Ranger Squirrel

Prepping Guides, Resources, and More

Camping Essentials

What to bring camping can be quite confusing for many people, but the fact is that you really don’t need to worry too much about what is or isn’t allowed. Here are some basic necessities that you should make sure to pack, no matter where you plan on going camping:

what to bring camping

General basics Rule number one for camping is, of course, that you will need water. You will need it for drinking, cooking, cleaning and more. Some campsites have portable water available at regular taps and showers throughout the facility, while others have faucets that you simply need to bring empty bottles to refill once you get there. Water is essential to your body, and no camping trip is complete without it.

Another piece of the camping puzzle is food. This can be very difficult to decide what to carry. While most campgrounds allow only light snacks and water, a lot of the campsites do not. You may end up hungry and frustrated, or even worse, sick. It is essential to know what you should not bring to ensure you are comfortable and safe while out on your trip. So, the best thing to do is figure out the basic needs of the area and then make sure that you have all of the food items you will need.

For those who have not gone camping before, it is a good idea to ask for a list of rules or restrictions before you set out. Some areas may prohibit pets. While a lot of people may think that this will be a problem for them, you should know that pets are welcome in every campground. There are often designated areas for pets to sleep. And some campsites may have designated places for them to relieve themselves. Pets are not allowed to stay overnight, but they are allowed to come in for an afternoon or two. Pets are also not allowed to go into the bathroom at any campground, so it is important to know if you are allowed to feed them or allow them to use a bathroom.

If you have never been camping before, it is also a good idea to consider whether you are allowed to take anything along with you on your camping trip. For example, most campgrounds will only allow you to carry items such as first aid kits and flashlights. But, some campgrounds will allow you to bring along the best type of tents, camping gear and your car for your trip.

So, when you are planning your next camping trip, remember to bring plenty of water, food, blankets, water and the proper clothing for the weather. And if you are taking along a dog, then ensure that you have their license, tags and other paperwork in case you get into trouble or they get lost.

Hiking Checklist For Planning Your Next Outdoor Adventure

It is vital to have a hiking checklist in your back pocket to make sure that you can carry all the things you need on your trip. Whether you are taking your dog on a hike or just want to check into an area to hike, you will need plenty of supplies, and a hiking checklist is your key to getting everything you need. By creating a list of what you will need for each trip, you will know exactly what you will be carrying and you will be able to keep track of what is on your checklist.

The first piece of equipment you will need in your hiking checklist is a compass. If you are planning a hike to a location where the compass isn’t available, you may want to consider using a flag to help point you in the right direction. A compass will also come in handy if you have lost your way. It may be easy to lose your way on a hike, but it is still vital to have your compass. By knowing which way you are going, you are able to see which direction you are heading in.

Another thing you will need to include in your hiking checklist is food. You don’t want to spend too much money on food, and if you plan on doing many hikes, you will need enough to last you through the trip. Make sure you bring a good variety of foods, and pack food backpacks instead of eating on your hiking trip. This will allow you to take out some of the food you pack and eat it when you need it most, while still leaving enough left over for another day of hiking.

If you are going to hike long distances, you may want to invest in a backpack instead of just a daypack. A backpack can be more versatile, and it will allow you to carry additional supplies with you on your journey. A backpack will allow you to pack more, and it will also allow you to move more easily on the trail. You will have a bit more freedom in your movements, and you will be able to explore more of the areas you are hiking in.

One thing that should never go overlooked in your hiking checklist is water. If you are on a hike with other hikers, you will need a lot of water, especially if you are going to be in a situation where you will have to cross streams or find yourself in a river. You will also want to bring some form of a shelter to get you through these situations. A tent will provide shelter from the sun, while keeping you dry, while also providing a place to sleep if you need to while you are sleeping.

As you are planning your trip, make sure you keep track of your equipment. Make sure to keep a separate list of all your equipment, and ensure that you keep a record of when it was last used. If you plan on spending more than a few nights in a campground or motel, make sure you have the tent, sleeping bag, food, tent poles, cooking equipment and all other necessary equipment with you. Make sure to label them properly so you won’t forget them while you are hiking.

If you are going to take along your family on your next hiking adventure, make sure you consider bringing them along as well on your hiking checklist. Having children around will help to keep you focused on what needs to be done while you are hiking and it can help keep them from forgetting anything important. You can also give your parents a sense of security knowing that their children are taking part of your experience, instead of just being in your way.

