Travel Blog

Seven Solo Backpacking Tips

December 28th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Solo backpacking means peace and quiet. No one to talk to means no words are put between you and the beauty around you. The miles just flow. It’s entirely up to you to say when you eat or take a break. Want to jump in that alpine lake? It’s your decision alone. It’s a unique experience. Here are a few Solo Backpacking Tips.

A solo backpacker also is vulnerable. Twist your ankle, and there’s nobody there to help you. Have you ever been stuck alone without food for days? How can you make your solo backpacking trip safe? You can’t. It’s inherently more dangerous to go alone into the wilderness. What you can do though, is make it safer.

Some Solo Backpacking Tips

1. Tell someone where you’ll be, and when you expect to return.It’s probably best if you leave a map with them, and let them know who to call if you don’t return on time.

2. Bring a cell phone. I don’t do this yet myself, but manylives have now been saved by cell phones. Turn it off and put it in the bottom of your pack so it won’t bother you.

3. Bring the usual safety items (matches, 1st aid, iodine tablets, etc), but double-check to see if they are there and in working order, as you’ll have nobody elses supplies to back you up.

Solo Backpacking Tips

4. If you’re not sure of your abilities, or have a bad knee or other potential problem, stick to well-traveled trails. On many routes, another backpacker will be by every hour. That’s good to know if you’re in trouble.

5. Learn well how to read a map and use a compass. If you are two miles off route and can’t get a signal on your phone when your knee gives out, you’re in trouble. Even if you like to wander, you should be able to know where you are on the map for safety.

6. Know your abilities. Don’t plan on twenty-mile days if you haven’t done them before.

7. Learn to lighten your load. When you’re alone, you lose the efficiency of sharing the load for stoves, tents and other common items. It’s easy – and dangerous – to become over loaded when yours is the only backpack. You might want to read up on ultralight backpacking.

Solo backpacking is riskier, but for some of us, it’s well worth the risk. Try it, and you might agree. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions.

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A Backpacking List – Things To Learn

December 21st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking 1 Comment »

Have you ever had a backpacking trip that was a disaster – even though you brought everything you needed? Maybe you had matches,but couldn’t get that fire going. You need more than good gear to assure a safe and enjoyable wilderness experience. You need to know how to do a few things, and the following list will get you started.

1. Learn fire making. Practice in your yard if you have to, but try to start that fire with one match. Try it the next time it’s raining too.

2. Learn to pitch a tent. Do it wrong and the rain will come in, or the the wind will tear the seams. Tents should be pitched tight, and you should be able to set your tent up in a few minutes.

A Backpacking List – Things To Learn

3. Learn how to stay warm. Practice camping in the yard, to see how blocking the wind, wearing a hat, and eating fatty foods before sleeping can keep you warmer.

4. Learn to cook over a fire. It’s not as easy as it seems.Block the wind, cover the pan, keep the fire small and concentrated. Practice, and time yourself. Faster is better in a jam, and it’s always possible your stove will break.

5. Learn about edible plants. Knowing how to identify cattails and three or four wild edible berries can make a trip more enjoyable, especially if you ever lose your food to a bear.

6. Learn how to walk. Also learn how to pace yourself and how to move comfortably over rocky terrain means you’ll be less tired,and less likely to twist an ankle.

7. Learn about animals. Can you tell if a bear is “bluff charging” or stalking you? If it’s the latter, playing dead will make you a bear’s supper. Hint: lots of noise usually means he just wants to frighten you, but you need to read up on this one.

8. Learn to watch the sky. Is that a lightning storm coming or not? It might be useful to know when you’re on that ridge. Learn the basics of predicting weather, and you’ll be a lot safer.

9. Learn basic first aid. Can you recognize the symptoms of hypothermia? Do you know how to properly treat blisters? Good things to know.

10. Learn navigation. Maps don’t help if you don’t know how to use them. The same is true for compasses

You don’t need to be an expert in wilderness survival to enjoy a safe hiking trip. It can help to know a little more though. Use the skills list above, and learn something new.

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Backpacking Tent Fundamentals

December 14th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

The qualities desirable in a backpacking tent are different from those tents being pitched next to a car in a campground. The biggest difference being that the backpacking tent will be carried with you and therefore, should be small and lightweight. This is one of the most important Backpacking Tent Fundamentals. Most modern two person tents weight around four to five lbs. whereas a roomy family camping tent can weigh twenty lbs or more. Solo or single person tents can weigh less than three lbs and are great if you are hiking alone. However, if you are hiking with someone else, it usually works out better weight wise to split the gear and take a two person tent.

Tent Quality

The quality of the tent is more important when backpacking. There is usually nowhere dry to go if the tent starts leaking. While a top quality tent is not necessary, cheap discount store tents should only be used if the forecast calls for clear weather.

Being tired, wet, and cold knowing the next dry place is at least ten miles away on a rocky trail will quickly put a damper on what should be an enjoyable outdoor experience.

Clips and Sleeves

There are two common ways that tent poles are attached to the tent. One is using sleeves that the poles slide through and the other is using clips that latch over the poles. Some tents even use a combination of clips and sleeves. In general, clip based designs are easier and faster to set up, while sleeve based designs are stronger and can be easily repaired with a needle and thread right at the camp site. For most conditions, I believe the clips are plenty strong and are generally better because of how quickly they allow the tent to be set up and dismantled.

Free Standing and Staked Designs

Free standing tents seem to have become the norm. Their primary advantage is that they can be set up without being staked into the ground. Stakes are still important to keep the tent from blowing around, but the stakes usually do not need to be driven far into the ground. Staked tents tend to be a bit lighter than free standing tents, but need to be staked solidly into the ground to hold their shape.

Backpacking Tent Fundamentals

Staked tents can be difficult to set up or keep up if the soil is hard or rocky. I’ve become a convert from staked tents to freestanding tents. This has come about after bending multiple tent pegs beyond repair trying to pitch the tent on hard rocky ground.

Single Wall and Double Wall Construction

Double wall tents are tents that require a separate rain fly to keep out water.They are slightly heavier than their single walled counterparts. They also take a bit longer to set up. Many are generally less expensive, warmer, and hold up better in wet conditions. While the lower weight specifications and small packing size of the single wall tents make them attractive. Double wall tents are generally a better deal economically.

Three Season and Four Season Specifications

Three season tents are just that; tents designed for Spring, Summer, and Fall camping. Few people go backpacking in the winter compared to the other three seasons. So the vast majority of tents sold are three season tents. Four season tents are built from heavier materials in order to hold up against the winter weather. They are bulkier and harder to carry. Some manufacturers offer a 3+ season tent if you are camping early in the Spring or late in the Fall. But unless you are planning specifically to camp in the winter months a three season tent is more than sufficient without undue bulk and weight.


You may not have room to keep your shoes in the tent with you. Vestibules are a great place to keep them dry and yet outside the main tent. Some vestibules provide enough of an overhang to allow the screen or even the door to be open during the rain. I personally enjoy feeling the breeze from a storm while I am dry inside the tent. Most people probably would not consider the vestibule worth the weight, but they are a nice luxury.


Different individuals will select different tents based on various factors. Understand the fundamental differences between tents. This information can help you pick the tent design that fits your hiking style and conditions.

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Lightweight Backpacks – How Light?

December 7th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

How light is light? Lightweight backpacks weigh less than three pounds, a standard I just invented. There are good packs under three pounds for almost all types of trips. My own Golite backpack weighs just 14 ounces, and has a capacity of 2900 cubic inches, plus 1000 more in the extension collar. It’s more comfortable than any frame pack I’ve used, but then I don’t carry more than 20 pounds in it.

The mesh outer pockets are a great idea. I stuff my wet tarp in the large one in the morning, where it’s easy to take out to dry later. I’ve had my GoLite for ten years. I’ve used it from the rain forest to glaciers at 20,600 feet on two trips to Ecuador,as well as in the Rockies, the Smokies, and in Michigan. Packed right, it qualifies as carry-on when I fly (I don’t like to check luggage).

My next pack will probably be the tougher Go Lite Gust, which weighs 20 ounces. I just read seven reviews, all of them praising the pack. One reviewer used it for the weekend with a27-pound load, so a lightweight backpack doesn’t have to be light-duty.

