33 Top Rated Hiking and Camping Gear on Amazon

Top Rated 35

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.

 

Top Ten Tips for Solo Females Headed to India

Solo Females India 1

By Emily Pennington

So, ever the over-achiever, I did an enormous amount of research before embarking on my first solo trip to India. I jumped on phone calls and talked extensively with girlfriends who had been before, in addition to scouring top travel blogs and sites like TripAdvisor and HostelWorld. Below are the tips I found most helpful – many of which I discovered on my own out in the wild. Enjoy!

1. Cover Yourself.

I know, I know… It’s not the most feminist approach to open up with SHIELD YOUR BODY FROM THE INEVITABLE KNIVES OF THE MALE GAZE, but it’s important to remember that India has a much more patriarchal culture than the Western world. Misogyny is a very real thing, and literally everyone you meet will happily talk to you about their arranged marriages.

From the moment I got on my plane from Delhi to Rajasthan, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. A quick jaunt down the aisle to the bathroom meant 30 people staring at me, slack-jawed. Temples and tourists sites are no different. India is a BIG place, and there are loads of domestic tourists from smaller or less frequented cities who want to see all the same sites and palaces as you do but perhaps haven’t seen many Westerners.

The quickest way to avoid unwanted attention, sales tactics, and random street groping is to make sure you plan an afternoon of shopping for more traditional Indian garb one of the first 2 days you’re there. Make sure your breasts, shoulders, and legs are covered in baggy/loose fitting clothing. I liked to always carry a scarf and wrap my head up in it to appear even more inconspicuous. Think of it as dress up! It’s hot and quite humid in most parts of India, so the clothes you purchase there will be more appropriate for the climate. Don’t pack too much before you leave, because clothes are cheap as chips there and beautifully made, for the most part. Plus, you get the souvenir of a whole new wardrobe when you get home!

Solo Female India

2. Morning > Night

This one I learned by accident but kept it up the entire trip (thanks, jet lag!). Try to stay up as late as you can your first day in India, rather than opting for a nap. Go to bed around 9 or 10pm and wake up with the sun. In almost every city you visit, there will be sunrise yoga, markets, and morning rituals (especially along the Ganges River). The locals are out in full force, and the light beaming through the morning mist is stunning. A simple walk around your hostel’s neighborhood or along the Ganges will put you eye to eye with singing schoolchildren, local women doing their washing, sadhus meditating, and little Brahmin priests in training doing a very silly looking version of yoga. 😉

The few times I did venture out into the cities at night, it was cacophonous, crowded, difficult to get around, and full of traffic. Because India is not as developed as what I’m accustomed to, the shacks and vinyl signs marking storefronts began to all blur together at night, making it really tough to find anything, even if your rickshaw driver swears it’s “right down that alley!”

Also, it’s worth noting that many regions and cities in India are dry, so alcohol isn’t really an option if you want to go out at night and get wild. I did have one fun walk around Varanasi in the evening, but I was accompanied by friends (and, to be fair, we did get followed by a fake sadhu for about a mile). In my opinion, mornings are where it’s at in India!

Solo Females India 3

3. Stay on Your Toes but Remain Open to Experience.

“You’re going to get raped!” was one of the first things out of everyone’s mouths when I told them that I would be traveling through India alone and without a tour group. The notion that India’s misogynistic culture was pervasive seemed to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Unfortunately, most of the rapes and violence against women that we hear about so frequently on the news involve Indian women. Eve teasing is a bit of an epidemic out there, and it’s a good idea to read up on it here.

That being said, I can happily report that I most certainly did not get raped and didn’t even encounter the random street groping that I’ve heard other female tourists complain about. Okay, maaaaybe once someone grazed my boob in a crowd, and maaaaybe the fake sadhu tried to touch my friend’s butt, but it was subtle and I did not feel threatened in the least. From the stories I’ve heard, if a man does try to grab you, especially on a bus or in a public place, shove him back, make a bit of a scene, and make sure that people know that what he did is NOT OK. The crowd will have your back. As I already mentioned in tip #1, I would highly recommend covering up to avoid unwanted attention. Random men will still approach you all the time, regardless, offering you tours or drives through the mountains on their motorcycle.

It’s up to you to stay on your toes and exercise good judgment. Be polite, yet firm. State boundaries and ask questions. If you’re one of those people who has a hard time saying no, practice saying no in the mirror before you jump on that plane. You’re going to have to do it. A lot. Carry pepper spray or something small if it helps you to feel safer when walking alone.

4. Take Photos with All the Cute Families!

So, yes, men will definitely approach you at random in the street to offer you tours or take a photo with you (a practice which maaaaay or may not be a weird, sexual thing so they can brag to their friends later). But, there are also huge droves of domestic tourists nearly everywhere you’ll go in the form of the cutest, friendliest Indian families that you’ll ever meet who are going to flip out that you are in the same temple as they are.

At first, it might be alarming to constantly be approached by people requesting ”1 photo?” at all the sites and markets, but I found it really fun to swan dive into the strangeness and take on the impromptu photoshoots that often involved a mother shoving a baby into my arms as she yelled commands to her children and other family members to pose in different variations, most certainly taking sooo many more than just “1 photo.”

