5 Healthy Trail Snacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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-


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.


10 Bucket List Camping Trips – United States

The adventurer in all of us dreams about waking up to grand landscapes at our feet and the feeling of those first crisp breaths of mountain air. This list is for the adventurer at heart and for those that are eager to see the beautiful spots around the United States.

Camp 4 – Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park has long been one of the most infamous campsites in the United States. Since becoming one of the first National Parks in 1916, the park is rarely not packed with tourists. Still, this gem has held true to its beauty and offers many camping options for camping whether you are with your family, your friends, significant other or alone.Camp 4 is one of the most notorious campgrounds in the park as it is heralded as one of the birthplaces of modern rock climbing. Over the past 50 years, the sport of rock climbing has erupted and largely in part to the culture and progression in Yosemite Valley.When looking out on the valley and all its grandeur you can’t help but be drawn to the towering granite cliffs on each side, Half Dome and El Capitan. Camp 4 is the headquarters for those daring enough to climb the cliffs and if you want an entry into the world of climbing, this is it.

Havasupai Falls – Grand Canyon National Park

Havasupai Falls just outside of the Grand Canyon is one of the most adventurous campsites on this list. The hike into this desert oasis is about 10 miles one-way and is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation so the facilities are minimal. With just a dirt parking lot at the startOften times the waiting list for this two to four-day camping trip can be backed up for 6 months, so, secure your spot ASAP. While the 19-mile round trip can be strenuous the reward of the beautiful blue waterfalls and crystal clear swimming holes make the trip well worth the work.

Maroon Bells – Aspen, Colorado

With a crystal clear river peacefully flowing by, these snow-capped twin peaks are one of the most photographed landscapes in Colorado for good reason. This a great campsite for enjoying the Rocky Mountains whether you are looking to hike, fish, climb or spend time in the water. The Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak fourteeners (14,000 ft. peaks) are located just 10 miles outside the town of Aspen and are a short drive away from various lift areas. There is even a Colorado Public Bus that will drop you off just outside of the campsite which can be a nice break from the norm.During winter the area is blanketed in the same snow that brings visitors from around the world to ski and snowboard in Aspen. The best time for camping is early autumn when the crowds start to thin and before it gets too cold. The spring and summer months tend to be packed with hikers, fishers and campers so be sure to either reserve a campsite or get there bright and early to secure your piece of paradise for the night.

Jenny Lake – Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake boasts some of the most beautiful views of any campsite in America as the campsites are nestled in the flatland of Grand Teton National Park. With over 50 campsites at this location, you can be sure that you will be able to find a beautiful spot on the lake looking out on the Teton mountain range. The facilities at this campsite are sparse compared to most so be sure to pack a bit more than you normally would, i.e; soap, toilet paper, water for dishes.Having Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park within a short driving distance makes this spot a must for anyone looking to see as much as the can in a short period of time. The Jenny Lake campground is almost directly next to the trailheads of some of the most popular hiking trails as well. This makes this spot the most popular campsite in the park so it fills up fast, usually by 8 am.

Big Bend, Moab – Utah

Big Bend Campground in Moab has a little a bit of everything for everybody. With beautiful campgrounds stretching over a half mile along the Colorado River, you are sure to find a surreal place to rest your head through the night. The red rock adventure town of Moab is one of few towns like it that caters almost exclusively to outdoor enthusiasts. During the day you can explore the endless trails of red rock canyons and vistas or walk across the street from your campground and explore the Big Bend Boulderfield.

Garden Key – Dry Tortugas Islands

Camping in Garden Key at Dry Tortugas Island National Park can be the perfect tropical adventure! This beautiful island can only be reached by ferry or private vessel for campers so be sure to plan ahead. Each campsite can accommodate 3 – 2 person tents but there is also a group camping option for groups with 10+. The smaller campsites are all available on a first-come-first-served basis.

These campsites on the beach are primitive so be sure to pack everything you may need from food and water to fuel as there is no store nearby. Unfortunately, the only fires allowed at these campsites are camp stoves and charcoal BBQ fires.

Linville Gorge – North Carolina

North Carolina’s wildest land and best climbing are nestled deep in the Linville Gorge along with the ever-popular Linville Falls. This Blue Ridge Mountain getaway is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and being just northeast of Asheville makes it easily accessible as well. Spend your days hiking and climbing on the endless trails through the gorge and snack at Linville Falls before making camp at a beautiful outlook.

The Gorge at Watkins Glen – New York

Watkins Glen is another great family destination on the list. The stunning waterfalls and hiking loops make this family camping park a huge hit during the spring and summer months. During this peak season be sure to reserve your space in advance.A downside to the sites at Watkins Glen is the RV camping is dispersed throughout the tent camping area which can lead to some noisy nights if you’re not lucky. During summer months there can also be flooding which causes parts of the park to close. You can check their web page for notifications regarding park

Fall Creek Falls – Tennessee

This enormous state park has the most camping options of any park on this list. Fall Creek Falls has well over 200 campsites with many different sites to choose from. Those that are looking for a more scenic and secluded campsite can backpack throughout the park and camp in the backcountry or take the strenuous 4-mile hike to the awe-inspiring Virgin Falls.If you are looking for an even bolder getaway you can brave the hike into Virginia Falls during the winter and camp next to a snow-capped waterfall. Be sure to reserve your campsite at Virginia Falls online and bring everything you may need as this hike is very similar to Havasupai Falls as the sites are quite far from any manmade resources.

Fairholme/Kalaloch Campground – Olympic National Park

The beach bum in all of us will love this seaside camping spot in Washington’s Olympic National Park! With your choice of ocean or forest, this campsite is sure not to disappoint! Most of the sites other than a few are first-come-first-served during the summer months which are prime for visitors. Kalaloch campsite offers the best view of the Pacific while Foairholme boasts almost 100 lakefront sites.Some sites in the park are also walk-in only sites so you may be rewarded with a beautiful view if you’re willing to walk a bit for it. If backpacking is your thing, you can grab your bags and head for a scenic section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Check out the Olympic National Park website for more information planning your trip.


UltraLight BackPacking Foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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