Getting Outdoors More

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Sure, family and other responsibilities prevent you from getting out as much as you’d like.  As your life grew more complicated and busy, one of the most important “outdoor” skills you can acquired is figuring out how to get outdoors as much as you want. One thing you can do is make it a family outing. Here are some tips to help with the outdoor planning.

PLAN AHEAD

When was the last time you had the freedom to take off on the spur of the moment? Probably years ago, right? Many people lack that flexibility, which means that your outdoor recreation, like your work, has to be scheduled in advance, or it doesn’t happen. Backpacking, camping, and other activities in many national parks, can require making reservations months in advance.

INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY

As a parent, the best way to get outdoors more is to get your kids involved at a very young age carrying them on hikes and other activities before they’re walking, then letting them move under their own power as soon as they can walk.  That delivers multiple benefits for you: creating additional opportunities for you to get outside; ingraining in your children a love for the outdoors that you have always shared; and, by getting your family out as much as they’re willing to go, they occasionally don’t mind if you take off for a long day hike or a weekend of climbing or backpacking.

GET ORGANIZED

If the thought of packing up your gear for a weekend erects a mental hurdle to going, maybe you’ve created too much of a barrier for yourself. Get organized and efficient not just about packing for a trip, but also about storing gear after trips; having it ready to go helps you get out the door more quickly. Keep supplies like stove fuel and backpacking food on hand. That way, taking off for a night or two of camping or backpacking isn’t an ordeal.

GET A REGULAR PARTNER

Self-motivating is hard. Find a partner for regular, local hikes, rides, or trail runs who’s compatible with your style and pace besides pushing each other to work a little harder, you’ll push one another to stick to the commitment.

SCHEDULE WEEKLY OUTINGS

Don’t treat exercise and outdoor recreation as something you’ll get to at the end of the day or on the weekend if there’s time after everything else gets done it doesn’t happen that way. Schedule your regular, local outings during the week, like short hikes or trail runs, just like you schedule work or personal appointments. Carve out time for it on your calendar and you will do it and turn it into part of your routine.

For the next few months try to get outdoors more and maybe plan a trip. A day trip, weekend trip, or a week long trip. Just plan ahead and do something fun.

 

 

 

Some Tips for Every Hiking Trip

If you’re planning on going hiking sometime soon, that’s terrific it’s a great way to get exercise, push your limits, and connect with the natural world. But like any outdoor activity, it comes with its share of dangers: weather, wild animals, poisonous plants, and so on. So if you want to get into the great outdoors and make it home again, brush up on these hiking safety tips.

For starters, tell people where you’re going, and mention when you expect to be back, whether you’re alone or in a group. In the event you don’t make it back, because you’re injured or lost, someone will notice, and search parties can be sent out right away. It really helps if they know where you were headed there’s a lot of nature out there, and only one you to find.

If you were hoping for a great weather weekend of hiking but hear there’s a storm approaching, postpone your trip. Nature does not care about ruining your weekend, it doesn’t care whether your get hurt or make it home. Remember that turning back isn’t admitting defeat, it’s respecting the wild world you so enjoy.

A pocket knife, compass and map are at the top of the list. Make sure you know how to use them.  Don’t forget a first aid kit, whistle, matches or a lighter, and plenty of food and water. If you’re hiking in a cold climate, bring warm clothes. If you’re staying overnight, bring what you need for camping.

One of the best parts of exploring nature is encountering the creatures that share the planet with humans. Remember that they’re called wild animals for a reason. Bear attacks are rarer than you might think, but they still happen.  And just because an animal strikes you as harmless, exercise caution; even mountain goats have killed hikers on occasion.

What if you are lost, stay calm. It’s easy to panic when you realize neither you nor anyone else knows where you are. But the most important thing to do is stay calm: Acting predictably will make it easier for a rescue team to find you. Sit down. Decide whether you’re going to get food or water, or build a shelter or a signal fire first, and then stay the course.

Make the job of whoever’s looking for you as easy as possible. If you have bright clothing, put it on. Stay in open, high ground. Blow a whistle at regular intervals.

In addition to staying in sight, try to signal your position to potential rescuers. Build a fire where it will be visible and won’t start a wildfire. Make a signal on the ground that will be visible from the air. Skip the classic “Help” in favor of three piles of anything (e.g., three piles of leaves) arranged in a triangle shape, the international wilderness symbol for distress.

It’s getting very cold out, again stay calm. Unless you’re very experienced yourself, you’re going to feel the pangs of fear setting in. Don’t let emotion take control, keep your head and think clearly. Use that fear and adrenaline to motivate yourself to do everything that needs to be done. If you can do that, you’ll find yourself moving quickly and efficiently, and not running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

If you find that your one day hike has turned into an open ended situation, you’ll need to find more water. Don’t waste time looking for possibly edible berries; you can go a month without eating, but only three days without drinking. Know where to look for water: dew on plants, banana and plantain trees, and tropical vines are good places to start.

Make sure to purify any water you find before drinking it: with purification tablets, a filter or by boiling it. If you’re truly lost, chances are it’s going to take a little while to find you. Making a shelter to spend the night in should be a priority. It can protect you from rain, wind, snow, insects, and sun during the day. It doesn’t have to be big, just large enough to fit you.

No matter the daytime temperature, it can get cold at night. Insulate your shelter with leaves, grass, and even snow. Insulate yourself as well. These tips may save your life during your next hiking trip. Always be prepared for the unexpected . You never know what may happen.

Going Green While Camping

Camping is a outdoor recreational activity which involves overnight stay away from home in a shelter such as a tent or a caravan. Camping is a wonderful experience if you’re ready to understand what it feels like to live off the land. Of course, with our modern technologies and conveniences, we don’t have to completely live off of the land.

Yet, there is nothing that can compare to getting back to nature and sleeping under the stars. It’s something everyone should try at least once.  While camping does feel quite environmentally friendly already, there are ways to make it even more green.

Camping with friends and family involves lot of fun. Going green with camping is an environmentally friendly way to make your vacation eco-friendly. The idea of making a greener camping is to have a minimal impact on the environment. Whether you are planning to week long backpacking trip or a short trip to snow covered mountains, here are some impressive tips to help you go green while camping.

Trash-Leave it how you found it-Clean

Even if you used mostly biodegradable materials, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your trash behind. It is important to leave your campsite the exact way you found it. What if the campers before you left all of their trash behind? Wouldn’t that be annoying? Instead of getting down to the business of camping, you have to start your trip by cleaning up after someone else. That would put a damper on anyone’s trip. So, be mindful of leaving anything behind. Bring extra cloth bags to store all of your items for the trip back home.

Soft Soles

You should tread lightly. You want to minimize your disturbance to the land. So, wear soft-soled shoes. You never know what might be waiting to shoot up beneath you. Remember, the plants and wildlife were there before you. We have our concrete jungles, give nature some space to live too. Also, don’t level the ground underneath your camp. It is that way for a reason. Instead, place cloths under a sloping mat to keep it level.

Clean and Reuse

If you’re camping for more than one night, you’ll have to do some washing. If you have reusable plates, cups and silverware–that is a good start. When washing them, use only biodegradable soaps. Don’t cancel out your green camping trip with toxic dish detergent. Also, do not dump waste water into a stream or river. Empty it on dry ground or vegetation.

Sleeping Gear

It is important to look for sustainable camping gear. Look for camping tents made with 100 percent recycled materials. This should include the tent, fly and floor. Then, determine what types of coatings are used for waterproofing. You want a tent that uses solvent-free polyurethane coating. And, it helps if it is made without toxic dyes.

They are made with naturally untreated, exterior-grade larch wood, while the floor is made from spruce. In addition, they have an integrated ventilation system and electrical outlets. Moreover, it can fit a king-size bed. You can also look for a pre-owned tent at most sporting goods stores. Just look at the materials before your purchase.

Again, look for sleeping bags made of recycled materials. If the weather permits, you might just stick to cloth blankets.

