5 Top Options When It Comes To Choosing Camping Shelters

What happens when you plan an overnight backpacking trip for the first time and ask your friends for tips on choosing the right camping shelter? In all probability, numerous contrasting opinions come your way and confuse you even more!

Actually, there is no foolproof formula when it comes to choosing the perfect backpacking shelter for your needs. The ability to make the right choice increases as your experience of camping and hiking increases…

 Nevertheless, there are some general rules of thumb that can prove helpful in your endeavors…

Bear these 10 simple tips in mind when you start looking for a first-class camping shelter for an overnight hike….

  1. If you are going to pitch camp in virgin locations, do carry a hammock. They can be hung even in terrains where it is simply unfeasible to pitch a tent…. on a slope for instance, provided there are trees/supports to hang them from.
  2. A hammock is also a practical choice when you are hiking in a place where the ground is likely to be wet.
  3. If you are more concerned about the weight of your backpack, then use a hammock, a tarp or a tarp-tent. Hammocks are, in fact, a good alternative for sleeping bags…but this is only for places with warm temperatures.
  4. If you are camping out in winter, or going to a place which experiences ‘whimsical’ weather, use a 4 season tent.
  5. If you are going to a really hot and humid place, bring a tarp or a tarp tent. Make sure that you bring a bug net as well.
  6. If you are going to camp above the tree line, do bring a tent.
  7. Pitching a tarp tent on a platform can be tricky. So if you camp on platforms, then carry a hammock or free standing tent.
  8. However, if you cannot sleep on your back, don’t consider a hammock.
  9. If you are carrying lots of gear with you, it is best to carry a tent or tarp.
  10. If it’s really dry and hot in the night, a tarp serves better.

Now for a quick appraisal of the different types of camping ‘accommodation choices’ available…

 It’s imperative that you know about the uniqueness, advantages and disadvantages of each of them…or you won’t be able to make an informed choice.

  • Starting with Double-Walled Tents

    They have an outer wall that works as a rain-fly as well as an inner wall that comes in contact with you and your gear when you are inside the tent.

    However, a double-walled tent requires extra fabric for that extra wall, which makes it a bit heavy (read cumbersome) to carry.

  • Moving on to another type of tent, namely Single Walled Tents

    These don’t have the outer rain-fly, just a single piece of fabric between the outside world and you.

    However, the problems of a Single walled tent include the facts that…
  • They are a little tricky to use (especially if you are NOT used to setting up tents).
  • They are not adequate for use in low lying marshy places as well as in the deserts.

  • Now, let us talk about Tarps.

    Simply put, the advantages of using a tarp lies in the fact that:
  • They are easy to pitch (once you know the ways of putting up a tent by heart.)
  • They provide good ventilation.
  • They are lightweight and spacious.
As for the “cons”:

  • Until you don’t add a bug shield, they provide little protection from bug ‘invasion.’
  • They don’t have a ‘floor’ so to speak.
  • They do not offer optimum protection against the wind.

  • The Tarp-Tent is a combination of two of the most frequently used camping shelters, namely tarp and tent

    You can consider using a tarp-tent combo as it :

    • Provides complete protection against bugs.
    • Is compact and lightweight, hence easy to carry around.

    But you might not like the tent-tarp combination because:

    • It can be tricky to pitch (especially on uneven terrain).
    • Some of the models are found to be narrow.
    • They provide poor ventilation.

  • If setting up a tent is something you’re not comfortable with you can consider  Hammocks

Why should you choose it? Well, perhaps because:

  • It is comfortable, compact and lightweight.
  • They provide adequate protection from insects and bugs.
But the glitches when it comes to hammocks  are that:

  • It needs trees to be set up.
  • It does not offer much scope and place to move around.
  • It needs extra insulation because it does not have any protective cover to shield you from the elements.

So when you actually think about it, there is nothing very complicated about choosing a camping shelter. But you just need to know the facts and the rest is up to a trial and error method…happy hiking!

Backpacking in San Francisco

Most visitors associate San Francisco with her Chinatown, diverse neighborhoods, warm sunny beaches and the ‘Fishermans Wharf’. But San Francisco has more to offer…if only you look with a keen eye.

