Category Archives: Hiking

Why Choose a Women’s Specific Backpack

With increasing number of women now engaging in outdoor activities, many well known backpack manufacturers now offer men and women specific models as well as unisex versions. The significant differences among these are the fit, size and weight. Women’s backpack is usually smaller in size to match the often shorter torso, other features such as the shoulder strap and hip belts are also designed to better fit women’s body shapes. These makes women’s specific models much lighter in weight, more comfortable and better fitting than men’s models. Therefore, choosing a women specific backpack matters a lot especially if you are planning for a long or multiple days trek.

In general, woman tend to have a shorter torso than man, hence, the backpack’s frame is smaller in size. The hip of women is wider compared to men, so the design of the hip belt usually follows those curves closely. The suspension of the backpack which dictates comfort and fit should be adjustable and distribute the majority of load weight to the hip area with little pressure on the shoulders. To determine what is the right frame size, simply measure the torso length which is from the top of the hip bone to the base of the neck.

Women’s shoulder is also narrower, hence, for women specific backpack the shoulder straps are usually closer to each other to avoid sliding off the shoulders and down to the arms. The straps are also design and curve in a way as to the discomfort of pressing against the bust.

Since backpacks are frequently used for hiking, the better the backpack fits to your body’s shape and contour, the trekking will turn out to be more enjoyable and comfortable, even for longer haul.

Backpack fit is crucial for women as they usually have to carry almost the same weight as men. Due to their smaller size, they are actually carrying a much higher percentage of body weight compared to men. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to select a backpack that fits comfortably.

Noe that we are aware there are major differences between men’s and women’s backpacks, some women due to their different shapes and figures may actually find that a men’s model is a better fit or a unisex type offers more comfort.

How to choose a Backpacking Tent

A backpacking tent is designed as a shelter to safeguard hikers / campers from the weather, a little bit of personal privacy from other campers and a shield from nasty sand flies or other insects. Selecting the proper one consists of being aware of your personal preferences and probable climatic conditions. Discovering the appropriate balance between space, weight and price.

Backpacking tents are graded according to the number of sleepers and the weather season.

 

The key question to ask is “How many people will sleep in the tent”?

Backpacking tents are typically found by their capacity sizing ranging from 1 to 3 person. To retain minimal weight as the major marketing point, tents are intentionally designed to fit compactly without any excess space for storing your gears and utensils. Hence, for solo camper, it is highly recommended to opt for a two person tent in order to be able to always keep you backpack, food and shoes safely inside the tent. In case you bring along a pet or a child, be sure to increase the capacity accordingly.

To be sure, pay the store a visit as most have at least a few of the tents already set up for you to peek inside and judge what dimensions and brand name matches your needs comfortably.

 

Another significant factor to judge is the weight. What is the tolerable limit for your backpack?

Single person tents normally weights between 2 to 3 pounds. Two-person tents quite often are between 3 to 5 pounds. As a general rule, tents that offer per person weight of 2 pounds or less, is definitely a good option.

 

What weather condition are you expecting?

Backpackers favor a 3-season tent as it is best suited almost year round moderate, spring to fall climatic conditions. An extended season tent is more appropriate for cold and windy natural environment. If you choose to camp out during winter month, it is best advised to go for the expedition tent, also categorized as 4-season tent.

Lastly, experienced backpackers own at least two good quality tents to cope with the weather conditions they anticipate to encounter at different month of the year.

 

Tips: Two small but important tent features to look for.

1. Ultra lightweight tents frequently is a single door design. For a two man tents, it is prudent to pick a two doors version as it provide each sleeper a separate zipper door to use. This is especially convenient in case if one wish to sleep early while the other may like to watch the stars or stay late. Each door usually comes with Vestibules, an extendable rainfly forming a small but precious storage space for your backpack, gears and shoes.

