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5 Healthy Trail Snacks

My first favorite trail snack is these GoMacro bars. I think I have another one in here. Yeah. They have a lot of different flavors depending on what you like, and some of them say “high protein,” so I usually grab those, but they’re really good ingredients that I can pronounce. That’s one of the main things I look for in a bar, and of course, that it taste good and it feels satisfying. These are really good.

I also love, where are they, the Oatmega bars. These are probably my go-to bar because they’re the cheapest. I get them at Target, and they taste really good. Good quality ingredients, and some protein and omega-3s.

Then last up is these Square Organics square bars, and these are so good. They are covered in chocolate, which is both amazing and also a little problematic if you’re hiking a lot in the desert or in the heat like I do. Usually, when I open it up, it’s just like the chocolate has melted everywhere, which I will probably never be complaining about melted chocolate anyway, but bring a little baggie to put the trash in because you don’t want to get chocolate all over your backpack.

There are a bunch of people coming. Now I just look like a crazy person. I’m like Mary Poppins. I just have an endless bag of goodies here.

The next up is this classic apple and peanut butter. I love these Justin’s packets, and this is the almond butter one, but I also love the peanut butter one, and just grab an apple and … Fly. And I’m good to go.

Next up are just a little trail mix here. This one … I just make my own. I find that most store-brought trail mixes are pretty expensive, and they’re mostly just peanuts, and I don’t really like eating just peanuts, and so I make my own. I just go to the bulk section and grab a couple of your favorite nuts or seeds or dried berries. This have walnuts and pecans and pumpkin seeds, and you can sprinkle some cinnamon in. This is just a really cost-effective way to get exactly what you like.

Next up. I love plantain chips. I will just eat these out of the bag or put them in a smaller bag if I don’t want to carry the whole bag on the trail. But these, and then if I’m at camp or just my everyday life, I’ll sometimes scoop avocado onto these. They’re just really crunchy, and I love them, and they’re also salty, so I like that when I’m sweating on the trail a lot.

Let’s see. What else do I have for you? Then the next thing that I love to take on a trail are home made protein energy bites. I made these at home the other night. These are just full of chia seeds and peanut butter and oats and protein powder. They’re pretty cheap to make. I probably wouldn’t take this whole bag full of these, but maybe just two or three of them.

While I’m talking to you about this, this one and this one are Stasher bags. I just discovered these. They’re reusable plastic bags. They seal really, really well. I’m just trying to reduce the amount of plastic that I consume because I love nature, and just why not? These are reusable, and for the price of a couple of boxes of those plastic ones, you can just reuse this one.

I’ve tried a couple of different brands, and this Stasher brand is definitely my favorite. You can make these protein bars, or protein bites, and I’ll link to a couple of my favorite recipes on the blog post with this video so that you can try some of those, but sometimes I just make them up myself too, just throw a bunch of things in a bowl, make a ball, put it in the fridge, and then throw it in my pack whenever I’m ready to go.

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Ultra Light BackPacking Clothing

Your clothing weight may vary a little bit, depending on the time of year, elevation, or conditions that you’re hiking in. But, in general, a well-thought-out clothing system will keep you covered under almost any conditions.

Don’t neglect your clothing choices because it’s actually an area to save a lot of weight and space. When I first started ultralight backpacking, I didn’t worry too much about clothing, but when I dug into it, I was able to save three pounds by cutting out some gear and by lightening other items.

Lightweight clothing is all about fabrics and layers. For fabrics, you want light, quick-drying, synthetic fabrics that perform well under most conditions. For layers, you want enough so that you can put more on to stay warm or peel some off to cool down. But in general, never bring two items that are going to serve the same purpose.

Some common mistakes are bringing heavy pants and accessories. They’ll take a long time to dry, and they won’t be very comfortable to hike in. Heavy jackets can also be avoided, and materials like cotton won’t perform very well when wet. You’re also going to want to make sure that you don’t bring too many changes of clothing. With lightweight synthetics, you can always rinse them off and dry them very quickly.

Let’s take a look at a basic lightweight packing list. You start out with a rain jacket. If the weather looks like it’s going to be really cold and wet, you might consider rain pants as well. You also almost always want to bring a warm, wool or fleece hat and mittens. Nylon hiking pants are very comfortable, and you can even find options to zip off the legs so they can be pants or shorts combinations. If you like hiking in shorts, you can always go with a pair of running shorts that can be very light, and some of them even come with a liner built in, which will save you bringing an extra pair of underwear.

For your hiking shirt, you can choose a long-sleeve or short-sleeve synthetic shirt. Long-sleeve will help protect you from the sun and bugs a little bit better. If you’re trying to go ultralight, you might just pick one. You also want to bring a couple of pairs of synthetic underwear and a long-john bottom and long-john top for sleeping at night.

You’re going to want to make sure to bring a hat for sun protection. If you’re going to be in really sunny areas, get a brim that goes all the way around. A bandana will be useful for a lot of different situations, and a couple pairs of synthetic socks and a pair of gaiters will keep your feet nice and comfortable. You’re already going to be hiking in trail-running shows, so you might not need them, but in-camp trail shoes are optional.