Make sure you take your checklist with you when you are packing for the trip. You don’t want to leave anything behind because you didn’t put it away or you didn’t bring it with you when you left it. Make sure you carry the items on hand to avoid any unnecessary trips back home.

Tips For Buying the Right Sleeping Bag

A typical sleeping bag is simply an insulated cover for an individual, basically a lightweight blanket that’s closed using a zipper, usually in such a way as to form a box, that serves as portable camping bedding when an individual is camping outdoors. They are also great for use on boats and RVs.

sleeping bags

As there are several different brands and styles of sleeping bags available, it’s important to first determine what exactly you’ll be using your sleeping bag for. For example, if you’re an experienced backpacker who’s taking along a tent accessory such as rain fly, you might want to choose a smaller, more portable sleeping bag. This is especially true if your camping experience is limited to short trips during the summer months, where you’ll be sleeping outside and likely have no idea how to make do without your tent or other gear.

For those who’re more accustomed to overnight trips and long trips outdoors, you might want to choose a large sleeping bag or even a twin sized bag. These are better for individuals who’re used to sleeping in a tent or on a boat. A large sleeping bag could even double as a tent for you when you’re camping out in the open air.

A variety of different sizes and shapes are available for every level of camping enthusiasts, from the backpacker’s style of camping to more rugged outdoor activities. Most bags are made from waterproof fabrics such as goose down or synthetic, yet there are also options for waterproof fabric materials. Some types of sleeping bags are specially designed for use in extreme weather conditions. For example, backpacking tents may have extra thick material to take the brunt of a heavy downpour, while camping tents often come with heavy weather seals.

Sleeping bags are typically available in two different sizes, large (up to 62 inches) and small (under 32 inches). They also vary depending on the weight, which is measured in ounces. If you’re an individual who sleeps alone, you might want to select a medium size. if you’ve never had anyone over to sleep with you before.

If you have a family, consider buying an extra large bag for each person so that all sleep separately and share one mattress. In general, a large sleeping bag will provide sufficient space for a single person to sleep comfortably, but if you do sleep in a group, consider getting a twin size.

When selecting sleeping bags, it’s important to carefully consider how comfortable they are and their ability to provide warmth to the individual. You may want to consider buying an inflatable type instead of a traditional bag since inflatables are more comfortable and can keep you warm in cold conditions.

If you want to save money, consider buying sleeping bags that are ready-to-assemble. This way you don’t have to buy a huge number of them. You can also purchase the bags in bulk to save money on shipping and handling.

Other than cost, the quality of the sleeping bag will play an important factor in comfort. Many people find that down, synthetic, or wool is the most comfortable choice. Others prefer cotton.

It’s worth taking the time to compare prices. There are many online retailers that offer a wide range of prices and different brands, so you can choose a bag based on your budget and preferences. While prices are certainly going to vary, you should always check out all the different styles and brands to make sure you get the best deal possible.

Remember, the sleeping bag you pick shouldn’t only be the cheapest, it should be the one that provides the most warmth and comfort. In the end, you’ll be glad you chose the right bag for your next camping trip or adventure.

Things To Consider When Buying Camping Backpacks

Camping backpacks are very useful especially when you are camping outdoors. These backpacks are designed to be used for camping and other outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting and fishing. They are designed so that they are lightweight and easy to carry around and they can be put in the car trunk. There is also a wide variety of them to choose from and that is why they are so popular these days.

There is a wide selection of camping backpacks available for you to choose from. They come in different sizes, colors, and features and you will have a hard time choosing one without shopping around. When you shop for these backpacks, there are many things that you need to consider before making the decision. Here is a list of what you should look for in a camping backpack.

The first thing that you should consider when shopping for a backpack is the size of the backpack. You need to know the weight that you are going to carry in it and the amount of space that you are going to leave in order for you to put everything you need inside. You should also consider the weight that you are going to carry. If you plan on doing any hiking activity that requires you to carry heavy items such as tents, sleeping bags and food, then you need to consider a hiking backpack.