Using Frame less Lightweight Backpacks

Like mine, many lightweight backpacks don’t have frames. I use a sleeping pad for a frame, as is recommended. Some backpackers just put the pad in

Lightweight Backpacks – How Light?

the backpack loosely rolled, with everything inside it. I’ve found a better way.

Take a closed-cell pad, like the cheap blue ones, and cut it across, halfway through the foam, on opposite sides. You can accordion it into a three layer thick (2 cuts) or four layer thick (3 cuts) back-padding frame. The “hinges” thus created last a long time. Put the pad in the pack, (against your back)and load everything in behind it.

Other Backpack Options

If you want lightweight AND cheap backpacks, start experimenting. I’ve used an old aluminum pack frame and large duffle bag, to create a full-suspension pack that weighs just two pounds. Though it carried loads well in the mountains of Montana, it wasn’t the most convenient to use. By the way, it is lighter than any frame pack I’ve ever seen advertised. The 8-ounce duffle works okay as a backpack by itself too.

I recently bought a lightweight backpack at Walmart. It weighs six ounces, and it is actually comfortable. It’s a day pack, but large enough for overnight hikes, since I travel really light.It cost just four dollars. Light weight backpacking gear isn’t always expensive.

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Bivy Sacks – Making Them Yourself

November 28th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

If you have ever looked at bivy sacks in catalogs or online, you know they can be claustrophobic and expensive. I can’t help you much with the first, except to say that you’ll get used to it.The expensive part, though, I have a solution for.

I didn’t want to spend $200 for a nice bivy, so I bought an”emergency bivy” for $20. It was basically a large plastic bag.I tested it on a rainy night, with a small umbrella over my head. I tried not to breath in the bag, but I still thought I’d be soaked by the condensation, like all the books warn. In the morning I was surprisingly dry.

Later, when I lost my bivy, it occurred to me that if it was basically a large plastic bag, why pay $20 or $200 to replace it? I got out two extra large garbage bags and duct-taped them together. After cutting open one end, I had a three-foot by seven-foot bivy sack. It weighed just four ounces.

Bivy Sacks – Making Them Yourself

Now, if you have looked at bivies before, you know that none arethat light. Even my “emergency bivy” weighed twice as much. It was a bit tougher, but then I use my four-ounce bivies as disposables. They are good for a week of nights if you’re careful. At less than a dollar each, it doesn’t hurt to throw them away at the end of a trip.

Like most bivy sacks, it will leave you a little damp in the morning. It is best used in dry environments, although I used mine in Michigan without any real problems. In any case, you’ll dry out in a few minutes once you start hiking. You will also get in the habit of taking a break to lay your sleeping bag in the sun to dry any dampness.

There’s our lesson on making ultralight bivy sacks. Four ounces,and they fit in your pocket. This isn’t my only disposable lightweight backpacking gear by the way, but that’s another story.

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Wilderness Survival Backpacking Tips

November 14th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Why should you learn wilderness survival skills just for backpacking? They may save your life someday, and for ultralight enthusiasts like myself, skills replace gear, and therefore weight. The best reason, however, maybe that it’s just a good feeling to know you can deal with whatever comes up. It makes you feel more at home. We have collected a few Wilderness Survival Backpacking Tips that should cover the basics and help you survive.

To survive means to stay warm and dry, hydrated, uninjured, and to find your way out of the survival situation. Eating is nice too, but not crucial if the situation is for a few days. Below are some more or less random survival tips, just to get you interested.

Wilderness Survival Tips

1. Warmth: Sleep with your head slightly downhill to stay warmer. This may take some getting used to, but it works.

2. Food: In North America, there is no berry that looks like a blueberry, strawberry, or raspberry, which can hurt you from one taste. Just spit it out if it doesn’t taste right. If it looks and tastes like a blueberry – it is.

3. Firestarter: If you put dried moss or milkweed fuzz in your pocket as you walk, you’ll have dry tinder to start a fire, just in case it’s raining later. Experiment with different materials.

4. Direction-finding: Mark the tip of the shadow of a stick, and mark it again fifteen minutes later. The line between the first and second marks points east. A few techniques like this can save you when your compass is lost.

Wilderness Survival Backpacking Tips

5. Weather: In the Rocky Mountains you can see the clouds forming just before the afternoon storms. Being able to read the sky can keep you out of trouble. Lightning kills hikers in Colorado regularly.

6. Staying dry: Hypothermia is the biggest wilderness killer, and getting wet is the biggest cause. Watch for ledges or large fir trees to stand under if you see the rain coming.

7. Shelter: A pile of dry leaves and dead grass can keep you very warm in an emergency.

8. Hydration: Fill water bottles every chance you get, and you won’t have such a hard time with any long dry stretches of trail.

9. Injury: Pop a “blister” on the trunk of a small spruce or fir tree, and you can use the sap that oozes out as a good antiseptic dressing for small cuts.

10. Firestarter: White birch bark will usually light even when wet.

These are just a few of the wilderness survival tips and techniques you can easily learn. Why not practice one or two on your next backpacking trip? For more tips about wilderness survival and backpacking, click here.

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Choosing A Backpacking Stove

November 7th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Backpacking stoves have continued to get smaller, lighter, and easier to use. With advances in stove design, improvements in pre-prepared backpacking food, more people are choosing a backpacking stove. This has resulted in more choices for consumers, who are often uncertain about what advantages different types of stoves offer.

The two most common types of backpacking stoves are canister stoves and liquid fuel stoves. Canister stoves use pressurized disposable canisters that contain a mixture of butane and propane. Canisters are already pressurized. There is no need for pumps or heavy fuel bottles. This makes the canister stoves small and light. The canister stove simply screws onto the canister. If it is equipped with a Piezo ignition can be ignited reliably with the push of a button.

Liquid fuel stoves use small hand pumps to pressurize the fuel along with mechanical devices to atomize the fuel. These stoves have seals and moving parts that may need maintenance from time to time including lubrication and seal replacement. Liquid fuel stoves are generally heavier, but provide fuel options. Depending on the stove, liquid fuel stoves can run on various fuels including Coleman Fuel, Kerosene, or even Gasoline.

Choosing A Backpacking Stove

This flexibility can be a huge advantage; not only because liquid fuel is cheaper, but it is easier to find. Liquid fuel stoves also tend to heat better in temperatures near freezing. Canister stoves become stubborn to light. They take significantly longer to heat as temperatures drop near or below freezing. These are just a few of the factors to take into consideration when you are choosing a backpacking stove for your travels.

The type of cooking that will be done is also important in selecting a stove. If the sole purpose of the stove is to heat water to hydrate pre-prepared backpacking food and make hot drinks, almost any stove will do. If simmering of sauces, soups, or noodles is required, then the small torch like burner heads on many canister stoves should be avoided as they tend to heat unevenly and burn the food directly above the flame. Larger burner heads are generally better for simmering food even though they add size and weight to the stove.

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of stoves will help in selecting the stove best suited for the conditions.

For more backpacking information and ideas, click here.

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Best Backpacking Foods

October 28th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Maybe your favorite backpacking food is a freeze-dried turkey dinner. There really is no “Best Backpacking Foods”. There are reasons to bring certain foods, though. Here are ten foods, and the reasons you might want to consider them.

1. Nuts. This is one of the most calorie-packed foods you can take. That means less weight to carry. With lots of protein and other nutritional benefits, nuts are one of the best backpacking foods.

2. Olive oil. Add a little to your soups or dip bread in it. The best of the oils health-wise, you can eat it before sleeping, to stay warm, because fats generate heat when digested.

3. Trail mixes. Any mix with raisins and nuts is great for backpacking. Vitamins, minerals, protein, and the best reason -convenience.

4. Corn products. Tortilla chips or corn nuts are convenient, and they don’t seem to cause the tiredness that potato chips and other simple carbohydrates can cause.

