Explore the Magical Desert of Joshua Tree, California, USA.

Joshua Tree

By Lucy Gomez

Explore the Ancient Desert at Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree Park is considered as a magical and massive desert land, which is about 790,000 square acres. And speaking about the desert, here you need to know that there is absolutely no electricity, no lights, no food service and mobile receptions. Water is a scarce resource, so when coming here make sure that you bring enough to last during your visit. Luckily, there are toilets available, however, they’re not the flushing type, so you better be prepared.

Feed Your Soul with Creativity

Joshua Tree is the home of numerous artists, and many visitors are inspired by the artworks created by these amazing individuals. From the Farmers Market to the different Art Galleries scattered around the place, you’ll definitely feel the creative juices flowing.

Visiting the town proper is an amazing part of the Joshua Tree camping experience. In this area, you’ll be able to find various restaurants, boutiques and shops, as well as music events and galleries. The Downtown area is situated on the corner of Park Boulevard and Highway 62.

The citizens of Joshua Tree have been going the beyond the limits in preserving the authenticity of the place. For this reason, you won’t be able to find any fast food chains, or high rise buildings or even the famous malls and super stores. Exploring the place will give you a different sixties feel while helping the locals in promoting their own products and their local economy.

Take Advantage of the Annual Pass

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As soon as you arrive at the Park entrance, you will have the choice of getting a day pass or the annual pass. If you want to be able to fully appreciate and enjoy the Joshua Tree Park, you need to obtain the annual pass, as you will have the advantage of getting into the Park for free over the next 12 months.

It is a must that you ask for a map and be updated via their newsletters so you will be informed on the latest happenings across the park. Having the annual pass will also give you the advantage to cut in line and get in faster as a priority guest.

Enjoy your Stay at the Campsites

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Staying over and camping at Joshua Tree will give you the chance to sleep and experience the amazing night view brought about by the billions of stars. Start the morning and be amazed by the breathtaking view of the California desert. You may also be in awe as you can hear the coyotes howling from a distance.

Over 300 campsites are scattered within the boundaries of the park, so you just need to choose your own spot and spend the night there. The camping fee is usually around 15 dollars. You have to know that running water and electricity are non-existent in the park, so you do need to bring everything you might need.

Explore the Intersection and Arch Rocks

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When you are coming from the west entrance of the Joshua Tree, the Intersection Rock should be your first stop. This is the perfect place to check your maps and plan your destinations and activities for the day. This rock is situated about on the center of the various highlights of the park. You can also follow the available trails and explore more around the area.

On the other hand, entering through the North or South of Joshua Tree, you will have the Arch Rock as your first major pit stop. Following the trails nearby is also a great idea, but you won’t need to worry about getting lost since all the paths will eventually lead towards the camping ground.

Ask for a Guide

No matter what type of activity you intend to do, especially if you are a beginner, it is better to seek help from a guide. These guides will aid you in a more enjoyable and safer adventure in the park.

Joshua Tree offers an incredible and unique adventure for you and your family or friends. You will be able to enjoy the different and creative culture of the place; therefore, it is important to plan the trip carefully. Make the most out of every event and the views offered by this majestic place. In the end, you will surely come back for more, as the people living here really go for the extra mile in providing an enjoyable and memorable experience for every traveler.

Check out the Joshua Tree Park website here.

Related article and additional information: Dry but Delightful: Hiking in the Desert.

 

Overcoming Fear as a Solo Trekker in Zhangjiajie Mountains of China

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By Marinel de Jesus

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Catching the sunset after landing in China

My very first entry to China was through the Hunan Province in 2014.  As it turns out it, if you’re new to China, Hunan will shock you because it is far from the notion of a foreigner mecca in terms of tourism.  In fact, the entire time I was in this part of China, I only saw one Western foreigner – a European who was studying the language and therefore able to move around the country with ease.  He told me he was on a short break and his parents were in town so he was acting as their guide in this part of China.  He also happened to be staying at my hostel.

The night spent chatting with him was unforgettable.  This said individual challenged my decision to be in Hunan.  He bluntly asked what I was doing there as he was concerned that I didn’t speak any Mandarin at all.  He added that a better move would have been to go visit Guilin first or one of the big cities like Shanghai or Beijing, even Xian.  But Hunan – he asked why.  With enthusiasm, I explained that I was there because I wanted to see the Avatar mountains, also known as Zhangjiajie National Forest.  That explanation appeared to baffle him. Still, why would I start my China travel by hitting Hunan first.  He continued to counsel me that getting around will be difficult and that I should be prepared to navigate my way because even getting to the National Forest will be a challenge.   So, I said, well, I will get a map!  No, you just don’t get it.  Even the map is devoid of English completely, he says.  Okay, I heard the warning.  But I wasn’t dissuaded about my decision to be there.   Even though a bit nervous because he insisted that I will likely get lost, I kept reassuring myself that there is always a way.  Plus, this was nothing new.  I have been in a situation before where I was overwhelmed by the language issue (Guatemala) and that experience turned out to be life changing.  So, hush that worry-wart – it will always work out for the best.