Another important factor to consider when shopping for your backpack is its functionality. There are many camping backpacks that are lightweight which make them easy to carry around. They are also easy to pack in your car because of their small size. There are also the ones that are designed to fit in your bag or luggage. There are even those that are made to be hung from your tent. When choosing a backpack that can fit easily into your bags or luggage, you will be sure to get the maximum use out of it.

Another factor that you need to consider when shopping for a backpack is the durability and performance. You should choose the backpack that is durable since it will be used in outdoor conditions for a long time. You should also choose a backpack that is durable because it will last a long time because there are several factors that will contribute to its durability. Some of the most common factors that will contribute to the durability of a camping backpack are the material that is used and the stitching that is used.

In buying outdoor gear, you should also consider the quality of the product. This is another factor that will contribute to the durability of your product. You need to make sure that the materials that are used for making the backpack are not easily damaged by elements such as sunlight, water and temperature change. The stitching should also be able to withstand these changes and you should also look for a backpack that has a padded back, which will help protect your lower back from unnecessary pains.

Tips On Camping For Beginners

camping for beginners

Camping for beginners is the perfect way to learn how to enjoy the outdoors without spending a fortune doing it. But you don’t have to go camping alone if you have a friend or two to stay with or if your parents are willing to let you tag along.

The first thing you should know is that camping is not very different from using basic equipment at home. That is why you will need a good tent, a stove and some food. But before you set up camp, here are some tips on how to make the experience even more enjoyable.

Another very important thing to remember is that you should be prepared for the unexpected. If you see a bear in the woods, it’s best to leave while it’s still on the move. Also, don’t ever assume that you can get to a lake or river without any problems.

Once you set up camp, don’t forget to prepare meals. You can buy food from a local store or you can make your own. But before you do this, make sure that all of your camping equipment is ready because if it’s not, you will have to cook all the food yourself.

As you may already know, there are some campsite etiquette and rules that you should follow when you are camping out. One of these is to use only electrical appliances in your tent. This can include cooking devices and a stove. And, always keep them well lit so that you won’t accidentally step on a cord. Don’t forget to check that the area is dry before leaving to the forest.

After you’re done with your camp, it is a good idea to make sure that you have a way to contact one another. Make sure that everyone has a way to call their friends or families back home. Otherwise, you might have a problem with all of your family members converging upon the campsite at the same time. And if you have a cell phone, you will be able to make a quick call to your family members once they get to camp.

Finally, when you’re sleeping at night, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are properly insulated. That is why you should purchase a sleeping bag that is breathable and comfortable enough. This will also help prevent you from experiencing uncomfortable nights. If you happen to be sleeping next to someone, make sure you don’t try and get into their sleeping bag since there are chances that you will end up waking them up and causing an accident.

Camping is certainly a fun experience. In fact, it can be quite therapeutic when you are camping with your family and friends. It allows you to spend some quality time together without worrying about the weather or other people.

So, what are you waiting for? Try camping today!

Hiking Safely In Bear Country

hiking safely in bear country

Hiking safely in bear country can seem like a daunting task but with a little preparation and knowledge, it is possible. When planning your next trip into bear country, you should follow the following tips and information for an easy and safe trip into bear country.

The first step to take if you are planning on hiking into bear country is to make sure that you have the right equipment. You should not hike into bear country without the proper equipment or clothing. You should be comfortable as well as protected if you are going to venture into bear country. There are a number of different types of clothing that are designed for the wilderness and will keep you warm and dry.

You should also have some type of bear spray or bear bell in your backpack so that should an encounter happen, you will be able to call out and alert your group so they can safely hike away and notify the authorities. If you are going hiking during the night, you should always make sure that you have some form of light at night so that you can signal to people if you become lost. In addition, do not hike at night during inclement weather, since bears can become active in darkness and can make some dangerous nighttime excursions.

Bear bells and bear whistles should also be available to you should there be an encounter with a bear while you are out. While these may sound like a deterrent to bears, there are still instances when they make their way into your campsite and cause some problems. By making sure you have the proper supplies on hand, you will be prepared for any type of bear encounter.

Always consider the safety issues of all of your activities in bear country. Never go into the woods alone or in a group unless you are in a group with others of equal skill levels and knowledge of the area. Never leave children unsupervised in areas that you are not familiar with and never attempt to hike when you are ill or injured.

