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10 Life Lessons You’ll Learn from10 Life Lessons You’ll Learn fromHiking

Most people disregard hiking as something anyone can do. And they’re right for the most part barring extenuating circumstances, but most people don’t hike though. They prefer the easy life, the alternative to hiking. So why take part in this time honored activity in the first place? Well, that is why I give you 10 Life Lessons You’ll Learn from Hiking. It is a surefire way to get you off your butt and into the great outdoors.

From my own experience I can tell you hiking has made a difference in my life. It has reduced my anxiety, elevated my spirit, and prepared me for the long haul. If you want any of those three things in your life, then you should read this article and hike once a week.

Let’s get started.

1. You Need Nature in Your Life

There is no way around it. Everyone needs some greenery. Humans are designed to be in nature. Before we lived in cities, villages, apartments, or houses, people lived outdoors under the stars. People evolved with nature around them. You don’t see too many people doing that today. As a consequence, there is a feeling of emptiness, a void in their lives.

Nature, however, can fill the gap. You genuinely feel better after time spent outdoors. You see the bigger picture and the connection you hold with nature. People are not apart from nature, but a part of it. You hold a connection to this world.

Nature is an essential part of living. In my studio for example, I keep a small houseplant. It calms me down and I water it from time to time. Even when I forget to do so, it holds its own. The plant goes on living as much as it can. When I water it, I feel a connection to it.

2. You Appreciate Life when You Listen to the Outdoors

You don’t enjoy the fullness of a hike unless you listen. When you look at a waterfall, mountain, tree, or anything else of the sort in awe, you experience gratitude. You are thankful for the life breathing in unison around you. The greenery makes you feel better. You see yourself in the trees and plants.

Trees need sunshine, water, oxygen, and earth to grow. As long as they have that handful of items, they continue to truck along just fine. A small step can crush a fledgling plant. You appreciate the vulnerability of life and the precarious situation it finds itself in.

3. You Have to Live in the Moment to be Good at Hiking

The best hikers pay attention to every step. They watch where their hand reaches and listen to the ground beneath their feet. They anticipate the route they are about to take. Will I need to step on that stone or rock to cross the stream or is there another way around? Can I trust the branch I grab to help me cross the muddy puddle? Listen. Do you hear that? Is that a lion? When should I eat my lunch?

You pay careful attention to your movements and steps on a hike. It helps you to get through the journey ahead. The same goes for your day to day life with school, family, and/or work.

Should you really send that email? How can I make them feel better about themselves? How can I patch things up with my Aunt Bettie? What’s their body language saying? If I wanted to connect with them on a deeper level right now, how would I do so?

4. As Long as You Keep Moving Forward, You’re Winning

A trail’s incline can suck hard. The steepness slows you down and drains your muscles. You might need to step aside from time to time to take a breather. Fortunately for you though, the trail won’t be getting any longer so long as you keep moving forward in the right direction. It only gets shorter after the first step.

A house with a white picket fence, a Bachelor’s degree, a high level job, marriage to the partner of your dreams, any ‘crazy’ dream once started with a single step. So long as you keep moving at a steady pace, one foot in front of the other or one move after another, you will be fine.

It might take you a year or fifteen or twenty-five years. But if you have made it, then you’ve won.

5. A Break isn’t Quitting, it’s Rejuvenating

People always tell you to never stop hustling, to always strive for more and more. Unless you’re some special type of person, it’s exhausting. Those people are wrong.

When taking a break on a hike, you step aside, grab some water, and appreciate what you have accomplished. You see how far you have come and anticipate what awaits you on the trail ahead. You feel better to then tackle what’s ahead.

Wherever you are headed off the trail, you need to step back, catch your breath, and reassess from time to time. The break might seem like a cop out, but it is essential for thinking about what awaits you. You clear your mind on a breather. It gives your brain time to pop an idea into your head. You then have a way forward.

6. Life is a Marathon, not a Sprint

In other words, you don’t need to rush things. You may have gotten lost going in circles on the first ten miles, but you can become the comeback kid in the last sixteen. Some of us walk. Others sprint. We are not competing against others, but facing off against ourselves. If you are in a better position than you were six months, a year, or ten years ago, then you have made progress. The progress can be intellectual, spiritual, physical, career, or anything else of the sort.

Only you can tell yourself whether or not you have made progress.

We need to slow down from time to time. It makes us appreciate what we have. We can think of a better way forward. Slower walkers aren’t stupid. They’re contemplating their next move.

7. Technology isn’t an Essential to Live Life

You really don’t need it. You can get by without it. Turn your phone off and get to hiking. It will help you appreciate life more and the uniqueness of the time we live in.

For some of us, we cannot get by without checking social media. I’m here to remind you there was a time before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. People made connections with one another face to face. They relied on a personal, empathetic touch to connect, not a few clicks. The personal connection is still true. People value face to face connections.

8. The World is a Beautiful Place

Life looks amazing at the summit. You don’t need a phone to appreciate the view. In fact, it is better with your own two eyes unable to take a snapshot. Use your memory. You will appreciate the mental picture. The best memories often are not the ones you can find in a Snapchat story.

The trees, people, wind, weather, sunshine, clouds, birds, and deer are all incredible. They are amazing to say the least.

9. Meaningful Success is Hard Work

It is easy to find ways to feel like you’re doing something when you are really not. Take email for instance. Most of the time, my inbox is full of nothing. I can go a day, even a week without checking it and I will be just fine. Sending and receiving email matters little. It is just a time sink at this point.

Sometimes a career turns into a job and we feel like we’re just running around in circles doing bits of nothing over and over again.

A hike reminds you of something else. You have to keep moving forward at a steady pace to get what you want, no ifs, and’s, or but’s. It takes a long time compared to the instant gratification machine of social media. You don’t feel anything after you take the first step, but you feel powerful after completing the journey. Social media does not provide an equivalent.

You have to roll up your sleeves, strap on your backpack, and prepare for the long road ahead if you want something special.

10. It’s Always Worth it in the End

Many people say, “life is about the journey, not the destination.” And they’re right, but the view is also pretty sweet. Life’s journey makes a lot more sense from the summit than at the trail head. You can see everything you went through at the top of the mountain.

The journey might have been difficult and downright dangerous at times, but you were never really in harm’s way. It was in your mind. After rolling up your sleeves and grabbing the shovel, you just had to scale those mental obstacles.

Like a bunch of dots in a picture book, everything makes sense after you connect everything you went through.

You’ll Need Some Boots for Your Next Hike

I hope this short article inspired you to get off your butt and plan your next hike. I know it was a joy for me to write it. You should be all set to go.

Before you head off though, you are sure to need some boots. I’m going to be real with you for a second. It takes time and hard work for me to write what you see here. If you enjoyed this piece, want more like it, or are looking for some footwear for your next hike, then you should check out one of my previous articles, The Best Men’s Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots of 2019 (I update these types of articles annually and they come in comparable women’s pairs :)).

Check it out! These are the best boots you will find by a wide margin.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

The Top 10 Best Men’s Backpacking Rain Jackets of 2019

If you’ve ever been surprise rained on and are an experienced outdoor adventurer, you know you are always going to have to bring a rain jacket along with you whether you are camping, backpacking, hiking, or doing anything else of the sort. Water has a way of surprising you. As a result, you can find The Top 10 Best Men’s Backpacking Rain Jackets of 2019. This article will be sure to give you plenty to work with.

Like with all articles of this type, please check out other reviews like this one and go into depth about the rain jacket you are considering. It will give you a more holistic perspective to help you make your decision. But when you decide, please come back to this article. The choice is yours. You will be a kind person to you so.

For women reading this article, be aware many of these jackets also come with a female jacket of the same design. You just have to search for them.

Let’s get started.

What Should You Look for in a Rain Jacket?

Before looking to buy any product, you should always consider the value. In other words, does the price match what you get out of it? What’s fair is fair after all. If you pay a low price but get a splendid product, then the price was well worth it. Conversely, if you pay a lot and get less than what you bargained for, the value was low and you did not get your hard-earned money’s worth.

Water resistance is essential. Otherwise it would not be a rain jacket. It needs to be waterproof. All the models listed here will hold their own in a downpour. You can bet on that. The water will not get into the cracks and crevices of these jackets.

Breathability and ventilation keep you dry on the inside by allowing sweat to escape. You sweat when it is rainy out, so your jacket needs to be able to manage that inevitability. All of these listed here vary when it comes to that metric.

You also need to be on the lookout for air permeability. This is a new term. What exactly does that mean? You might ask. The term refers to the ability of air to pass through the fabric. More air permeable fabrics feel cooler because the wind passes through them. All of these will, again, vary on this metric.

If you not have comfort and mobility, then you won’t want to wear your rain jacket. It is as simple as apple pie. A good rain jacket moves with you, conforming to your body and flowing with your actions. It becomes a part of your body. A jacket feels different when you extend your arms versus when you are scrunched down.

When it comes to weight, lighter is always better. Not all of these weigh the same. If you are an ultralight backpacker, then you need to pay crucial attention to this metric.

Also, pay attention to the hood and pockets. Some hoods are better than others at enabling wide field of vision. You also want good, easily accessible pockets.

Does the rain jacket have any extra features? Some of these jackets come with extra ‘do-dads’ and features to keep you occupied. Not all the ones listed here have them. But if they do, then it is all the more reason to get it.

1. Arc’teryx Men’s Beta Sl Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: black, nocturne, arcturus, cypress, madras, everglade, rigel
Sizes: x-small, small, medium, large, x-large, large
Fit: runs a little large
Weight: 315 g (11.1 oz)
Fabric: nylon

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

If you want incredible versatility and solid all-around performance, then this is the one for you. With one like this, you can handle any downpour coming your way. It is by far the best of the bunch compared to all the others listed here. Across all the important metrics listed above, this rain jacket performs consistently well. The hood fits like a charm. You can pull it over a bike helmet and still have nice peripheral vision. The pockets are easy to access. And the zipper is smooth.

This jacket is really light. At not even a pound, you will not notice this jacket at all when you are backpacking through the back country. It does not add much weight and it makes all the difference when a downpour catches you by surprise. The wrist collars and hood cinch down when the weather gets rough.

The biggest downside, though, is its price. This jacket is expensive. If you are a university student on a budget, then you do not want to get this one. It is way too pricey. At the same time though, you more than get what you pay for if you can afford to drop the money. If you can afford the price, then by all means go for it.

On Google reviews, this rain jacket averages 4.6 stars out of over 200 reviews, making it a well-received product. I recommend you read the testimonials there. You will see for yourself how this jacket measures up.

2. REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: black, canyon ridge, maritime blue, sage grey, stargazer teal
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large
Weight: 297.7 g (10.5 ounces)
Fit: not enough reviews yet
Fabric: 20-denier rip stop nylon

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

This rain jacket is breathable. You will get plenty of airflow to filter out your sticky sweat. The fabric is made from Gore-tex. Of their entire line of fabrics, this brand uses their lightest. You will not even notice the weight as you carry this rain jacket around. The design of this rain jacket is minimalist. It is meant to give you less to think and worry about while protecting you from the rain.

Because of its minimalist design, the jacket does not come with specific zippers underneath the armpits for ventilation. The pockets it does have help with ventilation alright, but that is what you get with a minimalist design. You compromise a bit, but also have a lot less to worry about. No matter your activity when the hood is up, it stays put, shifting only slightly with your movements.

A downside of this rain jacket is its price, but that is what you get with a premium rain jacket. At well past the ‘double Benjamin’ range, your wallet will take a toll if you are not careful. Otherwise, you can expect this jacket to last you for years to come.

On REI’s website this jacket averages 4.4 stars out of over 40 reviews. Granted it is not the most, but REI testimonials are solid and you can put your trust in those who offered to share their experience with this jacket.

3. Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: arctic navy, black, blue sapphire, bomber green, brick, bright lime, cinder, crocodile, dark cerulean, dark purple, dark rust, denim, French blue/surf, gargoyle, green lichen, jet black, macaw green, mallard green, Mars orange, shady glade, Sienna red, slate grey, surf, team red, terracotta, blue ocean
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large
Fit: as expected (88%)
Weight: 311.8 g (11 ounces)
Fabric: rip stop nylon

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

This jacket performers best as a wind breaker and rain protector. If you want a jacket with insulation, you will have to look somewhere else. This jacket employs NanoPro fabric as opposed to its previous Precis technology, enabling more breathability and letting you get plenty of air flow to let out the stinky sweat.

This does run a slim fit, so be aware of this aspect of the rain jacket if you run heavy for your height. Did I mention the sheer number of colors? You get a lot to choose from. As a guy with no sense of color (men’s eyes are not the best at picking colors according to evolution), I find it overwhelming. I will have to ask my sister which one looks best on me because there is a lot to choose from.

It is less expensive than the two previous rain jackets saving you money, but not by much. If you do not like noise, then this rain jacket is not for you. When crumpled, it does make a bit of noise, making it a downside but only when you scrunch it down. It does not make any noise afterwards.

On Amazon, this jacket averages 4.5 stars out of over 575 reviews, giving you plenty of customer testimonials for you to sort through. If that is not enough for you, REI averages 4.4 stars out of over 225 reviews. In other words, you have plenty of reading material to keep you busy tonight.

4. Outdoor Research Men’s Foray Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: black, firebrick, juniper/curry, peacock/storm
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large
Fit: as expected
Weight: 436.6 g (15.4 oz)
Fabric: polyester

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

If you want a jacket with excellent ventilation features, then this is the best out there. You will get plenty of air flow with this one because of the hem to biceps zippers. In other words, there are zippers extending from your armpit to your waist line. If it is hot outside or you are working out on the stair master, then you can zip down to let the breeze inside. You have flexibility in ventilation.

The fabric is Gore-Tex Paclite, the world’s best. If you want to stay bone dry, then you will not find any better fabric than what this one offers. You just keep the moisture off.

The biggest downside to this jacket is its weight. Compared to most others listed here, it is heavy at almost a pound. While not the most out there, it is significant enough to take note of. At weights this small though, you hardly notice a few extra ounces.

The price clocks in about the same as the first two, but not as low as the third. This jacket is in the hundreds of dollars, but well worth the money. You can expect this jacket to last you for plenty of years to come. It is a plenty breathable jacket, but not as much as the top of the line others listed in this article.

On REI’s website, this jacket averages 4.5 stars out of over 210 reviews, giving you plenty of testimonials to sift through.

5. Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: black/hydro, black/storm, burnt orange/firebrick, cobalt/naval blue, ember/charcoal, jungle/storm, peacock/hops, pewter, pewter/tomato, pumpkin/pewter, seaweed/juniper, solaria/pumpkin
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large
Fit: as expected
Weight: 181.4 g (6.4 oz)
Fabric: rip stop nylon

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

This jacket is light. It does not even weigh in at half a pound! You won’t even notice this as you carry it around in your backpack. When scrunched down in fact, it is about the size of an apple and will fit in the palm of your hand or even the front pocket of your pants. That is incredible to say the least. Not many of the other jackets listed here compare in terms of weight. It is the best in that metric. If you are an ultralight backpacker, then this is a necessity. You will stay dry in those unexpected downpours.

The Pertex Helium works best in hot weather, being plenty breathable and offering excellent air flow. With draw cord and elastic cuffs, you can keep out water and moisture just fine. Because of the reflective hood, people will see you better at night. You won’t blend in as much, allowing you to be seen.

Compared to the first four, this jacket is less expensive, but not by much. With a downgrade in price, you lose some quality, but not all too much, only a small bit. You get what you pay for as they say.

On Amazon, this jacket averages 4.1 stars out of only three reviews, so I went to Amazon. There you can find it at an average of 4.5 stars out of over 210 reviews. On Google shopping, it averages 4.4 stars out of over 300 reviews. In other words, don’t take it from me; take it from the hundreds of others who got this jacket.

6. Mountain Hardwear Men’s Quasar Lite II Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: stealth grey, fiery red, grey ice/manta grey
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large
Fit: not enough reviews yet
Weight: 309 g (10.9 oz)
Fabric: Dry.Q Elite 30D 2.5L Rip stop (100% Nylon)

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

One of the key benefits of this is its stretchiness. It feels futuristic. You can pull on it and it will budge and shift. This feature gives you flexibility. This jacket is overall a solid pick for anyone planning a camping or backpacking trip. Another key benefit of this is its weight. It weighs only a bit over half a pound, making it one of the feather weights on this ‘best of’ list.

The fabric is quite breathable and air permeable, so you can get plenty of air flow inside with only a bit of heated exercise. If you exercise unintentionally because of your physicality or sweat a lot, this is worth serious consideration. It is not the best on this list when it comes to water resistance, but it is close to the top of this competitive list. You can expect this one to hold up just fine in a rain storm.

Even when cinched down tight, the hood offers you plenty for your peripheral vision. It won’t hang overhead and block your vision.

The biggest downside is this jacket is expensive. If you are on a tight budget, this is not the jacket for you. It takes a toll on your purse. I would not get it for that reason alone.

One of the downsides of this jacket is I could not find many reviews online. Google shopping had the most reviews at five with an average rating of 4.6 stars, but you have to take this with a grain of salt. It is not many.

7. Columbia Men’s Watertight II Front-Zip Hooded Rain Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: black, collegiate navy, columbia grey, graphite, abyss, azul, back country aura, British tan, dark ivy, dark mountain, glacier green, golden yellow, gravel, mustard, petrol blue, red spark, boulder, cypress, impulse blue, mountain red, carbon, super blue, back country orange, moss stone, super sonic, wildwood green
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large, xxx-large
Fit: as expected (79%)
Weight: 453.6 g (16 oz)
Fabric: Omni-tech nylon

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

On Amazon this jacket averages 4.5 stars out of over 3,500 reviews. That is a lot of reading material for you to sort through. For this reason, you can really trust this product. If you have a question or want to know something specific, someone has undoubtedly asked the question and another has given the answer.

One of the downsides of this jacket is its weight. It is heavier than most of the other jackets listed here at about a pound. You will feel the weight, but you hardly notice it at weights this small. That is what you get for the inexpensive price you pay. Compared to all the others before it, the Watertight II is the least expensive. Now we are starting to get into university student prices.

When you bring this along with you for a backpacking trip, it will hold its own in a downpour. You can expect to be dry in the worst of conditions no problem. When scrunched down, it is a bit bigger than most at about the size of a cantelope but that is to be expected with its heavier weight.

The jacket is plenty breathable, but not as good as the others listed here. You will feel your sweat, but not too much.

It will not have the attention to detail as the previous six but it more than makes up for it with the reduced price. Your wallet will save a lot of money. Everyone likes to have more money in their pocket.

8. Patagonia Storm Racer

Specs at a Glance

Colors: Balkan blue, black, micro green
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large
Fit: not enough reviews yet
Weight: 170.1 g (6 oz)
Fabric: rip stop nylon

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

This is the lightest rain jacket you can find on the market today. Others just cannot compete with how low this can go. If you are a trail runner or ultra marathoner who wears a pair of tennis shoes and wants the best of the best, then I direct you to this rain jacket. When the weather turns wet, you can rest assured you can whip this out and get back to running in no time flat. You will forget you even have it on you until the weather turns sour.

At the same time though, it is quite expensive, limiting the amount of reviews. At almost three ‘Benjamins’, your wallet will feel the punch. If you are a university student or on a budget, this jacket is not the one for you. For the value you get out of this, the price is a bit higher than what it is worth. Most gear from Patagonia is quite expensive, but excellent. You pay a premium.

With this jacket in tow, you can expect it to hold up to the vast majority of storms. It is durable and sturdy. You will be just fine when the weather turns rocky. With the hood on, you cannot put a helmet over the top, but you will have plenty of peripheral vision. You can cinch it down and it will not fall off.

On Google shopping, this averages 4.3 stars but only out of 19 reviews, hardly a fair shake if you ask me but in large part because of the price.

9. Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Rain Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: blue, khaki
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large
Fit: as expected (77%)
Weight: 255.1 g (9 oz)
Fabric: nylon

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

The best thing going for this jacket is its price. You will not find a less expensive rain jacket on this list. Then again it is also Frogg Toggs. Their gear is not the best and this jacket will not hold up in the long run. My guess is this will last you about a year. You get what you pay for. If you need something to get you through your weekend backpacking trip, are on a tight budget, or need a temporary solution, then this is the one for you.

On Amazon, this jacket averages 4.1 stars out of over 325 reviews, giving you plenty of testimonials and questions & answers for you to sift through and come to your own conclusions (the best kind). One of the downsides many reviewers stressed was the tendency to tear. In other words, be careful. When you go the cheap route, you will have to expect things to break down if you are careless.

Surprisingly enough, this jacket is fairly light at a little over half a pound. You will barely notice the weight as you scrunch it down into about the size of an apple. It is a nice pro of this jacket. You won’t notice the extra weight if you are a backpacker. Also, it is fairly breathable for what you get. There will be plenty of air circulation for those sweaty days.

In sum then, if you are on a budget, this jacket is the way to go. I am seriously considering this because of my own limits.

10. The North Face Venture 2 Jacket

Specs at a Glance

Colors: black, cardinal red/asphalt grey, cargo khaki/urban navy, fiery red, asphalt grey, iguana green/grape leaf, Kodiak blue, mid grey rip stop heather, mid grey rip stop/asphalt, rage red/fig, shady blue, Turkish sea/urban navy, Turkish sea/urban navy/orange, urban navy/Zion orange, zinnia orange/asphalt grey, tnf dark grey heather
Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large
Fit: as expected
Weight: 330 g (11.6 oz)
Fabric: nylon

Why Should You Consider this Jacket?

