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Easy Camping Guides

Under Quilt or Sleeping Pad – Hammock Camping Tips & Advice

Today I am going to real quickly go through under quilts vs. sleeping pads and why you might choose one over the other.

First up is the foam pad. Now this is the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Pad. It’s a very good pad. It’s a very lightweight pad, and not a very expensive pad. Whenever I’m laying on the pad, I am pretty comfortable, and I do stay pretty warm. But some of the places that you can have cold spots is right here at your arms and shoulders, where they’re actually touching the sides of the hammock and they’re not being insulated from the cold by the pad. Not to mention, sometimes at night, if you’re on a pad, you can kinda roll off the pad, or if you like to roll over onto your side like I sometimes do, you can get off the pad, and then once you’ve off the pad, you’re gonna feel it really, really cold. Like I said, a cold spot there.

But another drawback, I think one of the major drawbacks, is your body is not able to breathe, so you’re gonna form condensation, or I don’t know, maybe it’s even sweat, between yourself and the pad. It is never fun to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, or wake up in the morning or whatever, and just feel all wet and sticky and just slippery all on this pad. It’s just not a good feeling to be sweating while you’re sleeping. Granted you won’t be so hot that you’re sweaty; it’s just that your body can’t breathe. So sweat just gets between you and and the pad, and it’s not very fun.

Next is an inflatable pad. This is an old, old Therm-a-Rest self-inflating pad. It’s an XL, so it’s a little bit wider than your typical pad and maybe a little bit longer. Now, this is extremely comfortable, I’ll be honest with you there. This is nice and comfy, very soft, and it’s easier to get on and off this versus the foam pad. The foam pad, you kinda stick to it, and it sticks to the hammock, so it’s kinda hard to slide it into place because one of these pads, you have to kinda get it just right so you don’t fall off of it and so it stays in place throughout the night as best as it can.

I can kinda slide it and move it to find my sweet spot in the hammock. But again, we have the same major drawback that we have with the foam pad. You’re just not able to breathe through this, so you’re still gonna develop the sweat and the condensation between you and the pad.

Next up is an underquilt. These are my favorite option, I think because you don’t build up that sweat between your body and your insulation. This allows you to breathe and things like that, and also it can keep you warmer, and it will, as you can see, it kinda curls up the sides. So as you roll around, you don’t fall off it, and you have that insulation around the sides of you, so if you like to bend your knees and things like that, you can still benefit from the insulation and not feel as many cold spots.

One of the drawbacks to an underquilt, though, is it’s kinda tricky to get it set up. Like, right at the ends, if you have a hole or a little gap in there where wind or cold air can get in, you’re gonna experience a cold spot. So you have to play with it with your positioning, and as you can see, it has a bunch of shock cords and bungees all around it. You can adjust it to how you want it so that it is touching you, you know, that it’s up snug against the bottom of the hammock so that you do benefit from that insulation and you don’t have any cold spots.

It’s hot, so I’m gonna get out of it and film the rest of this.

Another slight drawback to underquilts is they’re typically pricier than a foam mat, or a foam mat … than a foam pad or a inflatable air mattress. This is the Arrowhead Equipment Jarbidge Underquilt, a synthetic quilt. It’s one of the less expensive ones that you can get. It’s a synthetic quilt, not a down quilt. But, you know, there are a lot of other companies out there that are making quilts these days, but this is a really good one for the money. This is actually a three-quarter quilt as well. I’m not a super tall guy, so I can use this and it’ll come up all the way to my shoulders, and then about maybe to my knee or so. Then I can use some other sort of insulation, like a piece of reflectix or something else to get that extra warmth.

But you can step your game up to some down underquilts that keep you super toasty warm, and they can full-length, they can be three-quarter length, but they’re lightweight, they compact down really, really well. I would love to have one. I hope to have one in the next year or so. Whew man, it’s hot against my back. These things do keep you warm. Whenever it’s touching that hammock, it really does keep you warm.

I hope this video kinda made sense. I think the underquilt is gonna be the way to go, but you can do your own research. I suggest going over to hammockforums.net. Those guys know their stuff. I was a member over there. Well, I still am; I’m just not active anymore, but they really know their stuff. And if you want to find out what underquilt you should get and things like that, go there.

