Category: Blog

Scott and Ariane January 3, 2018 0

Paddle Back in Time – The Okefenokee Swamp

When we travel to different places around the Country and seek some epic adventures, the one that stands out to us, is a paddle through some of the oldest swamp land in our Country. The Okefenokee Swamp is like going back in time. In fact, when we kayak through the Okefenokee, there is a feeling of pre-historic vibes as we see giant Sanhill Cranes not to mention huge Alligators.  Full grown they may reach twelve to fifteen feet in length and weigh 700 pounds. And there is nothing like Kayaking right over them.

We always plan to do at least 3 nights when we go. Of course our route always depends on water level. You never get to plan your own route unless the water is high enough throughout the swamp. When it’s lower, the Ranger Station will tell you what’s available. So your plan should be flexible when you go. Make sure you Plan Your Visit and talk to a Ranger before you paddle. You need to have a permit for overnight stays. 

The Okefenokee Swamp offers so much beauty and adventure. Depending on when you go, it’s something that we guarantee you will be a high Adrenalin adventure, while at the same time, be somewhat relaxing. What? There are times when it’s so quite and cereal. You are in a swamp with nothing to hear but nature and the sounds of your paddle hitting the water. Other times when you see a multitude of Alligators looking at you by the banks, you heart beats just a little faster.

The best part of doing a overnight is camping on large wooden platforms in the middle of the swamp. They all have portapotties on them and a canopy. You can pitch your tent right on the wooden deck. So bring a campstove and have a gourmet meal in a swamp. Check out our LIVE video we did from one of the platforms.

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is an impressively vast expanse of wilderness swamplands covering approximately 700 square miles, located within the southeast corner of Georgia.

So what is the Okefenokee Swamp? It’s crisscrossed by over 120 miles of paddle and motor boat water trails. It is a major destination for wetlands, nature lovers and paddlers alike. The swamp has a distinctive and fascinating natural history. Okefenokee means “land of the trembling earth” in Choctaw Indian language, a reference to the quivering ground of boggy areas. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was officially established in 1937 to preserve one of America’s oldest freshwater systems, an important habitat for an abundance of plants and animals that live in its 400,000 acres.

We travel down to Folkston GA every year to do a 3 day 3 night paddle. If you are interested in going with us, keep checking our events page or sign up for our Newsletter to get up to date info. In the meantime, here is our YouTube Video about our trip last year. Or listen to our Podcast straight from the Swamp

Trust the Trail Podcast
Scott and Ariane December 28, 2017 0

Episode 39: The Tale of Two Trails Interview with Leigh Rothermel

We interview Leigh Rothermel (shortstack) from Mountain Crossings of what it took to Thru-Hike 2 of the longest national trails in the Country. The Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Leigh highlights exactly what it took her to spend nearly a year of her life on the trail and what both trails taught her about the outdoors, and life.

Some things we talk about in this episode:

Thru-Hiking is definitely a lifestyle change

The reason she tackled the Appalachian Trail and her perspective

Leigh’s experience on the Pacific Crest Trail

How she went from being afraid, to trusting the trail

Thanks for listening! We absolutely love connecting with our community and appreciate all the e-mails and messages.

Huge thank you! It’s because of people like you that inspire us to keep podcasting our passion. If you’ve been enjoying the show and want to help others find it, We’d love a review from you in iTunes. Each and every review helps more people find the show (each one counts and we are super grateful).

To leave a review, click here and then go to “ratings and reviews”. It takes one minute and we read every one?

Please help support us on Patreon so we can keep up the weekly Podcast’s. We promise you won’t be disappointing

Scott and Ariane December 28, 2017 0

How to convert a Vintage Airstream to Ecco Friendly

When we bought a vintage Airstream from the 70’s, both of us knew that it would be a huge project to completely update our Lucy to one that fits our lifestyle. Let’s face it, the 70’s decade wasn’t known for environmentally friendly products. We knew right off the bat that our Airstream was going to undertake a huge renovation. Which meant floor, walls, electrical, and plumbing all had to be completely redone.

Since we are both Leave No Trace Trainers, we thought it was important to leave less of a footprint by converting our Airstream to  Ecoo friendly RV. First we had to make some decisions based on our lifestyle.

Boondocking was a priority for us. We are outdoors people and wanted to be remote so we could explore.

How could Solar power our needs while boondocking?

How much Solar would we need?

Save energy by going all LED lights and limit “luxury appliances”

How to save on Propane needs.

Could we use a composting toilet instead of a black water tank?

These were all questions based on our needs versus wants.  Of course, when renovating a 1976 Airstream, there are

steps you need to take first, to get to the project you want to complete. On our post “How to remove a subfloor”, we found that the Black Tank was secured underneath the Airstream in a steel pan that was bolted to the frame. This was a perfect time to get some plumbing done, and take out the black water tank without removing the steel pan underneath.  So that’s exactly what we did. We cut the black water tank out. (it’s abs plastic) and left the steel pan bolted to the frame. (more about that later) We removed the plumbing that connected the black and grey tanks so that we just had 1 drain pipe for the grey water tank.  We could now buy a composting toilet which meant NO DUMPING our black water tank.

The next step was to move and build a new battery compartment. This was tricky since we decided that Deep Cycle 6 Volt batteries were the way to go. We needed (4) 6 Volt batteries to give us what we needed. That of course meant we needed to build a battery box and put the batteries where they could vent. We decided to place the battery box underneath our kitchen cabinets and utilize the old furnace vent on the side of the Airstream. This also meant we had to re-wire our 12 volt wiring so that the wires ended up near the battery box and the new fuse box. 