You might want to try a hanging tent. These are like sleeping in a tree. Sometimes, the ground is too cold, soggy and hard to be comfortable. For situations like these, the Tenstile company has created a hanging tent. It is called the Stingray, and it can help you camp anywhere you can suspend it off of the ground.

It is also made to fit three campers comfortably. You won’t have to worry about creepy, crawlies while you sleep. Plus, you’ll have a much better view.

Have you heard of solar tents? This is a new movement in sustainable camping, that also turns it into glamping. A solar tent uses solar fabric that catches the sun’s energy. It also comes with wireless charging pouches to let you charge your devices through magnetic induction.

Repellent

There are lanterns that double as a mosquito repellent. You can often use them to light up your surroundings for over 10 hours each time. Plus, they can protect you from nighttime predators.

Shower

Look for a rinsing system that uses garden hose pressure without the need for batteries or a pump. These types of shower systems compress air in the chamber, which then helps to force water out of the nozzle. This can be used to rinse dirty feet or wash dishes.

Solar Lantern

Carrying a lamp wherever you go can get bulky. The good news is you can find collapsible and portable solar-powered lamps. You can hang the lamp on a tree branch to soak up the sun’s energy during the day time. At night, the lamp shines brightly so that you don’t have to be stuck in the dark.

Food Container

Look for containers that have no BPA or phthalates. These chemicals can leak into your food, even in a microwave. You want something convenient, to travel with you without any messes. Look for leak, break and spill-proof containers. Plus, the design should be compact so as not to take up too much space and easily transport food.

Water

Many times people can be seen bringing a pack of water bottles along with them. This creates overhead as most parks require campers to pick their trash along with them. A better way is to bring a large water container or buy a couple of gallons from which you can refill your water bottle during the trip. You probably never imagined that camping could be even more eco-friendly than it already is. The objective is to continue trying to do as much as you can to care for the environment.

So next time you go camping try some of these tips and go a little greener. Try it, you might like it.

 

Camping and Don’t have Soap…..Try Wood Ashes

wood-ash-uses

Have you ever found yourself in the wilderness or camping and realized you were without soap, don’t panic. It’s still entirely possible to clean your gear with…wait for it…wood ash. Wood ash actually makes a fantastic alternative when suds aren’t available or you decided to skip bringing bars of the stuff entirely to make room for other things. Wood ashes have been used as a source of lye in soap making for years upon years.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your wood ashes:

Hardwoods Vs. Softwoods

When choosing between hardwood and softwood, go for hardwood tree ash over their softwood counterparts, as hardwood trees are better for making soap.

No Residue

First and foremost, it’s essential that your wood ash be free from assorted residues. These include food, plastic, or any other trash, as they could easily make the ashes toxic. Use pure wood ash instead, which may require building a new fire at a different location and letting it burn uninterrupted until you can extract the ashes without issue.

Super-Greasy Pots

Use the greasiest pot you have to make your ash-tastic soap. Add a little olive oil or fat to ease the soap-making process, then add a few cups of ashes. If some of your ashes contain charcoal, fear not, as it will only aid the scouring process.

Hot Water

Add hot water to your concoction–enough to make a nice paste. This results in potassium salts, which will mix with the fat or oil to create your soap. It may not be the prettiest soap ever, but darn if it won’t clean the heck out of your pots and pans.

Let the mixture to cool before slathering your pots with it, and allow the soap to stand for a few minutes before scrubbing. Rinse pots with water to complete the process.

Staying Safe in the Great Outdoors: Camping Safety

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With 38 million Americans going camping in 2012 and travelling up to 200 miles away, on average, to their campsites*, having a plan and being prepared for a camping trip is a must.

 

So in honor of June being National Camping Month, we want to make sure every camping trip this summer goes as smoothly and safely as possible. Nate Williams, who studied outdoor leadership at Malone University in Canton, OH, has safety and preparedness tips for every stage of your camping trip.

camping_safety

Before you leave:

 

-check the weather conditions of where you’re going so you can pack the proper clothing

 

-have the right food and equipment packed

 

-make sure the medicine in your first aid kit isn’t expired

 

-be sure to address any concerns or medical conditions with the group you’re camping with, including food or insect allergies and pre-existing medical conditions

 

-create a risk management plan that includes a list of everybody going on the trip, their emergency contact information, emergency services you’ll need (ranger station, nearest hospital, etc.), the time you’re arriving at the campsite and where you’ll be in case people need to find you

camping_safety2

Setting up your campsite:

 

-make sure there’s nothing hanging over your tent, like dead tree limbs, etc.

 

-be aware of where the potential water drainage is going so you don’t get washed out of your site

 

-store food either in a bear canister downwind from the campsite so the smell of it doesn’t go through your site and attract animals or in a bear bag that’s hanging at least 15 feet off the ground

Safety practices during your trip:

 

-constantly be aware of your surroundings, whether it’s trees, weather or other people

 

-make sure you have adequate footwear to protect yourself from foot and ankle injuries

 

-drink lots of water so you don’t become dehydrated

Equipment to always have:

 

-extra food

 

-rain gear and an extra layer of clothing in case the weather shifts

 

-a first aid kit to address any injuries

 

-a water filter so you always have water

Mr. Beams camping safety lighting:

 

-keep an UltraBright Lantern at your campsite and on hiking trips so if you’re out longer than expected or get lost at night, you won’t be wandering around in the dark

 

 

41 Camping Hacks That Are Borderline Genius

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These tips and tricks will guarantee you’ll be a totally happy camper this summer.

1. Use foam floor tiles for a softer, more comfortable tent floor.

Use foam floor tiles for a softer, more comfortable tent floor.

2. Point a head lamp into a jug of water for an instant lantern.

Point a head lamp into a jug of water for an instant lantern.

3. Paint the inside of a jar with non-toxic glow-in-the-dark paint for an easy DIY lantern.

Paint the inside of a jar with non-toxic glow-in-the-dark paint for an easy DIY lantern.

4. Make tin-can sandwich bread as a portable food option.

Make tin-can sandwich bread as a portable food option.

5. Familiarize yourself with what the poisonous plants look like.

Familiarize yourself with what the poisonous plants look like.

6. Bring a tick deterrent.

Bring a tick deterrent.

7. Glue sandpaper to the top of your match holder.

Glue sandpaper to the top of your match holder.

Be sure to buy strike-anywhere matches.

8. Repurpose a coffee can to hold and protect TP.

Repurpose a coffee can to hold and protect TP.

9. Make crescent rolls over the campfire.

Make crescent rolls over the campfire.

For maximum yumminess, fill ‘em with stuff like marshmallows and Nutella. Or wrap hot dogs with them.

10. Use Tic-Tac boxes to store spices.

Use Tic-Tac boxes to store spices.

11. Invest in a two-person sleeping bag.

Invest in a two-person sleeping bag.

12. Get these seat hammocks for car camping.

Get these seat hammocks for car camping.

13. Cut up a straw and fill the pieces up with antibiotic ointment or toothpaste for single-use packets.

Cut up a straw and fill the pieces up with antibiotic ointment or toothpaste for single-use packets.

Use a lighter to seal up the ends.

14. Make travel coffee bags out of coffee filters and dental floss.

Make travel coffee bags out of coffee filters and dental floss.

Place a scoop of coffee grounds into a coffee filter and tie it up with dental floss. When you’re ready to brew, just make it like you would make tea in a teabag!

15. Need your coffee? Bring a few of these.

Need your coffee? Bring a few of these.

They’ll keep you from going into caffeine withdrawal.

16. Make candle stakes for romantic nighttime lighting.

Make candle stakes for romantic nighttime lighting.

17. Make single-use soap leaves from a bar of soap and a vegetable peeler.

Make single-use soap leaves from a bar of soap and a vegetable peeler.

You can also rub soap on mosquito bites to relieve the itchiness.

18. Use an empty laundry detergent dispenser as a hand-washing station.

Just fill it up with water.

19. Use a belt and hooks to hang up pots and pans.

Use a belt and hooks to hang up pots and pans.