Your rain jacket and your warm jacket will often be some of the heaviest clothing items that you bring, so let’s take a closer look at those. A common mistake is bringing jackets that are unnecessarily thick and heavy. You don’t need a mountaineering thickness on your raincoat. All you really need is a thin, light, waterproof material to keep you dry. You can find full rain-suits for less than 10 ounces, and they can be very affordable.

For your warm jacket layer, a down coat can be an excellent investment. They have fantastic warmth-to-weight ratio, they can weigh as little as six ounces or less, and if you treat them well, they’ll last for years. Choosing lightweight jackets can be a great weight-saver. When I switched from these heavy jackets over to a lightweight raincoat and a down jacket, I was able to save over a pound and a half.

This may seem like a small amount of clothing, but the truth is you don’t need much more than this to stay comfortable, even on a long trip. Clothing is a really personal choice, so choose fabrics that are light, that feel comfortable to you, and that you feel like you look good in. At the end of the day, you’ll be really happy you did.

Hopefully, that gives you some great ideas on how to stay comfortable and save weight. I’m Dave Collins for Clever Hiker-

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Light Weight BackPacking Basics

Let’s kick things off by taking a look at three philosophy points behind this series.

First philosophy point is that you can do this. Lightweight backpacking is not highly specialized, it’s not exclusive, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can do it and this video series will help teach you how.

The second philosophy point is there’s no perfect style to lightweight and ultralight backpacking. Each piece of gear that you choose is gonna come with a range of pros and cons, so try and choose what’s best for you.

The third philosophy point is don’t sweat the small stuff. It can seem overwhelming when you first look at all the items in your pack and think about lightening every one. Try and focus on the big stuff and take it step-by-step.

Even the lightest bag in the world isn’t gonna do you any good sitting in storage so get out there and have an adventure.

Let’s get into the basics of lightweight backpacking. If you reduce the amount of weight that you’re carrying on your back, you’re going to feel so much more comfortable on the trail, and you’re also gonna save a ton of energy.

Lightweight and ultralight backpacking are pretty much the same thing, just with different weight distinctions. A lightweight backpack has a base weight of 20 pounds or less. Where an ultralight bag has a base weight of 12 pounds or less. The same concepts apply.

Many people are familiar with lightweight backpacking because of through hikers. Through hikers hike long trails end to end, often covering over 20 miles a day while they do it.

It might seem like you have to be a super human to cover that much ground and through hikers are really tough. The key is in weight reduction.

If you reduce the amount of weight that you’re carrying on your pack, you save a bunch of energy. What you choose to do with that energy is up to you. You can chill in camp, read a book, go for a swim, or cover more ground.

Ultralight equipment doesn’t have to be expensive. A lot of the manufacturers that produce some of the lightest gear, don’t sell their stuff in large outdoor stores, and they can pass the savings onto you. You can find them online and our gear recommendations document will help teach you exactly what the best gear out there is.

Another nice thing about ultralight backpacking, is that it’ll get easier the more you get into it. For example, if you leave some gear behind and switch from a traditional style shelter to an ultralight shelter, you’ve saved a lot of space in your backpack. You won’t need a heavy traditional style backpack to carry all that gear. All you’ll need is a nice light ultralight pack. You’ll save more weight and you’ll be even more comfortable.

Now that you’ve got a light pack you won’t need those heavy boots for extra ankle support. You can switch to lightweight running shoes, which is gonna make your walk much more comfortable, you won’t get blisters and you’ll save tons of energy.

Now that you’re ready to jump in and pack light, where do you get started? There are three ways to save weight.

First is by leaving home gear that you don’t need. Second is by replacing the heaviest items in your pack. Third is by seeing if there’s any items you can use for multiple purposes.

A good place to start is by finding the base weight of your current pack. Then you can set a goal for how light you’d like your pack to be.

To find your base weight simply load it up with all the gear that you usually bring on a backpacking trip. Leave out food, fuel, and water, which are variable items. If you’re new to backpacking, don’t worry about finding a base weight, you can just start out with a lightweight setup and save yourself the blisters and the backaches.

The next step is to go through your gear and cut out the items that you don’t need. It can be fun to go through a large outdoor store and look at all the cool gadgets but a lot of that stuff’s gonna add extra weight. For example, do you really need a camping chair? Could it be possible you get by with one cooking pot? Are you maybe bringing too much clothing? You can save a lot of weight by cutting out the stuff that you don’t need. A lightweight packing list can help out a lot with this. We’ll give you one in our gear recommendations document.

The third starting point is to go through your gear and replace the heaviest items. Starting with the big three. Your shelter, backpack, and sleeping setup are gonna be the three heaviest items in your bag. When I replace my traditional big three with the new ultralight shelter, backpack, and sleeping setup, I saved over 15 pounds.