Using (4) 6 Volt batteries, we could make (1) 12 volt battery and have 250 amp hours of charge before we would be out of power. 25watt 12V light bulb, for example, use the equation A=W/V or (25/12=2.1Amps per hour) That was our decision to go LED lights. Which meant just 1 LED light used .5 amps per hour.  As of now, every single light we have in the Airsteam is LED. (detailed post coming)

Converting your vintage Airstream to Solar isn’t hard if you have gutted your Airstream like we did. When the inner walls our down, it’s a good time to determine where the solar wires will run. This is why the battery placement is important. We decided to purchase (4) 100 Watt Solar Panels from Renogy.

Now we were on to HEAT. How to heat the Airstream during Winter months and provide HOT WATER.  This was an important decision since we removed the old water heater and furnace.

Since condensation seems to be a nagging problem in a lot of RV’s and Campers we looked at Wood Burning Stoves. We went back and forth about the safety and how we would incorporate that in our design. After much debate and hundreds of YouTube videos, we were convinced that a Wood Burning Stove not only would work, but eliminate the need for a extra propane line and help with the condensation.

The Cubic Grizzly Wood Burning Stove was our choice. After a lot of YouTube reviews of RV’ers using this stove, this was definitely for us. We utilized the old refrigerator vent in the ceiling (that was propane) to run the 3 inch double stove pipe through. Of course we had to patch the old hole first. At 34 lbs and the ability to heat 400 square feet, this would work great.

The Hot water was another great use of new technology. We decided on a Excel TANKLESS GAS WATER HEATER (LOW PRESSURE STARTUP) 1.6 GPM LPG VENT FREE (PROPANE). It works on a single propane line and the best part, it starts on (2) D Batteries that are rechargeable.

This is just a start on how we converted our vintage Airstream to a Ecco friendly Airstream. The key to all of this was planning on where each piece of equipment, wires, plumbing, and access goes before you start. It’s important to understand what your lifestyle is. How much power do you need. Work backwards. We will do a much more on solar in a later post. If you have any questions, please post them here, we are happy to answer.

 

 

Trust the Trail Podcast
Scott and Ariane December 21, 2017 0

Episode 38: Hiking with Heat Miser VS Snow Miser

Our Holiday Podcast is all about some fun. Driving in the car the other day we debated who we would rather go hiking with. Heat Miser or Snow Miser from the animated show “The Year Without Christmas”.  We laughed so hard we wanted to do a Podcast about it. So with some Egg Nog and Rum, we share our craziness with you. There is a little buzz during the recording. We totally apologize for that. Damn battery charger

Some things we talk about in this episode:

  • Who would you rather spend the weekend with?
  • Does Heat Miser where a Hat?
  • Snow Miser may give you the “Cold” shoulder
  • Heat Miser maybe a “Hot” head
  • The reveal – Who is the number 1 Outdoors man?

Thanks for listening! We absolutely love connecting with our community and appreciate all the e-mails and messages. We had a blast doing this podcast.

Huge thank you! It’s because of people like you that inspire us to keep podcasting our passion. If you’ve been enjoying the show and want to help others find it, We’d love a review from you in iTunes. Each and every review helps more people find the show (each one counts and we are super grateful).

To leave a review, click here and then go to “ratings and reviews”. It takes one minute and we read every one?

Scott and Ariane December 21, 2017 0

3 Hot Drinks You Can Make Around the Campfire

With National Hot Toddy Day coming around the corner, we thought this would be the perfect time to share our favorite hot drinks (with a little somethin somethin) to keep you feeling good around the campfire on a cold night.

Of course we always consider weight, and how easy it is to carry with us while on the trail. They are great for a celebration or a birthday or even a toast.

  1. HOT TODDY 

This is really easy to make and it’s always a favorite. We usually bring a small plastic bottle of Bourbon which you can typically buy at the counter of most liquor stores. You can also order the online. They cost only a few bucks and easily packable.  

Start by heating water just below boiling. Add 16 ounces of hot water, or 2 cups in your pot.  A 50ML Nip of Jim Beam Bourbon should be enough to share. Spike your drinking cup with the bourbon, a little honey, and a squeeze of lemon.  Add the cinnamon– which doubles as a stirring stick– and stir until honey is dissolved. Enjoy!

2.  RUM APPLE CIDER  

This is probably our favorite drink on a cold night. In fact, we bring this weather we put a little libation in or not. You can find these packets of Cider at any local grocery store. Put a little spiced rum in it, and it’s really good.

Start by bringing 2 cups of water to a near boil. Pour one bag of Alpine Original Spiced Apple Cider Instant Drink Mix, 10 Ct/7.4 Oz.  in each of your cups. Pack along a 50ML tiny plastic bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and share evenly. You should have enough to make 4 cups. Or 2 cups each.

3.  MORNING MIMOSA

Instead of brewing a cup of coffee, maybe celebrate the New Year or a beautiful Sunrise by making a Morning Mimosa. This is pretty easy to make, but takes some planning and well worth it. It’s surprisingly tasty also.

Start by buying American Logger Beer Concentrate  and a Emergen-C Packet or Airborne Tablet Orange and finally a 50ML Sobieski Vodka 

Fill your pat with 2 cups of water, add the Airborne or Emergen-C next and let it rest for a few seconds, then add the beer packet and the vodka, carbonate it all and enjoy. Now, sit back and enjoy that sunrise.  

Do you have a drink that you absolutely love to bring on the trail or around the campfire? We would love for you to share. Please post your recipe and we will add it to our upcoming Podcast on Trust the Trail

 

Scott and Ariane December 19, 2017 0

Ariane & Scott’s Backpacking Gear List

Our Gear is based on our lifestyle when hiking or camping in the wilderness. Not all the gear listed we use ALL the time. Of course it varies on where we are going, how long will we be there, and is weight important to us? Every trip, every trail we hike on always has some special considerations. Most of the time we sleep under a 8×10 tarp. But there are times when a tarp just isn’t practical. It’s always important to know where and how long you will be on the trail.

