outdoors

5 Types of Outdoorsy People, and How to Identify Them

Spend enough time outdoors, and you’ll notice different types of outdoorsy people. While I’m sure there are dozens of outdoorsy types I’ve excluded here, I’ve come up with 5 of my personal favorites and how to identify them.

Type 1: Expensive Gear, No Skills

It’s all top of the line for No. 1. Clothes, packs, tents, boots—you name it, they bought the most expensive version available, and lots of it.

They’ll look at your dusty, beat up gear with contempt. You can typically locate them at an outdoor store buying gear, not using gear. They’ll get all decked out for their first hiking experience, a paved/flat 3-miler where they “test” their gear.

Never throw No. 1’s new expensive gear in the dirt unless you’d like to get punched in the face! You’ve been warned.

2. Really Wants To Enjoy Being Outdoors, But Hates Every Minute Of It

No. 2 hates every little thing about being outdoors, but will pretend they’re having oodles of fun for the sake of maintaining an outdoorsy image.

No. 2 is usually associated with the Type 1: Expensive Gear, No Skills category. The slight urge to join their buddies on wild outdoor adventures is combated by mosquitoes, poison oak, cold nights, sore feet, dirty skin, and much, much more.

So while he/she wants to get out there, in reality, they’d rather be loafing in air-con sipping iced lattes.

The easiest way to identify No. 2 outdoors is by their constant bitching and moaning, the lack of happiness, and the overwhelming amount of glee upon returning to civilization, where they’ll typically say something like “Hell yeah! Hot showers and cheeseburgers, ya’ll! Screw the wilderness!”

Type 3: Will Stop At Nothing to Get the Perfect Shot

No. 3 is usually found at national parks here in the United States. Nothing will stop them from obtaining the perfect vacation photo. “This one’s gunna be a framer, honey,” they’ll say as they approach impending doom.

The impending doom comes in the form of bison, bears, elk, slippery waterfalls, huge drop-offs, and anything that can easily kill the normal tourist. But No. 3 is not normal, you see. They WILL get that shot!

No. 3 is incredibly flexible and will contort their bodies over and under all sorts of obstacles to frame their shot.

Watch out for No. 3. They’ll think you’re an overcautious idiot if you attempt to talk them out of letting their kids pose by the nice little buffalo or grizzly bear cubs. Remember, they will stop at nothing.

“A little to the left…could you maybe wake him up, too?”

Type 4: Dirtbag

We’ve talked about No. 4 in a previous post. They are fairly easy to identify, as they are the complete opposite of No. 1.

If No. 1 is clean and sparkly, No. 4 is grimy and smelly. Their origins are questionable at best, and their intentions are usually less than honorable. The most successful dirtbags drive/live in some variation of a VW bus.

Dirtbags are Mama Nature’s high fivin’ homies, or Mama Nature’s eternal house guest, depending upon your perspective.

Type 5: Hardcore Treehuggin’ Conservationist

You truly want to love No. 5. They have everything going for them: the environmental wisdom, the fight for what’s right, the patchouli oil, the Birkenstocks.

But after a day on the trail with No. 5, the last thing you’ll want to discuss is recycling or veganism or  how to turn trash into nifty craft projects for children.

No. 5 thinks you’re a moron. Everything you do outdoors leaves a negative impact, they’ll say. And maybe No. 5 is right. But can he/she just shut up for one second to let everyone else enjoy being outside? No? OK then. Preach on.

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How being outdoorsy will majorly boost your self-sufficiency

Ever wonder how some people seem to do almost everything on their own? From growing their own food, to fixing their own vehicles, to brewing their own beer, to raising their own livestock, to even building their own homes, self-sufficient folks need little to no help from you or anyone else.

I guarantee you they didn’t just end up that way. It took many years of victory and defeat before they felt comfortable venturing out on their own.

And it all started with being outdoorsy. How do I know that? Simple.

Outdoorsy souls aren’t exactly inclined to worry about your overall well-being. They’re more concerned with their own health and safety. Sounds harsh, I know. While everyone tends to “watch out” for each other outdoors, and will hopefully be helpful in emergency situations, the safety of the group is greatly increased if each member is self-sufficient and reliable.

