Archive for the ‘Outdoor Gear’ Category

Merry Christmas everyone!  Are you stuck on what to get your favorite scouter to fill his or her stocking?  Here’s a few ideas.  The first one is a very cool item I stumbled upon this morning while picking up spices for pumpkin pie.

#1 – McCormick Recipe Inspirations – This very awesome item is a quick grab of the exact spices (sans salt, oil, etc) that one would need to prepare the recipe on the back of the card.  Talk about a life saver on campouts!  At only .39 ounces, several could be carried in the backpack on the long  hikes at Philmont or the Northern Tier.

#2 – GPS – If you didn’t put one in their stocking last year, you should this year.  That, and a membership to geocaching.com will endless hours of bonding time and family fun.

#3 – Carabiners – You never can have too many.

#4 – Gift card  – Get one for REI, Academy, or wherever your scouter loves to shop.

#5 – Hand warmers – If you haven’t camped in the cold, we don’t expect you to understand.

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Illustration by Jamie Givens

It’s this simple: sore feet and neglected shoes lead to poor performance. Climbing your best means paying attention to footwork before the rubber touches rock. Revive your footwork in three steps: get the right rock shoes, treat those shoes like your firstborn, and give your feet some TLC along the way. See? Your edging is looking better already.

Choosing rock shoes is about as easy as getting up 5.14. Every company uses different lasts (the molds used to give rock shoes their fi nal shape), as well as different sizing. Some shoes will stretch and conform to your foot over time, while others won’t. Add to that the array of fi ts for the various types of climbing, and you have quite a puzzle on your hands… er, feet. Before shopping, first decide what type of climbing you plan to do most in the shoes. Then, get a good night’s sleep, hydrate thoroughly, and prepare to spend an afternoon trying on numerous pairs and brands of shoes, while asking the store rep many questions. For crack climbing or all-day routes, fit on the comfy side and pick a shoe designed to let your toes lie relatively flat. For hard face climbing on short routes, go for a tighter fit and a shoe that coaxes your toes into a crunched position, which will give you more power to push off small edges and pockets. Color sometimes matters, too: If you climb long routes in the hot sun, think twice before buying a dark-colored shoe. And “cut your damn toenails before you try on rock shoes,” says Winston Voigt of Neptune Mountaineering. In fact, carefully trimmed toenails always make climbing feet happier.

Once you’ve picked the perfect rock shoes, don’t stand around in the dirt in them. Dirty rubber soles lose their stickiness and wear fast, so, at the very least, give your shoes a wipe between burns. Tote a hand towel or carpet scrap in your pack to lay out like a doormat below routes. At home, wipe down the soles with rubbing alcohol on a rag to revive the rubber’s grip.

“A rotten, nasty smell can be an indication that the leather is actually decaying,” says Eric Pauwels, owner of Rock & Resole in Boulder, explaining that this often happens when moisture builds up under the rand. Don’t stow sweaty shoes in your pack when you get home. At the crag, take off your shoes between climbs to let feet and shoes dry. You can even take off shoes at belays on multi-pitch climbs (clip them in!). If it’s hot, don’t leave shoes out in the sun, and keep your feet shaded while belaying. Cool feet are comfortable feet

Before your next crack attack, Pauwels suggests painting a bit of “rubber putty” onto worn spots of your shoes. Made of liquid urethane and rubber particles, the putty (such as Five Ten Stealth Paint) helps shoes weather the shredding that crack climbing unleashes. The same product can be used on the shoe’s upper; keep some putty in your pack to doctor impromptu blowouts.

Despite your best efforts, the repeated act of forcing your feet into tight shoes may take its toll. “The biggest foot problems climbers have are associated with compression and friction,” says Dr. Thomas Shonka, attending podiatrist at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Spot-stretching can help climbers with these and other issues (such as swollen nerves caused by repetitive movement) made worse by restrictive shoes. Any shoe-repair or ski-boot shop should be able to make the modifi cations. Dr. Shonka also recommends silicone pads to alleviate pain caused by hot spots. “You want to be sure to put more pressure around a pressure point than over it,” he says. In other words, encircle problem spots in little doughnuts of relief.