20. Make campfire cones!

Make campfire cones!

21. Pack a mini first-aid kit into an old prescription bottle or Altoids tin.

Pack a mini first-aid kit into an old prescription bottle or Altoids tin.

22. Make pancakes with pre-made pancake mix using shortening and dry milk, which don’t need to be refrigerated.

Make pancakes with pre-made pancake mix using shortening and dry milk, which don't need to be refrigerated.

23. Put a battery-powered votive candle into an empty peanut butter container to make portable lanterns.

Put a battery-powered votive candle into an empty peanut butter container to make portable lanterns.

24. Make a portable washing machine with a plunger and a bucket.

25. Make an easy-to-carry fire starter with a cardboard-only egg carton and match light charcoal.

Make an easy-to-carry fire starter with a cardboard-only egg carton and match light charcoal.

You just have to light the carton and the fire will catch on to the charcoal.

26.

27. Make pocket-sized oil lamps out of travel-size or hotel toiletry shampoo bottles.

Make pocket-sized oil lamps out of travel-size or hotel toiletry shampoo bottles.

28. Forgo the meat marinade and put the rosemary right on the coals.

Forgo the meat marinade and put the rosemary right on the coals.

Once the coals are uniformly gray and ashy, cover them with fresh rosemary branches. Your meat and vegetables will be flavored with the taste of savory herbs.

29. Bring cheeses in waxed packaging as well as hard cheeses.

Bring cheeses in waxed packaging as well as hard cheeses.

Aged cheddar, Parmigiano, and/or Gruyère will keep for at least a week unrefrigerated.

30. Add bundles of sage to a campfire to keep mosquitoes away.

Add bundles of sage to a campfire to keep mosquitoes away.

31. Try roasting Starburst.

Sounds crazy, but it’s actually delicious. Crunchy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. Roast it until it’s bubbling.

32. Forgo pasta for a quick-cooking alternatives like polenta, quinoa, or couscous.

Forgo pasta for a quick-cooking alternatives like polenta, quinoa, or couscous.

Polenta is especially versatile because it can be shaped into patties and pan-fried for a sweet or savory meal.

33. Cook cinnabuns (the canned kind) in a hollowed-out orange over a campfire.

Cook cinnabuns (the canned kind) in a hollowed-out orange over a campfire.

34. If you’re going to be hiking, use this biodegradable trail-marking tape.

If you're going to be hiking, use this biodegradable trail-marking tape.

35. Keep the kids busy with a scavenger hunt.

Write the items down on a paper bag so they have a receptacle for the items.

36. Use a bucket and a milk crate as an emergency toilet.

Use a bucket and a milk crate as an emergency toilet.

37. Cotton pads dipped in wax are a crazy easy way to make portable fire starters.

Cotton pads dipped in wax are a crazy easy way to make portable fire starters.

38. Bring microfiber towels — they’re super absorbent and lightweight.

Bring microfiber towels — they're super absorbent and lightweight.

39. Freeze gallon jugs of water and place them in your cooler.

Freeze gallon jugs of water and place them in your cooler.

They’ll keep your food cold, and you’ll have plenty of water to drink for later.

Other things you can freeze to use for later: pasta sauces, chili, and pesto.

40. Make emergency light sources out of an Altoids tin, cardboard, and wax.

Make emergency light sources out of an Altoids tin, cardboard, and wax.

41. Make sandwiches with this campfire panini press.

Make sandwiches with this campfire panini press.

No matter how far you have to carry this thing.

Linked from: https://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/camping-hacks-that-are-borderline-genius?sub=2295102_1238992&utm_term=.xlmkJq4mm#.fhvLmnqNN

Types of Campfire

Having a campfire is a big part of camping. But do you know what type of campfire to make?

Don’t believe everything you watch on TV or see in the movies. There are different types of campfire. Some are best for heat and light, others are best for cooking over.

TV shows and films often have a roaring fire with pots and other items cooking over the flames.

Whilst it’s not impossible to cook that way, you’ll usually end up with burnt andundercooked food.

Hot coals and embers are actually much better to cook over as they give out a good steady heat, and it’s easier to control the temperature by adding or taking away hot coals.

Flame tends to burn yet not get that hot, at least not hot enough to cook the inside of your food before it scorches the outside.

If you want to do a lot of campfire cooking for your family, I recommend you get a Dutch Oven.

Dutch Ovens and other cast iron cookware work really well with hot coals, as the heat from the coals transfers to the iron, making it ideal for frying, baking, and roasting.

Let’s look at a few different types of campfire.

The Tepee is the classic looking campfire and is ideal when you want to create a quick fire to warm up with.

Pile up dry tinder kindling and set it alight. Then start placing sticks around it in a tepee shape, making sure that you don’t smother the fire.

As the fire gets bigger you can use larger sticks and logs.

This is a good fire that puts out a tall flame and heat in all directions, making it an ideal campfire to sit around in the evening.

You will need plenty of fuel close to hand as this type of fire burns quickly.

However, the tepee campfire is not a good choice if you want to cook food.

If you want a campfire to cook over, then you need to build a Criss-Cross fire.

You build this by simply placing a criss-cross of logs, stacked on top of one another.

I find it easier to light by creating a small depression in the ground and start a small fire with dry kindling first, then start adding more small twigs to the fire, and then build the crisscrossed logs above the fire.

Although the fire’s shape does provide a flat platform to cook things over, eventually the logs will collapse in on themselves.

This is not a problem, as it’s the hot embers and coals that this sort of fire makes that you then use for cooking with.

So what if you want to sit around a campfire and cook? How can you have a good campfire that does both?

Well, the ideal solution is a Keyhole Firepit.

You cut a keyhole shape in the ground and start a Tepee fire in the round part of the keyhole.  This fire provides light and warmth.

Now you can either wait for the Tepee fire to create enough hot embers or start a second fire for cooking with.

If you decide to wait, then rake hot embers from the main fire into the slot where you can cook food.

Alternatively, start a small criss-cross fire in the slot to create some embers while the tepee fire is warming everyone and lighting up the camp.

The Swedish Torch campfire is very popular on the internet. After all, using this design, a single log can burn for hours.  Sounds amazing, right?

The concept is quite simple.

You cut some slits into a log. You stand the log on its end and start a fire in the top. As the fire embers fall into the slits the log starts to burn.

Air is drawn into the slits and the log burns down from the top and the inside.

We’ve created something like this before, and although you can have a log burning for a long time, it doesn’t give out as much heat or light, so a group of you at a campsite won’t be keeping warm by this fire, unlike a tepee fire. Though if there’s just one or two of you and don’t have much wood, the Swedish Torch could be a good choice.

You’ll also want make sure the log is firm. You don’t want it falling over, especially with kids around.

If the top of the log is also flat you could place a small pan or pot on the top and use the log to cook on. The Swedish Torch does put out a lot of heat at the top of the log.

Here’s a video from the internet on making a Swedish Torch campfire.

So there you go, a couple of different methods of creating a campfire.

Here’s a handy summary:

22 Absolutely Essential Diagrams You Need For Camping

From survival to s’mores, here’s everything you need to know to ensure a flawless camping trip.

1. How to Build a Campfire

2. Tent Tips

3. Everything You Need to Know About the Technicality of S’mores

4. How to Estimate Remaining Daylight with Your Hand

5. Snacks to Pack

6. What You Can Do to Repel Mosquitoes

7. How to Sleep Warm

8. How to Survive Hypothermia

9. Backpacker’s Checklist

10. How to Rig a Tarp

11. How to Get Your Dutch Oven to the Right Temperature

12. How to Identify Animal Tracks

13. Know Your Stargazing Events This Summer

14. 10 Easy Fire Starters

15. Kayak Camping Checklist

16. A Guide to Hammock Camping

17. Guide to Spider Bites

18. Checklist for Car Camping

19. How to Make Shelters in Survival Situations Using Nature

20. How to React to a Wildlife Encounter

21. Tarp Tips

22. Know Your Poisonous Plants

How to Make a Homemade Camping Shower

Camping may mean getting back to nature, but it doesn’t mean you want to be au naturel in front of your fellow campers. This portable camp shower partition provides welcome privacy when you’re out in the woods. It sets up in minutes, and can be free standing or hung from a tree branch, depending on your shower setup. It can also be used as a clothes changing area. This gives you the privacy… but for the water part, don’t forget to bring a portable sun shower found at any camping store.

