7 essential food and snack ideas for your hike

Snacking and hiking go together like cheese and wine (although i probably wouldn’t recommend cheese or wine as snack options). Any one that been on a hike knows this, there is something so amazing about a snack after a few hours of trekking. Not only is snacking one of my favorite parts about hiking, it is also one of the most important things you can do to ensure an enjoyable day in the outdoors. Being as we are putting our body through stressful activity it is important that we are choosing snacks that are going to give us the fuel we need. luckily this doesn’t mean that we need to sacrifice flavor. There are plenty of great tasting snacks to keep us fueled up on our travels.


Bars are probably the most common snacks i see on my hikes. Cliff bars in particular are very common at the moment. Something about seeing a guy hanging off a cliff on the wrapper just seems right for hiking I guess. These are pretty inexpensive and can be purchased pretty much anywhere, although you save quite a bit of money buying them by the box as opposed to individually. I personally love cliff bars. They are a bit high in sugar but that isn’t always a bad thing when you need quick energy to keep you going. Obviously just avoid over doing it so you don’t experience a sugar crash half way through your hike


My all time favorite hiking snack is beef jerky for a variety of reasons. Jerky is a great tasting snack and provides plenty of energy to keep you going. There are a zillion Jerky brands out there and most of them are incredible. I personally make my own jerky because it usually turns out better than anything i can buy at the store and you save a little bit of money that way. It’s way easier than most people think to make and it can be a fun and rewarding activity. If you don’t feel like making your own that is perfectly fine there are a world of options available to you and just about any convenience store.


Nuts are another delicious snack that provide a ton of nutrition and can easily fit into a backpack or pocket. I typically keep cashews or almonds packed in my bag on the trail. Nuts generally have a long shelf life so you can keep them in your backpack for multiple hikes which makes for less packing time for last minute trips. Aside from being a great source of energy many nuts are considered “brain foods” and can help to keep you sharp on your hikes.


First off Bananas are a great source of potassium. This can help if you get a cramp or feel tired on your hike. Bananas can also provide a nice little sugar rush and offer a bunch of vitamins and nutrients that your body will be happy to have after some arduous trekking. Bananas also happen to be delicious which is just a little added bonus. A good tip I have learned from experience is to keep bananas somewhere soft in your bag. They bruise easily and no one wants that. I’d also recommend keeping them in a plastic bag if at all possible. It is very easy for things to shift around in your bag while hiking and this can lead to crushed bananas getting all over your gear. This is another tip that comes from a place of experience.


Tuna in a pouch is a great snack to pack for a bunch of reasons. First off this is light weight and takes up very little room. It can stay fresh for a very long time and it is a great source of nutrition. Tuna is one of those foods i make sure to pack for overnight hikes because it gives me the nutrition I need to keep going for long periods of time. These is no sort of prep needed for tuna on the trail and like the rest of the options on this list it is delicious.

Peanut butter

Now this is not limited to peanut butter by itself although that is a perfectly viable option as well. Peanut butter is a high fat option for snacking on the trail and can be combined with a bunch of other snacks like bananas for example. You can also always prep the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich which you see a lot of on the trail. The beauty of peanut butter is that it’s so versatile. Peanut butter is healthy and it is delicious which makes it a fan favorite for healthy snacking.

MRE’S (survival meals)

Now this is in no way a necessity for hiking however it is fun to grab an MRE for the occasional extended day hike over over night hikes. I have picked these up on more than one occasion and I am always pleasantly surprised by them. They are generally designed to give you the nutrition you need to keep going and come in a bunch of different flavors including scrambled eggs and fajita bowls. These often have shelf lives of up to 25 years so you don’t need to worry about them going bad and can be easily purchased on Amazon or most camping stores. The last one that I had included a self heating kit so I was able to have a warm meal at my camp site in the woods after a day of hiking without having to start a fire. The bottom line is sometimes it can be fun and a cool experience to treat yourself to a meal like this on your hike.

There are hundreds of options for snacking on your treks. These are just a few of my favorites. Regardless of what you choose just remember that the food and snacks you pack are going to be your main source of energy throughout the day. It is important to always make sure you pack enough to keep your energy up and avoid succumbing to hunger and crankiness when out on the trail. Thanks so much for reading and good luck on your adventures.

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How to plan a romantic hike

Looking for a romantic meaningful date to connect with the one you love and feel like you’re falling for each other all over again? Planning a nice day hike with your significant other is a great inexpensive way to get away from it all and really focus on what you love about each other. Being out in nature has a way of bringing out the best in us and is sure to create the perfect setting for an unforgettable date. In this post i share a few tips and tricks to help you in your planning and ensure that you make the most of your day together.

1) Try to pick a location that isn’t too far from you.

