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General | TheCampingPro

Easier way to Tie Shoe Laces

With school starting your kids teachers and PE coaches will really appreciate your child knowing how to tie their shoes. So here is an easy way to teach how to tie your shoes.

The Right Knot

I am always amazed how well things work when you have and use the right tool. Today I am thinking about knots. The right knot for the job make the job so much easier than when the wrong one is used. This post is not( ha) going to be about the perfect knot to use ( because there isn’t one) but rather the ones that have been the most useful to me.  Ok here we go.

The Square knot. I can hear you saying “Yeah, whatever, everyone says the square knot.” Ok well there is a good reason. It works. I also have to say here I always have to think about how to tie this one. It kills me but it’s true. The square knot is a staple knot forget it at you own peril. (I always wanted to say write that)

The Trucker’s Hitch. This is a knot that can tie down just about any load and be used  for many other situations. The key feature for this knot is that it can act as a pulley it gives you a very tight tie down or leverage point. I used this knot to tie canoes on to cars when I rented them to folks at the outdoor store. I found that it can be used in many situations and it doesn’t slip after you get it tight.

That’s it. If I had only two knots to teach you these would be it. Are there more useful knots to learn? oh yes, but these two have been game changing for me.  I challenge you to learn other knots but this is where I would have you start.


The Complete Book of Knots

Spring is for Hiking!

I find spring is the best time to hike. The weather is still cool enough to keep the bugs at bay and it is warm enough that you don’t have to sleep with your water to keep it from freezing at night.  There are also the obvious elements, like the new growth on trees and flowers and the air just smells better in the spring. Spring calls to me to go out and hike. I am open to any questions and or requests for information about hiking/backpacking or even car/family camping.  Please comment a question or even your thoughts on spring hiking.

Cold Weather Camping reminder

OK, I know most of you have already packed for the weekend campout but I wanted to send this a special reminder of a few little details. It look like it is going to be pretty cold and I want to make sure everyone is prepared for it. So here are a few things to remember about cold weather camping. Let’s start with the obvious, cloths. Layering is the best way to stay warm, thermal underwear if you so desire. A fleece or sweater is a good mid layer with a wind breaker as the outer layer when windy or really cold. The advantages of layers is as you become active you can vary the number of layers to how cold or warm you are. While sleeping in the cold you will need to be sure you have a ground pad under your sleeping bag. It is important to know that if you use a blow up mattress you will likely be cold as the air in the mattress will be as cold as the ambient temperature and your body heat will be pulled from your contact to the mattress. The better option is a pad that is foam or a combination foam and air such as a “Therm-o-rest”. There are foam ground pads for sale at outdoor sports stores and you can spend little or much. If you are planning on camping for years to come you may consider buying a good ground pad. Be sure you have a good sleeping bag and or enough blankets to keep you warm. If you are considering buying a sleeping bag I would suggest a 15 degree rated, mummy style, and synthetic filled. This won’t make since unless you are shopping sleeping bags. Do not put candles or heaters in your tent. Warm hat, gloves and warm socks are a good idea. A warm hat is a must. I sleep in a light thermal toboggan cap to keep me warm.

2009 Thru-hikers!!

Every year I try to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) to try to meet thru-hikers and this year I was trying to see a friend who is hiking the trail, Grampa Hugh. On our hike we met about 13 other thru-hikers but not Hugh.  I don’t remember all of the thru-hikers names but some is better than none so here they are: Rocket, Broadcast, Poky, Snooze, Red-Bear and Low-key. There were several thru-hikers that didn’t have trail names yet. This year I took my big brother, Roddy, with me on the hike. We started our hike at Stecoah Gap and went south to the Nantahala Gorge.  This section enjoys beautiful views from Cheoah bald (5062 ft elevation), it was spectacular. The climbs were strenuous for non-trail hardened folk but we survived. The weather was perfect with clear and sunny days and cloudy, cool nights. We camped with Jason and Justin (Broadcast) at Locust gap where we talked about gear and junk from my days in outdoor retail. It was really great talking to guys who like outdoor gear as much as I do. I enjoyed meeting all the thru-hikers and wish them well on their hike.

Start the hike…The AT “Appalachian Trail”

 When I first started my hike of the AT in March of 1993 I remember being excited about getting started but a little overwhelmed by size of the challenge. The advice I 2536534013_b0acd2d891_ohave for folks who are hiking the trail this year is to take your time. You get to choose the pace you hike and for how long you hike so do what you want. In the beginning I suggest taking it slow to get used to your way of hiking, packing, setting up and tearing down. These routines will change some until you have found “your way” of doing things and then you start to really get in a groove. Then I would say STOP and smell the roses. Don’t forget to really see what you are looking at. I would say that the real beauty of the trail is the people you meet so don’t miss the friendships and acquaintances that you will meet. While I was on the trail I discovered the how much my savior really loves me. I talked to Him everyday and I would pray and ask for specific things and He was more generous with gifts than what I had asked for. I came to trust in Him and to pray for the surprise that he wanted to give me. It was like knowing that your dad has a ton of money to spend on gifts for you and when you ask for a toy you are given the toy store. I know not a great analogy but that was how it felt for me. I remember hiking into a town where I didn’t know if there was a grocery store and if there was if it was going to be open late on a Sunday night. I prayed for the store and that it would be open late. I get there and it was just about to close but I was able to get my food and the owner asked to take me home to dinner with his family. It was an awesome experience. This is one of many stories of Christ’s gifts of love to me.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2009?