We wrote this post based on questions we get about gear and wanted to have something where people could use as a resource and then do their own research on the specifications page of each gear vendor. If you choose to buy any of this gear, you are helping support us and the site, so huge thank you in advance. But the point of this post is to help you look at gear based on your lifestyle rather than what someone tells you is the “best”. Please ask us if you have any questions about any type of gear.

SLEEPING BAGS

Men’s Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15 Degree Sleeping Bag
Unisex Feathered Friends Eider EX -10 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes Buffalo Park 40 Sleeping Bag
Women’s REI Joule 23 Degree Sleeping Bag
Marmot Women’s Phase 20 Sleeping Bag

SLEEPING PAD

REI Flash Sleeping Pad
Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad

BACKPACKS

Osprey Women’s Aura 50 AG Pack
Osprey Men’s Exos 48 Pack
Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60 Pack
Hyperlite 3400 55Liter Pack (see video)

SHELTER/TENTS

REI Half Dome 2 (2 person)
Equinox UL Tarp 8 x10 (2 person & 2 dogs)
Shire Tarp Tent – MoTrail (2 person)

WATER FILTRATION

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System
DIY Gravity Filtration System using the Sawyer

STOVES

MSR Pocket Rocket
WhiteBox Alcohol Stove
TOAKS TITANIUM SIPHON ALCOHOL STOVE

See video Toaks VS WhiteBox

COOKWARE

TOAKS Titanium 900ml Pot with 130mm Diameter
Snow Peak Titanium Trek Combo Cook Set
Sea to Summit Alpha Light Fork

CLOTHING

Baselayer

SmartWool NTS Mid 250 Zip-T Long Men’s Underwear Top
REI Lightweight Base Layer Half-Zip Top – Women’s

Midlayer

Arcteryx Men’s MX Hoody (great insulated soft shell)

Arcyeryx Men’s Delta AR Zip Neck Midlayer

Insulating Layer

Rab Microlight Jacket Men’s
Marmot Women’s Jena Jacket

Hiking bottoms (1 pair synthetic)

Basecamp Winter Down Jacket

Marmot Greenland Baffled Jacket

RAIN GEAR

First Ascent Men’s Telemetry Freeride Pants Men’s
Marmot PreCip Waterproof Rain Jacket Men’s
Marmot PreCip Waterproof Rain Jacket Women’s

2 pairs hiking (Medium weight merino wool)

  • Darn Tough

Underwear (2 pairs: 1 camp, 1 hiking)

  • ExOfficio (Men’s & Women’s)

Camp shoe (At base camp or for crossing Streams)

  • Crocs

Stuff sacks (5, Strong, waterproof)

  • Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Dry Sac (camp clothes, hiking clothes, food, sleeping bag, and electronics- a must for camp clothes and sleeping bag minimally)

Water reservoir (2-3L; Playpus and CamelBak common bladders)

  • Platypus 3-L

First aid kit (the 10 essentials on a Budget Video)

  • Antiseptic Wipes (2)
  • Triple Antibiotic Cream (tiny tube)
  • Ibuprofun
  • Sewing Needle
  • Duct tape
  • Leukotape
  • Emergency Fire Starter (Cotton wool balls in Vaseline)

Head lamp (Lightweight)

  • Black Diamond Storm
  • Petzl Tikka

Hiking Poles

  • Leki Corklite
  • Black Diamond Ultra Lite Z-Pole

DOGS

  • Dino Bino (no affiliate link here)
  • Caldonia (no affiliate link here)

If you have comments or questions regarding any of our gear, please ask. We always answer all questions.

Trust the Trail Podcast
Scott and Ariane December 14, 2017 0

Episode 37: Baby It’s Cold Outside

One of our favorite things to do is to go hiking in the Winter Snow. Well, we sure did get our wish this winter in Northern Georgia. On this episode we try and inspire and motivate you to get outdoors in the Winter and see it in a different perspective. We give you 5 tips on why you need to get your boots on and get a little cold.

Some things we talk about in this episode: 

5 tips on how to enjoy a winter hike
How see Winter in a different perspective
How to stay warm in your tent while winter camping

Thanks for listening! We absolutely love connecting with our community and appreciate all the e-mails and messages.

Huge thank you! It’s because of people like you that inspire us to keep podcasting our passion. If you’ve been enjoying the show and want to help others find it, We’d love a review from you in iTunes. Each and every review helps more people find the show (each one counts and we are super grateful).

To leave a review, click here and then go to “ratings and reviews”. It takes one minute and we read every one?

Thanks!

Ariane Petrucci December 14, 2017 0

The Trail Down Below

Most people think when you hike a trail you are hiking in the woods. Whether it’s a State Park, National Park or a Recreation Area, you visualize a place where the sun is shining and nature is bursting with noise. You probably never think about pitch black silence where the abyss of darkness is your view, or non view.

That’s exactly what caving is like. Squeezing down a long dark hole exploring massive caves is something that I absolutely LOVE.  The challenge of exploring in the dark with nothing other than a headlamp and mud is an adventure like no other.

I get a lot of questions about caving and how is it I’m not terrified about squeezing through tiny holes hundreds of feet below in the dark. My answer to that is simple. It’s just another trail.  You would be surprised that down below in caves that there is sometimes a trail system with waterfalls, creeks, and big “rooms” that you can stand up in. 

Each “room” sometimes has a name associated with it also. When we go to Raccoon Mountain in Chattanooga TN, they have a vast underground trail system that you can go down and actually visit the “Music Room”, where you can play different rocks and create different pitches.