Often times when I go hiking I’ll drive upwards of 4 hours just to get to the location. This is due to the fact that i have hiked everything close to me 5 times over and am constantly looking for bigger and better trips. There is nothing wrong with this ordinarily but in the context of a date, driving 4 hours before the date even begins can be frustrating to your significant other and sort of put a damper on the whole “date vibe” before you even get started. additionally i’d research the trail and parking situation prior to the hike just so you don’t waste time trying to figure these things out once you get there. This is probably good advice for planning any sort of date but these things can get particularly tricky if you aren’t used to hiking.

2) Choose a trail that is an appropriate length/difficulty for a date.

I like to stick with anything that takes between 1 to 3 hours. I also prefer a hike that is on the lower end of the difficulty level so that the focus remains on connecting with one another more so than concurring an arduous trek (unless you are a couple that get really into that sort of thing). Remember the goal is to create a romantic day for the 2 of you, not overwhelm or over extend yourselves. I also like to leave time for a meal, hammock nap or even a glass of whine or 2 in there depending on what your looking for. The specifics of the hike are up to you but adding 1 or 2 little activities into your hike can help to add to the romance.

3) Plan a romantic meal

There isn’t a much more romantic setting for a meal than what you can find in nature. A well planned lunch on a vista overlooking miles of forest and rolling hills or alongside a creek below a bustling waterfall is about as good as it gets if you ask me. As far as the meal goes, keep it simple. A few sandwiches and chips or pre made salads should do just fine. If you’re looking to do something a little more elaborate there are hiking stoves available online or in most hiking stores that give you the ability to cook a meal on the trails. Feel free to check out my post 5 reasons you need a backpacking stove if you wanted to learn a little more about that.

4) Bring a bottle of Wine.

A bottle of wine is a nice touch for a short day hike. You may want to time it so that you reach the main lookout point as the sun sets to have a glass of wine as you watch the sun fade away in the distance. To ensure this goes as smoothly as possible id suggest metal or plastic wine glasses so that they are not damaged in your backpack over the course of the hike. If you don’t have any of these they can be purchased inexpensively on Amazon by clicking the link below. I’d personally include a little snack to go with the wine (cheese and crackers probably). You could even keep the bottle of wine a secret from your significant other so that the surprise helps to enhance the special moment.

5) Bring a hammock

Setting a hammock up takes only a few moments and is a great and romantic way to take a break and get close to your loved one at some point during your hike. My Fiance and I brought a hammock on one of our more recent dates and we were both surprised by how much more enjoyable it made the whole experience. A hammock is comfortable, intimate and certainly beats sitting on a rock to take a break. If you do choose to bring a hammock you may also want to opt to buy some hammock straps to go with it in order to get everything set up in a matter of a minute or 2.

6) Don’t over think it

At the end of the day it’s a great idea to have a plan but if you’ve gone hiking before you know that mother nature doesn’t always have your plans in mind. If everything doesn’t go exactly according to your plan try not to get to bent out of shape about it. Nature has a way of making things work out the way they’re supposed to and the really important thing is that your making an effort and taking the time to have a meaningful experience with someone that means the world to you.

7) share the idea with a friend

I love the idea of couples getting together and finding creative ways to spend time with one another. It seems like nowadays it is easy to get distracted by technology and the day to day hustle an bustle of life. It’s nice when we can get back to the basics and interact with each other in a way that sort of allows us to really be in the moment. Hiking has always been my way of being present and just taking a few hours out of my week to think about the bigger things in life and figure out what really matters to me.

I hope this post is a good starting point for those of you that are interested in planning a day out in nature with the ones you care about. By all means feel free to modify this date in a way that you think works best for you and your significant other. Please feel free to share any tips or suggestions you have in the comment section below or even just share your hiking date experience if you found this helped you at all. As always thanks for reading and subscribe if you would like to receive weekly posts about my experiences hiking and any insights that i may have to share.

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Planning your first overnight hike

Your first overnight hike can seem like a lot to figure out, but with a little bit of research and preparation you’ll be setting up camp like a pro in no time. Once you get the basics figured out camping on the trail will open up a world of trekking possibilities that you may not have realized existed. Camping can be a great way to experience nature and enhance your hiking experience but there can be consequences for inadequate preparation. Luckily this article is packed full of tips to help you avoid all of the mistakes that i faced in the beginning.

Figure your shelter out

There are several different methods people use for sleeping on the trail. Depending on on where you’re hiking there may be pre made shelter available. I know when hiking the Appalachian trail there are many lean-to’s along the way for trekkers to use on there travels. These are great and will for sure keep you dry in the event of rain but i don’t like to use them as my first option. The reason for this is that there are many other hikers on the trail and in my experience those lean to’s get claimed by other hikers pretty quick. for this reason i always pack my own tent or hammock so that i am guaranteed my own shelter if need be. The choice between whether to use a tent or hammock when hiking is a matter of personal preference. I make my case for why i think hammocks are the best camping option in my post 5 Essential tips for hammock camping but both options are perfectly fine. Whichever option you choose just make sure you have also planned for the possibility of rain when packing your shelter.