5. Ramen noodles. When you need a hot meal fast, there isn’t much that’s better.

Best Backpacking Foods

6. Instant coffee. A necessity for caffeine addicts, and it’s good to have a stimulant available for emergencies.

7. Wild edible berries. Learn to identify a few, and you’ll have a nutritious excuse for a break along the trail.

8. Instant sports drinks. Pour a little in your water bottle and shake. Replacing electrolytes doesn’t get more convenient.

9. Instant re-fried beans. When you want sustained energy, eat beans.

10. Your favorites. Having your favorite foods can help salvage a rainy backpacking trip spent in the tent.

Always consider the nature of the trip when you choose your backpacking food. Hot meals are much more important in cold climates, and convenience is king if you want to make miles. A bottle of rum might even be appropriate if it’s a trip with friends. For more backpacking details, click here.

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Sleeping Pads For Lightweight Backpacking

October 21st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Sleeping Pads For Lightweight BackpackingUltralight backpackers want to give up weight, not comfort. Sleeping Pads For Lightweight Backpacking are pretty much a necessity for backpacking comfort, but who wants to carry those monstrous old inflatables down the trail? Try some of these lightweight options instead.

You can make four-ounce sleeping pads – then sometimes carry two of them. Start with the plain blue closed-cell foam pads available from any backpacking supplier. These are made larger than necessary, usually 24 by 72 inches. You can just cut them down to a four-ounce size.

It’s important that it reaches from your shoulders to your hips, so cut it to that length. Cut the width a little at a time, testing for comfort as you go. You want the pad as small as you can make it, while still big enough to insulate your torso from the ground. Your head can be on a pillow of spare clothes, and your legs on your empty pack to insulate them.

Sleeping Pads For Ultralight Fanatics

If you want it really light, cut pieces out of the pad. Half-inch holes in the pad don’t seem to make it less comfortable. Cut out a hundred little pieces of foam, and you get to save an ounce and join the ranks of the fanatical ultralight backpackers. That is what Sleeping Pads For Lightweight Backpacking is all about.

Sleeping Pads For Lightweight Backpacking

To be comfortable with a thin pad, or none at all, try sleeping where the ground is soft. You can also pile up leaves or dry grass to sleep on. Please do this only where it won’t harm the environment, and scatter the leaves in the morning so they won’t kill the vegetation they’re on. With fifteen minutes of work each night collecting materials, you can leave the sleeping pad home and be more comfortable. A thick pile of dried grass – now that’s a nice camping mattress.

More Comfortable Sleeping Pads

Do you need more cushioning? Inflatable sleeping pads are no longer out of the question for lightweight backpacking. REI’s Big Agnes Air Core Pad is a 3/4 length pad that weighs just 16ounces and is an incredible 2 1/2″ thick! I haven’t tried this one yet, so if you’ve slept with Big Agnes, let me know how she is.

There are also several self-inflating sleeping pads that are reasonably light. My old Therma rest is actually only 21 ounces, but both Therma rest and others now have self-inflating sleeping pads that are under a pound. Now that’s lightweight backpacking comfort!

For more backpacking and camping information, click here.

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Backpacking In Siena, Italy

October 14th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Backpacking TipsSiena is located an hour or so outside of Florence, Italy. My handy dandy guidebook suggested it was a side trip that just had to be made. Backpacking In Siena can be an interesting side trip. A medieval structure located behind protective walls on the top of a hill. The central area was generally closed off to cars and it was a taste of true Italy. Who was I to argue?

As I sat on the train, I check my backpack for any excess weight. I had already discarded or sent home unnecessary items and was feeling pretty light on my feet. The next thing I knew, the train had stopped and I was standing on a flat road next to a rolling hill covered in trees and homes. My Backpacking In the Siena trip was at the top.

The thing about rolling hills with lots of foliage is they are simply evil. You can never get a grasp on how far it is to the top. You keep thinking the top appears to be a few hundred feet in front of you until you reach it. Then you discover it is just a dip before another upward section. The hill up to Siena is just such a rolling hill. Throw in a road that twists all over the hill like a drunken sailor on leave, and you’ll never scoff at a moped again.

Getting in touch with my inner mule, I began to climb and tame the great beast. As I trudged along, I thought of all the great people that must have walked up the same hill throughout history. As I stood in the shade panting, I thought all of those great people probably hitched a ride instead of walking like me.

Backpacking In Siena, Italy

After thirty-five minutes or so, I was seriously starting to think about hitching a ride. Of course, this would mean admitting defeat. The battle between my genetic male stubbornness and “this sucks” attitude was intense. Like a mule,I kept going. Five bends, three dips that I could have sworn were the top.

Just as I was giving in…a wall. A really big wall. I passed it and suddenly was in a large parking lot area with tourist buses. Hands-on knees, shirt soaking, I tried to maintain my dignity as the tourist looked at me like I was insane. Did that moron walk up here? One even took a picture!

After composing myself…err, getting my breath back, I booked a room in a little hotel. The young lady working the desk seemed hesitant, but I made some comment about it being a long way up from the valley. She started giggling and I had the room.

I showered and went looking for trouble. Well, trouble that was on a flat surface. In the town center, I stumbled upon a small café selling Mexican beer. Being from San Diego, this was nirvana. My inner mule was quickly appeased and the hill of death forgotten.

Reflecting on my climb from a historical perspective, I learned a good lesson. It is far better to be behind the wall than trying to attack it! For more Backpacking In Siena and other locations, click here.

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Lightweight Backpacking Techniques

October 1st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

These lightweight backpacking techniques  and tips are options or ideas, not recommendations. I tend towards the extreme side of ultralight backpacking, and if you don’t know yourself or your skills, some of these techniques will get you into trouble.

A good example of this is the “natural mattress” that allows you to leave your sleeping bag behind. With this technique, I’ve slept with no pad, and only a five-ounce sleeping bag liner, on a night when it was near freezing. It took fifteen minutes to collect enough bracken ferns to make a two-foot thick mattress, but it was comfortable and warm.

You can use leaves, pine needles, dead grass, or dry bracken ferns. All you do is make a pile big enough to set your tent or bivy sack on. This could damage the environment in some areas, souse common sense, and collect only DEAD vegetation. Also, scatter your materials in the morning, so they won’t smother the plants underneath.

An important point here is that you have to know your environment, so you know you’ll be able to find proper mattress materials. Otherwise, you could have a very cold night or worse. Also, gloves make it easier and safer to collect ferns or grass. Try this first near home.

Knowledge Reduces Weight

Learn certain backpacking techniques, like the one above, and you can carry a lighter sleeping bag, less clothing, and even less food. Wilderness survival knowledge can help you reduce weight, but it also lets you travel the wilds more safely.

Learn which berries are edible, and you can eat as you like and bring less food. I’ve eaten half of my calorie needs in the form of berries on some days in the wilderness.

Lightweight Backpacking Techniques

During a hike to Grinnel Glacier in Glacier National Park, my wife and I ate nine types of wild berries. Finding your own food also helps to contribute to Lightweight Backpacking Techniques.

Researching the climate, and timing can help you reduce weight. You can leave rainwear home, for example, if you’re in the eastern Sierra Nevadas in September (bring a garbage bag for emergencies). I sometimes plan trips to coincide with the full moon. I enjoy getting up at four in the morning and hiking by moonlight, and since I’m up and moving at the coldest time of the night, I can get by with a lighter bag.

Money Reduces Weight

The money will buy you lighter gear, and expensive backpacking gear is generally of very high quality. I didn’t enjoy paying over$200 for my sleeping bag, but I’ve never yet been cold in it, and it weighs just 17 ounces.

Concentrate on the larger items. A sawed-off toothbrush could save you 1/4 ounce, but a lighter shelter can save you pounds. Consider small things last. Buy dual-purpose items, like a poncho that can double as a shelter. Drink soup and tea from your pan, and you won’t need a bowl or cup.

Leaving Things Reduces Weight

This can be the tough part of lightweight backpacking. Ask of every item; Can I get by without it? Stoves aren’t necessary if you bring ready-to-eat food. You don’t need a change of shirt or pants on a three-day trip. If you’re not sure you’ll be happy as a minimalist, go back to the money solution. Start replacing your things with the lightest alternatives you can buy. There are many ways to go lightweight backpacking.

For more backpacking information, click here.

