I don't know about where you are... but we have had a wet and humid summer. YUCK! And due to this wet and humid summer we are having one of the worst seasons of mosquitoes and horse mosquitoes we have had a long time. Sitting outside is even a bother as the lil buggers seem to just attack your ankles (weird!). Me, my wife and my girls look like pin cushions after just a little bit outside.
Enough is enough!
Some might figure out a way to conjure up some sort of flame thrower to decimate the entire population within hundreds of yards of your home, camper or campsite. I did think of actually some sort of bug bomb while swatting at the little blood suckers...Anywho!
Some people aren't all that excited about spraying DEET all over themselves and especially their kids to ward off a few flys or bugs. I get it. Well there is another way. DETER from Mariner Biomedical Inc. is an all natural no DEET option to keep those lil blood suckers at bay.
Hiking Forward was first introduced to DETER last year as we and other outdoor bloggers were readying to attend Hell Hike and Raft. I took plenty of DETER's single packets of Insect Repellent with me as did the rest of our crew. But to our fortune there were no bugs at 8,000 feet and none in Hells Canyon. The temps in Hells Canyon were upwards of 105-110. I think that had something to do with it. Even the bugs wanted nothing to do with that kind of heat.
Since Hell Hike and Raft, DETER has been my go to for insect repellent given it's all natural properties, it's actual very pleasant smell and oh yeah the most important part... It works!
For those of you have been following for a while you may recall this video from last year talking about DETER.
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It's not everyday that I get to test a product that is featured in the annual Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide. Fortunate for me I was able to get my hands... and feet into a pair of the new Oboz Scapegoat Mids. As with all my Oboz, there is minimal if any break in time. Usually, I slip them on and go. The true fit, comfort and stability of all of their shoe and boots take hold and allow you to hit the trail with minimal effort. This is one of the many reasons I love all my Oboz!
As mentioned, Backpacker reviewed and offered the Scapegoat as one of the best All Terrain Mid on the market for 2016. The tough outsole and durable upper make this a choice for tough trails said Backpacker. I cant agree more. The boot has the look and feel of a hightop sneaker but has the performance of my Oboz Bridger Mid BDry yet with the added flexibility and tons of breatheability making this the ultimate summer tough trail boot.
I wore the boots since the day I got them, but really put them to the test on the Ozark Trail in southeastern Missouri in June. The boots not only handled the rocky and diverse terrain but also ensured a fantastic grip after a rain storm created slick trail conditions.
The heat and humidity were no match for these Oboz, teamed up with a lightweight hiking sock from Point6 my feet stayed drier then normal and non a single hot spot formed over the course of three days hiking.
Tech Specs per Oboz
UpperMesh with Synthetic Leather Overlays
Abrasion Resistant Rubber Coated Toe & Heel Mudguard
Elastic Scree Collar
Compression Molded EVA
Lightweight PU heel plug
EVA Super Skin (ESS) Forefoot Armoring
Sizing 8-12, 13, 14
Weight M9: 16.3 oz 462 g
It's okay to admit it, your done. You are tired of getting up off the ground in the morning when camping and it takes a cocktail of three Vitamin I's, two cups of coffee and a hot shower to make you feel human again by noon. You are finished with the tin man persona and being called "grumpy" "old" and friends continuing to ask "are you okay" as you grunt towards your second cup of coffee.
Let me introduce you to the Sound Asleep Dream Series Air Mattress. Now, I know what you are thinking, "Scott, really? An air mattress!" You might be saying "Heck I will end up on the ground anyway!" I know, I know...but this is not the air mattress of old. This is the air mattress of now that is comfortable, durable and will keep you almost 20 inches off the cold and hard ground ALL night.
Hiking Forward was asked to review this model a few months ago from the good people at www.3beds.com. 3Beds.com sole mission is “Protecting Good People from Bad Air Mattresses.” and we here at Hiking Forward are happy to be helping them fulfill their very noble mission (because we have all woken up on the ground after falling a sleep on a bad air mattress.