Figure out your food and water

Having the nourishment that you need is one of the most important components of multi day hikes. Don’t under estimate the strain that a day of trekking can put on your body. By the time your setting up camp your body is going to be expecting some food and water to make up for a day of hard work. In terms of water your cant really go wrong with a Camelback. If that’s too much to carry and you will have access to water on your hike there are plenty of filtration options to purify stream water into perfectly good drinking water. When it comes to eating I personally like to stick with foods that are going to give me the energy I need to wake up the next day and hit the trail strong. Granola bars and beef jerky are 2 fan favorites among campers. These both provide quick energy and do not require any sort of cooking. If you have a backpacking stove (which i cannot recommend enough See my post 5 Reasons you need a backpacking stovethen dehydrated meals are my favorite option. Dehydrated meals give you the luxury and nourishment of a home cooked meal whenever you want. There are a million possible options for food just make sure that you have given your food selection ample thought and remember you’re going to be using more energy than usual when your hiking for several days straight. (click link below to check out backpacking stoves on Amazon)

Know where your sleeping

This one may seem basic but i know when i first started i personally under estimated how difficult it could be to find a good area to set up camp (particularly if your using a tent). For this reason i recommend you have some idea of where on the trail your sleeping. Get a map of the trail look at how you want to break your hike up and decide where along the way you’re going to set up camp. This to me is actually part of the beauty of overnight hiking. You have the freedom to wake up wherever you want along the trail and be hiking within 20 minutes of waking up (just be sure not to disturb the area you set up camp in).

Research your trail

This is something i recommend for any hike but it is particularly important spend a little bit of time on your research when planning anything over night. You want to make sure that you don’t find yourself on a trail that is above your skill level. Hiking is definitely about pushing yourself and striving to get better but its also about having a good time and and taking some time to reflect on things. When choosing the best overnight trail for you be sure to look into the skill level, the length of the trail, obstacles that the trail may have, etc. This information is typically readily available on google. I personally always go into forums and read other people’s experiences on the trails to determine whether or not that particular hike is right for me.

Pack enough clothes

If you are familiar with my posts you know over packing is probably my biggest concern when it comes to hiking. You don’t want to be too heavy and end up tiring yourself out 2 hours in. If there was ever anything i would suggest to be a little over prepared for it would be clothing. Nature can be unpredictable. Temperature can change rapidly especially when you start dealing with elevation change. Rain can come out of nowhere and the clothes on your back can unexpectedly get soaked. Because rain can be so unpredictable a good rule of thumb is to never pack cotton clothes. Cotton and hiking have a dysfunctional relationship and should interact almost never. Additonally I always make sure to have extra clothing, socks and underwear. This has been a life saver countless times on my travels and i’m sure that once you go on enough hikes you come to the same realization.

Hiking isn’t an exact science. As you continue to get deeper into it you’ll find new variables that you begin to account for when planning your trips. Like anything in life the more time and practice you put into it the better you’ll get at it and the more rewarding it will become. In addition to this post please ensure you do your research and make sure you have accounted for all the essentials. Your first overnight hike can be a little scary to think about but if your reading this it sounds like your on the right track for a successful trip. Good luck on your journey and most importantly have fun with, That’s really what it’s all about. Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you found this interesting or helpful make sure to subscribe, i post articles like this twice per week to try to help spread the hiking knowledge for anyone out there looking to get more into it.

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7 disastrous mistakes beginner hikers make

Hiking for me is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding hobbies i have ever taken up. Fresh air, nature and beautiful scenery get me psyched in a way that very few things do. Unfortunately I (and most other hikers i know) was not anywhere near as prepared as i should have been when i first started and when it comes to hiking this can have serious consequences. Luckily i have compiled a list mistakes i made starting out so that you can bypass all that nonsense and be hiking like a pro from day one.

1. Hiking above your skill level

This one ranks number one on the list simply due to the fact that i have had to learn and re learn this lesson no short of 2 dozen times. The final straw was last year when i decided to go on a 2 day 18 mile hike through the Adirondacks on one of the most difficult trails on the east coast with what i would call inadequate preparation to say the least. I was caught in a down pour about 2 hours in to our 40+ hour journey and the result was a 6 month hiatus from hiking all together. Challenging ourselves is one of the best parts of hiking but knowing our limits will keep us from having negative potentially dangerous experiences that push us further away from what should be an amazing time.

2. Break those boots in before hand

New hiking boots/shoes are one of the funnest gear purchases one can buy. New hiking boots the day of the hike result in bloody and blistered feet and limping the second half of your hike to avoid agonizing pain. Please please please make sure to thoroughly break your boots in a week or two prior to the day of the big hike. If you’re like me you will ignore this one but i beg of you do not make my same dumb mistakes.

3. Not packing enough food and water

If your not used to hiking i can’t fault you for this one. One mistake many hikers make is to think “We’re only going to be out for 5 or 6 hours, how much food and water do we really need?” I have an answer for you. Far more than you would if you were sitting around the house for 5 or 6 hours. Obviously hiking is a very physical activity. Don’t under estimate the toll this will take on your body. I suggest adequately hydrating prior to the hike and bring 20% to 30% more food and water than you think you will need.

