Monthly Archives: June 2017
Monthly Archives: June 2017
The experience of hiking can mean something different to everyone. For some, it’s about exercise, for others, a way to see unspoiled landscapes, and for a few, it’s a kind of meditation. It can be painful, monotonous, and even lonely if you choose to head off without a partner. But it’s safe to say, that if nothing else, it’s a chance to get outside our normal routines. Instead of a mundane journey from our homes to the office and back, we pack a hiking bag and venture into the wilderness, a place that feels unknown. It’s the chance to experience something primitive.
The National Park System is often said to be America’s “Best Idea”. They are these massive swaths of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, set aside for the simple enjoyment of those seeking outdoor recreation. Given their popularity, they are some of the most well maintained trails, and thus are an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to start hiking (or start hiking more). These parks are where we can experience that primitiveness.
Choosing Your Hiking Bag
The most important piece of gear you’ll need for experiencing the parks is a good hiking backpack. A well-made pack will keep its weight off of your shoulders, where it could cause unnecessary strain, and on to your hips, where you have the greatest amount of carrying power. The best hiking backpack is one that will prevent overpacking. Purchase one that is just big enough for your equipment (maybe 50-60 liters). The below example is a great pack for Hiking. Most people bring too much gear, and after your first time out with it, you’ll probably realize that there’s a lot of items that you don’t need to bring.
Packing Your Hiking Bag
The second most important item after your hiking bag is your tent, and there are a lot of options out there to choose from. Most backpacking tents are made for two people and their gear. A good quality tent that’s easy to set up is best. Next, you’ll need a sleeping bag, and there are two main considerations in choosing one: warmth and weight. For warmth, choose a bag that is rated for the lowest temperatures you could possibly encounter. Most three-season bags go down to 15 degrees, which is a survival rating, not a comfort rating. A 15 degree bag will keep you alive at 15 degrees, but it’ll only be comfortable to 35 degrees. When considering weight, the main factor is the type of filling: down or synthetic. Down bags are lighter, but they’re not warm when wet, and they are more expensive than synthetic ones. The last item you’ll need for a good night’s sleep is a ground pad. Most of these are inflatable, but some are just a sheet of foam. The only real consideration is what you find comfortable. What you’re comfortable spending the night on, and how heavy of a pad you are comfortable carrying.
A good set of trekking poles is also invaluable for hiking. Not only will they help you use upper-body strength to ascend steep trails, they’ll also provide stability on the downhill sections, which can be murder on your knees. When you don’t need them, they can be quickly clipped on to your hiking bag.
For anything more than an easy day hike, it’s important to carry a few emergency supplies in your trekking bag, in case the unexpected occurs. The two most important considerations for your safety are water and warmth. Hikes should always be planned around their proximity to a water source, but you’ll still need to carry gear to make that water potable. The simplest methods for disinfecting water (and the best for those who subscribe to the tenets of ultralight backpacking) are iodine or chlorine tablets. They don’t taste very good, but they’re much smaller and easier to carry than a water filter.
For warmth, packing some type of a fire starter is critical. Butane lighters can fail, though, so it’s best to also carry a magnesium fire stick, which will work in any conditions to spark material like dried grass or paper.
If you’re not an experienced backpacker, you may want to go base camping instead of on a multi-day backpacking trip. To base camp, you’d haul your hiking bag full of gear to a campsite, your “base,” on the first day and then take day hikes from there. In that case, you’ll need a small hiking backpack to carry things like water, snacks, sunscreen, and first-aid supplies. The best day hiking backpacks are usually in the 15 to 20 liter range is usually sufficient.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what needs to go in your hiking bag, but they are some of the most essential components. Before doing any trekking, you should definitely consult a packing checklist – one piece of gear can make the difference between an awesome experience and a terrible one.
Now that your gear is all packed up, it’s time to make your way to the trail-head. For those that are new to hiking (or just want to see some amazing places), the National Parks are a great place to start. Trails in the National Parks usually have excellent maps with detailed information regarding distance, elevation, and points of interest. The trails are also well marked, so you’re not likely to get lost. Rangers at the visitor’s centres can help you plan your route based on your skill level and the amount of time you’re willing to spend in the back-country.
