansport has a 2 person bag that you can cuddle in, or get two and you both can stretch out. The latter is probably a better idea, especially if you’re on day three of that underwear.

What’s Your Sleep Number?
Don’t ask her to sleep on the ground. Heck, don’t even ask me. The advent of the air mattress has opened a new world of camping to all of us so splurge and get a big one. Not only will you both get a good night’s sleep but when that afternoon nap comes calling, and we all know it will, she won’t complain. She might even join you.

Food for Thought
She may not take to hydrated food. As a matter of fact, I don’t take to it either, so don’t even go that route. Also, there’s more to campout cooking than burgers and hotdogs. Bring good food, but bring food that’s easy to prepare. Pre-made breakfast burritos are great in the morning and also mean no messy cleanup. If your guest is a coffee addict, make sure it’s easy to whip some up. A camp-stove, while not near as fun as a fire to cook on, is great for that first cup of Joe in the morning. It helps to have a stove handy, even if you don’t plan on using it, for that rainy day when a fire is impractical.

Company is Coming
Camping is not only way more fun in a group, it is safer as well. If it’s your first time in the wild, or even in a KOA campground, you both may be more comfortable with friends around. Not only is there safety in numbers, but the more people there, the better the chance someone else will gather and chop some wood. You may be a great conversationalist, we all think we are, but even the best might struggle when there are just two of you, especially if camping for multiple nights.

Camp Tricks

How Camping Can Give You A Better Night’s Rest

May 31, 2017
©istockphoto/Sproetniek

©istockphoto/Sproetniek

Our busy schedules make it difficult to maintain a healthy sleep cycle, but it turns out that camping can help you reset that internal clock. Researchers have found that spending a few days in the great outdoors can sync your body back up with its natural rhythm.

Kenneth Wright, an integrative physiology professor at the University of Colorado, conducted a study in 2013 to determine the effect nature plays in humans’ natural circadian clocks and our ability to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle. The findings were fascinating, with subjects proving that in just one week being out in nature on a consistent basis, humans could revert back to the way our bodies were designed based on the rising and setting of the sun.

More recently, Wright set out again to discover if just a weekend could also jumpstart this “reset.” It turns out it can.

What is a sleep cycle?
The circadian clock is the internal clock inside our bodies that signals to our brain when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. The process if controlled mostly by melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, which tells us when to be tired.

While we’re able to ingest melatonin orally through supplements and food, most of it comes from our exposure to natural light. For someone with a healthy sleep cycle melatonin levels typically rise in the evening before bedtime and lower in the morning when it’s time to get up and go to work.

However, because of our modern culture of staying up late and working odd hours, many people have melatonin levels that are off balance. Watching electronics like television and staring at a phone screen can also throw off a person’s sleep cycle.

How does camping fix our cycle?
Melatonin relies heavily upon proper exposure to natural light, and camping is one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase sun exposure. Camping forces you outdoors, away from those four walls that block out the light, helping us to reset our clocks.

Researchers found that just two days of pro-longed exposure to the outdoors can help stabilize our circadian rhythm by naturally regulating the level of melatonin being released into the brain. Away from all the accouterments of modern society, like television, smartphones and weekends at the bar, we’re more likely to fall asleep based upon the setting of the sun.

Our internal clock is capable of changing at a remarkable rate once we’re away from modern day distractions.

Why does it matter?
People with regular sleep cycles are likely to live longer, healthier and happier lives. Our internal clock plays a huge role in our ability to get through the day. It affects our tiredness and our mood, making the day a breeze or excruciating to get through without coffee or a nap. Someone on a natural sleep cycle is capable of getting through the night more restfully, without interruptions, and therefore more likely to feel less groggy over the course of the day.

How to make it work.
Simply heading outdoors for the weekend might not be enough to reset your body’s clock. That’s because modern campers have developed a habit of bringing along many of the toys from home that negatively affect our sleep cycle.