4. Not researching the hike before hand

This means researching everything from the parking situation at the trail head to the weather and skill level of the trail that you choose. Hiking is one of those things where the more you know the better off you are. Don’t wait til the day of the hike to let these things surprise you. Go into this thing with a lot of research and a well oiled plan. Executing these things right will increase your likely hood of a successful and and subsequently your chances of diving into hiking even more.

5. Over packing

I realize this can seem counter intuitive to the beginner hiker but if you have read pretty much any one of my other posts you will know how i feel about an over packed bag. I am for sure a fan of being prepared but many beginner hikers fill there bags up with things they’ll never need for a day hike simply because its fun to pack a bunch of cool stuff in there bag (I’ve done this on more than one occasion). Although gadgets can be a blast and get us excited for hiking its important to remember we’re hiking to experience nature and decompress from the day to day that is real life for a while. Loading 50 extra in our bag and suffering from unbearable back pain the whole time is not what real hiking is all about. Truly being prepared means analyzing the hike before hand and packing only what we may actually need

6. Hiking alone

I’d be careful about hiking alone even if you are a seasoned vet in the game. The reality of nature is often times no one else is on the trail (sometimes for days). You are putting your safety on the line when you hike alone and that doesn’t help anyone. I suggest at least for your first few hikes try to find someone that has some experience. Watch what they do an try to pick up on good tips and habits to help accelerate your own learning curve.

7. Forgetting sunscreen

You wouldn’t skip sunscreen at the beach, the trail is not the place to pass it up either. Newer hikers a lot of times forget that hiking means being outside essentially all day long, often times in direct sunlight. Sunburn will not only mess your hike up it can have potentially life threatening consequences. There are plenty of things to play games with but the sun is not one of them. Respect mother nature and all her fury when on the trail.

For sure you are going to make mistakes hiking, everyone does. I still mess up all the time. What is important is to get the big things right to ensure that you don’t endanger yourself or others. As long as you go in with realistic expectations and a basic understanding of the does and don’s of hiking you are in for a great time. Please feel free to comment on this post if you think I’ve missed anything essential or just want some additional tips to improve your own hiking game. Thanks as always for reading and please subscribe if you want more articles like this one as you dive deeper into hiking.

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5 reasons you need a backpacking stove

I wrote this article simply due to the fact that I wish someone would have forced me to purchase a backpacking stove years ago. This is 100% the gadget that I had no idea I needed and now that I have one I will never go without. My backpacking stove completely changed the way that I experience hiking. It was inexpensive, fits in my pocket and offers me hiking luxury beyond my wildest dreams. These things are super cool and can be picked up on Amazon or at any hiking or camping store near you. Now a days I can’t imagine going back to hiking without my stove and I encourage anyone reading this to grab one sooner rather than later and see for yourself.

1. Coffee

Hot Coffee on the trail is the ultimate luxury. If you’ve ever camped in the woods before you know it can get cold at night. being able to wake up with a warm cup of coffee really starts the hike off on the right foot. On my last hike in the Adirondacks we slept in the hammocks and set an alarm to wake up at 3AM and drink coffee and star gaze with the binoculars in the mountains before we started hiking. This was one of my favorite moments I’ve ever experienced on a hike, sounds corny but words literally cant describe it. The point being if your into coffee, having a warm cup on the trail while back packing is something you must try.

2. Dehydrated meals

When hiking for a few days straight you will probably start to miss warm meals. With a hiking stove and a pot to boil water you have everything you need to cook any one of countless dehydrated meals. Dehydrated meals can be purchased inexpensively online or even made relatively easily in your own home if you have a dehydrator. It’s like bringing the luxury of having a kitchen on your hike with you. A nice warm meal provides you with the substance and energy you need to sustain yourself far longer than a backpack full of granola bars ever could. Warm meals on my hikes once seemed like a day dream to me but now they have become a regular part of my routine.

3. bathing on the trail

With the ability to boil water you can wash your face and hair and body with warm water whenever you want. This becomes more and more appealing the longer you spend on the trail. The ability to bath on the trail adds an entirely new dimension to hiking for me. No matter how long I’ve been out in the woods for a hiking stove gives me the ability to clean myself up and feel refreshed on any leg of the trip and that freedom for sure increases the amount of time I want to spend in the woods.

4. Tea

The reason I list tea separate from coffee is simply due to the fact that I prefer coffee to wake up and tea as my wind down before bed. The ability to enjoy a nice cup of tea while looking up at the stars before bed seemed like something reserved for Hollywood movies to me but now with the addition of my backpacking stove it has become a reality every time I hit the trails for an overnight hike.