When choosing lightweight gear you’ll often encounter a trade off between adding a couple of ounces, to maybe save a little bit of money, or add a little extra comfort. Choices are completely personal and they depend on your own goals. Just know, if you add a few ounces here and there, it can add up to a lot of weight in the end.

That should get you well on your way to becoming a lightweight backpacking pro. The rest of the videos in this series will take a much deeper look into the outlined topics and help you get as light as possible. As you get better at ultralight backpacking, always remember the three philosophies behind this series. You can do this, there’s no perfect style to backpacking, and try not to sweat the small stuff.

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UltraLight BackPacking Foods

The food that you bring on the trail is going to be a largely personal decision based on your own tastes, the nutritional value you’re seeking, and also the ease to cook it. Some hikers choose a food as fuel mentality, where they choose food strictly for calories, lightweight and convenience. While other hikers are willing to prepare a little bit more ahead of time, maybe even make their own recipes, and dehydrate them to get that extra nutritional value.

For ease, and convenience, most lightweight back packers tend to lean towards the food is fuel mentality. If you want to get really light with your trail food, what you need to measure is the amount of calories per ounce in the food that you’re bringing, which is simply a measure of the amount of energy the food is going to give you for the weight it’s going to cost to carry. To calculate the calories per ounce of the food that you’re bringing, simply tally up the calories on the back of your packages, and divide by the total amount of weight.

Foods like nuts, peanut butter, chocolate, and olive oil, tend to have very high calories per ounce ratio. Where foods like fresh fruit, and vegetables tend to have very low calories per ounce. So, you can see that if you bulk up only on foods with high calories per ounce, you’re not going to have a very balanced diet. So, what you’re looking for is a range of maybe 120 to 130 calories per ounce.

The goal is to get as much nutrition, calories and taste out of your food, while keeping weight as low as possible. Good trail nutrition is just like good nutrition at home. You want a balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates while giving as much fiber, fruits, and vegetables in your diet as possible.

The ease of cooking should be another important consideration for trial food. It’s going to take more than boiling water, and pouring it into a bag, then it’s probably a little too much work. So, when you’re choosing dehydrated meals, make sure you look for ones with shorter cooking times. The amount of cooking, and also the amount of food are other important considerations. Are you really going to want to wake up, and cook breakfast every morning? Most people find that if they’re hiking long miles, they usually want to cram a bar, and get walking in the morning.

Also, make sure you know how much food you’re going to bring. On long days of hiking, you’re probably going to use a lot more calories than you think. Some through hikers find that they actually expend four to six thousand calories a day. So, you might want to bring a little bit more food, depending on how strenuous your hike is going to be.

You’re going to want to avoid all canned food, because they tend to be low in calories, very heavy, and then you’re also going to have to pack out the trash. You’re also going to want to repackage all your trail food in a zip lock bag to save weight, and also volume.

For breakfast, make sure to think about if you’re going to want to cook or not. If you do, things like oatmeal, coffee, and tea can be nice. If you’re not going to want to cook, bars, Pop Tarts, granola, milk, and a breakfast mix can all be really nice options. You can also sprinkle in snacks. Things like nuts, and trail mix tend to be good in the morning.

Snacks are a very important part of a good trail diet. You find that you’re going to be burning lots of calories. So keeping snacks in the easily accessible place in your hip belt pocket to have every hour, or two is a good idea. Some common quick and easy trail snacks are bars, crackers and chips, trail mix, nuts, beef jerky, various dried fruits, or fruit leather strips, and many hikers also bring candy.

For lunch a sandwich is a pretty quick convenient option. They can easily be made with bagels or whole wheat tortillas, which tend to hold up well on the trail. They can be made with peanut butter, honey, jam, pretty common options. As well as hard meats and cheeses which’ll keep well.

Freeze dried back packing dinners can be a pretty convenient option, but they’re also going to be pretty costly at around seven to ten dollars a piece. You can find some pretty common options in most super markets, that’s going to cost a fraction of the price, and they’ll cook up just as nicely.

So, things like pasta sides, and rice sides, and couscous tend to cook up really well. As well as mashed potatoes which don’t even need boiling water. Ramen noodles, and other dry soups are great. Stuffing is a pretty convenient meal as well as Easy Mac. Those are pretty common lightweight back packer choices. If you want to add a little protein, you can add chicken or tuna to your meal.

[inaudible 00:04:46] some great light weight options to spice up your meals on the trail. Things like fast food condiment packets are going to be really light, and help add flavor. Olive oil is a fantastic thing for adding flavor, and calories. Small spice packets can add a lot to your meal as well as hot sauce. Things like drink flavors can do into your water to change it up during the day while you hike. You can make hot cocoa, or apple cider at night after your meal for a nice warm treat.

For some personal recommendations, fresh fruit might have a poor calories per ounce ratio but I generally bring a couple because it’s a really nice treat. Also make sure you practice leave no trace camping. If you pack it in, make sure you pack it out.

