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Free Outdoor Gear Designs You Can 3D Print at Home

3D printing brings endless possibilities for MYOG and ultralight backpacking enthusiasts. If you have the skills you can create your own gear, or you can search online for open-source designs that are ready to print. 3d printing can also be useful for repairing and extending the life of your gear - think replacement buckles, new nobs for your old stove etc. If you don't have your own 3D printer you can have designs printed with online services, students can often print designs at school, and many cities have maker communities where you can rent time on 3D printers. 

Below I've gathered 11 of my favorite design ideas from www.thingiverse.com.  

 

1. Carabiners (not for climbing) 

At a fraction of the weight of climbing carabiners, there are many ways these 3D printed carabiners can come in handy on the trail. Use one for hanging a bear bag, a lantern, or attaching items to your pack.    

Important: These carabiners are not safe for climbing.

 

 

2. Amazingly Loud Emergency Whistle

A whistle might sound like a silly item to carry in your pack, but if you ever get lost you will be glad you have this crazy loud whistle. You can quickly go hoarse from yelling for help and a whistle can carry for miles will using much less effort and adding almost no weight to your pack.

Full Details

 

 

3. GoPro Backpack Mount

This free design mounts your GoPro on your pack strap to catch a POV view of the trail. I like this mount for it's simple and secure design. It even stayed in place while mountain biking a bumpy trail.

Full Details

 

 

4. GoPro Trekking Pole Mount

If you hike with Trekking poles, then this ultralight mount is a must. It turns your trekking pole into a GoPro monopod and an extra long selfie stick. Use it to catch panning video and epic selfies on the trail. 

Full Details

 

 

5. Ultra Light Camera Tripod

I love bringing my DSLR backpacking to capture star time-lapses in the dark skies of the backcountry, but my full-size tripod is heavy and really more than is needed. So I printed this tripod and saved nearly 2lbs of pack weight. 

Full Details

 

 

6. Female Urination Device

I haven't personally used a pee funnel, but I know how convenient they can be for female campers. And I have many friends that swear by them when they are hiking. If you haven't tried one, then printing your own is a cheap way to give it a try. 

Pro-Tip: If 3D printed with a flexible filament it can be collapsed to save space in your pack. 

Full Details

 

 

7. Ultralight Survival Fishing Reel

This mini fishing reel attaches to a trekking pole or stick so you can reel in a lunker in a survival situation or impress your friends when you catch the biggest fish with your homemade reel. 

Bonus: You can also print your own lures

Full Details

 

 

8. Replacement Backpack Buckles

I've lost count of the many times I've stepped on a buckle or smashed one in a car door. While buckles are cheap, sometimes it can be hard to find one the right size, and that is a great reason to 3D print a replacement. 

Full Details

 

 

9. Rope Tensioners for Tents, Tarps, and Clothes Lines

These ultralight rope tensioners are awesome. Use them to keep a tarp, clotheslines, or tent guy lines perfectly taught. 

Pro-Tip: Use a glow in the dark filament to print these to keep lines visible in the dark and prevent tripping. 

Full Details

 

 

10. Backpacking Fuel Can Stabilizer Legs

If you use an ultralight stove like a pocket rocket, it didn't come with the stabilizing legs that heavier cook systems like Jetboil include. While not always needed, they add stability on uneven surfaces and weigh almost nothing.

Full Details

 

 

11. Molle Backpacking Tri-Spice Rack

This one is for the backcountry gourmets out there. Use it to hold spices or trail snacks and secure it to your pack with the included mole attachment points. 

Pro-Tip: Keep in-camp prep simple by premixing all the spices needed for each of your recipes and place each mix in its own compartment. 

Full Details

 

 

Find More Designs 

These are just a few examples of the many outdoor and ultralight designs the 3D printing community have created and shared online. Find more at www.thingiverse.com 

 

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A Coffee Lover's Guide Camp Coffee

As a Seattle based company, everyone at CloudLine has a favorite option for their camp coffee. Whether you insist on grinding fresh beans every time or you're looking for the lightest and quickest way to brew a cup of joe, here we've gathered the team's favorite backcountry java options for taste, convenience, and pack weight.

 

Instant and Pre-Packaged Coffee Options

These instant and pre-packaged coffees are great for camping and backpacking. They are lightweight, convenient, require little cleanup, and best of all you can find options at any grocery store on the way to camp.

 

Instant Coffee Sleeves

Instant coffee is the easiest option for camp coffee and is a favorite among backpackers for the convenience and lightweight. As a bonus, many instant coffees dissolve in cold water for those UL backpackers that go stoveless. 

Staff Pick:  Alpine Start Instant Coffee 

 

 

Pocket Pourover Coffee

If you want real drip coffee with the convenience of instant than pour-over packets are the perfect option. Simply open the packet and attach the filter basket full of coffee to your camp mug and pour in hot water.   

Staff Pick:  Kuju Coffee Basecamp Blend 

  Coffee Pouches

Coffee pouches are used similarly to tea bags. Simply steep in hot water for 4-5 minutes, then remove being sure to squeeze the liquid out the pouch for a stronger brew. You can even make your own at home with a coffee filter filled with grounds and tied closed with string.