In fact, for hikers and regular backpackers, San Francisco is a hiker’s Paradise in its own right. The walks in the city are nicely complemented by the hikes in the wilderness, and the less explored trails of San Francisco can afford you a never before backpacking experience…

So among the innumerable trails in San Francisco which suits you best? Which trail will fulfill your desire for the dream backpacking experience?

To make a choice take a look at the  following options …

Popular Trails in the East

  • Mission Peak to Sunol(5 kilometers, Moderate): Ideal for day hiking, the trail starts from Fremont and terminates in Sunol.

  • The place is situated at about 4 kilometers on the path from Fremont to Mission Peak and about 6.5 kilometers en route to the border of Sunol Park.
  • Basically, most of the trail lies inside the Ohlone Wilderness and you will need a permit to hike through this part.
  • Eagle Spring, a good campsite, lies on the east side of Mission Peak.

  • Credit Source:Flickr Images

    Levin Park to Mission Peak:  This hike is near about 16kms by the Bay Area Ridge trail, if passed through Monument Peak and Mt. Allison.

  • Watch the mysterious stone walls near the Monument Peak summit. They were presumably built by the indigenous people before European settlers arrived.
  • In the springtime, you can enjoy the sight of lush greenery and the wild blooms.

  • Mt Diablo (17kilometers, Moderate): It is located in East Bay, which is situated in the northeast part of Berkeley.

  • Reaching the summit, you can turn to your west and look beyond the Golden Beach, as well as towards the Farallon Islands.
  • Farallon islands lie to the southeast of the James Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton at 4,213 feet elevation.

Credit Source:Flickr Images

Popular Trails in the North

Some of the most popular trails in this region include:

  • Dipsea Trail: An 11km trail. It starts from Mill Valley and extends to Stinson Beach that crosses Mt. Tamalpais State Park, Muir Woods National Monument as well as the Golden Gate Recreational Area.

  • The Mt. Tam via Temelpa trail offers the steepest and shortest way to hike to the top of Mt. Tamalpai. The 5 KM trail is known for the great views that the hikers enjoy en route.

  • The Muir Woods to Stinson Beach to Mt. Tam trail was first experimented with in 2007, combines the 3 popular trails of Marin County- the Steep Ravine, Matt Davis, and the Dipsea trails.

  • The trail provides 360-degree view from the summit of Mt. Tam.
  • It is famous for an extraordinary diversity of vegetation, landscape, and superb views.

  • Credit Source:Flickr Images

    Alamere Falls:  The coastal trail at Alamere falls is a relatively easy, 13 kilometers trail. It is noted for the beautiful and rare ‘tidefall’-waterfall that falls directly into the ocean. The trail also passes by the small Bass Lake and Pelican Lake.

Popular Trails In Peninsular San Francisco

  • Just 15 minutes south of San Francisco, you will find the relatively easy, 7 Kilometers long trail of Sweeney Ridge. The place offers spectacular views of the Ocean and the bay.

  • The San Pedro Park to Montara Mountain is a 12 kilometer trail that is moderately difficult. Here, you can enjoy a fine hiking experience through rich and highly diverse coastal scrub and coastal chaparral vegetation.

Popular Trails in the South

Southern San Francisco boasts of many spectacular hiking trails. Some of them include:

  • The Junipero Serra Peak, which is otherwise known as Santa Lucia Peak, can be reached through the Santa Lucia trail in the Ventana Wilderness. In fact, it is the highest point of the Ventana Wilderness.

  • The 5.6 mile, one-way climb from the trailhead to the summit ensures a heart pounding experience.
  • You can enjoy breathtaking views from the summit of the mountain as well as along the ridges.

  • If you are a novice backpacker, then the Henry Coe Park is a perfect excursion spot for you.

  • Credit Source:Flickr Images

    The general elevation is hardly higher than 1,000m.
  • The wildflowers along the trail are a spectacular sight.