So, that should give you an idea of some of the most common long distance back packing meals. Your choices are obviously very personal, so, choose what’s right for you. When you’re considering food make sure you choose food with good nutritional value while keeping weight low.

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Sleeping Pad Test

Today, we’re testing out sleeping pads. Now, we hopped on to Outdoor Gear Lab, a great, fantastic review company, who reviewed over 20 sleeping pads. We took their top three, which we have right here. We then hopped over to Amazon and found out what their best selling sleeping pad was, which we bought as well. Let’s get these things inflated and get going.

You would probably think, “Hmm, which one of these companies is paying him the most?” But, this is a completely unbiased review by friends of mine with stake in this.

I covered up the brand names to give all pads a fair chance as some of these pads range from $50 up to $300.

Both the Exped and Therm-A-Rest, kept me off the ground when placing all my weight on the knees. I felt the ground pretty good with the Sea to Summit and definitely felt it with the Klymit Static.

Let’s how fast these guys dry on a sunny day in the middle of September in Upstate New York in a temperature of 82 degrees, humidity 46%, wind out of the north northwest at five miles per hour, dew point 56 degrees, and a sun seated at the angle of 143. Okay, I may have made some of that up.

While it’s been about 15 minutes. The first one to dry, which really dried in about three or four minutes, was the Exped. Next in line was the NeoAir Therm-A-Rest, and kind of a toss up of a tie between the Static V and the Sea to Summit. Onto the next test.

How well insulated are they? Don’t judge, this was the best I could come up with on a hot day. I sat on them and measured how long it took before I could feel the cold on my tush. The Exped 45 seconds, Therm-A-Rest two minutes 24 seconds, Sea to Summit the winner at two minutes 39 seconds, and Klymit Static a whopping 9.5 seconds.

Go, go, go.

How strong are these? One would say they are pit bull proof and I would tend to agree with them. Since my dog wasn’t able to do the trick, how ’bout this pile of rocks, sticks, logs, dirt, hell and damnation? If that’s not enough let’s add 500 pounds of pea gravel and let sit for two hours.

Have to admit I was expecting to come out and find some deflated pads but all passed. Let’s take it up a notch but we test gear to the breaking point. Exped was the first and experienced the most damage. It was the only one that tore down the seam. This is one of the smallest of the five tears.

Therm-A-Rest offered a fun ride down, almost as fun as winter sledding, and had one small tear. Sea to Summit slid the best, as if that matters, and had about a half in tear. Here’s some of the insulation in case you were wondering what it looked like. I’ll go ahead and tuck that back in there. Finally, the Klymit, which also tore about an inch and a half.

Lucky for me, all pads come with a repair kit. It wasn’t until I patched up the holes that I realized all the damage to the Exped, which totaled about five holes. Therm-A-Rest, Sea to Summit, and Klymit had the one hole previously shown.

To test my patch job let’s add 150 pounds of pea gravel and let stand for two hours. Before I do, and for good measure, I’ll hop on too for a total combined weight of 320 pounds.

Exped was flatter than flat after two hours while the other three didn’t lose any air.

Fire test.

Sometimes you sleep next to a fire so let’s see what would happen if a rogue ember made it’s way over. Exped burned the most, about four to five small holes. Therm-A-Rest almost popped. If you look closely you can see how it started to bubble but didn’t go all the way through. No holes for the Therm-A-Rest.

Sea to Summit had about five to six small holes, which if you rubbed your hand on it you could feel them, as they are difficult to see. Finally, Klymit Static V, which had about one to two small holes.

If you do want to pick these up, I’ve got the links posted in the comments below. Click over here to check out other videos. Click over here to subscribe and click right here to visit our Patreon page. We do purchase all of our gear, it gets a little expensive, so if you can we would appreciate a donation.

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Make Your Own Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is one of the best snacks for the trail, especially with the number of options out now, but sometimes it’s too expensive for a trip to the backcountry or the number of additives is startling. Here’s how you can make your beef jerky (or any other meat) at home to cut costs and know what you are eating down to the salt!

I like my beef snacks like I like my humor, dry, a little spicy and hopefully grass-fed.

If you’ve never tried making this at home before, I think you’re going to be pretty surprised just how easy it is. Let’s go ahead and get started with what’s basically a simple two-step process. We’re going to marinate and then dehydrate.

First up, we’re going to make our top secret marinade and by top secret, of course, I mean, this is what pretty much what everyone uses. We will start off with a whole bunch of Worcestershire sauce. Nailed it. Then, we’ll also add an equal amount of soy sauce. Those two things make up the majority of this mixture, but of course, we’re going to need some additional flavorings and seasonings, so we’re also going to add a bunch of freshly ground black pepper, and some smoked paprika.

A lot of people like to use liquid smoke in beef jerky, but I don’t. I’m not a big fan of that flavor. I’m going to go with the Paprika, which is going to give a more subtle smokiness, but I really like what that does to the appearance when this is dried. Some smoked paprika, and then we’ll also heat things up a little bit within some Cayenne and then just for good measure, I’ll also add in some red chili flakes. I’m using Aleppo, but any red chili flake will do. Then I’m also going to add a little bit of garlic powder, as well as some onion powder. I said powder, not salt. That is just pure dried and ground and garlic and onion.