I never was able to shake off that night of conversation with this European guy who was understandably concerned for my sake.  It was amusing but also I must admit a bit disturbing.  After all, it was my very first night in China and to begin with I was already a bit concerned how I would do in this country without much language skills to get me by.  So, that night I told myself it will be alright even if it means I may get lost.  That’s part of the adventure, right?  I didn’t come to a foreign place to be on point with all directions and roads.  I came to see where the roads will take me and what turns I would need to make to find the right way.

On a much more positive note, the hostel I stayed at was one of the hostel chains through the Hostelling International. It was a cozy place for a first night in China.  I was really just looking into resting my head in the upper bed of the bunk for some good night’s sleep.

The next day I made my way to the smaller town of Wulingyuan where I was to catch the bus to enter Zhangjiajie.  On my stop over at Wulingyuan, I decided to check out the cave nearby which was probably the most touristy cave that I have ever seen.   Although the cave was huge and appealing in its size, there was nothing special about it; nonetheless it was a good way to get used to dealing with the “crowd.”  At my hostel in Wulingyuan, I met by a coincidence a Cambodian traveler and we chatted a little.  He was traveling for a few months and had positive things to say about his travels in China, which was a refreshing moment compared to the night before.

The next morning I made it to Zhangjiajie without a problem. Thanks to the hostel staff who explained to me how I could get to the place.  The European guy was right.  There was no English whatsover to be read or heard except for some silly signs (see below). This was the beginning of my journey as the ‘mute’ version of myself.  Sounds crazy but in many ways it was a blessing because it allowed me to learn the value of being “mindful” of what people were actually saying in any means possible.  That turned out to be such a critical part of my trip.  I know that is such a weird thing to say but, seriously, muting myself made China a wonderful experience, most definitely.

To fully explore Zhangjiajie, I decided to spend 3-4 days inside the park. From my research, the karst-like peaks are elusive due to the foggy situation of the park.  Usually, the mountains are hidden behind thick fog; hence, I was not to have a high expectation of catching a glimpse of these pillars of beauty.   To execute my plan, I decided to stay inside the park where a hostel was available to budget travelers.  It was a basic hostel with a nice bed to myself (not even bunk) within a little village.  I suspect the people in that village are people who work at the park.  Living within the park is the convenient way given the park takes up a huge space.  Like any other national park in China, the mode of getting around within the park is through their shuttles which run from sunrise to sunset.  China is efficient when it comes to shuttles for parks and so much so that one should not feel discouraged by the crowd factor.  Oftentimes, the lines go faster than you expect.

To maximize my time in Zhangjiajie, I planned out the routes to take in order to see most of the highlights of the park.  With the park map in hand, I basically divided each day by which areas to hike so I can capture the mountain peaks.  The map itself was in Mandarin and so I relied mostly on the hostel staff (again, which was the pattern) to help me figure out the most viable itinerary.  The first day presented as super foggy and it was discouraging to go through the trails knowing there is beauty hidden behind such fog but not being able to see it.  Luckily, my luck changed and when the afternoon came, I was able to experience the magical beauty of the mountains in Zhangjiajie.  For the next two days, the fog came and went.  Having the fog was actually adding to that mysterious feeling behind the mountains.  Hiking in this park does require luck and patience in order to capture the mountains at the right photographic moment.

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That’s not a regret a hiker would like

As an added bonus, during my stay within the park, I met a lovely couple from Beijing who befriended me at the hostel and who spoke good English as is the case with people from big cities in China.  They became my hiking buddies for the entire duration of my hiking in Avatar.  After immersing ourselves in hiking each day, our days ended with home cooked meals at the hostel – the best part of being friends with locals is that they can help you order food at restaurants.  Traveling solo without language skills has its downside and that is the difficulty of figuring out what to eat each meal time.   When we returned to the city, the couple and I had our one last meal together which I often recall to be such a feast!

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Oh, and we did go to another park in the city center that was like the mini-Avatar but the park charged quite a more expensive entry fee.  That was a waste because it was foggy the entire day we were there.  The only upside is we did go check out some gorgeous temples.  The couple found it necessary to enter one of them to ask the gods for a child as they have been wanting to have their first one. I also fancied the conversation I had with the couple about how the locals gravitate towards spending more time with nature as they get older for they believe that by doing so, it lengthens their life and adds joy.

Zhangjiajie is worth a visit.  Yet, only a few foreigners ever make it to this part of China.  That’s good for western travelers as you can still feel the authenticity of the locals.  No one is aggressively pestering you so they can make a sale of some sort.  The entire park is still catered only to serve Chinese tourists which makes for a unique experience on its own.  And the mountains?  Yes, it was zen.  I had an opportunity to hike solo on the first day and an early morning hike on another day by myself (without the crowd) and it was an amazing place to just be on your own – a serene experience.  Contrary to what the European guy said, I think starting this journey with Zhangjiajie was setting the bar quite high.  It had to get better from here.

And sorry to disappoint Mr. European guy, but not once did I get lost!  And even if I did, the park was not as intimidating as I thought it would be.  And the locals themselves are much friendlier than anticipated.  They truly like to help and that was also how I was able to get around without knowing a word of their language.  So, as a solo trekker who found language to be a challenge, don’t let it stop you!  Have faith that with a bit of luck and some effort on your end, you’ll be perfectly fine.  Plus, you will always end up with new friends.

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One last look before a final bye.