  • Credit Source:Flickr Images

    The loop from Sam McDonald Park to Portola Redwoods Park is an ideal spot for picnicking, camping, hiking and backpacking.

  • The 18 miles of the trail connect with 4 nearby parks- namely Sam McDonald, Pescadero, Memorial and Heritage Grove to offer an array of recreational activities.

So, will San Francisco be your next backpacking destination? If you need further help on backpacking in San Francisco, check out One Night Wilderness: San Francisco Bay Area: Quick and Convenient Backpacking Trips within Two Hours of San Francisco [Paperback]

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5 Step Guide to Tackling Any Emergency While Backpacking

When you are out in the wilderness, you only have yourself for help and comfort… Being left to fend for yourself, you surely realize how important it is for you to prepare for any and every eventuality!

Also being in surroundings that are at best unpredictable and also not what you are used to, it is imperative that you have an action plan in mind just in case!

So here goes the…

Photo Credit: Severin Sadjina via Compfight cc

5 Step Guide to Tackling Any Emergency While Backpacking

1. Do not Panic

This comes first and foremost. As you already know, the moment you start to panic it impairs your ability to judge properly and take logical decisions. In any emergency these two are your first priority. So keep calm and think straight.

2. Do a quick assessment of where you stand

The next step is to do a quick evaluation of your situation. Here are some questions, provided by artofmanliness.com that you could ask yourself so that you get a clear picture:

  • How far are you from your camp?
  • How is the weather?
  • How are your supplies?
  • Are you feeling fatigued?
  • How is your heart rate?
  • How is your breathing?
  • Are you sweating?
  • Have you stopped sweating?
  • Are you feeling nauseated?
  • Are you feeling dizzy?
  • Are you feeling lightheaded?
  • Do you have a headache?

3. Modify your plan accordingly

The next step is adapting. Decide what to do. In case of any injury you need to stay and take care of it. However, in case of other problems you may need to move away ASAP. So what you decide depends ultimately on your situation.

4. Call for help

In a lot of situation, you will probably need extra help. Here are the different options:

  • Ask other hikers for help.
  • Call the authorities and state the nature of your emergency and ask for help.
  • And of course, there is always 911.

5. Keep Warm and hydrated.

Make sure everyone is warm and dry, so that there are no other possible complications. And stay hydrated. So look for shelter, make sure you have plenty of clean drinkable water, and build a fire to stay warm and dry.

And now for the ultimate in emergency management… Preparing your very own emergency supplies backpack… Here’s how:

But if you want it all readymade, here it is:

Mayday 4 Person Deluxe Emergency Backpack Kit – just the bag full of supplies to help you get ahead in any emergency till help is at hand!

Developed by the U. S. Coast Guard, the backpack and its supplies have a shelf life of up to 5 years and can sustain up to 4 people in any kind of emergency…

So now armed with the know-how and the kit, get set to tackle any emergency during backpacking!

Trail Stoves: What to Choose and Why

Since many national parks and woods have already banned campfires to prevent forest fire, it is imperative that you take along a reliable stove on your excursions.

After all, who wants to miss a chance to enjoy bonfires in the wilderness?

When it comes to choosing a stove for backpacking, most backpackers are left with two choices: canister fuel stoves and liquid fuel stoves.  Each of them have their own advantages and limitations, of course. So why not glance at a comparative study between them?

Canister Fuel Stoves vs. Liquid Fuel Stoves

Canister Fuel Stoves:  Basically, these stoves operate on pre-pressurized gas canisters (generally propane, butane or isobutene.)

The “pros” of canister stove include:

  • Quite user friendly.
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Excellent flame control
  • Does not spill fuel
  • Leaves lesser soot on cookware
  • Gives maximum heat output
  • Does not require priming, which is, preheating of the fuel line so that the stove converts the liquid fuel into vapor.

The “Cons” of canister stove include:

  • The fuel is more costly
  • Performs poorly in cold weather conditions
  • Canister fuel is hard to find outside the USA

Liquid-fuel Stoves: Most commonly, these stoves run on white gas by means of refillable fuel bottles.

