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Should I Play Dead If I Come Across A Bear

It’s a valid question, and one that a lot of newer campers ask themselves. Statistically speaking, bear attacks are actually rare. Encountering a bear is still a concern because they can be dangerous to humans. The question then remains. Should you actually lie down and play dead if you encounter a bear in the wild? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no, but we’ll get into that and provide some other advice in this piece, so keep reading. 

Precautions – The most important advice we can give you is to take precautions when camping so that you can avoid coming face to face with a bear in the first place. The first tip is to know whether or not you’re in bear country. If you know that you are, you’ll want to research and see if there are any active habitats in the area. Avoid those areas if you can. Another precaution is to make sure you store any food in bear-proof containers; some states and parks may mandate this. Finally, make sure that when you take these trips, you carry bear spray with you and have it readily available when you’re out in the wilderness. 

If you are camping or hiking in bear country – Try to remember that bears do not want to hurt you. In fact, they typically avoid humans as often as they can, unless they’re startled, guarding food, or protecting their cubs. If you make noise when you hike or set up camp, there’s a chance that bears in the area will move away to avoid you. Making them aware of your presence ahead of time will reduce the chance of you startling them. If you stick to hiking trails and remain aware of your surroundings, you should be able to see bears before you get too close. That should help you avoid those circumstances that make them more likely to attack. 

If you do run into a bear – Remain calm. Another important piece of information is that you should not try to run away. Running will likely set off the bear’s predatory instincts. They will outrun you and catch you. So again, DO NOT RUN. Start backing away slowly and speak firmly in a low voice. Bears typically won’t lash out immediately. If you can, try to identify the type of bear you see. In North America, you’ll typically run into black bears or brown bears. Black bears are the smaller of the two, typically around 4.5 feet. Generally, they’re less aggressive and more likely to run away when they encounter humans. Conversely, brown bears are much bigger, growing up to 9 feet tall. These bears are more likely to be aggressive and attack humans. Still, they won’t go out of their way to attack. They will only do so if they perceive you as a threat, which is why the best course of action is to back away slowly and speak in a low voice. Knowing that type of bear you’ve encountered can inform your next decisions. 

What if the bear starts charging? – If you’ve taken all the precautions and find a bear approaching you aggressively, your best bet is bear spray. This is widely available online, at campgrounds, and markets in bear country. When you go to the camp sites or hiking trails, you’re going to want to make sure that your spray hasn’t expired. You’ll also want to make sure you follow the instructions it comes with and store it properly to ensure it works if the need for it arises. Typically, when you use bear spray, it will fire about 25-35 feet. You’ll want to make sure the bear is within that range and that you spray the area between yourself and the bear, so that it has to cross into the spray to get to you. You’ll also want to keep the direction of the wind in mind so you don’t spray yourself. In most cases, this spray will deter the bear from pursuing you and make it run away, or at least give you the chance to safely escape. 

If all else fails –  If you don’t have bear spray or if you’re in the rare situation where it doesn’t work, you still have a few last resort options. You can play dead, in the hopes that it loses interest and leaves you alone, or you can try to intimidate it and injure it, scaring it off in the process. The former is the safer option of the two. You’ll want to make sure you lie on your stomach and cover your head & neck with your arms. This position will provide your vital organs with at least some extra protection. The bear may bite and scratch you, but it’s likely to lose interest in you and leave. If the bear does leave, stay down for an extra 10-20 minutes. You don’t want it in the immediate area if you get back up to leave. 

It might not seem all that helpful to lay down if you run into a bear, but it can save your life. The practice has saved lives in the past. But remember, there are other significant steps you can take to avoid a bear attack in the first place. They’re very rare to begin with, but taking every precaution you can will put you in the best position to enjoy your camping and hiking trips. 

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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.

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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.