When planning your backpacking trip, be sure to read up on any camping restrictions that the park might have. Some require that you apply for camping permits months in advance because the routes are so popular during peak season. Others have strict rules regarding campfires and waste disposal. Knowing the regulations in advance will help you have a better camping experience and make you a better steward of the park.
Most Popular Hiking Trails in the National Parks
Half Dome Trail – Yosemite National Park
Yosemite’s Half Dome is one of the most iconic features of the U.S. national park system, perhaps rivaled only by Yellowstone’s Old Faithful. A hike up it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who are in good enough shape to ascend the monolith. The trail climbs a total of 4,800 feet, with much of that gain occurring on the famous cable route. Here, you’ll climb a series of steps bolted into the rock while attached to a cable system to stop you from tumbling down the mountain should you lose your footing. Only 300 hikers are allowed onto the route each day, so permits need to be obtained in advance.
Garden Wall – Glacier National Park
The trailhead for Glacier’s Garden Wall hike sits atop Logan Pass, the highest point on the park’s iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road. A major advantage to starting high up on the pass is that there is very little elevation gain, only 500 feet in 6.8 miles. The trail skirts the melting Grinell Glacier, providing excellent views of it and of the lake that has formed beneath it. Two more lakes are visible below the glacier, including Swiftcurrent Lake and the Many Glacier Hotel beside it. The trail ends at along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and a free park shuttle will transport you back to the trailhead.
Canyon Overlook Trail – Zion National Park
Of all the hikes in the national park system, this one might offer the biggest reward for the least amount of effort. The route to the Canyon Overlook is only half a mile long and utilizes a very well maintained trail. However, the views from the overlook of Zion’s Upper-East Canyon couldn’t be more stunning. This is an excellent hike for beginners or visitors who just want to get a taste of the park before heading off on a lengthier excursion.
Devils Garden – Arches National Park
Arches National Park is famous for its relatively accessible hikes to the namesake sandstones arches that dot the park. The Devil’s Garden route is the park’s longest and perhaps most challenging hike, but visits eight of the arches. The trail gains almost 1,200 feet in elevation over the course of eight miles. Most of the arches require a short side trip from the main trail, which is marked by a series of cairns or stones lining its edges. In the summer, temperatures in Arches can exceed 100 degrees, making heatstroke and dehydration a real possibility. Visit in the cooler months if you can, and always carry an adequate supply of water – one liter per hour.
Precipice Trail – Acadia National Park
Acadia is the only national park in New England; fortunately, it has one of the most unique and impressive trails in the country. The Precipice Trail ascends Champlain Mountain for 850 feet via a series of iron ladder rungs. These handholds allow hikers to traverse narrow cliffs and vertical walls that would otherwise be impossible without significant rock climbing experience. At the summit, you’re rewarded with postcard-quality views of the Atlantic Ocean and the forests of Mount Deseret Island. Unlike the Half Dome cable route in Yosemite, there is no safety system to clip onto here. If you’re afraid of heights, this is not the trail for you. The trail is closed during the spring and early summer, as the mountain is a nesting ground for the endangered Peregrine Falcon.
Long Distance Hiking in the National Parks
If you’re up for a serious challenge, long distance hikes (those that are over 500 miles) can be a great way to see America’s national parks. The two most famous long distance hikes in the U.S. are the 2,700-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) along the West Coast and the 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail (AT) through the eponymous mountain range. Both have surged in popularity since the Hollywood films Wild and A Walk in the Woods highlighted the amazing experience that a long distance hike can be. The PCT weaves through several parks: Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades, while the AT traverses 100 miles of Shenandoah National Park.
However, if you’re looking for something less crowded and more rustic, America is not short on places to go for a long walk. The Continental Divide Trail through the Rocky Mountains is longer than either the PCT or the AT (at close to 3,000 miles), crosses more rugged terrain, and is only completed by around 50 people each year. If you live in the northeast corner of the country and are looking for a shorter but still quite challenging hiking trail, Vermont’s Long Trail is only 273 miles and can be completed in a few weeks instead of the six months the other three require.