If you’re new to spending time outdoors, away from civilization, you might actually feel insulted at times when your buddies don’t drop everything to help with your minor setbacks and dilemmas. Don’t take it personally. All you need is practice and patience.

You’ll become more self-sufficient by spending more time in the wilderness. I guarantee it. The deeper you get, the more you’re going to need to rely on your skills to survive. You’ll be as comfortable  and self-sufficient as the next guy/gal soon enough.

Think about it like this. You build on your self-sufficiency skills every time you fix a stove at high altitudes, make an improvisational sling out of a bandana, construct a suitable emergency shelter in driving rain, repair a tent pole with limited supplies, or use your head to overcome any number of events nature throws your way. Victory and defeat, over and over again.

And here’s the good news: anyone can be self-sufficient. I really mean it.  Because there are varying degrees of self-sufficiency—from the modern day Thoreaus to the lady down the street growing a simple, productive garden—you can adjust accordingly to fit your lifestyle at home.

What’s important is self-sufficiency knowledge and know-how. You will be more confident and more capable not only out in the woods, but in life in general. You can achieve this faster and with better results by spending more time hanging out with Mother Nature.

When you do start growing your own food, brewing your own beer, and raising your own livestock, call me. I’ll be happy to take homegrown produce, meat, and beer off your hands.

Survive a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike

A rim-to-rim hike in the Grand Canyon is not to be taken lightly.

Every wild place disguised as a national park seems to bring out the collective poor decision making skills of the people who visit.

And while many of them make it out alive, this hike can be deadly if not planned properly.

We hiked the classic route from the South Rim to the North Rim along the South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails, for a total of 20.9 miles.  The mileage may be manageable. The conditions, however, are what you need to be concerned with.

What makes hiking the Grand Canyon different from any other national park?

For starters, it’s hot.  Unbearably hot. Midday summer temperatures soar well past 100°F.

There are dozens of heat related warning signs in several languages along any given trail basically saying you will die if you do not take the appropriate precautions.

Sadly, people do die every year simply because they were not prepared.

“I totally regret not studying a foreign language in high school right now.”

You’re asking for trouble when you combine an unforgiving desert environment with steep, rugged terrain and an ill-prepared hiker.

Of course, there are a few steps you can take to enjoy your rim-to-rim trip. Many successful hikers have gone before you. Follow their lead.

WATER/FOOD

You need to stay hydrated, obviously. Plan on drinking at least one gallon per day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drink water at regularly scheduled intervals. Know where water is available (for the most part, it’s not).

You’ll be amazed how many dehydrated zombies you’ll encounter deep in the canyon with only a small water bottle in hand.

Keep in mind that drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia.

To prevent hyponatremia, eat plenty of salty snacks and drink sports beverages containing electrolytes. We carried one small container of powdered Gatorade to mix with our water.

Forget about your diet. It’s no fun, anyway. Your body will require a ton of fuel for this trip, so load up as often as you can.

Warning: Don’t be an idiot.

PLANNING

Getting to the bottom is optional. Getting to the top is mandatory. Give this concept serious thought.

Once you reach the bottom, you are essentially at the mercy of the canyon. You must hike out. Chances are slim the park service will call in a helicopter unless you really are close to dying.

Hiking in (that is to say, going downhill) is almost more challenging than hiking out. Your knees and ankles will be completely shot by the time you reach the Colorado River. Consider using trekking poles to alleviate pressure on your joints.

Take your time, and rest often. This is not the place to be an overzealous macho power walker. Listen to what your body is telling you.

Most importantly, hike within your abilities, and do so with a few good friends. An inexperienced solo hiker will probably be beat down, Grand Canyon style.

No matter what you do, the terrain here will kick your ass. Always keep this fact in mind.

CONCLUSION

People routinely underestimate the Grand Canyon. And they die. Simple enough.

It all boils down to respect for the canyon.

Know that for the numerous hardships and twists and turns of a rim-to-rim hike, you will be rewarded with nonstop awe-inspiring scenery. Highly recommended.

Enjoy your walk.

Room with a view.

Hiking? Let someone know!