 

 

9 Points About Using Menstrual Cups While Camping on Your Period

menstrual cups

By Phoebe Hodina

Menstrual Cups: Because your period shouldn’t ever hold you back. Period.

Thinking of using menstrual cups on your adventures in the great outdoors (or anywhere for that matter)?  Here are nine points to consider.

1. The cup is better for Mother Earth.

In a lifetime, the average female uses between 8,000-17,000 tampons. Adding up everything involved (tampons, panty liners, pads, etc.), and multiplying that by all the women in the world… adds up to a lot. If you take in account the energy and carbon released to create those products, and the time it takes for those products to decompose in a landfill… you’re looking at more than just some pesky cramps and PMS to deal with.

To save our planet, switching to menstrual cups can make a serious impact. Silicone cups don’t contain rayon, dioxin, or harmful chemicals. But more than that… they are reusable. They’re pretty much the eco-friendliest way to have a period (other than free-bleeding… which is a whole different kind of article, and not my preference for my clothing).

2. You can skip packing out your used feminine products, and lighten your load.

Lighter pack. This is probably the best perk of camping with a menstrual cup… you don’t have to carry out, and later deal with the waste you’ve created. Simply dump your red stuff in the toilet (or hole), rinse the cup with clean water, reinsert, and continue doing whatever you were doing before. Easy.

 3. You get to worry less and have more fun.

Your lady parts are warm, moist, and the perfect place to a tampon to harbor the deadly bacteria that causes TSS (toxic shock syndrome). Did you know that tiny bits of cotton shreds from tampons can cause small cuts in your vaginal walls—and lead to TSS? For me, remembering to change out a tampon every six hours while in the middle of the great outdoors can be a drag on my fun time. With a menstrual cup, the risk of TSS is almost null. As a woman, you’ve got enough to worry about… TSS shouldn’t be on that list. Plus, with the cup- you can go up to 12 hours before having to fuss with it.

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Spending my time petting a wolf, instead of changing my tampon

 4. You can save money… loads of it.

The average menstrual cup will cost you about $30 USD. You could easily spend that every other month on pads and tampons. Over a decade, you’re looking at a savings of around $1,500 if you replace your cup annually. Being a lady is expensive enough, save your cash for camping gear!

 5. You will be untethered in the best sense.

Tampon strings have the gross habit of being gross. Swimming causes other problems with your string, as sometimes it has the tendency to make an appearance. Skinny dip with freedom… without the string.

 6. You can stay hydrated… everywhere

No really, hear me out. Cotton tampons can strip your inner walls of not only their natural lining, but your natural moisture as well. This can make your lady parts more susceptible to infection. Not fun anywhere, especially out in the woods.

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No fear, and no leaks while snorkeling!

Tampons also absorb that extra moisture that is naturally secreted when you’re sexually aroused. So when you remove it before getting intimate, it can make for a less than slick experience. Also, there are some brands that claim you can wear it during intercourse, mess free(!!). I cannot personally attest to these products, but I am 110% behind women who get busy during that time of the month.

And the 3 things you should know, because you should always be prepared:

 7. It can get messy

The first time you’re using the device… be prepared for your bathroom floor to look like the elevator scene of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shinning. OK- it’s not that bad at all, but be prepared. After a couple tries, you’ll have your technique down, and if a drop spills… you will clean it up as the empowered, fierce woman that you are.

 8. Don’t freak out, it will be fine.

The first time I used mine, I had some difficulty… getting it in, and then out. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say I was sitting, squatting and everything in between all over my bathroom. If I wasn’t so panicked about getting it out, it would have been incredibly comedic. If you’re trying it for the first time… make sure you are in the privacy of your own home. But trust me! The learning curve is well worth it.

 9. There are two sizes.

If you’ve delivered a baby vaginally, your body is a little bit different from those who haven’t. There are two sizes of menstrual cups, one for pre-birth, and one for post-birth. Make sure to choose the correct size for your body.

 

All in all, menstrual cups can be a great option for outdoor activities during that time of the month. For more info, make sure to check out: Camping And Hiking On Your Period: Don’t let it slow you down! 

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Free to frolick with the flowers!

The Exhilarating World of Women Camping: What Is Your Style?

Camping: What is your style?

By Iris West

As summer comes to a dramatic but scintillating close, it wouldn’t hurt to squeeze in a last-minute camping venture into the great outdoors. Well, there’s something alluring about a woman’s camping experience. Maybe it’s a wonderful way to get that sun-kissed, summer tan that is the envy of all your friends. Or perhaps a chance to get away from all the hustle and bustle of your everyday doldrums of life and work. No matter what your reason to get real up close with nature, camping is a sure-fire way to kick back and relax. And, boy, we certainly deserve it.

Here’s the thing you need to know before packing your backpacks with camping essentials: not all camping is actually created equal. In fact, I get forwarded this question now and then: what is the best style of camping out there? Right off the bat, I’ll have to say that it boils down to personal preference.

Nonetheless, below I will walk you through the different types of camping. The good news is that any kind can get you that adrenaline-packed adventure and thrill or that rest and relaxation that you need before wintry months kick in. Let’s get started, shall we?

Camping: What is Your Style?