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Lightweight Backpacking

September 21st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

You aren’t lightweight backpacking if you are carrying twenty-five pounds for a summer weekend. I invent these standards, but I try to be reasonable. I backpack with less than fifteen pounds total weight for a weekend trip. With a few new pieces of gear, and a little knowledge, you can probably carry less than twenty pounds for a three-day trip, and less than thirty for a week-long trip.

Start by throwing out those pack weight/body weight formulas.Learn the principles of lightweight backpacking, and you’ll never be close to what they say you can carry anyhow. And who wants to carry 25% of their body weight down the trail? The question to ask is “How much do I need to carry to be safe and comfortable?”

Lightweight Backpacking Isn’t Masochistic The biggest reason for lightweight or ultralight backpacking is to enjoy the trip more. I don’t leave crucial things behind or otherwise make myself miserable, just so I can call it lightweight backpacking.

Here’s a good rule: Go as light as you can without sacrificing things that are most important to you (safety items, a good book, a bottle of rum?). It’s not about giving things up. It’s about carefully choosing what you really need to have an enjoyable, safe trip, AND replacing heavier things with lighter things.

Lightweight Backpacking

For example, if you really need an inflatable pad, get rid of that 2-pounder and buy one of the new 13-ouncers. My down sleeping bag weighs 17 ounces and has kept me warmer than any 3or 4 pound bag I’ve had. If you replace items one-by-one with lighter alternatives, you can eventually cut your pack weight by half or more.

Start by setting aside your lightest sweater, socks, hat, etc.Then, when you can afford to, buy one of the big three (pack,tent, bag) because this is where you’ll save the most weight. Of course, going light can be expensive, but I’ve gone 110 miles in seven days (no blisters) with $7 running shoes, so it doesn’t have to be.

How Much Weight?

With proper equipment and skills, you probably can be comfortable and safe with twenty pounds on your back for the weekend. Watch yourself on your next hike. What did you actually use. Which items brought you the most comfort? What can you leave behind next time? What can you replace with lighter items?

My first really light backpacking trip was a true test in the mountains of Colorado. It rained or snowed every day. I went 110miles without a blister, climbed 5 “four teeners”, stayed warm and dry, and never had more than 17 pounds on my back. Oh, and I  never had as much fun with a heavy pack. That was light weight backpacking at its best.

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How To Stay Warm Backpacking

September 14th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Stay warm or die. That’s what it comes down to at the extremes. More people die in the wilderness of exposure than from any other cause. Staying warm, of course, also means more comfort, and for backpackers, it can mean going even lighter, without more risk. How to Stay Warm Backpacking is one of the key things that everyone needs to pay attention to.

Staying warm in the wilderness is about proper gear and good skills. Proper gear means clothing and equipment suited to the environment you’re in. This is a subject in itself, worth studying if you spend much time backpacking. With better materials and designs, the newest clothing and equipment saves lives. It is skills, however, that make the biggest difference. The following provides more information about how to Stay Warm Backpacking.

How To Stay Warm – Tips and Skills
– Set up camp in the right places. Hilltops are windy and cold, and cold air also fills valleys at night. Level ground somewhere in between, out of the wind, is best.
– Wear clothes to bed. Shake and fluff them up to make them insulate better. Some recommend against sleeping in clothes, but I’ve tried it both ways many times, and it’s always warmer with clothes on.
– Wear a hat. This may be equal to a pound of insulation in your sleeping bag. A lot of heat is lost through an uncovered head.
– Go to bed dry. Stay up until your clothes have dried, or change into dry clothes. On a warm, dry night, however, you can put damp clothes on your sleeping bag to dry them with body heat. You may need warm, dry clothes the next night (Thinking ahead is a great wilderness skill).
– Breathe into your sleeping bag. Only do this in a dry climate, or if you’re sure it’s your last night out. You’ll get damp, but you should dry quickly from hiking in the morning.

How To Stay Warm Backpacking

– Take a water-bottle full of hot water to bed with you. This is easier and safer than heating rocks and placing them around you.

– Make a pine-needle mattress. Dead leaves and dry grass work too. Scatter the leaves in the morning, so they won’t smother the plants underneath. I’ve slept warmly below freezing, with no sleeping bag, in a pile of dry grass collected from a frozen swamp.

– You can breathe into your sleeping bag if you’re really cold. You should only do this in a dry climate, or if you’re sure it’s your last night out. You’ll get damp, but you should dry quickly from hiking in the morning.

– Fill a water bottle with hot water, and take it to bed with you. This is easier and safer than heating rocks and placing them around you.

– Adjust your clothing as you hike. Remove and add clothes as necessary to stay warm without sweating. Sweat can cause you to lose heat rapidly when you stop.

– Stay dry. On a cold day, wet and hot can become hypothermia soon after you stop moving those muscles. On a hot day, however, wear wet clothing to dry it out in preparation for a possibly cold night.

– Conserve your energy. It’s tough for your body to keep itself warm with no energy reserves. You may also need that energy to gather firewood or hike to the car to escape a blizzard. Finally, you’ll make better decisions if you aren’t tired, and you’ll remember how to stay warm.

This is a sampling of wilderness skills and knowledge. There are many more things to learn about how to stay warm. For more backpacking help and information, click here.


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Ultralight Sleeping Bags

September 7th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Why ultralight sleeping bags? Because ultralight backpacking is only made possible by cutting the weight of the “big three;” the backpack, shelter and sleeping bag. The days of five-pound summer bags are gone – at least for those of us who prefer to go light.

One Pound Ultralight Sleeping Bags

There are several one-pound ultralight sleeping bags on the market now. My own is 17 ounces. It actually weighs 19 ounces with the stuff sack, but stuff sacks aren’t always necessary. It can be stuffed directly into my pack or put in a half-ounce bread bag. It’s a down sleeping bag, and has kept me warm down to below freezing – warmer, in fact, than my four-pound bag used to keep me.

It appears fragile, and I’ve babied it over the years, but it may be tougher than I thought. I’ve used it from sea-level to 16,000 feet, in all types of weather, usually camping under a tarp, yet it still has its loft, and it appears almost new. The zipper goes only half-way down, to save weight, and it’s a mummy bag, but I’m 6’3″, 165 pounds, and I’ve always been comfortable in it.

Sleeping bags weighing around a pound are summer bags, rated down

Ultralight Sleeping Bags

to 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A quick check of the newest bags out there, though, shows that even one or two of the 0-degree bags are under three pounds now. These are down-filled bags, of course, as down is still the lightest insulation for its weight.

Another big advantage of any down sleeping bag is its compressibility. Nothing packs smaller than down. However, a good synthetic bag is probably better than down if you are regularly getting it wet.

Several synthetic-fill sleeping bags now come close to down in their warmth-to-weight ratio. At least one summer bag, using Polar guard fill, weighs an even 16 ounces. That’s amazingly light for a synthetic bag.

Using Ultralight Sleeping Bags

Ultralight sleeping bags generally aren’t tough. The lighter the bag, the more fragile, but treat them gently, and they work fine. I’ve used mine for many years, in snow and rain, from Ecuador to California to Michigan, and it shows little wear. Baby these things and they can last a long time.

For more information on backpacking, click here.

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Tarp Shelters For Lightweight Backpackers

August 1st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

how to use tarp sheltersWhy use tarp shelters? The biggest reason ultralight backpackers use them is to reduce pack weight. The lightest tent you can find will be close to three pounds. Some of the newest ultralight tarps weigh just seven ounces. That’s why tarp shelters for lightweight backpackers are so popular. Read on for more about how to use tarp shelters.

Weight isn’t the only advantage of tarp shelters, though. They also give you room to move, and you can easily look around. You can quickly take them down when you’re ready to go. If it’s wet,just shake it off and it will fit in an outside pocket of your backpack. Even if they were the same weight, I’d still prefer a tarp over a tent for most trips.

The lightest of my own tarp shelters weighs 16 ounces with all the strings. That seems heavy now, when I look at the new ultralight tarps out there. Integral Designs Sil Tarp 5′ x 8′,for example, weighs just 7 ounces.