The “pros” of Liquid fuel stove include:

  • They provide superb cold-weather performance.
  • The fuel it uses is inexpensive.
  • Takes only the amount of fuel that you require.

The “cons” of Liquid fuel stove include:

  • Most of the models call for priming to operate.
  • Usually, they are heavier.
  • Fuel spill is possible with it.
  • Needs separate purchase of fuel bottle.

Nowadays, you can find newer forms of backpacking stoves in the market. Such as:

  • Solid Fuel Stoves: They are the lightest and most compact of all the kinds.

  • Alcohol stoves:  Such stoves are quite inexpensive, and they are very light and compact. Nevertheless, the liquid fuel adds to bulk and weight.

  • Multi Fuel Stoves: They can run on white gas, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel fuel as well as unleaded gas. However, they are the most bulky of all types of backpacking stoves.

So choose your backpacking stove considering the activity you are going to pursue. Here’s some help:


  • Summer backpacking

  • Winter /  high elevation use

  • To boil water

  • Group backpacking

  • “Gourmet” camp cooking

  • Light backpacking/ day hiking
  • International Travel
Recommended Stove Type


Liquid fuel stove

Canister stove

Liquid fuel stove

Any model with stable base or flame control

Canister/ alternative fuel stove

Multi-fuel stove

If you feel confused while choosing the right backpacking stove for your needs, you can make a safe choice with the Primus Classic Trail Stove.

A favorite with many frequent backpackers, the product features:

  • Built-in windscreen
  • 10,000 BTUs of heat
  • Three-minute boiling time
  • Lightweight
  • Also, the product includes nylon storage and transport bag.
The trail stove boasts of a very high rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars at Amazon.com. And if you want to have it for a great price, a visit to Amazon is the way to go.

So, that’s all about it. Happy Backpacking!

The Dressing Must-Haves While In Wilderness

A successful backpacking trip is all about proper planning. It can be as important as planning the trail, keeping the terrain or the climate in mind or it can be as minute as packing the right clothes for the adventure.

The dressing requirements of a backpacking trip vary from that of any other adventure. So, if you don’t pack it right; a possible mess awaits you!

Pack It Right

Pack your clothes inside the backpack with the top folded over. Put all the heaviest items closer to you and near the top. All the rain gears, snow gears, etc should be kept at a place where they would be easily reachable. A zip-top bag is preferable.

Now, here are the

Dressing requirements for your trip

Layer 1: Outerwear

It is the first line of warriors against the external elements. Not only should it repel the snow or the rain, it should also be light enough so that perspiration doesn’t build up inside. In wet weather, something totally waterproof with sealed seams and zipper guards and cinchable hoods are preferred. To give vent to the sweat, armpit zips, mesh pockets and waist draw cords will be beneficial. If you are backpacking in a drier area, something that is windproof will suffice.

Layer 2: Insulation

The first layer will prevent you from the elements, but the second layer will keep you warm. This part is very important.

“Your choices range from synthetic fleeces of various weights and thicknesses to plain old wool, to down, to a host of high-loft synthetics like Polar-guard, Micro-loft, and Primaloft, to name only a few.”

The best choice for wet weather is synthetic pile and fleece…they are breathable and easy to ventilate. They also trap the heat by absorbing very little water.

When it is freezing winter conditions, a light down jacket is what you need.

Layer 3: Underwear

While out in the wilderness, you don’t need anything fancy! In terms of underwear, what you need is

“high-performance fabric that will wick moisture away from your skin, so you stay dry and comfortable–especially important when you’re working up a sweat in the cold mountain air.”

Just remember one Golden Rule: No Cotton.

You can opt for polyester, or some anti-microbial fibers which eliminate any pungent smell. However, wool is the recent popular fabric.

Certain other backpacking requirements are:

  • A hat
  • Gloves
  • Wind shirt—they  are highly breathable and water resistant
  • Hiking pants
  • Hiking socks
  • Sleep cocks
  • Waterproof socks
  • Shoes

Keep your backpack light. A heavy backpack can be dragging and exhausting! Just don’t forget to take the dressing essentials!