Compared to the previous one, it is more expensive. But compared to all the others, it is usually about $100 below them. If you have more to spend but not too much, then this is the way to go. It doubles as a wind breaker so you won’t get any chill from the wind, just the temperature. If I had to choose between number nine and this one based on my budget, I would go with this one. It is expensive but it will last me for plenty years to come.

A downside of this jacket is it is a little bulky, just a bit. If you have an eye for detail, then this might be of concern. For most people though, it won’t be an issue. It is a small problem you have to worry about with a reduced price.

If you are a backpacker, camper, or hiker, you will be shielded from the rain. It is not as light as compared to others on this list, but not too heavy either. You will not even notice the weight of this as you carry it around. It is middle of the road. The vast majority of people who follow the sizing guidelines say it fit as expected.

On REI, this jacket averages 4.4 stars out of over 100 reviews, giving you plenty of reading material to sift through to answer all of your questions. On the North Face’s website however, it averages 4.7 stars out of over 1,500 reviews. Wow! That is quite a lot. Over 95% of their reviewers would recommend this jacket, making this pretty much a sure thing.

Are You Going to Check Out One of ‘Em?

I am going to be straight with you. If you click on one of the links above and buy a jacket, I will receive a commission. If you do so, you will help out the site a lot. The choice is yours. If you enjoyed this article and want to see more pieces of content just like it, a small act on your part can go a long way.
Thank you in advance.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

Camping Activities for Children – Making Sure They Have Fun

When camping, it can be quite a lot to stay busy. For kids these days, it can be difficult to go from the constant stimuli generating world of the city to the slower paced living of camping. For this reason, it is important to have camping activities for children. In this article, you will learn about some fun-fueled activities to keep you and them busy.

Games You Can Play Right Now

Some of the most fun games I ever played as a kid did not involve any toys or anything to buy. We just had each other and our imaginations to keep us company.

  1. Duck duck goose, this is a common one, but worth mentioning. Everyone sits in an inward facing circle while one person taps the peoples’ heads saying duck and making their way around. Suddenly, that one person says “goose.” This starts the chase. It stops when the chased either claims a seat or is tagged and now out of the game.
  2. Scavenger hunt, if you are camping, then you probably have gear. Create a list of the gear that you want found and then select one person to hide them. The first team or individual to find the majority of the items wins.
  3. Hide and go seek, this is a time honored game. In a group, select one person to be the seeker. Everyone else will be hiders. The goal for the seeker is to find everyone as quick as possible while hiders intend to be found last.
  4. Tag, select one person to be “it” and everyone else to be “not it.” The goal for “it” is to tag other players and make them “it.” One key rule that you can have off or on is “no tag backs.” If off, the rule lets those who were just tagged to immediately tag the person who just tagged them. I like to have it on, so as not to create a constant back and forth between two players, but it is up to you.
  5. Telling stories, I enjoy a good story. They captivate me. When it is nighttime and you are gathered around the camp fire, share a personal story or make one up. People love to be riveted by the ups and downs of a story.
  6. Add to the story, you can also make up a story as a group. It starts with one person giving an offer of a random name and an activity they are doing. The next person builds on what was offered, and so on and so forth. The story is great if everyone builds on what was previously said. Let your unconscious take over and your imagination run wild. 
  7. The alphabet game, from A-Z, a player points out an object that begins with the letter “A”. The next player does it for “B”. Then “C”. And so on through the entire alphabet. The first one to Z wins!
  8. Charades, everyone writes down 3-5 actions on different scraps of paper and places them into a hat. Each player draws one scrap and then the other players have to guess the action in under a minute. If another player guess correctly, then they can move onto another. The player who charades the most actions in a minute is the winner.
  9. Monkey in the middle, this games requires at least three people. Two players toss a ball between each other while the third player tries to catch it. If caught, the throwing player is now the monkey in the middle.
  10. Ninja, players start standing in a circle. Everyone bows to each other and then strikes their best ninja attack stance. In a cricular fashion, players make sudden attacks at each other with their hands. You can move suddenly when a player attempts a strike. A player “loses” their hand if struck between the elbow and finger tips. A player is out if he or she loses both their hands. The last competitor standing wins.
  11. Star gazing, there are a lot of stars to look at in the night sky. At the end of a long day, find the constellations to make out different people and animals.
  12. I spy, players choose an item, thing, or being they see. They then say, “I spy with my little eye something [a physical trait of the item].” Competing players try to guess what it is. The player who correctly guesses the most wins.
  13. 20 questions, a participant thinks of an object, person, or place. Other players then ask yes or no questions of that player to discover what they are thinking about. The player who uses the least amount of questions to get the answer wins.
  14. Camping trip, for this game, players start in a circle and say, “I’m going on a camping trip and I’m bringing [fill in the blank].” For the fill in the blank, players say a camping item. The player after them uses the last letter of that camping item to choose a new one. No item can be repeated. The last one standing wins. 
  15. Catch or don’t catch, for this game, one player stands in the middle of a circle of people. While rotating around the cricle, the player in the center says “catch” or “don’t catch” and then tosses a ball to a player along the circle. If a player catches the ball when “catch” is said, the player stays in. If not, the player is out. It is visa versa for “don’t catch.”

Activities that Require Some Planning

While it can be fun to play without anything, there are some fun games that require a specific set of equipment to play them. For these games listed, you will need to already have them or buy them in order to play anyone of these games.

  1. Card games, blackjack, Texas hold em, rummy, war, BS, crazy eights, spoons, and many more are all wonderful card games. I am not going to explain all of them, but these are options to consider. They only require an understanding of the rules and a set of cards to play.
  2. Bingo, for this game, you need a board with numbers and someone to call out those numbers. Whoever first gets five in a row on a randomly numbered 5 x 5 sheet wins.
  3. Ladder toss, in this game, players play two versus two. You toss a two balls tied together, also known as bolas, at a bar. The top bar is worth one, the middle worth two, and the bottom worth three. The team with the most points wins.
    Congratulations, you now know how to play ladder toss.
  4. Spike ball, this game revolves around a trampoline. In spike ball, players alternate “spiking” the ball on a trampoline. The player who fails to spike on their turn is out. This game requires agility and quick reflexes.
  5. Horse shoe toss, horses have U shaped boots on their feet. In this game, you toss a horseshoe at a bar sticking perpendicular out of the ground. If your horseshoe lands within six inches of the bar, you get one point. If your horseshoe leans on the stake or touches it, you get two points. If your horseshoe rings on the stake such that the stake is in the U shaped part of the horseshoe, then you get three points. Whoever gets the most points wins.
  6. Ultimate frisbee, divide your group into two equally sized and skilled teams. Make space on a field for a goal zone. In short, it is like football, but with a frisbee. You get a point if you get a player with a frisbee in hand to the opposing team’s end zone. You cannot run with the frisbee, but only pivot. This game requires an open field.
  7. Volley ball, this is one of my favorite games to play. It requires a net and a volleyball. Two teams face each other while working together to get
  8. Bean bag toss, players toss bean bags into holes in a board. Different holes correspond to different amounts of points. Each player gets three tosses for three rounds. The player with the most points wins.

How to Select a Game

There are a lot of games to choose from on this list, so it can be overwhelming to comb through them all and select one. All of them are quite fun. For this reason, it is important to prioritize the ones you would enjoy playing. Consider these questions when selecting a game.

  • What is a game that everyone can play? When I was a little kid, I never enjoyed being left out of the fun. It would make me sad. The same goes for these games. If you really want to bond with others on your camping trip, then choose a game that everyone is capable of playing. It makes it much more enjoyable if everyone is included.
  • What is a game that everyone will enjoy? People like to do what they like. If you select a game that only you enjoy but everyone else is not fond of, then it is not a game worth the group’s time. If you select a game everyone will love, then you are bound to have a memorable time.

Now that you know what questions to consider, you can select the games you want to play from the list above for your camping trip.

Final Thoughts

All of these games are excellent options to consider. From ultimate frisbee to tag, you can have a blast playing any of these games, but you will have to prioritize which ones you want to play. Let loose and let your inner child take over. Have fun camping!

If you have any thoughts, comments, or questions you would like to share, please comment below and I will be sure to get back to you.

How to Poop Cleanly and Hygienically Outdoors in the Woods

Alright, it’s time to get down to business behind the bushes. You have your toilet paper in hand, a happy whistle, and lots of time in front of you to go as slow as you want. Wait a second though. You need a guide to show you How to Poop Cleanly and Hygienically Outdoors in the Woods.

Let’s get started.

Before We Get Going, Keep ‘Leave No Trace’ in Mind

You are going to poop in nature. If everyone in the US did so every day, we would have an environmental crisis on our hands, but we don’t because we take proper care of our waste. You need to do the same. It is up to you to be responsible.

You want to use as little toilet paper as possible. Toilet paper is not meant to be outdoors. It is unnatural.

If you see something natural like a leaf, smooth stone, branch, or even a snowball you know is not poisonous, then use it. You can then help smooth the decomposition process. Be sure to follow all the instructions in this guide, so you aren’t leaving a big mess in the woods.

If you dig your hole too shallow, then animals can rummage up your poop and the rain might wash it away into the drinking water of a stream or lake. Be thoughtful.

Step 1 – Get the Proper Gear

You are going to need a handful of key items.

Hand Sanitizer – this Item is a Must Have

If you want to stay hygienic, then it is necessary. If you wipe and forget to clean your hands afterwards, then you can infect your food and you could get sick. You do not want that to happen. Cleanliness is next to health.

Biodegradable Non-Scented Toilet Paper – Another Essential Piece of Gear

You should always carry this along with you. I cannot tell you how many times I have been caught off guard by a surprise poop. You never know when you might have to heed nature’s call. The fastest I have ever run in my life was because of a surprise poop. Don’t be like me. Take the toilet paper with you.

Non-Scented Biodegradable Soap is Essential

Hand sanitizer works well. If you have no space for anything else, then by all means only bring it along with you. Biodegradable hand soap goes a long way though. You can scrub your hands and let the soap sit there for a minute or two and you will be able to take care of everything well.

Hand Trowel – a Very Handy Must Have Tool

These are helpful because many will come with instructions on how to take care of business outdoors. If you do want to touch your poop, then a trowel can take care of all of that for you. You do not have to lay a finger in your mess. You can also dig a deeper, wider hole with one.

Sealable Plastic Bag, Only if the Rules Require It

This is the only optional item. You need to check the rules for the area you are camping or backpacking in. Around Mount Whitney for example, you need to bring a WAG bag. They help to keep streams and lakes free of feces. When you go to the bathroom, you will, more than likely, dig a hole and then do your business, not going in a bag.

