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Wilderness Survival: Take Care of Your Feet

The most overlooked outdoor survival strategy is right under your nose—well, five or six feet under your nose.

Your backcountry comfort – not to mention survival – starts from the ground up. | Image courtesy of MaxPixel.com

Ask any infantryman, and they’ll tell you that taking good care of your feet is one of the best things you can do to stay off the injured list. If you’re planning on doing some real hiking out in the backcountry, especially if you plan to be out for multiple days, now is the time to make sure you don’t wind up on the side of a mountain with two “flat tires”—feet that just can’t move you any further. Here’s how to keep that from happening.

Before the Hike

It can often be daunting to buy a new pair of boots, but this is a decision that can make or break your trip. Get out there and try the boots on. | Image courtesy of Armchair

First, you need to get those boots squared away. Your footwear is absolutely critical, because “a few blisters” can absolutely develop into a real emergency in the backwoods. Not only can they make it exquisitely painful to walk, they open an avenue for infection to set in. If you have any circulation problems, that’s doubly dangerous. So what you want to do is make sure that your boots not only fit you properly, but they’re completely broken in.

This is a time when you’re better off shopping in person at a brick-and-mortar store, so you can compare boot fit in real time. Secondly, you should hit that store at the end of the day, preferably after you’ve been on your feet for a while. (This will help replicate the swollen feet everyone gets after using them for any significant time.) You should wear socks as similar as possible to the ones you’ll be wearing in the backcountry.

Third, you’ll want to break those bad boys in. This goes way beyond wearing them around the house for a few hours. Fill a pack up with about the amount of weight it’ll have when you get out there for real, put it on, and then walk. Outside, on varying terrain, if at all possible. When you get back home, check your feet. Are there any “hot spots” where blisters might be gearing up to make an unwelcome appearance, like my ex-girlfriend at a family picnic? If so, you may want to either try using a boot stretcher to give yourself a little more wiggle room, or you may choose to apply moleskin to those spots before you start hiking.

In the Backcountry

Clean and bandage your feet as soon as possible, and give your feet a thorough rest at the end of a long day.

Once you’re out in the backcountry, make a habit of giving your feet a good once-over every time you remove your boots. (If you’re like me, your friends will scatter like pigeons when they see the shoes coming off, so you’ll have plenty of privacy.) Clean, disinfect, and bandage any blisters, but don’t try lancing them if you can avoid it. Antibiotic ointment—particularly the type that has a little Lidocaine in it—is your friend. Change your socks regularly for clean, dry ones. In fact, if you’re going to make room in your pack for anything “extra,” let that extra be fresh socks…more than you think you’ll need.

Remember, take care of your feet—and they’ll take care of you!

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Best Hiking Trails in the U.S.

Hiking through the wilderness is a great way to experience the outdoors.

There are a lot of opportunities for the adventurous minded to connect with nature.

If you would like to go on a trip but not quite sure where to go hiking, we have prepared a list of some of the best hiking trails in the U.S. that are sure to give you a great time.

Acadia National Park

Located in the state of Maine, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this park is considered the crown Jewel of the North-Atlantic coast. More than 3 million people visit the park every year to enjoy its peaks and hikes. The park has over 120 miles of hiking trails, a dozen stone bridges, 45 miles of carriage roads and four lighthouses.

Cadillac Mountain Ridge and Precipice are two of its popular hiking trails

Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail

It is the tallest mountain on the North-Atlantic coast and the star attraction at the park. There is a road that gives access to the summit. A lot of visitors prefer to make the trip on foot enjoying the lush green view along the way.

It is a four-mile upward hike and some people take it for the challenge.

Precipice Trail

This high rising trail runs steep, climbing a thousand feet up on the eastern side of Champlain Mountain. It provides a dazzling view of the ocean and the coast. Though it only runs 1.6 mile in length, it is quite strenuous and not suitable for people with acrophobia.

Zion National Park

Utah’s first national park offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to experience nature and wilderness. Massive sandstone cliffs, of red, pink and grey soar into the brilliant blue sky. As hikers make their way across the trails, the unique flora and fauna of this park captivates them. It has a rich history. Ancient natives and recent pioneers made their way through this park and it offers plenty of opportunity for adventure.