Then, last but not least, we do need a little bit of sweet to balance the salt and heat. I’m going to add a little bit of honey. Some people like white sugar, some people use brown sugar, molasses, things like that, but I’m a honey guy. Then, we’ll take a whist and we’ll mix that thoroughly and that is it for the marinade. That’s what I’m going to put in mine.

Obviously, if you feel like adding more exotic seasonings, spices, and tears go for it. You’re the boss of how quirky to make your jerky. But this is what I’m going with. Once that stuff’s mixed up, we’ll just set it aside while we prepare our beef, which by the way is already done because we had the butcher do it for us. Don’t try to be a hero and cut this yourself. Go to the butcher and tell them you want a couple of pounds of thinly sliced top round.

While you can make beef jerky out of just about any cut, for me this one works the best, it’s relatively lean but does have a little bit of marbling to it. It’s also very affordable and because of the shape of the muscle, the butcher’s going to be able to do nice, wide, thin slices for you. I’m going with top round and of course, on the blog post, I will give you very specific specifications. Then, what we want to do is marinate our beef in that mixture for at least three hours.

I do like to dump the beef in one piece at a time so I know every piece is going to be coated, because if you just dump this all in at once, the beef can get knotted up and folded up and you might get a section or two that aren’t getting soaked as much as the others. I do like to make sure each piece gets an even dunking because the whole thing gets wrapped and popped in the fridge. By the way, conventional wisdom is to marinate this much longer, like overnight or 24 hours. But I don’t think that’s necessary. I actually prefer my beef jerky with only a three or four hour marinade, which is another things we’re going to talk about on the post.

I actually did an experiment, a three-hour marinaded batch versus a 24 hour marinaded batch and the results were fascinating. Check that out and obviously if you want to save space, you can transfer this to a zip top bag, but I had room.

I’m just going to leave it in the bowl, like I said, for just three hours, at which point, we’re going to transfer that onto some paper towels because before we dehydrate this in the oven, we want to remove as much of that excess moisture as possible. Place it down on some paper towel and then, put some over the top and press down, removing as much of that excess marinade as possible. Then once we’ve dried off our beef as best we can, we will transfer that onto a baking rack, set over a sheet pan and you’re going to want to arrange these to you can get on as many as you can without them overlapping.

Now, the edges can touch. They just can’t be on top of each other. Just move stuff around until it fits, like a jigsaw puzzle or a jerk-saw puzzle if you prefer. By the way, I’m only doing one pan at this point. Like I just mentioned, I did want to experiment with letting the rest marinate overnight. But anyway, we’re going to pan those up at which point we will place that in a 100 and 75 degree oven for about three or four hours or until your beef is completely dry.

During that time, one quick tip. Maybe once or twice an hour, if you can remember, just walk by the oven and open the door and air it out a little bit. That’s going to let some of that moisture escape from the oven and get some nice, fresher, dryer air in there. Like I said, we’ll cook that at 175 for about 3 or 4 hours until it’s completely dry and looks like this. It should really look like leather. Not that new shiny, 50 shades leather. We’re talking old shoe leather. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t like the liquid smoke. I prefer the smoked paprika for that subtle flavor and I think it gives that surface a really gorgeous appearance.

Not only is this going to feel and taste good, it should look pretty good too. Of course, once your beef jerky is completely dry, it’s ready to cut up and eat. I’m going to borrow a technique that I learned from my good friend whom I’ve never met, Al Brown, who I saw used scissors to cut this up. I thought, that’s a good idea. We’ll cut ours into some bite-sized pieces and that really was some delicious beef jerky. Just far superior in taste and texture to anything you’re going to get in the supermarket.

Once we have that all cut up, you can just keep it in some kind of airtight container, so I’m going to use one of this latch top jars for a slightly fancier and a more hipster friendly presentation and no, you don’t have to refrigerate this because of the salt content and the fact that it’s dry, this stuff should be very shelf stable.

I know it’s still a ways away but my wife, Michelle, commented on what a great Father’s day gift this could make. In fact, let’s take a quick poll of all the Dads out there. What would you rather get for Father’s day? A tie or a big jar of this. Yup, that’s what we thought.

But anyway, that’s it. Homemade Beef Jerky, virtually identical to what you would get at a convenience store, except it has 27 less ingredients. All right? I really do hope you give this a try. Head over to foodwishes.com for all the ingredient amounts and more information as usual. As always, enjoy.

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Clothes To Wear While Hiking

One thing you need to start thinking about when you start hiking in wild and wonderful places is what kind of clothes you are going to wear, and what kind of hiking clothing will best serve you for spending time out here.

The same goes for and any kind of gear you take out in places like this, it really depends on the places you’re going, the seasons, the time of year, and what kind of activity you’re gonna be doing.