Light your Way while you Backpack!

Let’s start by painting a little mental picture… So you started out backpacking one early morning, and your itinerary has you firmly back in your city well before nightfall… But then, as is the case with most such things, something goes seriously wrong (a roadblock, an injury, or the like) and you find yourself stranded in the middle of nature (no more beautiful, since you can’t really see it anymore), wishing upon whatever star you can see that you were blessed with miraculously green night vision!

Ok, the picture may be highly far-fetched – the wish isn’t!

And so, we come to the topic of FLASHLIGHTS while backpacking!

So far as flashlights go, you have 2 options, really:

  •  Handheld and
  •  Headlamps.

Now let’s take a look at them one by one…

Handheld lights

Handheld lights, as the name suggests, will have to be carried… But thankfully the newer options are surprisingly light without cutting down on the hours you have. So you can hold it easily, keep your path lit for a while, and when done, you need to only slip it into your pocket!

Photo Credit: sonofabob via Compfightcc

Also when investing in one, here are a few qualities to look out for:

  • Light
  •  Long lasting
  •  Durable
  •  Small
  •  Preferably resistant to shock
  •  O-ring sealed which means it is water-proof
  •  One that has a large range – flood to spotlight.
  •  And one that preferably has a place for a spare bulb, just in case.

The other thing that seems to have hikers in knots is the kind of bulb – LED or Incandescent…

Incandescent  LED 

These are the older option and less expensive to begin with.

Need to be changed frequently.

They are actually bulbs so there will be heat and soot that will damage the filament, not-so-eventually.


These are obviously technically more advanced, and even with the initial cost, they are cheaper in the long run.

A lot more durable.

These are actually light emitting diodes, and don’t have any such problems!

 Basically, with newer technology available, it is best to not go for the incandescent, and make a responsible investment in LEDs instead.

So far as flashlights go, you may find a number of options that you need to check out… Look for optimum features and usability… And for those of you looking for a recommendation, the Smith & Wesson Galaxy 13 LED Flashlight (10 White LED & 3 Red LED) seems to be a good option, as rated by happy customers at Amazon.com. It has earned a high rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars from satisfied customers… So you may find out more about it and order one for your next hike as well!

The other option - Headlamps

The obvious advantage – you needn’t hold them! But even otherwise, here are the perks:

  • They attach to your cap, clothes or bag, and leave your hands free.
  • They come with tiltable angles.
  •  Most headlamps can be adjusted for floodlight as well as spotlight.
  •  The battery packs for most can be detached making the actual light lighter (when you aren’t using it, that is)
  •  Comes with an option to regulate current and get a boost of light.
  • Also have multiple LEDS (more light, and fail-safe!)
  • And finally, probably one of the most important features – They can act as Strobes, thus ensuring that you are visible to fellow hikers and rescue parties, even when visibility is out-right bad!

However, you have headlamps, and then you have the really good headlamp… And these being the features to look out for, you need to look for the one which has the most features.

But again for a recommendation, here’s the Nathan Clip-On Deluxe L.E.D. Safety Strobe, because safety comes first and foremost! It’s got a rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars at Amazon.com. And you just need to click on the name to find out more about it and order yours!

However, just as a last word: “the woods are lovely dark and deep”, but you still don’t have the night-vision, so basically, the best thing to do is to have both types – flashlight and headlamps – on hand and ready… And maybe even a small back-up flashlight, tucked into your pocket!

Administering First Aid out in the wild: a know-how!!

The chances of injury – minor or even some major ones- are increased manifold when you are camping out in the wild. The problem can be managed with a bit of prompt preparation and organization, but life is never without its fair share of risks and injuries. So what do you do then?

Simple, you administer first aid and make a move to the nearest emergency clinic/meds, depending on the intensity of injury.

Here’s helping you with the basics…

What to remember when it comes to a First aid kit?

Credit Source:freedigitalphotos.net

  • Make sure it is lightweight.
  • It should be waterproof.
  • And it should have all the basic meds necessary.
  • This includes your personal medicines as well, like your anti-allergic meds.