#1. Backpacking Camping

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Backpacking is perhaps the most extreme type of camping out there. Here, hiking is what I figured for the longest time to be the name of the game. So, if you love hiking and would like to garner an awesome camping experience, backpacking could be a slice of heaven. For this type of camping, however, a nice pair of hiking boots is essential. Here’s a no-brainer tip for any backpacker: pack efficiently but lightly, only bringing stuff that will last you for your hiking adventure. Packing too many things can get a little hectic, if not downright overwhelming out there. In essence, here is a backpackers’ packing list:

  • Light, mostly dried foods found in camping store aisles
  • Bear canisters to keep bears at bay
  • Wealthy supply of clean water
  • Backpackers guide tailored for your hiking destination

#2. Car Camping

The second type of camping is what many American families consider a “real” camping holiday. Car camping encompasses exactly what you are thinking: taking your friends, family or colleagues out in a car to a campsite. Once there, you can pitch a tent, from where you can make day hikes, swimming, play camp games, sports, and a raft of other exciting camping activities. The allure of car camping style lies in its straightforward and no hassle manner. It’s modestly safe and can make for an excellent group camping experience. Day hikes are the highlight of camping, though. This means you can go for nature walks, summit climbing, and so forth. A campfire can also make your nightlife exciting. With it, you can roast marshmallows while enjoying “monster stories” and cold/hot beverages.

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#3. Trail Camping

Before you even ask, trail camping entails traveling from point A to B on a ‘trail.” When it comes to trail camping, anything and everything goes. Most trail campers spend many days out in the wild transcending mountains, hillocks, thickets, and so forth. Of course, trail camping is more than a camp. It can be an indispensable way to shed a few pounds while at it. Much akin to meditation, trail camping can help campers find their “inner selves” and “real meaning in life.” No matter what your reason for trail camping, this type of camping can be fun. A lot of fun.

#4. Cabin Camping

Simply put, cabin camping is much like rustic hotel camping. More often than not, this type of camping has been associated with most baby boomers and retirees. Well, they are dead right on the point on this one. Cabin camping takes camping experience to a whole new and exciting level. If you like as much contact with the great outdoors as possible, however, this is not your camping style. Try something like trail camping. Nonetheless, cabin camping provides decent opportunity to mingle with the wild.

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Of more importance, however, is the fact that cabin campers can bring a truckload of food supply – groceries, hamburgers, beverages, water, condiments, and so on. That is the magical allure of cabin camping and the reason why it has gained increased traction with city dwellers and vacationers looking to find a teensy bit of quiet and peace away from their lousy jobs and fast-paced lives.

#5. And, finally….. RV Camping

As you might expect, RV camping is uncannily similar to cabin camping style, but you get to sleep and rest in a 5th wheel or RV. Again, this style isn’t for people looking for good contact with the wild and outdoors. It’s for individuals who need a small nature walk and hike just to breathe in that ambient and alpine air. Nonetheless, RV camping can be the ultimate fun. You can select a rustic spot to enjoy fishing, campfires, outdoor grilling, and much more. Some RV campers tug along a boat equipped with all fishing essentials.

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There you are – five types of camping styles.  So when it comes to camping: what is your style? With all these options, there’s always a camping style for everyone.

 

How to Prepare For Motorcycle Camping From a Woman’s Point of View

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By Daniela Schoenberg

As a woman motorcyclist, you want to make sure you’re prepared for your exciting camping adventure. Taking your bike on a long ride to the great outdoors is a great way to spend time with friends, family, or just by yourself.

Whether you’re going for a short ride/stay or you’re in for a longer adventure, these are the things you need to know for your trip.

Before You Hit The Road

Make sure your bike is ready to go. If you’re mechanic savvy, then you can do some of these checks yourself. Perhaps you know how to change the oil, check the fluids, and the lights and controls. If not be sure to take the bike to your local mechanic to check it out before you head out on the road. You also need to check your tires to make sure they are ready to go. You want to purchase tires for motorcycles before heading out. You don’t want to be stranded somewhere due to the motorcycle tire you need not being in stock.

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Packing For The Trip

Make sure to pack your heaviest items towards the bottom of the bike or luggage compartment so it doesn’t mess up your road control. Also be sure you have the right motorcycle apparel for your trip. Be sure that you have a variety of apparel to protect you from the weather you may go through. If possible check the forecast for your route so you are not caught unaware.

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Planning out your route ahead of time is also a great idea. Make sure to have alternative routes in place as well should you run into issues along the way.

Most of all bring along your sense of fun and adventure. Taking a motorcycle road trip can be an amazing experience when you take the time to prepare.

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Brazen Review: REI Mountaineering Skills – Snow Travel – Level 1

REI Mountaineering Skills

By Emily Pennington

I’m hurtling head first down an icy slope, tips of massive pine trees whizzing past my eyes as I wield my ice axe as hard as I can against the snow. My legs twirl around chaotically until I’m right side up again, digging the tips of my hiking boots hard into the side of the ridge. “STAB THE MOUNTAIN IN THE FACE,” my instructor, Eddy, yells from fifty yards away, and I do. I skid to a stop, my cheeks pink and tingly from their recent caress against the sandpaper that is a frozen peak at dawn. I regain my composure as I stumble to my feet, and I can’t help but pause and stare at the thick spider web of clouds licking the tops of neighboring mountains. I can’t feel my toes, and I’ve got the wildest, grin on my face.