Staff Pick:  Lyons Coffee Bags

 

  Cold Brew Pouches

For overnight trips, you can make cold brew coffee in a water bottle while you sleep. Simply add a single serve cold brew pouch (or several) and filtered water and in the morning you'll have a delicious cold brew. 

Staff Pick:  Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee Pods

 

 

Tools for BYOB - Bring Your Own Beans

If you are a true coffee connoisseur you may want to take your java game to the next level and bring your favorite whole bean or ground coffee. These tools and methods will let you make a perfect cup with your preferred blend. 

 

 Backpacking Coffee Grinder

Every backcountry barista knows grinding fresh beans makes better coffee. Of course, unless you plan on grinding your beans between two rocks you'll need a lightweight and packable coffee grinder.

Staff Pick:  GSI Outdoors Java Mill

 

 

Ground Coffee

If you are backpacking and weight is a consideration you can leave the grinder at home and bring preground coffee.

Staff Pick:  Hikers Brew Venture Pouches

 

 

Cowboy Coffee

Cowboy coffee is simple to make and requires just a pot, water, and coffee. Simply boil water and add loose grounds. There are many tips and methods for avoiding too many loose grounds ranging from scooping grounds out with a spoon, adding an egg or even using a sock (hopefully clean) full of grounds with the end tied closed to keep the grounds contained. Or there are specially designed cowboy coffee percolator pots that keep the grounds contained.

Staff Pick: Stanley Adventure Percolator

 

  Pourover 

A pour-over attachment is a great lightweight option for camp coffee. For ease of use look for one with an integrated mesh filter and you won't need to worry about coffee filters. 

Staff Pick:  GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip

 

  French Press

A french press makes great coffee and if you're car camping you can easily bring your home press. For backpacking, our favorite option is a french press attachment that integrates with our cooking system and weighs almost nothing.  

Staff Pick:  Jetboil Coffee Press

 

  

UL Espresso Makers

 

If you prefer espresso there are a few portable options that can make an amazing espresso shot. There are options that let you use any espresso grounds or versions that can brew with a Nespresso pod.

Staff Pick:  Wacaco MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker

 

  AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

For many coffee aficionados, the AeroPress is the gold standard for portable coffee and espresso. It's compact size and lightweight (6.4 ounces) make it perfect for basecamp or backpacking.

Staff Pick:  Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker with a reusable mesh filter

  Bring a Thermos

For short overnight camping trips, a good thermos will let you premake coffee at home and enjoy it hot in the morning. Or on multiday trips brew with your favorite camp method before retiring to your tent and use the thermos to keep it piping hot overnight. This is especially nice when the mornings are cold.

Staff Pick:  Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle

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After Hiking 2,650 Miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, Running an Ultra Marathon was a Perfect Fit

Hiking has a very noticeable progression. Starting off with day hikes then to backpacking. A few overnight trips later, the idea of going further will start to form. Whether you plan to thru-hike, the idea and progression continues for the next adventure. I followed this same progression and haven’t looked back. After completing a second thru-hike the next step for me was getting into ultra-running, the Pinhoti 100. From everything I had read, long-distance hiking and ultra-running are very closely related and that they are.

 

My First Ultra was turned into a Short Documentary

 

TYPE 2 FUN TRAILER - YouTube

Type 2 fun is about making the transition from long distance hiker to long distance runner. After completing the Pacific Crest Trail, months later I decided to try running a 100 mile race. The Pinhoti 100, which is a point to point race along the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama and Georgia.

 

“It’s not the person that goes the fastest; it’s the person that slows down the least”

Being able to keep moving all day long has been the most beneficial skill going into ultra-running. Yes, you are running instead of hiking but having the mental ability to keep moving makes things so much easier when you are at mile 75 with 25 more until the finish line. More times than not, constancy beats the rabbit (with exception to Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy and Karl “Speed Goat’ Meltzer of course). Those rabbits are machines. But a skill that I have developed from thru-hiking is hiking all day long, which is easier said than done. My style of hiking is considered fast by most but I think steady is more accurate. Hiking the first miles of the day as the sun comes up and the last miles in the dark is a full 13ish hour day (with an hour for lunch). Crushing a 30-35 mile day only requires a 2.3- 2.7 miles/hour. To get the big miles, it’s all about keeping a constant pace while putting in the hours.

Part of keeping a constant pace is how you handle the terrain. How do you tackle the hills? Do you run them or hike them? With the longer ultras most hike the hills, actually, most of the race is hiked. I probably hiked about 40% of the Pinhoti 100. The hills are where I actually passed most of the other runners. This was so crazy to me because it was totally different this past summer on the PCT. The crew I finished the PCT with this past summer would leave me in the dust on climbs, having to smell their dirty unwashed clothes all the way up the mountain. But with my hiking background, it was different in this race. I looked forward to the hills because defaulting back to hiking felt like a time to rest for me. 