2. Modern tents are simpler, with fewer poles and very easy to set up, just grab the poles and the tent can be moved easily to a new spot

Just how to purify water to drink safely

There are very few places on earth nowadays where the water is risk-free to drink without having to treat, irrespective of how clear and clean it may look. Water in the wild frequently features harmful parasites, bacteria and microorganisms that can result in a illness such as hookworms, hepatitis, giardia, and dysentery. Learning how to filter water assures that you and your loved ones have safe drinking water during an unexpected emergency or in any outdoor excursions.

 

Below are some simple and useful techniques to to purify water for safe consumption:

 

1. Portable water filters

 

Using these filter systems are perhaps the simplest way to purify water. They are obtainable in a variety of sizes and designs, and can be conveniently purchased at most outdoor shops. These types of filters are excellent at eliminating murky and dirty water. It also eliminates 99.9% of all bacteria such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli as well as 99.9% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.

 

2. Chemical purifiers

 

There are many kinds chemical purifiers which anybody can quickly pick these up at outdoor outlets quite inexpensively. Iodine is just one of the popular type, it can either be in tablet or liquid form. Others can include chlorine tablets, halazone or permanganate tablets. A lot of campers choose this method because the tablets are normally very tiny and very easily placed into a pants pocket, particularly if you do not like to bring gas or alcohol stoves, or spend time to boil water.

 

3. Boiling is the safest process to purify water.

 

This technique is highly encouraged in almost all circumstances. You need to bring the water to a boil and and keep going boiling for 10 minutes or more in order to be safe. Allow the boiled water to cool and then fill in a plastic-type material or any kind of food class containers. Make certain all containers have tight screw on caps. The drawback of boiling water is that the process eliminates the oxygen and makes the water taste flat. Nonetheless, the taste can be quickly enhanced by shaking or pouring it back and forth between two bottles to add oxygen back in.

 

Helpful tips: Do not acquire water from any base that looks at standstill, filthy or any lifeless creatures that could have contaminated it. Consuming purified water is very vital as any horrible instance of nausea or vomiting, diarrhea or a fever in the forest is not only unpleasant but could possibly be life threatening, restrict your energy where you might not get yourself returning to safe region.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

The principles of leave no trace remind us to respect the rights of other users of the natural environment as well as to preserve for future generations. It is an awareness and an attitude instead of a set of rules and regulations. All of us should share and practice Leave No Trace to minimize the impact of your visits to the natural heritage areas such as the forest, mountains, rivers, seashore and all other outdoors. Simply put, when you visit the wilderness, leave everything just as you found it.

 

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

“Good Planning is living the experience in advance” Sir Edmund Hillary.

– Comply with the area regulation such as the limit on group size and schedule your trek to avoid times of high use.
– Obtained information and prepare for extreme weather and unexpected emergemcies.
– Build appropriate campfire, minimize trash and repackaging food to prevent waste.
– Avoid marking rocks and trees with paint, use GPS instead.
– Be prepared to turn back if you sense danger in your trek to avoid abandoning the leave no trace techniques.

 

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

– Hikers and campers should focus on using the established and existing trails and campsites. The objective is to minimize disturbances to soil and vegetation.
– Keep campsite small by pitching tents closer to each other.
– Trek in the middle of the trail even when muddy or wet.
– Avoid areas where impact are just starting to show.

 

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

– Always make is a habit to “Pack it in, pack it out” Before you leave, make sure to pack out all the rubbish, litter and stray food in proper disposal bins.
– Proper human waste disposal helps to prevent spread of disease. Dig catholes of about 6 to 8 inches, at least 200 feet away from river or campsite, and cover when finished.
– Use biodegradable soap to wash dishes or take shower.

 

4. Leave What You Find

– People visit backcountry to explore nature’s beauty and mystery, hence, make sure you leave rocks, shells, plants, fossils and other natural objexts as you find them and pass on for others to discover later.
– Never touch aboriginal rocks or historical artifacts
– Never build tables, chairs, structures or dig tent trenches.
– Hammer nails into trees or damage the bark of the trees in any which way are against the leave no trace principles.