On your next camping trip leave the iPad at home and focus on being one with nature. Ban electronics whenever possible and try to let the sunlight dictate your plans. You might also want to avoid alcohol on your next camping trip, as drinking often leads people to staying up way past when our bodies tell us it’s time for bed.

Of course, when you return home from your camping excursion you might have to make some changes in order for the reset button to stick. Just as a weekend in the woods can quickly alter our internal clocks, so can a couple of nights spent up late in front of the computer checking e-mails.

Try to maintain the habit of cutting off electronics before bed, and when the sun goes down, start prepping yourself for sleep by avoiding food and TV. If you get into the practice of sleeping at a more natural time you might find yourself enjoying your life just a little more.

Camp Tricks

Planning Next Season’s First Camping Trip

May 26, 2017

Stansport Tent

There’s nothing like your first time…of camping season. Hopefully there will be plenty of camping trips this summer, but the first kicks off the season, so let’s make sure it leaves a good impression.

Planning Ahead
Hopefully you’re not too far from the forest, the mountains, the beach, or wherever you may camp and can do some scouting. As the weather warms up, and the trails dry out, you can always take a day and scope out other areas. Any excuse to get out in the wild is a good one but this one is not just goofing off, that’s what work is for; this is important. While some folks have their regular spots, others prefer to explore different areas every year. Some advance scouting can help you determine exactly where you’re going —very handy info if you have others you’re meeting.

Planning Ahead
If you stay in established campgrounds, whether in State Parks, on National Forest land or at a commercial site, you must often make reservations. One of the biggest sites to do this is www.ReserveAmerica.com, which covers thousands of sites all across the U.S. including state parks and more. For National Parks you can also use the site at www.recreation.gov . If you aren’t nearby to check it out yourself and don’t have a recommended site, you can always use GoogleEarth.com or any other satellite sites after you pick your campground and research further to pick just the right spot.

Supply Check
What do batteries, propane, matches and garlic salt all have in common? Chances are you are low on one or all of these. Now you may not use propane, or maybe even batteries or matches, but nobody goes camping without garlic salt do they? Now is a good time to check all your supplies. At Stansport.com you’ll find a free, printable checklist detailing everything you could possibly need.

Equipment Check
What shape was that tent in when you packed it up at the end of last season? Was it wet? Did the zippers all work? Chances are you may not remember so now is a good time to set that tent up in case there are problems. While you’re at it, unroll those sleeping bags. Not only are you checking for rips, tears or faulty zippers, but you can never air those things out enough.

Dress for Success
I don’t know about your camping trips, but on mine, no one looks like they just stepped out of an L.L Bean catalog. Camp clothes get trashed and filthy and sometimes I don’t think of that far enough in advance. My camp style leans more towards thrift store chic so a quick trip to Goodwill or the Salvation Army will do just fine, especially for the outer layer like jackets or sweatshirts that get dirty the most. If you don’t plan for this, you may end up having to take your nice stuff and end up with a funky smoke smelling, charcoal-covered, ripped up, muddy $400 REI jacket.

Hang With the Right Crowd
We all have busy schedules these days, making it hard to get groups together. That’s why picking a spot and a date early, along with considering a reservation in a park or a campground, is so important. Not many people will go camping at the drop of hat, as I’ve discovered when I’ve tried to get big groups together. Either that or it’s all the garlic salt I use.

Camp Tricks

Think Outside the Tent

May 24, 2017
©istockphoto/Gorfer

©istockphoto/Gorfer

While tents are the go-to camping shelter, there are many other options you might not have tried yet.

Car Camping
If you’re driving to camp, your car is the best choice for shelter. If it’s packed with stuff, take the stuff out and pile it in the front seat. Even better, carry your gear on top in a waterproof car carrier. Stash your edible and scented stuff in a bear box. If you can fold down the back seats, this will be the most comfortable option. Lying down is better for your beauty sleep than sitting up in your front seats. Crack open a window for airflow, lock the doors, and fall asleep.