 

Welcome to the “Pain Cave”

To start this topic off, I have never been in more pain in my life than mile 78-85 of the Pinhoti 100. On long trails, a common term is “embrace the brutality”. This is said when things seem to be going the opposite way you were thinking it would. Whether you are 40 miles from the next re-supply town with nothing but half a jar of peanut butter and a crumbled Nature Valley granola bar (that has probably been in the food bag for the last 500 miles) or your blistered feet and swollen ankles send agonizing pain up your leg with every step but you have no choice to keep moving because you are 2 days away from the next town to rest or you are hiking through calf deep mud in the rain for 2 weeks straight in Vermont or even swimming across a snowmelt river in the Sierras in 30 degree temps after already hiking 200 miles of snow covered trail knowing you still have 200 more before you will see a dirt trail again. For every one of these not so fond memories, there is twice as much jaw dropping sunsets, open fields drowning in wildflowers and snowy mountain ranges that will leave you sitting in silence forgetting how hungry you are. You have to take the good with the bad.

Having learned that quickly on my first thru-hike, I was better prepared for what was about to happen during the Pinhoti 100. Karl Meltzer said it best regarding running 100 mile races, “its 30 hours, deal with it… what percentage of your lifetime is 30 hours?” It will be hard but you have to accept what is happening. I signed up for this and I need to understand that what is happening is only temporary. Once you get over the wall, things will get easier.

 

Managing Issues

Pro-Tip: A fresh pair of socks feels great midway through an ultra.

As incredible as thru-hiking is, it is also painful. Every day something new seems to hurt. You will spend the whole day trying to figure out a way to relieve the pain in your left shin by taking different strides, leaning on your trekking poles more and even adjusting your backpack thinking that will do something. And congrats! That pain went away… but now your right ankle hurts. You go through the same dance to solve that issue and now your hip is acting up. And don’t forget about the blister underneath the old blister on your right big toe. Thru-hiking is all about managing issues. With just under 6,000 miles on long trails, I understand the feeling of hiking on swollen knees and feet. I understand what is like having to hike on recently popped blister feet. I understand what it is like to hike with feet so wet and cracked they hurt to dry out. I understand what it is like hiking being so hungry you can’t even think straight. To burn 7,000 + calories a day but only consume 2,000. The battle to consume the number of calories burnt while on a thru-hike or running a 100-miler race will never be won.

A way to manage my energy level from dropping off then spiking during the day is to consume 1 bar around 200 calories every hour while hiking. Almost like an IV of calories, nice and constant. I prefer this source method rather than multiple big calorie dense meals to avoid the groggy post-thanksgiving day lunch sleepy feeling (like that would ever happen on trail). This process worked for me and followed me into distance running, especially after learning that the average body can only process 200-300 calories/hour. Even if more calories are burnt, the extra calories waiting around to be absorbed can cause stomach issues. Though I get my calories from a different source, the basic principle is there. I use a product called Tailwind to get my calories and electrolytes. Tailwind is a powder that is added to water with 1 scoop around 100 calories. So adding 2-3 scoops to my bottles has me covered for the next hour. Using Tailwind and other snacks at aid stations helped me manage the calorie battle to the finish line where then the battle could finally be won at the closest burger joint.

 

My next race is the Lake Martin 100 in March, followed by a northbound Appalachian Trail and southbound Continental Divide Trail thru-hikes starting 4/1.

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These Women Know the Importance of Adventure

I've gathered 5 of my favorite quotes from women adventurers. I love these quotes not only because the women that said them accomplished amazing things, but because these women have inspired me to always remember to live adventurously. So next time you start to feel like you need a little more adventure in your life remember these quotes and get out there!

 

 

1. Amelia Earhart on Adventure

I love this quote so much. Most of our adventures will never bring us fame like Amelia Earhart, but she reminds us that each adventure however small is still worth it, even if no one else was there. 

"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." - Amelia Earhart

 

 

2. Nancy Newhall on Wisdom

Nancy Newhall might be best known for writing the captions accompanying many of Ansel Adams iconic landscape photographs. Her words below always reminds me that I need nature and wilderness in my life more than I know.

"The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask."  - Nancy Newhall

 

 

3. Helen Keller on the Earth Underfoot

Helen Keller's accomplishments are impressive, even more so because she was deaf and blind. The next time you encounter a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass while hiking I encourage you to take off your boots and socks and feel what Helen Keller was talking about. 

"To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug." -Helen Keller

 

 

4. Ruth P. Freedman on Living 

Great adventures often start on either a dare from a friend or when you dare to do something new and unknown. So next time you're dared to hike further or explore farther dare to go for it. Just don't do anything too crazy and stay safe out there. 

"Only those who dare, truly live." - Ruth P. Freedman

 

 

5. Diane Ackerman on Living Wide

Diane Ackerman is an author and naturalist with many inspiring works. I love this quote because it reminds me to plan adventures and get things done. None of us know how long we have, so make everyday wide with adventures. 

"I do not want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” -Diane Ackerman

 

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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Hikers, Backpackers, and Campers on Your List

Finding a meaningful gift is a challenge, so we've made it easy by picking useful and unique gift ideas for your favorite hiker. Browse the whole list or use the links below to jump to categories for Men, Women, Hiking, Backpacking, and Camping. 

