Hiking Tents & Shelter

Top 5 Insect Repellents for Camping

Insects, yuck!!  Having mosquitoes, flies, and gnats flying around you while camping is annoying and no fun.  Check out the top 5 insect repellents from Amazon to help ease the pain of obnoxious pests.  Each of these products have reviews that number in the thousands and have garnered at least 4.4 stars.  Pick which one that will work best for you.

  1. Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Insect Repellent

Permethrin is the active ingredient in this product.  You can spray it on your clothes, gear and other equipment but not directly to your skin.  This product works continuously up to 6 weeks or 6 washings, whichever comes first. The product claims to repel 55 different types of insects. Sawyer products offer several different ways to dispense their product and they suggest you pair it with other Permethrin products that can be applied to your skin.  The price range is broad. The cost depends on the form of dispensing and whether or not you can apply it to your skin.  The range is $.62 – $3.60 per fluid oz.

  1. Sawyer Products Picaridin Insect Repellent

Picaridin is the active ingredient in this product. Sawyer claims this product is safe for the whole family to use and re-application to the skin is suggested every 14 hours.  While the previously mentioned Permethrin product deters up to 55 different types of insects, the Picaridin deters only 5 different types: mosquitos, flies, gnats, chiggers and ticks. The price range is broad depending on type and number of applications. The range is $1.54 – $4.81 per fluid oz.

  1. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent

If you are looking to go the natural route, Repel is the way to go. Using the natural ingredient, eucalyptus oil, Repel creates a barrier against mosquitos for upto 6 hours.  Repel is DEET and chemical free and can be used on gear or applied directly to the skin.The product comes in a spray bottle costing $1.24 per fluid oz. 

  1. OFF! Family Care Insect and Mosquito Repellent

DEET is the active ingredient in this particular repellent making up 15% of the product.  When applied, the repellent creates a vapor barrier on the skin that repels: mosquitoes, flies, gnats, ticks, chiggers and fleas. The product can be used on clothes, gear or skin and a re-application schedule was not listed. For this powder dry spray, the price is $1.19 per fluid oz. 

  1. OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent VIII Dry 

DEET is the active ingredient in this particular repellent but has a higher percentage of DEET content than the regular OFF! Family Care product. This OFF! Product has DEET listed as 25% of the ingredients. The other product details are the same as the OFF! Family Care repellent. When applied, the product creates a vapor barrier on the skin that repels: mosquitoes, flies, gnats, ticks, chiggers and fleas. The product can be used on clothes, gear or skin and a re-application schedule was not listed. For this powder dry spray, the price is $1.25 per fluid oz. 

All of these products come with a warning label advising you to keep the product out of reach of children.  If you read each label closely you will find other warnings pertaining to the ingredients and the dangers they may pose. These products may not keep away all of the annoying insects, but they should deter them enough so you can enjoy your camp out. 

Easy Camping Guides

How Not to Get Lost On The Trail

Hiking is a glorious activity that can bring so much joy. A quick way to halt the glorious joy, you might be feeling, is by getting lost.  Understanding your chosen route and the type of trail you will be hiking on will be beneficial in helping you not get lost.  Are you hiking a loop or an out-and-back?  Is the trail well worn and continuously visible? Are you hiking in terrain that has been relatively untouched?   The following are a few tips you can use to avoid ending up not knowing where you are.  

Familiarize yourself with the hike you have chosen before you leave.  Using a local guide book or trail map to learn details of your route will be useful.  There are also many trail apps out there that you can download that will provide a description of the trail and your route. Depending on the device you might own, using it as navigation in the back country may not be possible depending on reception it might receive.  Having a back-up plan like a paper trail map or detailed route description can help you keep on track.  