This is a quick overview of the kinds of things I wear when I’m out on the trail, and what I find works well for me.

Pants:

One thing I never wanna wear on the trail is denim jeans, ’cause if they get wet, they get really heavy, and they don’t have a lot of stretch or give to them. So what I chose to do for a pant, is to wear a lightweight quick-drying fabric, but also want there to be a bit of stretch, because you are gonna be climbing up things, maybe climbing up and down steps, or crouching down to pick up something. So if you’ve got pants with a bit of stretch, you’re gonna be super, super comfortable.

One term you’re gonna hear quite a bit of in terms of hiking clothing is layering. So the base layer is all about managing moisture because as you’re walking out here in the bush, you’re gonna be sweating. Even on a cold day, you’re gonna build up a bit of a sweat. So what you really want is a fabric and a material next to your skin that’s gonna draw that moisture away from your body, therefore keeping you warm.

Base Layers:

There are two schools of thought with base layers. You’ve got merino, which is this wonderful natural fiber, and the worst you might smell after wearing merino is like a wet sheep. It is, however, a more delicate fabric, so it will tend to catch a bit more, and is not as sturdy and strong. And on the other hand, you’ve got synthetics. So synthetics, they’re a little stinky after you’re sweating and working hard in the bush, but they’re really good in a wet environment, like if you’re canoeing or something like that, or doing river crossings.

Mid Layers:

Now, this mid layer is all about insulation. It’s all about keeping you warm. So base layer, drawing away the moisture, keeping you dry. Mid layer, all about warmth. In the mid layer, there are a few different things you can do. What I’d probably do, if I was super cold, is I’d be laying another merino on top of this, and it’d be a long sleeve one. It’s one of a thicker variety. But what that mid layer is really all about, is stuff about warmth. So my favorite is a down jacket.

Shell Layer:

So the shell layer, or your rain jacket, something like that, that’s all about protecting you from the environment, from the weather. From rain, from wind, from snow, all those kinds of elements. So that’s about creating a shell to keep all those elements away from the rest of your body.

Finally, the last thing is my hat. So you probably realize a lot of the heat from your body escapes out the top of your head. So if you’re feeling cold, one of the first things you should do is put on a nice, warm hat. Fleece is great, it keeps me nice and warm, and covers my ears, which is great in winter.

So that’s my approach to clothing on the trail. Don’t forget, it’s all about layering. The base layer is all about moisture management. The mid layer’s all about insulation, keeping you warm. And the shell layer is all about keeping the elements off you.

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Easy Camping Guides

Day Hike Essentials

So often, we think that backpacking is all about loading up the pack and going out for multiple nights. That’s not always possible when you have a family and a lot going on. What I’ve done is I have just a day pack that I carry for short excursions.

When I say daypack, I’m not just talking about hiking for a couple of hours and coming back in. I’m talking about hiking for the day. Going out, setting up a little camp at lunchtime, and then hiking some more after lunch.

Getting outside and connecting with the wilderness and the backpacking experience any way you can is always important. I use this pack which comes with our stuff, hammock, stove, everything. It comes to 8 pounds and I’m going to show you what’s in it and how it’s set up. Let’s check it out.

My Day Pack:

The pack I usually use is one that can be stuffed down into a little pouch, so it’s really light and easy to use, but I’ve had it on many trips, and it holds up really strong. The following are my day hike essentials:

  • I’ve got a water bottle. Each one of my kids also carries their own water bottle, so they have a water source.
  • I have a hammock with straps inside.
  • I also bring a little blowup pillow because it’s most comfortable that way.
  • I have this Frisbee that I’ve had forever that’s awesome for backpacking. It collapses down The kids just play a lot with this when they’re just sitting around waiting for food to get made.I always have a couple of extra granola bars and things on the front pack pouch so that I can quickly grab them out if anybody wants a snack.
  • I’ve got my bowl, spoon, stove, fuel, lighter, and pots for heating up water. A lot of times we just use a hydrated meal that we can quickly cook up and have something.
  • I also carry oatmeal, peanut butter, and whatever else we might bring. We might bring cheese or hickory sticks, something like that.

Emergency Bag:

Then I have an emergency bag that I carry all the time in any gear or rig that I have. In this thing I’ve got the following;

  • Headlamps and another light if I need it,
  • A fire starter, something for striking as well as a lighter.I carry a little bit of medicine and medical kit as well as hand warmers when it gets cold.
  • A pen if I needed to write something down.
  • A 550 paracord for all kinds of stuff.
  • I’ve got a water purifier just in case. It’s always in there.

This is what I carry at all times no matter where we are outdoors.

As you can see, you can set up a nice little camp with just a little bit of gear. Take the time to spend a day out in nature. Don’t just think, “I can’t stay the night, so I’m not going to go for a backpacking trip.” Set up a little backpack. Go out for the day. Stop at lunch, or stop at dinner. You’ll realize that you’ll find some really cool places to stop, take it in for a while, and really enjoy. You can cook your meal. You can play and games. You can just relax and take a nap.