Things You’ll Need

  • Four 6’ sections of ½” PVC pipe
  • PVC pipe cutter
  • Eight ½” PVC corner pieces
  • Two 6’x8’ vinyl tarps
  • For freestanding shower:
  • Eight 3’ sections of ½” PVC pipe
  • Cable zip ties
  • Bricks or sand bags
  • For hanging shower:
  • Four 3′ sections of 1/2″ PVC pipe
  • Four ½” PVC elbow pieces
  • Eye-hook screws
  • String
  • Metal washer
  • Two 6’x8’ vinyl tarp

Step 1

PVC pipe comes in standard 10’ lengths, so you will need to cut them to size using a PVC pipe cutter so you have four 6’ sections and eight 3’ sections.

Step 2

Start with the base of the shower enclosure. Connect four 3’ pipe sections with four PVC corner pieces. These corners are also called 90-degree side outlet elbows.

Step 3

Attach the four 6’ PVC pipe sections vertically to the corner pieces.

Step 4

Attach PVC corner pieces to the top of the 6’ PVC pipes and connect the 3’ pipes to them to form a tall cube.

Step 5

The shower enclosure is 6 feet tall. Turn the 6’x8’ vinyl tarp on its side so that it is 6 feet tall as well. Using the pre-drilled grommets, hang the tarp on the PVC pipes with cable zip ties. Attach the tarp to the vertical PVC pipe as well. For maximum privacy, overlap the two pieces of tarp so there are no openings.

Step 6

Decide which side will be the opening of the shower enclosure. Do not connect the side grommets to the vertical post on this side so the tarp can be opened and closed. Place bricks or sand bags on the PVC pipes at the base to help keep the structure from blowing in the wind.

Step 1

For a hanging shower enclosure, connect four 3’ sections of PVC pipe using PVC elbows. They do not need to be corner pieces because you will not be connecting vertical pieces.

Step 2

Attach eye-hook screws to each of the four elbow pieces, and tie string to the hooks, going diagonally from corner to corner. Without the eye-hook screws, the string can slide off from the elbows.

Step 3

At the intersection of the two strings, attach a metal washer. Tie wire around the top of the washer to hang from a tree branch.

Step 4

As with the free-standing shower enclosure, hang the tarp from the PVC pipe with zip cable ties. Overlap two tarps to provide extra privacy.

5 Survival Skills You Can Practice While Camping

Have Fun While Honing Your Survival Skills

There is no better way to practice your survival skills than to practice these life saving skills while you are camping – anything from building a shelter to identifying edible plants.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned survivalist, I believe in always staying on top of your game with these 5 survival skills which can literally save your life in a survival situation.

1. Building a Fire

Learning different methods of how to build a fire is important. The easiest way, of course, is to use matches or a lighter. It is important to remember, however, that you should never rely just on these 2 methods alone – your lighter could run out of fluid or your matches could get wet. Primitive methods are important for EVERYONE to learn. The following methods are great to practice while you are camping:

Ferro Rod – Check out this great video on different ferro rods you can use.

Hand Drill – Check out this video tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

Bow Drill – Check out this video tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

2. Building a Shelter

Learning how to build a shelter is another must-know skill for any survivalist. While you’re camping, you most likely will have a tent and a air mattress with warm blankets. However, one day you could be in these same surroundings without these luxuries therefore, building a shelter is a skill that you will need to learn to protect you from the elements and quite possibly – predators.

The following article, written by Ruth England (co-star of ‘Man, Woman, Wild’) gives detailed instructions and viable information on how to build different types of shelters.

3. Water Purification

Another must-have skill is water purification. Purifying water is so important. If it looks clean, purify it anyway. Water that has not been filtered or purified can lead to serious illness and sometimes death due to bacteria and other waterborne pathogens.

4. Different Methods of Fishing

When you’re a survival situation, food is important to keep your energy levels up – preferably a food source that has lots of protein. The following video, Survival Fishing Tips & Techniques, shows you how you can fish in a true survival situation. This video is extremely informative — a must watch!

5. Learning to Identify Edible and Medicinal Plants

Sometimes, in a survival situation, food that contains protein is hard to find. Learning how to identify edible plants (some of which also provide medicinal properties as well) is a must REMEMBER this important rule: Every edible plant has a look-alike, so please be absolutely certain that you are picking the right plant as your food source! I can’t stress that enough! Keeping a book on edible plants with photo identifications is a great addition to your survival gear.

NO MESS CAMPING OMELETTES IN A BAG

Some of you may have heard about this very novel idea of making omelettes in a freezer ziploc bag. Have you? Well, I had not seen omelettes in a bag done, but after seeing it done last weekend, I am sold on the idea. Who needs a dirty pan when you can just throw baggies away!! Plus no waiting your turn for the pan. You can cook a whole bunch of omelettes at one time in a pan of boiling water.

Start by breaking two eggs into a FREEZER ziploc bag. Add the ingredients of your choice just like a traditional omelette.

Then, zip the bag clothes and moosh it up with your hands. You know scramble it!

Make sure you have written the name of each person’s omelette on the bag.

Then place the omelettes in a bag in boiling water for about 14-15 minutes. The rule of thumb is about six and half to seven minutes per egg. So if you decide you want a three egger, you will need to cook it for more like 20 minutes. However, you can cook as many as you can fit in a pan at a time.

Then just walk a way and wait.

Grab your favorite mug for coffee and rest.

Then, when the eggs in the omelettes in a bag are set up and done cooking, Just dump them onto plates.

Your perfect mess-free omelette!

The 26 Best Places to Pitch a Tent in the U.S.

After a day spent wandering wooded paths, admiring breathtaking vistas, and dipping your toes into a crystal clear creek, you huddle around a campfire to peer up at the glowing stars and enjoy a few (hundred) s’mores. Ahh, peace and quiet! Then you zip up into your tent for a few (mosquito-free) hours, and wake to the birds chirping and the faint hint of early morning sunlight. This is what camping is all about.

In honor of the National Park Service’s 99th birthday, we rounded up the best places to camp in the country. You’ll learn the coolest features of each natural wonderland, how much it costs, and the best time of year to visit. So gather up your tent, bear-proof containers, and a few good friends for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. (The list is organized by location.)

The Northeast

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

Why It’s Cool: Maine is known as The Pine Tree State for a reason: It’s covered in 17 million acres of forest. Plus it has 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams—basically, a camper’s paradise. Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is the ideal destination for nature lovers of all skill levels. Looking for a unique experience? Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain (the highest point along the east coast) just before sunrise and be the first person in the U.S. to see the sun that morning.

Where to Camp: The park has two campgrounds: Blackwoods (closer to the island’s town center, Bar Harbor) and Seawall (a more rustic, less touristy environment). While visitors can enjoy hiking throughout the entire park, camping is only allowed in these designated areas (backcountry enthusiasts, take note).

When It’s Open: Blackwoods campground is open year-round (permit required December to March). Seawall is open from late May through September.

Fee: Blackwoods costs $30 per site, per night from May to October; $10 in April and November; and it’s free from December to March. Seawall will set you back $22 for a walk-in site and $30 for drive-up tent, camper, and motor home sites.

2. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for a more rustic experience in the Northeast, the White Mountains are your best bet. The hiking’s pretty rugged in this section of the Appalachian range, but totally worth it if you’re up for the challenge. The sights here are particularly stunning in the fall, when the foliage turns to all shades of red, orange, and yellow.