Bear country is not necessarily a place you want to go to, but with a little preparation and research, you should be able to find the best hiking trails in the country to get your hiking adventure off the ground and back to the great outdoors. Remember to keep the above tips in mind when you are planning your next trek into bear country.

Hiking With Dogs Tips

hiking with dogs tips

Hiking with dogs is such a great activity! It is a wonderful way to explore nature, gain some much needed physical exercise, and bond on a very intimate level with your canine companion. However, it is your responsibility to keep your dog calm and under control while you hike.

Your dog is an important part of your family and should be treated like a member of the group. It is easy for you to get carried away by your dog and wander off in the wilderness. If you do fall off your hiking trail, you will most likely suffer from bruised ankles or other injuries. Your dog will most likely run after you, chasing after you until you reach safety. If your dog has been running in search of you, it may have been provoked or even chasing something that was not there to attack you.

You are responsible for maintaining the safety and well being of your dog. It is not a good idea to leave your dog at home alone, since the dog may have already become familiar with people. If you know a few hiking trails, take your dog along to enjoy the experience.

You can learn a lot of information by consulting a book that tells you the location of any water source. Be aware of where the stream or river is located and make sure to check your dogs paws as they traverse. Remember, your pet may feel unsafe when he or she has no way to flush out their paws.

One of the most important tips when hiking with dogs is to bring a leash and a dog collar. These items are designed to keep your dog in control when you are not. When you see your dog walking aimlessly, stop your dog and take him back to the designated location.

In the event that you find a spot that you think your dog may feel threatened by, use your dog training skills. Make sure to place yourself in the dog’s line of sight and be visible. If your dog does attack you, he or she will most likely become defensive and begin to shake and whimper. This is normal behavior and should be ignored.

Keep your eyes on your dog at all times, especially if you are hiking in a group. Hiking with your dog can make for a stressful experience if you and the other hikers are following several different directions and try to talk to the same dogs.

Make sure your dog knows where the campground is located, so you know exactly where to return once you are finished hiking. Don’t forget to take your pet to the restroom before returning to your vehicle. Some people bring their dogs on their bike rides, but these animals need more time to adjust to the change of scenery. If you cannot safely walk them to their vehicle, ask for help. There are plenty of campsites and cabins near the trail.

While walking with your dog, take note of any signs that warn you of dangers. Dogs can sense danger even from a far distance.

Dogs love to play tug-of-war with each other and will usually stop playing if they begin to feel threatened. It is important to maintain a safe distance from the other dogs while they play.

Dogs love to jump on people who come up behind them, but do so only if they are going to be able to reach them. Most dogs love to have a treat. When your dog is approaching, use the treat to get in front of the dog in hopes that he or she will get out of the way.

Dogs can be playful companions for hiking, but they need a certain amount of caution. If you follow these hiking with dogs tips, your trip will go off without a hitch.

Best Places to Hike

When it comes to getting the most out of your fitness, there are few options to beat hiking and backpacking. The Best Places to Hike: Hiking and Cardiac Health: The Southern Californian Way. It is no secret that physical cardiologists always emphasize that one of the key to continuing cardiovascular health is brisk walking.

best places to hike

To this day, many studies and clinical trials have concluded that hiking and camping, no matter how difficult a trail or path, can provide a variety of health benefits. Among these benefits are lowered risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, increased HDL cholesterol, and decreased risk for certain cancers.

For example, a study that was conducted on hikers of all ages showed that those who hiked the Southern California Way had more pronounced reductions in weight and body fat than hikers who did not hike the trails. And those hikers who hiked the Southern California Way showed less severe arterial plaque build up and fewer clots in the coronary arteries. Among these hikers, no differences were observed in the amount of fat they stored on their bodies. They all appeared to be doing what they could to burn calories. And the researchers concluded that hiking and backpacking was an excellent way to lose weight.

Another study showed that hiking and backpacking were an excellent choice for heart disease patients. A group of middle-aged women were evaluated after three weeks of hiking on a moderate-difficulty trail. Three months later, the group was evaluated again and found that half of them had lost significantly more weight than those who did not hike. Of course, there was no way to determine why they lost the weight, only that it was possible that their exercise routines caused it. Still, hikers and backpackers are usually at less risk for heart disease and obesity.