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In February, emboldened by all the peaks I couldn’t climb due to snow, ice, and avalanche warnings, I embraced the things I do not know and opted for the REI Mountaineering Skills Level 1 class. I cannot express to you how happy I am that I did. Not only was the class incredibly informative, it also moved at a great pace, was an awesome way to meet like-minded adventurers, and contained huge amounts of fun!

The beginning portion of the day began with a quick tutorial on crampon technique and a brief lecture about snow travel from Nile, a sweet but fierce old-school mountaineer who has 409 peaks under his belt, most notably Denali. The instructors set us loose and had us practice uphill travel with crampons and an ice axe on slick, early morning snow, making sure we were comfortable ascending/descending, turning, and maneuvering the oh-so-sexy duck foot position (pied en canard).

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The second bit of the day was where things really picked up their pace, as we learned how to properly glissade. For those new to mountaineering, like me, a glissade is when you glide down the side of a peak on a sled made out of your own butt. From a seated glissade, we were taught the technique of how to self-arrest, which is what I was most excited about. Throwing ourselves down the mountain both feet first and head first, the teachers had us quickly roll to one side and shove our ice axes into the frigid slope to stop ourselves before hitting the ground below. One of the things I loved most about the class was that we had ample time to try each thing we learned enough to start to feel comfortable with the skill. By the end of this lesson, I was getting running starts and purposefully switching my hand grip several times to see if I could still screech to a halt in less than ideal conditions.

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After a quick break for lunch, we broke into groups (I dubbed mine the terrible twos), and got to work on learning snow travel in teams. We sidestepped up the now slushy afternoon snow, carefully following each other’s footprints to the letter. Being headstrong and probably a bit too alpha for my 5’2’’ good, I marched ahead, driving our group up most of the steep bank but quickly learned why it’s great to tackle mountains in teams – you get to switch off on the hard work of leading! Now, for me, the type-a overachiever, this is not an easy lesson to learn, but I’m glad I caught glimpses of it in this class, trading responsibility to let other people kick a staircase into the slush so that I could blissfully follow for a while.

In the squishy, mashed-potato snow of late afternoon, we got to glissade down even longer and steeper slopes after having traversed them in our teams, diligently swapping out the leaders. Because I’m a mad woman who doesn’t know when to stop, I thought this the perfect time to practice self-arrest at higher speeds, and it was inexplicably gratifying to have the opportunity to perfect potentially lifesaving mountain techniques with instructors present. I feel far more confident having had three different, highly-skilled people tell me I’m following the right movement pattern to properly work an ice axe than I would have if some random friend had just taken me up a slope and watched me zip down it a few times. For anyone serious about upping your snow skills and tackling bigger peaks this winter, I highly recommend finding your nearest REI store and asking them about their upcoming mountaineering classes!

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Repel Mosquitos from Your Campsite, Naturally

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By Phoebe Hodina

Dealing with mosquitos

While the mosquito is a part of the ecosystem, it’s probably our least favorite part. Additionally, heavy exposure to DEET has been linked to all kinds of symptoms such as: headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, shortness of breath, and is particularly toxic for small children.

Here are some other, more natural options.

 

mosquito 1Lavender

Lavender not only smells fabulous—but it’s great for repelling mosquitoes as well!

There are a couple ways to incorporate it into your mosquito prevention.

 

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If you have access to your car, or can bring lot of extra stuff while camping or glamping, you can bring some homemade citronella candles with a few drops of lavender essential oil added into the mix to strengthen it!

Works every time!

 

mosquito 3Lotion

You can also add about 15 drops per 1 tablespoon to coconut oil and rub it onto exposed skin.

You’ll smell heavenly, and have bite-free soft skin!

 

mosquito 4Rosemary

A Barbeque Addition

Mosquitos love to strike while cooking, and a great way to keep them away is to add a bunch of rosemary to your grill! Add a few stalks of rosemary to the grill to flavor your food, and keep away the pesky insects. You can also add in a few blocks of cedar to your fire to get a similar effect!

 

mosquito 5Neem Oil

Applied to skin

Known as the “tree of life”, the Neem tree is native to India, and produces an oil that is a natural insecticide. The best part? It works on humans too! Just apply it to your skin to keep away unwanted bugs.

 

Garlic

mosquitos 6Consumed via capsule or in meal

Some people swear by eating tons of garlic. Whether you just add it to your food, or take garlic capsules… people say that it helps keep the bugs away. Personally I feel the research is still out on this one… but I’m not one to say “no” to a tasty meal! As a side note… too much garlic may also keep away your loved ones. But everyone needs a bit of solitude sometimes, right?

 

mosquitos 7DIY Bug Keep-Off Spray

Applied to skin

You can create your own natural bug spray with some witch hazel and essential oils. Simply just combine the ingredients in a small spray bottle or mason jar, and apply liberally to your skin! You can divide or multiply the below as needed, I like to make a lot at the beginning of the summer.

 

Base: Witch hazel (1 cup)

Essential Oils (use at least 4 of these): mint, citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, tea tree (15 drops each)

 

mosquitos 8Stay Covered at the Right Times

Extra layers of protection

Early morning and dusk are peak mosquito times. Conveniently, it’s also when you’re likely to be able to wear longer sleeves and pants. Try to cover up during these times in the day for maximum mosquito armor.