Where to Camp: While the forest does have 24 drive-in campgrounds (with a combined 800 campsites—wowza!), the eight walk-in state park campgrounds in the northern part of the state are really what camping’s all about. Developed campsites require reservations. Backcountry tent camping is also allowed (except in noted no-camping areas); there are also log lean-tos scattered throughout the forest (a small fee may apply).

3. Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

Why It’s Cool: Vermont’s Long Trail is one of the Green Mountain State Park‘s biggest draws, so try finding a camping spot close by to hike a portion of it during your stay. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the 270-plus-mile trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the U.S.! It follows the ridge of the Green Mountains through Vermont from the Massachusetts border to Canada.

Where to Camp: The forest offers five developed campgrounds. There are no electrical hookups or dump stations, so arrive prepared. Campground accessibility varies by season. Dispersed or back country camping is allowed anywhere in the park unless specifically posted.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center and campground accessibility vary by season, but one campground is always open all year.

Cost: The best part? There are no entrance fees, and most of the campsites are free too. The Green Mountain Club maintains about 70 campsites along The Long Trail, all with a water source and privy, for which GMC caretakers will come by to charge a small fee during the summer and fall.

When It’s Open: Forest accessible year-round. Visitor center hours vary.

Cost: Daily passes to the park are available for $3; seven-day passes available for $5. Campsites vary from $18 to $24 per night, while backcountry tent camping is free. Parking at a trailhead may require a permit; check signage at your chosen lot.

The Mid-Atlantic

4. Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

Why It’s Cool: Located in south-central Pennsylvania, this scenic park sits at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains in an area known as South Mountain (confusing, we know). The Appalachian Trail, perhaps the most famous foot trail in the world, runs through the forest, which is home to the trail’s halfway point. While only 2,000 people attempt to hike the whole 2,186-mile trail each year (about a quarter actually finish), between 2 and 3 million people hike or walk a portion of it. Whether you cover two miles or 20, it’s still cool to say you’ve done it! Have some time after the hike? Check out the Appalachian Trail Museum, located near the midpoint of the AT.

Where to Camp: The forest has a mix of 70 tent and trailer sites (mostly rustic) available from late March to mid-December. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Backpacking and overnight hikes are not permitted. Electric and water hook-ups are available for a fee at specific sites.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Campgrounds open from April through December.

Cost: No entrance fee. Backpacking or river camping ranges from $4 to $5 per night, while basic campsites start at $15 per night.

5. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Why It’s Cool: If you love beaches and camping, this is the spot for you. Assateague is a barrier island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia covered in sandy beaches, salt marshes, forests, and costal bays. There’s even a community of wild horses (how exotic!). Enjoy relaxing on the 37 miles of beach or hiking by day, and buckle down your tent right by (er, a safe distance from) the crashing waves for a night under the stars.

Where to Camp: Camping is only allowed on the Maryland side of the island at two oceanside and four bayside camping areas. From October 16­ through April 14, the sites are first-come, first-served. Two campsites are also open for horse camping during this time (for a fee of $50 per night). From April 15 through October 15, reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Backcountry camping is allowed ($10, seven-day permit required), but it’s only accessible by backpacking or water.

When It’s Open: Year-round; visitor center and ranger station hours vary from season to season.

Cost: $20 vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campsite fee is $30 per night depending on season and location.

The West Coast

6. Yosemite National Park, California

Why It’s Cool: Nearly 95 percent of this breathtaking park is designated wilderness—meaning no cars, no structures, no roads, and no electricity. After a night spent under the stars, hike up to Glacier Point, which overlooks the park’s famous Yosemite Valley, Half Dome (a rock structure revered among climbers), and the High Sierra peaks. The Four Mile Trail route takes about three to four hours each way. Looking for even more of a challenge? The Panorama Trail is about twice as long.

Where to Camp: There are 13 popular campgrounds scattered throughout the park, and reservations are strongly recommended from April to September. But seven campgrounds operate on a first-come first-served basis year-round. Backcountry camping is also allowed, but requires a free wilderness permit (which can be reserved ahead of time).

When It’s Open: Park open year round. Campgrounds vary by season.

Cost: $30 per vehicle for a seven-day pass ($25 from November to March). Campsites range from $6 to $26 per night.

7. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Why It’s Cool: We know, camping in the desert doesn’t sound like so much fun (hello, sunburn). But the nearly 800,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park is so much more than just desert. The park sits at the intersection of two very different ecosystems: To the east is the low-lying Colorado Desert; to the west lies the slightly higher, cooler, wetter Mojave Desert (home to the park’s namesake, the Joshua tree). The park also has ten mountain peaks higher than 5,000 feet in elevation, making it a popular rock climbing destination. (Just be sure you know what you’re doing first.)

Where to Camp: The park is home to nine established campgrounds. Some campsites require reservations for October through May. The rest of the sites are first-come, first-served. Backcountry camping is allowed, but campers must register in advance at a designated backcountry registration board.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center and campground status vary by season.

Cost: $20 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes are available for $30 and national passes are accepted. Camping costs $15 per site per night without water, or $20 with potable water available.

8. Olympic National Park, Washington

Why It’s Cool: You’ll encounter three different ecosystems in one park, including a rainforest. Head to the Quinault Rainforest (one of only three in the western hemisphere) to see the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world. There’s a 30-mile road that loops through the rainforest, but we think hiking’s a better option. End your trip at Ruby Beach, where you can see mountains, glaciers, and rainforests right from the shoreline—or at La Push, the northernmost beach in Washington, where you can see whales off the coast during migration season.

Where to Camp: The park has 16 National Park Service-operated campgrounds with a total of 910 sites. Backcountry camping is allowed, but a permit ($5) is required (reservations are also sometimes required). If you’re not a tent enthusiast, stay in one of the rustic lodges open year-round.

When It’s Open: Park is open year-round. Camping availability varies, but there are some primitive sites open year-round.

Cost: $20 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campground fees range from $15 to $22 per night depending on season and location. A wilderness camping permit is required for back country camping: $5 per person, per night.

The Mountain States

9. Zion National Park, Utah

Why It’s Cool: With massive sandstone cliffs, brilliant blue skies, and a plethora of plants and animals, this almost otherworldly park is truly a national treasure. After spending the night in the woods, hike the Kolob Canyons in the northwest corner of the park. The five-mile and 14-mile trails make perfect four- or eight- hour trips. The longer trail takes you to Kolob Arch, one of the largest (and most remote) natural arches in the world. If you’re traveling in the summer and score a permit ($5), exploring The Subway, a unique tunnel structure sculpted by a creek, is an unparalleled experience.

Where to Camp: The park has three established campgrounds, which are full every night during summer. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips and can be issued the day before or day of your trip (or reserved up to three months in advance). Before you go, be sure to read through the Zion wilderness guide.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Some services and facilities may reduce hours or close at some point during the year.

Cost: $30 per vehicle for a recreational seven-day pass. Wilderness permits are $10 to $20 depending on the size of the group. Campsite fees range from free to $16 per night.

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Why It’s Cool: Featuring over 700 miles of trails through forests, meadows, and mountains, this park is a dream come true for hikers. You may have heard of Going-to-the-Sun-Road, a 50-mile road that winds through the mountains, but that’s only fun if you’re in a car. To experience the majestic beauty on foot, head to Logan Pass and Many Glacier  (there are several trails to choose from, many of which offer spectacular views of alpine lakes, as well as a campground nearby).

Where to Camp: There are 13 developed campgrounds with a whopping 1,009 established sites. Most operate on a first-come first-served basis, except for three that require reservations. Backcountry camping is also allowed, but a backcountry permit is required and you may only camp in designated campgrounds. (See the Back country guide for details.)

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor facilities open from late May through early September.

Cost: Summer entrance fees are $25 per car for seven days ($15 in winter). Annual and national passes are also available. Campsites vary from $10 to $23 per night during the summer season.

11. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Why It’s Cool: Located just north of Jackson Hole, WY, Grand Teton is home to a number of impressive Rocky Mountain peaks, majestic lakes, and incredible wildlife. There are a ton of hiking trails ranging from easy to very strenuous, so you can choose your own adventure based on how you’re feeling that day.