Each cave you go into always has a map. So with an experienced Guide, you always follow a system that has specific routes and have already (most of the time) been explored.  There are times however, when a  new route is found. Those are the “routes” I love to explore.

Scott and I see caving much like we see a trail that is above ground. Every turn, every time you think there is nothing to see, a vast beautiful amazing view is there waiting for you to see.  Caving is nothing more than just another trail, or camping trip. You bring your gear, find a good spot to spend the night, and hike. It’s a little intimating when you spend the night in complete blackness, but the gear is almost the same. Except for a tent, you still pack a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, water, snacks, and extra dry clothes. You don’t necessarily carry a backpack, but you do carry a large duffel bag.  Of course you have a headlamp. If your smart, you have extra batteries with you.

Most caves operate at the same temperature all year round. So you can carry the same gear if you are caving in the summer as well as in the winter.

On our weekly podcast, we discussed how Scott and I went caving and how I tricked Scott into spending 7 hours exploring and spending the night.  If you want to know more about Guiding services or how to get started, please feel free to contact me or post below. I love taking people down under for their first time.

Scott and Ariane December 14, 2017 0

How we Insulated a 40 Year Old Airstream

One of the biggest decisions we made was how to insulate our vintage Airstream.  First, a little history lesson. Old campers, specifically vintage Airstreams came with pink fiber glass insulation and attracted almost every living creature that could squeeze into a little hole. Usually it meant baby mice, ants, birds, you name it, Airstreamer’s have found it. Notwithstanding the fact, then when this insulation got wet, it took forever to dry and usually a contributed to wood rot. Wood rot you say? Yes, Airstreams not only had insulation in between the inner skins, they also had fiberglass insulation down in the Belly Pan. Which was underneath the wood floor.

So when we decided what kind of insulation to replace this wet smelly pink insulation with, it was quite the big deal. After watching hours of videos and browsing the multitude of forum threads on Airstream forums, we decided on what we were going to do.

First, we decided NOT to insulate the Belly Pan (underneath the sub-floor). This decision was based solely on technology. The R value we would get was not worth the expense and we could laydown a Cork Underlayment when we installed our NuCore Waterproof floor.

Second, we looked at how converted vans would use foam board to keep heat out, then Reflectix to keep heat in. This  convinced us to go with 4×8 Polystyrene Garage Door Foam Board Insulation bought at Lowes.

Using 3/4 inch tiny foam squares, we could glue spacers on the inner wall to leave a 3/4 space between the outershell and the foam board. This maximizes the R-Value to 5.0 with one side of the foam board having a foil side or reflective side to reflect heat away.

On the other side of the foam board, we then put a layer of Reflectix which can add a R-value of 3.0 Getting to a 7.0 R-Value is about as good as it gets in an RV or camper.

You might ask, “why do you want to keep heat in”? We are putting in a Wood Burning Stove. (later post) It’s important that during colder months we can reflect the heat back inside the Airstream.

In a RV or any camper, you are dealing with keeping the heat out. You just can’t run the air conditioner all the time since you are often boondocking and have no Shore Power to use. This way, we can keep the Airstream as cool as possible by reflecting the heat away from the Inner Walls. Using a spacer between outer wall, and the inner foam board, we trap the heat in that space.

We feel pretty good about our decision and we definitely have noticed the difference between the old insulation and the new.

The real test of course is when it’s a 100 degree’s in the summer, AND it’s below freezing in the winter.

Materials Used: 

Insulform 4 x 8 x 3/4 foam board 

Reflectix 50-sq ft Reflective Roll Insulation (24-in W x 25-ft L) 

Sharp Sissors

Cutting knife

Super 77 16.75 fl. oz. Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive

If you have any questions, we would love to answer them as best we can. Please, like or share and help support us. We really appreciate our community.

 

Scott and Ariane December 8, 2017 2

Hiking in the Snow

Nothing like hiking in the snow and soaking up the beauty of winter. It’s one of our favorite times to go backpacking and spend time outdoors. Last year, we went up into the GSMNP in January with 12 inches of snow up by Newton Bald. We couldn’t even find the fire ring. With no leaves on the tree’s, We were able to watch a beautiful sunset and sunrise.

A good pair of hiking boots is essential. Feet can get wet pretty quick and ruin a what would have been beautiful hike in the woods. Not only are boots important, but being a little prepared helps also. For example: Hiking in the snow (especially over 5 inches) can slow down your hike immensely. So give yourself time during a day hike to allow for slower hiking.

People don’t think Winter is a time that you would get dehydrated, but not true. Staying hydrated is just as important in the Winter. Your body is working just as hard, maybe even harder since it’s trying to stay warm. You’re burning just as many calories. Makes sure you bring water!

Know the layering system. It’s important that you know how important it is to regulate your body temperature. When you hike in colder weather, you put on more clothes. But you are still creating a lot of body heat. When you are creating body heat, you sweat. Sweat = getting wet. Getting wet and then stopping all of a sudden without the proper gear, can leave you cold and possible exposure to hypothermia.

Be aware of where your hiking. Snow can often mislead you off the trail. When the snow softens towards midday, a snowfield can present an additional hazard. Very often the edges of the snowfield, and even the center, can be undercut by melting, particularly if water is flowing underneath. It’s easy to break through the thin remaining bridge of snow and drop abruptly a foot or more to the rocky ground underneath, endangering your knees and ankles. Tread lightly, particularly near the edge of the snowfield and in low-lying areas where you suspect a stream may be flowing underneath.

Experts say one the best times to hike in winter snow is late winter, around March. Specifically in the Northern regions. National Parks such as Yellowstone, and Glacier Park offer great winter snowshoeing. By March, the snow is more compact, and has more layers.