We began at home testing the product to ensure proper usage, fit and pack-ability while at home prior to our family summer trip to southeastern Missouri. The first thing we noted was that the product inflated quickly for as large of a mattress that it is. The unit comes installed with an electric pump with a storage area for the cord. This may sound like a small feature, but I found it to be quite smart, given the potential for the plug to potential puncture the mattress.
Oh by the way... AN ELECTRIC PUMP! No more hand pumps, foot pumps now or 4 D battery pumps that NEVER come close to inflating the normal camping air mattress to a comfortable level. Plug the unit in, turn the knob to inflate and stand back and watch at your new comfortable bed comes to life.
Once inflated the bed is very comfortable and spacious for two people. On our trip, we kept it simple and used sleeping bags instead of creating a full proper bed. When the mattress fully inflates it creates a nice outer ridge to keep you on the bed. This is helpful when laying in the bed as well as creates a significant air ridge for sitting on the edge when needing to get dressed or put on your shoes in the morning.
In addition both me and my wife testing out this air mattress we did a side by side comparison. As we used the Dream Series our girls slept on a other camping style air mattress in the tent near us. We had the same environmental conditions and both were inflated with their separate on-board inflating motors. While our mattress was 19 inches theirs was approximately only 8 inches tall. After a night of sleep each we woke up comfortable, rested and still with easily 90% of the air and firmness left in the air mattress.
Our girls weren't so lucky! Visible air voids were noticeable in their air mattress as they moved about in the morning. They would struggle to get off the mattress due to the loss of air. Their mattress looked more like a waterbed then an air mattress. Both girls asked up to put their air mattress out of its and their misery and get them one like ours.
Overall the mattress gets high marks from Hiking Forward for comfort, being durable and being a great value. Think about all the old camping style air mattresses you have bought over the years from your local department stores. This mattress is probably a fraction of what you have spent on all those that left you on the cold ground every morning.
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The Tribe Provisions HydeTech 20 oz Water Bottle I received is amazing. It is a rubber-coated, vacuum-insulated, stainless steel water bottle with a clip. After a campout, I could not find my water bottle. When I found it a day later, the temperature was the exact same as it was when I lost it. The whole time it had been in the ever-changing temperature environment of being lost in our van.
Once while I was trying to unclip my water bottle while running up a hill, I dropped it. It rolled all the way into a ditch and didn’t have a scratch or dent on it. My sister Lisa has a similarly-advertised water bottle of another brand; however, the metal is thinner, and it is already dented.
Another thing I like about it is that it's insulation and coating makes it feel the same even when the bottle contains hot liquid. I’ve had other metal water bottles that burn my hands when I put hot chocolate in them.
I highly recommend the HydeTech 20 oz Water bottle especially to friends who don’t like lukewarm water, need an easily cleanable bottle (for when you forget that you put hot chocolate in it for a few days), and won’t break or leak at all.
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Wow... Say that 5 Times Fast!
Hiking Forward's Can't Miss Father's Day Gift List
Hiking Forward's Fathers ahhh!
Hiking Forward's Cant' Miss Gift UGH
Okay Okay... Again this year we have put together an awesome list of items that just can't miss, no matter the type of Dad you are buying for this Father's Day.
All of the products below have been tested by Hiking Forward and none of them will break the bank and all are sure to put a smile on dear ole dad's face on Father's Day.
As a Dad I know there are a few things all dads enjoy... we love to relax, we love to chill out and we love to be comfy. Boys and Girls let me introduce you the WindPouch.
Before, We get to deep into discussing the Windpouch... Ladies, let me let you in on a little secret. Come here... closer "you are gonna want one of these too!"
Order TWO! Trust me. I got the Windpouch in the mail, I blew it up via the wind, get it now, WIND pouch... and within a matter of minutes, this happened.