The Bozeman Mountain Works Stealth 0 Catenary Ridgeline Ulralight Backpacking Tarp weighs an amazing 5.7 ounces. With a name like that, you know it has to be expensive. Of course,almost any backpacking tarp will be lighter – and cheaper – than the lightest tents out there.

How To Use Tarp Shelters

You’ll probably need a bigger tarp than you think. A seven-foot roof may seem like it will cover your six-foot body well enough,until a blowing rain soaks your feet. Proper use is even more important than size, though.

Pitch the low side into the wind. Keep all sides low if a storm is coming. Evenly tighten guy lines. Use rocks, trees, trekking poles and whatever else helps. Pitch the tarp tightly, to keep it from flapping in the wind too much, which can loosen the strings or cause the tarp to tear.

If you haven’t used tarp shelters before, experiment until you can quickly set up in several different environments. Bring lightweight stakes, until you learn

Tarp Shelters For Lightweight Backpackers how to use sticks and trees and rocks. No stakes means less weight to carry. I’ve always found something to use, even up high on the tundra.

You might have to treat the seams with a sealant occasionally,or at least when you first buy your tarp. Buy seam-sealer any place that sells tarps and tents. You’ll need string or cord of some sort for tie-downs. I put varying lengths around the tarp, so I can untie and use the long ones where I need them.Sometimes that tree will be a little too far away.

I use 4′ by 7′ pieces of plastic for groundsheets. They’re opened-up giant garbage bags that weigh 2 ounces. They’re disposable, but I’ve used one for a week in the Rockies, and they’re cheap and easy to replace. Whatever you use, lay your bag on it, to be sure you’ll have room. You don’t want to be touching the wet ground just because you moved a little. On the other hand, if it’s too big it will catch rain out near the edge of the tarp, and funnel it back to you.

Mosquitoes keep a lot of ultralight backpackers from using tarp shelters. Repellent is a partial solution, as is using the tarp only when it isn’t too buggy. A head net helps, but keeping the rest of your body covered when it’s warm isn’t pleasant. Pitch camp in a high, breezy place and you’ll have fewer bug problems.

There are also mesh shelters you can pitch under your tarp. The lightest I’ve seen weighs 1 pound, 7 ounces. With a 7-ouncetarp, you’d be under 2 pounds for a shelter, and it comes with a floor, so you don’t have to bring a groundsheet. Ultra light tarps and tarp shelters, by the way, weigh less than 20 ounces,a standard I just invented, but it seems reasonable.

For more information on how to use tarp shelters and  about backpacking, click here.

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Backpacking Journals – Preserve Your Backpacking Experiences

June 1st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Backpacking TipsBackpacking is a great way to escape the rat race and be one with nature. Alas, your backpacking experiences can fade with time. The best way to prevent this is to keep backpacking journals about your adventures to refer to.

Backpacking Journals

Take a minute to give some consideration to your most recent backpacking experience. What sticks out in your mind? Now think about the first time you ever went backpacking. Undoubtedly, you remember few things about the geography, people you went with, particular backpacking routes and spectacular views. The experiences you’ve forgotten are lost to time. If you had kept a backpacking journal, this won’t be the case.

There are famous instances of people keeping journals throughout time. Of course, Anne Frank’s Diary is the best example. In her diary, Anne kept a running commentary of the two years her family spent hiding from the Nazis. While your backpacking experiences better be more lighthearted, keeping a journal will let you remember them as the years pass.

A good backpacking journal combines a number of characteristics. First, it should be compact so you don’t have to take up unnecessary space for other things. Second, it should have a case to protect it from rain, spills and so on. Third, the journal should contain blank areas to write your notes. Fourth, the journal should contain cue spaces to remind you to keep notes on specific things.

Preserve Your Backpacking Experiences

Cues should include:

1. Who you went backpacking with,

2. Where you backpacked and if you enjoyed it,

3. Who you met and contact information for them,

4. The geographic and weather conditions,

5. Routes you tried and how far you made it, and

6. Any unique things that occurred while backpacking.

At the end of the trip, you should be able to get the following from your journal:

1. Contact information for other backpackers and people you met,

2. Enough detail to provide you or a friend with a guide if you backpack the location a second time.

3. Memories to reflect upon years later, and

4. Something to pass on to your friends, children and grandchildren.

To get the most out of your backpacking journal, you should write in it during backpacking breaks or immediately after. Every trip is special, even if you just go out for a weekend.

Backpacking is a great way to commune with nature. Make sure to preserve the experience.

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Essentials For Backpacking Trips

March 1st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Essentials For Backpacking TripsWilderness trips can be dangerous, but you can make then less so. The following ten essentials for backpacking trips can make a huge difference on your trips success.

Knowledge. What good is a compass if you don’t know how to use it? Play with matches if your fire-making skills are shaky. Learn what to do when you see a bear. Read a little, practice a little – knowledge is more likely to save you than gadgets.

Map and compass. These are together, because that’s the way you need to use them. Make sure you take them along with you.

Matches and lighter. Bring both, or waterproof matches and a fire starter of some sort. Having two ways to start a fire is much safer. Practice before hand to make sure you can actually light a fire.

First aid kit. Buy a pre-packaged one or build your own. Make sure it has pain relievers, bandages, disinfectant, and notes on basic first aid procedures.

Foot care. Your first aid kit needs moleskin, and maybe a pin, to treat blisters. Your feet have to be well cared for when you’re hiking miles from

Essentials For Backpacking Trips

Water purification. A filter works, but they clog and break so often that you should have a small bottle of iodine tablets or other water purification as back up.

Rain Gear. One of the biggest killers in the woods is hypothermia, and it often starts when you get wet. Try to stay dry.

Shelter. This can be a tent, tarp or bivy sack. Just be sure you know how to use it. Again practice before you go.

Sleeping bag. Down bags are the warmest for their weight,but be sure you know how to keep it dry, or bring a synthetic bag.

Specific trip items. For backpacking trips in Michigan in May, bring insect repellent. In summer in Arizona, bring sunblock.Think about the specific conditions for the time and place of your trip.

Make your own list if you take regular backpacking trips. It’s no fun when a friend tells you ten miles down the trail that he’s allergic to bees and forgot his medicine. A little planning means less worries, and a better trip.

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Hiking Gear Packing Tips

February 18th, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Hiking Gear Packing TipsMore and more people today enjoy the simple, wholesome fun of hiking. Hiking is an affordable, yet healthy and emotionally rewarding way to spend a vacation or a long weekend. And you don’t need to visit a travel agent. We have put together a few Hiking Gear Packing Tips for readers to help them enjoy their vacation.

Experienced hikers will always tell you that every detail matters when you pack hiking gear, especially tents and camping stoves. The right hiking gear and clothing, a properly and ergonomically packed backpack, positive mood and good fitness. All these elements play an equally important role in the success of any hiking trip.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are the most important part of your hiking gear. The right footwear will serve you longer and take you farther and safer than any training shoes or sneakers will. You can wear a cheaper pair of pants or an old t-shirt, but a good reliable pair of hiking shoes or boots should be as expensive as you can afford.

Many people consider their jackets as another important clothing item for a hiker, especially in the colder periods of the year. A hiking jacket can be a true lifesaver if you choose well. A Gore-Tex top layer will shield you from cold, wet, and windy weather. Many hiking jacket manufacturers use a layering approach in their jackets, so that an outer shell layer becomes not insulation, but goes over insulating clothing. Underneath a Gore-Tex layer your can wear a lightweight and even trendy fleece jacket, which you can use in warmer months and for other sporting activities too.

Hiking Gear Packing Tips – Tents

Hiking tents are a must if you plan to camp in mountain regions in all three hiking seasons – spring, summer, and fall.  These hiking tents can be used for protection from storms, winds, small animals and insects. Along with a tent pack a sleeping bag and an insulating ground pad which also brings warmth as well as ironing out bumpy ground.

A lightweight, dependable backpacking stove is much easier to use than campfires which are often prohibited in certain areas. Camping stoves manufactured by such trustworthy brands as Primus and Coleman are basically a fuel container and a fire faucet with burner grates. These grates can collapse for compact storage. More expensive models even have electronic ignition so you won’t need matches or lighter. Although it is always a good idea to pack matches anyway in case of ignition failure. Another version of a camping stove is a storm cooker which basically consists of a spirit burner with windshield and handle and a pot or pan for cooking. These stoves are lightweight because you don’t need a propane container, but are sufficient for one or two people only.