Indian people were often really excited and genuinely curious about where I was from and what brought me to their country, so these little paparazzi moments felt like a fun and silly way to be a celebrity for a moment. I once got pulled to the front of the line for a bus ride down a mountain once simply because I had been talking to the sweetest family about their 3 year old’s digital camera obsession at the Monsoon Palace. The giddy memories are innumerable – a 12 year old girl was so excited to meet me that she kissed me on the cheek, and once, while hiking deep in the mountains, another little girl was so excited to practice her English with me that she forgot her name.

Solo Female India 4

5. Tigers and Elephants Are Real.

When my trek out of Rishikesh got cancelled and I only had 7 days left of my India journey, I decided that 8am yoga followed by a massive hike every day was the most logical plan B. On a friendly afternoon jaunt to one of Rishikesh’s well-known waterfalls, I skipped past langur monkeys the size of toddlers and scampered up a less-taken side trail with a lovely creek leading to the Ganges.

On the trail, I encountered lots of GIANT animal dung, thinking to myself, “Hmm. That’s odd, I don’t remember there being many horses in Rishikesh.” Later that evening in my guesthouse, the staff seemed really concerned that I had been out hiking alone, citing snakes, tigers, and ELEPHANTS as potential dangers if I stayed out too late. For real.

Lesson learned – If you’re going to hike in the Himalayas, don’t lose track of time and stay out past evening.  Stay on your toes if you’re going to hike alone, and tell a friend or someone at your hostel where you’ll be if you know you’re going to take a gypsy cab up to a mountain temple and scramble your way back into town (i.e. the famously frantic Neelkanth temple).

Solo Female India 6

6. Prioritize Community.

This was one of the best pieces of advice I got before leaving for India alone. Go to a site like HostelWorld.com and specifically seek out reviews from solo female travelers like yourself. They’ll almost always mention things like safety, how it is to walk alone in the neighborhood at night, and how easy it is to make friends in that guesthouse!

I highly suggest picking hostels/guesthouses with wifi in large common areas and communal breakfasts/kitchens so you can easily meet people. Places that made a point to offer tours of local markets and temples are great too, as it can often be impossible to find one once you reach the site itself, plus you really get to know the people you hike around with for the day.

It’s also important to remember that not every local is trying to scam you. I was wandering the alleyways of Varanasi with some friends and some freshly purchased 25 cent kites when a man stopped and offered to teach us how to fly them. Turns out, kites are HUGE in Varanasi, and there’s a massive kite festival there every year. We ended up spending the afternoon on the rooftop of an abandoned building right next to the Manikarnika burning ghat, doing what any respectable adults would do, flying kites! It was easily one of the most memorable moments of my trip, and it never would have happened if we didn’t take a chance on a friendly local with a great vibe.

If an Indian family invites you to dinner – do it! It’s a big part of Indian culture to be hospitable to guests, and the one meal I was able to share in an Indian home was better than any restaurant and accompanied by setting off leftover Diwali fireworks on the rooftop with teenage boys! I regretted not having time to accept offers to share a meal with a Brahmin priest and his wife on this trip and totally swooned over stories fellow backpackers told me about being taken in by a family and shown a more authentic version of Delhi.

Solo Female India 7

7. Take Care of Yourself.

Your health on this adventure is of utmost importance so that you can experience all the colorful ecstasy, unexpected brilliance, and frenetic insanity that India has to offer! Unfortunately, this does mean missing out on a few treats while in the country, but trust me, it’s well worth it. Even my strict adherence to these rules couldn’t stop me from getting a stomach bug!

First of all, don’t eat anything that hasn’t been cooked, liquids that haven’t been purified or boiled, or fruit that’s cut or doesn’t have its skin on. Even the oh-so-tempting mango lassis are made by soaking yogurt in tap water before blending, so don’t do it! No ice either. Buy bottled water for 15 cents a liter or bring your own filtration system (I had a SteriPEN with me). Keep your mouth shut in the shower and brush your teeth with a bottle of water too! Whew!

I must admit, I nerded out a little on the vaccines, but most last 5 years to life, and I figured it was a good idea if I wanted to take my little tukas on future adventures in third world countries. I highly recommend getting your Typhoid/Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, and Tetanus shots before you go.

I heard really mixed things from my friends about malaria pills, bombarded by stories about awful side effects and the apparent nightmares they can cause. I opted yes for the malaria pills, since the fact that it’s an incurable disease freaked me out to no end, and I’m happy I did. If your trip is confined to mostly Northern India, you’ll probably be fine without, but the newer pills they’ve developed no longer cause terrifying dreamscapes, I’m happy to report!

Lastly, bring traveler’s antibiotics! They will come in handy when you or a buddy fall ill and don’t want to traverse around town looking for a doctor who can prescribe you some. At the end of the day, though, this is all just precaution to make your trip even more excellent that it’s already going to be. Use common sense and take care of your body. The street chai is plentiful, and it’s nearly impossible to turn down. 😉

8. Planes vs. Trains

Ok, I’m about to unleash an unpopular and potentially bourgie idea. Planes are the way to go in India (am I a bad backpacker?). Especially if you’re on a 3 week or less trip. Here’s why: the train schedule in India is incredibly difficult to navigate. You’re likely to end up number 28 on a waiting list, and then you’ll have to log in and check the website every few hours the day before your journey to see if you even have a seat! Even the first class sleeper trains are small and crowded, and the meal situation is dire at best.

Planes, on the other hand, are clean, relatively affordable domestically, leave on time, and get you to your destination MUCH faster.