 

5. Minimize Campfire Impact

– Many campers like campfires but they are no longer essential for food cooking or comfort. Use a light weight stove for cooking instead and use battery operated lantern for light. Campfires will cause lasting impact to the natural environment.
– Whenever possible or permitted, use an established campfire ring
– Leave no trace fire is small and use only deadwood or sticks that can be broken by hand.
– Burn all wood to ash and be sure to put out the fir completely when done.

 

6. Respect Wildlife

– Watch and observe wildlife from far away. Do not disturb or follow them.
– Never feed wild animals, help keep wildlife wild by storing the food, trash and leftover food securely so as to avoid damage to their health or change the natural behaviors.
– Avoid wildlife during mating, nesting and breeding seasons.

 

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

– Hike and camp in smaller groups, abide the limit rules of the site.
– Be courteous to other users, always travel and camp quietly.
– Choose campsites away from other groups to respect their privacy.
– Respect other visitors, keep the noise down and leave pets and radios at home. Let nature’s sound prevail.

How to Signal for Rescuers to find you

If you are lost in the wilderness and need to be rescued, knowing the distress and rescue communication signals, plan and send the signals quickly can increase the chances of rescuers to find you in time.

 

The most important rule you could have help yourself in advance is to leave a trip plan with an emergency contact. Make sure to include all the following information:

 

*Due/panic time. If yo have not heard from me by ..time..day..date, please call search and rescue and report me as overdue.
*Information about yourself and your hiking team: name, age, medical conditions.
*About the hike such as the name of the trail head or route, camping location, departure time and expected return time
*Your tent color, boot size & type, vehicle color, model and license plate number

 

Tip: If you do not wish to bother your emergency contact on every outing, Check out the “Bugle” app. It is an app which you can create a safety net. The app is for anyone who wants to make sure someone will know if they did not make it home on time. Your emergency contact will be notified by text message as well as email that you are overdue.

 

Choose a Signal Location

 

Sending a signals three times in a triangle shape is the international recognized distress signal. Choose a wide open area, the highest in your surrounding and build three fires in triangular shape, or build three rock piles in the shape of a triangle or build three large “X” mark with stones to signal your exact location. A bright flame at night will attract rescuers’ attention.

 

During sunny daytime, you could attract aircraft’s attention by using reflective mirror, or a reflective emergency blanket or shiny belt buckle. Many outdoor stores offer several types of easy to use reflective mirrors. Once you have succeeded in attracting rescue aircraft’s attention, wave your hand overhead in “Y” shape, which is the clear rescue signal for “Yes, I need to be rescued”.

 

Other signals to make yourself more visible

 

If you have an emergency whistle, three blasts is the known universal distress call and it can be heard a lot further than a shout.

 

Wear a bright red or orange color jacket that contrasts with your surrounding landscape.

 

If you need to move around or head for higher ground and make some visible trail, arrow symbol using sticks and stones, for rescuers to track you.

 

If you hear a helicopter or voices, yell, wave an improvised flag using shirt and stick or turn your headlamp to blinking mode. If the lamp has no blinking mode, move your hand in front of the light to simulate blinking.

 

If you bring a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), use it to send the distress signal.

 

To conclude, rescue effort usually takes time to carry out. The more remote your location, the longer the time frame will stretch. While waiting to be rescued, the most important things to focus is to stay warm, safe and create a basic but strong shelter to protect you. Be prepared to survive on your own until help arrives.

What To Do If You Get Lost While Camping or Hiking

Despite all the preparations and precautions taken, many people still get lost every year. The most important rule in any outdoor adventure is to create a safety net by letting your family or ranger / someone you trust know your hiking or camping plan and what time you expect to be back. If something did turn wrong, someone or the rescue team will know where to start searching for you.