No matter where you venture out to, always be aware of your surroundings and LET PEOPLE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE.  Make sure you have packed the 10 essentials, and a small emergency kit just in case you loose your pack. Always Plan and Prepare. Know your limitations, but have fun nonetheless.

Boots we recommend.  After years of hiking in winter, these are quality boots that will keep your feet dry.

Merrell Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boot – 400g M-Select warm lightweight, low bulk insulation keeps you warm

Salomon X Ultra Winter Climashield Waterproof Boots – Mud guards and integrated rubber toe caps provide durable protection from winter conditions and rough terrain

We would love to hear from you and your experiences hiking in the snow.

Trust the Trail Podcast
Scott and Ariane December 7, 2017 0

Episode 36: Lightening the Load

On this episode we discuss getting rid of the stuff, and trusting the trail. No matter what “the trail” means to you. Less is more! We openly share what our lives have been like since we have purged all of our junk. How does that relate to our lifestyle of backpacking trails and exploring.

A few things we talk about in this episode:

  • As outdoor guides we talk about the value of Less is More
  • The parallel to real life and the trail
  • We DO NOT miss the stuff that were acting as anchors in our lives
  • Living in a 180 square feet and living minimalistic
  • Wants VS Needs
  • Defining what lightweight is and how it changes over the years

Thanks for listening! We absolutely love connecting with our community and appreciate all the e-mails and messages.

Huge thank you! It’s because of people like you that inspire us to keep podcasting our passion. If you’ve been enjoying the show and want to help others find it, We’d love a review from you in iTunes. Each and every review helps more people find the show (each one counts and we are super grateful).

To leave a review, click here and then go to “ratings and reviews”. It takes one minute and we read every one ? Thanks!

Trust the Trail Podcast
Scott and Ariane December 2, 2017 0

Episode 35: Prepping for the Appalachian Trail

On this episode we share our experience with how we inspire and motivate potential Thru-Hikers  prepping for the Appalachian Trail. We partnered with Mountain Crossings Outfitters and are offering 4 AT Prep Classes taught right on the Appalachian Trail.

A few things we talk about in this episode:

  • Expectations of the Trail – Fantasy VS Reality:  Are your expectations real? How much does Social Media play into the fantasy of the trail? It’s not what your seeing on YouTube, it’s what your NOT seeing.
  • Solo VS Social – We read a letter from one of our listeners from Sydney Australia that expresses concerns with the crowds and culture of the AT
  • Overcoming rough days on the AT – It’s real out there folks
  • Gear Talk- When to stop looking for the best gear, and get the right gear.

For more info on our AT Prep Class you are just one CLICK AWAY.

Thanks for Listening!

Huge thank you! It’s because of people like you that inspire us to keep podcasting our passion. If you’ve been enjoying the show and want to help others find it, We’d love a review from you in iTunes. Each and every review helps more people find the show (each one counts and we are super grateful).

To leave a review, click here and then go to “ratings and reviews”. It takes one minute and we read every one ? Thanks!

TheBackPacker December 2, 2017 0

12 Gifts For The Outdoor Lover That Are A Must

What would be the Holiday’s without a desire to get out on the road and spend time with family and friends. Of course, it’s also a time to get outdoors and hike off the Turkey Dinner that is still haunting you on the scale. As travelers, we are always looking for the biggest bang for our buck and is lightweight and compatible.  After all, you can’t “wide flat screen tv” in 190 square feet easy.   Plus, if you are doing a road trip to the fam, it has to be pack-able right?

The Esbit Stainless Steel Coffee Maker – 8 fl.oz.

We love coffee in the morning. What better way to start your Christmas morning than a quick easy way to make some java.

Ideal for backcountry travel
Brews coffee and tea
Stainless steel construction
Stand fits into cup for compact, easy transport
Holds one cup (8 fl.oz.)

Last Spring we did a 2000 mile road trip to Munising, MI and this little coffee maker saved the day, or the mornings for sure. Camping while we travel, this is great piece of equipment on living on the road.

Buy it here, then give it some love by sharing.

$29.99 Save 40% Compare at $49.99

 

Marquette Alloy Mountain Bike

 

There is nothing like the feeling of a little quite time and freedom when out visiting for the Holidays. Hit the Mountain Bike trails and really get the blood pumping. We absolutely have our Bikes with us and love to ride when we have some free time.

Frame: Framed Marquette 6061 Aluminum Alloy 148×12, replaceable derailleur hanger, 2 water bottle cage mounts, tapered headtube
Fork: Suntour Raidon 120mm 110×15, air spring, rebound adjust, manual lock out, hydraulic rebound, tapered steerer. This is a super lightweight bike that can easily be mounted on the back or top of your car or RV.  It hardly feels like a bike it’s so lightweight.

buy it HERE then spread the word to #optoutside
Was $1,600 On Sale $999.95  38% off

 

Hyperlite Southwest 3400

This is my (Ariane speaking here) favorite backpack to hit the trail with. Whether it’s a day hike, or 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail (which I did last Spring) Love it!

Three external, solid Dyneema® Hardline pockets. Removable, contoured aluminum stays Dyneema® Hardline shoulder straps with 3/8” closed cell foam and spacer mesh
1/4” foam back panel pad

The best part…it weighs only 1.94 lbs for a medium pack.

Buy it HERE  and give that special hiker a great Holiday present.  Was $340.00 $289.00

Sea to Summit X-Set 31 Cookset

If you know someone who travels a lot, especially in a Camper or RV like we do, then the Sea To Summit X Cookset is a must.  You can’t be the compactibility of cookware that you can fold, and then cook in. Cookset includes a 2.8-liter X-Pot, two 22 fl. oz. X-Bowls and two 16.2 fl. oz. X-Mugs
X-Pot has a lightweight and durable 6063-T6, hard-anodized aluminum base that allows a fast boil time.
Buy HERE and get in time to put under your tree.