But, if you’re looking to ride a train just for the adventure and sheer insanity that will ensue, read on for my Indian train survival guide. First of all, I really wish that someone would have told me that there’s no dining car on the train, or, if there is, there’s no guarantee that your car will have walking access to it. Instead, people opt to hop off and on the train at certain stations, grabbing snacks at one of the many colorful vendors before the doors slam shut and the train takes off again. The problem with this is that they don’t announce in English how long the train will stay at each stop. In fact, they don’t announce anything in English, so you’re left to befriend your fellow passengers to figure out which town is your destination.

I would really recommend buying a pizza the day of your journey and having them package it up in foil or a Ziploc bag to take with you on the train – saves time and stress wondering how or what you’re going to eat! I’d also suggest bringing significantly more food than you think you’ll need. I got stuck on a train in rural India that kept getting stopped and patrolled by men with rifles walking up and down the aisles, turning a 14 hour train ride into a 17 hour train ride (and I only had 1 meal and a cup of chai the whole time). Portable, safe food is most certainly your friend.

Also, if you’re having trouble buying a train ticket online (it is by far the most confusing thing I’ve ever done on the internet), you can definitely take a taxi to the train station the day before you wish to travel and buy them in person. Two of my friends snagged tickets from Varanasi to Agra this way with much less fuss than I put my little type-A heart through! Lastly, The Man in Seat 61 is a GODSEND. A must-read for anyone taking the trains through Asia. www.seat61.com

Solo Female India 8

9. Bring Treats!

Everyone likes treats. They can be a great way to make friends at your hostel or interact with locals in a simple, organic way. I’m so grateful to my friend, Pam, for recommending this tip before I left. Nearly everywhere you go in India, you will see beggars, many of them children. Apparently these children aren’t even necessarily homeless, their parents might be right around the corner, putting them on the afternoon shift because, hey, cute kids make more money.

I was informed by a few people that these kids have to give their parents everything they bring in at the end of the day, but if you give them something tiny or edible (aka something that’s not worth any money to resell), you get to interact with these little guys and feel awesome, and they get secret treats that their parents don’t know about.

It feels weird writing about this, because it seems so, inherently classist, but I sincerely feel that bringing a smile to some of the poorer kids in India is a fun and incredibly worthwhile part of any trip. After kite flying in Varanasi, for example, we had extra 10 cent kites left over (because we didn’t crash them!), and we ended up with a small parade of children following us as we handed them out. The kids were happy, we were happy, and it was a stellar day. Do it. Trust me!

Solo Female India 9

10. Climb all the things. Dine on all the rooftops. Yoga with a view.

I brought my yoga mat to India. I didn’t need to, because any class you attend should have extras there ready for you, but I’m so glad I added this extra bulk to my packing list. India is FULL of amazing views. There are balconies and rooftop terraces in urban as well as rural areas, and even the most budget-friendly hostel usually has a dining or common area overlooking the city.

Waking up at 5am most mornings and doing yoga on the roof while watching the sun rise and listening to the sounds of the city waking up were some of my favorite moments in India. Plus, it centered my mind and body for the inevitable chaos that would ensue while venturing around on each day.

Utilizing these overlooks for dining or stretching provides a great way to feel like you’re still in the city, while taking a much needed break from it. Parakeets and flying foxes whiz by in Udaipur, singing children skip down the street, and calls to prayer are sounded.

I would also highly recommend climbing ALL THE THINGS. Climb trees on your hikes! Climb up the sides of waterfalls for a better view! Maintain a sense of danger nerd-itude when exploring. This is an adventure, after all. Any temple tours you see that involve hiking to the top of a mountain – do it! It’s incredibly serene and magical to watch the sun rise at Kunjapuri Temple, outside of Rishikesh, with a hot cup of chai in your hands. I am aching to go back and trek all the way to Tungnath next time – the highest temple in the world!

Solo Female India 5

No matter what your friends and family say to try to warn you against traveling to India as a solo female, it can be done safely and on the cheap. Do your research, book your travel/lodging in advance if you’re worried about where you’ll stay, and keep your wits about you!

Happy adventuring!

 

Know Your Knots Infographic

Know your knots 1

Making Effective Knots Made Simple

Feel like you are all thumbs when it comes to doing knots?  You are definitely not alone!

As outdoor enthusiasts, we all know that we need to do knots with our ropes for everything from camping to fishing and survival.  It is obviously important when out in the wilderness to ‘know your knots’.

Know your knots 2First of all we all wish we knew more about doing effective knots.  Often knowing which knot to use for each situation can be a challenge.  Which knot is best for which situation?

The other difficulty is knowing HOW to do these knots correctly.  Even following someone else can sometimes be confusing as not everyone can explain things well.

So wouldn’t it be good to have something you could refer to and follow easily?  Kinda ‘Know your Knots 101’.

Knots are something we come across in everyday life, from tying your laces to putting on a tie, but what are some of the simplest, easiest to learn knots that can help you out while out camping, hiking, fishing or even sailing! Here you can check out a very cool infographic on some of the top knots for each situation, how to tie them and what you’re likely to use them for!

Sarah Brown from http://www.ptwinchester.co.uk/ has shared this very useful resource below:

Know Your Knots Infographic

Know your knots:

To conclude, the key to know your knots is to practice the ones you think you will need most.  The knots you choose will naturally depend on the type of outdoor activity you are doing.  Therefore practice, practice, practice…

Most of all keep this knowledge with you when you are out in the great outdoors because you never know when you might need it the most!

Know your knots 3

Camping for Women sincerely thanks Sarah Brown and http://www.ptwinchester.co.uk/ for sharing this fabulous resource.