Angel’s Landing

You will love this 2.4 mile hike that runs close to the Virgin River, ascending to a series of steep spinning roads that join together. The path narrows down at the final stretch before opening into the summit of the Angel’s landing, a 1,488 foot high natural rock formation that gives a gorgeous view of the whole park.

Kenai Fjords National Park

The park lies on the edge of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. It is a land of Ice, Mountains and Ocean and the perfect spot for a good hiking trip. Around 40 glaciers float across the Harding Icefield, the most popular attraction which is home to wildlife and lush forests.

Harding Icefield Trail

The 4-mile trail gives an amazing view of the expansive park, which is spread over 700 square miles. Hikers make their way through forests, alpine meadows and enormous sheets of snow. The hike is considered challenging where you have to deal with both the terrain and temperature.

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is a wonder of nature and attracts millions of visitors every year, both from within and outside the U.S. Located in the state of Arizona; the park is spread over an area of almost 2,000 miles.

It has canyons, river tributaries and hiking trails running for miles. Two of the more popular trails are Mooney Falls and South Kaibab.

South Kaibab Trail

This 6-mile trail descends on ridges that offer an amazing and unique view of the canyon that you would not find anywhere else in the park. The trail runs along a narrow tributary and considered moderately strenuous.

Mooney Falls

This 3-mile trail is both beautiful and adventurous. Starting near the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the trail runs through a couple of tunnels and descends into a beautiful natural basin at the bottom. Hikers get a view of the mesmerizing 200-foot river fall during the length of the course. The trail ends at the base rewarding hikers with a view of the majestic pool with water splashing down the red walls of the rock canyon.

Olympic National Park

This Washington state park offers a lot of diversity to visitors. The park is spread over almost a million acres and a wildlife sanctuary. It protects thousands of years of human history and home to natural ecosystems. It has temperate rain forests with trees that are more than hundreds of years old, glacier capped mountains overlooking the horizon and runs seventy miles across the Pacific coastline.

Hoh River Trail

This trail stretches over 17-mile and is the crown jewel of the park. It runs through a temperate rain forest with plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife, and offers views of Mount Olympus and Blue Glacier which lie at the end of the hike. It is highly recommended for people who want a good hiking trip challenge while also wishing to experience nature.

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The Ten Essentials for Camping & Hiking

When you are headed out into the great outdoors for your camping trip, nobody likes to or wants to have a heavy pack

But the stories about camping are filled with the incidents of people who sought to take on less supplies in order to skimp on weight and they paid dearly for the lack of proper supplies. Take, for instance, that friend of yours who thought it is crazy taking along a sleeping bag along with him in his pack in the summer months. How cold can it possibly get out there in the short summer nights in the great outdoors? Well, your friend must have found out about it in the hardest way possible.

Obviously, when you are going for a camping and hiking trip, you want to be mobile so you cannot carry too much weight but there are some essentials, which you need to have with you so you do not end up lacking the necessary supplies for your trip. This article shall define for you a list of the ten essentials for camping & hiking so you never go venturing out into the great outdoors under prepared.

Map

Sorry, but Google maps do not count. It is not a joke. There will be no charging sockets out there in the mountains for you if your battery dies or if your phone suddenly decides to take a dip in the river. You cannot rely on your smart phone for your navigation needs entirely.

Yes, you are getting there. You need paper maps. It does seem almost archaic to consider paper maps in this day and age but paper maps may very well keep you from getting lost and can save your life. Particularly, of real utility, are the detailed maps that have the right details about the topography of the region. That can really help the camper orient themselves with very few landmarks available in the outdoors. That is why Maps make it to the top of the ten essentials for camping & hiking.

Compass

Here is where your smart phone can actually come in handy. Compasses are great tools for the purpose of navigation and can be a significant factor in keeping you on the right track, especially when used in a combination with your maps. A regular old classic compass is something you should have in case your smart phone decides to die on you. That is to say, you can still ditch the compass if you feel like you’re enough of an expert to be able to determine true north by the way that moss is growing on the trees.

Sunglasses and Sunscreen

It is self explanatory. It does not matter what the weather is like. Even if you’re high up in the mountains, it is good to have protection against the sun regardless of the overall temperature. Exposure to the sun can really damage your skin and that’s why these two items make it to the ten essentials for camping & hiking.

Extra Clothing

Extra clothing does not mean packing a whole other suitcase. It can be just the thin and effective items like thermal underlayers, waterproof trousers. They take up less space and are very effective. Socks are the camper’s best friend. There is no way that you can have too many socks on a camping excursion. Another necessary item in the ten essentials for camping & hiking.

Flashlight

A source of artificial light can never hurt. It makes sense. It could be a regular flashlight or headlamp but you should have it. Ideally pack lots of extra batteries and at least a couple of backup light sources.

First Aid

Things get rough out there. That’s why you go out there, it’s understandable but even the smallest of injuries can fester into a real problem. Well-equipped first aid kits are a must. The ten essentials for camping & hiking would be incomplete without it.

Firestarters

To start a fire, you need something that catches fire instantly. Thin and dry twigs, leaves and stuff like that can instantly catch fire with a match stick and create the perfect foundation for the wood above it to catch fire. Sometimes you can’t find the firestarters out there so it’s good to carry some in waterproof baggies to start fires in emergencies.

Matches

What good are firestarters for emergency situations if you don’t have matches to start the fire? You can rub two sticks together all you want, but these are the most pragmatic way to start a fire. Keep them with you.

Knife

From carving up food to stripping bark from trees, a knife is the most useful tool to have in your camping and hiking excursion.

Extra Food

Just pack the extra food. It is never a bad thing to have at least an extra day’s supply of food with you. You never know when you can find yourself in a tough situation.

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10 Tips for Beginner Day Hikers

Hiking is indeed a challenging and fun activity.

The best thing about is that it is available for all skill and age levels. It’s not just an opportunity to enjoy the nature but it also enhances your health. However, hiking also requires some planning and preparation, especially if you are a beginner. Here are 10 tips for beginner day hikers that you should follow to enjoy your hiking experience to the maximum:

Hike Regularly

Hiking requires both practice and strength if you are aiming to go for challenging hikes in the future. It is best to go on hikes regularly, at least once every week, at a local part. This will help you in developing a proper footwork; plan your hikes more efficiently and also gives you an opportunity to test out your hiking gear. Starting off easy on trails near your home will help you in developing the strength and stamina for challenging hikes.

Join a Hiking Group

The best way of improving your hikes is to join a hiking group. It’s safer to go hiking in a group. Furthermore, you can learn a lot from other hikers about the best trials, the right gears and so much more.

Invest in the Right Hiking Gear

Having the right gear for hiking is crucial. Focus on comfort rather than what looks good. You need to invest in hiking boots that have cushiony support, a strong grip and are weather resistant. Make sure you test them first before going on a hike to see if they are right for you. Consider wearing thick socks, comfortable shirt, pants, and a jacket when you go hiking.

Stay Hydrated

The major mistake beginner hikers makes in not brining enough water on hikes which leaves them dehydrated. It is essential that you keep hydrated, especially going on day hikes. Pack at least a liter of water for every two hours of hiking you have planned. You wouldn’t want to get dehydrated in the middle of wilderness, especially if you are alone.

Always Pack the 10 Essentials

The basic thing every beginner day hiker must learn is the 10 must-pack essential for every hiking trip. This will ensure that you are fully prepared for any kind of emergency during your adventure. Here are the 10 essentials:

  • Emergency Shelter
  • Water
  • Nutrition (protein bars, nuts)
  • Repair Tools (safety pins, duct tape, multitool)
  • Fire (solar fire starter, lighter, matches)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Illumination (extra batteries, headlamp)
  • Insulation (rain jacket, fleece sweater)
  • Sun Protection (hat, sunscreen, etc.)
  • Navigation (compass and map)
  • Whistle

Make sure you have all these essentials packed, or any other items you think you might need, when you are going on a hiking adventure.

Keep Someone Informed About Your Trip Plan

Make sure you leave your entire hiking plan with a friend or family member whether you are going alone or with a group. You should include the time and day of your hiking adventure, the route you would be taking, the location of your parked car, and your expected return. Also include the contact details for them to call in case you are overdue.

Opt for Layering System

This is another crucial tip many beginners don’t know. Learn how to dress in layers as it is essential for heat regulation and moisture management. Since each person has a different metabolism, you should try out different insulation layers, mid-layers, base layers, and shells to determine what works best for you. It is recommended to wear various thin layers to give you more control over temperature regulation instead of integrated component garments.

Keep Snacks

Long hikes can get exhausting and also dehydrates the body. This means muscle cramps and dizziness which is mostly experienced by day hikers because of sun exposure. Aside from bringing enough water, you need to keep healthy snacks to refuel your body. Pack a granola, nuts, or fruit bar for every 1 to 2-hour hike.

Look out for the Weather

Before you go out on your hike, make sure you check the local weather report to make sure that there aren’t any dangerous weather conditions that you must avoid. Pack up rain gear in your backpack just in case, even if the weather is clear.

Start Volunteering

Once you start hiking, you become a part of the hiking community. You should volunteer to help in trail work which would help you in understanding the importance of hiking trails and why it is essential to preserve them for future generation. Plus, it also allows you to learn about new trails that you can try out.

With these 10 tips for beginner day hikers, you would be able to prepare yourself better for your hiking adventure. Being prepared and having the right gear will enable you to have the best hiking experience!

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Why Dog Hiking Boots Are Good For Man’s Best Friend

adventure, clouds, dog

We all love our dogs, don’t we?

adventure, clouds, dog

We are prepared to go to all the extremes to ensure their safety and wellbeing, right? With that being said, nothing’s more surprising than to see a hiker with a dog that doesn’t have hiking boots on. Why? Well, it’s because hiking boots are an absolute necessity for your dog’s wellbeing on hiking trips. Here are a few reasons why.

Protection from the Weather

Unlike other pets, dogs are, on the whole, energetic species. What this means is that they love nothing more than an opportunity for hikes with their human partners. However, when you talk about weather and the great outdoors, the fact of the matter is that they are constantly changing. What this means is that it’s imperative for you to protect your dog from these ever changing circumstances. Snow and ice, especially, can cause quite a few problems, ranging from causing the webbing between your dog’s toes to split to the accumulation of snowballs in the dog’s fur. A nice pair of rubber shoes will go a long way towards ensuring your dog’s safety from the atrocities of Mother Nature.

Provides Better Traction

If you’re in the habit of having your dog accompany you on your hiking adventures then you must be aware of the various issues that may arise, right? Ensuring that your dog has got its hiking boots on before going onto such adventures ensures that its paws will have better traction on rocky trails. The fact of the matter is that hiking boots can be useful for all sorts of landscapes, ranging from rocky routes to sharp inclines. What this means is that they’ll limit the danger that your dog might face from all kinds of routes and landscapes.

General Protection

Ask yourself: why do we, human beings, wear boots? Well, apart from looking good, boots protect our feet while walking, right? The same goes for your dog. Ensuring that your dog has got its hiking boots on before going along a trail will ensure that its paws are protected from such abrasions and cuts that might be caused by jagged rocks or other such hazardous things along the trail.

Similarly, during the summer especially, the sand at the beach can do more damage to the paws of your pooch than you may imagine. The usage of boots is, thus, recommended to ensure that your dog remains safe from most kinds of dangers.

Convenience

Getting some boots for your dog is going to be good for you, too, for it’ll increase the convenience of your life with your dog manifold. How? Well, image that you and your dog are hiking one day when, suddenly, it starts to rain. This is nothing short of an opportunity for your dog to play in the mud and get its paws all dirty. Now what will happen when you will return home? Chances are that your floors and carpets will be a mess and you’ll be chasing behind your fun mongering dog, with a towel in your hands.

Once you’ve got your naughty dog all cleaned up, it’s time to get the floors and carpets cleaned up as well. If your dog had been wearing boots, however, they could have been removed and set aside outside your home so that your floors and carpets may be kept clean for a longer duration of time.

A Call for Fun

The fact of the matter is that hiking boots keep your dog’s paws safe. What this means is that there’s more room and leniency for you and your dog to have a good time. Not only will your dog look cuter (than usual!) in its hiking boots, but you’ll also be explore new places on your adventures, considering that you won’t have to be worried about your dog’s safety. This will not only strengthen the master–pet relationship but, at the same time, empower the duo to enjoy their hiking trips like they should be.

Hiking trips are fun, no doubt, but they require adequate measures of safety to be taken. It’s important to take every necessary protection and precaution to not only ensure your wellbeing but your dog’s as well. Hiking boots, as you have just discovered, go a long way towards ensuring exactly that!