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Choosing the right dutch oven is very important. There are several different styles and brands out there, as well as different materials. Cast Iron and aluminum are the two main types of dutch ovens. They both cook well, but cast iron will retain and distribute heat better than it's aluminum cousin. Cast Iron also gives the food that great smoky dutch oven flavor we all love, where aluminum sometimes gives food a chalky flavor. The advantage of aluminum is its weight. Aluminum will weigh about 1/3 less than cast iron. Most people use cast iron ovens.

When you are looking to buy a dutch oven, look closely at the following items

1. For outdoor cooking over charcoal briquettes only buy dutch ovens with legs. The ovens with flat bottoms are much more difficult to use. Legs lift the bottom of the oven up to accomodate hot coals. Flat bottom ovens have to be supported with bricks. Make sure the legs are not bent, cracked or broken.

                     

2. Check the fit of the lid. It should fit flush around the entire oven with no large gaps. The lid should also have a lip that comes up above the top of the oven. This allows you to put coals on top without having them fall into the food. An oven with a rounded lid makes adding top heat very difficult.

3. Check the thickness of the metal, especially around the rim. If the oven walls are thinner or thicker in some areas than in others it will produce hot or cold spots during cooking.

4. Make sure the lid has a loop handle that is not cracked and is well attached.

5. Check the wire handle. It should be easy to move and strong enough to carry a heavy pot full of stew easily. I have an oven with handle problems. The handle actually comes off the oven--it makes it very difficult to move a hot oven full of food.

You also need to consider the size of oven you will need. They are avaliable in many sizes, 10", 12" and 14" are the most common. There are also standard and deep size ovens. If you are only buying one oven to get started, get a 12". It will hold just about anything you need. You can always add other sizes to your collection later.

 

A quick and easy way to organize those spices for your next adventure. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  What you will need:

You can go to your local $1 Store and pick up all these items. 

The first step was to use the labels to cover up the days of the week. Purchase labels that are the same width of the compartments and then you will have to trim them to fit. 

 

When it's done… they look like this.

              

Water Proofing:

             

Choose your favorite spices, label them and your ready for your next adventure. 

 

 

 

Photo Credit : Miss Tweedle

 

 

What's the difference between Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Food? 

A lot of people use the terms dehydrated and freeze-dried like they are the same thing. However, there are some major differences between dehydrated and freeze-dried food storage. 

The Dehydration Process 

With any type of food preservation, moisture needs to be removed from the food. The most common way to do this is by dehydrating.

Dehydrating has been a food preservation practice for thousands of years, dating back to at least 12,000 BC.[1] The Romans and Middle Easterners would dry fruits and vegetables in “still houses” which would use a fire to dry out and smoke foods.

Modern day dehydration isn’t that complex. Machines, like a SnackMaster Dehydrator, circulate hot and dry air across the food. This removes much of the water. The moist air is then dried so that water continues to be removed. The temperatures are high enough to remove water but not high enough to cook the food. Dehydrated food is usually withered and harder.

The Freeze-Drying Process


The freeze-drying process is a relatively modern preservation process. Freeze-drying isn’t something you can do at home without high-tech machinery.

Some reports show that freeze drying originated with the Inca Empire.[2] However, reliable sources of freeze-drying were created during World War II as a way to preserve blood plasma, medicine and later, food for the troops.

Freeze Drying is a fairly simple process too. The food is placed on large racks inside of a vacuum chamber. The temperature is lowered to below freezing and then raised rapidly to above boiling. The process is so fast that it removes the moisture from the food without destroying the structure.

The Main Differences
Moisture Content. The main objective with food preservation is to remove the moisture so that the food doesn’t decompose, grow mold, etc. Dehydration removes about 90-95 percent of the moisture content[3] while freeze drying removes about 98-99 percent.[4] Foods that you dehydrate at your home will typically have a 10 percent moisture content level while foods that are dehydrated professionally will have a lower moisture content – which increases the shelf life.