It’s only natural that hot feet stuffed into airtight rubber tombs will start to smell like dead animals, but having your $150 rock shoes turn into a potential health hazard is no fun. Rock & Resole, which deals with stinky rock shoes on a daily basis, uses an odorcide spray to make less-than-pleasant shoes bearable. Anne-Worley Moelter, owner of Movement Climbing + Fitness, relies on an antifungal powder spray to keep the rock gym’s rental shoes sanitary. For shoes with really bad odor problems, Moelter runs them through the washing machine. Moelter’s final tip is to stick dryer sheets in your shoes to keep them smelling Downy fresh. Your friends will thank you, and maybe they’ll start climbing with you again.

Kate Nelson, a Boulder-based freelance writer, used to have a foot fetish until she started hanging out with climbers.
By Kate Nelson / Illustration by Jamie Givens

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You’re only over-equipped if you never do anything

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Members of our Crew got the scouts so interested in learning Geo Caching, and the fact camping plans for January kept getting moved around we opted for a day trip to Spring Creek Park. The Crew went out a week earlier and planted 5 caches for the scouts. Yesterday several scouts, crew members and 4 of our new scouts came out for the day.They had fun learning how to use a GPS and were successful finding all five caches plus three that were already existing at the park. They found a traveling Geo Coin that they decided will be placed at the San Jacinto Battlegrounds and monument since the coin is dedicated to our fallen soldiers.

Along with Geo Caching, Dualscoutmom did some cooking demos and taught a few simple (experimental) recipes, and how to grub master on a budget. lunch was made with Ramin Noodles, and some ground beef, and believe it or not it was pretty tasty.  Afterwords a cherry cobbler was made. Except for browning the ground beef, both breakfast, lunch and the cobbler we prepared in dutch ovens.

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Today, we started locating all our gear for next week’s week long excursion to Buffalo Trails Scout Ranch.  In doing so, I realized that a couple of our lids and straws to our beloved Camel Bak Water Bottles had perished.  Off to the internet I went to seek out locations where I could replenish our supply.  To my delight, I happened upon a website called trailspace.comWho knew that the lids were designed to fit other bottles. With this knowledge, I can outfit our other bottles with the anti-leak protection I’ve come to depend on.  Go check out the site and see what you can learn about.

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For some it’s a hiking stick that has set the pace for dozens of backpacking trips. For others it might be a special camp mug for that perfect cup of cocoa, or an old broad-brimmed hat with a hawk feather tucked under the band.

Everyone has an idea of what they can’t do without when they take off on an outdoor adventure.

The BSA has a list of items, too-the ten Scout Basic Essentials. Carry them every time you hit the trail and you’ll have what you need for making the most of your time in the woods.

The first five Scout Outdoor Essentials are a pocketknife, first-aid kit, extra clothing, rain gear, and a water bottle.

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I’m sure I will have a lot more to say on this subject after we hike during the 2nd part of Powder Horn, but one very important detail I learned last weekend is that you must start with the fit backpack.  Depending on your level of hiking goals, there are different styles and sizes to consider, but if it doesn’t fit properly, none of that matters because you’ll be miserable.

First and foremost, go to a qualified dealer and be properly fitted.  This means everything in how well you will manage the weight you carry.  What do I mean by a qualified dealer?  Well, to me, that is going to be a store that doesn’t just stick you in a backpack, or worse, leave you on your own to figure it out.  This isn’t a purchase I would make at Academy (sporting goods chain available in Houston).  I would go to a store that employs the very people who use the equipment most.  One of our favorites is REI.  When you go in there, be sure to find the wall of pictures that displays their staff in their own adventures.  In fact, most all the REI employees I have encountered have either been in a scouting program or parented a child who was in it.

At Powder Horn, we were introduced to Whole Earth Provision Company and we quickly became big fans of this store that is located in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and online.  Two representatives, of distinctively different builds, came to talk to us about backpacks as well as a lot of the newest trek equipment.  I know it seems odd that I would mention their sizes, but it is important.  It afforded us an easy point of reference to the fact that you can have four perfectly great backpacks and each has different features that attract people for different structural reasons.  I’m not sure if that was the intent, but through their candid reviews, it became clear. They showed key slipups that people make in adjusting their packs that make a big difference in their hiking pleasure.

