Daypacks: No Longer Optional Equipment for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Most outdoor adventurers have a basic collection of equipment that they consider essential. This usually includes a tent, backpack and sleeping bag (the so-called “big three”), as well as a few other things like a water filter, a camp stove and a set of trekking poles.

But more and more campers, hikers, skiers and canoeists are adding a daypack to their collection of basic outdoor equipment. We’ll talk about some of the reasons that daypacks are beginning to be treated as indispensable gear below, as well as a few of the things to think about when picking out your own.

Five Reasons Outdoor Enthusiasts Will Appreciate a Daypack

Daypacks provide a number of different benefits for those who spend their free time enjoying the natural world, but the following five will likely make the biggest difference during your next outdoor adventure.

1. Daypacks Make Daytime Excursions Easier

By the second or third day of most camping trips, most people have completed all of the necessary chores involved in setting up a functioning campsite. This leaves a lot of downtime during the middle of the day, which provides a great opportunity to spread your wings and explore the surrounding area.

But you’ll need to bring a few items along with you while hiking around the campsite. You’ll need plenty of water (and potentially a water filter), a small first-aid kit, and perhaps a change of socks. You may even want to bring a camp stove and some food along.

A daypack will provide an easy, convenient and effective way to carry these items, without forcing you to lug your full-size backpack for no reason.

2. Daypacks Can Double as Pillows

Because daypacks lack the rigid frame that most high-capacity packs do, they are soft and flexible. This means you can use them as a pillow if you stuff them full of soft items, such as your clothes. Just add or remove garments as necessary to adjust the size and firmness of the pillow.

Note that clothing-stuffed daypacks aren’t only effective for supporting your head – you can also use your daypack pillow to elevate your legs when resting up after a long hike. In fact, you can even fill your daypack about half-full with clothing to make a comfortable sitting cushion that you can use around the campfire.

3. Daypacks Are Ideal for Long-Distance Hikers

Daypacks are not only helpful for campers who spend several days in the wilderness at a time, but they’re also helpful for hikers – especially hikers who enjoy racking up the miles. While you may be able to hike a mile or two with little more than a water bottle and cell phone, you’ll likely want to bring a few additional items along for longer hikes.

For example, it’s a good idea to pack a small first-aid kit and an extra pair of socks if you are heading on a multi-mile hike. You may even want to bring a poncho, in case the weather sours. A daypack is ideal for carrying these types of things without weighing you down the way a rigid-frame backpack may.

4. Daypacks Can Help Keep Your Gear Organized

One of the underappreciated benefits daypacks can provide is improved organization. For example, you can fill your daypack with all of your cooking gear, clothing or food, and then place the daypack inside your framed pack. This will not only keep all of these items in the same place, but it’ll also make them easy to access once you get to camp.

You’ll obviously have to empty and refill the daypack to use it for day hikes or a pillow, but this will only take you a few moments.

5. Daypacks Are Helpful for Urban Adventures

Daypacks aren’t only helpful for wilderness adventures. You can also enjoy the benefits a daypack provides when making your way through the big city. A good daypack can make it easy to carry around the things you need for work or school, and they can even be helpful for carrying groceries.

And unlike the backpacks most people use to carry their day-to-day items, most daypacks intended for use on the trail will be much more durable and resilient. This ensures they’ll last longer and hold up better to the wear-and-tear most backpacks are forced to endure.

What Should You Look for When Picking a Daypack?

Now that you understand the value daypacks can provide, and how they can help you enjoy your time outdoors even more than usual, it is time to find one that suits you well. There are a number of daypacks on the market, but they differ significantly in terms of quality, price and features.

We’ll try to help you find the best daypack for your needs below, by discussing some of the things you’ll want to look for.

Durable Materials

One of the best ways to separate high-quality daypacks from their poor-quality counterparts is by noting the materials used in their construction. Cheap daypacks are typically made from flimsy polyester or cotton, both of which are likely to tear the first time you lean too close to a thorny bush.

On the other hand, most high-quality daypacks are made from high grades of rip-stop nylon. This material is inherently durable, and it is designed to prevent small cuts and tears from turning into large ones.

Appropriate Capacity

It is important to select a daypack with a reasonable capacity. You don’t want to carry a larger (and therefore heavier) pack than you need, nor do you want to purchase a daypack only to discover that it won’t allow you to bring along the things you’ll need for a short hike.

Different outdoor enthusiasts have different needs, so broad generalizations regarding pack capacity are difficult to make. Nevertheless, the vast majority of hikers and campers will find a daypack with a 15- to 20-liter capacity works well.

Attractive Aesthetics

While you’ll clearly care more about the capacity and quality of your daypack than its color scheme while you’re hanging out in the wilderness, that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore the way a pack looks when making your selection. After all, you’ll likely enjoy using your daypack more if you like the way it looks, so give the pack’s aesthetics some consideration.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so there isn’t much to worry about when comparing the color schemes and general appearance of different packs – just pick the one that you like best (while still keeping the functionality of the bag in mind).

Multiple Pockets

While a daypack needn’t have as many pockets as your primary pack, those that feature multiple compartments make it much easier to keep your gear organized. Generally speaking, you’ll want to pick a daypack that comes with two to five separate compartments.

Avoid the temptation to purchase a pack with too many individual pockets, as this often means you’ll have trouble carrying larger items, such as trekking poles.

Carrying Handle

You’ll usually use the straps to carry your daypack on your back while you are in the wilderness, but if you are using your backpack around town or to travel, a carrying handle with prove invaluable. This way, you can simply carry your bag instead of having to take it off your back every time you need to grab something.

But don’t just pick the first pack with a carrying handle you see – you must select a pack that comes with a strong, heavy-duty handle, to make sure it’ll stand up to the rigors of frequent use.

Hydration Sleeve

If you plan to use your daypack frequently or for lengthy hikes, it is a good idea to select one that comes equipped with a sleeve into which you can fit a hydration bladder. This will eliminate the need to stop and fish your water bottle out of your pack every time you need a sip. Instead, you can just drink your water without having to stop.

Just be sure that the hydration sleeve comes with a secure closure – you don’t want the bladder to slip out if you accidentally lift the pack from the bottom instead of the top.

There are a lot of daypacks on the market, so be sure to take the time to purchase one that suits your individual needs. If you choose wisely, you’ll likely start using it frequently, and you’ll eventually wonder how you ever got by without one.

The post Daypacks: No Longer Optional Equipment for Outdoor Enthusiasts appeared first on Montem Outdoor Gear.

from Montem Outdoor Gear


Camping in All Seasons: Making the Most of Your Time Outdoors

Although some hikers and campers schedule their trips for the cool months of the year, most outdoor enthusiasts get their nature fix during the spring and summer months. Neither time of the year is inherently better than the other, and you can certainly enjoy the great outdoors throughout the year.

But no matter when you schedule your next trip, you’ll want to be sure that you make the most of the occasion. And this means taking advantage of any unique opportunities present in a given season, as well as preparing for some of the challenges different seasons present.

We’ll try to help you do exactly this below, as we point out eight of the most important challenges and opportunities different seasons present, as well as the best ways to maximize or avoid them.


Budding leaves, singing birds and warming temperatures make spring a wonderful time to enjoy the great outdoors. Just be sure to embrace the following tips and tricks to make the most of your springtime trip.

1. Mosquitoes Start Buzzing During the Spring

It can be easy to forget how irritating mosquitoes can be after they disappear for the winter, so don’t forget to pack insect repellent for your skin and permethrin-coated clothing to cover as much of your body as the temperatures allow. Remember, mosquitos are not only irritating, but they can also transmit serious diseases too.

2. Spring Weather Is Often Wet Weather

In many areas, spring is the wettest time of the year. Not only do many places experience an abundance of rain during this time of year, but the local rivers, creeks and streams can rise too, thanks to the melting snowpack in the surrounding mountains.