Shelf Life. The moisture removal has a direct impact on the shelf life. Most dehydrated products like dried fruits, vegetables, powders and TVP; have a shelf life of about 15-20 years. However, dehydrated items like honey, salt, sugar, hard wheats and oats have a 30-year shelf life – sometimes longer.[5] Freeze-dried foods will have a longer average shelf life. Freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, just-add-water meals and real meats will have a 25-30-year shelf life.[6] Ideally, all of your food storage would be stored at a temperature of 60 degrees or lower.

Nutritional Content. According to research by the American Institute for Cancer Research[7], freeze-dried foods retain the vast majority of the vitamins and minerals found in the original food. However, when compared to fresh fruits and vegetables, freeze-dried foods did lack in some vitamins – like Vitamin C – which break down very rapidly.

Dehydration doesn’t change the fiber or iron content of food. However, dehydration can break down vitamins and minerals during the preservation process and retain less of their nutritional value when compared to freeze-dried food. Dehydration tends to result in the loss of Vitamins A and C, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.[8]

Appearance & Composition. One of the main differences between dehydrated and freeze-dried food is how they look. Most people are familiar with banana chips (dehydrated) but not necessarily freeze-dried bananas (which become soft when you place them in your mouth). Weight is another difference. Freeze-dried foods are going to weigh a lot less than dehydrated foods. This makes them easier to haul or store.

Cooking. Dehydrated foods will require cooking. Many times, they will also require some type of seasoning. This means that you’ll need to spend time boiling the product in hot water and letting it cook. The preparation time for dehydrated products can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours depending. However, with freeze-dried foods, you just need to add water. Adding either hot water or cold water will get the job done depending on what you’re eating. Freeze-dried foods will usually be ready to eat in less than 5 minutes.

Hungry Hikers Food is made primarily with Freeze Dried Food. We believe that it maintains the integrity and nutritional structor of the food. And we just think it taste a whole lot better.

Cheers-

Your Hungry Hiker Crew

 

Would you like to camp, but don’t know what to pack or where to start? Have you tried camping, but not enjoyed the experience? It’s not too late to plan a camping trip this year and start preparing for next!

We camp with our children nearly every summer. We love to camp, but we are also drawn to the affordability of a camping holiday. After a few rough trips and 11 years of trial and error, I’m super happy with my camping kitchen. It’s very thorough, yet doesn’t take up too much space. We’ve camped with up to six people and I’ve prepared countless yummy meals with the items in the list here, so I wanted to share my tips on how to pack the perfect camping kitchen!

How to Pack the Perfect Kitchen Supply List

Skillet – I prefer cast-iron as it does well on a stove or over the campfire.
Stockpot or Sauce Pan with Lid (4 litres)
Griddle
Stove-top Toaster
Coffee Pot and/or Kettle and/or French Press
Large Serving/Cooking Spoons
Ladle
Metal Spatula
Tongs
Roasting Sticks – most areas do not allow you to cut your own
Cheese Grater
Can Opener
Cutting Board
Kitchen Knife(s) with Covers
Kitchen Scissors
Bottle Opener
Wine Bottle Opener
Measuring/Mixing Bowl (8 cup)
Measuring Cup (1 cup)
Measuring Spoons
Toothpicks
Salt & Pepper Shakers with Lids
Large Water Jug with Spigot (20 litres)
Dishes (Plates, Soup Bowls, Mugs)
Cutlery (Knives, Forks, Spoons)
Dish Pan
Dish Cloths – one per two days
Dish Towels – one per day
Pot Holders
Dish Soap
Pot Scrubber
Zipper Storage Sandwich Baggies – for packing lunches and snacks for outings
Tinfoil
Paper Towels
Plastic Food Storage Containers – for leftovers
Vinyl Tablecloth
Tablecloth Clips
Camping Stove – Fire bans often prevent cooking over an open fire; it’s also tricky to cook well over a fire.
Fuel for the Camping Stove
Matches and/or BBQ Lighter
Bin(s) or Drawers – for storing your kitchen (I use a 3-drawer system)