What you must have in your First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit 1

By Oceana Setaysha

A first aid kit is a must-carry for any hiker or camper who understands and respects the wild environment they are exploring. Regardless of the length of your trip, how far you will be traveling, or whether you’ll be going alone or with companions, you should have a personal first aid kit at the very least.

Why Build Your Own First Aid Kit

While you can certainly buy first aid kits in most pharmacies, outdoor equipment stores and online, there are a number of benefits associated with putting your own first aid kit together. The most obvious benefit is that you can tailor it to suit your specific needs, where you’re traveling to, what you’re concerned about and so on. However the second benefit is that you’re familiar with every part of the kit, having put it together yourself. You’ll know exactly what you have, and you’ll be prepared to use it if the opportunity presents itself.

There are some ‘basics’ that we like to include in our hiking and camping field kits, which we feel should be present in most well-stocked kits.  Purchasing a well stocked kit to begin with is always a good idea.  It is more economical that starting from scratch.  You can then build specific items from there to match your intended location.


Of course there will always be compromises; not everything can be carried. You may also choose to include additional items depending on your specific trip.

Here is a list of some of the essentials that should be in your own first aid kit:

Gloves

Packing gloves in your first aid kit, in a bag of their own so they don’t get tangled in any zips, is always a good idea if you think you might be treating someone else. However if you’re packing a kit just for yourself, they’re probably not required.

Drugs/Meds

If you take any kind of medication on a regular basis, carrying a backup in your first aid kit is a smart idea. Also present, at a bare minimum, should be painkillers, anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines.

Antiseptic Wipes + Betadine

You should always have some kind of antiseptic in your kit. Personally we choose to have both wipes, for cleaning up, wiping blood off tools etc.  We also have Betadine, which is an iodine solution to prevent infections.

Blisters And Minor Wound Kit

While we do carry other plasters and dressings, a specific blister and minor wound ‘baggie’ within your kit is handy.  It is something you can reach for easily. In ours we have wound closure strips for large lacerations, sterile gauze swabs, various sized plasters, padded gel plasters (for blisters).

Bandages and Dressings

In terms of the dressings and bandages we have, it will ultimately depend on how much you want to carry. If you have space we’d suggest an absorbent field dressing (military grade is best), a crepe bandage, a pressure bandage (for immobilizing or snake bites), and a small bandage that can be cut up. A sticky medical tape like leucoplast is also a smart idea.

Syringe + Blunt Needle

You won’t be giving anyone any shots, but a syringe is a useful tool for cleaning up a wound with water. While you can probably get away with just the syringe, the blunt needle increases the pressure to clean the wound out.

Tweezers

For removing splinters and thorns as well as for dealing with infected ingrown hairs on rub areas when you hike a pair of sharp tweezers are definitely worth taking.

Safety Pin

Safety pins are also handy for removing splinters, and offer a way to keep a sharp point in your kit without too big a chance it will stick you. These can also be used to make a sling tidy, and many other things on the trail.

Shears/Scissors/Swiss Army Knife

A pair of shears (with a blunt edge for quickly removing clothing) or a pair of scissors, are a necessity in a first aid kit. Of course if you’re trying to cut down on what you’re bringing a Swiss Army Knife or similar multi-tool will probably be suitable.

Whistle

If you’re injured and cannot seek help, yelling out for hours is exhausting, dehydrating, and not always loud enough to attract the attention of rescuers. A whistle on the other hand can be blown with minimal effort and create a far-reaching sound.

Lighter

A spare lighter is good to have in a kit for disinfecting tweezers or pins when removing splinters and thorns. Also, if you’re treating someone a fire should be your next priority after taking care of their immediate injuries. On a less serious note, some heat applied to a plaster can help it stick better.

CPR Mask

If you’re travelling alone, this is unlikely to be necessary.  Although if you’re travelling in a group a CPR mask allows you to administer CPR on another individual safely.  That is, without worrying about blood, vomit or saliva getting on or in you.

Head Torch

You might carry a torch or head torch with you in your gear.  However if you’ve had an accident and you’re not able to reach that torch having one in your first aid kit is a really good idea. Make sure it’s stocked with batteries!

First Aid Training

While the equipment that you have is pretty important, you should also consider undertaking a first aid course. Most of the time these courses are done over a single weekend, and are relatively affordable.  They provide an individual with all the skills they need to treat a variety of injuries as a first responder. As a hiker and camper you are often quite a distance away from mainstream medical care.  Therefore knowing these first aid skills might save your life or the life of someone with you.

 

And finally…

A First Aid Guide

Camping First Aid GuideAmanda Parent has put together a first aid guide for dealing with all common first aid situations.

This inexpensive and potentially life-saving resource is available electronically from the Camping for Women website.

Whatever you plan to do in the great outdoors, always play it safe by having all the essential first aid equipment, resources and knowledge with you.  You never know when you will really need it.

 

Survival Preparation Tips for Wilderness Camping

Wilderness Camping 1

By Stephanie McHugh

Wilderness camping is the ultimate unplugged-in-nature experience. There is physical challenge involved because all of your needs are carried on your back. Being imbedded in nature is best enjoyed when you have essentials for survival. Many of the tips and tricks of a successful wilderness camping trip are learned by experience.