 

Avoid Perfumes

Keep them off your trail

Artificial smells found in lotions, perfumes, shampoos, fabric conditioners, and strong-smelling sunscreens can all attract mosquitos. Try to avoid these as much as possible prior to your camping trip.

 

Happy mosquito-free camping!

 

33 Top Rated Hiking and Camping Gear on Amazon

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By Kelly Price

This Top Rated list compiled for women outdoor adventurers only features products with at least 4.3/5 stars and 25+ reviews on the global Amazon platform.

When you’re out in the wilderness, it’s just you, Mother Nature and your gear. It’s critical for every product you bring with you to (1) do its job perfectly and (2) leave the smallest footprint possible. The gear on this list has been put to the test by thousands of explorers just like you, and they’ve all performed better than the rest.

 

1. A collapsible kettle that takes up very little room

Top Rated 1

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (30+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I tested it over my propane grill and it did an amazing job heating the water. When it is collapsed it is about the size of a dessert plate so it saves space in my gear.”

 

2. A tiny but effective fire starter

Top Rated 2

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (1,400+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “A fantastic little tool, really throws some good sparks! Fairly large rod should last a long time, well made, comfortable finger grips, light weight, small enough to fit into any camping / survival kit.”

 

3. A pocket-sized outdoor blanket

Top Rated 3

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (50+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Easy to carry and can fit in one hand, strong and durable, yet big enough for 2/3 people to lounge around on. We were able to use it as a base for inflatable airpads, or simply pull it out for additional friends to lay on it.”

 

4. A lightweight-yet-warm double sleeping bag

Top Rated 4

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (40+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This thing is awesome! We’re a big camping family (cheap vacation!) and all have our own sleeping bags. However, I loved the idea of a sleeping bag I could share with my husband and this is the perfect fit. It’s not too much bulkier than an average size sleeping bag, but once you open it up the inside is very spacious! The material is soft and definitely will keep us warm on a chilly summer/fall night.”

 

5. An ultra soft microfiber towel

Top Rated 5

Average rating: 4.9/5 stars (140+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I bought this towel for camping. It is lightweight and folds up very small for its size. The texture is sort of like a chamois, soft and kinda “rubbery”, for lack of a better word. It will absorb a ton of water. Far more than it needs to to dry you off after a shower. It does dry very quickly if you hang it in a breeze. Much quicker than a standard cotton towel.”

 

6. A hand crank power bank with a radio, flashlight, and USB charger

Top Rated 6

Average rating: 4.4/5 stars (340+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This little jewel would provide invaluable during emergencies. It will provide 50 lumen LED light, AM/FM/NOAA radio and even a way to charge phones.”

 

7. A personal water filter

Top Rated 7

Average rating: 4.4/5 stars (340+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “As soon as I got this thing in the mail I went straight to the nastiest, most contaminated thing I could find. There just happened to be a sink full of soaking dishes that worked just fine. Couldnt taste a thing. I even spit some of the water out and it was nice and clear.”

 

8. A spork with a bottle opener

Top Rated 8

Average rating: 4.4/5 stars (1,700+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Well made. Just right for eating that emergency can of pork and beans on the road. Clipped it to the key ring on my car’s AA Maglite along with the P-38 can opener and Gerber 1 1/2″ pocket knife. Too big for a pant’s pocket but just right for a coat’s. Of course it can be clipped to a purse or pack too.”

 

9. All-purpose nylon paracord

Top Rated 9

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (1,700+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Worked great! I brought this with me whenever I went camping or had other outdoor adventures. I used it pretty much every time. The hardest load I put on it was a hammock, which I only had to double the string from the tree to the hammock.”

 

10. A completely waterproof dry bag

Top Rated 10

Average rating: 4.9/5 stars (750+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “We used this dry bag on a trip to French Polynesia. Brought it everywhere-on a boat (standing on outside observation deck in tropical rain), a jet ski tour, a shark excursion, and lunch IN the water. Our stuff stayed totally dry. It’s a good looking bag, people asked where we got it. 10LB green bag, perfect size.”

 

11. A portable personal cooking system

Top Rated 11

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (600+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “In the military this was extremely helpful when we had to be out in the woods for weeks on end. We got really creative in what we can make in the jetboil. We used the hot water for shaving, making coffee, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, hot dogs, hot chocolate, if you can make something with boiling water, we made it.”

 

12. A bottle of versatile 18-in-1 soap

Top Rated 12

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (4,900+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I use this soap for shampoo, body wash, face wash, I put it in my bath, I’ve used it to clean my counters, I’ve used it to clean dishes.”

 

13. A water bottle that will keep liquid cold for 24 hours

Top Rated 13

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (2,600+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “1) Unbelievably effective at holding temperature. Have yet to see an occasion when there is not still ice at the end of the day, no matter how hot it’s been: sitting in a hot car, going through a double class of Bikram yoga (4hrs in 105 degree room!)
2) Incredibly well made. We have had other metal water bottles; they dent; paint chips or peels. Not this one; my son’s still looks brand new after hanging off his backpack, banging around for the past 3 months.”