Tips for Your Camping Kitchen

-It’s possible to camp with a less equipped kitchen, but plan your meals and work through them in your head to ensure you have the equipment you will need to prepare them.
-It’s handy to have your camping kitchen always packed and ready to go – you don’t have to have a separate set of everything just for camping, but it’s convenient.
-Garage sales and second-hand stores are great places to pick up many of the above items, or ask parents and grandparents if they have extras of anything they’d like to get rid of.
-If you’re not sure if camping is your thing, ask to borrow the bigger ticket items from friends so you can give it a try before you invest a lot of money.
-Wipe down the table, wash the dishes and put everything away before leaving the campsite, or going to bed – otherwise you’ll attract insects and unwelcome critters.

-Go to www.hungryhikers.com and purchase some amazing meals. Perfect for when you first arrive and setting up. Easy and delicious.
-Plan all your meals in advance, write down all the ingredients you will need to prepare the meals and make a detailed packing list. Take your meal plan with you so you don’t forget.

Have fun and don't forget your Hungry Hikers Meals! 

This article is not sponsored. Any resources listed are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a review.

-Jenni

Product Care

July 10, 2014

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Tent Care Instructions:

If slightly soiled, set up tent and sponge soiled area with warm water and mild soap. Do not use detergent, bleach or pre-soaking solutions. Do not soak in a tub. Let the tent air dry completely before storing.

Fabric and polyurethane coating are damaged by ultraviolet light and will decrease the tear strength of the fabric over time.
The growth of mildew, which occurs when the tent is stored damp or wet, will cause delamination of the floor and fly sheet coating.
Careful site selection, avoidance of extended periods of sun, and thoroughly drying the tent after each use will increase the life of your  tent.

 

Sleeping Bag Care Instructions:

Do NOT dry clean.


Laundering Options:
Hand wash in cold water with mild soap.
Machine wash using a front loading washer, gentle cycle, with cold water and mild soap. Do not use a top loading washing machine.
Detergents should not be used, as they will break down materials and decrease product performance.
Do not use bleach. Ensure product is fully rinsed.
Do not wring out or twist. Take care not to stretch or pull when wet.
Water weight can strain seams, careful handling is required when wet to prevent damage.
Drying:
Air dry, line dry or use a large commercial dryer on low heat.
Refluff with hands periodically while drying.
Always dry completely before storing.
Sleeping bags will burn. Keep away from fire sources.

 

One way to reduce your pack weight is to get rid of unnecessary gear. The other way is to replace essential gear items with lightweight alternatives, that work just as well.
Here are five gear items you can replace to reduce your pack weight:

 1. Freestanding Tent (3 pounds)

The lightest one-man freestanding tents are around 3 pounds. 2-person tents are around 4 pounds. That is pretty impressive considering all the materials that go into them (poles, mesh, rainfly, guylines, stakes, etc). 

But, many of the benefits of traditional tents (ease of pitching… protection from weather, bugs and wind… sturdiness and durability) can now be found in other types of backpacking shelters weighing half as much.

The comfort and homely feeling of a tent is nice, and freestanding tents are more practical for two people than one (because the weight can be divided). But, if you don’t want to carry the weight you don’t have to.

Ultralight Alternative: Tarp-tent or Tarp (1.5 pounds)

Tarptents provide full protection from rain, wind and bugs at a fraction of the weight of traditional tents. A one-man tarptent typically weighs only a pound and a half. Two-person tarptents are not much more, weighing in at just over 2 pounds with enough room inside for two hikers, their gear and the dog. 
A two person tarp such as mine weighs just 13 ounces, but when combined with a ground cloth and removable bug tent weighs about as much as a tarptent. I like a tarp because it provides more space, ventilation and pitching options. I leave the bug tent home in places where mosquitoes are not a problem, to save weight.