If you want to guarantee only a minimal environmental impact, then a bag is essential.

Step 2: Choose Your Method

I have found when I need to go to the bathroom outdoors I have to really go. You can kind of induce the process at home, but not in the woods. It is a bit scary, so you only go when you absolutely have to. Anyway though, not all your options are the same. You have three choices available to you.

The Squat – My Go to Choice

This is really healthy for your intestinal tract. When I was fossil hunting in Kenya and nature surprised me on our searches, popping a squat was more enjoyable. You can sit on the ground and do your business, but it was not my thing. Squatting feels better. It is pretty easy to get used to this method.

The Tree Hug, “We All Need Someone to [Hang] Onto”

I haven’t tried this one, but it is worth consideration. If you want to put as much distance between you and the ground, then this is an option to consider. Make sure you hang on the whole time though. You do not want to lose your grip mid wipe and then fall into your hole.

The Butt Hang – Definitely Not My First Choice

You need a log for this one. You sit on the log like a regular toilet except your excrement falls down the side. Again, it is not my go to choice. If you are just getting into pooping outdoors, then the butt hang can help to smooth your transition.

Step 3: Find an Appropriate Spot and Do Your Business

Go somewhere private and away from everything. You need to be 200 feet (70 steps) away from a trail, water source, or campsite. This prevents contamination.

Like anytime you go to the bathroom, your number one priority should be privacy. Going to the bathroom is a delicate matter. Put plenty of distance between you and other people. It sucks to surprise someone and then make eye contact with them.

At the same time though, you need to ensure you do not get lost if you head off trail. Many people have gotten lost and never found in the outdoors because they wanted privacy. They then could not find the trail. You give up a certain amount of privacy when going to the loo outdoors.

Most people (unless they are really weird) will respect your privacy. If they accidentally see you, they will turn away.

Your best bet is loose, rich, sunny soil. This choice aids in the decomposition process. The sun helps to break down your feces. Sometimes this kind of soil is hard to find. That is alright. You have to work with what you have.

Once you have found your spot away from everyone else, dig a hole 4 inches (10 cm) wide and 6 – 8 inches (15 – 20 cm) deep. This gives plenty of depth for your poop to decompose and leave as little impact as possible. You do not want it to wash away in a storm into a river or lake. No one wants to see a surprise log float up on them.

When you start, use as little toilet paper as possible. Use natural objects if you can. The more natural everything is, the more likely you will follow ‘Leave No Trace’ to a ‘T.’ Toilet paper is not meant to be used in nature, but they have made exceptions. You can also pack up your toilet after you are done.

After you have finished your business, grab a stick, stir your poop in with the dirt, and cover with rocks. This helps to speed up and spread the decomposition process. In doing so, you leave less of an environmental impact. If you leave the rocks on top in a circular formation, it gives a warning to any passersby you swing by later. They will probably not want to go where you have been.

Congratulations! You’re all done.

My Top 5 Tips to Stay Clean and Hygeinic

1. Always Use Hand Sanitizer After Each Trip to Nature’s Bathroom.

I used to be against hand sanitizer, not anymore though. It is really easy to use. You can use it much more readily than soap and water. With just a quick squirt and a little hand rubbing, you can be off and on your way in no time flat. If you do not like soaping and washing up, then hand sanitizer will save you a lot of time.

2. If Washing, Soaping, and Drying Your Hands, Designate a Particular Towel.

Towels can get dirty. They are not exceptional. If you often forget to clean and wash them (like me :)!), then you need to keep a careful eye on your towel.

3. Baby Wipes are Not Just for Babies.

For your last wipe, use a baby wipe. Most people do not do this until they get into the shower where they use soap. Trust me on this one. It will change your life. As a side note, if you accidentally wipe with a poisonous leaf or branch unknowingly, then a baby wipe will help a little. With a baby wipe, remember to pack it out. They are not meant to be thrown away like trash to the wind.
4. Thoroughly Wash Your Hands Once a Day.

Hand sanitizer works wonders, but soap and water are tried and true. If you use soap, make sure it is biodegradable and unscented. You can really grind into the grime and grunge of the day with soap and water. You need to do so at least once a day to ensure you are as clean as a chrome car.

5. Pack Out What You Pack In.

Most places will be fine to let you go off the trail. To really ensure you have little environmental impact, then you need to go in a bag. It is the price you pay to be environmentally friendly, but that is what needs to be done. The world population gets bigger and bigger every day and we all need to be more mindful of our actions.

Are You Looking for Some Boots?

You should now be all set to go. You know how to stay clean. It is essential to say the least. Get ready for your next camping or backpacking trip.

If you are looking for some high quality boots, then I have got you covered. In a previous article, The Best Men’s Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots of 2019, I wrote all about the best of the best. (I update these types of posts on an annual basis.) You will be sure to find what you are looking for. Check it out!

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

How to Take Good Photos on Your Phone in 10 Helpful Tips

If you plan to go camping, hiking, or backpacking some time soon, then you will be sure to want to take excellent photos to document the journey. I for one always take photos whenever I get outdoors. I want to look back and said I enjoyed my time. It can be quite difficult to take good photos when you do not know what you are doing. If you’re the everyday Joe or like me, your phone is your only way to take photos. Fortunately for you though, I made this article for you, How to Take Good Photos on Your Phone in 10 Helpful Tips, so let’s get started.

1. Sit Back and Let the Device Do the Work

Unless you spend hours and hours as a programmer who knows their phone inside and out, leave your device alone. The developers spent good time on your phone to make it the user-friendly phone you see today. They know how to make it work well for the user. That is why you have it after all. With that in mind, you can leverage what your device already has on it.

Turn on HDR to Combine the Best of All Shots

If you go to your phone’s camera app, you can be sure to find an option for “HDR” there. It stands for High Dynamic Range. In other words, it balances the highlights and the shadows to create an excellent photo pleasing to the human eye. More often than not, HDR takes three photos, a dark image, a light image, and a neutral image before smashing them together. When it does that, you get a mix of the three photos, giving you the best of all three. Set your phone so it does this automatically. It increases details and widens the exposure range.

The photo below was taken with hdr. Just notice how the colors pop and the lighting game is on point.

Turn on Grid Lines and Follow the Rule of Thirds

Before I knew about grid lines, I would just wing it. “I have a good eye. I could do it myself” I told myself This is not the case though. You do not realize how much your eyesight is overrated until you get a camera. A nice set of grid lines allow you to divide up an image into thirds. These grid lines will give you nine boxes. When you put different parts of your photo into each of these sections, the photo transforms, becoming more balanced and even.

2. Download Some Apps to Make the Magic Happen

You probably already have a camera app that you got with your initial purchase, but let me tell you that you can have an even better experience if you download some excellent apps. They just make life a lot easier.

Get the Camera+ App and Use its Clarity Feature

With this app in tow, you go beyond your regular camera app. It takes what you already have and makes it even better. You get more advanced editing tools, integrated social media sharing, and an image stabilizer. If you want professional photos with an amateur’s hands from here on out, then I definitely recommend this camera app.

Use the SKRWT Photo Editing App

This app helps the lines on your photo look more clean and crisp. It is much like the Camera+ app, but specifically for editing. It is another option available to you.

3. Take Lots of Photos from Lots of Different Angles

You probably won’t get the photo right on the first shot. It takes a bit of luck and self reflection. You take one shot and critique it, noticing the flaws. And then you take another, it’s a little better than the previous one. You take a third. Now you are getting somewhere. If you take lots of photos, you increase your chances of getting a good shot. If you take 100 photos as opposed to just one, you can always delete the ones you do not like and keep the ones you enjoy. No one will get mad at you if you delete a photo. It is the work of an artist.

4. Avoid the Urge to Zoom In

Unless you are taking photos of wildlife where you should not be close at all anyway, do not zoom in. You can cut and crop later. Unfortunately, most zoom ins are blurry. They take the contrast out of the photo and mix everything together. If you see a great shot subject far away, just walk closer for the photo. You lose quality when you zoom in on them. By keeping the default distance, you maintain the quality.

5. Make Sure the Lens is Clean

When I camp and hike, dirt just creeps right on into my clothes and backpack. It gets everywhere. Sometimes even to my camera phone. With my last iPhone, I took a lot of bad photos. In fact, it was right after a splendid hiking adventure. Oops! I bet you can guess what the source was. Dirt from the trail got right onto the lens.

Do not worry though. It happens. You just have to clean it off. When you clean it though, make sure you use the right camera lens cleaning material. You do not want to scratch it or mess it up even more too.

6. Embrace Negative Space

Negative space is the area around a subject. It is not the main part of the photograph. When you choose to add negative space to your photograph, it simplifies the photo, pleasing the human eye in the process. When in nature, simplicity captivates the mind. Negative space forces the viewer of the photo to look at the subject and try to understand them. It can be an open sky, blank chalk board, empty field, or anything else of the sort.

7. Look for Symmetry, Leading Lines, and Repetitive Patterns

Symmetry is about balance. Think of the Yin and Yang from Chinese culture or Thanos from Avengers 4. As the great villain of the Marvel series would say about a good photo, it should be, “perfectly balanced, as all things should be.” The proportions weigh evenly against each other. On the human body, this means two equal parts down the middle. For a photo, this means three separate sections with those grid lines you turned on.

Imagine you are standing on some train tracks on a flat plain. As you look into the distance, the train tracks fade and the rails lean in towards each other. They funnel your eyes towards the horizon. Train tracks create a sense of depth to an image. It does not have to be train tracks. It could be a good trail, stairs, a road, or a stream. They draw your eye to a particular direction.

People like patterns. You see them in songs. A hymn repeats over and over again to drive in a particular message to the listener. It is the same way with photos. They make a strong visual impact. This can be a bowl of ice cream over and over again or a repeating garden of flowers.

8. Leverage Lighting to Your Advantage

People like photos where they can see the subject. This can be a silhouette or a portrait shot. Often times, flash is overused. It should be used only in particular cases. Instead, use natural light. It makes the photo more organic. This can be a sunset or car lighting. Even if it is nighttime, you can still take a good photo. The moonlight provides an excellent, all natural flash. Be on the lookout for places where you can get your lighting. In short, proper lighting should draw attention to your subject.

9. Zero in on One Subject

The pros say two-thirds of your photo should just be negative space. The best photos are often done this way. It keeps things simple. The rest should go towards your subject. It zeroes the viewer’s attention in on the subject. When you use only one subject, it makes life a lot easier for you. You do not have to think about balancing twenty different things into one image. You can breathe a sigh of relief.

Also, be aware that you can use tools on your photo to increase the detail of your subject, drawing more attention to them.