The story out of Utah about a 59-year-old hiker surviving four days in the wilderness with a broken leg offers an important lesson.

From the Associated Press:

A hiker who endured four days with a broken leg and no food and shelter in the remote southern Utah high desert says her faith and medical background helped her pull through the ordeal.

Victoria Grover, 59, a physician assistant from Wade, Maine, was recovering in a Utah hospital after being rescued Saturday in a rugged section of Dixie National Forest, north of the town of Escalante.

Grover set out on a short day hike Tuesday from Hell’s Backbone Road, and broke her leg on the return hike while jumping off a 4-foot ledge about two miles from the trailhead. She then holed up along a creek at an elevation of about 4,500 feet.

To say she was lucky to survive might be an understatement. If you know anything about the high desert of Utah, you know it’s an especially harsh, unforgiving environment.

While Grover claims to be a “veteran outdoor enthusiast,” she made one potentially fatal error: She didn’t let anyone know where she was going!

Authorities were able to locate her through a rental car agreement found in her room at a guest ranch where she was staying. The establishment notified the sheriff’s office when she failed to check out Thursday as scheduled. Grover didn’t leave an itinerary of her hike behind.

If it wasn’t for her rental car agreement, or the alertness of the guest ranch to contact the sheriff’s office, chances are highly likely Grover would be dead.

Always, always leave an itinerary of your hike with someone! Hiking alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But hiking alone and not telling someone about your plans is just plain stupid.

Click here for the full story.

Need outdoor inspiration? Turn to Edward Abbey!

I always a feel a little guilty reading Edward Abbey indoors. Something tells me ol’ Ed would scoff at the idea of wasting a perfectly good day on his vitriolic political observations, his poetic rhapsodies, his straightforward survival advice.

Ed loved watching TV!

A waste of time it is not, Ed! For your books inspire future expeditions and outdoor exploits.

So it is along those lines of thinking that I present to you five handpicked Ed quotes in the hopes of you getting you back on the dusty trail.

1.Get off the beaten path, often.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” —EA

Some of the best moments I’ve had in nature came when I followed a crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous trail. The more you can distance yourself from the parking lot—and civilization as a whole, for that matter—the better.

2. Let the wind take you.

“For myself I hold no preferences among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous. Bricks to all greenhouses! Black thumb and cutworm to the potted plant!” —EA

Something tells me Ed is referring to more than flowers here.

3. Protect what is ours.

“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” —EA

Nature is a funny thing. We are simultaneously terrified of it, and yet in awe of it. Where else can you replicate such a feeling? When we’re done bulldozing every last acre of wild space, the opportunity to do just that will be lost.

4. Being outdoors is in your blood.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” —EA

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you’re a full-time city slicker you’re confined to the urban grid. Deep down you’re a wild, crazy, adventurous soul, which the wilderness complements perfectly.

5.Turn off your flashlight!

“You can’t study the darkness by flooding it with light.” —EA

This too has hidden meanings I suspect, but for my own literal purposes, I kindly ask you to turn off the flashlight. Allow your eyes to adjust. It’s amazing how efficient your vision becomes in total darkness.

How to plan a family camping trip

This kid friendly hike near a campground features a bridge on the way to a fishing pond!

I’m of the opinion that all families should spend more time outdoors together. While this trend of constant digital connectivity is great and all, one of my biggest fears is that people will eventually cease to appreciate the unplugged solitude of nature.

Camping is an easy way to experience the great outdoors as a family. But before you get too excited, know that family camping doesn’t come without its minor challenges (I said minor!).

I’ve heard from numerous parents who are scared to death their kids will get bored (and subsequently really annoying, I would imagine) if they don’t have access to their quiver of digital toys.

Have no fear! It’s been my experience that kids freaking love the woods. Let ’em loose all day, and by the time you’re done roasting marshmallows around the campfire, they’ll want to climb into their comfy sleeping bags and sleep through the night. You hope.

Now we don’t have kids, so all of that is probably easy for me to say. I’d like to hear from the moms and dads out there who have actual camping experience with kids, as opposed to someone who is currently in a Rent-A-Nephew arrangement.