Hopefully this guide has given you the tools necessary to start an amazing adventure in one of America’s great national parks. Spending a little time preparing – packing and repacking your bag, trying out your equipment, and going through your gear checklist, will make for a much more enjoyable experience. While a few of the best trails in the National Parks were mentioned here, there are literally hundreds to choose from. Check out the park’s website and call the visitor’s center if you need more help in planning your route. And remember – time spent in the wilderness is never wasted.
Choosing appropriate tents for camping or hiking is the important first step to providing a great outdoors experience. There are several things to factor in when choosing a tent for camping.
Are you a family? Do you need separate rooms? How important is speed and ease when setting up your tent? Do you have a certain weight/size restriction in your pack? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself.
An overnight trip to the hillside or mountains is fun, but can be very unpleasant if you are unequipped. It’s important you are set up correctly with the right tent. It will ensure a memorable experience from your next camping or hiking trip.
Some people will go on their first camping trip and unfortunately will never go camping again. All it takes is one bad experience where they have not been sufficiently equipped. Or they did not understand the best way to use their equipment that they have.
When it comes to buying the ideal tent for camping, there are numerous options the market has to offer. It can be quite overwhelming! Knowing which outdoor tent to look for and what attributes are of most importance to your particular situation. However, to make your purchase easier, here are a few questions you should ask:
Tents are usually categorised and often named by the number of persons who can utilise the available space. The options are huge;
Consider the number of people who will spend the night in a tent. Be sure to pay attention to the floor square-footage. Is it going to be large enough for you and your fellow campers? You also need to take into consideration how much camping gear you have. Will it need to stored out of the elements? Does the tent have a tent annex that you can close up to store your gear? If not then it will need to be stored in the main tent section. Thus taking up sleeping room. A three person tent is a great option if you are a single camper. It is not that much heavier that a 2 person tent, but can give you some more space to move inside.
On a similar vein as the number of inhabitants, is the main reason for buying the tent. If you’ll be backpacking more often, you’ll want a small, lightweight tent to save you the ounces on your pack. If your trip will be more of car camping then weight is not much of an issue. You can pick a tent that will give you more room above your head and on the floor. A three person tent just fits in the two extremes, whereas a four person tent and up are only really suitable for car camping.
When it comes time to purchase one of the many available tents for camping or hiking, you can spend from as little as $50 up to many hundreds of dollars. Certain elements will determine price, like the speed at which you want your tent set up. Some tents literally set themselves up in seconds, but command a higher price for doing so, while others use old fashioned effort. Other things that can determine price is the quality of the material, the zips, and the material the poles are made from. You are best advised not the cut corners buying a tent. There are lots of cheap tents for sale, but basically you get what you pay for. I have previously bought a cheap three person tent only to be up one night in the heavy rain repairing broken tent poles! Not a nice experience! You should look at only getting quality aluminium poles. Or at a bare minimum, good quality, thicker diameter glass fibre poles can also be considered. Cheap thin poles will just break at the first storm encounter. The tent fabric should be of good quality, sealed for rain protection, and the seals should be taped and silicon coated. You can opt for the heavier canvas type, or a more popular version is a lighter nylon type.
The following two person tent is an one example of many high quality tents for camping and hiking. It’s lightweight, features a waterproof nylon tent fabric and waterproof seams, is easy to set up and it comes with Aluminium poles and pegs. It’s perfect for couples that love camping or hiking.
When it comes to pitching a tent, you need to select the right spot for pitching. It’s all about getting the right location. Choosing a perfect place is the starting point to having a great night’s sleep. It can also prevent damage to your tent. After all, a camping expedition is all about peace of mind.
Prior to setting camp, take a few minutes to scout the area to get the right spot. When checking for any trees that you may want to camp under, determine if they are affected by damp rot or termites. If they are then this can be a serious safety hazard if a branch decides to drop off! A quick 2 minute look at a tree can determine that. A good sign that it may be affected, is if the tree has moss growing on the tree trunk and branches. Another good sign is if it does not have leaves anymore.
Considering the levelness of the ground is also important. It will make for a good night sleep if you are not rolling down the inside of your tent all night. Since flat ground is not available everywhere, you may have to settle for a slightly sloping ground. Water run-off on the land should also not be overlooked. You should always aim for higher ground, so if it does rain, you are not laying in a pool of water that has collected underneath your tent. You should also avoid camping in dry creek beds, as flash flooding may occur in some areas. Also pay attention to camping alongside or on the side of mountains as landslides could occur in a storm or heavy rain. Another handy tip is to try and locate your tent alongside a set of trees that can be used to tie off a tarpaulin, without the need for poles. This will provide a comfortable place to sit and prepare meals with overhead protection from the elements.
