Monday, 5 May 2014

How To Choose The Right Hiking Hat

 If you are going hiking, or you are taking any long trip outdoors, you are going to need a hat that will protect you from the strong sunlight during your travels. All in all every hat needs to be excellent from the point of view of five features. These are protection, comfort, style, durability and of course as with any backpacking gear, breathability.

 So, let's start with protection

 Protection is the most important feature of any backpacking hat. The hat must protect your head and face from the harmful UV rays, and it has to protect your skin, and you can save a bit of money by not having to use too much suntan lotion. The hats are scored based on how much UV radiation is admitted through the fabrics.

 Most backpacking hats are between UPF 30 and UPF 50. A hat with an UPF 30 blocks about 96% of UV radiation and and UPF rating of 50+ blocks 99% of the UV radiation that hits the hat. These numbers are a bit incorrect though, as if the hat has a mesh patch on the side, the UPF rating of the hat will be decreased.

A backpacking hat in action.
Source: Wikipedia
 The mesh lets more UV rays through, but the mesh is crucial as these parts let the hat ventilate. If the hat has a large brim, it is a lot better at blocking the UV rays. The rims can prevent you from performing some movements, so if you are going to spend more time in one place, use a hat with large rims, but smaller rimmed hats are better for more active backpacking trips. Sloped rims protect your head even during the evening and the morning. As the sun rises or goes down the rays are going to hit your head from a different angle, this is the situation in which a sloped hiking hat can be extremely useful.

 I advise you to use sunscreen with your hat even if it provides good protection. You never know where the sun might shine on your head, and it is very easy to get sunburned, especially during midday.

If your hat is not comfortable, forget it...

 You are most likely going to wear the hat for hours every day, so if it is not comfortable, you are going to have a torrid time. I advise you to try out the hat before buying it just to make sure that it fits the shape of your head perfectly. You also want to check that the rim doesn't block your vision too much.

 As far as colour goes, bright ones are the best, because these reflect back the light. However don't use white hats, they get dirty too easily. Find that sweet spot, and buy a hat that is not completely white. Light brown or beige would be an excellent choice.

 The best hats are made of durable materials. In my opinion nylon hats are the best, they are durable, they reflect the heat back pretty well, and if they have a patch of mesh in them they are breathable and they have enough ventilation.

Friday, 18 April 2014

My Favorite Camping Recipes

Preparing sandwiches on a campfire.
Source: Wikipedia
 There are many great recipes that you can prepare to have nice, delicious dishes. However there are two recipes that are easy to prepare and give you plenty of energy for camping. The first is a campfire sandwich, the second is grilled sausage with potatoes and green beans.

 A campfire breakfast sandwich is the closest you can get to a hot sandwich that you would otherwise prepare in your own kitchen at home. This meal is not that easy to prepare as you either have to take a hobo toaster with you, or you have to spend a little more time preparing for your cooking.

 The way to use a hobo toaster with this meal is to butter both slices of bread, and toast them with that device. You have to put the hobo toaster into the fire. When the bread is ready you have to crack an egg on one slice of the bread. After that put a slice of cheese on the bread. You have to turn the toaster several times. You can use coal or ember with the hobo toaster, but don't use open fire, your sandwich would get burned.

 If you don't have a hobo toaster, you can spear the slices of bread with a wooden stick and hold it over the ember. Meanwhile put a rock into the fire. When the rock is hot, crack an egg over it. When the bread is toasted put the prepared egg on the toasted bread. When the whole thing is still hot put the slices of cheese on it. It will melt and your delicious sandwich is ready to be eaten.

 My other favourite campsite dish is potatoes, green beans and sausages prepared together in tinfoil. It is a nutritious meal made that is easy to prepare, and it takes no more than fifty minutes. You have to cut up the sausages, slice the potatoes and wash the green beans. Peel and cut a few onions up as well. Put the ingredients into a tinfoil bag which you pour a bit of oil into. Spice the whole mix with salt and pepper. Close the bag, and hit a few holes into it. Pour some water into the tinfoil bag. It takes around twenty to thirty minutes to cook the dish, you have to turn it once in the ember.

I hope you liked these two recipes. Both are easy to prepare, and give you plenty of energy for your camping endeavours.

Best Devices For Starting A Fire Outdoors

 Fire can be integral to your survival outdoors. It gives you warmth, it gives you a chance to cook your food or melt snow into water, not to mention that you can dry your wet clothes with the fire. It is easy to see that fire can even save your life outdoors.

 In this article I intend to introduce you to the best devices that you can use to start a fire outdoors. The devices covered in this article are zippo lighters, a magnesium fire starter and waterproof matches.

Zippo Lighter

 A Zippo is a great device, as if you smoke chances are that you have one. They are cheap and they are easy to come buy, they are sold at every gas station, or seven eleven. Even though zippos are easy to come by they are not the best devices for lighting a fire outdoors. They are better and quicker than rubbing two wooden sticks together to get a spark, but zippos are pretty risky. They don't work if they get wet, but on the other hand they are windproof, and they are very easy to use. 

 The biggest upside to them is that they work well in windy conditions. Unfortunately they work with fuel that not only evaporates as time goes on, but it is unbeleiveably hard to find and refill in nature.

Aluminum Fire Starter

 An aluminium fire starter is my favorite device for starting a fire outdoors. It works by scraping off little aluminium pieces off a rod, and then lighting it on fire with a spark. The spark can be induced by scratching the blade of your survival knife or swiss knife to a piece of metal on the side of the aluminium rod. 

