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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Though I was bummed I accidentally left my John Muir shirt at home, it didn't take too much time in Muir Woods to forget about my error. The hilly drive through San Francisco bumper to bumper traffic while crossing bridges and winding around serpentine roads was adventurous, but the sights and sounds of this national monument made all the travel troubles worth it.
When we saw the "Muir Woods parking full" sign on the freeway a few miles from our destination, we knew the woods were crowded. It's always a blessing and a curse when so many people take over nature. While it is great to see people out and about enjoying nature, it sort of takes away from the tranquility and serenity offered by the woods. However, the crowds here were quite respectful and the overall feel of the park was still very natural.
As we ventured into what Embry called the "red woods," the amazing smell first caught our eyes, or noses. So fresh. The amazing collection of trees was impressive from ground level, bit as we took the hillside trail, a trail that took you among the canopy of these towering giants, you got a whole new perspective and appreciation of just how skyscraping these beauties were.
Along the way, small cascading streams guided the way. Huge crayfish scoured the stream in search of lunch. Many trees had "caves" at their bases, perfect for exploring and mugging for the camera. There were also many rocks along the way that our daughter just had to climb and jump off of. One of Embry's favorite tricks was being able to "squeeze the trees" as she walked between trees along the trail.
When we reached the end of our hikes for the day, we stopped by the gift shop. Besides getting a new shirt for my nature kindergarten wardrobe, I posed with John Muir himself and Embry rode a bear and we enjoyed some natural artwork.
Muir Woods was a beautiful and popular place I look forward to returning to and exploring again someday.
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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 family I set off in June for something we haven't done in a while. We unplugged, and we had a blast doing it. We set out for southeastern Missouri, and camped at the Johnson Shut-Ins State Park. Over the course of the multiple day summer vacation we actually visited a few other Missouri State Parks (more to come on those later).
The Shut-ins are just across a state highway from the campground. The Shut-Ins themselves are a part of the Black River that runs through the park and provides ample low and slow water fun as well as many deep and rushing water spots to enjoy.
The park itself is quite interesting due to a rather recent disaster that took place within the past many years. When the Taum Sauk pumped storage plant reservoir on a neighboring mountain failed on December 14, 2005, Johnson’s Shut Ins was devastated by a catastrophic flood. It destroyed the park’s campground, which was fortunately unoccupied at the time. The only injuries were minor and were sustained by the park superintendent and his family, the only people at the park at the time.
The park was closed due to the damage, and didn’t completely reopen for water recreation in 2009, and a new campground opened in 2010. Restoration was funded by $52 million of a settlement of $180 million, paid by AmerenUE, the owner and operator of the failed reservoir.
The park is overall one of the cleanest and well maintained family campgrounds I have been too in quite some time. In addition to the clean park, new and clean facilities the park staff was amazing. It has been quite a long since I have experienced nature themed activities for the kids at night during a week night at a state run campground.
Not only did our girls really enjoy the program on owls, but the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Staff came to our campsite and brought multiple pelts, fossils and other nature items for our girls to touch and experience. In addition, staff came back again with nature journals, animal posters and guide books after finding out what our girls were interested in. Grace and Gabby talked about this particular experience all the way home.
The Shut-ins provided access to the Ozark Trail as well as many other native trails that reside only in the park itself. In addition to visiting the Shut-ins we also visited Taum Sauk State Park which is the tallest point in Missouri (roughly just over 1,700ft) as well as Elephant Rock State Park. This park is a joy for the whole family allowing everyone to get involved and explore at their pace on either a pave walkway or while exploring the boulders on the edge of the walk way.
In addition to the fun we had playing in the river, explorng the trails and climbing the boulders at Elephant Rock we also began a new journey with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2017 is the Centennial for the Missouri State Parks. MODNR has created a passport showcasing all of their state parks, museums and historic sites. You can pick one up for a mere five dollars at any site and your your book stamped with a unique site specific stamp. We managed a total of five stamps in just a few days.
For more information about the passport click here.
Simply put, this was a great trip with a wide array of activities to undertake that everyone in the family enjoyed. So, if you in the Midwest... the natural wonders of both the Shut-ins and Elephant Rock are worth the drive.
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Hot Dogs, Ketchup, Hot Dog Buns and a stick... is this your grocery list and supply list all in one for your typical family camping trip? C'mon guys and gals! Live a little! There is no reason why you and your family can't eat good on your next family adventure and make the trip as well as the meals memorable.
With a little planning and thought put in, you can ensure you hear cheers and not growning at dinner time.
With the right gear anyone can prepare similar, if not better meals then you typically make at home. So lets start with the gear for a typical family campout:
A Coleman 2 Burner Stove
Single Fry Pan or Cast Iron Pan
Small/Medium Sauce Pan with Strainer lid
One Large Pot
1 Good Knife
Not a lot of gear, right? With these simple kitchen items you can make all of the following dishes described and pictured below. Don't be afraid to eat good during your camping trip. And, with help from the kids and family cooking and even cleaning up can be a quick and fun experience for everyone.
I have a "chuckbox" also known in Boy Scout circles as a "patrol box" to store all of the above items in as well as other camping supplies and cook from. Check out this Facebook video for more on the design and layout.
A few tips to help you on a multiple day trip:
Need help planning your menu? Download the Hiking Forward Family Camping Menu Planner.
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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 post of our newest Hiking Forward Correspondent Denise Archetto. Learn more about Denise on here Profile page.
Between 1.5-2 hours from Boston, grab your swim suit, your hiking shoes, and get ready soak up the sun at Chapel Brook Falls.
First, park your car right next to the trail and begin hiking the roughly 1.8 mile trek. For those more experienced there is a large rock wall to climb. After climbing and sweating (on a hot 90 degree day), take a nice cool dip in a quad-level water fall. Great place to meet friends and have a few drinks or take the kids for an experience like no other.
Around 20 minutes south there is a cheap kayak/canoe/paddle board rental shack at Barton Cove in Gill, Mass. called Barton Cove Camping and Paddlesports. For two hours you can rent one of their vessels for $26. Definitely worth the rent even if you can only last an hour. With great views and a small island to jump out on and go for a swim it is perfect for an afternoon paddle.
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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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