Thanks to beactivelife for testing out the Thermarest NeoAir Trekker Sleeping Pad.
The large size measure 25 inches wide and 77 inches tall, with a 2.5 inch depth. It weighs in at 1 pound 10 ounces for the large size. Overall a good buy if you go on overnighters often – but maybe too expensive for a casual camper.
A better choice for backpacking in warmer climates, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker sleeping pad adds a level of comfort and durability to this already lightweight air mattress.
You can buy this at almost all outfitters. Check it out here at Altrec
Hiking gaiters can be an essential piece of gear when your backpacking in the Spring or Winter. I find in early Spring when it’s still wet, muddy, and cold, gaiters can keep my boots and socks pretty dry.
Hiking Gaiters are normally a synthetic type material that covers the top of your boot and the lower part of your leg. Gaiters can protect you in many ways:
Hiking Gaiters come in two heights, low and high.
What kind of Gaiters should I get?
What’s the Activity?
Good Gaiters can be costly, but well worth the investment. Nobody likes hiking in wet socks. Look for Gaiters that are waterproof. Gaiters that have a waterproof and breathable material are going to cost a bit more, but can be worth it for comfort.
Durability is the key. Keeping your legs free of abrasions is of utmost importance. Make sure the material is strong.
I wear the Outdoor Research Gaiters. These guys have never let me down and have always kept my feet dry.
Just east of Chattanooga, along the Tennessee-Georgia border, resides some of the oldest known mountains in the world. Today, protecting these ancient peaks is the Cohutta and Big Frog Mountain Wilderness Areas. The majority of the Big Frog Wilderness lies within Tennessee, while the largest portion of the Cohutta Wilderness resides in Georgia.
This trip was a moderate hike and had some amazing views. One of the places we found to camp was at the intersection of Grassy Gap Trail and Yellow Stand Lead Trail. At that intersection there is a ridge that you can climb and camp in a nice flat spot. Almost in a bathtub type setting. (Unless it’s raining)
Big Creek Trail #68 (5.6 miles) Popular camping area along trail.
Grassy Gap #67 (3.5 miles) Also known as Barkleggin Trail, this hike offers seclusion as it meanders through the wilderness. The trail ends at the intersection of the Yellow Stand Lead and Big Frog trails.
Yellow Stand Lead #73 (2.9 miles) Hikers will enjoy several mountain views along this hike, as well as a few good fishing holes.
We started at FF221 that you can get to by Hwy 64 (in TN) right behind the Power Plant hovering over the Ocoee River The FF road will take you all the way up to the trail head of Big Creek Trail. Follow the Big Creek Trail (#68) to the Grassy Gap Trail (#67) (The intersection is tricky here) Becareful you don’t end up hiking up to Big Frog Mountain. Work your way around to Yellow Stand Trail and at the intersection climb up the ridge where you will find a great camp spot. NO WATER however. The next morning it’s all down hill back to the Yellow Stand Trail Head. Follow the old road to the gravel road to complete the loop. This FF is now closed. You used to be able to park at the Yellow Stand Trail Head, but no more.
The nearly 300 mile Benton MacKaye Trail traverses the Big Frog Wilderness, providing a long distance thru-hike, or a backbone to loop with other trails for overnight backpacking opportunities. The Big Frog Trail provides access to several other trails that cross the Wilderness along ridges and streams. From the top of Big Frog Mountain you can hike south into Cohutta Wilderness on the Hemp Top Trail (eight-tenths of a mile). Even in the wet season (spring and early summer), water may be hard to find, so carry plenty.[geo_mashup_map]
Bottled water is a bit of a fad and a strange thing to pay for, considering water makes up majority of our planet (yeah yeah, it’s purified and all that).
Wait a second – now you can get purification without having to fork out money for every little 250ml! Camelbak are bringing you a nifty little water bottle that will clean up your water in just 60 seconds. A brilliant innovation into purifying water, the All Clear bottle contains a UV light installed in the cap that’s proven to eradicate 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.99% of viruses and 99.9% of protozoa. That gives you a pretty good chance of not coming down with Delhi Belly if you ask me!
You can fill it from any stream, tap, or spigot and even has a pre-filter accessory to filter out sediments as you fill it up from a natural source. It would be great for a camping trip or if you’re travelling to a country where the water isn’t purified. It treats 80 cycles (16 gallons) with each charge (so if you drank three bottles a day, it would last about 25 days), and the cap is protected from wear and weather so that you can take it anywhere and everywhere. The bulb itself should last 10,000 cycles – that would be the equivalent of drinking 3 bottles a day for 9 years – so you’re unlikely going to need to change that. It’s powered by two lithium batteries, rechargeable via USB (that’s pretty cool).
The only thing that I think would make this bottle a super-green alternative to bottled water would be to include a solar panel to augment the lithium batteries and reduce energy expenditure. But all the same, a pretty darned nifty gadget. If anyone has tested this in the backcounty would love to hear about it.