Preparation for wilderness camping

In addition to packing the right things for a wilderness camping hike, some steps in preparation are a bit more involved. The number one tip is to break in new hiking boots before you hit the trail; a minimum of 50 miles of walking beforehand provides good insurance against blisters. Other prep tips follow:

  • Wilderness Camping 2If you have a new tent, set it up a time or two before your trip, to avoid possibly having to struggle during setup in inclement weather.
  • Do some research on the types of dangerous wildlife you might encounter on your camping trip, and be prepared. For areas with a lot of bears, for example, wear bells on your backpack, to avoid surprising a mother with bear cubs. Also, be sure to carry some sort of campsite locker or bear bag so that at night you can lock up food and everything else that emits any type of scent, such as moisturizer, bug spray, and toothpaste.
  • There may not be access to GPS or any other electronics in the wilderness. Learn how to use a compass, and pack one for the journey, along with a map of the area.
  • A hydration system is another chief consideration, when wilderness hiking and camping. If there are plenty of water sources where you’ll be camping, you can depend on a purification system of some kind. A CamelBak system that helps you carry a few days’ worth of water may be needed, if you aren’t sure of encountering natural water supplies.

Essentials to pack for backcountry camping

The excitement of braving the wilderness can quickly lose its charm for a wide variety of reasons. Backpack space and weight is limited. Thanks to skilled campers, you can be sure of various items that are worth their weight. In addition to more obvious necessities, such as a sharp knife, you’ll want to find room in your pack for the following items:

  • Wilderness Camping 3A ground mat is very lightweight and serves a great purpose. You and your gear can usually avoid being soaked, even if the ground becomes wet as you sleep at night.
  • Pack extra plastic trash bags, which have many great uses. A trash bag can be used as a backpack cover, an emergency poncho, and a catchment system for rainwater.
  • Include some binder clips on your backpack, to make it easy to hang clothing to dry at night or during the day, when you’re hiking.
  • Wilderness Camping 4Bring a lighter and some dryer lint, for getting fires started. Lint is virtually weightless and yet serves as a great fire starter.
  • Duct tape can serve many helpful purposes, such as patching holes and removing objects from your socks, such as cheat grass spines. Bungee cords also have many uses on wilderness camping trips.
  • Bring along a whistle, which can be of help in many different circumstances. The noise can scare bears and help you find camping partners, if separated in the backcountry.

Be sure to share your secrets of enjoying wilderness camping. With the right kind of preparation, the experience can be positively – as opposed to negatively – unforgettable.

Wilderness Camping 5

Planning Your Hike while Backpacking

Planning your hike 1

By Janessa Tice Miller

Planning your hike should consider some key things before you head out on a backpacking trip.  Doing this correctly from the start will help ensure your hike goes smoothly and safely.

Planning Your Hike Route & Daily Mile Goal

Planning your hike 2Before you can do anything else on a backpacking trip, you need to plan the route that you will hike. It could take on the form of a long through-hike, a week on a trail, or just a night or two out in the wilderness. Whatever the case, you need to narrow down your route and prepare.

Once you decide where you are going, you should plan how many miles you would like to hike within each day. Be realistic! It’s important that you know your own physical limits, and realize how many miles you can or cannot hike. It’s a good idea to try out a few day hikes first, just to test out your own stamina.

You don’t have to hike the exact number of miles each day, but you will want to hit very close to your goal.

Get Familiar With Your Route Each Morning

Planning your hike 3Before you ever leave on your trip, you will want to be familiar with the layout of your full trip. But the intricacies of the day ahead must be looked at individually before you head off in the morning. Make sure you are not wasting your time by taking an ill move, and check on how far you need to walk each day, and where you aim to camp. You should always carry maps of your route with you to assist in this process.

It’s also important to be continually aware of and checking on water sources. Some days you may need to hike a bit further than normal. Or you may need to readjust your route slightly if water levels are down, for example. So always keep a larger goal in mind, but focus on the day ahead on each individual morning.

Take Consistent, Scheduled Breaks Throughout The Day

Planning your hike 5If you are planning your hike to go all day, experts say you should consistently stop to rest. With each rest stop plan to grab a protein-boosting snack, drink some water, and sit down to rest or take a quick nap.

The length of your rest will depend on your own body and the amount of miles you are hiking. Some people like to take 5-10 minute breaks every hour. Others take 15-30 minutes every two hours. Some people just sit down and grab a snack.  Others always take off their shoes and enjoy a 15 minute nap.

The point of these rest breaks is to give your body the boost it needs to stay healthy and energized. You can play with different systems to figure out what works best for your own health and hiking style.  Then ensure to be consistent in whatever you choose.

Make Sure Someone Knows Where You Are and When You Plan to Return

Before you leave, you need to make sure that someone knows where you’re going and when you should be back.  This is most important when planning your hike. It is a preventive safety measure that is always wise. If you go missing, someone will know where and when to look for you.  Camping for Women’s free P.I.N. (Planned Itinerary Notification) is something that is specifically designed for this purpose.

It is also important to make sure that you have obtained any permits or passes you might need for the area you are planning to hike. In many places, these permits are also an added safety measure.  This is because the authorities know when a person has not appeared that should have left a trail.

Planning your hike 6

Wilderness Safety and Survival

Wilderness 1

By Iris West

If you are a fan of activities that often take you to the wilderness such as camping and hiking, then it is important that you familiarize yourself with safety and survival for the wilderness. If you have little or no outdoor survival skills, then it’s best to do a little research before starting your trip.  Remember desert, forest and clear skies will be your closest friends. Also of much benefit is to have an idea of your enemies too; including bugs, some animals and some flies!