Holiday Gift Guide Index

Click on any link below to jump to that section of the gift guide.

 

 

Gift Ideas for Women

 

CloudLine Merino Wool Socks

 

Whether she loves hiking, backpacking, running, or skiing there is a CloudLine sock that's perfect. She'll love how soft they are and their natural odor resistance. 
BUY HERE

 

Merrell Capra Bolt Low WP Hiking Shoes

 

These are our go-to shoes for day hiking. She'll love these waterproof and comfy hikers for winter and spring hikes when conditions are soggy. 
BUY HERE

 

 

Leatherman - Style CS Multitool

This diminutive clip-on multi-tool is the perfect everyday carry to keep in her purse or pocket. Featuring scissors, knife, bottle opener, file, tweezers, and screwdriver. 
BUY HERE

 

CloudLine Women's Wicking Tees

 

These women's t-shirts feature outdoor and adventure inspired designs printed on soft and wicking triblend fabric for comfort no matter the activity. 
BUY HERE

 

Deuter ACT Trail 22 SL

 

The Deuter ACT Trail 22 SL features a women's specific anatomical design that comfortably carries everything she needs for a day hike.
BUY HERE 

 

Outdoor Inspired iPhone Cases

 

One of these outdoor inspired iPhone cases is a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys adventures in the great outdoors. Available for iPhone X, iPhone 7 Plus/8Plus, iPhone 7/8, iPhone 6 plus/6s Plus, iPhone 6/6s, and iPhone 5/5S/SE.  
BUY HERE 

 

Summit Outdoor Wine Glasses

A set of Summit Outdoor Wine Glasses are perfect for enjoying vino in camp or at home. Made of durable materials and insulated to keep your favorite wine at the perfect temperature. 
BUY HERE

 

Rumpl Puffy Blanket

The Rumpl Puffy Blanket is perfect for camp and home. Made of 20D ripstop nylon with a water-repelling DWR finish and machine washable synthetic insulation so you can throw it in the wash after a weekend of camping. 
BUY HERE

 

 

 

Gift Ideas for Men

 

CloudLine Merino Wool Socks

 

CloudLines unique merino wool blend will keep his feet blister free without the itch of other wool socks and are naturally odor resistant to guard against stinky feet. 
BUY HERE

 

Hydro Flask Insulated Growler

The updated Hydro Flask Insulated Growler keeps your brew cold for up to 24 hours. We use it for campouts and even day hikes for a cold brew at the top.

BUY HERE

 

Osprey Talon 33 Day Pack

The Osprey Talon 33 features one of the most ventilated back panels on the market to keep even the sweatiest hiker cool and dry. 
BUY HERE


Outdoor Inspired iPhone Cases 

These adventure inspired iPhone cases are perfect for every outdoorsman. Available for iPhone X, iPhone 7 Plus/8Plus, iPhone 7/8, iPhone 6 plus/6s Plus, iPhone 6/6s, and iPhone 5/5S/SE. 
BUY HERE

 

Leatherman Skeletool CX Multitool

The lightweight Leatherman Skeletool has the essentials and skips the bells and whistles you'll never use making it perfect for everyday carry. 

BUY HERE

 

Merrell Men's Glove 4 Trail Runner

These trail runners are our favorite for everyday wear and all but the roughest hikes. The minimalist 11.5 mm sole provides just the right amount of protection while letting your feet move like nature intended. 

BUY HERE

 

 

CloudLine Men's Wicking Tees

 

These t-shirts feature outdoor and adventure inspired designs printed on soft and wicking triblend fabric for comfort no matter the activity. 
BUY HERE

 

The Great Outdoors: A User's Guide: Everything You Need to Know Before Heading into the Wild

This thorough guide to the great outdoors will give any adventurer a refresher on survival. There are 400 techniques and tips for thriving outside, so even the most experienced outdoorsmen will likely learn a few new tricks.  
BUY HERE

 

 

 

Gift Ideas for Hikers

 

CloudLine Merino Wool Hiking Socks

 

Give your favorite hiker the gift of comfy feet with CloudLine merino wool hiking socks. Available in medium, light, and ultra light cushion with 9 color options. 
BUY HERE

 

 

Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Poles

 

The Black Diamond Trail Pro Trekking poles offer a lightweight shock absorbing design at an affordable price. The flicklock adjustment is quick to adjust between climbs and descents and the men's and women's specific models offer tailored lengths.
BUY HERE

 

 

GorillaPod Smartphone Tripod

The lightweight Gorrillapod tripod is perfect for those adventures where you only bring a camera phone. Compatible with almost any size phone including iPhones and Android phones, this tripod makes capturing amazing slow motion and time-lapse shots.
BUY HERE

 

 

NATIONAL PARK MAP COFFEE MUGS

 

These classic ceramic coffee mugs feature topographical maps of our favorite National Parks. They make the perfect gift for any hiker that has a day job and wants to bring a little adventure to their coffee breaks.
BUY HERE

 

Danner Mountain 600 Boots

Inspired by Danner's iconic Mountain Light Boot, this updated version brings modern comfort and features with a classic look. Available in both men's and women's models.
BUY HERE

 

Nalgene Tritan 32oz Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle

A new water bottle makes a great gift for hikers. You can even get creative by stuffing the water bottle with a pair of hiking socks, t-shirt or their favorite trail mix.