Hope you all are able to get out and enjoy an adventure soon. All right. Take care. Happy hanging, and God bless folks. Hey, thanks for watching and just thanks for everything. It’s the audience. It’s you guys are why I do it, okay? If it weren’t for you guys watching, I wouldn’t be making videos.

All right. Thanks. Peace. Take care. I’m out. I’m ready to go eat. I’m hungry.

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Easy Camping Guides

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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How to Choose the Best Sunscreen

Today I’ll be talking about how to choose the best sunscreens, and the worst sunscreens you absolutely want to stay away from, and I’ll tell you, I’ll go over the exact brands you want to be buying as well and the ones, again, you want to stay away from. Here’s the truth that we know. The sun is actually good for you. We need vitamin D. So listen, you want to get a little bit of sunshine.

You want to get some direct sunlight on your skin, 20 to 30 minutes a day, if possible, but at the same time, you don’t want to get burnt, because what that does is that can actually increase your risk of skin cancer if you’re getting burnt on a regular basis.

Also, here’s the danger, though. Many of these conventional sunscreens contain cancer-causing ingredients. So, again, you want to go all-natural if you can.

Here’s how to choose the best sunscreens. Now, here are some sunscreen risks. Number one, a lot of the chemicals, one, for instance, oxybenzone, which is found in a lot of sunscreens and sunblocks today, has hormone-disrupting chemicals. May increase your risk of kidney issues, adrenal issues, throw off your hormones, throw off your issues like your estrogen and you progesterone.

So, again, hormone-disrupting chemicals are found in conventional sunscreens, and think about how damaging that could be to a child, a young boy or a young girl. A lot of men today, even young kids, are having more feminine characteristics can oftentimes happen. A lot of women today are having their estrogen too high at an early age, which can increase their risk of issues like infertility and PCOS and a number of health issues. So, again, staying away from those chemically-laden sunscreens, because they’re hormone disruptors.

Oftentimes these can also cause an allergic reaction. Any type of bumps on the skin or redness of skin indicates there’s an allergic reaction going on. Number three, here’s skin cancer. I’ve heard a lot of people say the sun can cause skin cancer. It’s not true.

Getting healthy amounts of sunlight without getting scorched or really burned does not increase your risk of skin cancer. In fact, it fights skin cancer, because vitamin D has been proven in medical studies to decrease your cancer risk and naturally boost your immune system.

Think about this. You put chemicals on your skin. They interact with UV radiation from the sun, causing carcinogenic compounds that can actually cause skin cancer. So, again, you want to stay away from these chemicals as well, because they increase your risk of skin cancer.

So, these sky-high SPFs to where you’re not getting any vitamin D, that’s the problem is they’re blocking your body from actually getting vitamin D, as well as inhalation. You know, a lot of these chemicals, you’re breathing them in while being in the hot sun all day long. We know that that’s going to cause not only toxicity to skin, but also of the bloodstream, the brain, and many other areas of your body.

Here’s how to find the best sunscreens. Now, number one, you want to avoid sunscreen sprays. Most of these sprays are the most toxic of all of them. Stay away from the sprays. Again, avoid oxybenzone and retinol ingredients, especially this oxybenzone. That’s one of the things. You can flip over your current sunscreen. Make sure it doesn’t have these ingredients. Number three, fragrance ingredients.

If it says fragrance on it, stay away, and also, check out the EWG, that’s the Environmental Working Group, has a whole list, and also, you can search for a more in-depth article by me. Just look up Dr. Ax sunscreen, you’re going to find some of the advanced articles I’ve written on the topic.

Now, here are the best sunscreens and the best brands. All Terrain Aquasport Lotion, SPF 30. Again, this is one of the brands you want to be using for natural skin protection, natural sunscreen. Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30. In fact, this is the brand my wife have used.

I’ve made our own at home using lavender essential oil and myrrh and some others, which we’ll talk about, but Badger is a great brand as well. ATTITUDE Family Sensitive Skin Care, Bare Belly Organics, and then Waxhead Sun Defense. These are all good options, and you can see the full list by going to draxe.com, or just Google searching Dr. Ax sunscreen list there on Google.