Don't get me wrong... I love the Windpouch too, the problem is I never get to use it, because "someone" is always in it. So, ladies order two. Give one to the hubby for Father's Day. When he lets u sit in it and says "hey honey isn't this amazing and so comfy" then you say, "hmmm maybe I should order me one". Wink! You already did!
Tell them your ole pale Hiking Forward sent you. Now both of you can enjoy the summer laying on a cloud. Yes, that is exactly what it feels like. Oh did I mention it FLOATS. Yes indeed! So, a have pool? BONUS@ Live near a pond or a lake? SCORE! Going on a campout this summer near a river? You will be floating in style.
Windpouch on Facebook
You have probably heard me recommend Stanley Products for Dad's before as well as in general. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, to me the green metal shell is nostalgic and while the product is new it brings about the feeling of something old that maybe your dad or grandpa had. So, while to the gift giver it may be just a coffee mug or something to keep coffee hot in all day long... to the user it is durable, will never fail them and maybe just maybe it reminds them of their own dad or grandpa every-time they use it. And remembering those important people and the outdoor experiences they had together in ones life throughout the year... that is the most important gift of all.
It goes without saying that everything Stanley makes is made to last and take a beating. As a gift giver this is something important to take into account when budgeting for and purchasing a Father's Day gift... is the gift going to last? The simple answer when it comes to what Stanley makes is a resounding Yes!
No matter what Dad enjoy's in his cupStanley will ensure it stays hot or colder longer. No matter what kind of adventure or activities he participates in, Stanley has the right container to allow him to carry his favorite beverage.
For more information on Stanley Products click here.
So does Dad Fish? Does Dad Hike or Backpack? If he does he has to eat! Keep dad on the shore or on the trail and give him something tasty to eat. A new and environmentally friendly Backcountry meal manufacture is cranking out some tasty meals in disposable (burnable) packaging. Most meals come in foil packs that have been thrown away, so essentially packed out till you reach a proper trash can. 2-3 meals a day can create a decent amount of trash that one has to carry out on a backpacking trip.
For more information concerning Sasquatch Fuel click here.
Get Dad A New Pair of Shoes
Have you seen Dad's hiking/outdoor shoes lately? Uh Gross right? Time for a new pair of shoes/boots for the ole man! Oboz has a huge array of shoes for every occasion. I highly recommend the above pictured Scapegoat Low or Mid, as a great summer / fall shoe for hiking and outdoor activities. Comfort, lightweight and won't break the bank, and will last for multiple seasons to come.
For more information on all Oboz has to offer click here.
Tribe Provisions Adventure Bag
The Tribe Provisions Adventure Bag is the perfect bag for those weekend family camping trips or impromptu backpacking adventures Dad may take from time to time. The bag is lightweight, durable and comes with an attached stuff sack so Dad won't lose it, like he always is looses his keys. The bag retails for $49.95 so it won't break the bank either. Another great item that doesn't cost a lot and will replace something of Dad's that is older then dirt. Is your Dad still trying to use his sleeping bag from his Cub Scout days? Get him a new sleeping bag!
For more information about Tribe Provisions click here.
Keep Dad Stable on the Trail
Does your Dad simply look for a "good stick" when he is out on the trail to use as a hiking stick? (momentary pause as we shake our heads at Dad)...
Okay, get Dad some amazing lightweight Carbon Fiber hiking sticks. Typically sticks like these would cost twice as much. This is something dear ole Dad would never by for himself and probably doesn't realize he needs. But you know he does having walked behind him for years. And lets be honest dear ole dad isn't getting any younger.
Instant security and stability will now be the mantra when Dad is out for a hike or backpacking adventure. Trust me he will feel like the kid in school with the "new" whatever with these super light and durable sticks. These sticks collapse small and can be attached to most any of packs and have really comfortable handles and handstraps.
For more information on OutdoorMaster click here.
For more information on these poles click here.
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And Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there!
This is the first review from our Hiking Forward Jr. Correspondent Trent Vickers. Trent won our Essay Contest earlier this year and the role of Hiking Forward Jr. Correspondent. Trent will be reviewing the gear he won and talking about his summer adventures.