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Easy Camping Guides

I Didn’t Grow Up Camping. Why I Want To Start Now

I’ve always lived in apartment buildings in New York City. I’ve never been the outdoorsy type either, which I guess makes me a city-slicker. For a long time, the closest I had ever been to “the great outdoors” was my grandmother’s concrete backyard. Needless to say, I didn’t get to grow up camping. Maybe you relate to some or all of that. Like me, you might not have had a lot of exposure to the more natural parts of the world. For me, that changed when I went away for college.

When I decided to leave home and pursue my education, I found myself in Upstate New York. In the much less urban environment, I expanded my horizons in a variety of ways. It started with a trip to a cabin in the woods. There was so much in that trip I hadn’t previously experienced. I didn’t have cell service or wifi. The remoteness was anxiety-inducing, but also exhilarating. It was peaceful and quiet, which was different from the symphony of city noises to which I had been accustomed. The people I went with also made it memorable. That experience stuck with me through the pandemic as something that I want to explore again. However, I want to take that experience to the next level and try camping.

In our technologically driven world, a moment of peace is rare. When we aren’t at work or thinking about it, we’re immersed in the maelstrom of news, current events, and celebrity drama through social media channels. Their algorithmic designs bombard us with story after story, keeping us on the hook and scrolling through a good portion of our free time. Taking the retreat into nature through camping offers the chance to unplug from all of that. It’s healthy to get a break from our normal day-to-day routines, especially when they include so much screen time. Disconnecting from that sphere gives you the chance to reconnect with yourself, your body, and your mind.

If you’re like me and you’ve never been camping before, going out and doing that would be a novel experience. Despite the nerves, doing something you haven’t done before is new and exciting!! It is an opportunity to shift focus and potentially learn something new. You may be surprised with what you can learn about camping, nature, or even yourself. Out there in the elements, you will likely forget about all the distractions of the world because you’re forced to be mentally present and conscious of your surroundings. When you find yourself in that environment focused on surviving and appreciating nature, you may discover that you really enjoy spending time in the wilderness.

If you’re reading this and have identified with what I’ve said, I imagine you’re used to feeling comfortable. Sometimes, we need experiences that not only push us out of those comfort zones, but remind us of what else is out there and how small we really are. Stepping out of the safety of your home and spending time outdoors, admiring and experiencing nature’s more hidden gems can put so much else into perspective. Having moments where you sacrifice those creature comforts will give you more appreciation for them, as well as other things in your life.

On a more personal level, you’ll never grow if you refuse to push yourself and stay within the confines of your comfort zone. Camping is something that scares a lot of people. On some level, the idea of it scares me. It requires strength and courage to go out and be that vulnerable, especially if you’ve never done it before. Of course there are safety measures you can take to minimize any potential risks; camping does not have to be dangerous by any means, but the point still stands. That initial leap is the hardest part. I want to take that leap and see where it leads me. I hope that, after reading this, you will too.

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Easy Camping Guides

5 Camping Myths In Movies & On TV

It’s no secret that camping gets a bad rep. A fair amount of that comes from how camping is portrayed in the media we consume on a day to day basis. Think about how many sitcoms or movies you’ve seen where a group of people go out camping only to be miserable the whole time. In a lot of depictions, the activity is portrayed as boring, dangerous, and not worth the investment of time or energy. However, when you really take the time to plan your trips out carefully, you’ll find that a lot of what’s shown in popular media is false.

Myth 1 – Camping is not a good couple’s activity

 You see this one in a lot of sitcoms (King of Queens, Parks and Rec, to name a few). Typically, things go wrong that put the couple at odds and/or kill any romantic mood. However, in reality, camping can be a great activity for couples to enjoy together. As long as you’re prepared and take the necessary precautions, you can enjoy cuddling up by the fire together or gazing up at the stars in the night sky. You can even cook together and enjoy a nice picnic with a view you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

Myth 2 – Animals are everywhere

 This is another trope you see in a lot of comedy films and shows that involve camping. Usually a bear will parade around the campsite, get into the food, and terrorize the campers; this is the whole premise of Yogi Bear. Other examples include raccoons and cougars being pesky or disruptive. While this is certainly possible depending on where you go camping, larger animal attacks are not as common as the movies make them out to be. If you go camping where you know there’s the potential of running into larger animals, ensuring that you don’t leave food out and have somewhere secure to retreat if animals do show up will minimize any risks. For more advice regarding animals (wild cats in particular), you can also check out our article, “How to Identify Cougar, Lynx, & Bobcat Tracks.”