Hammocks
Camping in a hammock is easy and relaxing. A lightweight hammock is great for backpackers who want to forgo finding level ground to set up a tent at the end of a strenuous day. Many people find sleeping in a hammock more comfortable than sleeping on the ground, and a better night of sleep allows you to hike more the next day. Sleeping under the stars is another bonus.

Roughing It
You pull into your camp spot in the late afternoon and say “hi” to your neighbors who are setting up their tent before they go for a hike. Two hours later, you return and they’re just finishing up. You pull out your sleeping mat and your bag throw it on the ground near your fire, and hunker down for the night. For extra protection from the elements, consider a mummy bag. Just lie there and watch the stars turn the night sky into a milky wonder.

Lean-Tos
National parks frown upon building a lean-to in a campground, but if you’re backpacking off the grid, this is a good way to build a shelter. All you need are the natural materials that surround you on the forest floor, but you can build one even faster if you came prepared. Look around and see if you can gather some loose branches, some leaves, and something to tie with, preferably some roots or vines of some kind. If you can find a large enough rock that can protect you from the wind, you can use that as the basis for your shelter, or you can use a downed tree that is resting on its side for a shelter for the night. Make sure to observe all park regulations when building shelters.

Tarps
This isn’t the tarp someone keeps in their truck to cover the stuff in their bed from getting rained on; this is the latest thing in backpacking. Although, when it comes down to it, those types of tarps can be just as good. You will also probably have a ground cloth to put down underneath your tarp. The most common and the simplest set-up is to take each corner and tie it off to a tree or other tall structure, or use poles to elevate the corners. For other shapes of tarp shelter, you can use trees, boulders and even your car as points of attachment. Once you tie the ropes you can toss your bag under your shelter and climb inside nice and dry.

Camp Tricks

6 Tips for Packing the Perfect Backpack

May 15, 2017

BackpackBackpacking will take you to some of the most remote and beautiful places in the world—but you’re going to have to work a little to get there.

Carrying everything you need for a multi-day trek on your back is daunting to some, but backpacking doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. A properly packed backpack means that you’ll feel steady and balanced, even with a load of gear on your back.

Start With the Right Pack
Even the most efficiently packed backpack can cause a little pain if that pack hasn’t been properly fitted. Before you do anything, find a backpack that fits your frame comfortably. Learn what all those straps and buckles do, and adjust it to your body. Common pressure points include shoulders and hip bones, so ensure the pack is comfortable in those areas when weighted. Finally, after the backpack has been packed, make any adjustments needed to ensure a comfortable fit.

Distribute Weight
Many people mistakenly believe that the heaviest items should be packed at the bottom of the backpack, with lighter items stacked on top. In fact, the heaviest items should be packed toward the middle of the pack, as close as possible to your body and your center of gravity. This will help keep you stable and balanced, even when your pack is fully loaded.

Lighter, bulkier items like your sleeping bag and sleeping pad can be stored toward the bottom of the bag. Other light and medium weight items should be packed by the top and middle (further from your body than the super heavy stuff).

Equally important is the concept of distributing weight evenly from side to side. If your bag tends to topple over one way, that’s a sure sign that you’re off-balance.

Minimize Volume
Your pack’s capacity will restrict how much gear you can bring with, so be strategic when considering the volume—that is, the amount of room something takes up—of your belongings. Pots, pans, and dishes can be very bulky and take up valuable real estate in your pack. Look for a set where each component fits neatly inside another, and leave behind the pieces you know you won’t use.

Make use of every nook and cranny. For example, don’t just leave a pot empty; store your camping stove or other items inside of it while it sits in your pack.

You can also look for items that compress down to the smallest possible size in order to fit within the constraints of your pack size. Collapsible bowls and cups in flexible silicone will take up a fraction of the space of traditional dishes.

Compartmentalize and Organize
When you’re backpack is properly packed, you won’t have to empty absolutely everything to find that one item you’re looking for. Use stuff sacks or zippered plastic baggies to keep like items with like and make use of your pack’s compartments and pockets to keep items organized. Get into the habit of packing your backpack consistently—that way, when you need an item, you’ll know exactly where to go to find it.