Tribe Provisions Compact Field Stool
Easily attaches to backpack
Easy to get back in the storage bag
Stable to sit in even on uneven ground
The best features of the Tribe Provisions Compact Field Stool are that it is extremely light and small while being surprisingly stable. In fact, my older brother Luke taunted me that he was sure it would collapse under my weight. It is so small that it looked more like my preschool sister’s chair than anything I’d be able to sit in.
I gingerly sat in it around the house a few times. I took it fishing and found it to be the perfect size for balancing on a small, flat rock right near the spillway. Since it has no constricting back to it, I could even cast straight from my stool. With still no falls or wear or tear on any part of it, I used it on a scouting campout. At about ten o'clock we were sitting by the fire and found ourselves surrounded by darkness. The only things I could see were my friends, my stool, and the fire. The ground there was very hard, and I was very comfortable in my stool.
I’ve grown to trust the stool, and I can easily carry it anywhere. Prior to this point, I’ve never taken any seat backpacking. With my stool weighing a weightless 12.2oz., I will take it with me next time I go as it will provide a lot more comfort. That is, if my mom hasn’t stolen it again to use while watching my younger siblings play soccer.
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It's getting warmer and the kids are always in need of something handy to drink. In our house it seems that every summer our kids find a different drink that they latch on to for on the go, soccer practice, summer camp lunch etc. The problem we have as parents is determining whether it is healthy and good for them.
Recently, I was offered the chance to review a fruit drink that was all natural, with no artificial flavors, made using only real sugar... meaning no high fructose corn syrup, well I jumped at the chance. Both my girls were very excited to try out Fruit Shoot.
As a parent, these factors are a huge plus as most drinks on the market have at least one if not all components in their drinks. Secondly, the amount of juice per bottle is smaller. A soda is 12 oz, a Fruit Shoot is 8 oz and just enough to quench the thirst on the go.
Little did I know... But my girls told me "Dad, Flavors matter!" The girls have tried all of them and love them all!
As a dad who is always thinking about the next big adventure whether solo or with the family, it's important that the kids have their own pieces of the adventure puzzle. What do I mean? Well having their own gear (backpack's, sleeping bags, camera to take pictures etc.). In addition, having their own drinks to take along on the adventure to fuel them along throughout the day may make the trip more special and overall rewarding.
Whether you are going kayaking for the day, hiking or planning a weekend camping trip having a healthy snack and drink along side it will keep the kids motivated and properly fueled to keep paddling and or hiking.
Small enough and packaged smartly with releasable and capped tops FruitShoot can go anywhere you go. For more information on where to find FruitShoot visit their website or check out their Facebook page.
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The review of the Under Armour Valsetz RTS is a fruit of cooperation with SoleLabz.com, website reviewing top rated hiking shoes, boots and sandals.
UA is a company that Hiking Forward already knows well and trust the craftsmanship, design and quality of their products. So, when we got the call to try out a pair of their tactical line of boots, we jumped at the chance. While you may be looking at these boots and thinking... Hey! Wait a second those are hiking boots. Touche' my friend. But neither are Five Fingers, Crocs or Chacos, but how many people you see on the trail in them?
Having used to work in a arena where tactical clothing such as 5.11 pants and tactical boots were the norm, I figured I was somewhat uniquely prepared to merge the worlds of tactical requirements and run the boot through the outdoor paces as well.
As mentioned before there is not much from UA that has not met the quality test for me. I have wore these boots a lot. At first, I didn't think I would but the ease of putting them on and just sheer comfort kept me coming back day after day. So, after extensive use during wet, cold, snow, trail and normal use there are no present defects, stitch popping or noticeable issues that would give this boot a low mark in quality.
As mentioned before this boot is not your traditional hiking boot. It's design is geared toward the tactical community. A community that needs comfort. Long hours usually on your feet. So, as you guess the boot is extremely comfortable. I may not be a hiking boot, but folks you can shoot hoops in these bad boys. And, yes I have. (Sorry no photos of that).