 

14. A lightweight, durable backpack for day hikes

Top Rated 14

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (5,500+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I needed a packable, waterproof backpack for my trip to Brazil and this was perfect! I wore it while hiking through the jungle in Iguassu Falls, where weather was unpredictable, and it kept all my belongings dry. At one point, I was able to fit a change of clothes, sunscreen, towel, and a bunch of other items.”

 

15. And a bigger, more robust backpack for camping

Top Rated 15

Average rating: 4.5/5 stars (1,500+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “It has endured some serious abuse and keeps on taking it. I would recommend this pack to anyone at this point. As to the pack itself, it has tons of little features. It has locking mechanisms on the lumbar straps, 2 outside pockets that are literally the perfect size for a Nalgene, It has a pocket on the top for random things (I used it for flint and my back up plan of 9V battery and steel wool), At the bottom it has a place for your sleeping bag. All in all a fantastic pack for the price.”

 

16. A ventilated shoe for warm & wet hikes

Top Rated 16

Average rating: 4.5/5 stars (4,300+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I just used these as my primary shoe for a ten day hiking/white water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. I used them for the 7 1/2 mile hike from the upper rim to the lower rim while carrying a 35 lb. pack and they performed exceptionally. My feet never got sore and my toes didn’t get bruised, despite the constant decline of the trail. I also used them during day hikes. Even when crossing streams, they dried relatively quickly and were still comfortable even when wet.”

 

17. And a heavier duty hiking boot for longer hauls

Top Rated 17

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (4,30+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I pretty much submerged these boots in water ENTIRELY, and they are definitely WATERPROOF. They were also incredibly comfortable – I had multiple days of hiking for 12+ hours consecutively, and I cannot stress how comfortable they were. They seem pretty light-weight, great support, solid traction on all sorts of terrain.”

 

18. Fill them shoes with Darn Tough high performance socks

Top Rated 18

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (40+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I am on my feet 12 hours a day wearing steel-toed boots and these help greatly with making my feet comfortable. I have gifted a few pairs to my coworkers and they have purchased several pairs afterwards. They are a bit pricey but I have a few pairs that have lasted 4+ years, if you wear them out, mail them to Darn Tough and they will send you a new pair.”

 

19. The classic Swiss Army Knife

Top Rated 19

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (4,600+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I think that this item should be standard issue to everyone. I have several and if I don’t have a reason to use it daily, someone around me does.”

 

20. A compact 10-piece cookset

Top Rated 20

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (2,300+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This has to be the most complete camping cookware set I have ever purchased. Well finished, fine quality product, pretty solid and tight cookware, no rattling noise when you shake them. It includes a pot with a cover, a frying pan, 2 bowls for drinking water or soup, a soup spoon, bamboo handle spoon, a cleaning loofah and a stainless steel spork, and even though it does not contain a knife, the spork its strong enough to cut through meat, potatoes or carrots.”

 

21. A lightweight yet complete first aid kit

Top Rated 21

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (180+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This one is a terrific size and weight for hiking. It fits anywhere in or on my backpack.”

 

22. A pair of lightweight convertible hiking pants

Top Rated 22

Average rating: 4.4/5 stars (460+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “These are great fitting, light weight, comfortable pants, perfect for hiking in. I will never wear jeans to hike in again. They have a nice straight leg (not wide at all) that fits my body perfectly, and I feel skinny and cute in them too! They also dry incredibly fast. I took these pants to hike around in Switzerland and didn’t want to wear any other pants, I loved these so much.”

 

23. An ultra compact sleeping pad

Top Rated 23

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (100+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Great bang for your buck. Inflates with about 15 breaths. Comfortable on the ground. Shields you from feeling every little leaf and twig under you. Obviously not best for very cold weather camping if you’re needing this to help insulate you from cold ground. But for basic camping and down to about 45-50 degrees it works.”

 

24. A handy headlamp

Top Rated 24

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (200+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I have had several Petzl headlamps which have evolved positively in functionality (e.g. operating the switch with a gloved hand) and the Tikkina is, in my opinion, the perfect end result. The default “on” is bright enough for almost any pre-dawn trekking, approach, or climbing, without fear of running the batteries down. And if you occasionally need extra light, it is available with an extra click.”

 

25. A bottle of water treatment drops

Top Rated 25

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (340+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “There are many ways to get clean water these days. Filters, UV lights, charged salts, chlorine, iodine, etc. They all have PROs and CONs. I prefer the Aquamira drops over the other methods because I never have to worry about dead batteries, dead UV bulbs, broken equipment, foul tastes, or clogged filters. I keep several sets of these around.”

 

26. A state-of-the-art GPS watch

Top Rated 26

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (340+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Did a lot of research on a device that can track my ocean swims, bike rides, runs, heart rate, etc. I have gone on an ocean swim, and it worked like a champ. Mapped my swim, calculated the distance and generated a SWOLF score. The hr sensor was working in the water, but I did go with a hrm-tri strap for better accuracy. Did a 15mi bike ride and it synced easily with my garmin cadence and speed sensor. Post workout data gave me every detail on my ride.”

 

27. A portable high capacity power bank

Top Rated 27

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (900+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This is personally the best portable battery I have purchased in my life. For the iPhone 6s a full charge lasts me a good 4 full charges, its small so its very compact and fits in the pocket nicely when you want to go places and it doesn’t bother you so much when walking around or running around.”