10. Be Patient to Get the Shot of the Cheetah

Before I start talking about patience, you might need some motivation to hunker down for the long haul to take that perfect photo. I recommend that you check out one of my previous articles, 10 Inspirational Camping and Hiking Quotes and Photos. It will be sure to give you the kick you need to get outside and enjoy life. If you want to be reminded of the cool outdoor breeze and sunny days that await you outdoors, check out the article below.

When I traveled to South Africa, I went on a Safari in Kruger. We spent a long time looking for a cheetah, five days in fact. It was excruciating. I never thought I would see one in the wild. Before long though, our driver spotted him, a small blip on the radar. If it were not for the driver and our patience, we would not have found it. I would have gone home without seeing one. The same goes for you. You probably will not get it right on the first photo. I guarantee it. If you stay outside long enough and take enough photos following this advice, you can be sure to get that Instagram worthy photo.

Are You Going to Get Outside this Week?

Well, your photography game should be a lot better now. You can take excellent photos that are not too shabby. It is time to get outside for that perfect nature shot, but you can only do so if you find a trail near you. You can find a link to AllTrails.com below. By a wide margin, it is my favorite app for finding trails near me to hike. If there is a trail near you, it is bound to have it. So what do you say? Are you going to get outside this week? The road less traveled awaits.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

How to Train for a Backpacking Trip – a Tips and Advice Guide

The fitter you are, the more fun you have on the trail. There is no doubt about it. There is a direct correlation between the smile on your face and how much you are able to handle the backpacking trip you are. But what do you do if you are not in shape? In this piece, How to Train for a Backpacking Trip – a Tips and Advice Guide, you will learn all about how to ready your body for the journey ahead.

You’re an Athlete Now, It’s time to Make a Schedule

When I was wrestling at my peak, I trained twice a day, five days a week on non tournament weeks and four days a week on tournament weeks. I would get up a 5:30 AM and drive to the gym to life weights until 7:00 AM and then head to school. It became a habit and part of my routine. Because I made it a routine, my body did not even blink when I ended up getting up that early.

You need a similar routine. Life is a lot easier when you are in a routine. If your trip is three months out, you have more time than someone who has a trip one month away. You should tailor your workout schedule to the amount of time you have before your backpacking trip. I recommend waking up early in the morning and exercising before anything else.

How you start your day sets the tone for your life. Days on the trail will be early coupled with early bedtimes. You do not have to get up as early as I did, but morning exercise will wake you up for the day. I did my weight lifting in the morning because I knew I would not do it any other time of day. Other people and things would consume my time.

For most people starting off, I recommend a six-day exercise schedule. You can see it below. It sounds intimidating, but you do not have to go all out. Start slow and build up momentum. On Mondays and Wednesdays, you have a 40 to 60 minute strength training workout. Before each lift, do 5 to 10 minutes of light aerobics to warm up your muscles. This could be body lifting exercises or weight lifting at the gym.

On Tuesday and Thursday, you have 30 to 60 minutes of a cardio workout. This can be biking, running, and short intensity calisthenics. Ideally, it is a mix. After each workout, stretch to release lactic acid.

On Fridays, you have a 20 to 30 minute walk around the neighborhood. It is meant to be light and flat. On Saturdays, you do your main workout, a day hike through a state or national park with plenty of hills and valleys. You start off with something light, about 5 miles or so and then pick up steam to something longer like 10 miles. It is not uncommon to do 10 miles a day backpacking, but you want to be comfortable with 15 miles before your trip.

Also, the workouts should be the first thing in the morning. Set up your workout clothes so they are accessible to slip on in the morning. If you won’t do that, then I recommend sleeping in your workout clothes. The morning is when your willpower is the greatest, so that is why I recommend that time of day to train for the backpacking trip. It will wake you up and will guarantee that you work out.

You need to think of yourself as an athlete. It may be difficult because you have been telling yourself otherwise for years now, but the mental shift matters. If you call yourself an athlete, you force yourself to take care of yourself. You go from eating out each week to planning your meals to get the nutrition your body needs. You wake up early and work out.

For me in my own life, I am planning a five to six-day Spring Break backpacking trip. It is quite a ways away, but I am still training. I take a weekly hike like in the schedule. It is usually not more than four to five hours long. It can, of course, vary in length. The point, though, is that I have made it a part of my regular routine. I do not even blink when I load up all my gear to set off for the hike.

The Top 3 Exercises to Prepare Your Body for the Journey

Weighted Backpack Day Hikes – a Mandatory Ingredient for Your Backpacking Trip

You are going on a backpacking trip. Nothing will prepare you for it better than some weighted backpack day hikes. It is your closest preparation tool to the actual backpacking trip. Depending on the length of the trip, you could be carrying a pack that weighs anywhere from 25 to 50 lbs (11 to 22 kg). You want to start small. For your first weekly trip, carry all the gear you would carry for a day hike, nothing too extreme.

In the second week, you want to add ten pounds of weight. If you do not have access to a dumbbell or a plate, that is okay. Pack ten pounds of gear into your backpack. It should a bit heavier now. Do not worry though. Your legs and shoulders will grow accustomed to the extra load. Once you have done that, add ten pounds the next week. Keep adding ten pounds until you reach at least 75% of your expected backpacking trip carry load. That is enough to prepare you for the trip. You can, of course, do a full backpacking weight for your final weighted backpack day hike.

Find Some Stairs and Go Up and Down on Them

It’s okay. Sometimes you just are not close to nature. Work and family obligations pull at you, demanding more of your time. I have been in the same position. I bet you that there are some stairs nearby to you though. When backpacking, you will encounter a lot of hills and valleys. A good set of stairs will replicate those challenges. If you have a local gym you can go to, then use the stair master there.

Lunges Increase Your Leg Strength

You need strong legs for backpacking. Each day presents miles of hills and valleys, parading before you like the Macy’s Day Parade. It is quite the challenge for those with chicken legs. Lunges, though, increase your leg strength. To start off, do them unweighted. But as time goes on, carry plates in each of your hands or a weighted backpack slung on your back. This exercise will be sure to increase your strength.

Training Gear, an Essential Ingredient for a Successful Recipe

For any backpacking trip, you will need gear. To train for a backpacking trip, you need a different set of gear, but not too different.

A Backpacking Backpack, You Will be Sure to Need It

If you are backpacking, you better have, well, a backpack. No great backpacker has ever left home without one slung on the backside. It is necessary. I recommend the Teton Sports Scout 3400 backpack because it is, above all others, for beginners. For three-day trips, it is a perfect pack. Customers rave about its quality. When you get it, you will be able to use it on your day hikes no problem.

Another backpack to consider is the Gregory Denali 100. This bad boy can handle, well, 100 Liters of gear. If you are planning a longer backpacking trip, then this is one for you. Check out my review on it here. I originally bought it at a REI Garage Sale and it has paid dividends all the way through. It is a Mountaineer’s dream backpack to say the least. Whatever you throw at it, the pack can handle.

Hiking Boots, You Better Break Them in Before Your Trip

When backpacking, you will spend all day on your feet. There is no question about it. For this reason, you need a good pair of boots to protect your gams. With a solid pair on your feet, you will be hiking up those hills and roaring down the valleys in no time flat. Save your gams and make the journey easier.

Not All of Us have the time to Train, so Let’s Put on Some Ankle Weights

It can be hard to make the time to work out. I have been down that road. School and work has eaten up my time like toddlers and birthday cake. You know there won’t be any leftovers. Ankle weights are an excellent option. You can wrap them around your calves and train, building your leg muscles in the process. When you strap them on, you prepare your body for the backpacking trip ahead.

Mental Training – the Overlooked Sister to Physical Training

When you go backpacking, your body is not the only thing that is tested. Your mind is also pushed to its limits. Between the body and mind, the former will always follow the latter wherever it leads. You can be in great shape, but you won’t go very far if you do not have the spirit of mind to see your body along its way.

For mental preparation, envision yourself finishing and backpacking through the wilderness. This strengthens your mind and prepares you for what is ahead. It will be tough. You cannot understand what it is like to dig a hole and go poop outdoors until you have done it yourself. It is next to impossible to know what it is like to endure blistering cold for what seems like hours on end until you get the fire going. When you imagine these experiences and similar ones like them though, you prepare what lies ahead.

Be sure to swallow your pride. There are a lot of people out there with super big egos. I can see them from a mile away because they want to make themselves known. At the same time though, many people are in need. They need help to go through the challenges that they face and the big ego people will not help because they are self-centered. A backpacking trip will put you through some, frankly, gross and dirty things at times. This is what many people do every day. It is okay. You are now just one among many. If they can go through it, you can do it too.

I like to compete. It feels good to grow and better myself, but backpacking is not a competition. On a backpacking trip, no one is racing against each other. It is a steady walk through the wilderness. In fact, you have a better, more memorable journey when you slow down and appreciate each and every moment that passes you by.

My 5 Top Tips for a Great Trip

If you are looking for the essence of this article, then here it is. It is the TLDR.

  1. Change your habits and watch the positive accumulate. If you have not backpacked before, it is scary. You are on your own in the wilderness for days on end with no technology. You build up to that though. When you have the strength to do a weekly hike and work out on a regular basis, a three-day backpacking trip does not seem so far-fetched because you have done similar things to a trip before.
  2. Go to the gym. I like the atmosphere of the gym. It is designed just for exercise, nothing else. It is a great environment to train because there are other people there who also want to get in shape. You will make friends who push you.
  3. Mental training, prepare yourself for adversity. I have talked a lot about physical training, but not too much about the mental. In short, if you have a strong mind, you can overcome anything. For most people though, it takes time to get to that level. You will build your mental will when you exercise and hike. It is harder, though, to prepare for pooping outdoors when a breeze surprises you. Be sure to read up on some backpacking stories, so you are not surprised by what awaits you.
  4. Stretch after every workout and save yourself some leg pain. Some exercises I listed are strenuous, making you walk like a gorilla and pushing your body. Stretching is needed to release the lactic acid in your muscles after a deep workout.
  5. Wear the shoes you plan to wear when you backpack. As I said earlier, your feet will be sore after a long day of backpacking. You need broken in foot wear so you do not have bleeding blisters on your feet. That just leaves a bad tasting memory in your mouth. Break your boots in and save yourself the headache down the road.

Get Started Today and Change Your Life

When you start preparing for a backpacking trip, you revolutionize your outlook on life. You decide to stop settling for less and start taking more risks for what really matters in life. So what do you say? Are you going to live more and train for what the better life you deserve? Start hiking this weekend and watch the magic follow you.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, please comment below and remember to share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

A Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Rock Climbing – Gyms and Gear

You stand atop the mountain with your arms raised to the air. You did it! It feels really good to be on top. You just finished an outdoor climb and are looking down from above. The view is breathtaking. You got there by dreaming big. Through this article, a Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Rock Climbing – Gyms and Gear, you will learn how you too can accomplish such a great feat as a novice. By a wide margin, indoor rock climbing is the best way to prepare, so let’s get started.