BUY HERE

 

 

Gift Ideas for Backpackers

 

BACKPACKER'S BISTRO SWEET POTATO HASH BREAKFAST 

The backpacker on your list probably has had the same oatmeal and freeze-dried breakfast options for years. Introduce them to a better option with this delicious sweet potato has made by an award-winning chef from fresh ingredients. 
BUY HERE

 

Alite Designs Mayfly Backpacking Chair

At only 1.6 lbs the Alite Mayfly Chair is light enough to take backpacking. Especially handy for backcountry basecamps, fishing, or sitting around a campfire. 
BUY HERE

 

Paria Double Wall Titanium Mug  

Nothing beats enjoying morning coffee in the backcountry. This double walled mug keeps your coffee hot longer and weighs almost nothing. 
BUY HERE

 

LUMINAID PACKLITE SPECTRA USB SOLAR LANTERN  

This waterproof and lightweight lantern can be charged by USB or the integrated solar panel and provides up to 12 hours of light with 7 color modes. 
BUY HERE

 

MSR TrailShot Micro-Filtration System

The MSR TrailShot water filter offers a convenient design that is only 5.2 ounces and can filter 1 liter per minute. 
BUY HERE

 

GoPro Hero 6 

The new GoPro Hero 6 is the ultimate adventure camera. Now waterproof without the case so you never need to worry about the elements the Hero 6 makes the perfect gift for your favorite adventurer. 
BUY HERE

 

Sea To Summit Aeros Backpacking Pillow  

We used to stuff whatever extra clothes we had into our sleeping bag stuff sack and call it a pillow. It wasn't comfortable and sometimes didn't smell great. This 2.8 oz inflatable pillow..

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How to Enjoy the Trail 

Hiking seems to be a divisive issue. For some people, it seems like nothing could be simpler – they seem to glide up mountains and through deserts with no effort and nothing but a smile on their face. For the rest of us, it may not come so easily. For those who are just getting started, the technicalities in the hiking world can seem like Latin, and even small hikes can feel like treks through the Mojave. Learning any sport takes time, and no matter how experienced you are, there are always new things to learn. In this article, we’ll go over five simple tips for hikers of all levels to make their trips more comfortable – no matter where they go.

 

#1: Stay Hydrated

This first tip might seem like a no-brainer to some, but we think it’s important enough to mention again – and in detail. We all know that the human body is made up largely of water – but a lot of people don’t realize just how much water we actually lose each day.

Even when we aren’t exercising, we lose water through our natural bodily processes, like sweating and going to the bathroom, and it’s essential to get that water back. When we exercise, it becomes that much more important to hydrate to maintain the delicate balances of our body’s functions.

Hydration while hiking requires two considerations: bringing enough water and drinking enough water. A good rule for most climates is that you’ll want to drink about 2 liters per person, per day. If you’re a large person, expect to be exercising strenuously, or in a hot climate, increase that amount of water. Actually drinking the water you bring is the next step. Don’t be afraid to stop regularly to drink – you’ll look a lot less cool with severe dehydration than you will stopping to take a sip of water.

 

#2: Hike at Your Own Pace

This next tip is especially relevant for new hikers or slower hikers. While some people start hiking just to enjoy their surroundings, many of us have the desire to push ourselves, mentally, physically, or both. It can be very exciting to test your physical limits, explore new surroundings, and reach new heights – but it’s not worth it to get injured or cause an accident.

Similarly, many people hike socially. Hiking with your friends and family can be one of the best ways to bond, and it’s an incredible way to stay active while staying social. However, you need to keep in mind that everyone’s body is different. If your hiking companions are outpacing you to a point where it’s uncomfortable or even painful for you to keep up – speak up! Your health is much more important than the speed of the group, and group members pushing too hard is common cause of trail accidents and injuries.

 

#3: Don’t Hike Outside Your Experience

This next tip relates to the last, but it includes a few more factors to consider. Hiking is a very subjective sport. What one person might consider a breeze could be very challenging for another. Likewise, a trail that one person considers strenuous, another person might use as their warm-up. You are the only one who truly knows what your capacity is going to be for a given trail – so use that information to your advantage.

When picking a new trail or deciding whether to join a group, consider your experience. For instance, have you hiked in the snow before? Have you hiked at high altitudes? If you’re jumping into something new, make sure you feel prepared for it, and your companions know that it’s your first time. You’ll feel better knowing that you prepared for the unexpected, and you’ll be able to enjoy much more of what the trail has to offer – rather than being anxious, worn out, or in over your head.

 

#4: Hike with A Buddy

We’ve mentioned it a few times above, but maybe the best way to make hiking more comfortable is to bring along a friend. Hiking socially is not only a great way to socialize – but a great way to hike! Companionship allows you to distract from tough parts of the trail, commiserate on unexpected let-downs, celebrate successes, and appreciate the beauty of nature together. Friends can point out interesting sights you may not have noticed, help you find the trail, and so much more.