 Myth 3 – You’ll be completely isolated and disconnected from the rest of the world

 Another popular myth spread by the movies and shows is that camping means being completely separated from the world. Horror movies in particular like to use this trope to create conflict and suspense. While some campsites are remote and lack service/wifi, there are others that provide wifi to patrons. There’s also the fact that a lot of cellphone carriers and networks are continuing to expand their coverage, leaving fewer “dead zones,” where there’s no connectivity. Finally, there’s the fact that you don’t have to travel somewhere far and isolated to camp. There are plenty of camp sites and areas near cities that allow you to stay connected should any issues arise or if you need the internet to keep yourself entertained while you’re laying in your tent.

Myth 4 – Sleeping outdoors is impossible

 Chances are if you’ve seen camping in a movie or tv show, you’ve watched someone struggle to fall asleep in an uncomfortable tent while being serenaded by the nocturnal wildlife. That brings us to the next myth, that sleeping outdoors is incredibly difficult. While that might be the case for some people at first, sleeping outdoors when camping can be easier and better than sleeping at home. Being outdoors and not as exposed to artificial light can actually make it easier to sleep. The right equipment and set up can make any tent or sleeping bag comfortable enough for you to get some shut eye. For any advice on how to make camping more comfortable and sleeping easier, check out some of our other articles.

Myth 5 – Camping is boring

 The final myth is that camping is a boring activity that no one ever has fun doing. That simply isn’t true. The fun you can have while camping is limited by your imagination and the people who come with you. Admittedly, you might be limited by what you can carry in your car/bags. However, you’ll find that when you go camping, you will have access to natural landscapes you wouldn’t be able to enjoy otherwise. Explore them. Take the sights in. Climb trees or rocks with your friends. Above all, go into it with an open mind and you’ll be surprised how much you might actually enjoy it.

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Easy Camping Guides

Easy Camping Meals

When I go camping, I like to pack light. Which of course includes food! I’m going to be talking about some of my personal favorite camping meals. People often get overwhelmed when deciding what food to bring camping, so I’ll be sharing my absolute go-to’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Starting off, it’s very important that you have a stove of some kind. I’m not saying pack your whole kitchen but if you’re low on space, I’d highly recommend packing a collapsible stove that you can fold easily. 

Of course, you could always do things the old-fashioned way and use a campfire… and I’d make one in a pinch, but I’d rather have a stove any day. The less prep the better! 

Breakfast– My instant go-to is Shake and Pour pancakes every time. They’re so easy to make. Granted, you’ll need to have a pan or something to cook them on but with relatively low effort, you can have some tasty fluffy pancakes in no time. A little bit of syrup and butter, and you’re golden– (hopefully like your pancakes).

I love to pair my pancakes with bacon. But remember, pancakes first! Unless you want to cook your pancakes in bacon grease. Do note that when disposing of grease, make sure to do it far from your campsite.

Lunch– I like my lunches cold, it makes things easier on my stove. I prefer sandwiches and potato chips. It’s really simple to make. Bread, meat, lettuce, and tomato topped off with a tiny bit of mayo. I find sandwiches to be really refreshing after a long morning in the wilderness. Perhaps it’s something about the smells or atmosphere. Either way, it’s my personal favorite.

Aside from my regular trail mix, I’ll typically also bring some pita and hummus and maybe carrots too! I like to have a variety of snacks that all taste a little different. 

Dinner– Almost every time, I bring pasta. Whether it be tortellini, regular spaghetti, or even ramen, I always pack pasta for dinner. Meatballs are a nice addition if you can get them so the sauce doesn’t boil away!