Before we get rolling though, I have one more thing I would like to mention. If you see yourself repelling down the side of a cliff after a good outdoor rock climb, then you might want to check out some pictures of 20 US National Parks I wrote about in a previous article. They will be sure to inspire you to join an indoor gym because you will think about outdoor rock climbing the cliff face.

Why Even Go Rock Climbing in the First Place? – 5 Reasons

Rock climbing can be really fun and rewarding if you are in shape for it and have been doing it for a while, but what if you are a complete novice? There are so many other activities that you could be doing, so why even go rock climbing in the first place? In response, I give you 5 reasons why you should start rock climbing.

1. It is fun filled exercise.

I really enjoy rock climbing. It is exciting to shuffle and swisher your way around a cliff side to reach the top. You have to go through all sorts of twists and body movements to before you even think about reaching your hand over the top of the cliff. When you do though, it is a very satisfying feeling. It just burns the fat off of you, working all the muscles in your body and focusing your mind on the task at hand. Rock climbing is active. You have to be present in every moment.

2. You will make new friends.

You make a lot of friends rock climbing. It is a very social experience. If you are ever to lead climb at all, you will have to talk to someone and get to know them. Your fate will be in their calloused hands. You discuss the different ways to approach the wall and take the advice they have. A good climbing partner will teach you and help you grow, making for a marvelous relationship.

3. Kids of all ages love indoor rock climbing, so it is splendid for families.

If you have children of your own, then rock climbing is just great for little kids. It may seem scary, but, when they fall, they bounce back like a dodge ball. They just love to get up and think about how they will get to the top. It uses up all of their energy. So when they are done climbing for the day, they are exhausted, falling asleep at the first chance they get.

4. It is like a game of chess.

When I first started rock climbing, I thought you could be as “dumb as a rock” (pun intended) and still do well at the sport. This is not the case. Before each and every climb, you really have to think about your ascent. How will I get to the top? What have others done before me? Do I have what it takes to get to the top? It challenges your mind. You have to envision how you will reach the top, planning out your movements with your eyes.

5. It will prepare you for outdoor rock climbing.

Indoor rock climbing is really great because it prepares you for outdoor rock climbing, where the real challenge lies. An indoor gym is contained and controlled. Every variable is accounted for. It is a great place to train and fail because someone will catch when you fall. An outdoor rock climb is a whole other beast unto itself. An indoor rock climbing gym, though, gives you an idea of what to expect on your first outdoor climb, preparing your grip strength and readying your mind for the challenges that lie ahead.

Different Types of Gym Climbing – Not All are the Same

At every gym, there are quite a different number of climbs you can expect to find.

Bouldering – I Hope You Like the Ropeless Feeling

Almost every gym will have a bouldering area. This is a ropeless climb. If you fall, you land on the ground. These are really interesting experiences because, if you let go, the air falls through you. It can be very scary from high up. The ground is a merciless mistress, teaching you about everything you did wrong. Do not worry though; there will be cushy mats to soften your fall and the fall will probably be quite short, so it is not all that bad.

Bouldering can be quite fun. All you need is a pair of climbing shoes and chalk. Then you are all set to go on your way up the cliff side, making it just excellent for kids. Give them the shoes and chalk and watch them climb on up with all their energy.

Top Rope Climbing – Great for Beginners

This is a much taller, longer climb where you start to play with the big boys. Walls for top rope climbing can be upwards of 50 ft (15.24 m), making for a long way down. On these climbs, the rope is attached to the ceiling. So when you fall, you are belayed down by your partner all the way to the ground.

Some gyms will even have a motor powered belay system. If you do not have your own partner, the gym will let you hook in, so you can climb your way to the top without anyone else but you. When you fall, the motor kicks in and you fall like a graceful feather to the bottom of the gym floor.

Lead Climbing – You are Really Starting to Move up in the World

This is how outdoor rock climbing works, but you practice in the gym. The outdoors will not have top rope climbing unless someone climbed up and went ahead of you, so lead climbing will be the best way to prepare you for the outdoor climbs.

It is like top rope climbing. But as you ascend, you snap your rope into wall mounted carabiners strategically placed all along the way to the top. Make sure it is nice and secure. If you fall, then you do not fall all the way to the bottom, but where you last snapped into a wall mounted carabiner. You can swing into the wall if you are not careful though depending on where you last snapped in.

How to Select an Indoor Rock Climbing Gym – 5 Easy Steps

1. Check online for rock climbing gyms near you.

If you are in a big city or a suburban area, there is bound to be a gym near you, so take the first step towards finding a gym and google “rock climbing gyms near me.” Another option is to check out the Climbing Gym Directory at the Mountain Project. It will list gyms by US state and you can go from there to find one you can start indoor rock climbing at.

2. Be sure to look at online reviews of the gym and read testimonials.

Once you have found a gym near you, be sure to take a look at the reviews and testimonials. If it is a bad gym but close and there is a farther one with good ratings, then the farther one is probably best. You do not want to stress out about the poor customer service. Rock climbing is meant to relax you. No one wants that kind of stress.

3. Look at all the amenities through a tour.

Next you are going to take a tour. A place may look good online, but you have no idea until you see it with your own two eyes. All you see is all there is. If you see it, then you know what the gym has. Some places will be better than others. Some may be full-blown temples to Chris Sharma while others are just down and dilapidated gyms operated by an old geezer of a climber.

4. Weigh all the pros and cons.

Not all gyms are created equally. Look at each amenity each gym offers, the classes, reputation, price, instructors, and atmosphere. Whatever your decision though, make sure the gym offers beginner climbing classes. It will go a long way to having a fun time down the road.

5. Make your decision and sign up for a beginner class.

My biggest regret climbing was not signing up for a beginner class. I just grabbed my chalk, put on the shoes, and hopped onto the bouldering walls. While I did watch people and learned from them, it is nothing compared to the almost one on one experience of a climbing coach. They will tell you what you are doing wrong, how you can improve, and techniques you should employ in your climbs. If there is one thing they know well, it is how to rock climb. They will help you become a great climber. You will fall less and enjoy yourself more after a beginner class.

First Time Climber Tips for Success

Know how to fall. You need to know how to fall, plain and simple. When you fall, make sure your knees are bent and no one is below you where you plan to fall. This will not only ensure your own safety, but that of others.

Watch other climbers and watch out for them. A lot of people at the gym will be more experienced than you. That is okay. They have been climbing for a while and know what to do. Watch what they do and emulate them. Use your observant eye. Also, watch out for the climbers above you. If someone falls on top of you, it will really hurt. So do yourself a favor and stay out of the fall zone.

Your legs are stronger than your arms. I used to wrestle and sometimes I would try to out muscle a guy’s leg. Uh no, that was not going to work. It just does not compute and a similar logic applies to rock climbing. The sport is full body, so let your legs do, well, the leg work, so your arms can rest. They have the power.

Hey, keep your chin up. This is supposed to be fun, especially at the beginner level. You do not want to over strain yourself or injure yourself. It is too risky for your health and your fun. Take a soothing deep breath and relax. Slow down and appreciate the moment. Rock climbing is jam packed activity full of fun.

After that beginner class, get a good partner or mentor, someone who is a bit better than you. They will push you to exceed your expectations and counsel you when you fall. He or she will guide you down the path to climbing greatness.

The Rock Climbing Difficulty Ranking System

If there is one thing I have learned about rocking climbing, it is that not all ascents are created equally. Some are much harder than others. Fortunately though, they created a measuring system. The rating system runs from 5.0 to 5.15. The higher you get up in the scale, the harder the route up the cliff side.

When it comes to bouldering, it goes all the way from V0 to V16. For the super beginner climbs, they often have an “R” shown, which stands for recreational; it is not at all challenging.

My Own Experience Indoor Rock Climbing

I first started rock climbing in about Fall 2016 and my last climb was in South Africa over the Summer of 2017. I wanted to do something else than just lift weights and run at a 24-hour fitness. I wanted something exciting that would perk my mind and body. Rock climbing did that for me.

I lived in the South Bay Area at the time and I chose the Studio in Downtown San Jose, making it about a 20 or 30 minute drive from home. It was a marvelous place say the least. They offer yoga, sauna, and plenty of climbing. For Bay Area students, they offer a monthly discount, adding to the appeal of it for me. The place is quite hipster. It used to be a movie cinema, so you still see the typical movie showing lettering on the outside of the building before you enter. Every time I went in, I felt like a star. LOL!

My biggest regrets were not taking a beginner’s class and not talking more with other people. I just grabbed some chalk, shoes, and hopped right onto a wall. While it was a great way to learn by watching others and observing my own mistakes, a coach would have fast tracked the learning process by telling me the names of specific techniques and getting me to reflect more on the act of climbing.

I did not talk to too many people. I just bouldered and watched other people head up the walls at the gym. It would have been excellent to make friends and learn from them, but I did not do it. I just sat back and climbed into my introverted turtle shell, keeping my thoughts to myself and losing out of the experience of a rock hard friendship.

You may ask. “Alex, why don’t you rock climb anymore?” In response, I give you two reasons, finances and weight. As a student at UC Santa Cruz, most of my money goes to tuition, books, health and car insurance, housing, and food. Afterwards, there is not too much that can go to a gym. It is a lot to put on top of my expenses. It would be too much. I was going to De Anza Community College then, so my student tuition bills were a lot less and I could afford the gym. For Bay Area students at the gym, it is about $50 a month, so it can be manageable.

Also, I am too heavy for the rock climbing if I wanted to become good. I am 6 ft (1.8 m) tall and weigh 175 lbs (80 kg). Most of that is muscle, particularly in the legs. To become good, I would have had to have dropped down to at least 160 lbs. I did not want to do that after wrestling and weight cutting for seven years. LOL! That was not happening again. A lot of the good climbers you see are skinny, muscular, and flexible. While I do have the muscular and flexibility parts down for the most part, skinny is not something in my repertoire.

Do not get me wrong though. I love rock climbing. It is really captivating and engaging. Every muscle in my body is activated and the sport requires me to be present and focused. Now, when the chance presents itself, I just do it for leisure and enjoyment. The time spent on the wall is nothing but pure joy. I relish every minute. For you, it can be more or less the same. The road to becoming a professional rock climber may be out of reach, but that does not mean you cannot have a lot of fun filled exercise.

One time, I went to an indoor gym in South Africa with a motor powered repel back in 2017. I canceled my gym membership before I left for Africa and I desperately wanted to climb, so I got a day pass for a gym in Johannesburg. It was the first time I was introduced to motor powered belaying. When you fall, you come down like a feather all by yourself. When you are alone, it is very nice to have. If your partner is not there, you can just start climbing without any problems.

Make Sure to Get All the Right Gear

Most climbing gyms will have a small shop inside where you can buy gear in person. It helps to try on the gear and then buy online, so you can save money.