5. Cooking fish

This one I’m sure appeals to all my fellow anglers out there. It’s the ultimate hiker/survivalist dream. The ability to catch and cook your own food on the trails has been a dream of mine for many years. In my opinion this is about as hardcore as it gets. To some this may sound like a fate worse than death which I can understand, but for many including myself it is the ultimate badge of honor. Nothing compares to the taste of 100% freshly cooked fish and game and the feeling of accomplishment that goes along with it only adds to the experience. I highly recommend this to anyone looking to challenge themselves and there own survival abilities.

Regardless of how often you hike or whether or not the uses above would apply to you, I cannot recommend this gadget enough. Hiking stoves start at around 10$ and offer 20 times that in value. I promise you this will completely change what you thought hiking had to be. If you are someone that loves hiking the way that I do and you thought it couldn’t get any better I’m letting you know this purchase will change the way you think about it. As always thanks for reading my friends. Please comment below and let me know any additional uses you have found for your hiking stove so that I can give it a try next time I hit the trails.

5 easy tips for choosing the perfect hiking backpack

If you’re reading this It means you’re thinking about upping your hiking game with a new back pack. I’m jealous, new back packs are by far my favorite hiking purchases. I currently have 3 and am actually getting ready to purchase a 4th in the not so distant future. The reason I enjoy backpacks so much is they’re such a personal item. You get to set them up based on your needs for the way you like to hike. In many cases proper preparation can be the difference between an amazing hike or an incredibly unpleasant weekend. So before choosing the backpack for you make sure you have taken your own requirements into consideration first. I have provided a list of 5 basic things to consider before buying a backpack to help get you started.

1. Weight

The first thing I personally consider is always weight. I like to be as light on the trail as the situation calls for. Typically for day hikes I like to have a light pack. You want Something that allows you to comfortably carry water, food and possibly a second layer of clothing depending on the weather and season. You also want room for a few light weight pieces of gear (paracord, a poncho, a knife, etc.) Typically if you stick with hiking companies their backpacks are geared towards similar requirements.

2. Size

Size is another important factor to consider when choosing the right pack for you. I typically hike with my smaller pack which is right around 40 liters. This is the perfect size for a day hike or even a light summer overnight hike if I’m planning on sleeping in the hammock. Depending on what I need for the hike I also like my 55 liter pack on occasions. It’s a little more weight to carry but your really able to pack a lot of gear for extended day hikes. If your going larger than 40 liters id recommend something that straps across the chest as well for a little added support. That little feature really does a lot to help prevent back pain.

3. Comfort

Don’t be a hero. An uncomfortable Backpack means nothing but trouble. This thing is going to be on your back for hours at a time. You will be walking up and down rugged terrain and your body will be stressed enough without the added pain of an uncomfortable bag. Your mental endurance is going to be a key factor to your successful hike, this is why comfort is one of the most important things to take into consideration. To get this right I really focus on the customer reviews. I personally use Amazon but whichever site or store you choose for your purchase just make sure to focus on the customer reviews. Don’t only focus on how many stars it got in the rating but see what people are saying about it. See what people like about it and see what the complaints are. I typically stick to items that have a high amount of reviews because its easy to get good information on them.

4. Storage

Check out the amount of storage the bag has. Look into how many pockets there are, how many compartments, etc. I always stick with a backpack that is specifically for hiking because they are designed to store hiking gear. In my younger days I used to use my school backpack on the trail and that worked alright but there was a noticeable difference when I switched to a bag specifically designed for hiking. If your having trouble getting started I’ve included links below to bags that I personally like a lot in this article.

5. Material

Make sure to choose a backpack made from high quality material. This is a must. Poor quality bags were not meant for the trail and will quickly rip if you plan to do any sort of serious hiking with them. I always recommend something that is water resistant and has a thick lining on it. If you’re nervous about this when choosing your bag brands like North face or Osprey come standard with high quality material. Just do a quick google search of the brand and bag that you like and make sure the reviews confirm that the material is fit for hiking.

To summarize this article in a nutshell, you want to go with a good quality backpack overall. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money but you do want something that that’s going to rip after 4 hikes either. The material should have a little thickness to it and ideally something that’s at least water resistant. Pay attention to the little details as well. The zipper should be a decent quality and you want to make sure the thing functions well for hiking. At the end of the day a great backpack can really help enhance the hiking experience. Don’t let the quality of your hikes be brought down by not having the proper gear for the situation.

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4 amazingly useful water purification options for hikers

Options discussed in this article

Now if your planning an overnight hike you may be wondering how to keep hydrated on the trail. Not to worry, this is a common concern and I’ve put together 4 simple options for getting clean water on your hike. Personally my first option is always a Camelback or some sort of light weight water bottles or pouches. It’s not always as easy as you may think to come across a decent water source on your hike. With that being said there are occasions when I’m going to be on the trail for a few days at a time and it just isn’t possible to carry enough water on me to last the entire hike. That is actually the case for me this coming weekend and is sort of the inspiration for this post. If you do plan on getting water on the trail I suggest you research the streams and rivers in the area you plan to hike. There have been instances in the past where I ran out of water on the trail and had to go several hours without until luckily it began to rain and I was able to collect enough water to get me through the remainder of the hike. That was a rather unpleasant experience and had I not found water when I did could have potentially turned into a dangerous situation.