The newest models of camping stoves are environmentally friendly, odor-free, and very accommodating. To cook and eat take a pot, spoon, and a cup. To start the camping stove, if you don’t have an ignition feature, lighters are more reliable than matches. Take more fuel than you initially planned – camping stoves “eat” more fuel in cold weather.

Be prepared

To fully enjoy your hiking trip you must prepare beforehand. Even a small mistake in selecting your hiking equipment may result in an injury or at the least in discomfort and a negative experience. Check and fire up your camping stove while still at home and double check your hiking gear and equipment using a hiking checklist before you head out.

About The Author: Kathryn Whittaker writes articles on a number of different topics.

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Ultralight Backpacking List – 3 Days Under 10 Pounds

February 1st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Here’s an ultralight backpacking list, an example of what I typically take on a weekend hike. We’re all different in our needs and skills, though, so please don’t take it as a recommendation. My list, with weights (not including what I wear to start):

  • GoLite Breeze Backpack: 12 ounces
  • Western Mountaineering Bag: 17 ounces
  • Nylon Tarp: 17 ounces
  • Frogg Toggs Rain Jacket: 7 ounces
  • Groundsheet: 2 ounces
  • Sleeping Pad: 4 ounces
  • Bathroom Supplies: 3 ounces
  • First Aid Kit: 3 ounces
  • Knife, Lighter, Etc: 3 ounces
  • Hat: 1 ounce
  • Gloves: 1 ounce
  • Poly Vest: 4 ounces
  • Socks, 2 pair: 2 ounces
  • T-shirt, long sleeve: 6 ounces
  • Camera: 5 ounces
  • Light: 1 ounce
  • Water: 16 ounces
  • Raw Sunflower Seeds: 16 ounces
  • Fudge-dipped granola bars (8): 16 ounces
  • Tortilla Chips: 16 ouncesTOTAL WEIGHT : 9 pounds, 8 ounces

Ultralight Backpacking List – 3 Days Under 10 Pounds

This is a summer backpacking list. But it’s worth noting that my 17-ounce sleeping bag has kept me warm when the temperatures are below freezing. The food adds up to more than 6,700 calories, plus I tend to eat a lot of wild berries. I keep iodine pills for purifying water in my first aid kit. Always stop often to refill the plastic water bottle. You never want to run out of water.

This isn’t an exercise in deprivation. I have done that too, going out with just a plastic bag to sleep in and a few granola bars. This list is what I need for comfort, warmth and safety. It is actually very enjoyable to easily walk twenty miles through the mountains, with less than ten pounds on my back. With the right skills, equipment and preparation, ultralight backpacking is never about suffering. Regardless of when you go and where you go, always tell someone where you will be. Do not deviate from your plan so searchers can easily find you.


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Features To Look For In Portable Solar Power Systems

January 1st, 2017 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Portable Solar Power SystemsThere are lots of issues to think about when considering portable solar power systems. Some of the items are features include the following. How much does it weigh? If you will be carrying your equipment in a car, this may not be so much of an issue. But if you’re backpacking, it is! How much power does it supply? How long does it take to charge my equipment? Can it run my equipment, or only charge it?

Does it come with a back-up battery? Some companies sell back-up batteries to go with your solar cell. You can charge the battery during the day (or, in some cases, while you are traveling) and later use the battery to charge your equipment. These batteries can sometimes also be charged from a wall socket and/or from a car charge adapter.

Features To Look For In Portable Solar Power Systems

Can you operate it while you are traveling? You may want to have a solar cell that you can use while you are hiking or traveling (such as a flexible panel that can be carried
on your back, or one that is even built into your backpack). This way, you can charge your small equipment, or a backup battery, while you are on-the-move (I don’t think you would want to charge your laptop while you are hiking).

Is it waterproof? If you will be using your equipment in a boat or under other circumstances where it is likely to get wet in the jungle during a monsoon) this is an important factor to consider.

Is the cord long enough? Your solar cell does best in bright sunlight, but your other equipment usually doesn’t. Some solar cells come with a long cord so you can put your
camera or laptop in the shade while they are charging.

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Backpacking Must Haves

December 1st, 2016 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

A little forethought and organization will payoff in a great memorable adventure for your next outdoors excursion. There are some backpacking must haves that campers and back packers should really consider. When you go camping you will need a camping lantern , camping stove and a camping cot as well as a flash light.

Then you have the glorious Sunset and after that why not get together with your neighboring campers for a story telling session and sing-song round the campfire. If you thought a Camping Vacation would be ‘roughing it’ and ‘hard work’ then think again. Yes it will take some planning but that’s half the fun and it won’t be that much work. Most campsite have a fire pit with a steel grill to set the pots on. If there is a campfire ban in place you can use a portable barbecue. Take the utensils from the kitchen if you have bbq tools take them.

Be Ready for Severe Weather

Severe weather can occur anytime of year and often with little warning. According to NOAA, lightning is one of the most underrated severe weather hazards. It usually claims one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction.

Horseback riding might be a fun and exciting option while visiting a national park. Several parks offer gravel roads for horseback riding, certain parks also have horse rentals and guided excursions available. A large van called an RV in employed by many campers, or more commonly in the UK a caravan is attached to a car. Both of these serve as basic mobile homes, with beds, gas and sometimes electricity.

So, if you haven’t experienced one of life treats, try it. You will enjoy yourself more than you might think. Go with the right people though.Had it with the “rat race”? Got time off but not much cash to spend? Losing touch with your family? Sounds like an old-fashioned camp out is just what you need.

Backpacking Must Haves

The cheap thrill from a backpacking adventure could really become one awesome experience. However, no one would like to encounter too unmanageable situations such as those of “Hostel”, that horrifying human trafficking movie, right?

No, there’s remedy for stupidity and overly trusting habits such as those boys in the movie. But a little common sense and carrying the right gear and other backpacking “must haves” should be of really great help if you would like to avoid any extreme conditions.So here are the perfect backpacking ingredients:

Lightweight Sleeping Mat

Maybe you’d say that it’s not your idea of a great adventure to take anything that resembles anything as cozy as your home. But after finding out just how many germs and bed bugs inhabit those local hotels and motels you’re planning to stay in, you will thank yourself so much for taking your own sleeping mat.

Portable Condiments

It really is a money-saving technique to keep your extra packets of mustard, ketchup, chili sauces and just about any condiment that fast food restaurants give when you order take out food or even when you dine-in. When you have not enough resources or when you forget to bring some of the ingredients that make your food more edible, these small packets of condiments can be handy. You don’t want shards of bottles cutting your skin or gooey ketchup messing up your other backpack stuff, right?

Whether you have a tight budget or believe sky’s the limit, you will find many camping supplies that range from as little as $20.00 all the way up to the hundreds.

Outdoor Activities

Camping mixed with outdoor activity is a great way to get ourselves involved with nature. National Parks can provide an excellent backdrop for some of your outdoor activities.Therefore in order to make sure that you have a pleasant camping adventure, make sure that you are fully clothed against all odds.

Place at least two in the bottom of you ice box then place the frozen meats, milk, juice into the box. You should place vegetables on top if there is room place a third frozen milk jug at the top of the box.

The next time you are planning on a great camping experience, don’t let the hassle of choosing a campsite get you down. Visit one of these great websites. With the thousands of campgrounds from which to choose, there is bound to be a place that is perfect for you and your family.

The thought of camping alone can be very intimidating, especially if you’re a woman. Ideally, it is not something recommended to women new to camping. If you are using a gas lantern in the rain you have to be careful because the glass globe can break if a lot of water gets on it. A single mantle in a lantern gives off about 300 watts of light.

Backpacking Must Haves

Both sports demand having the proper equipment and knowledge for safety reasons. Many National Parks offer established climbing routes that will have a wide range of difficulty levels; usually no permits are needed, unless an overnight stay in back country is involved. It is important to check weather conditions beforehand and use caution, never climb alone.