Gear to Just Get You Started

Climbing shoes, if there is one piece of gear you need to get started, it is a solid pair of climbing shoes. You cannot go up the mountainside without them. If you try to rock climb in bare feet or tennis shoes, it will hurt, so save yourself some pain and get a pair. These kinds of shoes are designed to only have a little wiggle room. So if you have kids with growing feet, be warned that they might grow out of them fast. When you have rockin’ rock climbing shoes, the wall becomes your oyster.

Chalk and chalk bag, the second mandatory piece of gear you will need is chalk. For longer climbs, you will surely need it. When Eminem had sweaty palms and Mama’s spaghetti, he did not need chalk because he was not heading up the side of a cliff, but you will though. For bouldering, you can slap a bunch of chalk on your hands, but you cannot do that for top rope or lead climbing, you need a bag with chalk around your waist to fight those sweaty palms, so you don’t spill Mama’s spaghetti on the way down.

Gear You Will Need if you Want to Play with the Big Boys

Belaying harness, for longer and taller climbs, this bad boy is a must. You cannot strap in without one. They come in all shapes and sizes, so be sure to get yours fitted before you throw down the dough and buy one. You want it nice and tight, but not suffocating. Strap it in nice and secure before your first climb.

Climbing ropes, again, for top rope and lead climbing, these are a must. You can climb without a rope, but that is dangerous and reserved for professionals. Most gyms will not allow it over 15 ft (4.6 m) because of the liabilities associated with the risk, so be sure to have climbing specific rope.

Final Thoughts to Send You on Your Way

Well, you should be all set. You have gotten a good idea of what lies ahead of you in the world of climbing. You have the gear and are ready to go ahead. It will be sure to be a blast. Rock climbing is really fun. It may be muscle straining and exhausting, but it is also engaging and thought-provoking. You will be sure to relish in the joy of just completing a hard climb beyond your abilities. So what do you say? Are you going to check out a gym near you and start climbing?

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, please comment below and remember to share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

A Guide to Preventing Toe, Foot, and Heel BlistersA Guide to Preventing Toe, Foot, and Heel BlistersHiking

You have just completed 10 miles of your 30 mile backpacking trip. Woo hoo! You have 5 more miles to go today and it is time for a break. There is a slight pain on your feet. Removing your shoe and sock, you see a balloon-like, red swell of skin on the sole of your foot. Uh oh, it’s a blister.

In this article, a Guide to Preventing Toe, Foot, and Heel Blisters Hiking, you will learn all about preventing and treating blisters before they get out of hand and ruin your outdoor adventure.

If you are planning a multi day backpacking adventure, then blisters probably won’t be the only challenge you will encounter on the trail. I recommend brushing up on some backpacking basics in one of my previous articles. A back to basics motto is what makes the experts, well, the experts.

How Do You Get Blisters in the First Place?

The real question is, though, how do you get blisters in the first place? They don’t just spring out of holes in the ground. In reality, you can get blisters all sorts of ways. If you hike and a bug bites you, a bunch of blisters may end up popping up on the patch of skin. You can also get them from skin conditions or allergies.

Much more commonly though, your blister will be the result of friction, direct pressure, and moisture.

If you have taken a Physics class, then you know friction results when two objects rub together, creating heat. Your hands warm up when you rub them together. If you rub those hands together for too long though, the top layer of skin will loosen and tear. That is similar to what happens in your boot when you hike. Your foot rubs up against the inside of your shoe and it helps to cause a blister.

But there is more to it than just that, direct pressure comes into play. It acts to increase the intensity of damage between your skin and the bottom of your boot or another piece of skin. You can get it from a tight fitting boot.

On top of all the other two, you can find moisture. When you hike, you sweat. When you walk, you sweat. It is exercise. The reason we wear socks is to absorb the moisture, acting as a preventative measure for a blister outbreak. Sweat and water, if you have gone through a puddle or stream, dampen the skin, making it easier for a blister to form.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

The best blister is the one you don’t get. It is as simple as that. When you take the time to prevent blisters now, you save yourself a lot of pain down the trail. The journey becomes more enjoyable and you can focus on the pleasure of hiking through the landscape you see before you.

Preventative Methods – Essentials for Blister Free Feet

Broken in boots block a blister. New boots or hiking shoes are not loose. They will stick to your skin and increase the friction and pressure, providing the perfect cesspool for blisters. You need to make sure the boots you wear fit you. This prevents slippage, stopping pressure points in their tracks.

Solid socks seal the sailor. Good socks are going to be synthetic or wool. Both handle moisture well. Cotton, though, should be avoided; when you wear cotton, the water sticks to you, creating the impetus for blisters to form. Your socks need to fit too. Small socks create slippage for friction and pressure points. Large ones create wrinkles. They need to mold to the skin. Darn tough is the best brand for hiking socks, holding its own in tough conditions and giving you the comfort you need. I recommend it.

An extra pair of socks keep your feet warm. When I hike, I always bring a second pair of socks with me. I like to keep my feet dry and warm. One is hanging on my backpack to dry while I wear the other pair. It is a perfect combination.

If you notice a patch of red or feel a hot spot, treat it quickly. This is the precursor to a full-blown blister. If you do not treat it now and continue to hike, you will see a blister creep up. You have to deal with it now. A hot spot can be felt. It is a slight tinge you notice when you take a short break. Fortunately though, I have some steps to protect your feet.

  1. Use a blister gel. My go to for all my outdoor scratches and bruises is Neosporin. It is a godsend, taking care of all my wounds and healing me up really quick. I recommend it above all others. You can use a blister gel, but Neosporin is the most versatile.
  2. Put on a fresh pair of socks. If you have ever taken a shower and put on clean clothes, you feel like a million bucks because you’re clean and the clothes are clean. You can do anything. Your feet, too, will feel better when they have a clean pair of socks on them.
  3. Moleskin is a pre cut blister dressing. This will take the direct friction and pressure off of your red-hot spot patch, making it a great anti blister remedy in any hiker’s arsenal.

Air out your feet and wash them regularly. Just because you are hiking does not mean you cannot give your royal feet some good rest and relaxation. You know what I am saying? You deserve it. At the same time, the much-needed R&R will go a long way in preventing blisters. A dip in the stream or Epsom salt water will go a long way.

Blister First Aid – Treat It Before It Becomes a Bigger Problem

It is okay to get a blister. You get caught up in the beauty of the hike, seeing all the incredible landscape before you and forgetting to take care of your feet in the process. It happens. Every outdoor expert I know of has had a blister at some point or another. It is all a matter of treating it.

Gear that Will Be Sure to Ease the Pain – a Blister First Aid Kit

  • Spenco 2nd Skin Blister Kit, I recommend this. While I have not used the product myself, the reviews I have seen have been nothing but phenomenal. The biggest complaint has been the amount inside the package. The customer just needed more. It is an all in one package. If you want to treat your blisters, it has everything for blisters.
  • Gauze or Neosporin, both are great disinfectants for a wound. They clean the skin and soften the pain, making the journey ahead easier.
  • Band aids, these are indispensable.
  • Duct tape or medical tape, if given the choice between the two, I would choose the former every time. Duct tape is a versatile friend on the trail. Not only can it act as a band aid for you in a pinch, but it can patch up fabric hole in no time flat, making your life a lot easier.
  • Mini first aid kit, without a doubt, one of these puppies will have all the gear inside needed to treat a blister and more. It is a versatile friend when hiking outdoors, giving you the peace of mind to sleep well at night.
  • Needle or safety pin, either one is essential for popping a blister. If you pop a blister with just your hands, you risk tearing apart perfectly fine skin.
  • Small medical scissors, these are needed to remove dead skin and clear the affected area.

Should You Pop it like its Hot?

It is a tough choice to pop a blister, spilling out fluid and exposing raw skin to the stresses of a hike. You need to avoid popping a blister as much as possible. Only do so as a last resort. A popped blister makes the journey a lot more difficult. When a blister is popped, you create an opening for infection.

If you have not popped it and are hesitant to do so, you can treat a blister by following steps 4 and 5. They are the essence of blister treatment.

  1. Before you pop it, disinfect the area. This prevents any bugs and infections from dropping into your body through the open wound.
  2. Grab a needle or safety pin and sterilize it with alcohol or heat. Heat and alcohol kill germs. Go the extra mile and do the same for your hands too. I have popped a blister with my hands before, but only because I did not have a needle on hand. If you go this route, sterilize your hands. You have been hiking and your hands are quite dirty and risk infection.
  3. Insert the needle and drain the fluid. Be careful here. You want to insert the needle or pin just far enough that it punctures the blister for the fluid to escape. If you go too close, you risk a deeper wound.
  4. Treat it like you would a normal wound. This means putting on ointment like Neosporin or something similar to disinfect the wound and applying a bandage. Gauze also works in place of neosporin.
  5. Put on some moleskin or an extra layer. Underneath the affected area, you have raw skin. It is very vulnerable and sensitive. It needs extra protection against the elements to heal in the best manner possible. Moleskin will do that, shielding you from the pain.

Protect Yourself to Focus on What Really Matters

Blisters happen. You should not let them stop you from having a good time. They are just a small part of hiking outdoors. You will encounter them. It is part of the adventure though. Be sure to pack a blister treatment kit, so you can focus on what really matters, the escape to the outdoor world.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, please comment below and remember to share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

HikingHealth Benefits: Lose Weight and Boost Mindfulness

Hiking is one of the best activities you can do to help you lose weight and improve your mind. You go up mountains and down valleys, all the while gazing at incredible scenery. At the end of a good hike, you feel a profound sense of accomplishment. You traveled all those miles to be rewarded with what you see before you. Because of your efforts, the hiking health benefits are numerous.

Shed Those Pounds

If you are overweight or want to look a bit slimmer for that beach body, hiking is an excellent way to lose weight. In fact, a 175-pound person who hikes for 2 hours will burn 1,100 calories, assuming plenty of good hills and terrain variety to keep you busy. That is an incredible amount of weight lost without even discussing the other benefits yet.

When hiking though, you probably will not be burning a straightforward amount of calories as there will be two primary factors to consider.

Personal Variables

Diet, current weight, age, and gender can all affect the amount of weight you lose. For this reason, you need to know your own body and you will see fat loss results from hiking. Out of all these factors, diet is the most important in combination with the exercise of hiking. When you manage what you eat in concert with consistent exercise, you will experience steady results.


On nearly every trail you decide to take, there will be hills and valleys to keep you busy. If you are going up hill, you will burn more calories than someone just hiking on an open plain over the same distance. The terrain, though, is not consistent, so each time will be different.

If you are looking for a more intense way to burn calories while hiking, then consider backpacking. To prepare for any backpacking trip, you do need to hike on a regular basis.

