What Should You Take on a Hiking Day?

For an intensive day of hiking, you must take the right supplies with you.

Not only do you need certain bits and pieces to stay comfortable, you also have to ensure you remain on-target to avoid getting lost.

Not to mention the risks of changing weather, dehydration, and other potential dangers.

Still, there’s no need to worry. Hiking should be fun, whether you’re following a trail you’ve walked a thousand times or a brand-new one. With the right supplies in your backpack, you can get out there and have a fantastic adventure without leaving yourself vulnerable.

Here’s our checklist of must-haves …

Staying On-Target for your Destination

Every hike has an end – just make sure it’s the one you want to reach rather than an arbitrary one!

You need to invest in quality navigational gear, combining both the latest devices and traditional methods.

Pack a paper map, in a protective case should you need to open it up in a downpour. If you can’t read it, either ask someone who can to mark key points on it for your, or ensure your hiking partner is well-versed.

You should also carry a compass with you, to make map-reading much easier. Of course, you can also take a GPS device along, or use a navigational app on your phone. As useful as the latter is, bear in mind they’re only as good as your signal.

Venture into an area with no Wi-Fi or reception, and you’ll be left to rely on offline alternatives instead.

Don’t Let the Sun Get the Upper Hand

Even if the sky is a little overcast when you set out, don’t forget to take sunscreen with you. Walking in the great outdoors with the sun beaming down on you can lead to burning and dangerous UV-exposure, risking long-term damage. Apply it liberally every few hours.

Don’t forget lip balm with SPF protection, and sunglasses. All of this is extremely lightweight and can be stored in your backpack’s smaller pockets.

Let There Be Light

You’ll need to shed a little light on your path if you’re out in darker areas, or if your hike takes longer than you expected, carrying over into evening hours.

Take a flashlight or two, or a headlamp, with plenty of spare batteries. Don’t depend only on the flashlight app on your phone – will it run your battery down faster.

First-Aid Kits are King

No matter how well you know a trail or how many hikes you’ve done in the past, accidents happen.

From a scraped shin to a serious cut, little injuries can become much more dangerous if left uncovered or untreated.

Take a first-aid kit in your backpack, loaded with band-aids, bandages, scissors, safety pins, gauze, antiseptic creams, and painkillers.

These will help you dress cuts, burns, and minor fractures until you can get proper medical care.

With all these supplies to hand, you can stay safe, on-target, and reassured during even the longest hike. Invest in a quality waterproof backpack to complement your weather-resistant clothing and keep your gear dry.

What will you be doing at 72?

Mount Everest
Mount Everest – Fiennes finally reached the summit in 2009.

Described by Guinness World Records as the ‘greatest living explorer’ as long ago as 1984, British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has not allowed the intervening thirty-two years to wither him. Now seventy-two, and despite suffering from what many might consider major setbacks – such as a heart attack when just 1,000 feet from the summit of Mount Everest in 2003, losing the top half of all five digits of his left hand due to frostbite (he cut them off himself), double heart bypass surgery, cancer and diabetes, to name just a few – Fiennes has persevered unfailingly.

The Global Reach Challenge

His latest undertaking, Global Reach Challenge, sees him looking to become the first person to have crossed both polar ice caps and climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. He is raising money for a British cancer charity called Marie Curie, which he holds close to his heart because of the work that the charity’s nurses did with his late wife, Ginny.

Overhearing to mountaineering

When he decided to take on the challenge – after overhearing some of his fellow competitors at the ultramarathon ‘Marathon des Sables‘ talking about it – he had already completed the journeys across both polar ice caps and climbed the highest mountains in Asia (Everest) and Africa (Kilimanjaro). This still left him with five more mountains to scale on five different continents. They were as follows:

  • Mount Elbrus in Europe
  • Vinson Massif in Antarctica
  • Aconcagua in South America
  • Mount Carstensz in Australasia
  • Denali in North America

Fiennes scaled Mount Elbrus in July 2016 and followed that up in December by reaching the summit of Vinson Massif. A quote on his JustGiving page about the trek in Antarctica states that ‘the guides that have been coming here for 10 years have never seen such bad weather’, but he and his team were ‘very lucky to find a gap in the weather to get to the summit’.

Denali there

Fiennes plans to finish the challenge by the end of May 2017 with

Mount Denali - snow, ice and treacherousness
Mount Denali – Fiennes’s final step of the challenge.

the biggest obstacle in terms of difficulty, if not quite in height, being Denali (also previously known as Mount McKinley), the highest mountain in North America. The mountain, which rises to 20,310 ft above sea level, is located in the Denali National Park and Reserve in south central Alaska in the group of mountains known as the Alaska Range.

The Alpine Institute describes climbing Denali as ‘one of the world’s greatest mountaineering challenges’ with its ‘arctic environment, with extreme temperatures and harsh storms’ and the fact that it rises higher above its surrounding plain than any other mountain in the world.