Another important rule once you set foot on the trail is to stick to the original plan, do not detour or leave the trail. Always pack an emergency kit which should include a most recent map and a compass, among other essential items and make sure you know how to use them. Cell phone and GPS are certainly helpful but things can go wrong in the wilderness such as dead battery, out of coverage area..etc. A map and compass are more dependable.

The emergency kit should also include a whistle, do not shout because your vocal cord will quickly get tired. Use a whistle, the distress signal for help is three blasts. If you are lost and need to spend a night out in the wild, other small and light items like an emergency blanket, a tarp and fire starting kit can make a significant difference.

If you realize your are lost, what should you do? Remember the word STOP.

S – Stop. The minute you realize you may be lost, stop, stay calm and stay put. Panic will not help as you will lose the sense of direction and not be able to think rationally. In addition, the further you walk the higher the chance of being the wrong direction and will take rescuers longer to find you. Find a safe place, sit down, relax, drink some water and eat some snacks but stay calm and keep a positive mental attitude.

T – Think. Take some deep breaths and try to recall how you got to where you are, were you heading South or East. Did you see or pass any landmark that you can recognize and follow to guide you back?

O – Observe. Scan and observe the surrounding. Take out the map and compass, try to identify some landmark and pinpoint your exact location to help you form a plan. This step is usually sufficient to get re-oriented to guide you back onto the right path.

P – Plan. If you are confident to navigate the way back to some known landmark and still have time to reach before dark, then proceed. It is a good idea to mark the trail with sticks or rocks in case you need to make it back to the starting point. If the sky is getting dark or you are not sure about your plan is correct, staying put may be the best option.

While staying put, there are a few things you should do to survive until search party arrived.

  • Whistle for help and listen for a response.
  • Search for water, collect plenty of woods for fire for the night and find a dry
  • sheltered spot where rescuers can easily see you. Set up a campfire to keep you warm as well as to make you more visible.
  • Setting up rocks to signals “SOS” or “HELP” or hang brightly colored clothing from tree branches to attract searchers’ attention.

How to Poop in the Wood while Hiking or Camping

What is the best way to poop in the wood? Everybody poops, when nature calls, you will have no choice but to answer. Nobody likes to see human poo sitting anywhere near the trail path nor would they want to see anyone doing their business by the river. Knowing the proper method to “Leave No Trace pooping” is one of the important etiquette in outdoor camping and hiking.

 

1) The Outhouse

 

Many campsites or trailheads have outhouses. if you are visiting one of these for the first time, the facility there often is not pleasant but it does provide privacy and the best place to store human waste. They are design to consolidate refuse and protect the surrounding environment, especially river , from pollution and is easy to use.

Always use the outhouse before you hit the trail.

 

2) Burial Method

 

This method is the most common and convenient. It is also widely accepted because by burying your poop, it promotes quick decomposition and hence, prevents the spread of disease instead of simply pooping all over the forest.

When choosing a site for the cathole, make sure it is at least 200 feet away from your cooking area, your tent, water source or trail path. Always keep in mind nobody wants to step on your poop. Go for an inconspicuous spot not frequented by people, for example on gentle hill slope, thick undergrowth or near a fallen timber.

A site with deep organic soil, usually darker color, with some sunlight will help the decomposition process.

Use a trowel or a stick you could find to dig a cathole of about 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 in diameter. In desert where there is little organic soil, the cathole should be only 4 to 6 inches deep so as to allow the sunlight to hasten the decomposition process. The depth of 6 to 8 inches is widely considered to better promote proper decomposition while keeping wild animals out of reach. Anything deeper is thought to bypass the most active ingredient of the soil.

Once your business is done, use the stick to throw some loose dirt onto the poop and stir to mix it around. This also quicken the decomposition process. Cover and fill the cathole with more dirt and you are set to go.

 

3) Pack it Out

 

For places with dry, arid, rocky, or sandy environment, the decomposition may not happen quickly. Other places such as high elevation mountains, narrow river canyons or the glaciers, the poop will not decompose at all. In all these places, burial is not a responsible option, you have no choice but to pack it out along with your other trash or the poo will be sitting there for a very long time.