Boost Your Mental Health

In a previous article, I wrote all about the mental health benefits of hiking. If you want to read more, then I would encourage you to dive into it. When it comes to your brain, hiking helps a few different areas in your mind.

  • Fight depression, hiking is a metaphor for life. There will be ups and downs, twists and turns, but, when you look back, you can feel pride in the journey you have accomplished. You feel that same feeling at the end of a good hike. You look from the top of a mountain or hill and swell with sweet emotion. If you hike with friends, then you bond with them through the mutual struggle.
  • Boost your mood. When you hike, you release endorphins, a powerful peptide that uplifts your spirit. The trees, rocks, view, scenery, streams, smells, and sounds cause you to put your life into perspective. The fresh air swells your chest with joy and hope for the future.
  • Creativity and problem solving ability, when you hike, you disconnect from technology. This forces you to be in the present moment and deal with the issue at hand. You have to look where you walk. The stimuli are emotionally positive and separate you from your problems, letting you escape from the past and future to the here and now. You can imagine greater for yourself after going on a hike.


Hiking is an excellent opportunity to strengthen old friendships and make new ones. Bringing a friend or a new one with you on a hike will immediately strengthen your bond. As such, hiking brings a number of benefits to friendships.

Hiking makes new friends. When you walk with someone, it creates a sense of mutual struggle. You both are battling the same problem. You both are on this journey together and you will support each other to make it to the other side. If you are looking for people to hike with, then check out MeetUp. You can find people who like to hike and hit the trail with them.

Strengthen bonds with old friends. As has said been in this article, there is a struggle to hiking. The hill ain’t getting any smaller. When you have a friendship with someone and then you go on a hike with them, your relationship is further strengthened by the shared experience of hiking. You encourage one another up the hillside. It deepens your relationship, whether it be with a friend, significant other, or sibling.

Friends make hiking a lot more fun. You bond with one another through the experience and push each other to your goals. You reach new heights because of each other’s support.

Making the Time to Go Hike

Each of us lives very busy lives. There are kids to take care of, jobs to go to, family to see, and friends to hang out with. This makes finding the time to go hiking quite difficult. If you want to gain all of these benefits, then be sure to follow the tips below.

  1. Set a regular schedule and stick with it. People do not stick to their weight loss goals because they are inconsistent about it. All of us are habitual. If you integrate a constant time to hike into your routine, then you are more likely to follow through.
  2. Push yourself just beyond your abilities. Hiking 5 miles can be quite fun. If it is beyond what you are capable of though, then you should not do it. When you push yourself far beyond your capabilities, then you risk never going on a hike again. Do what you know you will do on a regular basis.
  3. Bring friends with you or make new ones. People stay at lousy jobs with poor pay because of the social network there. The same idea applies to hiking. A hiking group will provide you with the positive support structure to keep you coming back.

Gear You Will Need

When hiking, there are a number of pieces of gear that you will need with you on a hike. If you do not have the right gear with you, then you risk not getting all the benefits of a proper hike. The gear is listed below.

  • Backpack, this is the first piece of gear you will need with you on your hike. You will need it to store all the gear listed below.
  • Sunscreen, the sun causes burns, which can lead to skin cancer. Take the bit of extra time and put some on your skin. You will be thanking yourself down the road.
  • Multi tool, it helps quite a bit to have a multi tool. You can pop a beer bottle open or cut off some excess string. Its strength lies in its versatility. When you have a multi tool, you can do a lot in one tool.
  • Compass, you can tell the direction just from the sun, but it helps to have a compass. You can use it with a map to locate your position.
  • Topographical or trail map, when hiking, there are going to be a lot of different trails. It can be confusing to distinguish between all of them. To navigate, be sure to bring a map, so you can find your way.
  • Whistle, with a whistle in hand, you can call for help or use it to help find a friend. If there are animals nearby, then you can use it to scare them off, making this is a versatile must have tool for the wild.
  • Flashlight, darkness sets in quickly in the outdoors. It will surprise you how fast the sun goes down if you are not careful. For this reason, it is essential to have a flashlight when the sun goes down.
  • Food or small snack, when I hike, I like to bring a cliff bar and some fruit. It helps to give me the energy I need to complete the hike.
  • Rain gear, when hiking, there is always the possibility of rain. It happens, but it is no issue. Bring a poncho or rain jacket with you, so you can just shrug off the rain.
  • Trekking poles, a lot of people overestimate their balance. Trekking poles are a great way to stay steady despite your body’s inclination to tip over. Your future self will thank you for the investment in a good pair of poles.
  • Basic first aid kit, cuts, scrapes, and scratches do happen, but it is no big deal. You just need to patch it up and then you are all set to go.
  • Hat, the sun can be quite harsh, so it is important to have plenty of sun protection. It will protect you from a nasty burn and keep you cool. If you are staring into the sun, it will also help to keep the sun out of your eyes.
  • Dry bag or zip lock bag, if you have a phone or any other electronic with you, then you will want to keep it dry. If you have food with you, then a zip lock bag is an excellent place to store it.
  • Toilet paper, your body has its own schedule, especially when it comes to going to the bathroom. You cannot really control it, so play it safe and bring a bit of biodegradable toilet paper with you in case nature strikes.
  • Camel pack or water bottle, personally, I prefer a camel pack. They let you drink water while you are hiking, making it great for any trail. A water bottle is also another way to store water. Either way, you will need a way to keep water with you on your hike.
  • Hiking boots, these are the critical foundation for your hiking trip. For anything over 5 miles, you do not want to use new boots or else you risk blisters and setting yourself back. If hiking under 5 miles, then new boots should be fine.

Final Thoughts

Hiking helps your body, social life, and mental well-being, making it an activity with many benefits. After the next hike you go on, you will realize the power inside you and your own potential. More than likely, there is a trail near you where you can get started. Hit the trail, find yourself, and boost your health!

If you have any thoughts, think I missed anything, or have a question, do not hesitate to comment below and please do share this article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

10 Inspirational Olympic National Park Pictures and Photos

Washington holds many treasures. Mount Adams, Baker, and St. Helens are just begging you to climb them. When Winter knocks on your door, it is time to go skiing and snowboarding. The rivers and lakes entice you to kayak on their waters. But one treasure keeps people coming back over and over again. Without further ado, I give you 10 Inspirational Olympic National Park Pictures and Photos.

It is why people keep coming back here again and again. There is so much to do and see. With each visit, you are sure to find something new to see and explore.

Let’s get started.

1. The Coastline is a Wonderful Treat

Because the Northwest’s coastline is undeveloped, it is untamed and wild. It roams free. The fog rolls over the ocean side cliffs and drifts gently down into the ocean. The forest butts up right to the beach. It is just wonderful. You are sure to enjoy backpacking up and down these coasts.

The driftwood washes ashore and the clouds dance above in twists and turns. The sea foam comes to your feet and then slowly recedes back.

2. Who Would Think There Would be a Rain Forest Here?

If there is one thing you need to see in Olympic National Park, it is Olympic Rain Forest. It defines the national park. You would think there would only be a rain forest in the South or Hawaii, but actually there is one in Washington! It mesmerizes me every time I think about it.

The green moss you see on the tree above arises only because of certain environmental conditions. In other words, there is plenty of darkness and wetness to go around. The moss can get so heavy it even throws trees off balance.

Whenever I look at this photo, I think of Fangorn Forest in the Lord of the Rings. You almost expect to stumble into Treebeard while you’re in Olympic National Park.

3. Wild Flowers and Hurricane Ridge Go Hand in Hand

One of my favorite parts about this national park is the wild flowers. They are lovely. If you grew up in the suburbs, then you know people try to tame and manicure everything to perfection. There can be nothing out of place. Wild flowers do the opposite. They just spring up wherever and whenever they like.

4. Lake Quinault and its Rain Forest are Magnificent

Lake Quinault and Quinault rain forest are much like Olympic rain forest. They come with lots of moss, wetness, and darkness for you to wander and ponder through.

Wherever you look, you can find stunning scenery. The scenic loop surrounding Lake Quinault lets you drive around the waters with ease. You are sure to get a stunning panoramic of the whole area. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from.

5. Lake Crescent is Another Excellent Lake to See

Located on Olympic peninsula, Crescent Lake is lovely. The crystal clear waters glimmer and sparkle when the sun’s rays strike them. You would think this place would be especially busy in the Spring, but this is not so. The wonderful place gets little traffic, so you are sure to rest with ease on its calm shores.

Interestingly enough, many vampire and horror movies have been filmed here. Crescent Lake sure does look like something out of a movie doesn’t it?

6. Sol Duc Falls Will Leave You Gaping in Awe

Image Credit: Jon Stockton

The Sol Duc Falls tumble down the mountains to create the lovely photo you see here. If you go during the summer, then you might be treated to an exquisite rainbow. The falls can be accessed by an easy 1.5 mile hike. All along the way to the top, you can find smaller creeks and falls to keep your eyes busy.

It is sure to help you slow down and appreciate the roses.

7. Deer Park Offers Plenty of Wonderful Views

On the eastern, dry side of the Olympics, you can find Deer Park. Unlike its wetter counterpart, Deer Park lacks water, but makes up for it in rugged terrain.

It is another part of this national park you need to see. It provides plenty of panoramic shots for you to wonder in awe of. As you drive up the tight and twisty road to the top, you are sure to find plenty of spectacular views to keep you company. Pull off to the side of the road and take a picture to remember the moment.

8. Ruby Beach at Sunset is Just Breathtaking

Wow! Look at the colors bounce off the landscape. It is stunning. If there is one thing you have to go see here, it is Ruby Beach. It is one of the most visited parts of the Olympus peninsula. You are sure to be taken aback by the stunning scenery each time you look.

The sunset is just perfect for couples looking for romance.

9. Do You Want to Meet Some Greek Gods?

Mount Olympus is another treat. It thunders forth from the earth and towers before you like a giant. You, unfortunately, will not find Zeus, Aphrodite, and their relatives here. You have to travel to Greece to meet them. If you are a mountaineer, then you are sure to find a great challenge in the majesty of Mount Olympus.

As was famously said about Mount Everest, ‘because it’s there.’

10. A Stroll on Ruby Beach is Marvelous

After wandering and jumping from one part of the park to another, you are sure to need a break. It is time to take a short stroll and unwind for the day. The waves break gently on the shore. The sun pierces the water and glistens before your eyes. It is wonderful.

You are sure to put this park in your pocket for another day, but now it is time to head back home.

If You Enjoyed this Article, Then You’ll Love Another One

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. It was a wonderful experience and I hope you will look into other posts written on this site.

If you want to, of course, you should check out one of my previous articles, Why Should You Even Consider REI Outdoor Travel Adventures? If you want to experience a place like Olympic National Park but have some excuses blocking the way, then this post will remind you why you need to get away. You need the rest and relaxation.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!