Where to Camp: Stay at one of the five campgrounds in the park (Signal Mountain earns enthusiastic reviews). All back country camping requires a permit, which is free and available to walk-ins on a first-come first-served basis. (You may also be able to register online depending on the time of year, but it will cost you $25.)

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center hours vary by season, but one visitor center will always be open year-round.

Cost: $30 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. All entrance fees are valid at both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. In the winter, there is a winter day-use fee of $5. Some national passes are also accepted. Campground fees are $22 per night, per site.

12. Arches National Park, Utah

Why It’s Cool: It’s a red rock wonderland with more than 2,000 natural stone arches, offering a variety of easy, moderate, and long trails. One of the most popular, the Delicate Arch trail, takes you to the spectacular arch of the same name (don’t miss the Instagram-worthy photo op!). Or take a ranger-guided hike through the Fiery Furnace, an area of sandstone canyons with no marked trailheads.

Where to Camp: The park has one developed campground, The Devils Garden Campground , with 50 campsites. Reserve in advance during the busy season (March to October), but there are also campgrounds located outside the park in the Moab area. Since the park is relatively small, there’s little land for backpacking. To do so, you need a free permit, and you should know what you’re doing (be able to read a topographic map, identify safety hazards, etc.).

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center is open every day except Christmas (hours change based on season).

Cost: Beginning October 1, 2015, a seven-day pass will cost $25 per vehicle (it’s currently $10). Annual passes also available.

The Southwest

13. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Why It’s Cool: Do you really need a reason? It’s the freakin’ Grand Canyon. The South Rim is more popular, accessible, and busier, while the North Rim is harder to get to, but offers a more secluded stay (and is actually in Utah). Both areas are gorgeous, so you really can’t go wrong. Back country hiking is one of the most popular activities, but it can be super tough (yet equally rewarding)—be prepared for a demanding hike that will test your mental and physical prowess. Whitewater rafting trips on the Colorado river are also crowd-pleasers.

Where to Camp: Reservations are recommended for two of the three developed campgrounds during the summer. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit.

When It’s Open: The South Rim is open year-round, but some facilities will close during winter. The North Rim is open mid-May through mid-October.

Cost: $30 per private vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available. Campground fees start at $12 per night.

14. Big Bend National Park, Texas

Why It’s Cool: The Rio Grande river runs right through Big Bend, so rafting, canoeing, and kayaking trips are an incredible way to experience the park. If staying dry is more your style, the park is packed with trails covering desert, mountain, and river terrain for day hikes or backpacking trips. One popular desert hike is Devil’s Den, a moderate 5.6-mile trip along the rim of and down into a limestone slot canyon. Another beautiful hike is the Santa Elena Canyon trail, a moderate 1.7 mile round-trip hike that provides both top-down and bottom-up views of the canyon. Oh, and don’t forget to look up at night: The park’s remote location provides gorgeous views of the starry sky.

Where to Camp: The park operates three developed campgrounds. You can find primitive roadside campsites for backcountry camping scattered throughout the park.

When It’s Open: Year-round.

Cost: $25 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available. Developed campgrounds fees are $14 per site, per night, while backcountry campsites require a $12 permit.

15. Carson National Forest, New Mexico

Why It’s Cool: Surprise: New Mexico is not all desert! Carson National Forest offers relatively cool summer temps as well as a great environment for fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking. In the winter, there’s even enough snow for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Hike the 16-mile round trip up to New Mexico’s highest peak, Mt. Wheeler, for a challenging but rewarding adventure.

Where to Camp: You’ll find 35 established camping areas scattered throughout the park. Backcountry camping is also allowed. Langua Larga offers four campsites right on the water’s edge and many good areas for dispersed camping (camping anywhere outside a developed campsite) a bit farther from the lake.

When It’s Open: Forest is accessible year-round. Campgrounds vary by season and location.

Cost: No entrance fee. Campsite prices range from free to $30, depending on location, time of year, and group size.

The Midwest

16. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Why It’s Cool: It’s a tough climate to trek through—but the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Between a variety of rock formations lies a mixture of tall- and short-grass prairies. And be on the lookout for fossils: The Badlands have one of the most complete fossil accumulations  in North America, providing a glimpse into the area’s ancient ecosystems. The park is also ideal for stargazing and even hosts an astronomy festival in early August.

Where to Camp: There are two campgrounds in the park: Cedar Pass Campground has some amenities (running water, electricity, etc.). Sage Creek Campground is primitive (bison often wander through!) without water on-site. Permits are not required for backcountry camping, but you do need and register before heading out.

When It’s Open: Park and campgrounds are open year-round.

Cost: $15 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes also available. Campsites at Cedar Pass Campground are $13 per night, per site; $30 per night, per site with electrical hook-ups. Sage Creek campsites are free.

17. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Why It’s Cool: This park offers something different every season: Summer and spring are perfect for water activities; fall turns the park into a hiking paradise; and winter calls to cross-country skiers, snow-shoers and snowmobilers, and ice fishers. The park is composed of mostly water, so for those entering the park without their own vessel, guided boat tours are a popular activity (make sure to reserve in advance!). There are also a wide variety of hiking trails, accessible by both car and boat.

Where to Camp: The park features 220 free, designated campsites, but all are accessible only by water. They’re available on a first-come, first-served basis. Backcountry camping is also allowed anywhere in the park (unless otherwise stated).

When It’s Open: Year-round; visitor center hours vary by season.

Cost: Entrance is free, but there’s a $10 daily fee for private boating. No charge or reservations for individual campsites, but a free permit is required.

18. Ludington State Park, Michigan

Why It’s Cool: This 5,300-acre park is sandwiched right between two lakes (Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan) in western Michigan. You’ll find everything from sand dunes and shoreline to marshlands and forest, plus eight separate trails covering 21.5 miles. Canoeing offers gorgeous, up-close views of the water, and you can also bike on the designated 2-mile trail.

Where to Camp: Choose from three modern campgrounds with a total of 355 campsites featuring showers and bathrooms, plus three mini-cabins. There are also 10 remote sites in a hike-in only campground.

When It’s Open: Year-round, but camping is only allowed mid-May to late November.

Cost: $11 fee to purchase the required Michigan State Park Recreation Passport.

19. Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin

Why It’s Cool: There’s something for everyone at this park—recreation options  include an 18-hole golf course, volleyball courts, boating, hiking, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Eight miles of shoreline (right on Green Bay) call to water lovers and boaters, while miles of bike trails make for a more rigorous workout before spending the night under the stars.

Where to Camp: The park has five campgrounds with a mix of electric- and non-electric sites. Reservations are recommended. Backcountry camping is not allowed.

When It’s Open: Year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (except for campers, who are obviously allowed to stay overnight).

Cost: A vehicle admission sticker is required for park entry. Daily stickers are available for $7 (with WI license plates) or $10 (for out-of-towners), while annual stickers are available for $25 or $35.

20. Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Why It’s Cool: Fun fact: The Ozarks served as the setting for “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and as the home of the (fictional) Beverly Hillbillies family. Here you’ll find more than 200 camping and picnic sites, nine swimming beaches, thousands of acres of lakes and steams, and 400 miles of hiking trails. The 218-mile Ozark Highlands Trail is one of the best known hikes, but the amazing living cave systems at Blanchard Springs are also a draw.

Where to Camp: The park offers space for everything from RV to tent camping thanks to 23 developed campgrounds (a combined 320 sites). Primitive camping is also allowed almost anywhere in the forest, unless there’s a sign stating otherwise.

When It’s Open: Forest accessible year-round. Some campsites are open year-round as well; others are only open May through October.

Cost: No entrance fee. A number of campsites in the forest will charge a fee for camping, but many don’t. Camping fees can vary from free to $19 per night, per site.