Save at REI and get it for $109.95

 

Cedar Electronics WASPcam 9905 Digital Video Camera – WiFi HD

If you are going to spend any time outdoors, then why not make some epic vids. The Cedar WASPcam works much like the GoPro (which we have also) but a lot less impact on the Holiday budget.

Requires a Micro SD card to record videos (card not included)
Accepts up to a 32MB Micro SD card
Records 1080p/30fps high-definition video
5, 8 and 12MP photo quality

We like this because it has built-in WiFi connects camera to smartphone for live viewing, remote control and instant sharing online

Buy it HERE and really make an instant impact on your YouTube Videos.  $99.99 Save 31% Compare at $145.00

 

Advanced Elements Island Voyage Ii Kayak

Now is the time to get the best deals on summer toys. We use our Inflatable Kayak for those spontaneous moments when we find ourselves camped next to a beautiful lake that we want to explore.

The bungee deck lacing and grab handles makes getting the kayak in the water simple. It includes high back seating with pockets and bottle holders. Buy it HERE and share the love. Was $429.99 Save $30.99 Sale $399.00

ENO RestNest Hammock

We love lounging around our campsite and chilling. The Eno RestNest absolutely is on our Holiday list. Compactable, Lightweight, and easy to set up.

Durable, rip-resistant nylon with triple interlock stitching
Marine-grade rope with steel S-hook attaches to trees, posts, RVs, boats, and more
Stuffs into built-in stuff sack

Buy it HERE and send it to your favorite outdoor enthusiast.

$29.99 Save 36% Compare at $47.00

 

Jetboil Genesis 2-Burner Stove

This by far is one of our favorite travel and camp stoves. It’s quick, easy and light.  If you are into car camping or just love cooking outdoors, this is the perfect way to do it. Put a griddle over both burners and make pancakes.

It uses a regular Coleman propane tank found at any Walmart.

Compact folding 2-burner stove
Jetboil engineered valve for advanced simmer control
Easy-to-clean drip trays
Lever igniter

Buy it HERE  and then share a recipe with us.
Was: $239.95  Now: $203.96  You save 15%

 

 

YETI Hopper Two 20 Soft Cooler

 

Traveling lightweight is always the main focus in our lives, so we look for gear that meets both the compact and lightweight test. The Yeti Hopper meets that test.

Updated leakproof zipper access makes it easier to load and retrieve contents
DryHide Shell with RF-welded seams and nearly indestructible straps will stand up to an abundance of abuse in the field and provide superior leakproof durability

Buy it HERE at REI
$300.00 Save 30% on Members Day

 

America the Beautiful National Parks Pass – 2018 

America’s National Park Pass easily pays for itself if you are a traveler or a Backpacker. We love exploring different National Parks and even Guide people on our Full Moon Adventure Trips. This is one of the best Holiday Gifts to give.

It has really saved us money at RV parks and entrance fee’s.

Buy it HERE at REI  $79.99

 

Goal Zero Venture 70 Recharger

 

Often times we are not in a place where we can “plug in”. Either out in the backcountry or at an event. So we use the Goal Zero Recharger. Especially when you want to use your smart phone for a camera and don’t want to miss a shot.

It’s small enough and weighs only 1 pound. Easy to put in a backpack for a long day hike or a several overnight camping trips. It’s definitely one of our “go to” pieces of gear when we go on the road.

66.9-Wh / 17,700mAh capacity keeps phones, cameras, tablets and small USB devices powered up wherever you roam
Smart charging technology optimizes output to match what’s plugged in and prevent overcharging
2 USB outputs let you charge more than one device at the same time

You can buy it HERE for $149.95

 

 

 

Helinox Chair Zero

While we travel, camp, and explore, often we just want some chill time by the campfire and have a good craft brew. This is the chair we use to do just that. Lightweight, fast to set up and it compacts nicely.

These chairs fit snug in our camping box so we always have these no matter where we go. We even bring them while visiting other RV’ers at a RV Park.

Seat is 11 in. off the ground
Thanks to anodized DAC aluminum poles, Chair Zero is strong enough to support up to 265 lbs.
Single shock-corded pole structure makes for easy setup
Compact size makes it easy to pack and carry
Stuff sack included

Buy it HERE at REI for $119.95

 

 

These items WE USE. We never post gear that we don’t know and trust. While making this list we thought of you. What did we miss? Have something on the list you would use instead? Let us know.

Happy Holidays!!!!!

Scott and Ariane November 21, 2017 0

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

We consider ourselves pretty spontaneous, but when we were sitting on the couch this last Fall (2017) having a few craft brews and discussing how much we would love to go see the Peak Fall colors somewhere amazing, little did we know a week later we would be taking a 2000 mile road trip to the U.P of Michigan. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes, forest, and shoreline beckon you to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hiking, camping, sightseeing, and four season outdoor opportunities abound

We quickly went to recreation.gov and got permits to backpack the 42 mile Lakeshore Trail that is also a part of the North Country Trail. You have to reserve and have permits to camp on the Lakeshore Trail.

The Lakeshore Trail is an amazing trail that starts on the high sand dunes in Grand Marais and ends at Munising Falls, (right outside of Munising, MI).  On our trek of the 42 miles we went from sand, to thick dense forest, to hiking along the cliffs of the Pictured Rocks. There is never a dull moment. 

There are 14 backcountry campsites along the way. Most of the time you will get your water right from the lake. Most of the campsites give you access right to beachfront and some amazing sunsets. Most of the trail is straight with little climbs. There is some gravel road hiking for a mile or two, but those are access points to the bigger campgrounds.