All of this additional water also means that you’ll usually wake up to a dew-covered ground in the morning. So, be sure that you bring all of your raingear and pre-treat your boots and clothing with a moisture-repelling product.

3. Prepare to Deal with Pollen

Pollen can be a terrible nuisance for hikers and campers spending time outdoors during the spring. This is especially true for those who are camping or hiking through forests, as trees tend to release most of their pollen during the spring (grasses, on the other hand, typically release their pollen in the summer).

So, be sure to bring along some Benadryl or another allergy medication and check out our tips on coping with pollen before you hit the trail.

4. Be Sure to Prepare for Unseasonable Weather

Excited by the return of warm weather, many campers find themselves unprepared for the occasional cold snap that blows through during the spring. So, don’t forget to bring enough clothing to stay warm if unexpected cold weather occurs.

5. Be Sure to Inspect Your Gear

Because most hikers and campers take the winter off, it is wise to inspect all of your gear before heading out in the spring. This way, you won’t forget to repair any items that broke last fall, as well as anything that became damaged during winter storage. You may even want to set up your tent on a sunny day and let it air out for a few hours – this will help get rid of any odors that developed during storage.

6. Start Slow

It is easy to bite off more than you can chew when heading out for your first hike or camping trip after a long winter of being cooped up indoors. But because you’re unlikely to be in tip-top hiking shape early in the spring, it is important to set reasonable goals with regard to distance and elevation for your first trip of the year.

Trying to hike too far can easily wear you out and leave you with sore muscles, and in a worst-case scenario, it could leave you stranded and unable to return to your car. Generally speaking, you’ll want to restrict your hikes to about 20% of the length that you were hiking in the fall.

7. Prepare for Unexpected Trail Changes

Winter weather can lead to erosion, which often forces rangers and park officials to re-route sections of some of the trails. Some trails may even have been closed if the winter weather was especially severe.

These types of issues rarely cause serious problems for hikers and campers, but it is important to be prepared to navigate a trail system that may not match your maps exactly. In fact, it is usually a good idea to contact the local trail-maintenance authorities before your trip begins, so you will know if you need to make alternative arrangements.

8. Take the Time to Enjoy the Birds

Spring is one of the best times of year to work a little bird-watching into your hiking and camping trips. Many birds will be returning from their winter haunts and brandishing their boldest colors of the year. This is also the time of year when many species are busy making nests and courting mates, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to watch them go about their daily lives.

You don’t need anything to watch the birds, but you’ll have more fun doing so if you bring a good pair of binoculars and a field guide to help you identify the birds you spot. And unlike the paper field guides of years past that were heavy and bulky, modern birdwatchers can carry an entire field guide on their phone.


Most people who go camping – particularly casual campers, who may only head outdoors once or twice a year – do so in the summer. But while this can lead to crowded campsites and trails, you can still have a fantastic time if you employ some of the strategies discussed below.

1. Employ Good Tick-Prevention Strategies

Summer is the peak of tick season across most of the eastern and southern United States, so it is important to wear a high-quality tick repellent and perform regular tick checks on your body. While most tick bites are merely a nuisance, some may transmit serious diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease and others.

2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Sweltering summer temperatures can quickly lead to dehydration, so always make sure that you carry (and drink) plenty of water when enjoying the great outdoors during the warm months. Keep in mind that you’ll need to treat all of the water you drink in the backcountry, so don’t wait until your Nalgene bottle runs empty before re-stocking your supplies.

3. Make Time to Enjoy the Sounds of Summer

Summer nights likely provide the best soundtrack in the entire natural world, so be sure to spend at least one night just listening. You’ll almost certainly hear thousands of crickets and katydids, and if you are camping reasonably close to water, you may hear chorusing frogs too. If you are really lucky, you’ll hear calling nocturnal birds, such as whippoorwills and loons.

To avoid scaring away the local critters, forego the fire for one night, set up a comfortable hammock, and kick back and listen to the sounds of the forest.

4. Use a Suitable Sunscreen

Even if you will be hiking or camping in a forested area, chances are, you’ll pass through several sunny patches along the way. You may even decide to stop for lunch atop a beautiful and exposed vista. Accordingly, you’ll want to make sure that you wear an appropriate sunscreen while enjoying the outdoors during the summer.

Although you may be tempted to use a combination of sunscreen-insect-repellent, most authorities recommend against this practice, as the chemicals in the sunscreen can cause the insect repellent to be less effective.

5. Do Yourself a Favor and Hike in the Morning or Evening

Hiking during the hottest hours will only tire you more quickly and increase the chances that you’ll suffer from dehydration. So, try to confine your hiking to the early morning and late afternoon during the summer. Use the middle of the day to rest, set up campsites and tend to other necessary tasks that won’t wear you out.

If circumstances do force you to hike during the middle of the day, just be sure to take frequent breaks, make the most of any shade present, and drink plenty of water.

6. Make a Safety Plan for Bad Weather

You should always be prepared for rain anytime you head out for a hike or plan to spend a few days camping. However, there is a big difference between some run-of-the-mill rainy weather and a late summer thunderstorm, which may also shower the area in hail or spawn tornadoes.

There are no universal steps to take – you’ll simply have to develop a plan that suits your circumstances. You may, for example, be able to take shelter in a public bathroom or ranger station, but in other cases, you may be forced to retreat to a cave or other natural shelter if nothing else is available.

It’s also a good idea to bring along an all-weather emergency radio if you won’t have cell phone service during your trip.

7. Take Advantage of the Prevailing Winds when Making Camp

Although it’ll require a bit more preparation than usual, it is wise to do everything possible to maximize the amount of wind blowing through your campsite during the summer (obviously, within reason). The airflow will not only help keep the campsite cooler, but it will also help reduce the number of mosquitos hanging around.

If the area is already relatively windy, it is easy to figure out how to orient your campsite – just be sure to put the campfire downwind of all the tents and gear. But if the winds are calm when you’re setting up your site, look for clues in the landscape, such as the direction most of the trees lean.

If nothing else, you can simply drop a few tufts of grass from your hand and watch which direction they drift on the way down. You can also wet your finger and hold it up in the air – the moving air will make the upwind side feel cooler.

8. Consider Lesser Known Trails and Campgrounds in the Summer

Summer is undoubtedly the season that sees most people enjoying the great outdoors. Many people schedule their yearly vacation for the summer when the kids are out of school and the days are long. And while all of this interest in the natural world is wonderful, it can make trails and campsites a bit crowded from June to August.

But you can avoid some of the crowds, by seeking out trails and campsites that fly under the radar during the summer. If you aren’t sure which trails are likely to see the least traffic, start by looking at those rated as “strenuous” or “moderate,” as most of casual hikers and campers stick to trails rated as “easy.”


Fall is an underappreciated time of year to go camping. The weather is generally mild, the trails relatively empty, and the colorful fall foliage can provide an amazing background for your trip. Just try to implement the tips below to make the most of your next autumn excursion.

1. Schedule Your Trip During the Leaf Change

It’s always worth trying to time your trip so that it coincides with the fall foliage is at its most colorful. But because most areas only experience a period of peak color that lasts a week or two, and the timing of the color change varies from one year to the next, this isn’t terribly easy to pull off. However, it is a high-upside, minimal-downside proposition – you have little to lose by trying.

Just consult a few historic leaf color change resources when planning your trip and remember that the color change usually occurs later the farther south you travel, which gives you more flexibility when trying to time things perfectly.

2. Wear Layers to Cope with Changing Temperatures

While the fall nights are often chilly and perfect for bundling up next to the campfire, the days can still be quite warm. And because sweating into your clothes all day long can leave you very cold once the sun goes down, it is important to remember to bring clothes that will still be appropriate for warm temperatures. As always, dress in layers so you can adjust your wardrobe to match the weather.