If you don’t have a go-to hiking buddy, don’t despair! Most cities and towns have groups for hiking where people can meet – and many are separated by fitness level or by interests, like birdwatching, professions, other hobbies, religious groups or relationship status. If you prefer to keep the talking to a minimum, consider adopting a dog, instead – check out this list of the best hiking dog breeds for the low-down on man’s best friend on the trail.

 

#5: Wear the Right Clothes

Our final tip might seem like an obvious one, but it can actually be pretty tricky. Finding the right clothes can be difficult – and seemingly expensive – for hikers, but having the right gear is one of the best ways to maximize your comfort, safety, and performance on the trail.

The biggest piece of your hiking wardrobe, and the one that gets the most attention, are your hiking socks and boots. Nowadays there are a ton of footwear options, from fully-waterproof mountaineering boots to minimalist water shoes, and it can be hard to know what to buy. There are plenty of more in-depth guides out there, but here are some general tips:

  • In cold weather, you want waterproof shoes or boots
  • In snow or rain, you want high-topped boots
  • In the desert or other warm climates, more minimal, breathable, or sandal-like shoes are probably a better bet
  • All shoes should have good arch and ankle support on any uneven terrain
  • Pair your boots with a good pair of hiking socks made from merino wool, or synthetic material that manages moisture and prevents blisters

While your footwear and socks are important, your clothes are, too. Cotton and denim are just fine for casual, short hikes, but these materials don’t stay warm when wet, don’t wick away sweat, and can start to chafe after a long day. Consider investing in some technical gear – shirts, pants, shorts, and jackets – to make sure you stay dry, warm, cool, and comfortable wherever you go.

These five tips are some of the simplest ways to stay comfy on the trail – regardless of your experience and fitness level. Try them out, and let us know how they work for you!

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Are Compression Socks Worth the Hype?

When your short hikes are breezy 10-milers, and you rack up 30+ miles each and every weekend, you tend to get picky about what you put on your feet. After years of hiking and backpacking, I’ve fallen into the category of the foot-care superstitious, as though the ingredients for keeping my toes dry were some mysterious witches brew that could not be altered for any reason. Though I often have my doubts about new trends that enter the hiking and trail running world, I’d been curious to try compression socks for quite some time. When CloudLine Apparel sent me a pair of their finest in backcountry-blue, I knew I had to give them a go!

 

Now, the science on compression socks is largely out at the moment. Studies have shown mixed results as to whether or not they improve performance due to increased blood flow. There’s also a lot of unproven, anecdotal evidence that they lessen muscle vibration, increasing efficiency among the muscle fibers in your legs so that the fibers can focus on moving you forward, rather than fighting gravity.

Remarkably, studies monitoring the effects of compression socks on athletes during rest phases have been great. The socks’ pressure increases venous blood flow among runners during chill-out and recovery time, lowering the dreaded next-day soreness. There is also some evidence that they could help speed recovery by more quickly clearing blood lactate if one wears the socks after a workout.

 

I decided to test out CloudLine’s compression socks on a trail I had done before that obliterated my calves – Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park. The trail climbs 4000 vertical feet in 7 miles before descending into the beautiful Alta Meadow. This time, I decided to up the ante by carrying my full 35lb. pack all the way to the summit for an extra challenge. I left the socks on as I did a bit of recovery yoga in the evening by my campsite and decided to sleep in them as well to see how they alleviate soreness and fatigue the next day.

I can happily report that my calves felt fantastic on day two, with very little soreness after a big, uphill hike with a backpack on. I switched socks the next morning into a basic, Merino wool pair of CloudLine hikers and traversed an easy 7 miles back to my car. Now, oftentimes I feel the most sore the second day after a heavy workout or leg-busting hike, so I made sure to monitor my legs as the week progressed. I was thrilled that my lack of calf soreness remained; my legs felt fresh and ready for more action as soon as I was back from the trek.

 

 

Conclusion: I will definitely be taking these babies with me on my longer, mile-crushing trips this summer and fall, as calf soreness when you’re way out in the backwoods is no bueno. I can’t wait to try them out trail running as well! Consider me a convert.

 

This article was originally posted on brazenbackpacker.com.

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A Good Knife Can Be a Lifesaver On & Off the Trail

A sharp knife can be one of the most useful tools in your pack or pocket. Along with always wearing our CloudLine hiking socks, we always carry a knife when we are hiking and backpacking. A good blade comes in handy for everything from food prep to survival and is an important item on the 10 Essentials list. Whether you are looking for a pocket knife for everyday carry or just for the trail we've rounded up our favorite options for everyone from ultra-light backpackers to day hikers. 

 

How to Choose a Pocket Knife

When selecting a pocket knife, it is important to consider how you plan on using it. Are you looking for something you can carry everyday or specific to an activity? If weight is important a single blade will be the lightest option and if the functionality is more important look for a knife with multiple blades, saws, and tools. There are also many knives designed for specific activities, so you may consider looking for a knife specific to your favorite hobby. For this guide, we've divided our recommendations into two categories: single blade and multi-tool pocket knives.  