From a tactical perspective it would be a great boot for daily wear. It's much lighter then all the other tactical boots I have worn. This is a benefit and liability depending on the duty. It's light because the boot doesn't have a steel toe or a steel shank running along the bottom to protect the wearer from punctures. If this is meant for daily were and not true potential tactical situations then its the perfect fit.
For those who may be used to this style of boot (i.e. law enforcement, fire or military) and normal hiking boots just look weird to you, this is the perfect cross-over from you heavy boots to hit the trails in. One of the things I really enjoyed about these boots is the quick lace capability. These boots don't require a lot of time to lace up. Even fully laced you can slide your foot in and just simply pull on the laces and begin the tie. This obviously is a need for people in the tactical arena, but a huge benefit to the outdoor community who wants to git and go in the morning too.
Light, comfortable and easy to wear is how I would frame up these boots. In addition, as mentioned they were worn extensively through the winter. Given how light the boots are, I was surprised by how warm they kept my feet with a normal sock.
What can I say, it's a boot meant for tactical situations and a daily wear. So far so good in this area. It's a solid boot, yet not a brick like what would think it would have to be for a durable tactical boot.
So, to sum this up. Great boot for the money especially if you have the need to wear a boot for work and like to hit the trails too... You can finally get one boot to do two things really well you for and in comfort.
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It's the dead of winter here on the East Coast, and we are spending a lot of time planning and daydreaming about our upcoming backpacking season. With so much down time, we have had the opportunity to test some items to see if they will make it into our packs this year. We camp too far away from civilization to carry anything we don't love, so anything that we bring has to have a purpose and make our lives better. Here are a few of my favorites so far!
Lifelements Healing Honey Stick
This is a great product that I actually got to test out on the trail at Mount Rogers on our last trip there. It's a lip balm, it's a salve, it's a moisturizer. There's not much these sticks can't do. I tested both the chapstick size and the larger 2 oz size. The chapstick size is perfect for backcountry trips where weight is counted in ounces and every bit counts. I am a bit of a chapstick addict, I have Burt's Bees in pretty much every backpack and jacket pocket and at home I have an Eos collection that could fill a shelf at Target.
I like this because I can put it on in the morning and I don't find myself reaching for it constantly to reapply as I do some other chapsticks. I also really like that it is a multi function product, and I've used it on dry skin, bug bites, and other small annoyances with good results. I also love the fact that it is paraben free and cruelty free. It does contain nut butters though, so if you have a nut allergy, this is not the product for you.
Crispy Green Crispy Fruit
After years of just existing on apples and strawberries that I dry myself in my dehydrator, I was excited to see some freeze dried fruit at the local grocer that was a bit different. I immediately fell in love with their tangerines. They have 6 other flavors, including pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, asian pear, apple, and banana. I've tried most of them and while I'm not a big fan of the cantaloupe (not their fault, it's good, just not for me!), the others are amazing and I can't wait to bring some along this season. They are super lightweight and delicious. One thing to consider is that most of the flavors are only around 40 calories per package, so they won't fulfill much in the way of caloric needs, but they will still be a welcome snack and a nice little blood sugar boost out on the trail.
Snotty Brat Handkerchiefs
These aren't exactly new to my kit, as I've been carrying them for a couple of years now, but I finally broke down and ordered more for me as well as some for Mike. After spending time and money looking for soft hankies, these fit the bill and they come in great colors too. She will also customize them with a number of fun designs or your initials. I have used these for their intended purpose, blowing my nose, but they have also been super handy at wiping sweat, drying my feet after a soak in a cold creek, washing trail dirt off my legs, drying out our collapsible bowls, and more. They are reusable and have held up perfectly to many washings. They are also a much greener option than using baby wipes for everything. Baby wipes still have their place, but we use a lot less of them thanks to these babies.
Have you found any favorites this winter that you will be putting in your pack? Let us know in the comments!