3. Consider Leaving the Camp Stove at Home

While camp stoves certainly make cooking and (if necessary) treating water, they do add additional weight to your pack (as does the fuel necessary to operate them). So, experienced campers – particularly those with excellent fire-making skills – may want to leave their camp stove at home during the fall.

The fall is typically the easiest time of year to start a fire, and there should be plenty of dead leaves and fallen branches on the ground to help make the process even easier. And in addition to the weight- and space-savings you’ll enjoy by leaving your stove at home, you’ll also get to enjoy the romance of cooking over an open fire.

4. Use a Tarp to Make a Windscreen

Strong winds are common in some campsites during the autumn, and these winds (the very winds that are a welcome feature in summer campsites) are often responsible for making you feel cold. Most campers will feel comfortable when temperatures are in the 50s or 60s, but a modest breeze can quickly make the temperature feel much lower.

Fortunately, this is a pretty easy problem to solve. Simply rig up a tarp on the upwind side of your campsite. You won’t block all of the wind, but you will cut the amount flowing across your campsite significantly, thereby making the entire campsite more comfortable.

5. Bring a Blanket to Use Around the Campfire

As mentioned before, fall is one of the best times of year to enjoy a good campfire. But because you’ll likely be dressed in relatively lightweight clothing, it can still be a bit chilly once the sun goes down – even when you’re sitting by the fire.

You don’t want to sit too close to the fire – this can make your front uncomfortably hot without helping warm your back up at all. Instead, the best way to stay warm is to bring along a good camping blanket to cover your back. You can use a sleeping bag, but they won’t provide the quality of coverage that a blanket will, and they can present a trip hazard.

In fact, you may want to start using camping blankets instead of sleeping bags entirely.

6. Prepare for the Shorter Days and Longer Nights

Each passing fall day is shorter than the one before, and each night grows longer as the season progresses. So, you’ll have to plan to spend more hours under dark skies than you will during summer camping trips.

This means you’ll need to make a few small accommodations. For example, you’ll want to pack a few more batteries than you would in the summer, as you’ll need to use your headlamp more often. You’ll also need to be prepared to set your tent up in the dark if you are arriving at the campsite on Friday night.

7. Try to Take Advantage of Southeastern Exposures

Fall mornings can be quite chilly, but you can help warm your tent up in the morning by pitching it in the right location and in the right orientation. Simply put, you want to take advantage of the sun’s morning rays, which will come from the southeast (assuming you are camping in the northern hemisphere – reverse things if you are camping in the southern hemisphere).

So, try to find the best southeastern exposure available at your campsite. Try to find an area that’ll enjoy the full power of the sun, and avoid locations shaded by trees or rocks. And once you find the perfect location, be sure to set up your tent so that one of the walls (rather than a corner) faces directly into the sun.

8. Don’t Leave the Fishing Rods at Home

If you enjoy fishing during your outdoor excursions, be sure to bring your rod and reel along during fall trips. Many people only think about fishing during summer trips, but there are plenty of fish to be caught in the fall too. In fact, many of the fish will be feeding heavily during the fall to prepare for the long, cold winter.

Additionally, because fewer campers and hikers fish during the fall, they see fewer lures and worms floating by. This often makes them more willing to bite.


Winter adventures are usually the domain of experienced and highly skilled campers and hikers, and rightly so – it is undoubtedly the most challenging time of the year to spend time outdoors. But if you embrace the recommendations listed below, you’ll likely find that you can still enjoy the outdoors during the coldest portion of the year.

1. Remain Cautious Around Wildlife

You’ll rarely have to contend with bugs or snakes when snow covers the ground. However, this shouldn’t lull you into a false sense of security regarding the wildlife you may encounter on the trail.

Many large animals, including moose and wolves, remain active throughout the winter months. And while you needn’t fear these animals, it is wise to afford them a healthy dose of respect and give them a wide berth.

2. Use Caution When Avalanches Threaten

Be sure to use caution when camping or hiking in places where avalanches are a concern. Avalanches are extremely dangerous events, and they can cause death by suffocation, blunt force trauma or, most commonly, hypothermia.

Avalanches can occur during any month of the calendar, but they are most common following winter storms that deposit 1 foot or more of snow during a short period of time.

3. Wear Bright Clothing When Traveling Through Areas with Hunters

Some wilderness areas and parks allow hunting as well as camping, hiking and other types of outdoor recreation. If you are planning on visiting such a park, be sure to do everything you can to make your presence known, so you won’t end up involved in an accident.

This means wearing bright colors to make it easy for hunters to see you (if you feel like you are at an especially high risk of encountering hunters, you may want to consider wearing a blaze-orange vest or hat). It’s also a good idea to make a bit of noise while you hike down the trail. If nothing else, just clip your car keys to your pack, as they’ll jingle with each step.

4. Staying Warm Means Staying Dry

While you’ll need to take extra precautions to remain dry and warm while camping or hiking in the snow, there are few more beautiful sights in the world than a wild vista that’s been coated in a foot of snow.

So, while you can’t control the weather, it may behoove you to review historic snowfall records for the area to which you’ll be traveling. You may get lucky by planning your trip during a week that receives a disproportionate amount of snow.

5. Note That Poison Ivy Still Represents a Threat

Don’t forget to be careful to avoid touching poison ivy while camping in the winter. Poison ivy is a deciduous plant, so it loses its leaves in the fall or winter, but the remaining portions of the plant – including, most notably, the tree-clinging vines – persist throughout the winter and are capable of triggering a rash.

Poison ivy vines are typically 1- to 3-inches thick and covered in numerous hairy projections, which makes it pretty easy to spot growing in the forest.

6. Don’t Let Your Water Filter Freeze

No matter how much you try to empty your water filter, a small amount of water will almost certainly remain trapped inside. If you then leave your filter out in your pack, it may freeze. This can cause damage to the internal components, which render it non-functional. It may even allow non-treated water to contaminate the water you believe is safe.

So, in addition to drying out your filter as much as is possible after each use, you may want to keep it with you in your sleeping bag. This should usually keep it warm enough to avoid freezing.

7. Bring Plenty of Food

You’ll obviously want to pack enough food for your next camping trip (as well as lengthy hiking trips in which you plan to eat at the half-way point), but it is easy to underestimate your caloric needs during cold-weather trips. Remember that the food you eat not only helps to provide you with the energy to do physical work, it also provides your body with the fuel needed to keep you warm.

Simply put, you’ll need more calories in the winter than you will in the summer, as your body will require more fuel to keep your internal fires stoked. So, be sure that you plan carefully for your trip, and increase your daily food ration by about 10% to 20%, or as much as your pack capacity allows.

And while you’re at it, be sure to pack several warm drink mixes or soups to help warm you up quickly when the cold winds blow.

8. Pack the Snow Before Pitching Your Tent

If you plan to make camp in a snowy location, you’ll want to take a few moments to pack down the snow in the place you intend to pitch your tent. Fail to do so, and you may rip the bottom of your tent when you step inside. Additionally, the packed snow will generally provide a more comfortable floor for your tent, and it’ll be easier to roll around and stand up when necessary.

And if you don’t mind putting in the work, it is also a good idea to clear a pathway between the spots you’ll frequently traverse. For example, between the fire circle and your tent, or your tent and the latrine. This will make it easier to make quick trips in sneakers or comfortable hiking boots, rather than forcing you to put snow boots back on.

As you can see, there are a number of things you can do to help make the most of hiking and camping trips during any portion of the calendar. And while most outdoor enthusiasts schedule their adventures for a relatively short window of time between April and October, you can still enjoy yourself while heading outdoors during the fall, winter and early spring too.

Just try to use the tips discussed above to ensure you’ll be prepared for your next outdoor adventure – no matter when it takes place.