 

Pocket Knife Blade Materials

Blade materials vary by price and use. As a hiker and backpacker, you need your blade to hold a sharp edge and resist rust in wet and humid trail conditions. Often there are trade offs, and selecting the correct blade material for your needs will ensure your knife holds up when you put it to work in the wild. 

  • High Carbon Steel - creates an extremely durable sharp edge, but is susceptible to corrosion. Regularly oiling the blade and working in dry conditions are best for this material. 
  • S30V - Vanadium is added to stainless steel for excellent blade retention that resists corrosion. 
  • 154CM - This stainless steel and carbon blend creates a stronger knife with good blade retention. 
  • 420HC - An affordable blend of stainless steel and carbon that is easily sharpened but offers only fair blade retention. 
  • Proprietary Blends - Many companies use proprietary blends that are a variation of the types above. 

 

Choosing a Pocket Knife Blade Shape

 

There are endless variations of blade shapes, but the most common blades fall within these categories. And these shapes are the most often chosen for hiking, backpacking, and camping. 

  • Drop-Point - One of the most popular blade shapes offers all around performance and strength.
  • Tanto - A blunt tip makes these blades stronger for scraping and prying making it a popular shape for survival knives. 
  • Needle-Point - A symmetrical point with double edges makes this shape useful in wilderness survival situations when used for spearing and throwing.
  • Clip-Point - The top of this blade curves to a point for puncturing and detailed work like adding a new hole to a leather belt. 
  • Sheepsfoot - This shape is perfect for backcountry chefs. The curved tip avoids accidental stabbings and the flat blade is ideal for slicing and chopping during food prep. 

 

Choosing a Blade Edge

After the shape of the blade, you must also consider the blades cutting edge. The most common options for a cutting edge are flat, serrated, or combo. 

  • Flat Edge - A flat edge is easier to maintain and sharpen and stands up to heavy use well. 
  • Serrated Edge - A serrated edge excels at cutting rope and softer materials, but is not suited for cutting harder wood. The edge is also harder to sharpen.  
  • Combo Edge - Many blades feature a combination of flat and serrated edges with a section of serration near the grip and the rest of the blade edge flat. 

 

Choosing a Grip Material for your Pocket Knife 

 A knifes grip or handle is almost as important as the blade. It needs to feel comfortable in your hand, stand up to years of use and provide a secure grip as you work.

  • Metal - Most often made from aluminum, titanium, or stainless steel. These grips are light weight, durable, and strong; if not as comfortable as others. 
  • Wood - Natural and beautiful, wood handles are a classic look but should be protected from exposure to moisture. 
  • Antler - These durable natural grips are popular with hunters. 
  • Plastic - This affordable material allows knife designers to easily create endless grip shapes and textures. 
  • Rubber - Not as durable as plastic, but provides a comfortable grip. 

 

Recommended Single Blade Pocket Knives

 

Leatherman - Skeletool KBX Knife 

The Leatherman Skeletool KBX offers a decent sized blade in a slim and ultra light package that is perfect for the weight conscious. Throw this knife in your pack or slip it in your pocket and you will hardly notice it's there. And the integrated bottle opener is a nice touch for opening post hike beers. 

Weight: 1.3 oz 

Blade Length: 2.6"

Buy on Amazon

 

  Columbia River Knife and Tool Homefront Pocket Knife

The award winning CRKT Homefront knife features "field strip" technology, allowing you to disassemble the knife for cleaning without any tools. Popular with backcountry fisherman for the ability to easily clean up after cleaning their catch. This feature is also super handy for backcountry chefs who want a knife that can be easily cleaned after meal prep.  

Weight: 4.8 oz 

Blade Length: 3.502"

Buy on Amazon

 

 

Buck Knives Ranger Lockback Folding Knife 

Buck Knives have always reminded me of my grandfather who always kept one in his pocket and in my young mind seemed to be able to fix anything with it. This knife's large blade classic design and quality materials make it a great option for everyday carry. The handle comes in a large variety of materials including wood, antler, and synthetic for a custom feel that matches your style.

Weight: 5.6 oz 

Blade Length: 3"

Buy on Amazon

 

 

SOG Aegis Assisted Folding Knife

Assisted open features on knives like the SOG Aegis while not completely needed, are super cool. There is something oddly satisfying about the crisp action of the blade springing open. And you never know when you might need to quickly open your knife one handed. We also really like the red locked indicator that lets you know the blade is locked in place. 

Weight: 3.1 oz 

Blade Length: 3.5"

Buy on Amazon

 

 

Gerber Ripstop II Folding Knife

The Gerber Ripstop II combines a futuristic looking design with a partially serrated 3" blade into a light weight knife for everyday carry. Dual thumb studs and the large cutout in the blade make for easy opening with either hand. 

Weight: 3 oz 

Blade Length: 3"

Buy on Amazon

 

 

Opinel Carbon Blade N°8 Folding Knife

The iconic Opinel knife design was invented by Joseph Opinel in 1890. The simple and sturdy design has remained largely unchanged over the years and has remained a favorite because of its reliable blade that can stand up to years of heavy use. The N°8's classic styling and simple design have seen a surge in popularity with the hipster crowd, but its minimal weight and large 3.35" blade making it a great option for day hikers and ultra light backpackers as well. 