The best time to hike the trail is late summer or at Peak Fall.  You get some amazing sunsets, since the trail faces the southwest side of Lake Superior. There are lots of waterfalls in this area to see and explore.

You can pick up a shuttle service that will take you to the Grand Marais Visitors Center where the Lakeshore Trail starts (if your hiking from East to West). The parking lot at Munising Falls is big, and more than safe to leave your car. From leaving the Grand Marais Visitor Center the trail is awesome and pretty easy.

TIP: If you are looking for great place to camp with your camper or RV, you can boondock at Bay Furnace (right on the lake btw) and spend some time in Munising (which we totally recommend) and have a cup of coffee at our favorite place Falling Rock Cafe and Books 

After your hike, take the Sunset Tour of the Pictured Rocks and see the cliffs from a different perspective. It really is beautiful.

Munising Michigan and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a ton of unique hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and camping. This is by far one of our favorite places to hang out on a long week trip.

Scott and Ariane November 14, 2017 0

What is the most important piece of gear you carry?

Us backpackers can spend a lot of time looking at the latest and greatest new piece of gear out there. In fact, according to IBES World, market research say’s it’s a 4 billion dollar a year industry. That’s a lot of gear.

Over the next five years, as total recreation expenditure expands, demand at hiking and outdoor equipment is anticipated to grow

We are always looking for that piece of “WOW” gear that is the lightest and sometimes the trendiest. However, we have a piece of gear that doesn’t cost anything and we think is essential. It’s lightweight, it will stand the test of time, and it will get you through more uphills, downhills, and weather than you will believe.

The most important piece of gear a backpacker will ever need is a POSITIVE ATTITUDE.  No piece of gear will ever help you embrace the trail and Mother Nature than a positive mental attitude will.

Let’s face it, sometimes there is a suck value to hiking in a cold rain storm that seems to last forever. But the one thing that you have going for yourself is your ability to be grateful for that suck value. I mean really, you are out there! You are doing what you wanted to do! Of course it’s going to have suck value. All things worth while do. But it’s going to be your positive mental attitude that will make or break how you experience your hike.

After 20 years of backpacking I can tell you that a positive mental attitude is everything.

For new people just getting into backpacking, getting started is the hardest part. However, with Social Media and the ease of just watching someone else’s adventure on a YouTube video, it’s easy to get caught up with the romantic idea of the adventure, instead of the journey. Moreover, just how hard it is to actually carry a backpack for 6 months and live in the woods.

When I thru-hiked the AT  in 2003 I probably quit a thousand times a month. It was one of the most aggravating thoughts I had. My thoughts in my head constantly nagging at me,”do you really need to do this?”  The answer was always the same…”NO”. I don’t HAVE to do this, I WANT to do this.  There is a time in everyone’s life when you have to look in the mirror and do that one thing that is the hardest, and that is…change.

Change is the one single moment in your life when you know for sure that the outcome won’t happen unless you change the way you think about what you want the most. I had to change my attitude about what I was reacting to.  Stop whining about the weather, my aches, pains, other hikers, the terrain, the food, just about everything.

It’s that quintessential reaction that I love to use when life or the trail start beating me up mentally. That one feeling that makes me stop in my tracks and breathe. That one beautiful thought that is free and weighs nothing. I carry with it with me whenever or where ever I hit the trail…that one price of gear is: Gratefulness.

 

Getting lost in the Wilderness
Scott and Ariane October 30, 2017 0

Outdoor Common Sense Safety Tips

So you want to get outdoors and have fun. So many places to go and visit. Planning that amazing vacation or trekking out into the Wilderness for some long over due quiet time. But sometimes in planning the fun stuff, we forget to have a PLAN for real stuff. What do we mean by “real stuff”? The stuff that you don’t think of until that moment of “what do I do now” happens.

Real Stuff like being prepared for some circumstances that happens ALL the time. We call it a “safety plan” Let’s take a look at some of the common issues people have while enjoying the outdoors.

FALLS – Falls while hiking in mountainous terrain typically account for more fatalities than any other direct cause. A fall can result in a few scrapes minutes from the trailhead or life-threatening injuries miles – and hours – from help. This is why it’s especially important to never hike alone.

HEAT: Overexertion on hot summer days can lead to heat-related injuries.

COLD & HYPOTHERMIA: The lowering of your body’s core temperature below normal can lead to poor judgement and confusion, loss of consciousness and death – even in summer! We have seen this first hand when temps are in the 90’s and people get wet from a cold rain. Wind starts howling, clouds block the sun, and the next thing you know, you start shivering.

No matter if you are day hiking, backpacking, kayaking, having the right safety plan is the best thing you can do for you and your family.

According to the Journal of Travel Medicine, From 2003 to 2006, there were 12,337 SAR operations involving 15,537 visitors. The total operational costs were US$16,552,053. The operations ended with 522 fatalities, 4,860 ill or injured visitors, and 2,855 saves. Almost half (40%) of the operations occurred on Saturday and Sunday, and visitors aged 20 to 29 years were involved in 23% of the incidents. Males accounted for 66.3% of the visitors requiring SAR assistance. Day hiking, motorized boating, swimming, overnight hiking, and nonmotorized boating were the participant activities resulting in the most SAR operations. But here is the most important point:

An error in judgment, fatigue and physical conditions, and insufficient equipment, clothing, and experience were the most common contributing factors.

So what do you do?  ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN. What’s a PLAN?