If you’re a camper who likes being in close proximity to facilities and amenities for comfort, then you should look for a pitching spot that’s adjacent to them. For instance, if you’ll need to frequent the food stores and loos, then you should select a spot close by. One down side to this though is the increase in foot traffic around your tent at peak times of the day. Sometimes it can start very early in the morning when everyone is rushing to get to the toilet. If you must camp near a toilet block or playground etc, then a handy tip is to make sure you attach all your guy ropes to your tent, and peg them out, which will increase the overall footprint size of your camp. You could also position your car in a strategic place so people cannot walk directly next to your tent.
It is very important that the ground area you decide to pitch your tent on is clear from small rocks and branches. This may cause damage to your tent floor, and makes for a very unpleasant sleep. A great tip that will extent the life of your tent, is you should also lay a small tarpaulin down first to protect your tent floor. Ensure that the tarpaulin is smaller in area than your tent floor, otherwise it will collect water, which will run under your tent if it rains.
If you prefer to wake up in your own time, instead of the blazing morning sun waking you up, then it’s a good idea to know the direction of the sun. Try to go for a shaded location that will give you good sun protection when you need it most.
Buying a tent does not need to be stressful experience. As long as you know what you are looking for when you are buying. As you will find, there are many different tents for camping and hiking, but be aware, there are also many cheap tents for sale. They simply do not last and you often end up replacing them later. Whether its a small tent you’re looking at or one of the many large tents that are available, your tent purchase will ultimately be a personal preference. Take some time to choose the one that suits your needs. It will be one of the most important items in your camping kit.
Perfect tent pitching only comes with practice, patience and common sense. One thing we learned when camping as a family was to start educating our kids early. Give them the opportunity to pitch their own tent. They will get great satisfaction (after a little frustration) from doing this. They will get more proficient at successful tent pitching the more they do it. It will also make your life a lot easier, giving you more time to finish setting up your camp. There’s nothing worse than going on a nice camping trip to escape the worries of everyday life, and stress out over the set-up process!
Hopefully you have found this article about tents for camping helpful. Use some of these tips and hopefully it will make your next (or your first) camping trip a great one!
When it comes to camping stuff to take on your next camping trip, the sky’s the limit. If it serves a purpose, or if it will make your camping trip more comfortable and provide more fun, but most importantly if you can fit it in, then great! Bring it along.
Most people think of camping as just pitching a tent and being “as one” with nature. As a minimum, they may pack a few sleeping bags, a tent and some food items. Nothing wrong with that at all, but if you want to enhance your camping experience, then bringing a few additional items will “take the edge off” and will ensure that all family members have a great time! Enjoying camping as a family or with a group of friends is the ultimate experience.
There are a countless numbers of additional camping products you can consider to bring along. Here are just a few of them that can make the camping experience a lot more comfortable.
If you’re not into crawling out of the tent at night to use the bathroom, you may wish to take one of these along. You can put it in a corner of the tent, or in a separate “toilet tent” for everyone’s convenience.
There are many inexpensive portable hammocks that you can invest in. You can use a frame or tie them to two nearby trees and enjoy life from your hammock. If you have room…this is a GREAT item to include. Takes up minimal space and really completes the camp experience.
Next time you go camping you won’t have to sit on your pillow to pack it. These are ideal and you can stow them in a backpack or in your other camping gear. Just blow them up to inflate them and voila, you have an instant pillow.
Never go outdoors without it. Even if it is cloudy out, you can still suffer from a sunburn from the powerful UV rays. Be wise and always pack some sunscreen. Getting badly burnt on the first day of your camping holiday can restrict some of the activities you wish to do.
Unfortunately many inexperienced campers/hikers do not take enough water with them, or do not have a provision to collect water from fresh waterways. An insulated water bottle to keep your water fresh and cool whenever you are able to access water is a minimum requirement.
If you’re into hiking, you’ll want to have a pair of sturdy hiking boots to wear. These will help to support your ankles preventing a painful twist of the ankle. They will also protect your feet from sharp rocks and in rare instances, snake bites.