The post Camping in All Seasons: Making the Most of Your Time Outdoors appeared first on Montem Outdoor Gear.

from Montem Outdoor Gear

How Hiking Helps Anxiety And Depression

Anxiety and depression are incredibly common ailments of 21st Century humans. But while there are a number of different treatments for these illnesses (and you should always discuss your symptoms with your doctor and seek the treatment he or she recommends), too many people overlook one of the best: hiking. Hiking is often very effective for easing anxiety and depression, and it is a treatment option that is accessible to the vast majority of people. In fact, there are a number of reasons hiking is such an excellent way to feel better, which we’ll outline below.

Exercise Promotes Brain Health

Hiking is a fantastic form of exercise that provides a variety of benefits for your body. It’ll help you lose weight while simultaneously strengthening your muscles. And if you keep at it for long enough, it’ll likely help lower your blood pressure and reduce your chances of suffering from strokes, diabetes or heart disease. But while these benefits are all clearly valuable, exercise also helps to promote a healthy brain too. If your hikes are strenuous enough to elevate your heart rate and cause you to sweat a bit, they’ll likely help increase the size of your hippocampus – the portion of the brain associated with verbal memory and learning.

Exercise also causes the body to release growth factors – chemicals that help encourage blood vessel development in the brain and support the production of healthy brain cells. And don’t worry, you needn’t hike for very long to start enjoying improved brain health; research shows that even a 20-minute hike can improve the way your brain processes information.

Hiking Is Easy to Do And Affordable

Unlike so many other treatments for anxiety and depression, hiking is available to just about everyone, regardless of your location or tax bracket. Most Americans probably live within a short drive of at least one hiking trail or national park, even if it is nothing more than a 1-mile loop around the local park. You may have to do a bit of digging to find longer, more challenging or more scenic trails, but you’ll still likely find multiple options within driving distance.

Additionally, hiking rarely costs much – if anything – at all. Some trails require you to pay for parking or for entry to the park, but even these typically offer “frequent use” passes, which will allow you to enjoy the park or trails for very little money. You may also have to purchase a water bottle and a pair of hiking boots, but with a bit of effort, you can likely find these things at very affordable prices.

Hiking Helps You to Disconnect from Day-to-Day Life

Chances are, you are constantly barraged by stimuli from the moment you wake up until the moment your head hits the pillow. Your phone, TV and radio constantly buzz with messages, information and entertainment, and you probably don’t have much time to quietly reflect on your thoughts. But to get away from all of this, all you need to do is strap on your hiking boots and hit the trail. In contrast to our neighborhoods, homes and offices, wilderness areas are generally quiet and peaceful. This helps you to shed some of the stress caused by daily life. Disconnecting from your day-to-day life in this way can be very restorative and help reduce your anxiety and depression. Obviously, you should still bring your phone along with you for safety’s sake, but maybe you should turn off the ringer for a while – at least until you get back to your car.

Hiking Provides Perspective

Often, anxiety and depression cause people to lose sight of the big picture. Instead of enjoying life, people struggling with depression or anxiety become stuck focusing on the small challenges, failures and disappointments that happen on a daily basis. But hiking in natural settings can help you bust out of this rut and gain a bit of perspective.

If, for example, you find yourself overwhelmed by a big work project coming up, you may find that a hike through your local mountains or a hike in Virginia will help you remember that the project is just a tiny part of your life, and that there is a big beautiful world out there waiting for you to enjoy it.

Hiking Helps You to Build Resilience and Self-Confidence

If you hike for long enough, you’ll surely experience a tough day on the trail. Your feet may blister, you may get lost, or you may find that the trail you chose was a bit too strenuous. But chances are, you’ll find some way to tough out the hike, and overcome these challenges. This will help build resilience and boost your self-confidence in profound ways. In truth, any challenge you face and overcome will help in both of these respects, but doing so in the natural world often provides the most profound results.

Just be sure that you don’t take this concept too far. It’s always good to challenge yourself and set increasingly difficult goals as you progress, but you must keep safety in mind. Always keep a cell phone on you so you can contact help if you need it and let someone know when you’ll be returning.

You Only Compete Against Yourself: There’s No Pressure to Perform

Many people understand the health benefits that exercise provides, but they aren’t interested in engaging in an implicitly or explicitly competitive pursuit, such as joining the local softball league or gym. This is certainly understandable – especially when you are already feeling depressed or anxious.

But hiking is a fantastic exercise, that lacks the competitive aspects that many of these other types of exercise feature. You are only competing against yourself and – to a lesser extent – Mother Nature. You get to celebrate those times you hike a bit further or complete a loop a bit faster; and yet your tough days, when you don’t perform quite as well, will remain your secret. Additionally, it doesn’t matter if you go out and hike 1 mile a week or 50 miles a week – the only person you have to impress while you’re hiking is yourself.

Hiking Relieves Stress

Stress is often a contributing factor to anxiety and depression, so anything you can do to help relieve stress should help you feel a bit better. Hiking definitely fits this bill, as it not only provides great exercise (which helps to relieve stress too), but it takes place in gorgeous natural settings.

Scientists have even found that spending time in nature – even simply looking at nature – helps relieve stress and recharge your mind, body and soul. In fact, looking at a natural setting helps reduce pain and accelerate the healing process. And if you hike with a friend or loved one, you’ll often find this helps alleviate your stress even more thoroughly.

As you can see, hiking provides myriad benefits to those battling with anxiety or depression. So, find your closest trail and start trekking with your hiking poles. Don’t forget to discuss your anxiety and depression with your doctor (and make sure you are healthy enough to begin hiking if you aren’t normally active), but you’ll likely find that regular hikes are exactly what the doctor ordered.

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Best Camping In New York

New York is a huge city with tons of variety, so there is no shortage of remarkable places to get your blood pumping and take some fantastic views. It is hard to say exactly why hiking and camping is a popular pastime in New York. It could be accessibility since there are hundreds of major trails and countless marked and unmarked offshoots. If you have been stuck indoors, here are great places around New York to get out and hike.

1. Timp Trail

I began on the Timp and then connected to Dunderberg to go around Dunderberg Mountain. The Hudson view is pretty. Timp trail also has a spot on the other side of the mountain that gives you nice views of Bear Mountains. The trail is not crowded at all. A proper footing is recommended not only because of the rocky trails but 300 yards of steep descend on a man-made bed of rocks.

2. Breakneck Ridge Trail

Super fun hike! Breakneck Ridge Trail is a beautiful place for a challenging climb. The first 30 minutes to an hour are a climb. This hiking place, like hikes in Vermont, is not for the beginners. I never felt overtaxed but my friends struggled at times. I would advise you to bring along your dog if she is fearless. Once on the top, I was amazed by the stunning views. It isn’t super crowded and in my opinion, it provides the best views of all the Hudson Highlands.

3. Mount Beacon

I was really amazed how peaceful and secluded Mount Beacon was. I rate Mount Beacon as moderate to challenging since there are many different routes you can take such as extensions, steep shortcuts, service road and more. Depending on how you hike, hiking boots or sneakers are appropriate. I was glad I had sneakers. Mount Beacon is full of alternate routes, shortcuts, beautiful reservoir and ruins from its days as a ski resort. It has two main trails; red and yellow. The loop trail, yellow to red is approximately 6 miles long. However, for an intense short hike, take the red trail there and back.

4. Harriman

I was surprised by the number of hiking trails Harriman had. It has more than forty marked hiking trails with over 225 miles in total. It also has another 57 unmarked trails and woods road. Some of the Amazing trails are; Appalachian Trail, Long Path, Pine Meadow Trail, Red Cross Trail, Seven Hills Trail and White Bar Trail. Harriman has some steep hills, but the views are worth it. It is a beautiful area with lots of open space to view the distant rolling hills.

5. Thacker Park and Indian Ladder Trail

Thacker Park and Indian Ladder Trail is located near Voorheesville, NY and is suitable for all skill levels. One of my favorite places ever was the Indian Ladder Trail. This trail winds around some breathtaking rock formations which play with my imaginations. Though not far from Albany, hiking the Indian trail actually helped me feel closer to nature. The trail is decent and had a bunch of people on it but not packed. I will admit that there are some cool escarpments up there and efficient cave systems. Carry more equipment and better light for an amazing hike.

6. North Pole Resorts

I was surprised by the number of different camping options available at North Pole Resorts. They have two sections of property; the 100 Acre woods and the Resort Section. Both sections have full access to amenities and facilities. I have gone to this campground a couple of times, and I enjoyed the trout fishing in the Ausable River and the numerous hiking trails. The facilities are sparkling clean including the washrooms while the staff is very friendly.

7. Niagara Falls/Grand Island KOA

I can say that Niagara Falls is one of New York’s and America’s most beloved treasures. It is nearby Buffalo, and all its attractions are also close-by. Rent banana bikes and boats from the grounds or take part in some of the visitor programmings that feature pancake breakfast, live entertainment and other activities. I would recommend you take a trip outside the nearby city of Lockport, home to a section of the Erie Canal. Here you will find underground boat rides during the warmer months. I was thrilled on the camping amenities they provided such as free wifi, mini golfing, a library, volleyball, basketball and swimming with lifeguards on duty.

8. Alger Island

Island camping at its finest is found on Alger Island. It is located on Fourth Lake in the Fulton Chain of Lakes. I was utterly amazed at the campground’s ability to combine proximity to local activities with island remoteness for a truly unique camping experience. I enjoyed fishing for the lake trout, brook trout, rainbow trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon. The park features a picnic area and hiking trails. A few minutes’ drive leads to shopping and sightseeing attractions in the nearby hamlet of Old Forge. Some of the amenities offered in the campground include canoeing, fishing, picnicking, sail boating, power boating, jet-skiing, and more.

9. Cranberry Lake Campground

Very nice camping. I would take my kids to enjoy the awesome scenery. I was amused by the campground’s ability to provide some of the best ways to relax outside the Cranberry Lake State Park such as camping, swimming, picnicking and hiking. Most of the Park’s campsites have trees between them thus offering privacy from adjacent sites. Each site has a picnic table and a fireplace with water spigots located nearby. The campground is hidden from tourist attractions, but the isolation is worth it. The isolation is a piece of nature that feels like it is for you.

10. Mount Marcy Trail

I say this is a very challenging hike, but the most amazing scenery and views. It is a nice gradual climb most of the way. I cruised up the Mt. and took my time on my down. This trail is like a dry’ creek bed. I say dry because it is anything but dry. I highly recommend waterproof hiking boots to navigate the wet boulders and rocks. Without them, your hike would be miserable. So do yourself a favor by bringing along some nice boots and poles.

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6 Ways To Get The Best Workout of Your Life While Hiking!

Modern workout machines, like treadmills, offer flat and predictable workout surfaces. Although you can adjust the incline slightly, it does not offer a consistent challenge. In fact, most people fail to see expected results after months of using their treadmill. Hiking engages the entire body as it requires the use of hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, abdominals, calves, thighs and lower back, as you navigate the terrain as well as whatever obstacles you may encounter. Every log you climb over during a hike will challenge you in a treadmill never can.

Apart from facilitating calorie burning, outdoors also offers other health benefits. For instance, exposure to sunlight supplies the body with Vitamin D, which reduces the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s. Spending enough time outdoors also aids in resetting circadian rhythms, which helps cure insomnia and other sleep-related conditions. It has also been shown that outdoor activities help to improve attention span.

Great Ways to Burn Even More Calories While Hiking

Hiking appeals to most people as it requires no special skills. In fact, it is easy to get started, although it does get much more intense if you’re willing to push yourself and tackle those advanced routes. However, to get maximum hiking benefits, you have to remember some simple tips. Here are some simple tweaks that I normally use to speed up weight loss during hiking. They are scientific techniques that offer great muscle-toning benefits for every workout. I used most of these techniques to jumpstart a lagging metabolism and ensure that I continue burning extra calories throughout the day.

1. Engage your hands 

Bend your arms and vigorously pump them to help you move faster and burn more calories. Engaging the hands ensures that the hand’s muscles are sucking enough oxygen out of the bloodstream, which ensures that the cardiovascular system is using enough energy. Apart from building your muscles, this technique helps to maximize calorie burning.

2. Take advantage of weather changes during hiking:

Although you can safely hike year round, it is important to embrace weather changes during your hike. Scientific research has shown that you can boost your calorie burning by hiking in cold weather. Even hiking when its a windy day helps to boost calorie burning by 5%.

3. Set realistic goals and work toward achieving them.

I normally choose areas where I rest, and areas where I speed up. Use different markers such as stop signs and park benches to signal adjustments in tempo. The use of fitness trackers, such as a Fitbit, is a very important tool in evaluating your progress as it records detailed data on your physical activities for the day. Whenever I look over the improvements I’ve made, I get motivated to stick to the routine. My long-term weight loss plan is what has kept me interested in spending more time outside. Start planning your hike and set achievable goals, and you will burn more calories.

4. Hike on unpaved terrain:

Hiking trails and sandy paths require more energy compared to paved routes. While hiking I like to roll through from heel to toe, and when I get to ball on my foot, I push off as if I’m wiping off my sole. Outdoors workouts on unpaved terrain has helped me work out my calf, glute muscles, and hamstrings.

5. Walk in the right posture:

While walking, ensure that your shoulders are pulled back and relaxed, keeping your chest up and your spine in line. Ensuring that your body is well aligned ensures that your butt and back muscles can work more powerfully.

6. Use trekking poles:

Although I began hiking on a budget with just a good pair of shoes and a bottle of water to keep me hydrated, I later learned that it is necessary to get a pair of hiking poles to improve my performance. Trekking poles are essential in ensuring that energy usage is distributed throughout the body, while improving endurance, and giving my arms an extra workout.

Final Thoughts:

Hiking is an effective full-body workout technique. If in the beginning, you don’t have the stamina required to run, adopt hiking to burn calories. Research has shown that hiking can burn more calories than traditional workout methods, such as jogging, or running on a treadmill. With a good trail, like hiking trails in Virginia, you will definitely achieve weight loss.


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Do You Want To Rock Climb Like A Pro? 8 Bits of Info You’ve Got To Read!

Climbing is one sport which can feel totally out of reach if you are a newcomer (aside from hiking!). Feeling like that, in the beginning, is very normal but with proper guidance, it is not very hard to get a grip(pun intended) on the basics of rock climbing and then work on it to achieve mastery in the sport. If you’ve always wanted to go rock climbing but have no idea where to start except for camping ideas, then I am here to help you out. This article will teach you the basics of climbing styles, jargons, and techniques. I hope this will help you get rid of some confusion regarding climbing that you may have and get you started.

Before you get started with rock climbing, you would first want to build your strength and get acquainted with the basic techniques. For this reason, you would want to start with Gym Climbing first and move on to further training steps.

1. Gym Climbing


Gym Climbing
Gym climbing is a crucial step in your journey to rock climbing.

You can find an indoor climbing gym at a local gymnasium, or you could even find a gym entirely dedicated to climbing if you’re lucky enough. These gyms recreate the real-life outdoor climbing experience indoors with the help of artificial walls, footholds, and handholds. There are different routes, like hiking trails with hiking poles, that one can take which are all set at varying levels of difficulty in order to climb these walls. Some can be pretty basic and easy while others might pose some serious challenges. Each route has a different color code, and the level of difficulty is marked with numbers. Higher the number, more difficult the route.


Now this indoor climbing has three distinct disciplines, namely, Bouldering, top roping and lead climbing. Each one of these has varying techniques but the end objective is the same, that is, to get to the top. I highly recommend starting with Gym Climbing to grasp the basics of rock climbing.

2. Bouldering

The primary distinction between bouldering and the other forms of climbing is that in bouldering, ropes and harnesses are not used. Instead, the climbers rely on thick matted crash pads to protect their bodies in case they fall.