Make sure that your kit contains an inventory, or you might be looking for important meds only to discover that you have left them at home….

And read up on the purpose of each of the items in the kit, so that you’re not at a loss when the need arises.

“In any Outdoor Activity, the risks of getting injured are increased compared to day-to-day city life. Knowing the First Aid Basics and how to prevent, diagnose, and treat the possible injuries is essential for your own safety and the safety of your group.”

Administering First aid

Bleeding from wounds

Bleeding from a wound can be either external, or internal.

The means of dealing with them is different.

The first step is to reduce panic and calm down. Once you’ve done that…

For external bleeding:

1.    Place a clean cloth over the wound and apply pressure firmly. If the blood soaks through the cloth, don’t try and replace it. Instead, add additional cloth. Apply pressure for around 7-10 minutes.

2.    If possible, raise the wounded part and position it above the level of the heart.

3.    Apply pressure on a pressure point on one of the major arteries using your fingers, hand or even the heel of your foot. Apply pressure on the artery between your fingers and the bone situated behind the artery.

4.    If nothing else works, apply a tourniquet.

5.    Get the victim to medical professional as soon as possible.

Internal bleeding is difficult to recognize so look for any of the following signs:

  • Patient going into shock
  • Vomiting blood
  • Coughing up blood
  • Blood present in the stools or urine
  • Blood from either the ears, nose or mouth
  • Abdominal swelling and/or pain and tenderness
  • Skin paling significantly
  • Abnormal thirst
  • Possible restlessness, apprehension and mental perplexity

For internal bleeding:

1.    Make sure the victim lies down flat with his head elevated.
2.    If the victim vomits, turn his head sideways.
3.    Keep the victim covered and comfortable.
4.    Check the victim’s vital stats
5.    Call and wait for the medical professionals to arrive.

Sprains and Strains

First things first, make sure you assess the injury first, and proceed to administering first aid on the basis of your findings…

Ask the patient:

  • Did the victim hear a “snap” or feel the breaking of a bone?
  • To look for any visible deformities.
  • Any signs of hemorrhaging?
  • How about increased joint slackness of the injured body part?
  • Is he able to move the injured body part?
  • Is there pain, if yes, how bad is it?
  • Is there any discoloration in area and the swelling?

Do the following:

1.    Make sure that the victim does not move the injured body part.
2.    Use a splint to prevent further injury.
3.    Elevate the injured part if possible. This will reduce the swelling by draining fluids from the injured area.
4.    Try and apply ice to the part, but don’t apply it directly on the skin. It numbs the pain.
5.    Compress the injured part with elastic bandages. Make sure not to cut off circulation.

Fractures and splints

Check for the following:

  • Enquire if the victim heard or felt a bone snap.
  • Is the victim able to move the injured body part?
  • Check for deformities/swellings/discoloration.

Do the following:

  • Don’t apply too much pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding, if any.
  • Cover the wound with a sterile pad. If you don’t have it, try a cloth.
  • Never try to re-align the bone yourself and don’t even put any pressure on it.
  • Keep the victim safe and comforted.
  • Do not move the victim too much, instead wait for medical assistance.

Apply a splint:

  • Find a rigid object that is longer than the injured bone. Use this straight object as the splint.
  • Cover the broken skin with a sterile cloth.
  • Tie the splint with a tape or rope. Make sure it is tight but doesn’t cut off blood circulation.
  • Place an ice bag over the splinted break area. Use a makeshift ice bag with a cloth.

 Heat strokes and hypothermia

For heat strokes, or heat exhaustion, rest in the shade. If it is a case of hypothermia, get medical assistance immediately!

Now that you know how to administer first aid on a hike, you can rest assured that if the need arises, you will just be fine. Have faith and happy hiking!! 

Why Hand Sanitizer is a “Must-Have” on a backpacking trip!!

Let’s face it; hand sanitizer is THE basic way of maintaining personal hygiene while you are out in the wilderness. Of course you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, but what if you run out of soap, and more importantly, what if there is no viable water source nearby!?