Getting yourself out

You may not be planning on taking on Denali, or even Mount Everest. However, if you are wanting to get out into any kind of environment that might turn wet and windy, or cold at night, make sure you get yourself the appropriate gear, such as the Adamant X-Core Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack to keep all your possessions dry and the Adamant Stormpulse Dual-Layer Climate-Ready Sleeping Bag, which will keep you warm and comfortable even when the temperature outside drops as low as 10.4°F.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is one of a kind, but whatever your age, going out and getting a taste of the great outdoors is an experience that is not to be missed.

The many-headed mountain-biking beast

A bike below the word 'work'
Many people are discovering a love for cycling via their green commute to work.

Cycling has a much wider scope than as a means of transport for your work commute or as a way to transport yourself in a leisurely manner around well-maintained cycle paths. In fact, mountain biking – just one sector of the cycling world – encompasses its own healthy range of styles and sports.

Perhaps due to its relative youth as a recognised sport, the boundaries between mountain-biking disciplines can sometimes be a bit blurred. However, in this post we will introduce some of the different disciplines and events that you can get involved in. In later posts we will look into each one in more depth.

Enduro

Either having a large crossover with or also known as All-Mountain racing – depending on who you’re talking to at the time – Enduro is often the first port of call for amateurs curious about getting into some sort of competitive biking.

Enduro races are comprised of cross-country, uphill and downhill sections, but only the downhill sections are usually timed. Because of the mixed nature of the races, bikes specialized for cross-country or downhill racing are often unsuitable. This means the do-it-all-okay bikes amateurs tend to have are quite well suited to the discipline.

There are some serious competitors right at the top end of the sport, but most people who take part in in Enduro do it for fun.

Cross-country (XC)

Person carrying bike through field of crops
Lost among the disciplines? We’ll help you out.

Cross-country races also have uphill and downhill sections, but the whole course is taken into account as part of the race. There is no time for catching a breather in a XC race, so unless your stamina levels are high it is probably best to work your way into XC by tackling Enduro races first.

 

Because there is less focus on the downhill sections, XC bikes tend to be a little lighter since they do not need so much reinforcement. This also has the added benefit of aiding riders on the climbs.

Downhill (DH)

As you might expect of a discipline with such a name, Downhill races are all about going downhill as fast as possible. The bikes – highly specialized in order to cope with the extreme stresses they are put under – are generally transported uphill to the start of the course, because they are too heavy to ride uphill.

Due to the high speed of the descent, technical nature of the courses and particular specifications needed for the bikes involved, downhill racing events are not generally somewhere to start off as a bit of a novice. That said, the feeling of barreling down a ridiculously steep mountainside at speeds of 50-60 mph plus is something to seriously think of aspiring to.

Dual-Slalom / Four Cross (4X)

These races are also downhill, but the courses do not tend to be as steep and the bikes are generally lighter hardtails (no rear suspension). Races are one-on-one and simultaneous, either on parallel tracks or side by side on the same track. They include berms, jumps and slaloming between flags, much like in slalom skiing.

And the rest…

There are also many other disciplines, such as Freeriding, Trials riding, BMX, Touring, etc. – some of which focus on tricks or other skills – that we will also look into in later posts. However, for now get yourself to your nearest events and get involved! If you’re in need of a bike to get you started, check out the Adamant range.

All-Mountain: Finding your way into competitive biking

As mentioned in this previous post on the different forms of competitive mountain biking, All-Mountain is a great way for mountain bike riders curious about the world of competitive cycling to feel their way in.

In this post we will look more into what All-Mountain racing is all about, what kit you might need, and more information on when and where races take place. So let’s jump on in!

What’s going on?

Person pushing a bike up a path
Wondering where this path leads? Let us show you…

All-Mountain races are run over courses that contain a series of both uphill and downhill sections. However, the greater focus is on the downhill sections, which tend to be longer and are the only sectors of the race that are usually timed.

The uphill sections may have an overall time limit, but this is just to make sure competitors use a bike they can actually ascend climbs on and so everyone can go home before it gets dark! Events will likely be run with their own set of slightly-tweaked rules, however; so it is always worth checking out exactly how the race you are taking part in is to be run.

Although there are some riders who have made their riding into a career, such as Mark Weir and Adam Craig, most participants are at events for the joy of the ride and the excellent camaraderie. About Downieville – one of the most important dates in the All-Mountain calendar – Weir said in an interview with bikeradar.com, “The more pro racers you have turning up trying to win it to please their sponsors, the further it gets away from what the event is actually all about.”

So get your gear together and let’s go! But what do you actually need?

What do I need to bring?

A guy leaning on his bike
Don’t be like this guy – get on your bike and ride!

Your bike, for a start. As you get into racing more you may want to look more into optimizing the balance between strength and weight so that you can cope with the rough descents while also still being able to get up the climbs, and you may also want to think about more voluminous tires and the amount of travel (suspension) that is best. However, to begin with take the bike you’ve got, or check out the Adamant range if you’re looking for one.

Basic puncture kits and a drinks bottle are always sensible – to keep you going in different ways. No doubt you would also like to preserve the lovely state of your body, so the standard set of kneepads, gloves and some sort of eye protection are essential.

Where do I go?

The biggest events in the US are probably the previously mentioned Downieville Classic, the North American Enduro Tour and the Enduro World Series (which is international but has a round in Aspen, CO.)