Packing for the wilderness

If it is your first time, you need to know about the essentials that you need to pack before you leave the house. First of all, travel light and anything non-essential should not accompany you on your trip. Always pack for the estimated time that you will be there. For instance, if the hike will take no more than three days and nights, then you should not pack for a fourth. You should only pack what you can carry as dragging unnecessary and/or extra weight may only endanger you and those around you. Knowing what to pack and how to pack is both a survival and safety skill, most especially if you are travelling alone. Some essentials that you need to pack include:

  • Utensils
  • Flashlight or other sustainable source of light that does not rely on electricity for recharge
  • Map and compass as well as any other navigation equipment that you can use effectively
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Shelter equipment among others that you need to read up on depending where in the world you are.

Wilderness 2

Understand each person’s skills

If you are travelling as a group, it is important that you understand the skills and contributions of each member of the group. Those who do not have survival skills can be assigned tasks that do not require specific skills such as the collection of firewood. That is to say that they should play a supportive role. If you are alone, it is equally important that you know the extent of your skills. For instance, can you build a fire without using a lighter or matches? If not, then you will need to carry them as essentials.

Always follow the trail

Remember that you are out in the wilderness and you are no doubt bound to come across a number of wild animals. It is therefore, important that for your own safety, you follow the trails. However tempting it might be, do not wander off to create your own path unless you have a trained guide with you. Some trails are also equally dangerous so it is important that you watch your step.

Do not just eat or drink anything

Not everything that has meat on it is edible and in just the same way, not every plant is edible. If you have no idea what is edible and what is not, then do not attempt to eat anything. It is much better to carry your own food instead of eating anything out in the wilderness.

Watch your fire

Wilderness 3It might be tempting and reassuring to just keep adding wood to the fire, especially if you do not have a stove to use. That might be the beginning of a fatal fire. Always watch your fire so that the flames do not grow out of control. At the same time, account for the wind strength and speed as it might just carry embers around and start an uncontrollable fire. Always put out any unmonitored fires, especially when you go to sleep. Otherwise you will end up starting a wilderness fire.

Request to be accompanied by a guide

This applies if you (when travelling alone) or anyone in the group, has safety or survival knowledge. If there is no guide available, because not all places have guides, then align yourself/yourselves with a group that has a knowledgeable person of the area. I would however recommend that before you even plan the trip, you familiarize yourself with basic survival skills such as building a fire or fishing.

Stick to and with the group

Unless you are travelling alone in some secluded part of the wilderness, it is always important to stick with a group. Alone, you are an easy target to some wild animals and there is increased chance of getting lost. As a group however, you have the collective knowledge as well as strength in numbers. You will also enjoy the sight of animals in their habitat. When sticking together in a group, some animals might appear to be your friends. However don’t go too close to them to test this impression!

Wilderness First Aid KitHave an emergency first aid kit

Even if you do not have medical training, you should ensure you have basic first aid skills. If you don’t, then you should at least have a first aid booklet or written guide.

In any case, always carry a first aid kit for emergencies. There are so many types of first aid kits available, you are bound to find one that is perfect for your circumstances.

Familiarize yourself with safety procedures

Just because you are out in the wilderness, does not mean that there aren’t emergency safety procedures. In the event of an emergency, you need to be aware of what to do before you get additional aid or assistance. It is therefore necessary to learn the procedures relevant to your area as well as the emergency contacts.

One other the daytime safety precaution that you should never forget is ‘never walk bare foot’ (the wilderness poses lots of threats).

At night, ‘walk around the camp site and always zip your tent while you sleep’.

Do not take risks that you cannot safely get out of

The thrill of being in the wilderness might make you take unnecessary risks. If you know you cannot get out of any situation safely, then it is not worth getting into it in the first place. For instance, do not dive into the river without knowledge of its depth and speed. However, if you really want to then consider if are you an exceptional swimmer and diver. If not, then avoid it.

In short, never take your personal safety for granted.  You can never be too careful.

Wilderness 4

Common First Aid Treatments Needed by Hikers

First aid treatments 1

By Stephanie McHugh

Hiking is a robust activity that frequently results in injuries. A wide range of injuries are common among hikers. Anyone going on a lengthy hike could benefit from packing basic first aid supplies for the journey. Carry your first aid hiking equipment in a clear plastic bag, to minimize the added weight.

By keeping a handy first aid kit packed and ready to go on your hiking excursions, you don’t have to worry about forgetting something important that could lead to a painful outcome.

Sunburn

First aid treatmentsSunburn avoidance is an important consideration when preparing for a hike. Include sunscreen in your first-aid kit, to protect against painful sunburn. There is more to good sunburn prevention for hikers than wearing a reliable sunscreen, however.

A hat that provides shade for the ears, neck, and face is standard for many hikers. Sunglasses can also be important, depending on where you are hiking and the level of sun exposure on your trail. Clothing provides added protection. Clothes created just for hikers often include UV blockage. Simply wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt can accomplish the same goal.

In case of sunburn, pack burn ointment in your first-aid hiking kit.

Bug Bites

First aid treatments 3Dealing with pesky insects such as gnats, mosquitos, and wasps is a normal part of hiking. If stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet, remove the stinger. A cold pack, anti-itch creams, and pain relievers can help with insect bites.

In the event of a severe reaction, such as difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.