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Mike and Melanie
The review of the Keen Chandler CNX is a fruit of cooperation with SoleLabz.com, website reviewing top rated hiking shoes, boots and sandals.
Keen - the company
Keen company started out firmly set on developing a hiking sandal that also offers toe protection. Their signature toe-covering black thick bumper was thus born. This happened in 2003, and they’ve been growing ever since by not just making some of the best hiking sandals out there, but by broadening the scope of high-quality footwear they manufacture.
In 2003, they were named “Launch of the Year” by Footwear News making them the new hot brand. In 2006, they relocated their headquarters to Portland, Oregon and got Kirk Richardson joining them after a 27-year career in Nike’s management. Salomon’s ex CEO James Curleigh joined them in 2008, and big names and achievements just became too hard to keep track of ever since.
Let’s take a look at what Keen says about Chandler CNX
The upper of the CNX is synthetic mixed with breathable mesh, ensuring light weight and optimal performance.
Toes are protected at all times by sturdy rubber rand. The model offers plenty of flexibility, and it locks the foot inside thanks to the secure lacing capture system. Collar and tongue are well-padded for extra cushioning. They also feature pull-out loops for easier on/off.
A contoured arch provides your little ones with superior mid-foot support. Outsoles are non-marking with multi-directional lugs, giving superior traction and making the shoe more durable.
- Breathable mesh lining
- Contoured arch for added midfoot support
- Lightweight performance mesh and synthetic upper
- Multi directional lug pattern for increased traction
- Non-marking rubber outsole
- Reverse strobel construction provides streamlined interior
- Secure fit lace capture system
Mine and Grace's initial thoughts
This is the first review in which we will be utilizing our new Hiking Forward Review system. The system is based on a five star review measurement, however we just use hiking boots instead of stars.
Grace has been wearing the shoes for a couple of weeks. We will continue to update our thoughts as she engages in multiple activities in them and time generally passes. We were both excited to find out that there are some hiking related shoes out on the market for Grace. At her age and size there is a limited supply of quality footwear for outdoor activities that is above and beyond normal sports. Keen to the rescue. Both Grace and I are quite familiar with Keen and their product line as all of us in the family can be found from April through October in Keens.
Keen is a company we already know and trust, so giving these shoes a try was not a hard sell for either Grace of I. Immediately you can tell from the material and stitching that the shoes are very well made and so far have no signs of wear that have caused defects in the manufacturing of the shoes. Grace is extremely hard on her sneakers. Her sneakers typically are worn out from the punishment she provides versus the soles giving out. While it have only been a few short weeks of Grace trying these shoes I doubt that the quality will diminish over time. Our initial quality rating is:
Without hesitation the first words out of Grace's mouth upon getting the shoes on was about how comfortable they were. She even mentioned this after our first initial hike in the shoes, when typically on the same route in other shoes she complains of her feet hurting. This along his a huge success in my book. Nothing will end an afternoon family jaunt in the woods then one the kids complaining about feet problems because they don't have the proper footwear, This is not their fault or yours. The availability of proper footwear for non-sport related is extremely sparse. The mesh top of the shoe allows for extreme breath-ability which enhances the comfort of the user in warmer temps. The traditional non-tie laces allow for easy on and easy off instead of having to take the time to tie up or untie when done with your adventuring. Our initial comfort rating is:
While it is hard to test true durability after only a few weeks of testing, we know that the shoes are well made and are a quality shoe. Our history and general awareness of Keen and their other footwear products that we have worn for years have lasted well longer then they should have. We both would be extremely amazed if durability of the shoe would be an issue. The protected Keen toe-box is a great feature of all Keen shoes but as a Dad, this is a great feature for the kids who tend to not look down when hiking.
Because of our initial experience with this shoe we believe it to be an immense value for parents of an outdoor minded child looking for proper footwear for hiking, camping or non-sport related outdoor activities. Our initial durability rating is:
Stay tuned as Grace continues to put these Keen Chandler CNX's to the test.
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Scott & Grace
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