Keep Key Items Close
Take advantage of easy-to-reach zippered pockets to stash important items like water bottles, multitool, sunscreen or toilet paper. On a backpacking trip, you probably won’t need to access your sleeping bag quickly, so it’s okay to stuff it a little deeper in your pack. On the other hand, you’ll want your trail mix to be easy to grab while you’re on the go so that you don’t have to pull over and take off your pack every time you want a handful.

Get Rid of Excess
Beware of bringing too much stuff. An overpacked bag is a poorly packed bag, so resist cramming every item you might possibly need into your pack. Overpacking will cause more wear on tear on your backpack, and it will make it much more difficult to find what you need since there will be more stuff to root through. Even more importantly, a too-heavy pack will require much more energy to carry. Have an experienced backpacker join you on your first trip—he or she can advise you on what you can afford to leave behind.

Camp Tricks, Other Outdoorsy Stuff

7 Essentials for Pacific Northwest Adventures

May 8, 2017
©istockphoto/thinair28

©istockphoto/thinair28

The Pacific Northwest is an adventurer’s mecca. Mountains to climb, dense forests to explore, sunsets over the ocean, and a temperate climate in which it can all be enjoyed —the PNW easily ticks all the boxes.

But if you’re not used to the quirks of the Pacific Northwest, you might encounter a few unpleasant surprises that, if you’re not prepared, can quickly put a damper on things.

The Pacific Northwest, as lovely as it is, can be a very wet place. Even the most optimistic adventure-lovers will have a tough time staying positive if everything they own is soaked. And while it doesn’t get as cold out here as it does in some parts of the country, the cool dampness can chill you right to your core in a way that’s hard to describe.

Don’t let a little rain ruin your adventures—just come prepared and pack these essentials.

A Backpack Fly
Nothing will ruin your trip faster than wet gear. A backpack fly will keep your clothes, sleeping bag, and other essentials nice and dry. Pop it on as soon as the first few drops start falling from the sky and keep it on well after the rain has stopped, since wet bushes and trees can quickly soak your stuff on the trails.

Pack Plastic Bags
It is virtually impossible to bring too many Ziploc-style bags on a PNW trek. Stuff wet socks in them to keep the rest of your clothes dry. Pack your food in them to prevent mold. Use them as an extra layer of waterproofing.

Invest in a Waterproof Shell
You know what they say: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. The rain won’t bother you if you’re wearing a truly waterproof outer shell, so be sure to pack a good one. Choose a shell that’s light and make sure that it’s also breathable.

Think Layers
Layering is not a groundbreaking concept, but the PNW’s reputation of having a mild climate often leads people to believe it doesn’t get cold. Spoiler alert: it can, especially at night. If you’re camping in the spring, the fall, or the winter, you’ll appreciate having a down mid-layer to keep you toasty.

Waterproof Hiking Boots
Wet feet are extremely uncomfortable—and they make it easier to develop nasty blisters. When picking out your perfect hiking boots, look for a hang tag saying that they are waterproof. Depending on the material of the boots, you may have to do some maintenance to keep them truly waterproof. If that’s the case, be sure to properly care for them before you set out on your adventure to keep them in tip top shape.

Be Able to Start a Fire
No matter how skilled you are at starting a campfire, it’s always tricky to get a fire going when dealing with wet wood. Ensure you have plenty of waterproof matches and maybe a full lighter to get your fire started. Consider packing along a few fire starters, which will speed up the process. Once you have a fire going, lay damp wood around the perimeter to help dry it out.

A Camera
Save room in your pack for a camera, because even though the Pacific Northwest can be damp, it is also beautiful. All that moisture makes everything look vibrant and alive, and you’ll want to capture every moment.

Camp Tricks

7 Photos to Take On Your Next Trip

March 30, 2017
trip photos
trip photos

©istockphoto/freemixer

Most trip photos are the same: smiling people on mountain summits, canoes in smooth water, a tent in an alpine meadow. These are great shots, but they’re the expected postcard moments. We’ve all seen them a million times. To get photos that tell a genuinely interesting story, it’s time to branch out into new territory.