Hiking can improve lung capacity, as well. Researchers have documented that hiking and backpacking have been shown to increase oxygen consumption and decrease carbon dioxide absorption during physical activities. In addition, researchers have found that hiking reduces the risks of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions. It is even said that hiking and backpacking may be linked to lower mortality, particularly when compared with more sedentary activity like sitting in front of a computer or television.

In addition to improving our health, hikers and backpackers also gain an enjoyment for life. For one, hikers and backpackers have the chance to experience different cultures, natural environments and views, which may be different from those in urban areas.

In addition to hiking and backpacking, hikers also get the opportunity to see the beauty and variety of the world through the eyes of nature. For example, many people find that hiking and backpacking provide a sense of accomplishment, and many people have the chance to experience an adventure unlike any other.

In conclusion, hiking and backpacking are great choices to enjoy and enhance your health. Hiking is a fun experience that provides benefits that you can’t get anywhere else. Whether you are looking for a challenge or simply want to improve your cardiovascular health, hiking is an excellent choice.

Hiking and backpacking are not only a good fit for health. They can also be enjoyable and educational, making a perfect family vacation. It is important to choose a trail or hiking area that offers challenging trails and challenging climbs. There are many hiking and backpacking opportunities out there, so you shouldn’t have to look hard to find one in your area.

In addition, a hiker should also consider what he or she is trying to accomplish. The most popular hiking trails in the United States include the Appalachian Trail, California’s Pacific Coast Trail and Colorado’s Continental Divide Trail, all of which are long distance treks. Some other popular trails include the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Continental Divide Trail Association, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. These trails can provide hiking and backpacking enthusiasts with a challenging workout and an escape from the hustle and bustle of city living.

If you decide to take up hiking or backpacking, be sure to plan a trip that allows for plenty of rest and relaxation. Be sure to pack plenty of water, extra clothing and sun block, hiking gear and plenty of snacks, such as granola bars, nuts and energy bars.

How Fast to Hike

how fast to hike

When you are planning to go hiking, you need to consider the time needed to hike to your destination. The best way to measure the time needed is to calculate the total distance you need to hike in order to cover your journey. You may then estimate the time needed to hike so that you can find out the fastest way to hike.

One of the important factors in determining the best hiking tips and techniques on how fast hike will be to determine the type of hiking you want to do. Are you looking for a romantic outdoor experience or an adventure with family? Do you want to spend the whole day walking and resting or do you want to take the stairs and get to your destination? If it is the latter, you need to know what the best way to hike is before you even consider using hiking equipment and apparel.

The other factor to consider when determining the best hiking tips and techniques on how fast to hike is to determine what type of terrain you want to hike in. If you plan to hike in the forest and have no plans to do anything else, then you need to know what types of hiking trails exist in your area. You may then find out the best trail for hiking and how to get to it.

Hiking is also necessary for people who are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. For example, if you are a person who enjoys mountain climbing or rock climbing, then the best way to get to the top of the mountain is to use hiking equipment. It will also allow you to reach the peak of the mountain without having to carry anything else except your strength. For a more serious athlete, there are many other methods to climb mountains such as mountaineering and ice climbing.

There are also some hiking tips and techniques for hikers who are looking to have a quiet time with their loved ones, relaxing in a peaceful location, and how to hike at night so that the moon won’t come out at you. There are also other hiking tips and techniques that you may find useful if you plan to trek alone such as planning ahead of time where you will hike, taking note of the weather, getting help for your hiking equipment, and clothing, and most importantly, never taking too long to finish hiking a long hike.

With the help of hiking tips and techniques on how fast to hike, you will find yourself enjoying this activity and enjoy being outside every single day of your life. This is one activity you must have in your life, whether you choose to do hiking by yourself or with your family or friends. You can be assured that you are doing the best thing for your health, the entire time you spend outdoors.

Indoor Micro-Greenhouse

My lovely wife and I found a pretty cool set-up for starting seeds awhile back.  It will also be a useful way to grow herbs and salad greens year-round.

It was $40 at Lowe’s, plus $5 x 3 for the lamps and $3 x 3 for the grow bulbs.  So just under $75.  But it will enable us to grow year round as well as start seeds.

It’s basically just a set of shelves with a custom fit transparent plastic case over the top that will help you trap heat.  The plastic is hard to see in this pic and I’m not a good enough photographer to get a shot without also getting a glare from the plastic. 