The point is to treat your family to an unforgettable outdoor adventure, so it doesn’t matter how you plan to camp or where you intend to go.

First comes first with a first aid kit.

No one can be too brave going anywhere he or she is not familiar with without taking a first aid kit. Unless you’re a cyborg, you will have to bring gauze, iodine solution, milk of magnesia, antibiotics, anti pyretics, and even mosquito repellent lotion.

Useful Get-ups

Dress for success! That should be the motto of any corporate slave. But for you, yours should be “Dress to Survive”, don’t you think so? Comfy clothes that won’t restrict your movements are the norm. If you go trekking, sturdy but comfy boots can be your best friend. A bandana can be very versatile, too. It can prevent sweat from blurring your vision and can also be a part of your first aid kit.

Backpack gizmos.

You’re not the king of the world. You will need a good compass and a reliable map. If you don’t how to use these, forget about your backpacking adventure.More backpacking “must-haves” such as a flashlight, a fire starter, and a Swiss knife are necessary too. But again, common sense should dictate to you what else you need to take. Stay safe!

If you’re bringing tins of beans, remember a manual can opener or pack your Swiss army knife. If you’re not sure what to bring, ask an associate at your local sporting store to help you choose your camping needs. Call on friends who like to camp, and ask them for advice.

Be Prepared

Apart from being submerged in wilderness, an important component of camping is the interaction with the localities, villagers and natives. These native guides know the unexplored places, the less traveled paths, the unknown facts, myths and stories about the locations.

Always be prepared for the weather when hiking. Carry a day pack with some water, a rain/wind jacket, a fleece/wool jacket or sweater, a first aid kit and some food. Good hiking boots are essential. On some of your hikes it is quite likely you will come across wildlife such as moose, black bears and grizzly bears, big horn sheep and deer.Many of the activities you might be interested in will be available in the towns near the parks. Various outfitters and companies outside some of the popular National Parks will offer excursions that go into the parks.

Plan on eating about as much while you’re camping as you eat when you’re at home. If you’re car camping and you have the extra space, it might not hurt to take a little extra food; but if you’re packing it in, every ounce counts, especially on long hikes. Be sure not to under pack your camping food – the only thing longer than a 20-miler is a 20-miler when you’re hungry. Starving your body while doing rigorous exercise, like hiking, could have adverse affects on your health.

Make Friends

With the hectic life many of us lead it would certainly be great to just “get away” from civilization and have fun in the wild outdoors. How many of us really know what to do when we get there or what to take with us in the “survival pack”? Camping can be a really refreshing lift to life, but roughing it may not come without some sort of price. Adequate preparation is a must and may prevent your trip into the wilds from becoming a disaster.

As I rounded a bend blasted through granite, just wide enough to accommodate a horse-drawn wagon, I braked suddenly and gasped.Make your van into something that’s usable for you, especially if it’s going to be your residence for days or weeks at a time.

Instead of going up to other campers and saying, “Hi, I’m Kerry and I’m here by myself” ask questions like “How can I contact you if I experience a problem” or “is this campground regularly patrolled?”Don’t advertise you are by yourself by finding campsites away from walking trails

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What Makes A Hiking Boot Great

November 18th, 2016 ernie Posted in Backpacking 1 Comment »

What Makes A Hiking Boot GreatWhat makes a hiking boot great? How do you chose footwear for comfort, protection, and durability.

Choosing hiking boots and footwear is one of the most important decisions you as a hiker or camper will make. They’ll either make your trip memorable or miserable. To find what’s best for you, ask yourself “What type of hiking do I do?”

Day Hiking (Light-weight)- Do you usually go for short hikes for one to several hours? During the week or weekend without a backpack? Then you’ll want to consider these. They’re lighter,flexible, and breathe better because they’re usually made of fabric and split-grain leather. They’re comfortable for day outings. But you’ll become fatigued and your feet will begin to bother you if you try to hike with a pack or for an extended trip. Because they aren’t designed to support you like the hiking boots.

Backpacking/Hiking (Mid-weight)- Stiffer mid-weight hiking boots provide more support and protection for shorter 2-3 day trips or even day hikes with or without a light to moderate load. If you hike for a few hours and want more support and/or up to three days on or off-trail on easy to moderate trails get a mid-weight leather backpacking boot.

Extended Backpacking (Mountaineering)- The best level of support, protection, and durability for heavier loads and longer trips. But they’re also usually heavier. Supports heavy loads of approximately 40+ pounds (could vary with hiking boot). If you hike for more than three days on or off-trail with a moderate to heavy pack on demanding terrain get an extended (heavy weight)backpacking boot. If you need to attach crampons for glaciers check to make sure the boots are compatible before you buy.

What Makes A Hiking Boot Great

For cold-weather hiking it’s critical to get waterproof insulated boots that breathe to keep you dry.

Full-grain leather and Nubuck suede take water repellent products well but keep in mind that they won’t waterproof a hiking boot NOT designed to be waterproof in the first place.The repellent will help shed water but if you’re walking through streams or deep puddles you’re going to get wet.


You may or may not need waterproof hiking boots. Consider the environment you usually hike in and how long your trips are. If you do a lot of short desert hiking trips you probably don’t need waterproof boots. Actually in a dry environment they’ll only make it harder for your feet to breathe (more numerous or heavy layers mean less breath ability). Nylon mesh fabric breathes better than leather, but remember you’re making trade offs for durability, support, and protection.


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Tarp Shelters For Lightweight Backpackers

November 1st, 2016 ernie Posted in Backpacking No Comments »

Tarp Shelters For Lightweight BackpackersWhy use tarp shelters? The biggest reason ultralight backpackers use them is to reduce pack weight. The lightest tent you can find will be close to three pounds. Some of the newest ultralight Tarp Shelters For Lightweight Backpackers weigh just seven ounces.

Weight isn’t the only advantage of Tarp Shelters For Lightweight Backpackers, though. They also give you room to move, and you can easily look around. You can quickly take them down when you’re ready to go. If it’s wet,just shake it off and it will fit in an outside pocket of your backpack. Even if they were the same weight, many prefer a tarp over a tent for most trips.

The lightest Tarp Shelters For Lightweight Backpackers weighs 16 ounces with all the strings. That seems heavy compared to the new ultralight tarps out there. Integral Designs Sil Tarp 5′ x 8′,for example, weighs just 7 ounces.

The Bozeman Mountain Works Stealth 0 Catenary Ridgeline Ultralight Backpacking Tarp weighs an amazing 5.7 ounces. With a name like that, you know it has to be expensive. Of course,almost any backpacking tarp will be lighter – and cheaper – than the lightest tents out there.

How To Use Tarp Shelters

You’ll probably need a bigger tarp than you think. A seven-foot roof may seem like it will cover your six-foot body well enough,until a blowing rain soaks your feet. Proper use is even more important than size, though.

Pitch the low side into the wind. Keep all sides low if a storm is coming. Evenly tighten guy lines. Use rocks, trees, trekking poles and whatever else helps. Pitch the tarp tightly, to keep it from flapping in the wind too much, which can loosen the strings or cause the tarp to tear.

If you haven’t used tarp shelters before, experiment until you can quickly set up in several different environments. Bring lightweight stakes, until you learn

Tarp Shelters For Lightweight Backpackers

how to use sticks and trees and rocks. No stakes means less weight to carry. There is always something to use, even up high on the tundra.

You might have to treat the seams with a sealant occasionally,or at least when you first buy your tarp. Buy seam-sealer anyplace that sells tarps and tents. You’ll need string or cord of some sort for tie-downs. Place varying lengths around the tarp, so you can untie and use the long ones where you need them.Sometimes that tree will be a little too far away.

Use 4′ by 7′ pieces of plastic for groundsheets. They’re opened-up giant garbage bags that weigh 2 ounces. They’re disposable and they’re cheap and easy to replace. Whatever you use, lay your bag on it, to be sure you’ll have room. You don’t want to be touching the wet ground just because you moved a little. On the other hand, if it’s too big it will catch rain out near the edge of the tarp, and funnel it back to you.