Photo assignments are a way to help ourselves out of our photographic routines, refresh our creativity, and find the stories that are happening around us unnoticed.

Let’s break the routine. Here are 7 ways get your creative juices flowing and take photos that stand out.

Fear and Tension
Fear and stress are an inherent part of outdoor adventures, whatever our particular sport may be. We all know the gut-clenching feeling when we’re about to drop into a big rapid or the “here it goes” deep breath before a crux move. This tension is usually when we put our cameras away. Don’t. It’s a core part of our story.

Work and Hardship
Even when we’re not doing high-risk activities, the irony of outdoors is voluntarily hardship. A grueling climb uphill with a heavy pack, paddling into a gusting headwind, or a cramped campsite in the rain may not induce fear, but certainly involves discomfort compared to sleeping in our bed. Why we do this and what it brings out is a key part of our lives. Take photos when people are showing the strain or enjoying the adversity.

Group Dynamics
Photograph how your group works together. Sometimes we work together well—we’re drawn to the outdoors because we love the people we climb, camp, paddle or ski with. The nights of laughter around the campfire are easy stories to tell with images. But don’t stop there. What about making tough decisions about route, deciding to turn around before the summit, reassuring the person who’s not sure they’re up to the challenge? They’re less postcard-y, but equally common, just as true, and stronger images.

The Substrate
Every sport has a substrate we obsess over. How clean the rock is, how much flow is in the river, the shape of the wave, the condition of the snow. Since it matters so much, make the substrate your subject. This will be a challenge to convey to people who aren’t part of your sport, because non-climbers don’t pay such close attention to the texture of rock and non-paddlers don’t obsess about currents. Find a way to convey it anyway. It is your obsession, after all.

Gear
Photograph your gear. This may sound odd, but gear is a worthy story. Not because we’re a bunch of gearheads (which is possible), but because our equipment is a fundamental conduit for our experiences. Without skis, there’s no skiing, and our skis control how we feel the snow. Our packs ride heavily on our shoulders all day. We all spend hours waxing skis, coiling rope, and repairing tents and jackets. This wear and tear has it’s own story to tell.

Something You Do Every Day
Photograph something you do every time you go out. Pick any part of your routine: morning coffee, filtering water, collapsing tents, packing a kayak, listening to the forecast, hanging food. Tell this story in multiple images rather than just one. This brings the viewer deeper in. Instead of simply knowing that you do, they’ll get a feel for what the ritual feels like.

Sounds or Smells
This is the hardest assignment. We have five senses, but cameras only capture one. One of the greatest pleasures of the wilds are the sensory cues: the smell of the sea, the crisp morning mountain air, the heat of the desert, being lulled to sleep by a rushing river. Your task is to convey this in a creative, evocative, even abstract way. A photo of the beach won’t necessarily trigger the smell of the sea in the viewer’s mind unless you think hard about how to tell the story.

If all this sounds like you’ve got a fair amount of thinking and shooting ahead of you, you’re right. Remember that photography, like all our outdoor adventures, is a mix of challenge and reward. The ability to distill a complex story into a sequence of a few images is tough…but it also helps us feel the deep richness of our experiences and what ties them all together. That’s why photography is so powerful, and so much fun.

Camp Tricks

7 Tips for a Successful Beach Camping Trip

March 3, 2017
beach camping
beach camping

©istockphoto/Daxus

If you’ve never had the pleasure of camping on a beach, then you need to plan a beach camping trip—stat! Bonfires by the water, falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves, and being treated to sunrises and sunsets like you wouldn’t believe.

There’s no doubt about it: camping on a beach is an incredible experience—yet it’s also a little different than your typical camping trip. Here are a few factors to plan for on your beach-side camping adventure.

Keep Your Eye on the Tide
If you’re lucky enough to stake out a spot by the ocean, don’t just pitch your tent anywhere—or else you risk waking up to water seeping into your tent as high tide creeps in. Look for the high tide line—debris from the ocean, like seaweed, is a telltale sign of where you can expect the water to come. Give yourself plenty of room by pitching your tent a way’s up from the high tide line to avoid surprises.