2. Hiking Boots (3 pounds)

If this were 1992 and I were Ray Jardine, I would have to make an impassioned plea for abandoning heavy leather hiking boots. Luckily this is 2011 and, with the exception of a few holdouts and contrarians, the boots vs. shoes argument has already been settled. 
Boots are no longer the preferred footwear for backpacking… and with good reason. Boots are hot, heavy, stiff and abrasive. No other piece of gear is responsible for more foot pain and blisters.
Unless you’re hiking hundreds of miles of scree fields with an 80 pound pack, the excuse that boots are necessary foot “support” and “protection” is a myth.

Ultralight Alternative: Trail Runners (1.5 pounds)

Trail runners (and cross trainers) provide adequate protection for the feet from all but the most rugged terrain. They are flexible, breathable and most importantly… comfortable.
I’ve hiked thousands of miles in trail runners with nary a blister or foot problem. They are the preferred footwear among thru-hikers and long distance backpackers on trails like the Pacific Crest Trail and other long trails. 
The only downside to trail runners is they are not as long-lasting as boots. In my experience, you can get 500-1,000 miles out of a pair before they need to be replaced. But the added comfort is well worth it.

3. Fleece Jacket (18 ounces)

If your backpacking clothing system includes a base layer, insulation layer and shell layer (as it should) then a jacket is not that important by itself. Your insulation layer should work in conjunction with all of your other layers to keep you warm.
Fleece jackets are fuzzy, warm, semi weatherproof and great for blocking wind. When I’m at home in the fall and winter time I never leave the house without my fleece. 
But a fleece is not the best choice of insulation layer for ultralight backpacking. They are heavy, bulky, and take up too much room in your pack. There are lighter options for torso insulation that are even warmer.

Ultralight Alternative: Puffy Jacket or Vest (5-10 ounces)

Puffy jackets and vests consist of a nylon outer shell and high loft insulation (down or synthetic) much like a sleeping bag. They weigh half as much as a fleece and compress down to the size of an orange. 
When they loft up they provide a thicker insulation layer than fleece, so this is one of the instances where a piece of gear is not only lighter weight, but more effective than it’s heavy counterpart.
Down is lighter and warmer, but doesn’t insulate well when wet. Synthetic is not as puffy or warm, but it stands up better to moisture. I wear a synthetic vest, but know many hikers who swear by their down jackets.

4. Specialty Water Bottle (6 ounces)

Specialty water bottles are a perfect example of over-engineering something simple. They are made from high-tech plastics and even metals which make them indestructable and supposedly more healthy to drink from. They also weigh a ton (for a water bottle). 
As for the supposed health benefits (BPA free, non-leaching plastics and whatnot) that might make sense, except for that fact that we all drink water and other beverages from plastic containers without those safeguards all of the time. It doesn’t make much sense to drink out of a specialized container on the trail and then go home and drink Aquafina and Pepsi from cheap plastic bottles every other day of the year.

Ultralight Alternative: Soda/Water Bottle (2 ounces)

Lightweight plastic water or soda bottles from your local convenience store (like the kind Pepsi, Aquafina or Gatorade come in) will do the same job of storing your water at a fraction of the cost and weight.
I always carry my water in cheap plastic bottles like this and have never had one bust or spring a leak. 

They are designed for storing and carrying liquids and they hold up to abuse surprisingly well.
If you do manage to lose or break one (or it gets too gunked up to keep using) you can get a replacement for 99 cents at any store on the planet. And you get to drink whatever came inside for free!

5. White Gas Stove (14 ounces without fuel)

White gas stoves like the MSR Whisperlight shown at left (which is neither light, nor could it’s high pitched howl be considered a whisper) are great for camping and outdoor expeditions where you don’t have to carry your gear very far on your back. 
They are extremely efficient, fast to cook and can run on various types of fuel, making them very flexible. But, they aren’t good for ultralight backpacking because they are heavy, a PITA to set up and prime, loud (which disturbs your campmates) and did I mention HEAVY?
There are better backpacking stoves that are less expensive, less complicated and weigh half as much.