Mosquito’s keep a lot of ultralight backpackers from using tarp shelters. Repellent is a partial solution, as is using the tarp only when it isn’t too buggy. A head net helps, but keeping the rest of your body covered when it’s warm isn’t pleasant. Pitch camp in a high, breezy place and you’ll have fewer bug problems.

There are also mesh shelters you can pitch under your tarp. The lightest weighs 1 pound, 7 ounces. With a 7-ouncetarp, you’d be under 2 pounds for a shelter, and it comes with a floor, so you don’t have to bring a groundsheet. Ultra light tarps and tarp shelters, by the way, weigh less than 20 ounces which seems reasonable.

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Backpacking Tips

April 7th, 2011 ernie Posted in Backpacking 1 Comment »

Backpacking TipsTravelers whether in your own country or around the world enjoy seeing the sights and wonders of different places. Many travel  with only a backpack for all the things they need giving them the flexibility to go almost anywhere. Because they only have a pack on their backs, the possibilities of new sightseeing and activity adventures are limitless.

But of course, before you head for a faraway hiking adventure with your backpack, or are just going camping in the next town, you must make sure that you bring all the things you need to be properly prepared and they all must fit  in your backpack. Below is a checklist that will make your backpacking adventure a more pleasant experience and will apply whether you are camping or backpacking around the world. Remember the more you pack the more you have to carry and they can get very heavy after a long day. Here are some backpacking tips.

Backpacking Tips


Of course, you need a backpack, however this is really one of your most important purchases. It must be large enough to hold everything that you want to bring with you, while at the same time it must fit you comfortably with supporting straps and padding so that it does not chafe on days when there are long days of hiking or walking. Consult with someone at a store who has some experience and knows a thing or two about backpacking. Choose a backpack that comes with a detachable day pack for daytime excursions.

Quick Drying Towel

Widely available in many stores. You don’t want a heavy, damp, big  towel that takes up a lot of room and weighs you down. Add a face cloth to this as well for quick freshening when you get the chance. Again absorbent, but quick drying.

Walking Shoes

Clothing is a difficult topic. You really have to give some thought about the conditions you will be in while backpacking. Obviously you should pick comfortable shoes for walking but you may need something more dressy as well for the odd special location.

Underwear and socks

These go without saying. Quantity depends on were you will be and access to laundry facilities, even if you have to do a hand wash once in a while.

Long Underwear

Long underwear depends on the season and place where you are traveling. Long underwear can also double as pajamas when you stay in hotels that do not have adequate heating systems.

Pillow Case

Using your own pillow case is an essential thing to keep in mind when you stay in hostels and it can double as a dirty laundry bag as well.

Sleeping Bag

Select a lightweight sleeping bag. Down is the best type of sleeping bag.  Feathers are very light and you can compress a down sleeping bag into a very small package. If you are allergic to feathers, you will need to select something that is synthetic.


Most countries require a passport for exit as well as entry. This is a must have!

More Backpacking Tips


Take several wallets, one that you use every day and one that you can conceal on your person. Always have some cash in case you are mugged. Better to give them something vs. losing it all or your life.


An electronic camera with large amounts of memory should be considered.  You will want tobe able to charge the batteries at times and download your pictures to an email program at internet cafe’s.


You will not be able to recall everything you do on your trip especially if it is along one. A journal is an excellent way to help remember some of the more interesting details.

Flip Flops

If you have to use a communal shower at a hostel or a camp site, flip flops are excellent to use to protect your feet. They are also great to use at the beach.

Traveler’s Checks

Always have some cash with you and the bulk of your money in travelers checks. You should also check with the countries that you are going to, to confirm which type their banks / hotels will accept.

Wet Wipes

A small pack is light weight and easy to carry.

Landry Detergent

Small amounts may prove valuable especially if you have to do a hand wash in the sink.

Rain Coat

A light plastic rain coat is always a good thing to have. The thin ones work well and do not take a lot of room, nor are the to heavy to carry in your back pack.


A lock that you can use to lock up your things in a container may also be useful.

Band Aids

A small medial kit that has the basics, bandages, scissors, gauze and disinfectant may become useful when you least expect it .

Travel Guide

Try picking a comprehensive yet easy-to-carry travel guide.

Personal items

The usual stuff such as toothpaste, deodorant, soap, and shampoo.


A tip: The night before you leave, check all clothes that you need. Then take only half of them. Clothing simply weighs too much and can be washed anytime, even if you have to hand wash in the sink. Take only what you can carry at ease.

Hope these backpacking tips help. Select what you need based on the type of trip you are going on and how long you will be away. We appreciate comments about this post and anything we might have missed. Spam comments are auto deleted.

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Backpacking Gear

January 25th, 2010 ernie Posted in Backpacking 2 Comments »

Backpacking GearWhether you are planning a one day backpacking hike or a weeks backpacking through the wilderness, it pays to be prepared and carry all of the right backpacking gear. You never know what you will be faced with and whether you will need to spend an extra night in the wilds because of weather or some more serious problem such as getting lost. It always pays to be prepared, so we have compiled a sample list of backpacking gear that you may want to consider taking along with you.

Of course what you take will depend on were you are going, how long your trip will be and the area were you will be backpacking. Plan for emergencies and plan for extra days just in case.

Also always tell someone were you are going and if you decide to change your mind, tell your contact or somehow get a message out. If you become lost or get trapped in some manner, at least your contact will know when to expect you back and approximately were you have gone. Sometimes it can mean the difference between life and death. Even experienced back packers sometimes forget and they unfortunately pay the ultimate price.

Back Packing Gear to Take

So what backpacking gear should  you consider for your backpacking trip? The backpacking gear items you could include depending on your plans are:

Backpack – seems obvious, however you want one that is comfortable, that can carry everything you are going to need and has clear markings on it so that it can be seen at a distance easily in case you need to be found. If your backpack will be full, make sure that the straps are wide enough and comfortable for you to carry the backpack.

Quick drying towel – a lot less weight to carry than a heavy wet towel

Walking shoes – comfortable and suitable for the type of hiking you will do. Regular running shoes might not stand up to the rigors of back country hiking.

Underwear & Socks – Clean dry socks will keep your feet in good shape. Change often if you find that your feet are overly warm

Long Underwear – Depending on the season you may want to bring these along. If the nights are still cold, you may want them just in case you get stranded.

Sleeping Bag – Carry a light weight down filled bag with you. They cost a bit more, but are light and can be folded into a small package easily

Passport – If you are leaving the country to another locale this is an absolute must have

Spy Wallet – You should consider dividing up your money and travelers checks between wallets just in case.

Day Pack – These are useful for short hikes

Camera – A small pocket digital camera is always handy and they take quite good quality pictures. They are less bulky than the larger 35 MM digital cameras

Journal – As the days pass one will blur into another. A journal helps to remember those all important details

More Items to Consider

Travelers Check’s – safer than money , they can be replaced if lost or stolen

Wet Wipes – easy to carry and light as well

Laundry Detergent – in case you need to do some washing along the way.

Rain Coat – Small fold up rain coats can be invaluable in the rain and at night.

Medical Kit – A small kit with the basics is always a good idea, band aids, some disinfectant etc

Maps – a paper map is always a good idea even if you are using a GPS. Batteries do run out and that’s were the paper map comes in handy

Compass – always a good idea no matter were you are going

Personal items – toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo

Clothing – for the type of backpacking you plan to do. Obviously you would pack much different clothes for the bush , desert or traveling around the country by bus

Water Proof matches – in case you need to light a fire.

Water Purification tablets – in case your water runs out and you need to drink water out of a local stream

Snacks – even if you are just going for a day hike, always pack some high energy snacks in case you get lost or cannot get back for some reason.

Other Items to consider

Our list of backpacking gear is not all-inclusive. If you think there is a major item missing please feel free to add a comment to our blog. However if you follow these basics for backpacking gear you probably will find  that you will be fine should you get lost or have an accident along the way.

Backpacking with a partner is the best approach to follow. You can always look out for each other and help each other in emergencies. Beside it is just more fun to backpack with someone than by yourself and if you have the right backpacking gear with you, you will have no worries. Don’t forget to tell people were you are going and when to be expected back.

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