I’m not but I wish I were. Every year around this time I start getting nostalgic about the Appalachian Trail. I remember the anticipation of getting prepared for the big day when I would set off to make history and be one of the few crazy hikers to hike the whole trail in one season. So I thought I would write a few post addressing you crazy 2009 thru-hikers.

            Getting advice for hiking the AT from someone who has done it is valuable but always remember to hike your own hike. The way I hiked the trail may not work for others so don’t force it just do it the way you prefer and hang everybody’s advice.

            Lightweight hiking is the way to go. I started the hike with way too much stuff and soon found myself sending things home that I never thought I could do without. I found that the extras of things were heavy. Things like and extra set of clothes. In cold weather my clothes consisted of synthetic thermal underwear (never cotton), a pair of nylon blend shorts, a mid-weight fleece pullover, and nylon wind pants and jacket. I did have one extra pair of socks. That was it. Nope no underwear, no sweat pants to change into, no t-shirt to sleep in. I know you are thinking that you should have extra in case you get wet clothes. The clothes I listed you will notice were synthetic and even if I was to get wet these synthetics keep you warm. This brings me to a tip.

TIP* I found that my synthetic fleece pullover could dry my socks out overnight when I slept with them on my chest under my fleece pullover. My socks were not wool, this only works with synthetic socks.

Stay tuned for more info for hiking the AT.

5 Great Gifts for Campers

  1.  Yes, a headlamp. You don’t have to buy an expensive headlamp to get the job done. They can range in price from new on Amazon.com, $6 without shipping to over $100. If you are using your headlamp in cold weather it is worth noteing that the lithium battery headlamps are better than having to sleep with your batteries.
  2. MSR PackTowl UltraLite. This gift is one most campers want but can’t see buying for themselves. They say to themselves “I can’t buy a lightwaight rag for $10.” Let me tell you the truth about this towel, it is worth every penny. You have to own one and use it to believe it. I love mine and wont go on a long hike without it.
  3. Superfeet footbeds, these are a must for hiking long distances. The footbeds take a couple of days to get used to so don’t wear them all day to start. Start with a short day then wear them longer each day until you get used to them. They will be worth it in the long run. These are around $35 and are made to be trimmed to fit your boot size.
  4. OR Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters. This gift is the hiker gift. Gaiters are not just for snow. The low gaiters keeps the morning dew as well as trail dirt out of you boots. I love ‘em.
  5.  Maps, maps, maps!! Hikers love maps. If you know where your hiker  likes to hike then you could get the topographic map for that area. If you have the cash you could by the topo map software that is awesome.

Enjoy the holidays and get out and go hiking. If you want to support the site you can click the link to Amazon or REI and buy somthing.

Backpacking Knife?

Many people ask me what knife I carried when I hiked the Appalachian Trail. The answer is underwhelming. I carried the Swiss Army Classic. Yes that is right, the tiny one with the scissors. If you have read my posts you know I am all about lightweight packing. This knife is enough and not too much. It opens boxes and packages of food and cuts my toenails. It is also not so expensive that if it got lost I would cry over it. I will never forget the time I left my $400 Gore-Tex jacket at a shelter and had to hike 4 miles back to get it. Ouch!

Swiss Classic

The Ramblings of the CampingPro!

Here are some considerations to think about when you are going on a backpacking trip. Lighter is better so be sure you are packing only what is needed. The trick is, knowing what to leave at home. It is very easy to take the scout motto too far. “Be prepared” does not mean be prepared for every possible thing that could happen. We have to use some common sense and prepare for what is a very possible. Like needing extra pair of socks in case your first pair gets wet but we don’t bring an extra pair of boots incase of losing your boots.
It is also easy to get carried away with bringing luxury items like camp chairs, GPS devices, radios, Gameboy and even playing cards. These things are not bad and I am not saying don’t bring them on your hike but I would say don’t bring them all and take less than more. When you go on a hike it is often with friends or family and it is the whole point of the trip to go and do something you can’t do at home. Live in the moment and enjoy the environment and the company.
When planning a hike don’t plan to hike too far in a day (this is a common mistake). You want to be sure you can make you can arrive at your destination in plenty of time to set up your tent and cook dinner as well as taking time throughout the day for breaks and lunch. A good goal for pack weight is less than 35 lbs. before food. As you improve your backpacking skill you should try to get you pack weight with food to weigh less than 35 lbs. This is not easy my first try at backpacking my pack weighed in at 57lbs. and I was miserable. Well this is just something to think about. I would love to hear from you, please comment.


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