Blisters

First aid treatments 4Painful blisters are commonly suffered by hikers. Moleskin bandages are very effective at helping to prevent blisters and protecting blisters that have developed. Moleskin is a heavy, durable cotton fabric that provides a cushion against painful rubbing. Your first aid kit should include a pin or small knife, to prick the blister. Use an alcohol swab or flame to sterilize the point or edge.

Carefully massage the blister to drain the fluids, keeping the overlying skin cover in place. Apply antibiotic cream before putting on a moleskin bandage. Adding an additional layer of protection with athletic tape is also helpful.

Twisted Ankle

First aid treatments 5The terrain on hikes can become challenging, which is why it’s important to wear hiking boots that protect the ankles. Even with the added support, however, a wrong step can result in a twisted or sprained ankle. If there is swelling or discoloration, immediate first aid treatment is needed.

First, elevate the ankle to at least the height of the chest. Rest for as long as possible. Do not put stress or weight on the ankle. Include an ankle wrap in your first aid kit, to supply pain-relieving stability.

If walking to get medical treatment is unavoidable, create a makeshift splint that supports and protects the ankle. This can be done using the injured person’s hiking boot. Remove the laces from the boot but keep the sprained ankle inside of it. Use the laces but tie them above the boot. In case of this type of injury, it’s also good to pack Aspirin or some other type of pain reliever in your first aid kit.

Exposure to Poisonous Plants

Poisonous Plants - Stinging Nettle
Stinging Nettle

There are often poisonous plants on hiking trails, such as poison ivy and stinging nettles. Prevention is best. Become familiar with the types of poisonous plants you could encounter on your hike.

If you become exposed, wash off the affected area within 10 minutes or as soon as possible, but do not use warm or hot water for rinsing. If water isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or alcohol wipe. Clothing, shoes, and anything else that comes into contact with poisonous plants should be washed because it can cause further exposure.

Calamine lotion usually provides relief for the severe redness and itching that can develop. Emergen-C tablets can provide topical relief if applied to the affected area because they contain ascorbic acid.

For more information on identifying poisonous plants, check out a more in-depth article by clicking here. 

Snake Bite

First aid treatments 7If a snake bites you while on the hiking trail, do not try any of the treatments for snake bite that are widely represented on television. It has been proven, for example, that it is of no help to try to suck out poison, to apply a tourniquet, or to use a suction device. You could make things worse by applying a cold pack.

According to experts, the only effective treatment is a dose of antivenin.

First clean the wound with antiseptic wipes or soap and water and then bring the victim for medical treatment as quickly as possible. If unable to be carried out, have the victim walk slowly without the burden of a pack. Every 15 minutes, mark the edge of swollen areas with an ink pen, which will help a doctor determine the extent of envenomation.

Abrasions

First aid treatments 8If you suffer scrapes or other types of abrasions on the hiking trail, remove debris as soon as possible by scrubbing the affected area with soap and a gauze pad. This could be painful.

After rinsing, apply antibiotic ointment and a gauze pad held in place with medical tape.

 

List of First Aid Supplies

This list of first aid items isn’t very long, but bringing recommended supplies can make a huge difference on a hike.

  • Sunscreen
  • Burn ointment
  • Cold pack
  • Anti-itch creamFirst aid treatments 9
  • Pain reliever, such as aspirin
  • Moleskin bandages
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Straight pin or small knife
  • Ankle wrap
  • Calamine lotion
  • Emergen-C tablets
  • Ink pen
  • Gauze pad
  • Medical tape
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Athletic tape

You never know when one of the common hiking injuries will require first aid treatment. Get your first-aid kit packed and ready for your future hikes. Chances are, you’ll be very glad you did.

You can also get your very own copy of Camping for Women’s Camping First Aid Guide which has more in-depth information covering many more scenarios in nature.  Check it out by clicking here or on the image below.

Camping First Aid Guide Cover

 

 

Poisonous Plants to Beware of on Hikes

Beware poisonous plants while hiking

By Stephanie McHugh

You may think that having proper hydration, broken-in hiking boots, some nature, and perhaps bug repellant is all a hiker really needs. But an encounter with one of many poisonous plants is all it may take to learn how things really are. Some knowledge about poisonous plant life is important when hiking in untamed areas. Without such information, hikers can suffer such misery as eye and skin irritation, extreme fatigue, and nausea experienced as a result of a brush against the wrong kind of plant.

Oil from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac contains a substance that can cause blisters and rashes known as “contact dermatitis”. The oil, called urushiol oil, adheres to almost any surface it comes into contact with, including clothing, blankets, and towels. The rashes caused by an encounter with any of these plants are severe about 25 percent of the time, due to allergies. The rash can persist from two to five weeks, and a prescription of prednisone may be needed to halt skin damage, particularly in the eyes.

More about Poison Ivy

Poisonous Plants - Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a widespread problem throughout much of North America, including Quebec and all of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. In the mountainous areas of Mexico, hikers can also encounter this troublesome plant. Although it can grow in open fields, it is more common for poison ivy to flourish in wooded areas, especially along breaks in a tree line. Numerous rhymes are used to describe the appearance of poison ivy, to help people of all ages avoid an unfortunate encounter. The following are a few of those rhymes:

  • “Leaflets three; let it be.”
  • “Hairy vine, no friend of mine.”
  • “Longer middle stem; stay away from them.”
  • “Berries white, run in fright.”