REI put’s together a great article on how to choose Snowshoes. Of course one of the important things to consider is; what am I going to use the snowshoes for.
With a little knowledge, buying the right snowshoes is a walk in the park.
While most snowshoes fall into these 3 categories, a few models are designed specifically for trail-running, fitness or climbing.
Aluminum-frame snowshoes come in multiple sizes, usually 8″ x 25″, 9″ x 30″ and 10″ x 36″ or something similar. Composite snowshoes come in one size (typically 8″ x 22″) and offer the option of adding 4″ to 8″ tails to help you stay afloat on snow. Why does size matter? It’s a key factor in getting the right amount of flotation.
Snowshoe sizes and shapes vary as follows:
Recommended loads are based on light, dry snow conditions. But consider that on powder snow you need bigger snowshoes to stay afloat than you would on compact, wet snow. In other words, a powder-happy Utah snowshoer may want a larger size than a same-sized snowshoer in the wet snow of the Pacific Northwest.
Packed trails, brush and forest call for more compact shoes, which are easier to maneuver in tight spaces. Steep or icy terrain is also best explored with smaller snowshoes. Open areas with deep drifts require larger snowshoes.
Tip: Get the smallest size that will support your weight for the snow conditions and terrain in your area. As long as you have adequate flotation, smaller snowshoes will be much easier to handle.
Your weight, including equipment, is referred to as the recommended load or carrying capacity on snowshoe specs. This is a major factor in determining the right size. In most circumstances, a heavier person or one with a heavily loaded pack will require larger snowshoes than a smaller person or one carrying gear just for the day.
Read the rest of the article at REI.com
Saving space and weight in your backpack, the Snow Peak Mini Solo Titanium Cookset has features that will appeal to any ounce-counting solo backpacker or hiker.
The Snow Peak SCS-004T Mini Solo Titanium cook set includes a 28 oz. (0.875 quart) pot with lid, a 10 oz. cup, and a stuff sack.
Like other Snow Peak products, the Mini Solo Titanium Cook Set is designed to save space in your pack. The pot stows inside the cup, and the pot will hold a pair of 7 oz. Snow Peak fuel canisters, or a single canister and a GigaPower stove. This nesting results in a nice compact cooking kit.
Titanium is an advanced, lightweight metal that is more corrosion resistant than stainless steel and more heat resistant than aluminum. The result is a durable cook set that weighs only 5.5 oz.
The United States Congress designated the Cohutta Wilderness (map) in 1975 and it now has a total of 36,977 acres. Georgia contains approximately 35,268 acres. Tennessee contains approximately 1,709 acres. It is managed by the Forest Service. The Cohutta Wilderness is bordered by the Big Frog Wilderness to the northeast.
The Panther Creek Loop Trail can be found off of Hwy 411 at the intersection of Rt 2 in Georgia. Be prepared for some off road driving to get to this trailhead. The trail (Hickory Creek Trail) starts off as Moderate and in about 6-7 miles you’ll get to camp next to Conasauga River. Day 2, you’ll cross the Conasauga River on to the Conasauga River Trail twice and start your climb up Panther Creek Trail to East Cowpen Trail. The climb up on the East Cowpen trail is a pretty steep climb.
Bryan Delay once again does a great description of this backpacking trip.
Video Shot by YouTube User: Bryan Delay
Since starting this website, I’ve gotten to backpack all over the Country. So many more places I want to go, but just can’t find the time. But each year I compile a video on some of my favorite places I went that year. Of course being going back and editing my video’s reminds me of what a great time I have being out in the Wilderness.
Hear is a video of the 2010 year.
See you on the Trail
Bryan Delay makes another great video of a 30 mile backpacking loop in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.
The Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area was established by Congress in 1974 to protect a unique scenic and cultural area. The Big South Fork more than 521,000 acres in Tennessee and North Carolina. The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area encompasses 90 miles of scenic gorges, dense forests, and free-flowing river. The main gorge was formed by the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.
This video was shot by YouTube User: Bryan Delay[geo_mashup_map]
Think of Iowa and chances are good that you would never think of thick dense forest. But consider this: You’re perched atop a 400-foot-high ledge called Big Paint Overlook in Iowa’s Yellow River State Forest. Eagles circle overhead as you gaze at Big Paint Creek below and a broad landscape of surrounding bluffs.
Not quite the flat-as-a-tabletop land most people expect, is it?
Yellow River Forest contains more than 25 miles of trails that wind through its thick woods, around limestone outcroppings, and up steep slopes. One sparsely marked trail on the north face of Heffern’s Hill feels more like Colorado foothills than Iowa plains as it leads through a densely wooded and rocky run-off that spills into a deep ravine.
Yellow River’s trails are generally well marked and cared for, which is one reason the forest’s four backcountry campsites fill up quickly. But you can pitch a tent almost anywhere, and-better yet-there’s no entrance fee or camping charge, so you get it all free. But be ready for some hill climbing. In Iowa, no less.