Just imagine:

Credit Source:freedigitalphotos.net

  • No continuous source of water anywhere in sight…
  • No option of using soap…
  • All the dirt and germs you are coming in contact with…
  • Thousands of bacteria going down your food pipe….

Eeeew! Gross! …Agreed!

So this is where the hand sanitizer comes into the picture.

Any type of hand sanitizer has ethanol as its primary ingredient. And this particular ingredient has the capacity of killing almost 99.99% of bacteria. The presence of isopropyl alcohol is also an important factor. A simple squirt of sanitizer is capable of doing what gallons of soap would fail to deliver!

So, bury this in mind that you will have to use hand sanitizers before every meal…that is, if you don’t want to cut the trip short because of unwanted infection or gastrointestinal illness!

Did you know? Hand sanitizers can also be used to start a fire in case of an emergency…it is indeed quite versatile, right?

Regardless of the benefits, before you make the actual purchase, it is important that you know about the types of sanitizers…

There are two types of hand sanitizers

  • Alcohol-based sanitizers: They are cheap and easy to find. However, these are capable of dehydrating your skin.

  • Alternative to alcohol-based sanitizers: It means you either use soap-and-water, or you can try a benzalkonium (BAK) chloride-based hand sanitizer.  Even if the soap-and-water routine proves a bit difficult in some cases, it serves its purpose. And something is better than nothing!

If you are thinking of purchasing a good hand sanitizer, you might want to give Cleanwell All-natural Foaming Hand Sanitizer, Original Scent, 8-Ounce (Pack of 3) a try…

This hand sanitizer is:

  • Inclusive of ingredients like Active – Thymus Vulgaris Oil (Thyme Oil); Citric Acid; Sodium Decylglucosides Hydroxypropyl Sulfonate; Citrus Aurantium Dulcis; Copper PCA; Inactive – Aloe Barbadensis Leaf; Sodium Coco-Sulfate Hydrolized Oats; Origanum Vulgare (Oregano) Oil; Litsea Cubeba (Litsea) Oil; Sodium Citrate and Water.

  • Benzalkonium chloride free.

  • Safe for children to use.

  • Ideal for individuals with sensitive skin.

  • Simple to use—just take a dollop of foam in your hands and rub your palms till it dries.

With features so amazing, it is no wonder that this product has bagged a high rating of 4 stars out of 5 at Amazon.


The moment your skin reacts to a hand sanitizer, it is best to stop using it immediately!

All said and done, don’t forget to take your hand sanitizers with you on your backpacking trip. You will save yourself a lot of trouble…happy hiking!

California: Answering the Call of Nature

If you are in California right now, and you harbor a backpacker’s soul, you should be dancing with excitement. Because right now you are in the cradle of an immensely promising backpacking trail! A trail that has every bit of natural beauty on offer! Let your imagination fly…let’s get started on the journey already…even before you physically hike through the majestic trails of California.

Here are the top three trails that you would surely not like to miss out!

Credit Source:Flickr Images

Yosemite National Park

Even before you officially step inside the Yosemite National Park, your senses will be thrilled with the natural beauty of the place.

“Monstrous white cliffs in Yosemite Valley, sky-piercing summits in the backcountry, vanilla-scented pine forests at every trailhead, creeks that slide in sheets across polished granite slabs, then shoot into space—the wonders never cease.”

There is a lollipop loop up in the Merced River High Trail from the Yosemite Valley and past the Merced Lake. It soaks up around 50 miles of splendid yet still to be popular terrain.

Credit Source:Flickr Images

John Muir Trail

Tracing about 210 miles across the backpacker-friendly mountains and their carelessly forested valleys, the John Muir Trail can be truly described as the sunshine path. The trail begins at 4,000 feet in the Yosemite National Park and ends at the feet of Mt. Whitney’s summit up at 14,494 feet.

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Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park

The King’s Canyon is a less popular section of the Yosemite. But the back-country section of it is so profoundly endowed with white-granite peaks, forests of golden-barked pines along with crystal blue lakes, and occasional streams and waterfalls…. In here, you are up for a grand tour sprinkled with the lush green meadows, the granite-lined tarns and a 50-mile hike up the Rae Lakes Loop.