1. Camelbacks.

Camelbacks are a great way to carry multiple days worth of water easy and conveniently when embarking on a long trek. They are light weight and specifically designed for physical activity. Anytime that I’m not taking a ton of gear with me I like to bring the Camelback because it beats constantly having to reach into my backpack to find a water bottle. Camelback makes a variety of great products that fit comfortably on your back and allow extra room for gear storage. They are relatively inexpensive and can be picked up on Amazon or in any camping/hiking store.

2. Iodine Tablets

For this up coming weekend I will be in the woods for about 36 to 40 hours. Since this is relatively short as far as extended hikes go I plan on bringing most of the water I will need in water bottles and pouches. This should get me through the first day but chances are I will need to pick a little water up along the way. In order to save on weight and space in my pack I will be using iodine tablets as my water purification method. These can be purchased for only a few dollars, weigh almost nothing and are easy and reliable to use. My personal method for these is any time that I come across a good source of clean looking water and one of my water bottles are empty I will simply fill my bottle up from the stream, drop an iodine tablet in and within a half hour I will have drinkable water. I am comfortable using iodine tablets on occasion since I don’t do a ton of overnight hikes but if I’m planning anything more than a few days I would choose a different purification method. Iodine tablets are recommended for short term use only so I wouldn’t make a habit of using them.

3. Filtration straws

Filtration straws are another popular option for hikers on the trail. These can be purchased relatively inexpensively (under 20$) and can purify well over 200 gallons of water per straw. These things are reliable and take up almost no room in your pack, which you know is a great selling point for me. I think these are a great option. I personally just find it annoying to have to bend down and put my head in a creek every time i want a sip of water. Another set back with these is you don’t really have the option to store water for future use. That being said if your looking for a handy piece of survival gear that that is inexpensive and takes up nearly no room id recommend grabbing one of these for your pack.

4. Water filtration systems

Now these things come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can range anywhere from 20$ to several hundred dollars. I personally wouldn’t spend a ton of money unless I was planning on doing something like hiking the Appalachian trail where I would be out for several months at a time. If you do have a hike like this in your future I’d say absolutely invest in high quality gear. Also if you will be hiking in an area where the water quality is sketchy investing in something a little higher end may be your best bet. For those of you looking for something a little less intense there are plenty of great options at lower price points. Sawyer makes a great little product that uses absolute mircon technology and comes with everything you need to pull water out of a stream, filter it and fill your water bottles. the whole thing weighs 2 ounces, fits in the palm of your hand and can be purchased for just under 20$. This up coming weekend I will be hiking in upstate New York where generally speaking the water is pretty pure to begin with so something like this would be a great option for me.

Whichever option you choose to go with I strongly suggest you research the area you will be hiking and get as clear an understanding of how readily available a water source will be. Take it from me nothing is scarier than being stuck in the middle of the forest with no one around to help and no idea where or when you will be able to get your next drink of water. For that reason alone I always keep at least some form of water purification system in my bag. Best of luck my friends, thanks for reading and be sure to follow me for more hiking posts like this one.

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13 clever hiking uses for paracord

I think we can all agree that paracord is a must have piece of gear for anyone that spends a lot of time on the trail; however if you’re anything like I was you probably have 100 feet paracord sitting at the bottom of your bag without much of an idea of how to put it to practical use. In this article I highlight some of the countless uses I have found over the years for this now essential item that I’ll never go on a hike without again.

1. Keeping bags away from pests

Hanging food in trees for overnight camping. If you are in an area where bears or other campsite pests may be a concern use your paracord to hang your pack in a tree away from your camp to keep it safely out of there reach.

2. Setting up shelter

Whether you’re using paracord to hang a hammock or tent or fashioning a make shift shelter to keep you dry from an unexpected rain storm, para cord is incredibly useful when it comes to setting up a sound shelter.

3. Setting up a clothes line

This comes in handy whether your camping or just taking a break from your trek and have some gear you need dried. A makeshift clothesline can be crafted in a matter of moments using two sturdy trees and 20 or so feet of paracord.

4. Anchoring a small boat to land

Many of us like to explore the forests via water ways using Canoes. Kayaks or other small boats. Whether your charting an adventure down a creek or river system or simply hanging out for a day at the lake, if your having trouble getting your small boat to stay put paracord should do the trick.

5. Spare laces for hiking boots

Breaking a lace on the trail can quickly ruin a good day of hiking. If you have a little paracord in your pack there shouldn’t be anything to fear though. Simply cut off a shoe lace length’s worth of cord and use it to re string those boots and get back to it.

6. A belt

This one has happened to me before. You get out on the trail and realize you left your belt at home and you’re stuck pulling your pants up every 2 minutes. Use your paracord to either make a belt or set of suspenders to keep your pants at the right height.