Be Mindful of Your Waste
Whether you’re camping on the ocean, a lake, or a river, the water in front you is home to some fragile ecosystems. Dumping your waste carelessly is a beach camping faux pas, so mind your manners: know how to dump essential waste correctly, and always carry out your trash. Camp toilets should be dug at least 100 feet away from the water, and the hole should be at least 6 inches deep. Avoid using dish soap—rubbing with sand usually does the trick.

Keep Your Belongings Organized
Stuff sacks and zippered plastic baggies are your best friends when it comes to camping on the beach—that’s because sand can get everywhere. To avoid the presence of sand in every single belonging that you brought with you, keep everything organized and properly stored in separate compartments. This especially applies to food: trust us, there’s nothing worse than take a big bite of oatmeal that is unexpectedly gritty.

Think Waterproof
Camping on the beach can get a little soggy, even if there isn’t a single cloud in the sky. Fog, mist, humidity, and ocean spray can dampen your stuff, so be sure to put a waterproof fly on your tent. During the day, lay damp clothes, sleeping bags, and other items in the hot sun to dry them out.

Don’t Forget Your Sleeping Pad
Sand might seem like the perfect soft surface for slumber—but its lumpiness and bumpiness can actually be quite uncomfortable if you choose to forego a sleeping pad. Remember, not all beaches are sandy—you’ll be doubly thankful to have a good sleeping pad if you happen to set up camp on a more rocky, rugged beach.

Master the Tent Take-Down Shake-Out
When it comes time to taking down the tent, pull out the pegs and unzip the doors. Lift the tent in the air, flip it on its side so one of the doors is facing down, and shake it like a Polaroid picture. You’d be amazed at how much sand can amass into all of the tent’s nooks and crannies. Have a buddy help you roll up the tent to put it away so that you don’t have to lay in down in the sand and negate the efforts of your shake-out.

Maintain a “No Shoes in the Tent” Policy
Keeping sandy shoes on the outside of the tent will make the previous step that much easier. Of course, when your campsite comprises of soft sand, it’s tempting to go barefoot. Go ahead and peel off your shoes—just be sure to dust your feet very carefully before setting foot inside the tent. Bonus: it’s an exfoliating treatment that would challenge the services of any spa.

beach camping

©istockphoto/EyeMark

Camp Tricks

6 Tips for Camping in the Snow

February 27, 2017
©istockphoto/DusanManic

©istockphoto/DusanManic

Winter isn’t quite over yet, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to go camping. It’s the time to whip out the parka and hand warmers. If you’re going to hit the trail this winter, remember to keep these tips in mind for a safe, fun experience.

Don’t Eat the Snow
This seems a tad silly to have to say, but if you’re new to camping you might not be aware that chowing down on cold snow is a big no-no. That’s because consuming something that cold can help cool your body down too quickly, resulting in a shock to your system. Instead, if you just can’t resist the urge or find yourself in need of refreshment, place the snow in a pot over the fire and turn it into warm water first.

Watch Your Fire
A lot of people switch to portable heaters during the winter because they view creating a fire in the snow too much of a hassle. It can be done, however, and if you’re going to go that route be sure to keep an eye on your flames. There will likely be enough dry wood and leaves around to unexpectedly catch fire, and you don’t want your campsite to go up in flames.

Don’t Hike in Low Visibility
A blustery snowstorm is difficult to camp in, and even more difficult to navigate during a hike. If the white stuff is falling down heavily enough to impede your view, then be sure to stay put until it clears. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in a white out and just as hard for emergency crews to find you in an emergency. Don’t be afraid to wait it out in your tent if need be.

Have the Right Gear
This should go without saying, but the gear you need to have on hand while camping during the winter is fairly different from what you might normally take into the woods. Be sure to dress in layers, bundle up safely at night and keep some hand warmers nearby. Trekking poles are also a great way to help you trudge through the mounds of white stuff around the campsite.

