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Other Outdoorsy Stuff

What Kind Of Tent Do You Need?

December 1, 2017

When it comes to a long hike, a tent is an essential part of the experience. If you get the perfect tent for your needs you will be comfortable, dry and warm all night, but the wrong tent could spell disaster for your trip.

This is because tents come in a wide range of sizes and types, so some tents are completely different to other tents, even if they look similar. For this reason it is important to look at the different types of tents before buying one, as this way you will buy a tent that is perfectly suited to your needs.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself so that you buy the right tent.

Are You Camping With Other People, Or Are You Camping Alone?

One of the main things that you should think about when you buy a tent is the tent sleeping capacity. If you plan on regularly hiking with your family or friends you will need a bigger tent, such as a three-person or a six-person tent. It is also important to think about your gear and possible pets; if you are hiking alone but bringing your dog with you, you will need a tent that can fit at least two people.

It is also worth getting a slightly bigger tent if you are fairly large or if you toss and turn during the night, as you want to be comfortable when you are sleeping!

Will You Be Camping In Summer?

There are a few different types of tents to suit different weather conditions. Many people are only interested in arranging longer hikes when the weather is warmer as it is more pleasant. If you only camp during summer and winter you may want to invest in a three season tent, as this is a light-weight tent that is easier to transport than a heavier tent. The tent will be equipped with mesh panels to help circulate air when the weather is warmer, but they also come with a taut rainfly that can handle some heavy rain. The tents are even able to handle wind and light snow, but they are not ideal for thunderstorms or heavy show.

Three season tents are specially engineers so that they can be used during the majority of seasons, so they are ideal for most hikers. You can also by an extended season tent, which is slightly more sturdy and comes with more poles and fewer mesh panels than a standard three season tent.

If you are buying a three season tent for two or more people, it is best to invest in a cabin style tent with nearly vertical walls to make the space more liveable. You can even find tents with room dividers for privacy, such as this excellent 3 room dome tent.
If you prefer to camp alone during the warmer seasons, you may be interested in the Adventure Dome tent as it is ideal for one person camping during summer and spring.

 

Will You Be Camping In Winter?

If you plan on camping in winter you will need to invest in a four season tent to ensure that you stay warm and comfortable even in fairly harsh conditions. A four season tent is designed to withstand heavy snow and strong winds, and they can even be used for mountaineering. There are a few different designs that you can choose from, but one of the most popular is dome style tents as they tend to be stronger and more wind resistant than other options. This is will be appreciated by any hikers who are trying to get to sleep in the middle of a storm!

Four season tents are sturdier as they have heavier fabrics and more poles. This means they can be more difficult to transport around, but the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to camping in harsh weather conditions.

As the tents are thicker and feature less mesh panels they can get quite warm in summer, but you can solve this problem by keeping the main entrance unzipped for a few minutes before you go to sleep.

Extra Things To Consider

Tents can be particularly limiting for tall people, so if you are tall and you camp a lot you may want to buy a tent with a taller peak height. It can also be useful to buy a tent that has a floor length of at least 90 inches so you can sleep comfortably.

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.

Other Outdoorsy Stuff

5 Hiking Trails That Are Stunning During Fall

November 8, 2017
fall hiking

fall hiking

The majority of hiking trails are beautiful all year around, but some trails are truly breath-taking during fall. As the seasons change and the leaves start to turn yellow, orange, red and brown, some hiking trails explode with colour and wonderful views.

If you love fall, here are 5 hiking trails that are stunning during fall. Grab your sweater, make a thermos of coffee, and head out to check out one of these scenic trails!

The Appalachian Trail, Tennessee
The Appalachian Trail can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is one of the most popular national parks in America. The trail is truly stunning from start to finish during fall (although it’s 94 miles long, so you may want to break the trail down into shorter trips!) as it winds through the lush mountains. Hikers will see brightly colored foliage as they walk, as well as beautiful waterfalls and amazing valley viewpoints that offer 360 degree views of the park.

If you want to hike this trail but you can’t spare a week to do the whole thing in one, check out the smaller section between the Iron Mountain Gap and the Cross Mountain. This section is only 17 miles long, so it can easily be completed during a weekend, and you will see some of the best views that the trail has to offer. You will also have time to camp in the Cherokee National Forest, which is one of the most relaxing and beautiful spots in Tennessee to set up camp.

Noanet Woodlands, Massachusetts
The Noanet Woodlands are beautiful during every season, but the woodland really comes alive during fall. The woodland is very dense, with much of the trail being shaded due to the sheer amount of trees—and the trees explode with colour during fall, so you will be walking under a canopy of red, gold and orange! The park also offers beautiful views of the Massachusetts skyline.

The trail is 17 miles long and it isn’t too strenuous, so it’s ideal for beginner hikers as well as seasoned hikers. There’s also a shorter trail that’s just half a mile long that you may want to consider if you’re bringing along children.

Old Rag Mountain, Virginia
Old Rag Mountain can be found in the Shenandoah National Park, and the trail is very beautiful—but it’s also very tough, so you should pass on this one if you’re new to hiking. The breath-taking trail is 9 miles long, and the trail is mostly made up of rugged, steep paths and rocky areas.

The trail may be very tough, but if you make it to the end you will be rewarded with 360 degree views of the national park, including 200,000 protected acres of trees that are glowing with fall colors.

If you’re an experienced hiker and you want to try this trail, we recommend that you go during the week to avoid the big crowds that appear every weekend.

Beaver Lake Loop, Michigan
The Beaver Lake Loop can be found in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful trails in Michigan. The park covers around 73,000 acres of land, including scenic sandstone cliffs and lush forests that change color during fall.

The trek is 1.5 miles long so it can easily be completed in a day, and the trail ends at the coast of Lake Superior. This view is definitely worth the walk, as the icy blue of the lake contrasts perfectly with the orange and red forest!

The North Ridge Trail, Maine
The North Ridge Trail goes up the Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, and it offers some of the best views of the New England coastline. As you walk you will see birch, poplar and maple trees shedding their brightly colored leaves, as well as lots of beautiful rock formations.

The hike is slightly strenuous as it’s uphill, but it’s well worth the climb as you will be treated to some amazing views at the top! You can also ascend the Beehive Trail for more great views, but it’s important to note that this ascent shouldn’t be tried if you’re new to hiking as it’s very strenuous.

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.