 

28. A 10-liter camping kitchen sink

Top Rated 28

Average rating: 4.5/5 stars (75+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “If you do any camping at all, you soon discover the need for something that holds water. Sometimes it’s for washing dishes, other times it’s for moving water up to camp so you can filter it, sometimes it’s just for washing the dust off your face. It’s always for keeping “dirty” water away from otherwise clean water sources, unless you’re into making someone else sick or messing up the environment.”

 

29. A pack of No Rinse bathing wipes

Top Rated 29

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (35+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Went on a 2.5 trekking trip through Nepal where you couldn’t shower every day – TMI, I know. These were a great alternative. One wipe is plenty for the whole body – remember you can use the other side. Plus, they packed really flat/neatly into my backpack. There really wasn’t a scent, I felt refreshed and it got the sunblock/insect repellant off surprisingly well.”

 

30. A waterproof notebook

Top Rated 30

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (160+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This is the best pad out there. I have carried one of these in my cargo pocket through training and now months in Afghanistan. I keep a daily journal in one and use another for important notes. I will always have one of these with me.”

 

31. A pair of low gaiters

Top Rated 31

Average rating: 4.3/5 stars (65+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “The gaiters were used over some 10 year old waterproof hiking boots on a route following paths cut by snow-melt fed streams that took us in and out of rocky scree, gravel, tundra grasses and 3 inches of fresh snow. I lost track of the number of low water stream crossings, but my feet stayed warm and dry thanks to the gaiters–can’t say the same for my companions. Product was also highly effective at keeping debris out of my boots.”

 

32. A pair of waterproof binoculars

Top Rated 32

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (800+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “The clarity and magnification is pretty remarkable. They are really compact and light weight for what they are. Magnification is about the limit of what you can hold steady by hand without a rest. I went to a football game sitting in the nosebleeds and let a couple strangers next to me use them, they were blown away and ordered a pair on the spot!”

 

33. For extreme emergencies – a personal locator beacon

Top Rated 33

Average rating: 4.5/5 stars (180+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “My boat capsized offshore at 11:31 am. I turned on the signal. The colonel from the coast guard called my wife in the next 2-3 minutes to confirm that I was out fishing. The coast guard helicopter was sent to my location immediately. The helicopter was there very soon.”

 

To discover more top rated products on Amazon or to get in touch with the author, visit WeGravy.com – a new product curation site that hand selects the highest-rated products on Amazon.

 

Where Should You Pitch Your Tent?

Pitch 1

By Lucy Gomez

While established campgrounds offer you restrooms, water and points for your electrical equipment, you have to deal with people going in and out. If you are tired of the noise, the time is now to set off on your own adventure. Gather your gear and head into the wild. Just make sure that you read these tips on how to find a good tent campground.

For the camper, choosing where she sleeps is the most significant decision when picking a spot to pitch a tent. It is vital that you pick a flat ground. Otherwise, you will find yourself lying against the tent wall and off your sleeping mat in the middle of the night – not the best way to wake up.

Also, make sure that the ground is even. This means making sure that there are no sharp protrusions that intermittently interrupt your sleep. An even ground surface will help you wake the next day all charged up and ready to go. If available, prime choices for flat areas are those covered in sand or grass.

Choose to Pitch in Shaded Areas

Once you have found a flat area to pitch the tent, the second most critical consideration for a campsite is shade. What you should aim for is a spot that offers a bit of shade in the morning. It is not fun waking up in the morning to a blazing hot sun heating up your tent.

In addition, a tent in direct sun can become something like a sauna experience. Some tents are even likely to be damaged or show signs of premature aging if left in the sun for too long; therefore, check your tent’s care instructions before you set out camping.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

For your own safety’s sake, be aware of what is looming above and around you. Avoid setting up the tent under a dead tree branch or avalanche and rockslide paths. This calls for you to be extra cautious about such hazards, Mother Nature can be unforgiving. As you choose your campground, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • If you will be camping in rocky terrain, watch out for snake-infested ledges
  • Set camp above the high-water mark, in case of flash floods
  • Use natural wind blockers like rock outcroppings and large boulders to protect yourself from high winds
  • Avoid areas with lots of poison ivy
  • Dense trees of about the same height in a low area away from water offers you protection from lightening

Pitch 2

Via Kenneth Cole Schneider

Protect the Environment

Consider the impact your camp has on the immediate surroundings. Look for a spot that looks like it has been camped in to reduce your overall impact instead of creating your brand new spot. While the wilderness might seem endless, there is a limited amount of it, and protecting what you find goes a long way in ensuring future generations get to enjoy it.

Pitch 3

Via Jeff Wong

Your Privacy

If you are the sort of camper who enjoys her own privacy, you will definitely not want another party raising the tent roof with their noise just a few feet away. A bit of privacy will make your camping experience that much better and enjoyable – and it does highlight what it means to get out into the wilderness.

As you choose your campground, it is important that you know exactly what you want. Trail access, water sources nearby, pets or no pets, the number of people and activities all play a critical role in finding your perfect campground spot. So get out there and find bits of yourself in nature, but make sure you are safe, have fun and leave the site as clean as you found it.