With hiking becoming a more popular activity and trails in almost every locale, the trail you will be hiking may very well be worn and easy to follow. If this is the case it is virtually impossible to get lost.  If your route is an out-and-back, all you need to do is hike as far as you want, turn around and retrace your steps back to the trailhead. If the route is a loop, follow the trail from beginning to end. If for some reason you need to leave the trail make sure you know exactly where you are going or mark your way back. Otherwise, follow the well worn trail; let it be your guide.

If the route you are going to take isn’t worn or it intersects with other trails then knowing how to use some trail tools will be helpful. The ability to read blazes and cairns is a tool you should have in your kit. Blazes and cairns are two specific types of trail markers that indicate which direction you need to go, to follow your intended route. Blazes are often painted on or cut into trees and understanding the meanings of the symbols will help give you direction.  Cairns are built piles of rocks that indicate the correct way to proceed on a trail.  If you look into the distance, assuming you are in an open and clear area, you will be able to see the cairns and have a general idea of the direction you need to go. Make sure you keep looking ahead to maintain your general direction and the location of the next cairn. Following these trail markers will keep you going toward your intended destination and help you from getting lost.

While many trails in high use areas are well worn and easy to follow, sometimes the terrain you choose may not be so well defined. If you are hiking on terrain that is rarely traveled you may need a map and compass or a high quality GPS unit to help you navigate to your intended destination. If a cross country hike is what you plan on doing then having a good understanding of how to use the tools, in this case, a map and compass or GPS unit, are imperative.  Anl orienteering class will help you familiarize with how to use the map and compass.  Having a GPS unit to help you navigate where you want to travel can be very useful, and you can follow the route by reading the device.  Something to think about: What happens if your GPS unit runs out of batteries?  You better have a map and compass, as a backup, to help you get to where you are going.  

Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the route and understanding how to use some navigation tools will go a long way in keeping you from getting lost.

Easy Camping Guides

Learn From My Mistakes. Avoid These Hiking Pitfalls.

There is nothing worse than going on a hike and having your day ruined by avoidable pitfalls. Being surprised by a pop-up thunderstorm, getting too hot or cold while on the trail or even getting lost – ok maybe not lost but, not on the right trail – can absolutely ruin what otherwise would be a great day in nature.

If you hike enough miles, you will make mistakes, you may make a poor decision, or you might just have bad luck.  It is bound to happen, but there are certainly things you can do to avoid these situations.  There are way more pitfalls to be encountered than I am writing about here, but these are a few I have made.

I have hiked many miles all over the United States: the Appalachians, the Tetons, the Rockies, the Pacific Northwest and even the plains of the Midwest.  Most of my hiking has been done in the Rockies, the San Juans of Colorado to be more specific, and that beautiful part of the country is where most of my pitfalls have happened. I have been caught in earlier morning thunderstorms, I have experienced cold and wind from not having the correct layers and I have made poor decisions based on the weather that was moving in.

The dreaded pop-up thunderstorm. Storms happen in every part of the country.  Some areas have more predictable weather patterns than others, but a thunderstorm is a thunderstorm no matter where you are hiking. There are a few ways to avoid getting caught in nasty weather.  The first is simple, understand the local weather patterns and check the forecast.  If you have a basic understanding of the weather patterns in your area, and you check the local forecast before you leave on your hike, you will most likely be able to avoid the weather by either hiking before or after the storm or by not going altogether.

Another way to avoid thunderstorms is to leave early and be done early.  Storms often happen in the afternoon, especially in mountainous terrain.  A good rule of thumb is to be off the mountain by noon. Occasionally, you might just have bad luck.  I am an extremely cautious hiker – as I most often hike alone – I leave early and am off the mountain early, but I still have been caught in serious unexpected storms. 

If you do see weather moving in, my advice to you, turn around and get out of the way of the storm as fast as possible, at least get below tree line. Be safe, the trail will be there for another day.  Don’t challenge Mother Nature, thinking you can out last the storm, she will win every time.

