Trail Food

Pocket Coffee Espresso

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I came across these this past weekend at Whole Foods and let me tell you, these little delights pack a punch. When I think of these, I am thinking of those mornings when conditions just don’t allow you to get out the cookware. Milk chocolate covers a thin wafer with a heavy shot of espresso. These little things gave me a burst of energy like I had just had a pot of coffee. They will most likely have a permanent place in my pack on every trip.

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Bear Creek Trail Food

Cheddar Potato Soup Mix

 

I have started keeping a record of the different foods that I find that can accompany me on the trail. This happens to be one that my lovely wife found and picked up for me today. It says to mix 8 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. You could divide the bag into 4 trail servings, which is about a bowl of soup per serving. This would equate to 3 ounces of soup mix, to 2 cups of water.

Taste Test

If had come home and my wife told me she was making homemade soup, I would have never known the difference. At less than $3.00 for basically 4 servings of potato soup, you can’t beat it. Do yourself a favor and try it.

 

Trail Food

Tasty Bite Meals

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I came across these meals this weekend at Whole Foods and thought I would share. The amazing thing about these meals was the fact that one of the directions says, “Submerge the unopened pouch in water and boil for 5 minutes, then eat directly from the pouch.” I thought this was a great idea because you could use any water to heat the pouch. They also claim to be very healthy. I am always in the market for new ideas for trail food and this is about half the price of the usually dehydrated meals. I also checked the weight and they are weighing in at about 9 oz. per pouch.

Black Diamond Spot (2016)

Black Diamond Spot Review


I wanted to do a quick review of my thoughts on this headlamp. It is super bright (200 lumens) and will last up to 50 hours on the brightest setting. It came be submerged up to 30 minutes in water and the case is rugged. I am very impressed so far with this light and have to say I think it is the best light on the market. Also wanted to mention it takes 3 AAA batteries unlike some that take a weird type battery that can be hard to find in moments notice. Check it out, it is worth 40 dollars.

Staying Warm While Camping

Easy and Efficient Heat Source

One of the biggest challenges in the backcountry is staying warm in unfair conditions. I have found myself many times in extremely high winds or damp conditions that prevent me from building a fire. If you do not have a heat source available, the only heat you have is the heat your body is producing. One trick to providing extra heat throughout the night is to make a hot water bottle. The key is to create an insulator that will keep the water warm for hours. The only items you will need for this project I have listed below.

  • Mylar Bubble Wrap (Can be purchased at any hardware store)
  • Duck Tape
  • The Water Bottle of Choice (I use a Nalgene Wide Mouth)
  • Knife or Box Cutter

I will give a brief description about how I made this water bottle insulator and I will attach my YouTube video providing an overview.

  1. You simply take two pieces of Mylar cut the same size to fit the water bottle with extra to fold at the bottom.
  2. Then, place each piece with the foil facing outwards around the water bottle and wrap with duct tape.
  3. Cut holes into the sides similar to the picture shown.

You’re done!

 

I have tested this using boiling water, placing into a stuff sack and hanging it outside at temperatures ranging from 42 to 51 degrees. I checked the bottle at 4 hours and the bottle was still substantially warm. The Mylar reflects the heat back into the bottle and the holes allow the heat to be forced out. This generates heat while allowing the bottle to maintain its warm temperature for hours. I use this in the foot part of my sleeping bag, at my side in the sleeping bag or hung by paracord at the end of my hammock so I can place my feet on it. This is just a simple way to provide supplemental heat for hours on those cold frigid nights.

 

First Aid Kits

Hiking-Essentials-First-Aid-Kit

What is in the kit?

January 21, 2016

When you first see the title, you probably think I am going to go into a long boring discussion about what comes in a first aid kit. The title was actually a question for you to determine if you have ever looked inside your kit. Most people today (I am also guilty) will go out and purchase a first aid kit and never open it. They throw the thing in their pack and off to the trail they go. They have a false sense of security knowing the kit is in their pack and they feel safer for it being there. I am writing this because I went to my first aid kit to retrieve the burn cream for my wife, who had burned her finger, and I realized that there was no burn cream in my kit. This prompted me to take the kit out and look through it; instead of multifunctional items that could save my life, I mostly found a bunch of bandages and not much else. At that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have discovered this now and not 8 miles back on the trail suffering from a serious laceration somewhere. This got me to thinking how many of us who might be looked upon as a make-believe doctor on the trail, have never actually taken out our first aid kits and practiced with them. I’m guilty of this myself: having spent hours playing, preparing and practicing with everything else, I have never practiced with the one thing that could save my life.