The front door can zip-up for a completely enclosed system.  We figured out very quickly that the internal temperature gets WAY too hot if you leave the plastic zipped and the bulbs on in your house though.  It was at 88 and climbing when I called it quits and rolled up the plastic front.  Considering how well it retains heat and how hot the lights get, I could probably have put it in the garage and maintained the heat I needed as well and it stays about 45 degrees in our garage.

With the plastic open and the bulbs on a timer, it stays at around 72 degrees in there.  As you can see we started several of our seeds already.  Looks like my system isn’t giving them enough light though.  Bummer.  I’ll need to add more lights.

You can buy one here (or maybe at your local Lowe’s).

Purchasing Backpacking and Camping Gear

If you have ever been on an extended hiking or camping trip, then you know just how important outdoor backpacking gear can be. Without the correct outdoor gear and hiking supplies, outdoor backpacking or camping trip can turn into an impossible nightmare. Camping tents can fail to hold up against the cold, boots do not hold up well against the rain and camping lights are prone to malfunction and leave you completely lost. Not only does camping without the right gear leave you frustrated but it also has a devastating affect on the environment.

Camping gear is essential to ensure that you and your family stay safe and comfortable, and in many cases this can become an expensive habit if you don’t plan to take your outdoor gear with you when you travel. Many people start their backpacking or camping experience by taking one item with them; however, this often results in them purchasing multiple additional backpacking and camping supplies as they begin to explore new backpacking and camping locations.

One of the most popular reasons for taking backpacking and camping supplies with you is simply to make sure that your equipment is still in tip top condition, especially when you travel to far away locations where you may have to use the same supplies as you would back at home. Backpacking and camping trips are meant to be fun, adventurous and exciting, so why would you risk buying expensive camping and backpacking gear only to find that it won’t last through several days of use when it could have been purchased cheaper in your local store? By keeping your backpacking and camping equipment in good working order, it not only ensures that you will be able to enjoy your next outing, but also makes sure that the next one you undertake will be as enjoyable.

Another important consideration when purchasing backpacking and camping supplies is to check the labels closely to ensure that they are indeed what you need. There are hundreds of brands to choose from, and many different manufacturers produce the same brand of outdoor equipment. It is often difficult to discern which brand is superior by simply looking at the label. The best way to ensure you get high quality equipment is by carrying your hiking and backpacking gear with you wherever you go. You should always carry a backpacking and camping gear bag, as a single item, and make sure you know exactly what you want the items to contain and how much each item weighs.

If your outdoor gear is going to be used outdoors, it should be made of materials that will not damage or fade. and wear quickly fade if exposed to sun or rain. It should also provide adequate protection from the elements such as the wind, rain, snow and cold.

Backpacking and camping supplies are available in almost every sporting goods store, including sporting goods shops. A good idea to make sure you have all the essential camping and backpacking gear is to consider the equipment you are going to need before making your purchase. This will save you time, money and keep you safe when out and about. Most of the stores offer a complete selection of gear, whether you are looking for lightweight camping or backpacking or heavy duty hiking and backpacking gear.

Edible & Poisonous Plants of the Eastern States – Cards Review

I purchased these little flash cards from a seller on ebay about 3 years ago, but I couldn’t find them on there as I wrote this.  They are available HERE, however for about $8 which is pretty much what I payed for them.

These aren’t playing cards – they’re just wild edible flash cards.  They are playing card sized however, and I’ve seen a version that are playing cards.  Having them serve the dual purpose of campsite entertainment makes sense to me, and I’ll probably pick up the playing card version eventually.

What I love about these cards is their convenience.  In a pack the size of a deck of cards, I have 52 high quality pictures of plants (44 edible and 8 poisonous) plus information on the flip-side including latin name, description and details, where to find/look for the plant, and how to use it.  Very useful.  For the most part, the pictures are of the plant when it’s at it’s most edible stage.

These are a great resource for a beginner.  The plants in the deck were chosen in part because they are easily identified and don’t have many poisonous look-alikes.  When I bought them, I knew nothing, and a few days later I was out finding edible plants.  I still run through the deck on occasion and find that I’m learning things when I do.  I’ve also used them to start teaching my oldest son (age 9) about wild edibles and I generally keep them handy on camping trips and long drives.  For the first year, I was grabbing these at least once a week to confirm my suspicions about a plant I encountered.