7. Tie extra gear to your pack

I typically use this in tandem with hiking clips to secure gear that i want quick access to to the outside of my bag (a water bottle for example). Simply tie the paracord around your gear, tie a knot at the end and clip it to your bag for easy access.

8. Emergency tourniquet 

In the unlucky event that you sustain an injury on the trail paracord can be used as a first aid item to assist in making a makeshift tourniquet. Note I would for sure still recommend packing a first aid kit if at all possible.

9. Hang a pot over a fire

Paracord can have great applications when it comes to camping. Among one camping use is to hold a pot steady over a fire. This makes it easy to do things like boil water or cook a meal at your site.

10. Zipper pull repair

Don’t let a broken zipper pull get in the way of your good time. With just a few inches of extra paracord you can easily create a makeshift zipper pull to attach to any bag or jacket.

11. Improvising a stretcher

Lets hope this is never a situation you find yourself in but god for bid you or someone your with gets hurt on the trail. Typically when people find themselves in this position they don’t have the slightest idea of what to do. With a few sturdy sticks and a decent length of paracord you have a decent chance at creating a stretcher that can actually carry someone to safety.

12. Making rain gear

If you spend a lot of time hiking you absolutely will come across unexpected rain at some point. rather than let mother nature do her thing and just get drenched, if you have a tarp or fire blanket and a few feet of paracord you have everything you need for some makeshift rain gear.

13. Fishing line

Now I wouldn’t suggest entering any angler competitions with this one but if you do find yourself in a jam or simply just want to try something creative, fishing with paracord is certainly within the realm of possibility.

There are 100’s of different ways paracord can be utilized on the trail. These are just some examples that I have found useful of just simply entertaining in my travels over the years. If you don’t already have paracord in your bag now is a great time to invest. This is an incredibly useful resource to carry on you and probably one of my favorite overall hiking gadgets.

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7 Simple tips for an amazing hike

Packing your bag and hitting the trail for a day of hiking is the greatest feeling in the world, as long as you don’t suck at it. Knowing what you’re doing can be the difference between an amazing day out or a miserable potentially even dangerous situation. Luckily there are many things within your control that you can do to improve your chances of having a trek that you’ll never forget. I’ve got 7 easy and practical tips for you so that you can avoid some of the countless mistakes I made when I first got into the hiking game.

1. Know the correct address

The key to making your hike unforgettable begins by researching the trail that you plan to hike. One tip I have learned and re learned over the years is to get the exact address of where you plan to park. More often than not if you just type the name of the trail you want to hike into your GPS you end up in some random field 3 miles from the parking lot you need to be in. This silly mistake has cost me valuable hiking time on more than one occasion.

2.  Research the parking situation

If you aren’t familiar with parking lots for hiking trails take it from me. Hiking parking lots fill up quick and not being able to get a spot in these lots sometimes means walking several miles from an alternate lot before your hike even begins.. Do as much research on how many lots are, how many available spots the lots have, parking restrictions, and how early the lots typically fill up. This information can easily be found through a simple google search and if done before hand can save you a lot of time trying to find a backup plan.

3. Water

Don’t laugh, you’d be surprised how often people simply don’t realize how important hydration is before embarking on a great hike. The amount of water you’ll need depends on several things including the length of the hike, the temperature and how hydrated you are before going into the hike. For a short day hike (anything 5 hours or less) I usually hydrate generously before hand and pack about 32 ounces of water. If that doesn’t sound like enough for you products such as Camelbacks can be purchased on Amazon or a bunch of other site relatively inexpensively. Although I don’t typically take that much water on short hikes I highly recommend it to anyone that thinks they need more water without the weight and bulkiness of carrying multiple water bottles. If not there are plenty of great light weight water bottles that can be purchased super inexpensively as well. Plastic bottles that you can pick up from a convenience store work just fine too just please don’t be one of the hikers that litter on the trail. Nothing is more of a bummer for myself and many other hikers I know than littering (stepping back down off my soap box now).

4. Snacks

I am always shocked by how often people forget to pack some form of nourishment for a day hike. I think that people sometimes forget that hiking can be a rather arduous activity. Regardless you really do burn a ton of calories while your out there on the trail so this item on the list is one you will find yourself very happy you didn’t forget. My personal choice is typically a cliff bar (although I’m taking a hiatus from sugar for the time being) or beef jerky as well as some form of nut (I like cashews). The reason I choose these is because they are light weight, I like the taste and they give me real energy. I try to avoid junk foods or anything overly processed just because I’m really looking to get some clean long lasting energy into my system. This item is probably the second most important item. Do not let hanger ruin your trip.

5.  A good back pack

Now this is not to say you need a backpack for a day hike. A lot of times on short hikes I’ll ditch the backpack all together. My mantra when it comes to hiking is bring only what you need. Dead weight just equals back pain in my opinion. That being said if i have packed a few snacks water bottles and maybe a camera it’s nice to have somewhere to store everything. It also really helps to avoid littering which is a huge favor to all of us that love and respect the great outdoors. Backpacks can range anywhere from a few dollars all the way to hundreds or even thousands. Again it’s not a necessity if you’re only planning a short hike but if you’re someone that gets into hiking a nice backpack is an awesome thing to have. I go into specifics about what makes a great back pack in my post Choosing the best hiking backpack for day hikes. If your not in the market for a new backpack right now whatever you have should do the trick.