This Fall, I went with 3 friends to Yellow River and had a great time. We hiked about 11 miles out and back. The only downside was water. Not much to choose from, and couldn’t get to camp next to the Yellow River.
Where: 200 miles southeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul and 245 miles west of Chicago. The trailhead is 12 miles southeast of Waukon on State Forest Road off IA 76.
Maps: A trail map is available free at forest headquarters (see below).
Trail Info: Yellow River State Forest, (319) 586-2254.[geo_mashup_map]
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area is a United States National Recreation Area located in southwestern Virginia near the border with Tennessee and North Carolina. The centerpiece of the recreation area is Mount Rogers, the highest point in the state of Virginia with a summit elevation of 5,729 feet (1746 m). Most of the recreation area is under the jurisdiction of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, except for a 5,000 acres (20 km2) section near Mount Rogers that is managed by Grayson Highlands State Park. The recreation area was established by an act of the United States Congress on May 31, 1966.
The Appalachian Trail runs right through the Grayson Highlands State Park. This is one of the most scenic parts of the whole AT. Wild Ponies graze through the park, and the odds are good you will encounter one. I did a 22 mile loop hike in and around the Park which included the Appalachian Trail[geo_mashup_map]
The Charles C. Deam Wilderness was designated by Congress in December 1982. It was named for the first State Forester in Indiana, who was a pioneer in the forest conservation and an author of books on the trees and flora of Indiana.
The area is a fine example of Karst topography, with its flat-topped ridges, geode-laden streambeds, and occasional caves. Squirrels, deer, and other game are plentiful, attracting many hunters every fall. Hikers, backpackers, and horseback riders are also drawn to the wilderness and its 39 miles of trails.
In contrast to relatively virgin wilderness areas elsewhere in the country, the entire area now known as the “Deam” was once inhabited by white settlers. Most of the trails follow old roadbeds, and a bit of exploration off the main trails will bring visitors past other shadows of the past, including house foundations, domestic plants, old fences, and the occasional cemetery (five cemeteries exist within the wilderness boundary). The narrow, rocky ridges made for marginally productive farmland, but the inhabitants were able to scrape by until the Great Depression. As the economy forced them out, the U.S. Forest Service acquired their property and, with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps, began rehabilitating the area and managing it for recreation. “Improvements” included constructing ponds, replanting trees, and building the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower that still stands, open to the public, at the Hickory Ridge Trailhead. After it was designated as wilderness under Ronald Reagan, the only improvements came in the form of trail maintenance and nature’s own management plan.
I did a 13 mile loop including a 5 mile loop on the Sycamore Trail. The trailhead starts at the Firetower on Firetower Road. I looped back, then drove to the other trailhead and did an out and back.[geo_mashup_map]
Point Reyes National Seashore offers year-round backcountry camping along Drakes Bay and amongst the hills and valleys of the Phillip Burton Wilderness, and boat-in camping on the west shore of Tomales Bay. Because of its location near the Metropolitan San Francisco Bay Area, the campsites at Point Reyes are in great demand. Reservations are strongly suggested.
All campsites are accessible only by hiking, biking or horseback for the backcountry sites, and only by kayak or boat for the Tomales Bay.
The National Seashore has about 150 miles of hiking trails to explore. Trail maps for the north district trails and south district trails are available at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
This video was shot by Vimeo User: SurvivorJEB
The second largest canyon to emerge from Arizona’s Red Rock Country is a lesser known but just as scenic cousin of famous Oak Creek Canyon. But you won’t find any roads, developed campgrounds or crowds in Sycamore Canyon, just 55,937 acres of wilderness marked by colorful cliffs, soaring pinnacles and one of the world’s rarest habitats, a desert riparian area. The wilderness encompasses all of Sycamore Canyon from its forested rim near Williams to its desert canyon mouth in the Verde Valley. This area is home to black bear and mountain lion as well as a number of less celebrated but just as notable creatures. At night, in the flicker of your dying fire, you may catch a glimpse of a notorious camp robber, the bandit-masked ringtail cat making off with a bit of tomorrow’s lunch. Recently these wide-eyed relatives of the raccoon were designated Arizona’s State animal in a poll of the state’s school children. More likely you’ll notice canyon wrens and hermit thrushes along the trail during the day. They’ll catch your ear as well as your eye. If you hike to Taylor Cabin you’ll see the picturesque lair of another of the canyon’s historic residents, the American cowboy. The Parsons Spring Trail meanders up a fertile desert riparian area, a habitat as rare as it is productive. The Sycamore Rim Trail skirts the canyon’s upper reaches through an area of secluded pools and tall forests.
This area is sufficiently unique to have been the first in Arizona to be designated a Primitive Area. It later became a Wilderness Area in the 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act. A number of trails provide access to its beautiful and fragile landscape. This guide mentions only the most prominent. Those who wish to explore further will find much to reward their efforts.
You can see another video of Sycamore Wilderness Hike on TheBackpackerTV