Change Your Clothes Often
One of the biggest challenges with camping in the snow is keeping yourself dry. Moisture can lead to plenty of issues out on the trail, including frostbite and hypothermia. Your first line of defense is wearing the appropriate gear and being sure to keep it as dry as possible. Be sure to hang your clothes nightly (inside your tent!) and never sleep in the same thing you hiked in that day. A lot of people have their own pair of camping pajamas, which is totally acceptable. If you have a heater that’s safe to have inside the tent with you that can help with drying your clothes and gear overnight.

Pack Light
One of the most common mistakes new campers make is assuming that they should have more on hand during the winter in case of emergency. If you’re packing properly, you should actually have less. Camping in the snow, getting to your campsite in particular, is rough on the body because of the added resistance on the ground. Don’t overdo it when filling your backpack. Dry your clothes during the night rather changing daily and you’ll be able to get by with less in your bag.

Camp Tricks

What You’ll Need for the Perfect Camping Trip With the Guys

February 24, 2017
©istockphoto/gilaxia

©istockphoto/gilaxia

As much as we love our wives and girlfriends, sometime guys just need a little time with the boys to kick back and cut loose. Where better to have a little bro time than the Great Outdoors? The guys-only camping trip is a rich tradition and should be embraced at least once a year. If you’re going to head out into the woods with your friends, here’s what you’re going to need for a good time.

Your OWN Tent
One of the great things about having a guys’ night out in the woods is that you get to enjoy a good night’s rest to yourself. No pillow-hogging lady forcing you to the side of the bed or kids hopping between you in the middle of the night and taking up room. Now’s your opportunity to have a little peace and quiet once you settle in, so throw down a little cash for your own tent. Sleeping back to back in cramped quarters with a bunch of friends isn’t quite the vacation you were hoping for. So make sure you have your own tent.

A Grill
Forget about cooking weenies over the campfire; this isn’t a boy scout trip. Y’all are going to want to eat some real food to go along with your beer, so bring along a grill so you can effortlessly cook some steaks. Heck, you could even throw a couple of brats and some bourbon chicken on there if you feel like; throw a competition to see who can be the campsite grill master.

Trekking Poles
There’s no point in heading out in the wild if you’re just going to sit in one place. Take the opportunity to explore with your friends and do some hiking while you’re out there. Whether you’re hiking savvy or just getting older and want to protect your legs, there’s no shame in using a trekking pole to help aid your ascent. Bring a few along for the boys and you can spend hours out on the trail traveling between campsites for a few days at a time.

A Football
Sports are the metaphorical glue that binds men together. We crave the heat of competition they create but also desire a sense of unity, which is why we often find ourselves rooting for the same teams as those closest to us. Make sure to bring along a football or two on your trip to toss around with your buds. Heck, play an impromptu game if you feel up to it. If you’re not a fan of football, baseball or soccer works just as well. Even a Frisbee will do.

A Good Story
As much as guys like to pretend we don’t ever want to share our feelings, the truth is that every once in a while it feels good to let it all out. The guys-only camping trip is the perfect time to connect with your buds and catch up on what y’all have been busy during the busy year. Don’t be the guy who goes on the trip and never has anything to say. Think up so good, or even bad, things that have happened recently you haven’t told and share it with your friends. Build those bonds while you can.

Camp Tricks

A Guide to Basic First-Aid For Small Wounds

February 21, 2017
©istockphoto/leaf

©istockphoto/leaf

When out camping with your friends or family, it’s always important to know the basics of first aid. You never know what you might come across out in the woods and a few easy steps could be the difference between a simple scrape and a nasty infection. If yourself or someone else gets cut, here’s what you should do.

Clean Your Hands
Before touching the wound the first thing you should do is clean your hands. Soap and water is best but if you’ve got a bottle of hand sanitizer that’ll have to do in a pinch. Vigorously clean up before coming into contact with the cut or scrape in order to avoid causing an infection through the dirt on your hands.