There are plenty of other hiking trails in California.

  • Half-Dome Hike: A One-day backpacking through the stunningly gorgeous Yosemite Valley.

  • Berry Creeks Falls Loop at Big Basin redwoods State Park: It is a long hike through shimmering waterfalls and primitive redwoods.

  • Muir Loop and Tourist Club Loop: It is the backdoor entrance to the Muir Woods and being seldom crowded, you can enjoy the scenery peacefully.

  • Mount Diablo’s Grand Loop: It is a 40 minute hike and the view is nothing less than panoramic.

  • Sturtevant Falls: The hike is a leisurely one through an enchanted portion of the San Gabriel Mountains that finally leads to a fifty foot waterfall.

There are so many more hiking trails that it cannot be completed in a single go! Hence, it is better to have a guide. And the book Backpacking California is ideal in this regard. Every possible trail in California is covered in this book with every other detail you might need. So, now that you have a perfect guide to help you en route, enjoy your backpacking trip in California.

5 Backpacking – Map Reading and Navigation – Basics!!

How foolish would it be if you stepped out into the unknown, for the best backpacking trip ever…and got lost! What’s more…how are you going to pick a route itself if you don’t know the basics of reading maps at all…what a shame it would be to let a good backpacking trip go waste…all because you are not equipped with the right map and navigation know-how!

Here’s rectifying just that!!

But first, for some…

 General info on navigation with map and compass:

You will need a map for navigation purposes, and a topographical map will prove best suited for the purpose.

“Topographic maps from Green Trails and Custom Correct Maps are best suited for hikers since they’re updated with current trail information. USGS topo maps have more detail, but aren’t updated as frequently. You can also print out maps from a variety of software programs, even on waterproof paper.”

Now then, let’s move on to the more important lessons…

Pointers to note when you navigate your backpacking trip:

1. How to use a compass?

It is essential that you learn to use the compass, not just for hiking but in general as well. Using a compass is an art, and you need to learn how to use the compass with the map.

The compass is a very important tool for navigating in the backcountry. It allows you to determine direction, take bearings, and chart your route of travel on a map. It also makes sure you can look out for landmarks, and to detour back in the right direction when going around obstacles.

However, using the compass effectively means that you have to verify some of the misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, a compass doesn’t point towards the North Pole, remember your geography lessons…it points towards the magnetic North!

2. How to read topographic maps?

A topographic map tells you where places/things are and how to get to them. Reading a map correctly helps not only in hiking, but also biking, hunting, fishing, or just taking a general interest in the topography around.

Topographical maps describe the shape of the land, define and locate natural and manmade landscapes and features like woods, waterways, important buildings/ bridges etc. They also show the distance between any two points/places on the Earth’s surface. They also show the direction from one place to another.

You need to learn how to use maps by reading the index contours and the symbols used to depict various forms of landmasses, water bodies etc. There are designated and internationally recognized symbols for each…learn them up!

3. Compass and magnetic declination?

“The earth’s magnetic field varies depending on the location as well as changing over time. In the United States the variation between true north and magnetic north can be more than 20 degrees. This difference between the two norths is called declination. The only place where magnetic north is the same as true north is along the agonic line. Declination is 0 degrees alongside the agonic line. Other lines called isogonic lines denote the value of the variations of declination east or west of the agonic line.”

It is imperative you learn how to adjust your readings according to the declination.

4. Measuring distance with paces?

You need to know how to pace distances. Pacing distances is mandatory since you need to travel a specific distance in order to reach your destination.

Measuring paces helps you measure distances so as to know your current location, where you have been, and how much farther you need to travel to reach your target. This is especially true when you hike trails that are less known, or not very populated.

5. How to navigate without a compass?

When you can’t avail of your compass for some reason, you can still navigate your way…just follow the stars. Stars are a great help to navigate in the dark….Amateur hikers also take help from the celestial bodies…

Now that you have the basics of map and compass navigation under your belt, your confidence in hiking is in for a boost!! Happy hiking!  🙂