Poisonous Plants: More about Poison Oak and Poison Sumac

Poison oak flourishes in the shady canyons of valleys and mountains of Canada and the western U.S. Poison oak also grows in leaves of three. The color of the poisonous plant varies from green to red, depending on the season.

Poisonous Plants - Poison Sumac
Poison Sumac

Poison sumac is a small tree or shrub. The leaves are two-to-four inches long. Their shapes are oval to oblong, and they taper to a sharp point. Greenish flowers about 0.2 inches across grow in loose clusters. Poison sumac is found exclusively in flooded or very wet soils, such as peat bogs and swamps in the eastern U.S. and Canada.

Giant Hogweed

Poisonous Plants - beware when hikingGiant hogweed can be encountered on a hike in Central Asia, Europe north of the Alps, the northern U.S., and Canada. These poisonous plants are native to Caucasus and Central Asia. Outwardly, giant hogweed looks like common hogweed. The difference between the two is that giant hogweed carries a phototoxic sap throughout all parts of the plant. If your skin comes into contact with the sap of giant hogweed, it will become hypersensitive to ultra-violet rays. The result of a brush with giant hogweed can be painful blisters that leave persistent scarring. If the eyes come into contact with the poisonous plant, the result can be blindness. Should you ever encounter giant hogweed on a hike, wash the sap off with soap and water as quickly as possible and avoid being in the sunlight for about 48 hours.

Poisonous plants -The Deadly Manchineel
The Deadly Manchineel

Manchineel

Manchineel is deadly, if ingested. It’s important that hikers in certain areas of the Caribbean and Florida become familiar with this innocent-looking toxic plant. Manchineel has one-to-two-inch pomes that resemble apples. Even brief contact with toxic parts of the plant can cause burning blisters.

Stinging Nettles

Poisonous Plants - Stinging Nettle
Stinging Nettle

If you are hiking in many areas of the U.S., Canada, Asia, Africa, Europe, or South American, you may encounter painful stinging nettles. If the stinging hairs of the plant make skin contact with a hiker, the result can be redness and severe itching.

A good tip for avoiding problems on an adventurous hike is to study about local poisonous plants before setting out. It’s probably safe to say, however, that staying on manmade hiking trails is another way to avoid an unwanted encounter with toxic plants.

 

Survival Skills: How to Build a Simple Shelter

Survival Text

By Mitra Cazaubon

Waiting till building a shelter is your only option, isn’t a wise idea. If you are a camper, hiker or just an outdoor enthusiast, make shelter building one of your skills. In a survival situation time is of the essence and having to rebuild a shelter because it wasn’t done well, is not the best use of your time and energy.

In this article, you will learn the general principles of building a shelter and detailed instructions on build a sturdy A-frame debris shelter. You will need a knife or suitable cutting tool.

#1 Find a Suitable Location

Avoid low line areas as they may be prone to flooding or rising tide. Choose an elevated spot but keep in mind the higher up a mountain you go the colder it gets. It should be flat and cleared of overhanging branches and dead standing trees. Also, remove all debris to ensure there are no dangerous critters on the ground.

Consider the availability of materials you will need and other necessities, such as water. Expending all your energy to carry materials to your site will leave you too tired to build a good shelter, or the loss of sunlight may leave you without one.

#2 Collect Your Materials for Shelter

When collecting wood, avoid using any trees with white milky sap. Most are poisonous.

Find two Y branches and cut it your height. Also, get one ridge pole twice your height to use as the spine for your shelter.

If you can’t get any Y branches two straight ones can work. Ensure that these branches are straight and sturdy. Collect small sticks and branches.

For the roof you will need leaves, small twigs and debris lying around, so hold onto the off cuts.

#3 Build Shelter

Before you start building your A-frame debris shelter find the direction of the wind. Your entrance should be parallel to it.

Lift the two Y sticks and ensure the base is no more than 4ft apart. Dig two small holes where you placed them and join the Ys at the top. Now, put your ridge pole between the Ys.

Dig a small hole at the opposite end of the ridge pole to keep it in place. If you didn’t get the Y sticks use your two straight sticks and use a tripod lashing to achieve the same effect.

To see how to tie tripod lashing check out: http://www.animatedknots.com/lashtripod/#ScrollPoint

Foundation frame

Your survival shelter needs to be big enough for you to lying down in it and sit in the entrance. At this point, you’re A-frame shelter should look like a triangle from all sides.

Roofing

Place small sticks and branches on either side of your ridge pole. Alternate the sides then add a stick the same length of the ridge pole to hold your branches in place.

Weave tiny sticks, vines or tree back (natural cordage) between the sticks to form a lattice. This is to keep debris from falling between the sticks and also to keep them in place.

Now start adding the off cuts and leaves. You can weave them between the cordage.

This layer of leaves and debris needs to be at least 1ft to 2ft thick for protection from the wind and rain.

Building the roof

Add whatever is available after you have put your small twigs and leaves.

Keep an eye out for snakes and scorpions when picking up debris.

For the floor of your A-frame shelter, you can add some big leaves for comfort and insulation. An asset would be a mylar blanket which will provide added insulation; this should be in your survival kit.

Optional – Make a door using big leaves or build a reflector wall to block the wind.

Build a simple shelter

Practice building a shelter until you can build one in under one hour. Familiarize yourself with the best wood in your area and techniques to help you improve your time.

Having a shelter is a basic need, whether in a survival situation or just enjoying an overnight camp with friends.

The best gear you can have is your skills so add shelter building to your list.

Here is a video made that shows the finished shelter: