15. January 2013 21:06
The final Leave No Trace principle, number seven, is “Be Considerate of Other Visitors.” This should be common sense for most people, but referring back to Planning Ahead and Prepare, we need to ensure our actions will not negatively impact others or the environment. [More]
16. October 2012 21:35
The third Leave No Trace (LNT) principle is Dispose of Waste Properly. Disposing of waste properly is all about a simple idea, pack it in - pack it out. If you carry something in with you, it should come back out with you as well. Usually when people do not follow this principle the most obvious signs are trash and debris. However, many people do not consider the effects human waste, food debris, or water contamination can have for years to come. [More]
30. April 2012 16:16
Being an outdoor enthusiast, when I heard about the opportunity to get trained in outdoor leadership, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. Aside from my personal desires to gain more experience in the outdoors, I currently work for University Recreation (UREC) Marketing as an intern assigned to the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) team and figured gaining additional outdoor leadership experience will only help me become a better UREC employee. Outdoor Leadership Training is an 11-day course provided by the Outdoor Recreation Center to instruct participants how to lead a group into the wilderness through training in backpacking, kayaking and rock climbing.
This past Tuesday was the pre-trip orientation where trainers from the ORC provided all of the students with an overview of what will be taking place during the training. Not knowing any of the other students participating in the course, I was glad when the staff trainers started the meeting with an ice breaker for everyone to get to know each other. They gave us outdoor activity scenarios and asked us to express our “comfort level” with the scenario provided. This was a great way for each of us to see where we are comfortable and where we still need some development. It was reassuring to see other people have some of the same situational comforts as I did. Next, the staff provided guidance on some aspects of the training like Leave No Trace, how to properly pack a backpack for hiking and what to bring and not to bring on outdoor adventures. We finished things up on Tuesday with a tentative schedule of events for the duration of the course (subject to change depending on weather).
Being a leadership course, each of the students teaches several aspects of the course. I chose to provide a brief history of Granite Point, where we will be conducting the rock climbing portion of training; how to read a topographical map, since maps ar... [More]
18. April 2012 21:49
What is a portable stove? – Portable stoves are small, compact, burner assemblies used during hiking or backpacking trips when normal cooking utilities are not available. While many different variations of portable stoves are available, this article will focus on non-self-pressurizing tanks and free-standing burners. This type of step-up allows for a minimal amount of items to carry in your pack and eliminates the need for pressurized bottles.
How do they work? – Typical portable stoves consist of a few different parts that, when combined, provide a powerful and easy to use stove in just about any environmental conditions. The main parts of the portable stove are the fuel bottle, pressurization pump, connection tube and burner. The fuel bottle contains a liquid fuel source in accordance with the burner, typically kerosene, gasoline, diesel or alcohol. Pressurization pumps allows for the user to pressurize the bottle for stove use. The connection tube provides a sealed connection between the pressurized fuel source and the burner assembly. Once these four parts are connected and properly primed, the stove is ready for use. Pressurized fuel is fed to the burner via the connection tube. Upon ignition, the assembly will burn the fuel, thus providing a gas stove for cooking. Many companies have unique fittings for the bottle, pump, tube and stove, so ensure you get matching equipment and test the equipment before taking it on a trip. Also, follow the instructions for the particular burner as steps may vary depending on individual burners.
When should you use them? – These portable units are great for camping, hiking and mountaineering. The set-up and tear-down for portable stoves is relatively quick and effortless. When hiking and mountaineering, size and weight are vital. These stoves allow for hours of use while minimizing the space used and weight added t... [More]
6. April 2012 21:24
Hiking and camping is in my blood. After all, I am a gnome, and we gnomes LOVE spending time outdoors. There is nothing quite as rewarding as enjoying a meal cooked over a camp fire after an exhausting day of trekking and exploring! That being said, there is also nothing quite as saddening as waking up and finding that your food has been eaten by a bear during the night. Need to know how to avoid this tragedy? Two words: bear canister.
You may be surprised to hear that bears have a sense of smell 100x that of a dog’s. They will go to extraordinary measures to get food once the scent is locked in. Bears have been known to break out car windows to get food left in a vehicle, climb trees to it stored in bags, and sometimes even hurt themselves in the process. There is no getting between a bear and food, except a bear canister. In fact, many national parks such as Yosemite, have banned bear bagging (raising a bag of food in the air using a tree branch and rope) because it is seen as ineffective. The only approved method is bear canisters.
Bear canisters can be made from hard plastics, aluminum, and carbon fiber. They are extremely heavy duty so that bears cannot break into them. However, they are not air tight, so the smell of food can still get out of the canister. It is important to store the food canister 100 feet away from your campsite so if a bear does attempt to open it, they will not be disturbing you. Some people worry that the canisters will be a hassle to carry while they’re camping, but the extra 1.5-4lbs is definitely worth it. The canisters can also have a great carrying capacity. A 700in3 can hold up to a week worth of food for the average hiker.
Another important reason to use a bear canister is for the bear’s own protection. Once a bear tastes delicious human food, they always want more. They begin going to extreme measures to acquire the food and can become a threat to campers and hikers, at which point they need to ... [More]
30. March 2012 17:41
What are Trekking Poles? – Trekking Poles are poles specifically designed for hiking, walking and traversing. They resemble ski poles in their design, but have some unique differences. For example, they are typically made to collapse down to a size that is easy to strap to the outside of a pack when not in use.
How do they work? – Trekking poles are a very intuitive thing to use. You will naturally fall into a rhythm once you begin to use them. For more detail I have posted a video below. This video can help you ensure that your poles are the right height for you.
When should you use them? – When you know you will be facing a tough or rough terrain, trekking poles may be a great addition to your balance and rhythm. Poles are not typically used on flat paths, but it is up to the user to determine if they are needed or not. Some hikers or walkers love the element of rhythm that trekking poles add. Another great reason to use trekking poles is for those outdoor enthusiasts with bad knees or ankles. Trekking poles do a great job of taking some of the stress off your joints, especially when descending.
2. March 2012 22:31
Get to Know Your Gear’s weekly update will get you familiar with 0°F Sleeping Bags & Liners.
What is a 0° Sleeping Bag & Liner? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are, as their name’s imply, very cold weather sleeping bags and liners to keep an outdoor enthusiast safe and warm when camping in frigid winter conditions. These sleeping bags are made of different materials depending on the needs of the camper, varying from heavy to ultra-light. Liners specifically are used to line the inside of the sleeping bag as another layer of insulation.
How do they work? – 0° sleeping bags can vary in type and material, but they work to keep body heat in and the cold air out. The outer shell of the sleeping bag is typically made of nylon, which is used to protect the outside of the bag from the environment. Inner shells are often made or nylon also, but can be a type of polyester blend. Both the inner shell and outer shell are both good at keeping air from penetrating their exterior. The inside of bags (fill) is often filled with down, polyester blends, or synthetic materials made to insulate the bag. This combination of fill, inner, and outer layers keeps body heat within the bag while protecting the user from the cold outer air. Liners are often a fleece or microfiber material used to add an additional layer of insulation within the sleeping bag. While liners are not made to deflect air, they are an insulator within the bag, retaining body heat keeping the user warmer. I personally have a bag with nylon exterior and interior shells with 800-fill goose down insulation and a fleece liner. They keep me nice and toasty at night during my winter hiking and camping adventures.
When should you use them? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are designed to be used in extreme winter weather conditions. Some sleeping bags are rated even colder than zero degrees Fahrenheit,... [More]
25. January 2012 22:55
The continuation of our Get to Know Your Gear segment is going to focus on avalanche beacons.
What is an Avalanche Beacon? – It is a radio transceiver that is used to locate men and women in a search and rescue if they are buried beneath the snow due to an avalanche.
How does it work? – When a person is buried under the snow, their radio will send out a transmission that connects to other beacons. The search party can turn their transceivers to receive and use the device to measure distance and direction to the buried party. The standard for beacons is to transmit signals at 457 kHz (kilo Hertz) so it is important that the beacon you choose is also transmitting at this rate.
When should you use it? - Anytime you are skiing, snowboarding, hiking or ice climbing in the backcountry, it is important that you use an avalanche beacon. It is during these activities that you are most likely to encounter a loose snow slide avalanche. And remember, practice using your beacon with the men and women you will be in the wilderness with, it is not a useful instrument if used improperly.
Now that you know a little more about this particular piece of equipment, you can evaluate if it will be important to use on your next snow adventures. Happy exploring!
20. October 2011 21:48
– Learn the tricks of the trade from people who are out in the wilderness. These simple tips will help you become a more proficient and skilled backpacker, climber, skier, and more.
I have gone on two big hikes over the last 10 years. The first hike I did without trekking poles, however I invested in a pair for my second hike. Let me tell you, the poles made all the difference! Trekking poles might see a bit expensive at first; however they are a great investment for any serious hikers. My trekking poles have saved me from many falls and tumbles and help distribute weight beyond my knees. I take my trekking poles on almost all hikes now a ’days.
13. October 2011 22:16
Learn the tricks of the trade from people who are out in the wilderness. These simple tips will help you become a more proficient and skilled backpacker, climber, skier, and more.
I recently lent a friend my sleeping bag to go on a camping trip. When they returned it to me there was bubble gum all over my sleeping bag! I had heard about a trick that duct tape can help remove gum from clothes. I tried it, and it really worked. The secret is to put the duct tape over the gum and press really firmly. When you remove the duct tape, the gum will stick to it, leaving your clothes—or sleeping bag—looking like new.I recently lent a friend my sleeping bag to go on a camping trip. When they returned it to me there was bubble gum all over my sleeping bag! I had heard about a trick that duct tape can help remove gum from clothes. I tried it, and it really worked. The secret is to put the duct tape over the gum and press really firmly. When you remove the duct tape, the gum will stick to it, leaving your clothes—or sleeping bag—looking like new.