And the routes, also known as problems, are usually not more than 20 feet tall. Spotting is a crucial skill required in bouldering. I highly recommended having a partner although it is not necessary.

Bouldering route difficulty levels are measured on the V-Scale wherein V0 is the easiest while V16 is the toughest course. Indoor courses can be of varying difficulties depending on the spacing, shape and hold size. Bouldering is often the point of entry into climbing for newcomers as this form of climbing makes minimal use of climbing gear and requires little training. So, in my opinion, bouldering is a great starting point for you if you wish to learn rock climbing.

3. Top Roping

Top roping is the type of climbing wherein you are protected by ropes which are anchored from above. Top roping is physically much less demanding as compared to the other types of climbing such as Bouldering and Lead climbing and is, therefore, the most popular form of indoor roped climbing.

Similar to bouldering, Top roping routes also have their difficulties and names marked in plastic cards at the start of the route, and there is color-coded holds as well in Top Roping. The routes are usually graded by the Yosemite Decimal System ranging from 5.0 to 5.15 on the scale.

4. Sport (Lead) Climbing

This type of indoor climbing involves the use of fixed bolts for protection along with predefined routes. There is one lead climber who goes up the path with a rope tied to his harness which is clipped into each bolt or quickdraw to protect against a fall – and trust us, falling is painful in any form of outdoor activities, even hiking, so just imagine doing so while rock climbing. That’s why you always need equipment that will help prevent falls in both climbing, as well as trekking. These quick-draws are pre-placed on the bolts enabling the lead climber to clip the rope in while ascending the route.

Lead climbing requires much greater physical effort and commitment as compared to Top roping and also carries the risk of making a drastic fall.

Once you are well acquainted with the basics of rock climbing by practicing in indoor gyms, you can finally try your hand in actual outdoor climbing.

5. Outdoor Climbing

While indoor climbing facilities provide a safe and controlled enjoinment for you to practice and get better in, outdoor climbing is where the real fun and experience of climbing begins to start. Outdoor climbing comes with its own risks and safety issues, and climbers should tread carefully while on these routes. Carrying proper and necessary gear such as carabiners is a must both for climbing as well as hiking up to the spot.

Outdoor climbing and gym climbing uses pretty much the same equipment and skills and thus if you’re comfortable and well acquainted with climbing indoors then I’m sure outdoor climbing will not be a problem for you.

6. Trad Climbing

Trad Climbing which is short for traditional climbing is a form of outdoor climbing where the lead or the main climber places removable protection gear along the entire route of the climb to protect from falls. This protective equipment is removed from the path as the last climber ascends the route.

Trad Climbing does not involve any predetermined routes and emphasizes exploration. This is the most adventurous form of climbing and has no boundaries. This kind of climbing also has a comparatively greater risk as compared to the others.

7. Free Climbing

This type of climbing involves making upward progress on a rock using only the natural features of the rock instead of climbing devices attached to the rocks. Some ropes are connected to protect from a fall and other equipment to provide a belay. Most of the rock climbing is considered free climbing. I personally believe this is the most adventurous form of rock climbing and provides the true thrill of the sport.

8. Route Length

The length of a route is determined by the number of pitches in most cases. A steep section of rock requiring a rope between the belays is known as a part. The length of a pitch is measured by the duration of the rope, and the length of the pitch must be less than half of the length of the rope to be laid. In a lot of cases, the length is determined merely judging by the eyes. It is imperative to ascertain the duration of a route in order to determine the difficulty of climbing it.

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Going On A One-Night Camping Trip? Try This Menu!

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner always taste 10 times better outdoors. Is it the increase of oxygen? Is it your mind and body waking up? Is it the inspiration from the natural majesties around you? Who knows….it just works! For campers or Nordic walkers who want to get away for a quick 24-hr. camping trip it’s a great idea to prepare and pack food that will keep energy levels high and brains alert without requiring too much preparation and cooking time. Also, remember that a cooler and a camping stove (small or large) are recommended for the preparation of easy and delicious outdoor-inspired menus. Here are a few ideas that will keep your food preparation time fast but will still treat your taste buds right!

Breakfast Quesadillas: Hearty, Energizing and Yummy!

Breakfast quesadillas are a great option for “breaking that overnight fast” because they provide the nutrition necessary for a day in the outdoors (proteins, calcium, various vitamins etc.) and still provide that “hearty” and yet comforting feeling that people crave in the morning hours. Start preparing your quesadillas before leaving on your trip. Shred your choice of cheese and then place it in a ziplock bag. Chop your choice of veggies and bag them separately. If you want bacon and eggs they can certainly add a nice breakfast twist to your regular quesadilla. Bag the bacon and eggs separately as well (in their raw forms leaving the eggs in their original carton if possible) and then place as many tortillas as you will need in a separate zip lock bag. If you are a vegan then add a can of black beans or other desirable legumes to “the mix” along with a can opener and your preferred vegan cheese (also shredded or sliced).

These various plastic bags (as well as the can of black beans, etc.) can be placed in a paper bag along with preferred condiments and/or garnishes (i.e, sour cream, Greek yogurt, guacamole, etc.). Also include juice, coffee, milk, or your choice of a breakfast beverage. On the paper bag, write “Breakfast” for easy identification. Make sure to keep the paper bag in your fridge until right before you leave and then transfer it to the cooler. Since you’ll be eating the quesadillas in the morning all food items should still be cold/fresh in your cooler once you get up and are ready to eat!

On-site Preparation: Remove the bacon (or the beans) from its bag and get it cooking on your camping stove. A few minutes later start your eggs. If you like, add your veggies to the eggs. Butter up a small area of your cooking pan (or use vegan cooking spray instead) and then place one of the tortillas on the buttered portion of the stove. Add a layer of cheese to the tortilla, then the eggs and veggies as well as the bacon (or beans). Another layer of cheese on top of these ingredients and another tortilla will crown your growing pile of quesadilla glory! Lightly butter the top tortilla and wait for the lower layer of cheese to finish melting (on low-to-medium or medium heat is best) and then carefully flip the quesadilla. Once cooked, cut the quesadilla into fourths and serve with sour cream, Greek yogurt, guacamole and/or salsa.

Lunch Noodles: Refreshing, Light, and Flavorful!

If you plan to have an active day you may not always have time to stop for lunch. When this is the case make sure to pack plenty of your favorite camping snacks. Energy bars (with ingredients you can recognize), as well as dried fruits and nuts, are always recommended. For a 24-hr. camping trip hearty fresh fruit such as apples and/or plums can also be enjoyed. Just pull it out of the cooler and into your hiking bag for fresh eating later on.

If you do have time to quickly prepare lunch at your campsite then consider a light noodle salad. Pack udon or soba noodles beforehand. Udon noodles can actually be purchased fresh and kept cold in your cooler or taken dry and cooked on site on your camping stove. Soba noodles will need to be purchased in their dry form. Also pack olive oil spray, sesame oil spray, chopped veggies in a ziplock bag, your favorite Asian-style dressing and raisins (if desired) into another paper bag and label that bag “Lunch.” Keep the bag in your fridge until it too can be transferred to your cooler right before departure.

On-site Preparation: When you’re ready for lunch to unwrap the noodles and begin to cook them as instructed on the package. While preparing the noodles, begin to sauté veggies (with an olive oil spray) that you have chopped prior to arriving on site. After the noodles are cooked to your desired level of softness, toss the noodles in a light sesame oil (may also come in a spray) and add the veggies. To finish off your salad, add your favorite Asian-style dressing and raisins if desired.

Dinner Pizza: Delicious, Warm, and Comforting!