 

Cleaning Your Camping Pots 

Cleaning Your Camping Pots

Just a little food for thought. The next time you are out on your adventure and you need to clean your favorite pot, try using dirt. I know it might sound crazy, but it actually works very well. Don’t try it on non stick cookware, but for any other material it works great. I usually use dirt, rinse and dry.

Water Filters Compared

Limousine vs. Compact

 

January 19, 2016

There are quite a few discussions online today about what type of water filter to carry into the backcountry. I for one own several and have used them all and I will be the first to point out that no single one is perfect. I have tried MSR, Sawyer, Katadyn, Life Straw just to name a few and I always go with a two part protection like the CDC recommends. I use filter and boil, or filter and tablet just because I feel better at the end of the day. I am going to compare the two most popular here simply because one is a squeeze and one is a pump. I did not review a gravity feed yet because I am still debating on which one to purchase.

What does it do

Filters

  • The Sawyer filters down to 0.01 micron and removes Protozoa and Bacteria. It does not remove viruses.  (Although viruses are rare in US waters)
  • The MSR filters down to 0.02 micron Protozoa, Bacteria and most Taste. It does not remove viruses. (Although viruses are rare in US waters)

Because neither will remove viruses, I either boil or use MSR Aquatabs to kill viruses.

Things to worry about

The most common Protozoa that you will hear described in backcountry water sources is Giardia or Cryptosporidium. They are nasty creatures that you do not want to encounter on your trip. Along with the Protozoa, you will also find bacteria that these filters will remove. The one thing that they will not remove is viruses, but in most US locations viruses are extremely rare. Like I stated above, tablets or boiling will finish off the viruses.

Click here for more information on backcountry water sources.

 

Sawyer Mini

There is a huge push right now with filters like Sawyer Mini because it is small, lite weight, convenient and relatively cheap when compared to ones like the MSR. I have tested the Sawyer and it is all of the above but, it is slow, it does not have added carbon to remove taste and pesticides and it does not remove tannins. Most everyone knows this already but the most important factor that bothered me was I could not remove or inspect the filter. I had to trust that it was not damaged from the back flush. I was also concerned that there is no way to get all of the moisture out of the inside of the filter, but I did follow the guidelines they manufacturer recommended before storing. Other than these few cons, in my opinion, the filter worked really well in the field. I took it on a backcountry hike and used the filter and it performed well. It was extremely simple to clean and it gives you drinking water without having to pull out your pump.

MSR MiniWorks EX

The Miniworks is a filter design that has been around for a long time. What I like about the MiniWorks is the ability to inspect the filter each time you clean it. Also, the entire unit can be broken down in seconds to in the field repair. This is one advantage to the squeeze type filters because they are not repairable. Another advantage is ability to remove taste from the water and this is big plus with me. I have tested this on pretty cloudy water and it comes out clear and tastes great. The one downside to these type filters is you have to break them down to clean them and if you and in really nasty water then you will be doing this quite often. Another aspect that I like about the MSR is the ability to screw the unit directly onto any wide mouth bottle or the MSR Dromedary Bags. Another disadvantage would be the size and weight compared to the Mini. The MSR weighs in at about a pound and cost about $80 to $100 compared to $20 to $30 for the Mini.

Review

So why should you choose to spend more for one or the other? The answer is, in my opinion, determined by what you want and what you trust. Me personally, I do not trust what I can’t see and this is why I use the MSR for my water filter needs and the Mini as my emergency unit. I like my water to taste as close to spring water out of a bottle as possible and choosing a filter that has a carbon core will help with this. It is important for me to end by saying I have done NO factual study or analysis on what either of these filters will do or not do, it is just my opinion on which one I choose to trust in the field, but I always take two forms or precaution no matter where I collect my water.

 

 

Outdoor Tips

Water Bottle vs. Hydration Bladder

January 20, 2016

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    When I go on a short or long hikes I always bring my small pack with my hydration bladder to make sure I have plenty of hydration. When I go on an overnight trip or longer I choose to take bottles and a filter for two reasons. First, the bladder creates a weird shape to try and work around when trying to pack the pack. Second, I can use the water bottle at night as a source of warmth if needed. I always carry 2 X 32 oz. Wide Mouth Nalgene Bottles. One attached to my backpack shoulder strap and one packed away in my pack full of water. I also carry my MSR Mini Works EX filter along with a 2 liter MSR Hydromedary that I use at camp. What I like to do is fill my pot with water that I have filtered at bedtime, boil the water and place it back in the bottle that emptied on the hike that day. Place that bottle in my sleeping bag at my feet and it will provide warmth for hours while I sleep. The next morning I have cooled drinking water literally at my feet.

Products Discussed

MSR MiniWorks EX

MSR Dromedary

Nalgene Wide Mouth