If you do get caught in a storm, put on the rain gear and extra layers you might need to keep warm. Getting wet on the trail and not being able to manage your body temperature for the rest of the day can wreak havoc on your level of enjoyment.  If you showed up to the trail prepared, temperature management should be easy, no matter the weather.  I don’t think it matters which part of the country you hike in either, always, always have layers.  Rain gear will keep you dry and if you are hiking in a climate where the temperature fluctuates throughout the day have a light layer and warmer layer in your pack.  Being able to peel off some clothes when you get too warm is way better than being too cold and trying to warm yourself up.  If you hike in warmer climates, different type of layers may be useful as well.  A long sleeve, light layer to keep the sun off your skin can help keep your body cooler.

I think the biggest pitfall I have encountered, in all my years of hiking, happened because of a poor decision I made. On a day in which I left extremely early for my hike because I knew it would be a long one, the afternoon storms came in early, and faster than usual. I decided to take a different, unmarked route back to tree line rather than hike back the way from which I came. This is a mistake I will NEVER make again. I would have been back to the trailhead faster if I had backtracked my route rather than dipping down into the trees and then having to navigate rugged, difficult terrain that I was not familiar with. 

Pitfalls will happen and mistakes will be made.  With a bit of planning and the willingness to turn around an enjoyable day can still be had.

Easy Camping Guides

3 Most Important Camping Success Factors

Spring is here and you are getting that itch to get back into nature.  What a better way to do it than a weekend camping trip. Of course, you want this trip to be successful, and to do that follow the 3 factors listed below. These will help to ensure a good time is had by all. Following these tips will help you prepare for the type of weekend adventure you are looking to experience.

  1. Think about the 5 W’s –
    • Who is going on this trip?  Are you going by yourself?  With other folks?  Will kids be involved?
    • What are your camping goals? i.e., relaxation, weekend full of activities or maybe a mix.
    • Where are you going to camp?  State Park?  Deep in the backcountry?
    • When?  What season is it? What types of weather might you need to consider?
    • Why?  Why are you taking this trip?  Are you looking for a relaxing weekend with family or are you just needing a place to grab some shuteye for the night?
    • Answering these questions are a good place to start and will lead you to the next important factor: Making the Plan.
  2. Make the Plan – Whether you are car camping at your state park or back country camping in the depths of the wilderness planning and using the plan to help you remember all your gear, food, or what all you packed up in that fully loaded car of yours will make your trip successful.
    • Location:  Where are you thinking of camping?  In the backcountry or your local state park?  Knowing the location destination will help you know what type of gear you might want to bring and the amount of food you might like to have on hand. Depending on where you want to camp you may need a reservation or permit.  Planning for this will help you avoid showing up to a campground or back country trail head only to find out all the sites are full or there are no permits available.
    • Gear:  Make a list of all the gear you want AND need for your adventure.  The main items you should include are shelter, food, clothing, and personal necessities.  Knowing who will be involved will help narrow the types of gear and amounts of food you will need.
    • Food:  Is cooking all your food around the campfire the way you want to go or maybe you only want to boil water and add it to a freeze-dried pack.  If cooking isn’t your jam, make sure you check to see if there are restaurants nearby that will suit your dietary needs.
    • Weather:  Know the weather forecast.  Will it be hot or cold? Windy or rainy?  Have the proper gear and clothing to ensure a good experience. Have an escape plan in case the weather goes south, and you need to abandon the weekend.
    • Activities:  Is this a weekend of chilling and reading in the hammock or are you going full throttle on activities. If kiddos are involved, back-up activity plans may be needed if weather or other circumstances come into play. If there are certain activities you want to do during the weekend think about and plan them before you get to your campsite.  This will help alleviate any last-minute hiccups that may occur.
    • Left Over Thoughts:  If it is your first trip you very well may bring too much stuff and that’s ok.  Over time you will learn what you want and need while camping and you will hone your packing skills.
  3. Enjoy the Moment – Camping should be fun and enjoyable.  To have a successful trip stay in the moment no matter the situation and remember; the journey is the destination.