If you’re an avid camper and have been for some time you’ve probably heard of the dutch oven pizza. Don’t worry! You don’t have to cart around a heavy dutch oven to bite into a delicious “oven baked” pizza. Try the following instead:

While still at home, and preferably a few days before your camping trip, purchase your favorite pizza dough (or make it) and then roll it out flat. Spread pizza sauce and your favorite toppings on the dough and begin to roll the dough from one of its longest sides to the other. Slice a few thin lines horizontally across the top of the pizza roll so that steam can be released as the pizza cooks. Also, add your favorite pizza spices to the top of the pizza roll. Cover the pizza in foil and then in a paper bag labeled “Dinner” and then freeze. When you’re ready, place the pizza in your cooler and head for the campsite.

On-site Preparation: When you’re ready to cook the pizza, remove it from the paper bag and place the entire foil-covered “loaf” over a low heat (first for 5 minutes turning frequently) and then for 20-30 minutes over a higher heat (also turning frequently). Make sure that you check the pizza during the last 10 minutes of cooking (often) so that you can make sure it has been cooked the way you like it! You and your fellow campers will love this crowd pleaser!

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What To Do If You Sprain Your Ankle While Hiking

Contrary to what most people believe, sprained ankles aren’t one of those things that just happen. Not only can they be effectively treated when they happen, but with a little forethought, and some preparation, they can be prevented. I know, since, over the past 40 years, I have taken or led countless hundreds of hikes across the country, and although I have had many sore feet, I have never had a sprained ankle on the trail.

Preventing A Sprain

Sprained ankles and other foot injuries are common in hiking. But you can dramatically decrease your chances of a sprain by taking some precautions.

Strengthen Your Muscles

Taking a hike, even a short one, is something that should be prepared for. Work up to your participation on a hike by gradually building up your distance over a period of weeks. You should also do a little cross training in order to build stronger muscles.

Wear Protective Shoes

Wearing the right shoes are a critical part in safe hiking. Without wearing good shoes, you are almost inviting an injury. Make sure that your shoes provide support from the toe all the way to the heel. If your arches are stiff or high, be sure to wear higher and softer cushions there. And as much as some people dislike them, wear boots that have a good ankle support.

Replace Worn Shoes

Those old favorites might have taken you over countless trails, but if your hiking boot soles are worn down, replace them. If you do buy new shoes, however, make sure you break them in enough before your big hike. Otherwise, you will get blisters.

Be Careful Where You Step

It might be obvious to say this, but uneven surfaces are plentiful whenever you walk in the wilds. Despite this, you can avoid injuries by simply being careful about where you step in rocky terrain or loose gravel. And one thing that is overlooked by many hikers is a good set of trekking poles. Trekking poles not only give you support for every step you take, but they help you to keep your balance when things get rough. Perhaps best of all, however, especially if you are looking to burn calories, trekking poles increases the amount of work your upper body does, burning more energy all the way.

Prevent recurring injuries. As much as most of us try, some injuries persist in rearing their ugly heads. Whenever you decide that you want to begin pursuing a sport such as hiking, try to learn better what your body likes and doesn’t like. And when there’s something such as hiking that causes your body to rebel, prepare for it. This might include lots of stretching exercises prior to beginning, using tape, or wrapping with plastic wrap. Whatever time and effort you put into this prior to beginning will pay back big dividends in not only injuries prevented, but many miles of relaxing hiking.

Listen to your body. If at any time during a hike you experience pain, stop or modify what you are doing. Remember that pain is your body telling you to stop what you are doing or do it differently. Everybody has heard the old saying that pain is weakness leaving the body, and to a certain extent it’s true, but it’s also true that you should heed the lessons your body is trying to teach you. Ignoring pain and stiffness can also make an injury much worse.

Taking To The Trail

It’s hard to admit this, especially since I have put in so many miles on trails all over the United States and Canada, especially on national parks, but despite all of your preparations, accidents happen. And these accidents can include a wide variety of injuries. These occur most often when hikers are not careful or they are fooling around, but they do happen. It’s in these cases that the best prevention is to know how to deal with an injury when it happens. Below are some tips on how to do that.

Know what you are dealing with. Besides sprains, feet can fall victim to many problems on the trail. Unfortunately, unless you are familiar with those problems, you might not know exactly what you are dealing with until you reach medical help. Until then, all you can really do is to immobilize the injury enough so that you can get back to civilization. Most often, this entails wrapping the injury so that it is supported.

Remember RICE

If you really are out in the middle of nowhere with medical help unavailable, remember RICE. This means Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. If you think the injury is minor and you have the time, just quit for the afternoon for a rest. Add ice if you have it, or cold/cool water from a stream or other source is great. Wrap the injury with some kind of cloth, and elevate it. Only do this for your journey back. Once your home safely, then let your swollen foot be. I know this is counterintuitive, but the swelling is your blood cells going to the injured area to heal it! You want to let it go through its natural progression to lessen the recovery process.

Get Medical Attention

If a sprain or other foot injury is causing you to limp or experience swelling, you should get to medical help as soon as possible. In these case, make sure the injury is wrapped and stay off of it as much as possible, relying on your trekking poles for support, much like a crutch. After you have gotten to medical help, depending on the extent of the injury, further treatment might be called for. This might mean more extensive immobilization such as a cast or a wrap. In extreme cases, an injury might require surgery.

Hiking is a sport that practically anyone can enjoy, and not only that, but it will take you to new and exciting places you never thought you would experience. All of this, however, depends on how safely you do it. I can testify that when it is done safely, hiking is a sport that can pay handsome dividends in the things you get to experience and enjoy your whole life. Even better yet, hiking is something that is easy and can be done very safely for many years, long after the ability to take part in other forms of exercise has passed.

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What Gear Do I Need For Hiking?

Hikers, in general, are an eclectic lot. If you asked 15 different hikers what kind of hiking gear you need for a comfortable day hike, chances are that you will get 15 different answers. Of course, some of these answers will have a few items in common. You know, things like don’t go hiking in your flip-flops. So preferably, the first piece of gear you will need will be good old-fashioned hiking shoesOthers will tell you that all you need is your mind and natural instinct for survival. These are the kind of hikers who believe the universe provides and that you can fashion yourself a knife using a very pointy stick.
Others will tell you to carry everything! Sleeping bags, tents, bug repellent and if possible, you should have a 911 response team shadowing you. These are the cautious kind of hikers. Maybe they have been through some kind of wilderness in their life and as such are all too aware of how badly things can go in the blink of an eye.

Trekking Norms

Personally, I fall under the ‘SANE’ kind of hiker. I believe there are some essentials that you need to have with you when you go hiking but you do not need to bring every possession you have. In fact, a great deal of the world falls under this category; the kind that knows you do not have to haul the whole world with you when going on a hiking day. But that does not mean that you should be unprepared. Hiking is not your regular couch potato’s cup of tea. Aside from your fitness and health, there are several other hiking essentials that you need. Here is a quick list of what you should always bring with you.

Proper Footwear

Depending on the kind of hike you have in mind, there are different options to choose from as far as footwear is concerned. If you are just going to hike across town; in which case you will only be roughing the concrete jungle, then you may just need a pair of good quality sandals.

If you are going to be wading through water, then you may want to carry a pair of open-toed river shoes. These allow you to get a good foot grip on slippery riverbed rocks. But if you feel as if these open-toed river shoes look a little silly, then you can decide to go the natural way and walk barefoot for the distance. However, if you are going to go up a few hills, through a few trees and maybe run into a deer or two on your way up there, then you should consider carrying a sturdy pair of good quality hiking boots. These boots should have proper ankle support and comfortable soles. You will not believe how easy it is to hut your ankle when roughing it through rocks. Ankle support is crucial.

Walking Poles or Trekking Poles

Hiking poles are a highly essential piece of hiking gear. For the experienced, there simply is no trekking without a proper hiking pole. Not only do they help propel you forward, but they also reduce the impact the hike has on your feet, legs and ankles. Additionally, they come in great handy when you have to swat away those pesky backcountry nuisances like spider webs and thorny bushes.