Now, here are the worst sunscreens for kids, and look, they’re the big ones. These are the big companies. Banana Boat for Kids Continuous Spray in SPF 100. Super toxic to the body according to the Environmental Working Group, the EWG.

You can check out their listings on there for the bad ingredients. Coppertone Foaming Kids Wacky Foam, not a good one. Another Coppertone brand and Neutrogena. These are the ones, especially you can see, these ones over 60 SPF are the ones you typically want to stay away from. Instead, going natural with All Terrain and Badger and some of these other brands is what you want to do.

Again, here’s some other things to consider, better ways to avoid sun exposure. Number one, get an hour or two of sun, and then cover up is a good option. So, again, wear some clothes and a hat. Wearing rash guards and wetsuit tights is a good option, too, for reducing sun exposure. Get in the shade. Wear sunglasses, of course. Avoid peak sun, and check daily UV Index.

Again, we all want to get a little bit of sun on a daily basis. You just don’t want to get burnt, okay, you don’t want to get too much. So, again, getting an hour of sun and then putting on some sunscreen, if that’s what it takes to not get burnt, or to cover up, that’s the best strategy, there.

Also, hey listen, you can also make your own sunscreen at home. Simply do a mixture of zinc oxide, along with coconut oil, lavender oil, and even something like a myrrh oil, mixing those together, rubbing it on your skin. That’s what I do most of the time is that simple three ingredient. Again, zinc oxide, coconut oil, and essential oils of your choice, like lavender oil, and myrrh oil is a great way to get natural skin protection there as well.

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Easy Camping Guides

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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Easy Camping Guides

Learn to Start a Campfire

One of the best ways to spend an evening in the campground is by the campfire. This guide will help you safely light and enjoy a campfire.

What You Will Need:

  • Matches or a lighter,
  • Some paper to get the fire started,
  • Kindling or small pieces of wood that ignite easily,
  • Medium sized pieces of wood,
  • Larger pieces of wood
  • Finally, make sure you have water nearby to extinguish the fire.

*Remember, only light a fire in designated fire pits or the metal fire boxes provided.

To start, crumble some pieces of paper into loose balls. Newspaper works best. Next, pile small pieces of wood around the paper balls to form a Teepee. Light the paper in different places around the base and wait for the wood to ignite. Once the wood ignites, blow on the fire to feed it oxygen and help it grow.

Add more wood as the fire catches. Start with smaller pieces and gradually add pieces until your fire’s growing. Don’t add too much wood too fast. Fire needs oxygen to burn and adding too much too fast might smother and put it out.

Once the fire’s going, sit back and enjoy. Remember to tend to your fire by adding more wood from time to time but be sure to keep your fire small and under control. Never leave your fire unattended. Before you go to bed for the night, or anytime you leave your campsite, douse the fire with water and make sure it is out. Only use designated fire wood. In most national parts, it is illegal to collect and burn wood from the forest. Deadwood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and adds organic matter to the soil. Each campground may have additional regulations regarding campfires. It is your responsibility to know and follow them.

If you’re unsure, just ask a friendly Parks of Canada staff. For more information on campfires and other camping skills, please visit the Learn to Camp section of our website, found under planning your visit.

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Easy Camping Guides

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

Tips For Staying Dry While Hammock Camping

Sometimes you just want to head out on an overnight with a light pack. But if you’re ditching the tent for a hammock, you’ve got to be prepared for rain and snow. Here’s how you stay dry while hammock camping.

Tarp:

First things first, you have to have the right tarp. You can get a cheapo one from your local hardware store if you would like, but at the end of the day, a tarp that is designed for hammocks will ultimately but much easier to set up, staking and storage.

You do, however, need to make sure you have the right size. That is going to depend on how high you hang your hammock and how tight you want the walls to be in your dry area. Having a tarp that’s at least eight feet wide is ideal. I like to have a larger dry area so I usually go with a 15 to 20-foot long tarp.

Stakes:

Next, you’ll also need some rope and some stakes to keep your tarp from blowing in the wind. Staking the four corners of the tarp tightly should be enough to keep the tarp from whipping around in the wind. Occasionally when using a smaller tarp you may want to stake or tie in the middle of one side so you have a bit more space. Having the tarp too close on each side of the hammock may make you feel a bit claustrophobic.