If you’re not feeling pasta, don’t worry. On occasion, I’ll pack burgers or sliders for dinner. What I like is they’re fairly easy all around. Cheese, ketchup, and whatever else you’d usually put on your burger.

Drinks– Drinking water gets boring after a while so I like to spice it up at mealtimes. Orange juice with breakfast. Apple cider or hot chocolate with dinner. During the day, I tend to put a little bit of fruity water flavoring in my bottle. It just adds a little bit of flavor that water so greatly lacks.

Dessert– We can’t forget about dessert! I’ll always go for Pop-Tarts and donuts/donut holes. I like them because they’re cold and can last while still being a tasty treat and my personal favorite way to finish my meal.

Camping is generally about having fun. So have fun with your meals. Camping is also about experimenting and trying new things after all. These are just my suggestions and favorites. It’s nothing too crazy or fancy but they’re tasty and fill me up when I’m out in the wild so I couldn’t ask for more.

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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. 
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How to Identify Cougar, Lynx & Bobcat Tracks

Cougars are also known as mountain lions, panthers, and pumas. Each location across America has their own name for relatively the same animal. Its range used to cover from the temperate regions all across North and South America. The population is denser in the west, all along with the mountain ranges, and sparse or nearly extinct towards the east. Although the cougar resembles the common house cat, they’re about the size of an adult human at 160 pounds and seven feet long which includes their long tail. Their paw prints are up to four inches in length.

Cougars will eat whatever they can catch but they prefer hoofed animals. They are most active at dawn and at dusk. They hunt alone and they stalk their prey. Attacks on humans are rare but occur because of their shrinking habitat due to human encroachment.

Most Canadian attacks happen in British Columbia because of the large cougar population there. Never approach a cougar. Cats prefer to attack from behind so don’t turn your back if you happen to see one. Do what you can to make yourself look bigger. Wave your arms around, wave a branch or fan a jacket. Speak loudly and if you’re attacked, fight back. You have to convince them that you’re not their prey.

The Canada lynx is smaller than its Eurasian cousin at about 22 pounds. The length is 36 inches and it stands about 20 inches at the shoulder. As you can see from these pictures, their feet and legs seem out of proportion to their small body as compared to other cats. This is one of the adaptations that lynx have for traveling in deep snow. Other adaptations include feet with a large gap between the first and second toes where the bit toe is set at a wide-angle to give a better grip on the snow and on their prey. Also, they have a very dense coat of fur which helps them walk on top of the fresh snow.

They have a black-tipped tail, black tufted ears and a furry ruff on their necks which looks like a double pointed beard. Their range is further north than the cougar but there is considerable overlap in their ranges in much of Canada and the American northwest. They are mostly nocturnal but may be active at any time in the day. They feed mostly on snowshoe hare so their populations closely follow the ten year cycle seen in rabbit populations. The overly large feet of the Canada lynx measure just under four inches. In summer they have been known to eat birds and rodents and like most cats will also eat [carrigan 00:02:51] which is road kill or previously killed animals.

The bobcat exists in much of the continental U.S. as well as the northern part of Mexico and the southern parts of Canada. Not adapted to deep snow, it’s northern range is limited. The bobcat has smaller tufts of black hair on the tips of it’s ears. It also has notable dark bands on it’s legs and a ringed tail differentiating it from it’s larger lynx cousin which has a lighter colored coat, longer ear tufts and a black-tipped tail without rings. Adult males can be up to 22 pounds and females up to 15 pounds. They can grow up to 36 inches from the nose to the tip of their short tails. They are on average twice the size of an adult house cat making them about the size of a medium dog.

All the North American cats have retractable claws so any paw prints are unlikely to show claw marks making them easy to differentiate from the dog family Bobcat prints average just under two inches whereas the house cat averages about an inch in length. Bobcats will eat whatever they can catch but their major source of food it cottontail rabbits in the south and snowshoe hares in the north.

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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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Easy Camping Guides

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.