For packing out method, you will want to bring along a few WAG Bags (Waste Agglutination Gel); Poop in the bag, seal it and pack it out with the rest of your waste materials.

Solo Backpacking for women – Where to and What to Prepare

If you wish to venture out to exotic places or remote corners of the world without any fixed schedule or itinerary, backpacking is the best option. It used to be a holiday adventure dominated by males but not anymore as there are now more women than ever ready to pack up and explore.

The vast majority of women backpacking solo every year throughout Europe and the rest of the world, completed their journeys safely. This is largely due to advance research and planning, follow some basic guidelines and stick to the trip plan.

The main reason to go backpacking is to be as small and as light as possible. However, you also want to ensure a pack that is sufficiently large to carry all the essentials but not too bulky for the buses or trains’ compartment.

Depending on which countries you are visiting, bringing clothes and shoes to suit local environmental condition is important. Temperatures in some countries can vary drastically between daylight and night time. If you visit a Muslim country, make sure to adhere to local dress code to avoid potential trouble.

If you are visiting mostly cities and towns, a pair strong and comfortable walking shoe should be enough instead of weighing down your backpack with an extra pair of boots.

A smartphone with GPS and local calling card is mandatory to save time as well as get you out of trouble. Be reminded to carry along an international power adapter and also remember to inform your family or friends regularly on your trip’s progress.

For financials, be sure to keep a record of the credit card and the bank’s contact details in a secure but easily accessible place. Do not carry large amount of cash because ATM machines are practically available in almost all countries in the world. Travel insurance is a must, ensure you are fully covered but not over.

Camping is not a good idea for safety reasons especially in countries you are not familiar with. Avoid ultra cheap hostel either as you do not know who you will sharing the night with. Reading hostel reviews in advance is helpful to ensure you can sleep comfortably and well rested. Tip: Always make sure your valuables and bags are secured in a locker before going out for the day.

Where not to go? Currently, the only places considered unsafe for women are India, Syria and the Middle east and North Africa, including Tunisia and Egypt. Just about in anywhere in any countries, it is sensible not to wander to secluded places on your own at night, dark or deserted alleys. Once again, reading reviews of other solo backpackers online give you valuable insight to plan ahead and be more confident.

Western Europe, the Nordics, USA and Canada are generally accepted to be the safest countries for female backpackers. Some solo packers returned from Mexico and Thailand were reported to keen to plan a second trip.

In summary, with the right amount time spend on research and thoughtful planning, you can greatly increase the chances of your next solo backpacking journey a safer experience.

The Correct Way to Pack a Backpack

It is a bad habit and very inefficient to just simply throw or squeeze your gears into the backpack the night before the trip. There is a better way to packing to enhance your overall backpacking experience.

Before packing, make sure you have a proper backpack size to contain all the gears you intent to bring for the trip. Lay out everything you need will help to realize any forgotten items as well as to get rid of not needed luxurious gears. In short, there is a need to optimize a balance between unnecessary weight and comfort items and organize the gears and loading your backpack correctly will ensure convenience, comfort and stability.

For a well organized pack to achieve maximum stability:

1. Put low priority and light weight gears, like sleeping bag, sleeping pad, night clothes and book, in the bottom. It is a good idea to store liquid fuel in bag in the bottom in case of leakage.
2. Heaviest equipment should be loaded next to your back and centered in the pack. These usually include food , water, stove, tent..etc just like to height the hydration pack would normally be placed.
3. High priority items such as GPS, rain gear, headlamp, insect repellent, energy bars, ORS should be stored in front pockets or on the top of the pack for quick access.

After all gears have been loaded, tighten the side straps will prevent load shifting while walking. Do not overload your backpack. As a general rule of thump, a fully loaded backpack should not exceed 30% of your body weight, although some experienced backpackers may be able to carry heavier load. For new or weaker backpackers, they should start with lighter weight load.