Bug Repellent

Bug repellant is essential for your safety and comfort. With the Zika virus going around, you do not want to end on the menu for your local bug community. One of the main reasons as to why people go hiking is so that they can have a good time sojourning with nature and, more often than not, so they can brag to and torture their friends who just aren’t outdoorsy enough. Bring bug repellent. It is essential. You should also use a hammock mosquito net if you are going to be sleeping outside. 


The scary truth is that you can survive about 3 weeks without food but only 3 days without water. Being that you are most likely just going for a day hike in your local neighborhood woods, you might not have to worry about this, but that does not mean that you should not carry water. Pack as much as you can without making the load too heavy for yourself.
People who go on longer hikes carry purifiers, iodine piles and a life-straw. This is mostly because you might need to find a local water source and drink from it. But that is not something on which you should fully rely. You might not be able to find a clean water source and as such will have to ration whatever it is you brought with you.

A Map

I know, this might sound rather rudimentary seeing as GPS, various SPOT locator devices and Google Maps exist. But unless you are hiking within the city, you might stumble upon sections of the wilderness that have no service. You might even lose your GPS. What then will you do? The ability to read a map is a skill that you might never need, but will be exceptionally thankful should it ever be called into action. Learn how to correctly read a map and bring one with you when you go hiking. It’s just safer that way. Plus, it doesn’t really significantly add to your load.

Hiking Extras

Although many of the items in this list may not be considered absolutely crucial for a day hike, if you are going on a weekend hike or something that falls within that kind of duration, you might consider bringing them along. These extras include:

  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Lighter
  • Carabiner
  • Bandana
  • Moleskin
  • Headlamp
  • Toilet paper
  • Pocket knife

Other than tangible gear, there are some other essential that you will need to bring with you. These include an instinct for survival (I know, turns out those guys weren’t wrong); you need the time; you need to know when to turn back and you need to have at least basic fitness. Hiking is fun; a great way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors with friends and family. But, even for something as enjoyable as this, you need to be prepared when going on a hike.

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What Do I Need To Hike?

I don’t think there is anything else in the world that can give you the same adrenaline rush and fun experience that hiking does. I am sure that outdoor lovers will agree with me here. Whether it is on a rocky mountain or along a bushy nature trail, you are sure to have the time of your life stretching your legs and exploring nature’s wonders. In spite of this fact, hiking can be an absolute nightmare. This usually happens when you as the hiker go unprepared for what the wilderness has in store for you. It is for this very reason I decided to share the top twelve items which in my opinion are vital your hike. These will not only make things easier for you as you hike but could also keep you alive and safe in case of emergencies.

Hiking Checklist

Below are the twelve things you need to ensure your comfort, safety and survival as you go hiking. The twelve are all available in camping supply stores and general stores and are absolutely affordable. They are:

1. Proper Hiking Clothes

Whenever you are dressing up for a hike, there are two important things to consider. The first is your comfort. Trust me you do not want to be climbing a hill or walking through the woods with the wrong shoes or ill-fitting clothes. Therefore, make sure that you get well-padded hiking shoes and clothes that fit; preferably cotton. The second thing to consider is your body temperature. Whether you are hiking under the hot sun or in snowy weather you must always have a warm jacket, gloves, a scarf and a hat with you. This is because no matter where you are, from evening throughout the night the cold is brutal. The warm clothes will help insulate you and keep you from freezing to death while on you expedition.

2. Hiking Poles

Hiking poles, also known as trekking poles or walking sticks, can and will make hiking a whole lot easier for you. This applies mainly when you are hiking along rough and uneven terrain. Having poles to help support you and carry your weight helps by adding stability and reducing the amount of energy that you need while trekking. The type of trekking pole depends greatly on where you are hiking. If it is on snow-laden ground they should have a design that keeps them and you from sinking too deep into the snow. Those for hard ground should have ridges surfaces to increase grip especially on rock surfaces. An alternative would be Nordic walking poles as they provide stability and balance support.

3. Well-Equipped First Aid Kit

Accidents and injuries are all too common during hiking. It can be minor injuries like scraping your knee on a rock or a small cut from a thorn. These are easy to handle as all you need to do is clean and dress the wound. However, the injuries could be a whole lot more serious with examples including joint dislocations, bone fractures and burns. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the kit is well stocked with enough equipment to handle even the most serious of injuries and incidents during the hike.

4. Source of Fire

Every hiker knows that a campfire is their number one friend in the wilderness. You can use it to cook, illuminate, protect and so many other things. It is therefore very important to have a source of fire with you especially if you think there is the chance of the hike turning into an overnight affair. The must-have tools here include matches or lighters, gasoline and fire starters. It would also be a great idea for you to learn how to start a fire using naturally available resources like wood, rocks and sun beams.

5. Source of Light

Light sources can be in form of flashlights, torches, lamps (oil or electric), or fire. They are important to you as a hiker when you are going through dark places like caves or heavy canopied forests. They also come in very handy at night to light the way and scare off wild animals in the hiking trail. For the torches and flashlights, make sure that you have extra batteries for them. If you can get your hands of a solar-powered source of light then you my friend have the greatest advantage as you can charge it during the day and use it at night.

6. Lots of Water

All the walking, climbing and running is sure to take its toll on your body’s water reservoirs through sweating. This puts you at risk of getting dehydrated which could quickly lead to more serious states including unconsciousness. To avoid this, make sure you carry as much water as you possibly can. If it you find that the extra language might weigh you down, consider investing in a portable water purification system. This way, you can work with the water you find in the wilderness to complement what you have carried for yourself.

7. Energy Rich Food

The best examples of energy-rich camping food include bananas, oranges and mangoes. These are simple sugar foods that release energy quickly to give you the much needed energy boost. Also carry complex sugar foods which take long to release energy but have a longer sustained boost effect than the fruit. These include things like pastries and meat. Avoid junk food which will just waste your space and energy without adding any actual nutritional value to you during your hike.

8. Emergency Shelter

Sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances you might find that your simple one day hike turned into an overnight event. In such a situation, having emergency shelter will make your life a whole lot easier. These include tents, sleeping bags and bivy blankets. It would also help if you learnt to use the resources around you like wood and leaves to set up temporary shelter.

9. Knives

Pen knives, hunting knives, curving knives; you name it. These are by far the most important tools for a hiker especially where there is camping involved. A good knife will help you get food, prepare it, build fires, protect yourself and so much more that is needed for survival in the wilderness. This is what lands it its spot on my must-have list.

10. A Map and Compass

You need to know where you are going or you will find yourself completely lost especially when you are hiking on unmarked trails. This is why maps and compasses are so important. It is also important to know how to use them and things like sun position to tell your location. If available, GPRS locators work just as well if not better than the map and compass ensuring that you are on the right track.

11. Sun Protection Gear

Finally, sunscreen, sunglasses, caps and anything that can protect you from the sun should be with you on every hiking trip. The sun can and will dry you like a raisin increasing risk of dehydration. This is why you need caps and other covers. Sunscreen protects you from sunburns while sunglasses protect your eyes from strain due to the direct glare of the sun.

12. Mosquito Repellant

Mosquitos can be quite a menace to hikers both at night and during the day. Ointment repellants keeps the bugs away which ensures that you can hike or sleep without being bugged; pun intended. The repellant also protects you from getting infections transmitted through the mosquitoes. It is therefore a must-have in your backpack if you are planning on going hiking.

Bottom Line About What You Need For Hiking

I believe that the list above completely covers the most essential items for the best hiking experience. It is, however, important not only to get these items but also to learn how to use them. Imagine getting injured but having no idea what to do with the equipment in the First Aid kit. It would be a total waste. Therefore, make sure that you take time before the hike to familiarize yourself with all of them. Bottom line, whether you are a first-time hiker or a trekking veteran, it is important that at all times you should have access to the ten items above.

The post What Do I Need To Hike? appeared first on Montem Outdoor Gear.

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