For kids in particular, I like these cards in part because there are a few plants on there that just about everyone who has ever stepped outside will recognize.  Dandelion and blackberry are notable examples.

Like all flashcards and other photo based plant identification resources, they have weaknesses:

  • At some point, you switch from learning to memorization and that’s a danger to be avoided.
  • The pictures, while remarkable, show the plants at only one stage of development – which is fine I guess … since the pictures are of the plant in its edible stage, the authors don’t want you to find that same plant in its non-edible stage.  On the other hand, if you’re trying to get to know the plants in your yard – you’ll have no idea that some of the plants in these cards are in your yard as well unless you catch them at exactly the right stage.
  • Because you’re learning from pictures instead of real plants, it’s hard to capture the nuances that make this particular plant the one you seek and not a lookalike.
  • I’ve learned in the past couple of years that plants look significantly different in different areas of the country.  The Pokeweed I encountered in Florida for example was almost unrecognizable to me.  Some of it was at thick as my wrist and 10-15 feet tall.  Around here, it gets 5 feet tall and finger thick at best.  Differences in scale like that will throw someone fairly easily.  In this deck, the pictures of cattail are interesting in the same way.  The fluffy end is narrow and conical in these pics.  Around here, they’re thick and cylindrical.

Would I recommend this product?  Wholeheartedly.  This deck has been a great resource to have around.  The same company also makes Edible Plants of the Western States, Knot Playing Cards, Survival Playing Cards, and Staying Alive in the Arctic (a pocket sized manual).  I don’t have any experience with any of those, but I like these cards enough that I’d probably pick them up if I encountered them.

In case you have trouble finding them or want more information – let me put up some info about the maker (taken from one of the cards they threw in):

Maker: Plant Deck, Inc., Lake Oswego, OR 97305 – (503) 636-6254

Copyright 1973 by Frank G. Heyl & Calvin P. Burt.

I have the 3rd Printing – made in 2000.

What I’ve learned blogging for three years…

When I started blogging more than three years ago, I knew very little about anything survival related.  Sure, I had some basic knowledge from the Army, but in case no one has told you, the Army doesn’t really teach much in the way of wilderness skills.  I also had some knowledge from Cub Scouts and I’d been fishing a time or two.  Worst of all, I thought I knew something.  I really considered myself an outdoor enthusiast. 

On the preparedness front, I was so unprepared to take care of my family in an emergency that it would be comical if it wasn’t so horrifying in retrospect.  Worst of all, I knew how unprepared I was and I didn’t know how to fix it.

Fast-forward to today and I can make fire from sticks (occasionally), pick a good basecamp, build a sturdy shelter with little more than a knife, purify water, identify many edible and medicinal plants (and know where to look for them), and I’ve developed some rudimentary hunting and tracking skills.  Plus, I can clean and dress game, filet a fish, and I can cook damned near anything over coals.  I’ll admit that I am still a really lousy fisherman (but I’m learning and I understand why I’m awful now).  Most importantly, I know what I don’t know (and there is still a lot) and I have confidence in the skills I do have. 

On the preparedness side, my family and I now have a good stock of food, a way to get fresh water reliably, lots of supplies for bugging in or bugging out, a cash reserve, the beginnings of a really productive garden, and most importantly – a plan.  We still have a long way to go, but we know where we’re going and how to get there.

I’ve had some truly great teachers, some of whom are like rock stars to me except that I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting (like Green Deane).  Others who are celebrities in my world that I’ll probably never get to meet (like Ray Mears).  I’ve found knowledge in places I’d never have thought to look, and I’ve learned a lot about where this country came from and where it’s headed.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people in this country and elsewhere whose paths almost certainly never would have crossed mine otherwise.  From them, and with a lot of effort and study on my part, I’ve learned skill after skill …

What’s funny to me is that all of these skills would have been plain old common sense less than a century ago and now I’m one of a small minority of Americans who possess them.  Am I bragging? No.  I realize I’m still a babe in the woods compared to a lot of people out there.  Am I proud? You bet.  If nothing else, my family will not starve because I’ve taken the time to learn to feed them.  But – and this is the point of this whole post – I could never have done it by myself.