  1. Do your research on where you are going? What do the Rangers recomend if you are going to a National Park. Every NPS site has a “Know before you go”. This is where most people don’t look.
  2. Plan and Prepare is the first principal in Leave NO Trace. It’s number one for a reason. Plan and prepare means knowing the terrain, weather conditions, environment. What’s the norm and not the norm of where you are going. Is it a Flash Flood Area? Has there been recent Forest Fires?
  3. Let another Friend, or Family member know exactly where you are going to be. Your route, how many days and nights you will gone. Have a Phone Number to the NPS or Recreational Area that they can call if you are not back when you designated.  The movie 127 hours is a perfect example of what happens when people don’t know where you are.
  4. Have a “Escape Plan”. What if you are in a situation where you need to get out as fast as you can. Look around, make sure you understand and get to know your surroundings. Weather happens fast.
  5. Always have a personalized First Aid Kit ready to go. When we say “personalized” we mean things that YOU may have to have. Like allergy medicine for example.

Finally. Understand the acronym STOP-A This is the biggest asset to you if your plan has to do with being lost. The number one question we get when taking new people out backpacking is “what if I get lost”.

STOP

If there is no immediate threat, like a wildfire or a bear breathing down your neck, then stop and sit down. The goal is to prevent any irrational thinking due to fear or an adrenaline dump.

THINK

let’s break out the best survival tool we have, our brain.

Countless books and stories attest to the fact that a positive mental attitude can pull people through even the most dire of circumstances.

Understand the difference between real threats and fears.

OBSERVE

Take a look at your surroundings and identify threats. Are there widow makers? How much time until it gets dark? Do you hear vehicles in the distance? Can you smell a campfire?

PLAN

After thinking about your priorities and observing your surroundings and gear, it is time to make some choices. Like prioritizing, planning is dependent on your situation. Generally, staying put and waiting for rescue is a good plan, but what if you didn’t tell anyone you were headed out and no one will know you are missing for days?

ACT

The best plan in the world will not do you any good until it is put in to action. Once you have a plan, start using your skills and execute the plan.

For those who want to leave trusted friends or family your itinerary. Go to hikeralert.com  this is an excellent web based platform that alerts through text message when you do not return

In operation since 2012, HikerAlert is a Web-based service that will automatically send an alert text message and email to your emergency contacts (your friends and family) if you don’t check in from an outdoor trip or other event by your scheduled return time.

Remember, your outdoor experience is  your responsibility. Make sure you’re stay safe out there. Mother Nature doesn’t care about your weekend plans.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 1

Granite Gear VC 60 Backpack Review

Compression, compression, compression. That is what I think about when looking at new lightweight backpacks. How do can they compress, and is the way they compress going to benefit my overall gear system. When I tried on the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 ultralight backpack, I have to say I was impressed. It’s overall design and durability puts this pack high on my favorite pack list. At 2.2 lbs this is a pack you have to consider on a long distance hike.

Capacity:

With it’s 60 liters of capacity I would find it hard pressed to fill the bag all the way. This pack can carry a full load of gear that is for sure. With it’s roll top feature, you will be able to use this pack in Winter and still keep it as a lightweight system since your layer 4 winter jacket would nicely fit on the top. Since it compresses down, I can utilize unusable space. Again, compression! 

The compression of this pack is what I truly like however. The two crisscross of of Linloc compression straps on the side of the pack provides and excellent compression system. The pack design of the Linloc straps can be utilized to attach a rolled up sleeping pad, a tent, or tent poles. Also, there two compression straps that run over the top of the main compartment and provide additional carrying capacity.

Make it even lighter! The frame itself is removable so the pack can be used for ultralight loads without the frame. This takes the pack weight itself to almost a 13 oz pack.

What’s the VC stand for? Vapor Current. At first glance, you’ll notice the ventilation channels molded into the cushy back pad. These channels allow air to circulate from bottom to top, taking advantage of convection to aid in evaporative cooling. This facilitates circulation without shifting the pack’s center of gravity away from your back. Beneath the molded foam, the VC frame has a full length (all the way up to the load lifters), HDPE die-cut sheet that supports loads up to 35 lbs.

Will this pack handle a Long Distance Trek?

I say YES! As more and more ultra lightweight packs hit the market, it will be the durability and stitching that will ultimately stand the test of time. I like the VC Crown because of it’s CORDURA® fabric. If you are like me, you are hard on your packs. Ultimately, a strong fabric will make the difference.

TIP: Ultra lightweight packs means you should have lightweight gear. The maximum weight for this pack is 35lbs. I would subtract 5 lbs to that. Light weight packs maximize their performance when you pack your gear correctly AND carry other light weight gear.

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail
Scott and Ariane October 30, 2017 0

Avoid Getting the Flu on the Appalachian Trail

You would be surprised at how many people get sick on the Appalachian Trail due to the spreading of germs. In fact, Appalachian Trail hikers had a 45 percent diarrhea rate, implying that poor hygiene is a major contributing factor. How to prevent getting sick is to make sure your First Aid Kit has the some basic medications and ALCOHOL WIPES to keep your hands clean.

Ariane has gotten the Flu while backpacking and she explains how hard it is to hike out when you get sick. Some basic medications, like benadryl, tylenol, Mucinex, and Diarrhea tablets can help you when you feel like you maybe getting sick on the Trail.

In a article written by Blissful Hiking:

The chief complaint on the Appalachian Trail is the Norovirus, which seems to strike every hiking season. Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people and on infected surfaces that have been touched by ill people. Outbreaks occur more often where there are more people in a small area like hostels, shelters and privies contaminated by sick hikers.

The best way to prevent getting sick is to make sure your hands are always clean. Bear cables are filled with germs, wipe your hands off after using them. Prevention is the key.  Make sure you keep clear of sharing food or area’s where you see other hikers being sick. Again, using alcohol type hand sanitizer and trying not to share food, it going to go a long way.

If you do get sick on the trail, you are going to have to REST.  Drink plenty of fluids and replenish your electrolytes. Chicken Soup and Lemon Tea is a great way to start your rebound. But rest and a day off is probably going to get you back on the trail.