 The aluminium pieces burn eight times hotter than normal fire made of wood, so you can start a fire with aluminium in more difficult conditions. Aluminium firestarter can be used with propane or gas grills. The best aluminium firestarters have a carbon steel blade attached to them so that you don't need to use your own knife. The best ones also come with a leather stray so you can clear the aluminium pieces off your blade. 

 The only negative to a firestarter is that you have to practice it a few times before you can use it properly. The trick is to hold the rod in a 45 degree angle when you slide the blade, and apply enough pressure with the blade so that you can induce sparks. This device is harder to use than a zippo or a match, but it can be learned with a bit of practice.

Waterproof Matches

The problem with matches is that they become useless if they get wet. However you can make matches waterproof with an easy trick. All you need is a candle. You have to light the candle, wait for a few minutes. You have to cover the head of the match in the wax, which will provide a waterpoof cover layer for your matches. If you want to use the match just remove the wax, and scratch it to a surface, and you have a fire. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

How To Choose a Backpacking Shoe?

 Most people have a hard time choosing the footwear that is going to be ideal for their backpacking trip. This is normal as backpacking requires a very special type of boot, as backpacking is a very demanding activity on your body. Your back is going to have to endure a lot of pressure and weight as your backpack is going to be heavy, full of gear.

 This can put a lot of pressure on your back, which can lead to bad body posture if you are not wearing the right kind of shoes. It can also lead to severe damages to your knee and ankle joints, so you can see why it is crucial to choose the right backpacking shoes.

 Backpacking boots need to be light and easy to carry around. This way the demand on your knees will be minimal. The shoes need to reach over your ankle by a few centimetres so that your ankles are in a stable state, and don't move around. This prevents injuries and shocks to your joints that occur otherwise due to the uneven surface of the track.

 The sole of the boot has to be made of stiff, rigid material, this keeps your feet in a stable state. The shoe really benefits from some additional cushioning that makes sure that your feet are comfortable in the boots. These features will keep your feet stable and in a set position all the way. This will prevent injuries that would be very painful and would keep you at home for months when you wouldn't be able to backpack.

In order to protect my soles even more, I use running socks that have extra cushioning at the soles. Such products usually have a bit of plush in these areas that minimises the impact of the ground on your feet.

 The shoe must be made of some kind of breathable material. This can be achieved with materials that have little holes in them that allows the moisture to escape your boots. Even if your feet gets wet the water can escape the shoe in the form of vapour, so your feet will be dry and hygienic even in the most severe weather conditions.

 Speaking of dry feet, the best hiking boots must be waterproof. The trail is often wet in the forest, and you can be hit with a rain any time, so you must be ready for anything that might happen. Waterproof boots will guarantee that your feet will stay dry.

 The boot also has to be made of durable material. Such materials that they use for manufacturing hiking boots are plastic, leather or textile. Leather is the best in my opinion, but it is the most expensive and hardest to come by as well. It is a breathable, durable, natural material, but it is very expensive. Nylon is not that bad, and with current mass production it is the most common material that they use for manufacturing hiking boots.

 All in all you need durable, comfortable and waterproof boots. These are what you have to look for in the best hiking boots.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Essential camping gear for families

Camping is a great family activity.
Source: Wikipedia
 If you have a family chances are that you want to spend some quality time together with them.  One of the best ways to spend time with your family in a cultured, contained environment is to go on a camping trip.

 Camping is a great activity for everybody in the family, as it allows you to try out a large number of activities. Everybody can try something that they enjoy, but would not do otherwise at home. If you are into wildlife, you can go bird watching, you can go fishing, or you can hunt. If you like sports most campsites have several sports courts, and you can always go running in the nearby forests. If you are into cooking you can start a fire, or have a BBQ in the designated picnic area of the campsite. If you just want to relax, sunbathing, reading or listening to music are all viable options.

 You are going to need different pieces of gear in order to be able to pursue these activities, and make the most of your trip. There are different pieces of gear out there, and most of them are really useful, but there are only a few pieces of equipment that are really essential in order to have a great camping trip.

 The first of such pieces is a tent or an RV. No matter which one you choose, you are going to need a shelter. Whether you use a tent or an RV depends a large deal on what kind of trip you want to go on. If your campsite can not be approached by car you should buy a tent, but if there are roads leading to the campground you can easily approach it with an RV.

I don’t know much about what makes an RV great, so I am going to concentrate on the features that make a good family tent.  The tents that are really fit for using with your family are all huge. After all the whole family - your spouse, your kids - will all sleep in it. It also needs to be durable, so I advise you to buy tents that have fiberglass poles and aluminium stakes, these are the industry standards nowadays, so you shouldn't have a hard time finding such tents. I also like tents that have multiple exits, and multiple rooms. This way your family will be able to get in the tent through multiple doors, and you can stay in multiple rooms, so members of your family can enjoy a bit of privacy if they want to.

You will also need a stove of some kind. There is nothing better than a nice BBQ, or freshly done burgers when you are outdoors. What I look for in a camping stove, is some kind of wall or shelter that hides the flames. There will be those days when the wind is so hard that it is impossible to keep the flame burning otherwise.

The other important feature of the stove is a durable design. Most stoves are made of aluminium or stainless steel. Both are durable, the aim is to choose a stove that will not crumble while you are cooking, and will not fall over immediately if somebody bumps into it. This last feature can be achieved by making sure that the stove has heavy legs, with plenty of weight. Some stoves work with gas, others work with coal or wood. The ones that burn wood or coal are better because these materials can be refilled in nature if you run out of them, whereas it is pretty hard to get gas at a campsite.

If you have a tent and a stove, you have the gear needed to get shelter, and make some food for yourself, so the two most important needs of a human can be served. There are other pieces of equipment out there that can be beneficial, but whether you need them or not depends more on the type of camping trip you want to go on, and where you want to go.