Drip Line:

Now that you’ve got your tarp hung and anchored, you need to create some drip lines for your hammock suspension. Drip lines are essential to keeping the rain from running down the tethers of your hammock and soaking you throughout the night. You can use just about anything for this. One thing that works well for me is wrapping a piece of rope around my hammock line. You can also use a zip tie or a piece of fabric to help stop the water. You always want to keep water from running off the tree, down your strap, and into your hammock.

How do you stay dry when hammock camping? Let us know in the comments

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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.

Categories
Easy Camping Guides

4 Ways To Make Coffee While Camping

Sometimes the only thing worse than not having a steamy cup of coffee after a night in the forest is having to settle for instant coffee. Nothing beats a nice cup a joe before taking on a day of hiking but it can be a struggle in the morning to set up the fire or hot coals.

Before we talk about the 4 different methods of making your coffee, it’s important to note you can’t have good coffee without having a good water. A good water source and bringing your water to a light boil with just a few bubbles rather than rolling are essential.

Drip/Pour Over:

You’re going to use a paper filter. The problem with the paper filters is that they will carry with them a little cardboard flavor so the first thing you want to do is just pour a little hot water on to that filter just like that and that’s going to take away some of that cardboard flavor. Once that’s done, scoop a couple of tablespoons worth of coffee into there. It doesn’t take a lot of coffee. I usually do about three tablespoons of coffee for the drip method. You just dump the excess water. And that’ll get you a nice, strong cup of coffee. Once that’s done, just pour it right over. You going to be pouring the coffee over the grounds for about two minutes. That’s usually about the best time. You want to make sure that you have a nice froth over the top, that means the coffee’s doing its thing.

French Press:

The French press is nice, a lot of people love the french press. It doesn’t produce quite as strong coffee as the pour over or the drip method but it is a really nice smooth coffee. You’ll notice with the French press cup, it’s very tall and slender. This is not the best for actually boiling water in unless you have some really deep coals that you can get the heat coming from all sides. If I put this on top of the stove, it’s going to take a lot longer to boil than this wider cup will. There’s a lot more surface area to capture that heat. This has very little of it and this will hold about three cups.

You want to go ahead and pour that in. After you pour the grounds in here they’re going to just sit on the top, which means they’re not getting soaked in the water. They’re not steeping, they’re not doing their job. So, after you pour them in you want to make sure that you stir the grounds in. Put the top back on with the plunger all the way up, wait for three to four minutes, the longer you wait, the more bitter it’s going to be, so play around with the time, it’s really up to your personal taste. After those three minutes are up, just slowly push down on this until you hit the bottom. You can keep the coffee in here with the water about up to 20 minutes but remember, the longer you leave it in, the more bitter it’s going to be so after you’re done pushing the plunger down, you want to go ahead and pour your cup of coffee.

Teabag:

You just need the standard circular paper filter, a rubber band or a tight strip, whatever works. You just pour about 2 tablespoons, if you go more than that it’s going to be hard to tie off, it’s going to make the bag a little too big. The hard part with this is that no matter how much you put in here, it’s going to be tough to put the grounds in the center of it to be saturated. So if you were to take the teabag out and open it up, you’re going to see dry grounds on the very center. So, that means that you’re really not getting it.

This isn’t the best bang for the buck but it is a nice last resort method. You just fold it up like that, give it a nice twist and tie a rubber band to it and then dump it into your hot water to steep. Again, about 95 degrees is what you want. Doesn’t really produce the strongest coffee so if you’re a strong coffee drinker, this is not it. It’s going to produce a very weak coffee. Not my favorite but, it is a good option to have if you have nothing else.

Cowboy Coffee:

Cowboy coffee’s cool because it requires nothing except for coffee and a cup and water. So, you don’t need any extra equipment, you don’t need anything fancy. You take your grounds, you dump them in your cup, mix them around with some hot water and then you drink it. Now, you’re going to get a lot of grounds in your mouth so a trick to drinking this safely is to pour a little cold water over the top after you’re done steeping the coffee and it’s going to cause the coffee grounds to really settle at the bottom and that will make it a lot more pleasant to drink. If you don’t use that tip, you’re going to get a mouthful of black grounds.

Categories
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.