Ultralight Alternative: Canister Stove (7 ounces without fuel)

Canister stoves like the MSR Pocket Rocket actually only weigh about 3 ounces, but I included the weight of an empty fuel canister (3-4 ounces) to be perfectly fair in comparison to the white gas stove. 
Weight savings aside (which are substantial) canister stoves are a better backpacking stove in my opinion, because they are simple and easy to use. Simply screw the stove on top of the canister, turn the valve, light the burner and you will be enjoying your Hungry Hikers will be ready in no time. No priming, pumping, shaking or waking up your hiking partners at 6am when you want to brew a cup of coffee.

How Much Weight Can You Save This Way?

If you start out with a freestanding tent (3 lbs), Hiking Boots (3 lbs), Fleece Jacket (18 oz), two Nalgene Bottles (12 oz) and a White Gas Stove (14 oz)…
and swap them out for a Tarptent (24 oz), Trail Runners (24 oz), Puffy Vest (5 oz), two Aquafina Bottles (4 oz) and a Canister Stove (7 oz) you would save…
…4 pounds, 12 ounces!
Not too shabby for five minor gear adjustments   -Erick the Black's

 I actually enjoy the planning of hiking trips and treks nearly as much as the hike itself. Thinking about where I'll go, what I'll eat, the supplies I'll need, and what I'll see helps get through boring stretches at work and commuting. Planning is kind of like virtually taking the hike and its fun to see how close I imagined it would be to how it really is. 
When planning a hiking trip, you can't get too detailed. It's fine to calculate right down to the weight of your bandanna or the exact minute you need to stop for lunch. But, you do need to remain flexible at all times and be prepared to shift your plans as needed. 
These main planning sections are good things to consider.

 Take a Shot-

Consider your current abilities from your recent training to determine how much of a hike you can handle - be realistic. Decide where you want to go - the coast, mountains, nearby forest, ... wherever you want to explore. Get a rough idea of how many hours you want to hike, how far you can go, what hiking supply load you need, and then use maps and guidebooks to find a trail that matches your desires and abilities.

Figuring out how far you can hike in a certain amount of time is a good exercise. Or, figuring how long it will take to hike a certain trail. The actual results will depend on your shape, the trail condition, elevation, weather, and lots of other little things. But, in general, you can count on 2 miles per hour on flat land. Reduce that a bit for every 1000 feet above your home elevation due to reduced oxygen. To the total time, add 1/2 hour for every 1000 foot elevation change due to slow climbing.

 Tell a friend-

Find a hiking buddy to go with you. Hiking alone is not safe. Once you are an old pro and have been through some rough weather, difficult terrain, a few accidents and missed turns, then you can think of hiking alone. Until then, take a buddy along. Someone with more experience than you will be a great way to learn new tips.
Discuss your plans with your friend and make sure everyone understands how far you want to go, how fast you want to hike, and what you want to see on the hiking trip. Having expectations synchronized will make the adventure fun and fair with fewer surprises.

Check Terrain-

 Use a detailed topographic map to understand the difficulty of your hike. It may just be a 6 mile loop on the map,   but that may be flat or include 4000 feet of elevation change.
 Learn how to read a map before going hiking. When you are in the field, your map and compass will be your  most important tools to stay on track. Also make sure your map is current - trails change, magnetic declination  changes, areas open and close.
 Checking with the agency responsible for managing your planned hike area is a good idea.
hiking terrain The elevation you gain and lose while hiking will have a definite effect on how fast you hike and how much ground you cover. Hiking up a steep grade will slow you way down, forcing your muscles to work much  harder. Hiking a downgrade will be easier on muscles but much harder on joints.

Creating a hike elevation profile will give you a good idea on where the more difficult stretches are in your planned hike. Convert the information on your topographic map into a chart of elevation versus distance. In this example, a climb to the top of a peak and then the return on the same trail is diagrammed. It is fairly consistent with just one short stretch halfway up that is fairly flat.