I kept thinking back to my random purchase of a hiking backpack a few years ago.  It’s a high dollar pack that I got from a neighbor for a song after her daughter used it once on a week long hike.  Her daughter is 6 inches taller than me and has a completely different build.  It will do for the short hikes, but after I got home, I put it on, and thought through all I was taught.  I realized it won’t do at all for a long trek.  That said, I won’t run out and buy another one just yet.  I will wait until I have that trek planned, get within a few months of it, then get fitted, both at REI and Whole Earth Provision Company.  I want to keep those options open and truly find MY best fit.

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If your family member is an outdoorsman (or woman) and you don’t know what to put in their stocking, let me help you.  Several of the items were on my post the other night about things to consider for winter camp:  chap stick, hand warmers, gloves, small flashlights, etc…  Here are a few more:

  • Carabiners; whether they climb or not, you can always use it for something
  • Headlamp
  • Leatherman’s tool
  • Gift Cards to REI or Academy or an eGift Card to Moosejaw
  • Travel sized toiletries
  • Travel sized sun screen
  • Compass and pedometer so they can measure their hikes
  • GPS (to go with a Geocaching book that would look great under the tree)
  • Map to a hike the family will go on together
  • Harmonica (for around the campfire)
  • Pocket knife / Swiss Army Knife
  • Fishing lures – granted… wrapped very well, say, in bubble wrap
  • Backpacker’s Trowel… they’ll know what its for
  • Glow Sticks
  • Memory Card for their digital camera
  • Pocket First Aid Kit
  • VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!  Foam Ear Plugs; if you’ve never camped with a group, you just won’t understand

I’m sure you’re getting ideas of your own just reading the list.  Don’t just supply your outdoors person with fun things to use outdoors.  Go use them with them!

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For all those sending scouts off to Winter Camp, there are a few things you can pick up for them to make their stay nicer…. in case Santa forgets.

  • Gloves, thin and flexible do nicely and you should know they may come back without fingertips
  • Warm Hat, to sleep in and possibly wear during the days if it looks really cool
  • Chap Stick, 5 days of wind can be rude to the lips
  • Hot Chocolate, one can never be too careful when it comes to having hot chocolate packets available
  • Hand/feet warmers, they’ll love you for this one and they’re about 2/$1 at Academy in the hunting section so you can send plenty
  • Complete extra set of socks, they should wear clean socks to bed each night because sweaty feet make for very cold toes
  • NON-cotton clothing for the day
  • Cotton clothing for the night, emphasize wearing the jammies instead of going to bed in dirty soggy clothes
  • A small flashlight works just as well as a big one.  My oldest son just reviewed this list and said to be sure to tell you to tell them it is a bad idea to hang a mag light in the tent from a rope and he has the scar on his eyebrow to back it up.
  • Shoes without holes.  My little helper said he can’t believe how many kids show up with old torn up shoes.  Bad idea.
  • TWO or three towels, they don’t dry very well in the cold

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Hopefully, you all exercised properly yesterday and shopped the great deals at your local sporting good stores for scout worthy equipment.  Goodness knows we all ate far too much Thursday and can use all the help we can get.  I did.  I braved Walmart just long enough to pick up a pedometer and off I went to laugh at the shoppers.  See, I don’t partake too much in the Black Friday mania, but I will go to the biggest mall in Houston to take a good walk (since it was threatening to rain) and amuse myself watching everyone with their arms full of bags trying to make it through the crowd.  I’m proud to say I logged over three miles and left the mall without a single purchase.

In all seriousness scouters, Monday is Cyber Monday and as much as it may pain you to shop, there will be fantastic deals to be found online.  I can’t urge you strongly enough to scroll down the page and look to the right where you’ll find many links under Outdoor Gear.  They’re all in one place for your ease of use and you can bounce in and out of this blog on Monday to check out all the online sites and the discounts they offer.  Think of it.  No traffic.  No screaming kids (unless it’s our own on a sugar rush, or worse, crash), and ease of checkout.  Whether your fancy is camping, hiking, climbing, canoeing, gear collection in general, etc… I bet you find a great deal or two on Monday.  Feel free to come back and comment on the scout worthy deals you found.

Stay safe!

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