Without further delay, the following suggestions are just a few tips to get you and your family out there.

Choose a location

How rugged do you want to go? There are so many great campsites available, both primitive and developed. Each has its advantages.

Primitive sites are great if you’re looking for true solitude. It will be just you and your family enjoying all that nature has to offer. On the other hand, especially primitive sites generally lack toilets (if you’re lucky, there might be a vault toilet nearby). This could be a problem for some people.

Chances are you’ll be more comfortable in a developed site, where you almost always have access to toilets and (sometimes hot!) running water. The trade off, though, is that you’ll be surrounded by a hundred other people.

Some of you campers out there don’t find this annoying. I get a little irritated with the noise—generators, loud people, lots of cars coming and going. But again, I don’t have kids. Something to think about.

If you search hard enough, you might find a small, primitive feeling developed site with toilets. This would be camping nirvana for a family with kids.

Comfort

Everyone has different comfort levels. I could throw a sleeping pad and sleeping bag on the ground by the fire and snooze just fine. That’s probably not going to fly with mom, dad, and the kids.

So plan ahead. If you’re sleeping in tents, buy sturdy air mattresses. If you’re a RV type of camper, you already know the drill.

The challenge is to not get too out of hand while maximizing your comfort. I’m always baffled when I see families huddled around a television at a campsite. To me, you have officially defeated the purpose of a quality camping trip.

Activities

Plan something, whether it’s hiking, biking, kayaking—anything! The point is to get away from the campsite long enough to see the area.

The beauty of camping is how amazingly cheap entertainment will cost. Last I checked, it was something like $2,000 per head, plus your second born child to enter Disney Land for the day. Not so in the great outdoors. Not even close.

Ideally, you’ll spend most of your time at your campsite early in the morning making breakfast and gearing up for the day ahead, and later on at night around the campfire making dinner and getting ready for bed. If you’re crafty (and I’m not), you could find plenty of fun stuff to do while in camp. I’ll leave that to all you Pinterest types out there.

OK, now you can officially get excited. Start planning!

If you’re a tree hugging, outdoorsy mom or dad, what else do you think we should add to this list of tips?

36 uses for a bandana

We came up with some really interesting and very practical (loin cloth, bear leash) uses for bandanas.

I’m sure you’re just dying to see the results all nice and tidy in one place. We didn’t quite get to a hundred and one uses for a bandana (slackers), but we were close enough. So here you go, beginning with the first five examples I offered:

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The Basics: Backpacking 101

Backpacking is a lot fun if you know what you’re doing. You’ll gain advanced skills and know-how over time, but it’s best to have a basic understanding of what you’re getting into beforehand.

With that said, let’s go over a few pieces of backpacking gear and the skills you’ll need to stay safe.

Good Boots

It all starts with good boots. Go to your local outdoor store and have them fit you for the right boot. Boots come in a variety of price ranges, from the inexpensive to the tricked out high tops only the richest hiker could afford.

There are plenty of quality mid-range boots, though. I’ve easily put hundreds of miles on my $85 Hi-Tec boots. They’re broken in to the max, and I have no intention of buying new boots any time soon.

A lot of long distance hikers prefer lightweight shoes in place of bulky boots. Your call, really.

Tip: If you experience any sort of regular foot pain on the trail, I recommend trying a pair of Dr. Scholl’s inserts. I did just that, and it made a huge difference.

A Good Backpack

The second most important backpacking item after boots is a quality backpack. Don’t skimp here. You can spend a lot of money on packs, but like boots, a mid-range pack is perfectly acceptable.

It seems like there’s a million packs to choose from these days, and it can be a frustrating experience finding the right one for you. Size should probably be your biggest consideration. What kind of backpacker are you? A lightweight minimalist able to do more with less, or a “bring it all” type? (Hint: If possible, aim to be a minimalist.)

When it’s time to purchase your pack, don’t risk the online buy unless you’ve been to the store, know your measurements (very important!), and have tried on packs. Only then would it be OK to buy a pack online, especially if you found a killer deal.

I have an Osprey Aether 60, and I’m pretty stoked with it so far. I used to have a Gregory Z65, but over time, I started finding things about it I didn’t like. Choosing a pack is ultimately about personal preference.