Take into account the time of year when checking the terrain. A dry, dusty trail in July may be a muddy mess in May. You may be able to hike across a frozen marsh in January, but go around it in June. Also remember that higher altitude means cooler temperatures and hypothermia is a real possibility anywhere below 60F degrees.

 Check Weather-

Everyone knows that weathermen are seldom correct. Even with high-tech gear, predicting the chaotic nature of weather is not possible. A beautiful, sunny day can turn to life-threatening rain in an hour. You have to be prepared for the worst probable weather and its consequences. The word 'probable' is key - June in Minnesota will not require snowgear, but will require raingear. You need to consider what the worst effects will be from weather for which you did not prepare and then decide if it is worth the risk. For example, hiking in Death Valley in April has a miniscule chance for any precipitation, but an average daily high of 90F and a record of 120F. So, the consequences of no raingear are much less than not taking a hat and lots of water.
Elevation and weather are closely related. In general, every 1000 feet in elevation means a drop of 5F degrees in air temperature. Also, the higher you go the faster and more severe weather changes with big drops in temperature occurring quickly and higher winds in general.

A sudden rain passing through may just cause you to seek shelter for 15 minutes. But, your travel time may be greatly reduced afterwards due to a deep layer of mud on the trail. Be ready to change your hike plans due to weather conditions. 


While hiking on your trip, constantly stay in touch with nature around you. Just walking through and oohing and aaahing over the flowers and mountains is missing half the fun. Check out the clouds - are they building? are they picking up speed? are they white or dark? what does the horizon look like? Are birds still flying around? Is there a gentle breeze in the treetops or is the wind getting stronger? Keeping an eye on your surroundings is fun and important.

 Check on Permits-

Most national parks and wilderness areas require a backcountry permit. Often times these permits are free but if you are checked and have no permit, the fines can be very expensive. Permits are used to monitor visitor traffic, to limit use of certain spots, or to help keep hikers safe. From very restrictive permits that define your trails and campsites to general access permits, it depends on the management goals of the agency in charge.
Other areas may not require a permit, but its always a good idea to check in with a ranger. It's an opportunity to tell one more person where you plan on hiking and to check one last time on trail conditions and any special short-term regulations in the area.

Tell another friend-

Always, that is ALWAYS, leave your hike itinerary with someone at home.
Make sure they know your route, start time, when you will be back, and when you will be contacting them. If you are not in contact with them as expected, they should have instructions on who to call to check - for example, the ranger station near the trailhead.

-Hiking Dude

 

Blister prevention: Once you've got one, it's to late.

Blisters seem inevitable: the farther you hike, the higher your odds. Once they get going, they don’t go away and they generally get worse. So, the best thing to do about a blister is make sure you never get one.  


Blisters are the body’s natural defense against excess heat and friction. Tips on avoiding them:

Start by reducing friction:

Duct tape: If you know you’re hiking many, many miles, try putting some duct tape on your trouble spots. The smooth outer surface is a natural friction fighter, and the tape provides a foot-protecting barrier.
Bar of soap: Rub some bar soap like Ivory inside your boots just before you start. Don’t get carried away or your foot sweat will turn your shoes into lather factories.

Trim your toenails: My nastiest blisters happen when a sharp edge of my pinkie toenail digs into the toe next door. Once it starts, it can be a full-blown pain in a half-hour.


Liner socks: Heavy duty hiking socks, especially the wool ones, are rough on your feet. Liner socks reduce that roughness, though they do increase the heat, so make sure you really need them before adding the extra layer.
So, you get the idea: anything that reduces friction should help keep blisters at bay (except your favorite water-soluble hanky-panky lubricants; foot sweat will dissolve them). That’s only half the game, though, because friction isn’t the only thing that heats up your feet.