It’s truly the heart of backpacking. Whether you stay the night or not, and you don’t have the time, try it out.

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Easy Camping Guides

10 Harmless Looking Fruits That Are Poisonous

Plants are amazing organisms. They can do some crazy things to ensure their survival. Just because fruit comes from nature, it doesn’t mean that it’s always safe to eat. While one fruit may be safe for consumption, it might have a dangerous doppelganger that can take you down.

Night Shade:

Atropa Belladonna, better known as nightshade, is one of the most poisonous plants in the world. The plant itself looks beautiful with its bell-shaped flowers and tempting blackberry fruit, but its berries possess lethal amounts of tropane alkaloids. The berries start out green when they first appear, and they get more poisonous as they ripen. History has told us that nightshade was often used as a sleep aid as well as a method to end someone’s life.

The root is the most dangerous part of the plant, and just two berries can take down a child, but at least they’re pretty to look at.

Ivy Berries:

One of the most common places to find berries growing is on ivy. However, it seems that all ivy berries are poisonous. From poison ivy to Boston Ivy to English creepers, the berries on these plans should be avoided at all costs, no matter how tempting they might look. These berries are full of oxalates, which are tiny needle-like crystals that can cause a lot of discomfort in the skin, face, tongue, and lips. Luckily, these berries are really bitter, so people usually stop eating them after accidentally tasting one.

European spindle:

The European spindle is one of the most beautiful trees around. It provides food for wildlife and is even used as a fine charcoal by artists. Its fruit looks good enough to eat, but you shouldn’t touch them. They contain a bitter terpene as well as theobromine and caffeine.

Not only are all these things bad for your pets, but they’re bad for you too. The fruits also contain harmful glycosides, which we’ll talk more about later. European spindles are regarded for their beauty, which is why you’ll often find them in parks and other public places. The biggest consumers of this poisonous fruit tend to be children because they just don’t know any better.

Daphne:

Berries on the Daphne shrub look mighty tempting. The shrub itself is usually between 1 – 1.5 meters in height. Popular in North America, berries from this plant have claimed a few lives because people often plant these shrubs in their garden.

All parts of the shrub are poisonous with the highest concentration being in the twigs and berries. Even just handling the twigs, can cause rashes and eczema. The Daphne toxin also causes a choking sensation when consumed. Interestingly enough, birds can eat these berries without being affected by their poison.

Elderberries:

Yes, Elderberries are poisonous. Although elderberries are a staple in teas, jams, jellies, and more, the leaves, seeds, and twigs are feared for their poisonous elements. These things contain glycosides, which produce cyanide. Luckily, the plant does have a low toxicity level, but that doesn’t mean that you can go into the woods and start ingesting them. Poisoning from elderberries causes nausea, vomiting, pain, and even falling into a coma. Let the professionals handle your elderberries for you so that you don’t accidentally poison yourself.

Lychee:

Lychee fruit is edible if it’s ripe. That’s the type of thing in the fine print that you need to read before because consuming an unripe lychee can end your life. Every year, many children in India pass away from eating this fruit before it’s ready. It took years for scientist to figure out what was happening to the children who mostly lived in India’s largest lychee cultivation region. Unripe lychee has a toxin that causes low blood sugar. If the person eating the fruit already has low blood sugar or they’re malnourished, it can cause fever and brain disease.

Jatropha fruit:

The jatropha fruit looks so harmless and normal that it continues to trick people into eating it. This fruit has been nicknamed the purging nut as it creates a burning sensation in the throat and causes severe abdominal pain. It also makes you vomit. It is also called the black vomit nut because, well, let’s just say that things start coming out from both ends. In severe cases, the fruit can cause cardiovascular collapse and dehydration. Needless to say, the Jatropha fruit has taken a few lives, and it will continue to do so if humans remain uncareful.

Ackee:

The Ackee fruit literally looks like a delicious fruit pie hanging from the trees. It is native to West Africa and is the national fruit of Jamaica. It grows from a tropical evergreen tree that grows to be about 40 feet in height. Technically, you can eat the Ackee fruit, but there is a proper way to do it. Improper ingestion creates the poisoning effect that we all want to avoid. The Ackee fruit contains hypoglycin, which is what makes the fruit so poisonous. If you truly want to eat it, you have to wait for it to ripen. If not, you’ll vomit so intensely that you’ll be put into a coma or worse.

Starfruit:

Doesn’t starfruit sound so whimsical. It is a fruit that is consumed regularly, and it’s actually quite delicious. However, something this delicious comes with a price. The fruit has a deadly neurotoxin in it that affects the nerves and brain. If you have healthy kidneys, then you should be able to filter out this neurotoxin. But if you’re someone who has kidney problems, then your kidneys won’t be strong enough to filter the neurotoxin out. Symptoms of starfruit poisoning include seizures, weakness, vomiting, mental confusion, and more.