However, if you are too intimidated by the prospect of starting off in such a big way or just want to work your way up, sites such as Active or singletracks could help hook you up with events near you. Although you might be nervous about getting started, the majority of people at the races will just be looking to have a good time and share their love of riding, so if you throw yourself in you’ll soon find yourself never wanting to leave!

4 reasons to spend Christmas hiking or biking

1. Popular routes are so, so quiet

Almost all of even the most ardent hikers and trekkers take Christmas Day off to act traditionally: spending time with their families, sharing presents and gorging on food and drink.

Luckily this means that some of the most popular routes – on other days packed with occasional walkers and meandering tourists – are left free for you to roam. These routes tend to be popular because of their beauty, as well as their accessibility, so it is a great chance to hop on your Adamant bike and see them without simultaneously having to weave your way through a bunch of part-timers.

It is not only the countryside that is worth seeing minus the hordes, however. After all the hustle and bustle leading up to the big day, hiking and biking through deserted streets in towns and cities, whether in the centers or the suburbs, allows you to appreciate your surroundings in a way that is almost impossible to do at any other time.

2. Family is great, but…

It can be great to designate Christmas as a time when you and your family, all having time off work, can gather together. However, if you find being cooped up with yours difficult, getting out into nature and breathing the free air could be an excellent antidote.

If you feel obligated to spend some or most of the time in with your family, plan a shorter trip – maybe even for just a couple of hours.

If you find that although you love seeing everyone, the combination of them all cannot be contained under one roof for any considerable length of time, consider getting them all out with you. The mixture of cool winter air and the opportunity to roam can both perk up the adults who would otherwise doze off after dinner and give the younger members of the group a chance to expend some of their pent-up energy.

3. There is a distinct lack of tackiness

If you have spent significant periods of time out shopping, working in the city center, or just living next door to the guy who really likes Christmas and shows it by decorating his property with enough light bulbs to make you think it’s midday when you wake up in the middle of the night, getting away from it all is the answer.

You will realize you’re taking longer, deeper breaths and finding that your eyes are no longer permanently slightly screwed up in defense against the artificial fluorescence that has been surrounding you for what seems like forever.

4. You can celebrate on another day

Although this may seem like a weak reason at first, and is mostly just a trick of the mind, it can be surprisingly enjoyable to have a day to look forward to when other people don’t.

Also, some of the peacefulness benefits you receive by heading out into the wilderness on Christmas Day are not really available on any other day of the year. This means swapping it out for another day gives you a Christmas present that a large proportion of the rest of the world will be missing out on.

Planning a Family Camping Trip

Camping is one of the most traditional types of family holiday, offering you the chance to spend time together in the great outdoors without many of today’s distractions.

Here in the USA, we’re blessed with a beautiful country filled with countless fantastic camping spots, perfect to satisfy experienced trippers and first-timers alike. However, choosing a site that suits your own preferences may well be totally different to finding one that works for your whole family.

If you want to create a holiday that you all remember for the right reasons, take a look at our ideas for planning a family camping trip …

Schedule a Short Trip

For your first family camping trip, it’s best not to trek halfway across the country for three weeks at a time.

Why? Well, if your kids discover they just can’t stand sleeping outdoors or living without the modern conveniences they love, you’ll all be stranded in a tough situation for a long time.

Start with a short trip, perhaps just a few days, without going too far from your home. As you and your family get more familiar with camping, you can then look farther afield.

Pay Attention to the Facilities

You don’t want to take teenagers at their most self-conscious on a camping trip without any showers or mirrors. Likewise, you don’t want to take young kids to a luxurious site with a wealth of facilities they’ll never use.

Look at the range of toilets, bathrooms, and local amenities. Does it offer a choice of food, drink, and supplies if needed?

You may like the thought of getting away from it all, but being within range of a convenience store or small town isn’t a bad idea for your first family camping trip.

Take Plenty of Entertainment

Make sure you take board games, books, magazines, and other entertainment options to pass those rainy afternoons or cozy nights. While sitting together and talking is a key part of the bonding experience on camping breaks, you’ll all need a little distracting now and then.

Travel versions of board games are ideal for playing inside a tent, while full-sized boards are a must if you have a bigger tent or an RV. Take games you all love and know how to play.

It’s also a great time to experiment with new games, such as challenging card classics (poker, for example).

You might also want to take some sports equipment, like baseballs and bats, or soccer balls. It’s better to take too much gear with you rather than not enough.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Hate planning your trips? Simply loading up the car and heading off into the great outdoors is a nice experience for seasoned campers, but for first-time families?

Planning is key.

Look into the local attractions, hiking trails, facilities, and more. Write loose itineraries for each day, so you create some direction without chaining yourself to a strict schedule.

You can always change your plans according to shifts in weather conditions or your family’s mood. Planning just avoids having days where you don’t know what to do with yourself and end up wasting precious hours.

Taking the right camping gear is vital, wherever you go. Make sure you all have waterproof coats, waterproof backpacks, first-aid kits, and more. You might also want to take bikes, to explore your camping site and its surroundings on wheels.

Most importantly, remember to have fun!