So I want to end this post by thanking everyone who has ever contributed a comment to my blog, chatted with me in the Preppers Chat Room, exchanged emails with me, or put up an article on their own site or a youtube video that has led me to more knowledge.  You may have saved my life one day, or that of one of my children, or my wife.  That’s a gift I can never hope to repay.

Thanks!

There’s a lot to come from this blog in the near future, so keep checking back.  Subscribe via feed, email, or however.  Become a Facebook fan, follow me on Twitter, or send me an email.  However you want to connect, please connect.  That’s the real value in all of this.

Mountain House Emergency Meal Review

I’m always on the lookout for good trail grub as well as good bugout options.  Mountain House consistently puts out some pretty good products, but I’d never seen this one before, so I gave it a whirl.

My main complaint with Mountain House is usually serving size.  The food quality, except for the scrambled eggs, is just fine.  The Beef Stew and the Granola with Blueberries are actually very tasty.  But to me, the serving size for all of the lunch/dinner entrees except for the Pro-Pak meals is too large.  I can never eat the whole thing and then I’ve got a storage/disposal/potential varmint problem – plus I’m wasting food.  I don’t like wasting food.  I think this is an unusual complaint because many of the reviews I read on Mountain House say the portions are too small.  I tend to eat several small meals a day instead of 3 larger ones.  I’ve been that way forever.  The regular size (Serves 2) meals are just way too big for me, even on days when I’ve hiked 10-12 miles and my body is screaming for calories.

The Pro-Pak meals, on the other hand, are the perfect size for me and I like that they’re vacuum sealed and take up less space, but they usually cost $7-8 per meal around here and 90% of the time I can only find Chili Mac or Beef Stew.  That’s just not cost effective, especially when I can make my own meal for just a few bucks and improve on both the food quality and the taste using my trusty dehydrator and vacuum sealer.

Well, the other day, I was at a local camping store – Rusted Moon Outfitters – and stumbled across Mountain House Emergency Meals (pictured above).  I’d never seen these for sale anywhere before, and I can’t find them on the Mountain House site now. But, the store had  3 varieties: Chicken & Rice, Beef Stroganoff, and Chili Mac.  I’m not a big fan of Chicken & Rice as a rule, and nothing will ever beat the Chili Mac I make at home for camping, so I went with the Stroganoff.

Here is what it looked like before cooking.

Here is what it looked like after cooking.

  • Taste: Not bad.  Nothing offensive.  The mushroom flavor really comes out – maybe even too much.
  • Texture: A bit mushy for me.  The egg noodles have no discernible texture at all and at times it felt like I was eating a can of cream of mushroom soup.  The beef, however, at least had some substance to it.  For stroganoff, it wasn’t bad at all – just a bit mushy.
  • Serving Size: Perfect for lunch for one.
  • Price: $4.50 per meal.  I can still do it better and cheaper at home, but these store longer come in better packaging and give me the ability to just “go” without planning much ahead of time.  The price is right on these.
  • Preparation: Tear open the bag, remove the oxygen absorber, add 1 cup of boiling water to the bag, stir, zip-up and wait 8-9 minutes.  Couldn’t be much easier than that.
  • Nutrition: 320 Calories, 12g or protein, and 37g of carbs.  10% of RDA for Iron, Vitamin C, and Calcium.  4% RDA of Vitamin A.  I’d actually like to see it a bit more calorie dense.  For a long day of intense hiking, I’m usually looking to put around 500 calories into my body at meal times.  I could (and do) augment with nuts, berries, jerky and so on.
  • Packability: Very good.  Package is maybe 6×8×1 when full, but you could pack two of them in that same space because the bulk of that 1″ is in the bottom half … so just put two together, with one upside down and you’ve got two meals in a 6×8×1 space.  The packaging is not burnable or biodegradable, so you do need to pack it out, but it’s easy enough to use one of the bags as a trash bag for the other meals you eat – and it has a sturdy zip-loc closure to make sure it doesn’t get crap all over your pack.  Stroganoff was 2.47 oz (70g) Net wt, but the bag weight .55 oz (15g), so you’re at about 3oz altogether.  Not bad at all for a meal.

All together, I like this product – even though I’m not a fan of this particular variety.  If I see them again, I will buy a few.  It’s an all around good option for me for both hiking and the bugout bag.

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