If your backpack is of the appropriate size for the duration of the trip and loaded correctly, you should not need to attach anything else on the outside of the pack. Nonetheless, for some bulky or odd shape thing such as sandals, trekking and tent poles, it may be necessary to to strap them to the outside. If possible, try to avoid doing this because it could affect your balance and may cause swing and tripping. To avoid stability issue, always balance the weight of the gears strapped to the outside of the pack.

Reminder: Friends or fellow hikers usually do not allow others to hook items on the outside of their packs. Do not over stuff, only carry what you need or the essentials.

Tips: During packing, remember to fill in empty spaces with smaller items. For instance, fill the cup with coffee and tea bags and stuff it inside a pot or use your sleeping bag to wrap around other gears.

Categorizing your gears in color coded waterproof sacks not only makes packing a lot easier but also enables you reach the needed supplies quickly on the trail.

If you could afford, upgrading to new and lighter equipment will certainly help keep the weight load and backpack size down.

Distributing weight in a correct way described above could undoubtedly attain much better comfort, easy access and most importantly, stability.

Reliable and Quality Pocket Knives Brands

Most outdoor stores carry a large range of quality brands and models for different uses. If you are looking for a dependable and durable pocket knife that fit various needs and situations, you should be searching for a quality knife manufactured by reputable names than than the ones available at your local hardware store. This article look at some of the well known brands such as Victorinox, Gerber, Leatherman, CRKT, Wenger and Smith & Wesson that could help to select the best pocket knife that you need.

Gerber produced a wide range of pocket knives, in addition to many types of survival gears. The company is based in Oregon and is well known with regard to high quality knives. Gerber is a traditional pocket knife company that focuses only on producing quality knife with durable blades and comfortable grips. they do not offer wild designs or unique creative models like some other companies, just simple and straight forward quality knives.

Smith & Wesson (S&W), better known for their guns and firepowers, also produces good quality pocket knife. Their knives are similar to Gerber’s, pretty standard. However, many knives that they produce have much longer blades than the industry’s standard average of around four inches. This could be useful if you are hiking in less well defined path or doing general work.

CRKT, on the other hand, produces mostly very unique knives compared to Gerber and Smith & Wesson. It does however also offers limited standard models. one of CRKT’s best selling model has a special feature to automatically sharpen the blade upon closing. Another version has a design of a nesting double blade for you to choose either a shorter or longer blade depending on the circumstances. Most CRKT models are radically designed compared to other companies in the industry.

Leatherman is brand name consumers frequently refers to as multi-tools. This company also produces great knives. Contrary to Smith & Wesson, some of their models have shorter than the average length in blade but wider. If you happen to be looking for a handy smaller and simpler to carry pocket knife, then Leatherman is a good option to consider. Leatherman also offers key chain knives which can be conveniently carry with the car keys.

Victorinox is another famous multi-tools pocket knife for everyday carry. Many people refer this brand as the producer of the famed Swiss Army knife. All models of Swiss Army Knife includes many other useful tools such as the scissor, plier, can opener, screwdrivers,..etc. Due to the compact design encasing all the other multi-tools, Swiss Army Knife is not as sturdy and high quality as compared to other brands. It is worth to note that Victorinox also make some quality standard fixed blade knives.

Last but not the least, Wenger, many people referred to as the genuine creator of the Swiss Army Knife. The company offers similar products as Victorinox, but have a larger range of standard knives. One of their best selling model is the standard Swiss Army Knife. This model has recently been re-designed and upgraded with improved materials, it has better grips as well. Wenger tool is useful for general use and easy to carry in any outdoor trips.

To conclude, pocket knife is a simple and easy to carry tools that is useful in many circumstances. The above mentioned brands are some of the best known names in the pocket knife industry. The wide range of knives they offer should be able to match just about anything one would need in any situation.