Stop the Bleeding
If there’s a lot of blood you’re need to stop it before you can do anything else. Apply pressure with a clean cloth that should be tucked away in your first-aid kit (you’ve got one, right?) or wrap it up tightly with a bandage until it stops.

Clean the Wound
After the bleeding has stopped you need to wash the affected area with soap and water. Use a clean cloth to wipe away any debris, but try to keep the soap from getting into the wound itself as that might cause pain. If there are rocks or dirt inside the cut gently remove them with a pair of tweezers if you can. Be sure that the tweezers have been sterilized with alcohol before using them on the wound.

Use an Antibiotic
Some people make the mistake of dousing the cut with antibiotic ointment in the hopes that’ll it’ll help it heal faster or protect it from infection. All you need is a thin smear of it over the cut to help keep out bacteria. In fact, putting too much on can prevent it from healing, as it still needs a little bit of air.

Wrap the Wound
Once you’ve cleaned up the cut and used an antibiotic you simply need to bandage the wound. Minor scrapes don’t really require bandaging, only the cuts that are somewhat deep and actively bled enough that it needed to be stopped. Don’t wrap or tape too tightly, but make sure the entire cut is covered in order to keep out debris and bacteria.

Change the Bandage
Once you’ve covered the bandage you’ll want to leave it alone for awhile while it heals, but be sure to check and change it at least once a day. This way you’ll provide a clean area around the cut and be able to ensure that there are no signs of infection.

Cut the Trip Short
What do you do if there are signs of infection? Well, that means it’s time to cut your camping trip short. Not trip outdoors is worth losing a limb over, so head back to the car and march straight to the emergency room. They’ll provide you with the care and treatment you need in order to get things sorted out so you can be back on the trail in no time.

Just remember that no matter how long you plan on heading out into the woods on your next camping trip it’s always essential to have a first aid kit on hand in case of an accident. Never leave home without one!

Camp Tricks

5 Tips for Heating Your Campsite Safely

February 6, 2017

camp-heatFinding a safe way to heat your campsite is one of the most important parts of survival in the Great Outdoors, especially when the winter months arrive. Simply lighting a fire on the ground and letting it roll is a recipe for disaster, so here are some tips for keeping yourself warm without burning down the woods while you sleep.

Use a Heater
If you don’t trust yourself to keep a campfire under control, the best option might be remove flames from the equation completely. A propane heater is a great way to keep your campsite warm without having to worry about errant sparks igniting the forest. Just place the heater on a solid surface, like a table, so that it doesn’t come into contact with dry leaves or other flammable objects and you can feel cozy for hours on end.

Use a Metal Fire Pit
Rather than creating your own campfire you can always opt to use a pre-made fire pit. These are typically made of a metal like iron and are a great way to keep your fire from spreading. They’re a little on the bulky side and can be a pain to carry on a long hike, but they’re great if you plan on parking near your campsite for the night and only have to lug it a short distance.

Dig a Hole
Digging a hole in the ground is a much safer alternative to simply throwing some sticks on the ground and building a flame. That’s because a hole is more likely to prevent the spread of the flames into the surrounding area, especially if you build up the edges of the hole with rocks or bricks to encapsulate the fire. You’ll have create added protection from the elements and won’t have to worry as much about the wind blowing out your flames.

Use a Fire Stick
Unless you’re a boy scout or your parents took you on camping excursions when you were a child, you’re probably not an expert at building your own campfire with a stick and some rocks quite yet. That’s OK; modern technology has made the task so simple anyone can do it in seconds. A fire stick will give you the power you need to instantly create a fire to help keep your family warm, and using it will probably be safer than toying with sparks in the long run.

Keep Candles Outside Your Tent
Candles are a great way to bring light and a bit of warmth to your campsite while also keeping bugs at bay. What they’re not great for is lightning up the inside of your tent at night. Having an open flame in a small, enclosed space like a tent is just asking for trouble; as soon you accidentally knock that candle over with your foot your blankets could go up in a blaze. Keep any candles you might have outside of your tent and always remember to blow them out completely before calling it a night.