Cool your heels:

Get the right shoes: Unless you’re carrying a 30-pound-plus load and/or have weak ankles, you really don’t need heavy-duty hiking boots. Also: you may not need GoreTex or E-vent or any of the other waterproof fabrics, all are notorious heat-trappers. Know your trail and what kind of terrain you will be hiking on, be prepared. — unless you encounter a lot of wetness on the trail. Light, good-fitting shoes with ample ventilation go a long way toward preventing blisters.


Get the right socks: You want fabrics that wick moisture away from your feet in hot weather and still insulate in the cold. Cotton is the worst because once it gets wet, it stays wet, and it loses its insulation power. I’m a big fan of synthetics, but there are wool socks these days that work just as well without all the scratchiness of old-fashioned wool socks.


Get grit out of your shoes now: The tiniest burr, pebble or bit of grit can rub through your skin in minutes — especially in areas like the back of your heel where the skin is not as tough (happened to me just last week). As soon as you feel something in there, stop and get it out. The longer you wait now, the more you suffer later.


Keep grit out of your shoes: Gaiters are like condoms, except they prevent blisters instead of babies. Gaiters also trap heat, so they’re not a cure-all. Often hiking in long pants will offer almost as much protection, but if you hike with naked legs, you’ll find yourself wishing you had gaiters.


Rest and rub: On an all-day hike, I try to stop about half-way, take off my shoes and give my feet a good massage. Just taking off the socks and airing things out cuts heat considerably.


Outside the heat-and-friction category, the best thing you can do is reduce the load on your feet. I’ve gotten more blisters on overnight backpacking outings than on all my day hikes combined. If you’ll be on the trail several days hauling all your camping gear, prevention is all the more important because you don’t want to be backpacking on feet that are killing you.

You can do all this and still get blisters: go here for blister treatment. 

-by Hike Hacker

  1. Take your sock liners and hiking socks to the store with you, so you can ensure a proper fit. Trying hiking boots on without the proper socks is a total waste of time.
  2. Bring along your enhanced insoles too. If you have enhanced insoles like Superfeet, you’re going to want to try on boots with them inside.
  3. Try on lots of styles. Some brands run narrow (Asolo, Vasque, Tevas), others run wide (Keen), and others are true to width (Merrell). If you shop online, either order multiple pairs and return the ones that don’t fit or head to a physical store first and try them on in person.
  4. Ask for a half size larger than normal. Even with your insoles, sock liners and hiking sock on, you still need about a finger’s width between your longest toe and the front of the boot. You’ll be thanking me on the downhills!
  5. Walk DOWN a ramp or steps. Make sure that your toes aren’t hitting the front of the boot when you do this!
  6. Walk UP a ramp or steps. When you’re headed up the steps, make sure that your heel is not lifting up. If it does you’ll end up with a nasty heel blister on the trail.
  7. Jump up and down with the boots on. The weight of the boots is important. The goal is to have the least amount of weight for the type of hiking, backpacking, or mountaineering you’ll be doing. For hikes on maintaining trails, there is no need to be wearing 2+ pound backpacking boots with stiff shanks. But for mountaineering, you’ll need a technical shoe that can handle the conditions you’ll be climbing and hiking in, so inevitably they’ll be heavy. Just remember, having boots that weigh 5 pounds is just like you gaining 5 pounds or throwing a dumbbell in your backpack… even though the weight is on your feet, you’re still carrying it up the hill!
  8. Make sure the boots are suitable for your intended use. If you are planning to go on a backpacking trip, you’ll want a boot with a stiff shank (see below). If you hike in a rainy area, make sure your boots are waterproof and have Gore-Tex or eVent moisture blocking technology. If you’re going on local day hikes, you don’t need a heavy, stiff boot.
  9. Try on shoes late in the day. Your feet are going to be tired, the least happy, and are actually larger than in the morning because they swell during the day. Keep this in mind when shopping for any types of shoes.
  10. FIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Style certainly won’t matter if your feet are covered in blisters and you can’t walk…… Hiking Lady

Across much of the United States, it still feels like winter, but things have to change soon. As Tom Waits once sang, “You can never hold back spring.” Pretty soon, it’ll be time to pull the gear out of storage to prep for spring and summer outdoor trips.