21. Everglades National Park, Florida

Why It’s Cool: This park is the third largest in the lower 48 states, covering 2,400 square miles—so you definitely won’t get bored, especially with a wide range of hiking trails, campgrounds, and ample opportunities for biking. You can also canoe and kayak even farther into the park’s mangrove forests, freshwater marshes, and the Florida Bay. If you’ve had enough of doing the work yourself, check out one of the guided tours. And keep an eye out for rare wildlife species, including manatees, alligators, crocodiles, dolphins, and even the endangered Florida panther.

Where to Camp: The park has two drive-in campgrounds (reservations are recommended at Flamingo Campground). Most back country campsites ($10 permit required) are only reachable by canoe, kayak, boat, or particularly adventurous hikers.

When It’s Open: Year-round, all day, every day. Yep, 24/7.

Cost: $10 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campsite fee varies from $16 to $30, based on location.

22. Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Why It’s Cool: There are hundreds of different trails throughout the Hemlocks region, offering a diverse range of hikes and backpacking opportunities. Just an hour from Asheville, NC, the Pisgah Forest is known as the “Land of the Waterfalls” (guess why), so any trail you choose, regardless of difficulty, will provide ample opportunities to check out some gorgeous falls. The forest also contains four long-distance trails, including portions of the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail. The Art Loeb Trail  is one of the toughest (30.1 miles) in the forest but also one of the most popular. There are plenty of campsites along the trail too, making it a great path for a weekend backpacking trip.

Where to Camp: Check out the park’s camping guide to find out which sites are first-come, first-served and which require reservations. Dispersed camping is only allowed at one of the forest’s designated camping areas.

When It’s Open: Forest is accessible year-round. Campground availability varies by season.

Cost: No general entrance fee. Campsite cost varies by location. Some passes and permits may be required, depending on activity.

23. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Why It’s Cool: D.C.-area readers, get packing: Just 75 miles from your metropolis is the perfect natural escape. The park contains more than 500 miles of trails, some leading to magnificent viewpoints or waterfalls, and others through miles of quiet, peaceful wilderness. Regardless, there will be a hike you’ll enjoy. The eight-mile hike to Old Rag Mountain is the toughest route in the park (and also one of the most popular), and rewards hikers with spectacular views from its peak.

Where to Camp: The park’s four campgrounds are open in spring, summer, and fall. Reservations at any site are recommended, but some first-come first-served spots may be available. Back country camping requires a free permit.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Portions of road are closed during bad weather and at night during deer hunting season (mid-November through early January). Visitor services are typically open only from March through November.

Cost: Entrance fee is $20 per vehicle, valid for seven days.

24. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Why It’s Cool: America’s most-visited national park is known for its variety of animals and plants, serene mountain vistas, and storied past: More than 70 structures still remain from the prehistoric era, and the park now contains the largest collection of historic log buildings in the eastern U.S. The park is also packed with waterfalls, all of which make for perfect day hikes.

Where to Camp: The park has 10 campgrounds, all with running water and toilets (score!). Only one campground requires reservations; the rest are first-come first-served. Back country camping  is allowed at designated sites, but a permit and advance reservations are required.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Some roads, campgrounds, and visitor facilities close in winter, but Cades Cove and Smokemont campgrounds are open year-round.

Cost: No entrance fees. Campsite fees range from $14 to $23 per night, and backcountry permit fees are $4 per person per night with a maximum charge of $20 per person.

Alaska

25. Denali National Park, Alaska

Why It’s Cool: Six million acres of open land? Check. Unbelievable wildlife? Check. Trails to please even the most experienced of hikers? Check. It doesn’t get cooler than Denali—literally. The central draw to the park (especially for mountaineers) is Denali itself, known as Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak. Still, the park offers hikes for pros and beginners alike: Most trails start near the visitor center and are considered easy to moderate in difficulty. A few trails start deeper in the park, beyond the first three miles of the access road. Be sure to do your research before embarking on any backcountry camping trip here—this park is not for the inexperienced.

Where to Camp: The park has six established campgrounds with a combined 291 sites and also allows backcountry camping with a (free) permit. Riley Creek is the only campground reachable by car (and requires a minimum three-night stay to reduce traffic). The other two sites are only reachable by bus. One campground is also open year-round, and no fees are charged in winter.

When It’s Open: It depends on the weather in a given year. Parts of the park are open year-round, but generally, the park opens to private vehicles starting in mid-April. Summer bus service begins May 20 and operates through the second week after Labor Day. Fall and winter may bring some road closures, but there’s still plenty to do in the park, from skiing to dog mushing.

Cost: $10 entrance fee per person, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes are also available and accepted.

26. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Why It’s Cool: Glacier Bay National Park is mostly water: The bay itself serves as the passageway to the inner section of the park, which is (awesomely enough) a glacier. After spending the night under the stars, try cruising the bay on a tour, charter, or private boat. There are no marked trails in the park, so backpacking is more strenuous here than elsewhere. Rafting one of the park’s two rivers is a great alternative that allows campers to easily tow supplies—but make sure you’re with someone who knows what they’re doing. Park rangers also lead a variety of tours and talks every day during the summer.

Where to Camp: The park has only one campground, in Bartlet Cove, which has outhouses, a warming shelter, and safe food storage. Permits are free but required for campgrounds and backcountry from May 1 through September 30.

When It’s Open: Year-round, but accessibility and services are very limited in winter. Visitor center is open from late May through early September.

Cost: The best news? No entrance fees or camping fees for private visitors! Reservations are required for boating, camping, rafting, and other visitor services.

Things I Wish I Knew Before Camping with My Dog

If you are like us, your dog is a big part of your life (she is our furbaby). If we could, we would take her on vacation with us everywhere we go. Okay, I would… not sure about my husband. When our beagle, Honey, was around 2 years old, we took her camping with us. I had no clue about camping with a dog, and learned a lot from the experience! Here are a few things I wish I had known before taking her camping with us.

Tips for camping with your dog

Leash, leash, leash!

At the time we took her camping, Honey was doing really well with staying close by us at all times. I didn’t have any reason to think she wouldn’t when we went camping. Wrong! Picture Dug the Talking Dog in the movie Up. You know how he will be talking and then suddenly say “squirrel” and look in another direction? This was Honey – times 100. Most of the time, she was fine and just hung by us. Then, she would see or smell something and run off.

Lesson learned: Keep your dog on a leash. Most pet-friendly campsites will have this as a rule anyway. Bring two leashes – a shorter one for hiking and a longer one for around the camp so your dog can wander a bit.

Stay on schedule

Dogs are creatures of habit. Although you may dine later in the morning and evening while on vacation, your dog will not. Yep, Honey had us up at the same time we would get up for work. Not fun!

Lesson learned: keep on the same feeding schedule. Or, you could slowly change your dog’s feeding schedule before you leave to go camping. That way your dog will let you sleep in while camping.

Stinky dog

While camping and hiking, your dog will get dirty and smelly just like you. When we took Honey camping, she would come into the tent to sleep and puffs of dirt would come off of her as we pet her.

Lesson learned: bring grooming supplies. Pack a brush, towel and even some dog shampoo – never know what your dog will get into! A brush or comb will also be helpful when looking for any ticks that may latch on to your dog while hiking.

Keep things familiar

Just like you should stay on schedule, you also want to bring things from home that will help your dog feel comfortable. All new surroundings can overwhelm them.

Lesson learned: bring your dog’s bed and/or a couple of favorite toys from home. This will help with the adjustment to the new surroundings.

18 CAMPING TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SURVIVAL (AND FUN)

You learn a lot about yourself when you camp. Your patience will be tested when pitching a tent or building a fire, you’ll see food from a whole new perspective, and you’ll understand that sleeping on the ground with little else than a nylon sheet protecting you actually feels pretty awesome.

You’ll also learn that some tasks are harder than others, but they don’t always have to be. Here are 18 tips and tricks guaranteed to make your outdoor adventure a bit more agreeable.

1. Make a stove from a beer can:

With a knife, some denatured alcohol, and a little bit of courage, you can transform a 12 oz can into a great DIY camp stove that’ll boil water in 5-6 minutes. We did it, and it’s remarkably simple.