Pokeberries:

Pokeberries are deceiving because they look very similar to grapes. They often get mistaken for the edible fruit, especially by children. This fruit comes from a shrubby plant with purple-red stems that can be found in forests. Those who have eaten, pokeberries will often experience blood in their gastrointestinal system as well as a lot of agitation and pain. While the berries are poisonous, people have cooked pokeberry leaves into their salads without any issues, but that isn’t something that you should try at home yourself.

That’s all for harmless looking fruits that are actually poisonous. Have you ever accidentally eaten one of the fruits on our list? Tell us your story in the comments below.

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Easy Camping Guides

Backpacking for Beginners: The Basics

Once you decide to dive into the world of backpacking, the first piece of gear you need to choose is your backpack.

The Backpack:

You have a choice of three types of backpacks. This first is an ultralight pack. There is usually no suspension backing these and they don’t like to carry much over 25 pounds. When using a light pack like this you must decide what you’re going to take and what you’re going to leave behind. You definitely won’t be able to carry as much as other packs.

Just up from that, you have a pack that will have a bit more structure so it will be stiffer than an ultralight. It’s will have some stays in it, so it has a little more suspension. These will want to carry about 30, 35 pounds before it starts getting on your shoulders and failing suspension.

Last up is the largest of the group, a 60 Liter pack. Now, this is a pack I would recommend to most first-timers. These have a much stronger suspension and are much larger. This pack can carry 50 plus pounds, no problem. It’s not the lightest pack, but as you start scrutinizing your gear you can go lighter and lighter. After that, you may want to go down to a lighter pack. This is certainly a great first choice.

You have a lot of choices, ranging from as low as $75 to over $500. But whatever pack you choose, load it up and get a feel for it in the store. Take the time to make sure it’s comfortable and the right fit for you.

I’m going to choose the mid-weight pack for this shorter trip. Let’s get it filled.

Choosing Your Food:

My particular food selection is not all that impressive and everyone’s tastes are going to be their own. For my own personal trips, I can get by with ramen, crackers, hydrated meals some string cheese, some oatmeal, and some bars. It’s that easy. I can really rock that for about seven days.

The first thing to do is condense the larger items into Ziploc bags, which double as trash bags at camp. And to avoid these suckers exploding like a bag of chips at altitude, don’t forget to squeeze all the air out before you seal them up.

I know what you’re thinking, ramen, right? I’m telling you what, after walking for 10 or 12 miles, you get to camp, a little hot, salty broth and noodles, it’ll set you free. Using a clean water source will make this ramen even better.

Depending on where you are camping you may want to store it all in a bear can, which, in bear country, will keep you and your food safe from roaming ramen thieves.

Okay. Now that we’ve got all our food loaded for the trip, it’s time to start packing up the pack.

Filling the Body of Your Backpack:

The bottom foundation’s going to be light, bulky equipment, namely, our sleeping bag. This is a down sleeping back and you never want to have a small, stuffed, compressed down bag while you’re storing it at home. The feathers get compressed and they lose their ability to lock.

With sleeping bags, you have a choice between synthetic filled and bags filled with down feathers. A down bag is a little pricier, but lighter and compressible, while synthetic costs less, but weighs more. The choice is yours. I store my bag in a waterproof compression sack, along with a down jacket. This I can drop in the bottom of the pack, making a nice foundation to store the remaining items.

The philosophy for packing a pack is that you want to have the really heavy items; your stoves, any water bottles or filters, anything that’s going to be kind of heavy, against the midsection of your back. sort of in the mid-upper region for that. You want bulky, lightweight gear down low. Then you want some mid-weight items, some of the clothing, med kits, things like that, to then be on the outside, pushing all that heavy stuff in against the frame that’s on your back.

Load your med kit, toiletries, and other mid-weight items like food right on top for easy accessibility. You really want to scrutinize everything that goes into your pack. If you don’t absolutely need it, leave it at home. After hours on the trail, that extra weight can really be a burden on the entire backpacking experience.

The main body is now filled. The last thing I always put on the top is something that I have just come to love in the backcountry and that is the Crocs. I usually put those right on the top and then the main body of my pack is filled.

Miscellaneous Items:

The small items that you need quick access to should be stored in the pack’s convenient side pockets and waist belt.

This is stuff that you’re going to put in that you want constant access to, things like sunscreen, lip balm, a pocketknife, fire starter or insect repellent.

A backpack’s lid is a great place for easy access to your bathroom kit, a headlamp, and a pack cover in case you get caught in the rain and need a quick shelter. Smaller items that you need to grab quickly are perfect for the lid.

That’s it. Once we button that down, we make sure everything’s nice and strapped on. I’ve got to say, I do not like when people have things hanging on the outside of the pack. Sandals or water bottles bouncing around. Try to eliminate that. You want to have a nice, clean pack, so it’s not snagging on any brush as you’re walking by. Believe it or not, the suspension just works better and you have a nice, symmetrical, clean pack with no dead spaces, nothing to catch.

The very last thing is strapping down a foam sleeping pad and a reflective space blanket to act as the floor to the tent. The blanket can also provide added protection if necessary.