For some people, this can be a foul experience. If they didn’t store their stuff properly, and simply tossed their grimy, wet gear into the garage or storage building, they might discover a tent or backpack that’s become a Petri dish of nasty stuff. Here are a few tips on cleaning and caring for backpacks, tents and sleeping bags….

Taking care of your backpack

Cleaning: So, your backpack smells like the trash can in a men’s locker room. It’s likely due to sweat, dirt and that food bag you forgot to empty. These things can shorten the life of your pack, especially salt from sweat, which can corrode metal and break down nylon fabrics.


When you clean your backpack, don’t put it in a washing machine. The agitation from a machine can break down fabrics as well as foams in hip belts, shoulder straps and back panels. Also, straps can get twisted in the components of a top-loading washer. Instead, first vacuum out dirt and debris. Then, add Woolite to warm water and use a sponge or cloth to wipe the pack down. Some pack manufacturers say you shouldn’t use hot water or spot removers, as these can damage the fabric.

As you clean your pack, examine your zippers, which can fail if they’re jammed with dirt and debris. You can vacuum out the dirt, or scrub zippers with a soft nylon brush (like a toothbrush) and cold water.

After you wash the pack, don’t put it in the clothes dryer. The heat levels are too intense and can break down fabrics and foams. A good way to dry your pack is to stuff it with newspapers and hang it in the shade.

Storage: Once you’ve cleaned your pack, store it in a cool, dry place, and hang it if possible. Don’t leave your pack on the garage floor, because standing water or other liquids like engine oil could invade the pack. Also, if your pack is on the floor, mice can chew through the fabric while searching for crumbs.

Tent Care Tips:

Cleaning: When you return from camping in the rain, it’s critical to dry your tent to prevent mildew and fungus from forming. The primary problem is that these things will damage coatings on tent fabrics. Plus, they’ll make the tent stink. I usually clean my tent after each trip using a sponge and water with dishwashing soap. Then I just leave the tent up outside to dry. If you do get mildew, it’s very difficult to remove it completely, but you can treat it. Mix non-detergent soap, 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of lemon juice, and 1 gallon of hot water. Then, use this mix and a soft nylon brush to scrub the interior and exterior of the tent as well as the fly. Next, dry the tent in the sun. As with packs, you shouldn’t put your tent in a dryer because excessive heat will damage the fabric and coatings.

Storage: It’s fine to store your tent in its stuff sack. The primary concern is to prevent the tent fabric from being exposed to sunlight over a long period of time. As with your pack, it’s best to keep it in a cool, dry place off the floor

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Sleeping Bag Basics

Cleaning: Over the course of a camping season, a sleeping bag can get pretty ripe. When your bag gets stinky, it’s best to wash it in a front-loading machine at the Laundromat. Kristin Hostetter, gear editor for Backpacker magazine, points out in her book, Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair, that Laundromat machines won’t agitate the bag as much as your home front-loader. And never dry clean your bag or wash it in a top-loading machine, because these methods will cause damage. When you wash the bag, use cold water, a gentle cycle and mild soap. For a down bag, you can also use Nikwax Down Wash, and for a bag with synthetic insulation, Revivex Synthetic Fabric Cleaner is a good option. While cleaning the bag, you can also take time to restore its DWR (durable water repellent) coating. A good method is to spray it with Revivex Spray-On Water Repellent, and then put it in the dryer on low heat to make the solution set in.

Storage: You shouldn’t store your bag in its small stuff sack, because over time compressed insulation will lose its loft and its ability to keep you warm. Many bag manufacturers supply a larger net bag for long-term storage, or you can hang the bag in a large cotton sack, or even a large pillowcase.

-Written by Marcus Woolf

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