6. Appropriate footwear.

This does not necessarily mean boots, although boots are great. Should you choose to where boots I’d make sure to select a boots catered towards hiking. If I know the terrain isn’t going to be too intense I actually prefer sneakers due to the fact that they weigh less. Not all sneakers are ideal for hiking. The key to success when it comes to footwear is ankle support, Grip and comfort. Just remember your going to be walking for several hours straight on potentially rugged terrain. You need to put serious thought into the footwear you choose or you may just spend several hours straight walking in extreme pain. In short the particular footwear depends on the particular hike, just know the decision should be well thought out before hand.

7. A Poncho

You never know when a sudden rain storm is going to come on. Ponchos can be purchased very cheaply and weigh next to nothing. they can be easily stored in a pocket or a back pack and can be re used. There is basically no reason not to have one on you and in the very possible event that it does decide to rain you may be several hours away from a change of clothes. Get yourself a poncho. Trust me if you find yourself in a situation where you need it you will be so happy that you have it.

We can’t control everything out there on the trail. This is part of the beauty and allure of hiking. But we can be intelligent and do the things within our control correctly to exponentially increase our chances of having an excellent experience interacting with the great outdoors. Thanks so much for reading and please feel free to reach out on social media with hiking questions you have so I can continue to put out articles like this.

Life on the trails is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

5 Tips For Perfect Hammock Camping

Hammock camping is a great way to keep comfortable and stay light on the trail. Whether you’re planning a long trek or just going camping with friends for the weekend hammock camping is an awesome way to do it and is far more comfortable than the traditional tent approach. This approach also makes finding a camping site super easy and for some reason I just feel like it’s cooler.

1. Get a tent for your hammock

Nothing will ruin a hammock camping trip quicker than not being prepared for rain. I’ve had instances before where the forecast called for a zero percent chance of rain and it still ended up raining in the middle of the night. Regardless of what the forecast says you want to have your hammock tent if you plan on using your hammock to sleep in. These are light weight and inexpensive and can be easily picked up at most sporting stores or online. Keeping a hammock tent in your bag gives you the luxury of shelter at any time for very little extra room or space in your bag. Most tents are easy to use and can be set up in just a few minutes with a little practice.

2. Get A mosquito net

This is another must for me simply due to the fact that the consequences for not having it are too high for me. When you’re asleep it’s essentially just a feeding frenzy for any bugs that realize you’re there. Mosquito nets start at just a few dollars and weight next to nothing. They’re super easy to set up and they will ensure that you are safe from pests in the night. This isn’t the most glamorous piece of gear that your going to have in your pack but it is one that you’ll for sure be glad you have if you find yourself in a situation that calls for it.

3. Bring a sleeping bag

Often times it gets a lot cooler at night than first time campers expect. Do not make the mistake of assuming the hammock and a sweatshirt will be enough to keep you warm throughout the night. Make sure that you pack a half decent camping sleeping bag with you. I have done this one personally and the discomfort kept me up half the night and I didn’t have the energy I would have liked to hike the following day. I even go so far as to keep a few hand warmers in my bag in case I get stuck out on a particularly cold night.

4. Do a trial run

The last thing you want is to realize you have a problem when you’re about to set up camp. I personally set up camp in my back yard and slept out there all night to ensure that I had everything i needed for the actual hike. Now I’m not saying sleep in your backyard, but I will it’s better to know what you need when your house is 10 feet away than when your 20 miles into the woods. Regardless of your personal approach, make sure that your have everything you need packed  well ahead of time to avoid a great night on trail turning into a disaster.

5. Tree straps

This is actually one thing that i haven’t invested in yet personally but i feel its necessary to mention in this post due to the fact that everyone of my friends that uses a hammock makes fun of me for not having them. I must say I see the benefit of the straps when its time to set up camp and i’m sitting there tying knots like its the 1800’s and everyone that i’m with is set up in 10 seconds. I haven’t grabbed these yet simply due to the fact that I spend entirely too much money on hiking gear as it is and I just haven’t gotten to this particular thing yet. In time I’ll eventually invest in some but if you are looking to get into hammock camping and your more intelligent than myself I would highly recommend them.

Hammock camping can be a little intimidating at first but it’s hands down one of the greatest ways to experience life on the trail. With a little bit of preparation you can get all of the beauty that nature has to offer with a comfort level that you simply don’t get with a traditional tent. A great camping trip is something that everyone should experience at some point of there life and in my opinion hammock camping is the best way to go about it. Best of luck my friends, please share your hammock camping experiences as well as any questions you have with me so that I can continue to make posts like this and share information with those looking to up there hiking game.