There are many Multi-tools on the market. Carrying one tool that does a range of different tasks is the smart way to go. You’ll save room in your camping kit, reduce your weight, and be assured you have most circumstances covered.
See below for a great example of a quality Multi-tool.
This particular item includes the following tools;
Mini knife, Spanner, Saw, Pliers, Wrench and Screwdriver. It is a quality item and is made from 420 Stainless Steel.
Buying a quality camping chair is going to save you money in the long run. You will get many years of use from a better quality chair. A tip when buying is to decide what you actually want from your chair. Did you want a side table attached? How about it reclining? What about Steel or Aluminium? Taking the time to think exactly what you want will make sure you are truly happy with your camping chair, so you can get the most use out of it. Don’t leave home without them. You’ll regret it if you forget it!!
There are a variety of great lanterns on the market today. You can choose from LPG (gas) powered lanterns, battery operated fluro lanterns to portable rechargeable LED lanterns. Make sure that you have plenty of spare batteries and for LPG (gas) lanterns ensure that you’ve brought along enough gas either in a bottle or cartridges and extra mantels. Also, ensure that you have a way to light your gas lanterns. If you are camping in the wild for an extended time, then you may want to invest in a portable rechargeable LED lantern that you can charge from the sun.
Now we know that you’re camping or hiking, but for some, it’s challenging to part with your cell phone. Or perhaps you’re bringing the cell phone along for the GPS capability or staying for an extended time and need to operate a laptop/tablet for work purposes. Either way, bringing along a suitable solar charger that will use the sun to charge your portable unit is a smart option. Always check the input and output of your charger to avoid damage to your unit.
Many areas won’t allow open campfires due to fire hazard. (Check with your National Park to confirm fire restrictions for certain times of the year). In such cases, take along a small portable cooker/stove. This can be LPG (gas) operated or a small hibachi type that will allow you to use charcoal briquettes. Please note that in some areas during fire restrictions, even a briquette cooker is not permitted.
Depending on how long you’re going to be gone and how rustic your camping is going to be, you may wish to grab a shower now and again. A solar camp shower will heat your water from the sun during the day and you can grab a quick shower later in the afternoon or evening. These are usually gravity fed types. One option to conserve your drinking water is to use nearby waterways to collect water, then heat over the fire and then fill the solar shower pouch up. Taking a few of these along will ensure you always have a nice hot shower when you desire.
For some people, this may not be required, but if you can fit them in, then it makes the whole camping/hiking experience more comfortable. There’s nothing worse than hiking all day and then having an uncomfortable and restless sleep because you don’t have enough padding between yourself and the ground. It may make the next day hiking a little harder than it should be. Always look for quality when buying an inflatable mat. It will ensure you are not lying on the tent floor in the morning because your mat has failed! There are 2 options, self inflating or one that requires a pump. The self inflating type is generally larger in size when empty. Always take a repair kit. Regarding the pumps, you can get 12v, battery operated or hand pump. I generally use the 12v for quicker inflation, but always make sure I have a hand pump packed as a back up.
A good flashlight or LED headlamp is a necessity. When things go bump in the night and you want to go investigate, you don’t want to accidentally walk on a scorpion or into a skunk. There are many types available, either non chargeable (don’t forget spare batteries!), or ideally one you can re-charge with your solar charger. Newer LED types draw less power and are brighter.
A suitable insect repellent is required to keep mosquitoes, flies and other insects away, but is sometimes overlooked. Don’t let them ruin your trip by biting you, after all the whole reason for hiking/camping is to enjoy the outdoors. Some mosquitoes can also carry disease, so it’s important you are protected. Another item that will take up no room in your camping kit, but will assist in tick removal is a Twist Tick Remover. A low cost item that will ensure easy and clean removal of ticks.
A great addition to your camping kit when you don’t have the capacity to carry extra water. If you’re in doubt about the cleanliness of your water source, you could use water purification tablets or a water bottle that contains an excellent fine filter built in to ensure harmful bacteria is removed before drinking.