Tip: Learn how to property pack your pack. It makes a huge difference.

Maps & Compass

Having a map is one thing. Having a map and knowing how to read it is another. Your map is worthless if you can’t identify symbols, contours, and features.

I can’t stress this enough: know how to use your compass! It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, a compass is an extremely valuable tool.

GPS units are a good investment, as well. The thing is, a compass and a map do not run out of batteries.

Tip: Many outdoor stores offer map and compass lessons. It’s worth your time and money as a backpacker to sign up.

I check my map often. Especially when I can't see 5 feet in front of me. Fogged in, Sequoia National Park.

I don’t want to bombard you with too much information right away. So next time we’ll talk about tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, food, route planning, and anything else you can think of.

How to choose the right hiking buddy

Choosing the right hiking buddy shouldn’t be a problem. If both hikers have the will, and enjoy spending time outdoors, then you’re good to go.

But there are a few considerations you should take into account when making this decision.

Durability & Distance

One of the greatest things about hiking is its infinite variations on distance. From short casual rambles to epic multiday hauls, hikers can easily adjust distance requirements to suit their durability levels.

It’s fairly important to pair up with somebody who’s in the mood to hike the same distance as you. I’ve been on hikes where I felt like I could go on forever, but the person I was with was totally beat. I was a little bummed we had to make camp earlier than expected.

Sometimes your potential buddy will talk a good talk about how rugged he/she is, but when it comes down to it, they just don’t possess the durability it often requires to take on burly routes.

On the other hand, it will work out great if the two of you prefer low-key strolls.

Skills

Skills play into the durability and distance factor. The longer, more technical the hike, the more skills you and your buddy should possess.

You and your buddy can get away with wearing flip flops and T-shirts on those short walks through the woods.

Both of you are going to want to know how to read maps, find water, administer first aid, and much, much more if you plan on staying a few nights out there.

Outdoor skill levels vary greatly. You probably won’t enjoy being the only person on an overnighter who knows how to do everything.

Gear

An equally important consideration, gear also boils down to short casual rambles versus epic multiday hauls.

Relying on cheap gear between the two of you is acceptable if you’re cruising around the woods for the day.

Try using the same subpar gear on longer trips, and you’ll regret every minute of your life.

I’ve been on a few overnighters with hiking buddies whose gear was complete garbage. We’d have to stop often to adjust their faulty pack straps, leaky hydration tubes, and more. It can become frustrating for the one hiker with decent gear.

If your buddy doesn’t have the proper gear, but really wants to spend a few nights in the wild, suggest rentals. It will keep both of you happier in the long run.

What do you look for in a hiking buddy, if anything at all?

My favorite hiking buddy meets all the requirements. She's durable. Her outdoor skills are excellent. She has great gear. And she just so happens to be my wife. High five!

How many close calls have you had outdoors?

When it comes to doing dumb adventurous stuff in the great outdoors, sometimes Mother Nature kicks your ass and nearly kills you.

Fortunately for me, I’ve only been in a few bad situations. The “best” example I can think of was when two of my buddies and I decided to canoe a raging, flooded river.

At one point, the canoe tipped, and the three of us were scattered in the river trying to collect gear. One buddy and I were able to grab the canoe, but flipping the thing in a swift current was impossible.

Eventually we were carried over a flooded island, where somehow the two of us got wedged underneath the canoe which was jammed between two trees.

I remember the water filling up what little space we had to breathe, and then looking over at my terrified friend and thinking “this might be the end.”

I have no idea how we both got out from underneath the canoe, because my foot was caught in something and we were pinned downed pretty good. But we did.

We were left standing waist deep in floodwater in complete shock when we realized we had no idea where our other buddy was. We also thought we lost the canoe. We were stranded. I’ve never felt so hopeless.

After a while we heard a small engine struggling up the current, and we knew we had to flag the boat down. Turns out the guy actually saw us getting in trouble from across the river and came to help. He also said our buddy was about a mile downstream. With the canoe.

I’ve had a few close calls since then, but nothing nearly as intense as that day.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about a time outdoors where you thought “this might be the end.”