Weight: 1.7 oz 

Blade Length: 3.35"

Buy on Amazon

 

 

SOG Micron Tanto Knife

At only half an ounce the SOG Micron is the smallest and lightest knife on our list. While the locking 1.5" blade is small, the tanto tip adds strength for tasks on the trail. The Micron is a great option if you are an ultra light hiker or backpacker counting every ounce. It also makes a great addition to an Altoids tin survival kit or as a backup blade.

Weight: 0.5 oz 

Blade Length: 1.5"

Buy on Amazon

 

 

Recommended Multi-Tool Pocket Knives

 

Swiss Army Camper Pocket Knife National Park Editions

Show your support and love for your favorite national park with one of these special edition Swiss Army Camper knives. By purchasing you will help Victorinox donate $25,000 to the National Park Foundation and get a classic Swiss Army knife featuring 13 tools that will come in handy on your next camping trip. Tools include 2 blades, wine opener, can opener, saw, screw drivers, and more. 

Weight: 3.2 oz 

Blade Length: 2.5"

Tools: 13

Buy on Amazon

 

 

Leatherman Juice B2 Pocket Knife

Sometimes you don't need a heavy classic Leatherman and all you want is a good blade. The Leatherman Juice B2 gives you 2 good blade options, straight and serrated, for getting any cutting job done right. Best of all it is one of the lightest options on our list. 

Weight: 1.3 oz 

Blade Length: 2.2"

Tools: 2

Buy on Amazon

 

 

Gerber Obsidian Pocket Knife

The Gerber Obsidian knife is a great every day carry multi-tool pocket knife. The large blade has plunge lock that ensures the knife stays open in use and closed while stored, and the comfortable grip provides leverage for tough jobs. Tools include flat and phillips screwdrivers, a file, and a bottle opener. 

Weight: 4.6 oz 

Blade Length: 3.0"

Tools: 5

Buy on Amazon

 

 

Opinel No12 Explore Survival Knife

This modern update to the classic Opinel design is a solid survival knife. The comfortable grip is fiberglass reinforced for strength and includes an integrated 110-decibel emergency whistle, fire starter, and cutting hook. In short, this knife is adventure ready and makes a trusty knife for hikers and backpackers venturing into the backcountry. 

Weight: 5.6 oz 

Blade Length: 3.94"

Tools: 4

Buy on Amazon

 

 

Leatherman Crater C33TX Pocket Knife

Leatherman is known for bigger multi-tools with pliers and dozens of features, but the classic pliers multi-tool can be unnecessarily heavy for day hikers and backpackers. Enter the Crater series of multi-tool pocket knives. They pack in the tools you use most including phillips and flat screwdrivers, a combo blade, and a carabiner that doubles as a bottle opener in a light weight package that is perfect for hikers.

Weight: 2.36 oz 

Blade Length: 2.6"

Tools: 5

Buy on Amazon

 

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A Backcountry Pad Thai that is Ultra Light and Delicious

If you are feeling adventurous and want to make your own meal for your next backpacking trip this Pad Thai recipe is a great place to start. It doesn't take much prep work at home and is fairly easy to prepare on the trail and is delicious. A few of the ingredients can be difficult to find at local grocery stores but can easily be found on Amazon with free shipping and can be used for other backpacking recipes as well. Best of all because we won't be using traditional fish sauce, you can easily keep this recipe vegetarian-friendly by omitting the chicken.   

 

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 oz Flat Rice Noodles
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp dried garlic flakes
  • 1/2 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 Tsp Ginger Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce (4 To-Go Packets)
  • 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter Powder 
  • 2 True Lime Packets
  • 1/2 Cup Freeze-Dried Chicken
  • 1/2 Cup Freeze-Dried Scrambled Eggs
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper Dehydrated
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Carrots Dehydrated
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Cilantro 
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Roasted Unsalted Peanuts

 

Prep 

  1. Dry the red pepper and shredded carrots in a food dehydrator. 
  2. Place the freeze-dried chicken, freeze-dried scrambled eggs (we just used some scrambled eggs from a Mountain House Breakfast), dried carrots, and dried red pepper in a zip-top sandwich bag.
  3. The coconut oil can be kept in a small snack size zip-top bag.
  4. Measure out the rest of the dry ingredients and place them in a second ziplock sandwich bag.
  5. Then place the sandwich bags and noodles into a quart size freezer bag. 

 

Cooking

  1. Add the noodles, chicken, eggs, and dried veggies to your backpacking pot and add just enough water to cover and bring to a boil.
  2. While the water is boiling combine all the ingredients except for the coconut oil and chopped peanuts with 2 Tbsp of water and stir well to create the sauce. This can be done in a cup or right in the zip lock bag. 
  3. Once the water has boiled and the noodles are tender, drain the remaining water.
  4. Combine the noodles, coconut oil, and sauce in the pot and gently stir until the coconut oil has melted and everything is combined. 
  5. Garnish with chopped peanuts and enjoy!

Let us know if you try the recipe and be sure to check out our full collection of recipes for more backpacking meal ideas.

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