There are a lot of different camping products that you can take with you on your next camping trip. It really depends on how long you plan to be gone, where you’re going and what you can fit in. Some of the above-mentioned items may make your trip more comfortable. Remember though, you don’t need everything at once. Adding camping stuff to your camping kit gradually as you need it, will result in a very well equipped kit over time.
There are few basic requirements for your Camping arsenal that should be covered first. These will include a tent, sleeping bag, food and a cooking device.
Once you have the basics covered, you can really expand your Camping Kit into a mighty camping/hiking resource.
Camping for some people has been something they have been lucky enough to have grown up with. For other people it is something that they may have just been introduced to, or they always had an interest in, but never had the courage to venture out and try it for themselves. One problem people face is that they are unsure on what items they need to bring with them. Hopefully with the information below, they will be able to start including these items into their own Camp Kit, and be safe in the knowledge that the camping/hiking trip they are taking will be more enjoyable because they are better equipped to handle most situations.
Below are some items that people may not think of at first, but should make it on everyone’s list of important camping items.
A First Aid Kit may not seem like an obvious item that people would want to bring camping or hiking. However, a small first aid kit is an essential piece of Camping and Hiking equipment that should be included. A suitable Camping first aid kit needs to have some of the basic first aid products contained inside. As a minimum it should include a range of different size Band-Aids, Sterile cleaning swabs, Large Wound Dressing, Emergency Blanket, Sting relief and Pain Killers. This should treat the majority of conditions that people may encounter our in the wilderness. You need to have the ability to treat yourself or others when you are out in the wild. In some cases this can be the difference between surviving or not.
Matches or some sort of a Fire Starter are also a very important requirement. If you are bringing matches, ensure they are in a waterproof container. You can get waterproof matches, but also having them in a good container will prevent any issues. Having a flint fire starter is a great back up to matches.
A good quality Camping Shovel and leather Gloves of some sort should also be something that is considered in your list of Camping Products. The leather gloves can be great for grabbing a hot pot or kettle from the fire, or for any of the dirtier work you need to attend to around camp. A good quality camping shovel can be used for a whole range of uses including digging a toilet hole, creating a safe fire pit, extinguishing the fire when finished and moving hot coals around your camp oven. A multi-purpose shovel that includes other features like the one shown below, ensures that you are limiting the items you need to bring when camping or hiking. It should be good quality and made from lightweight Aluminium and Stainless steel.
The below example also includes the following items as part of the shovel;
The head of the shovel can also be locked in different positions to form a hoe for a different digging style.
A Compass and Map should be a definite inclusion if you are a Hiker. It is so easy to “get off course” when you are out in the woods. This may be because the trail doesn’t always lead you in the direction you need to go, or you may change direction looking at great scenery. People these days like to rely on newer technology like a GPS device. While these are good, it’s always great to have a reliable backup in a Compass and paper Map. Its important that you fully understand how to use both of these before you venture out.
A good quality Camping Knife is another essential item that should be included in your Camping Kit. It needs to be strong and versatile enough to do multiple jobs. It can be a personal knife that is held in a belt pouch, or form part of your kitchen. Either way, it needs to be good quality and something you can rely on for a number of different tasks. It can also serve as a personal protection device as well should the need arise.
Good quality Clothing that suits the current weather conditions and also unexpected weather is something else that you should think about as part of your kit. Lightweight, breathable clothing, that has a good UV protection rating for hotter conditions, and thermal, waterproof clothing for cooler/wet trips. Storing a poncho in your kit as a permanent item is a good lightweight addition for unexpected summer rains. Quality hiking shoes and strong boots should also be considered.
A good quality Hat is a must! It can get very hot out on some trails and you need protection from the sun. A good quality hat will keep you cooler, protect you from sunburn and could also potentially help save you some of your precious water.
Tarpaulins and ropes are something I always carry. I actually carry 3 tarpaulins, in different sizes. These are very useful for sun and rain shelters, wind breaks around your camp, a floor for your camp, and to use as a protective base underneath your tent. They can also be used to collect and direct rain water to a tank or container, and in the event that you get lost and you need to be seen from the air, then an erected tarpaulin is a great way for search planes etc to have a better chance of spotting you.
There are so many items that you can include in your own Camping Kit, and note that everyone will have their own preference, but I believe the above items should be a part of everyone’s kit and some of these may not be items you would normally think of immediately.