2. Light a fire with Doritos are nailing it right now. Delicious snack? Check. Ingenious fire starter? Double check. And here’s the kicker: any flavor will do, even Gout Olives!

3. Use an old shower curtain as a disposable ground tarp Throw it under your tent to keep the floor dry overnight, throw it out the next morning.

4. Fill Toilet paper roll with dryer lint for a fire starter

I’m not sure who the first person was who stuffed a bunch of dryer lint into a Toilet Paper roll and lit it on fire, but goddammit they were onto something.

5. Freeze a gallon of water to keep food fresh You’d think this would take up valuable cooler real estate. BUT the jug-shaped block of ice will last much longer than cubes, and after it melts, you’ve got a gallon of ice water at your disposal.

6. Use an Altoid tin to house a survival kit Step 1: Eat Altoids
Step 2: Enjoy minty fresh breath
Step 3: Fill empty can with matches, sandpaper, small compass, small knife
Step 4: Survive, grow old

7. Strap your headlamp to a jug of water for a tent light

It’s basically a giant night light for your tent and it adds a nice ambiance.

8. Use old coffee cans for waterproof storage This specific tip is most notably applied to toilet paper, but coffee tins can come in extremely handy for storing anything you want to keep dry, and in one place.

9. Don’t camp downwind Your tent will smell like campfire. You’ll smell like campfire. Your mouth will taste like campfire. You’ve basically slept in the campfire.

10. Waterproof your tent with sealant

Pick up a can and spray everything. Your rain fly, your tent, your tent’s seams, your tent bag. Getting caught in thunderstorms can easily put a damper on an otherwise great weekend, but it doesn’t have to.

11. Get yourself a Hobo knife Case makes an amazing one that you’ll one day be able to pass down to your grandchildren.

12. Repel ticks with water and tea tree oil Lyme disease is on the rise. I’ve been caught by ticks firsthand and know how unnerving it can be. Mix up about 40 drops of tea tree oil with around 12-16 oz of water and spray it on. Even if you don’t encounter any ticks, you’ll smell uncharacteristically good.

13. There are 9 ways to start a fire. Know at least 2 ways.

The tee-pi and log cabin styles are camp standards, but knowing whether you want a cooking fire or a raging bonfire is something to be considered.

14. On chilly nights, fill a Nalgene with warm water and throw it in your sleeping bag “But where do I get the warm water from, you goon?” Good question. You could either boil water on the fire, let it sit, and pour it in your Nalgene, or fill your Nalgene with regular water and place it on the outskirts of the fire for a few minute with the top closed.

15. Invent in a solar recharging station

I have a Goal Zero Guide 10 that I swear by. To charge it up, I attach it to my backpack on long hikes and voila—it’s ready to go to work in no time.

16. Pack Emergen-C

Admittedly, this is the most obvious entry, but it’s one of those things that people always forgot to pack. It’s especially useful for a day out on the trails when you need to stay hydrated, or after a long night of singing ’90s pop songs around the fire. It’s also way cheaper than lugging OJ.

17. Create coffee packets

Coffee and camping go together like pot and planetarium laser shows. Tie some grounds up in a filter, secure it with dental floss (or string), and throw it in a mug full of piping hot water you just boiled in that empty beer can.

18. Use a rope and a tarp to create just about anything you’d ever need Most people will employ the rope as a line to hang wet clothes and a tarp as ground cover, but in a pinch or survival situation, they can be used together to craft a warm, dry shelter.

Go Camping: Camping is Great Way to Increase your Survival Knowledge

Don’t be caught off guard; Prepare yourself by going camping!

When it comes to preparedness, testing, practice and real-world experience is everything. If you have a closet full of gear, but you’ve never really put that gear to the test then why bother even having it?

Camping, fishing and hunting are all great ways to relax and spend time with the family; they’re also great ways to improve your survival/preparedness related skills. Only by testing yourself in a real-world setting, can you truly understand what it will take to survive a real-life disaster.

Good old fashion camping is a great way to get in shape, discover how you’ll do with limited resources, and introduce children to the idea of preparedness.

JUST DO IT: Reading a book is not a Substitute for Real-World Experience

Reading about survival is one thing; actually practicing the skills your reading about in a real-world setting is entirely different. The only way you can truly be proficient in anything is to get out there and do it. Think about it; when you first learned to ride a bike, did you do it by reading about it in a book or did you get out there and practice?

Reading a book or a website about survival is not the same thing as getting out there and using that knowledge in a real world survival situation. You need to start putting your knowledge to use.

It Doesn’t Take much… You have a Backyard Right?

Personally, I’m a big fan of camping and backpacking.  But not everyone shares my enthusiasm for really roughing it, and those who lack real-world wilderness experience really shouldn’t try it there first time out.

You don’t even have to leave your home to go camping.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to trek miles away from people to benefit from camping. If you have a backyard, or even a living room, you have everything you need to get started – especially if you have small kids.

Camping at home can be a great way to ease younger children into the idea of camping out in the wilderness. A backyard adventure is not only an experience they will remember forever, it will start them down a path that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Preparedness skills that you can practice while you’re out camping:

For the beginner, things like learning how to put up a new tent, figuring out how the cook on an outdoor stove or fire, and testing out your sleeping bags are all great first steps. Once you have the basics down, you can then start to throw in some other wilderness survival related training.

Learning how to start a fire

Learning how to start a fire is a skill that everyone should have; but learning how to start one is only half the battle. Just like all aspects of preparedness, practice makes perfect.

Take the time to learn how to not only start a fire, but how to start one using various different fire starting techniques. Once you have that down, really start to study how different tinder, woods, and stacking techniques affect the fire.

Learn how to construct a good tarp shelter

I love making tent shelters; they’re fun, easy to make, and can really make a difference during an emergency situation. While building shelters from natural materials is always an option, tarp shelters are something you can practice in your backyard, or even in your living room in a pinch.

Make your breakfast in a thermos

During an emergency, where power and gas may be hard to come by, a thermos can be a great way to cook a wide variety of slow cooking foods. They are also awesome while camping.

Using a thermos can be a great way to save fuel when cooking foods that have a long cooking time. If you’ve ever cooked with a crock pot, then the concept of cooking with a thermos is pretty similar. It allows you to simmer foods for a long time, with only the fuel that’s required to boil some water.

Practice making survival traps and snares

If you have kids, you need to be careful with this one. That being said, knowing how to find and procure food is going to be essential to your ability to survive during a long-term survival situation. In order to get enough calories, you’re going to have to find foods high in fat and protein; that means you’re going to need a way to hunt and trap game.

The best survival traps are usually very simple to make, and can constructed with natural materials — if you know what to look for.

Camping Safety Tips:

If you do decide to trek out into the wilderness and camp for a couple of days, there are some safety tips that you need to keep in mind:

  • Pack a Good First Aid Kit: First Aid Kits are one of those preparedness items that people often forget about. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to receive the same amount of attention that things like survival knives, guns and bug out bags get.
  • Have a Pre-trip Plan: One of the most important parts of any back country camping trip is your Pre-Trip Planning. Planning will help ensure your camping adventure goes smoothly, and will allow you to account for any threats you may face out in the wilderness.
  • Fill out an Emergency Plan Sheet: One of the best ways you can prevent becoming another statistic is by filling out a detailed trip plan. Should something happen, and you fail to return home at the agreed upon time, your plan can help search and rescue teams know exactly where to start looking.
  • Bring Extra Emergency Supplies: In addition to a First Aid kit, make sure you pack things like a map, compass, flashlight, knife, duct tape, waterproof matches, whistle, blankets, and a solar or hand-crank cell phone charger.
  • Stay hydrated. Being out in the elements can take a toll on your body. Make sure you pack enough water for your entire campsite. If you like to hike and be on the move, we recommend carrying a portable hiking water filter. 
  • Stay Alert: When you’re out in the wilderness keep your eyes open. Just like all aspects of survival, situational awareness is the key to staying safe.