Outdoor Backpack | Cheap Hiking Backpacks Will Ruin Your Hike

outdoor backpack
Your Backpack Has A Great Responsibility On Your Hike

An outdoor backpack can make or break (literally) your hiking experience.  Experienced backpackers will attest to the fact that the quote we’ve all heard; “You get what you pay for” is very true.  That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on a hiking bag. But before you shop at a big box store for a lesser quality backpack, here are the features and important qualities in a durable hike pack that matter the most.  These factors could mean the difference between a great hiking experience and a nightmare on the trail.

Backpack Choices Can Be Confusing; It Need Not Be

Choosing a backpack for your hiking needs can be a daunting task.  There are so many different types and styles that it can be overwhelming to get it right.  You should relax in the knowledge that as you gain more hiking experience, your needs may change along the way.  But some factors will remain consistently important when you decide on a hiking pack.  Knowing these key factors will help your selection process go more smoothly.

Hikers, Don’t Get Bogged Down With Bells And Whistles; Keep It Simple

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Durability Will Make Your Hiking Bag Last

Outdoor backpack choices can be narrowed down to quality as the key component for insuring your safety and comfort. In any product choice, quality construction usually means costing more in dollars, but doesn’t it make more sense to spend a little more money up front, than to waste money on a cheaply made hiking bag that will not perform to your needs on the hike? It will cost you more in the long run, not just in money, but in time, physical discomfort and worry when your lower-priced backpack falls apart in the middle of a great adventure.

The best places to shop would be physical or online stores that focus on outdoor products, like Naturetrailbackpacks.com.  There you will find the best hiking backpacks because these stores are focused on providing goods to serious hikers and campers.  Have you ever gone shopping for an appliance, a special dress or a Now that you know where to shop, exactly what qualities are the most important things to look for?

The Good Fit Of Your Backpacking Backpack Is Paramount

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and a quality trekking backpack can be adjusted to fit comfortably, even when it’s fully loaded. With proper weight balance, you should practically forget you are even wearing it.  Trying a hiking bag on isn’t possible when shopping online, but a good backpack will be fully adjustable to your upper body, sternum and hips. If it has a hip belt, you can adjust it to sit on your hips and move with your gait as you hike.  The strap for your sternum should be moveable and offer superior support to your shoulders. You should be able to move your shoulders inward, outward, up and down to adjust that fitting.

Frame Style And Adjustable Suspension Affect Backpackers Comfort

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Comfort Will Play A Role In A Successful Hike

Your outdoor backpack choice should have a fully adjustable suspension system to accommodate the length of your back, since that size is different from person to person. If the straps rub against you, they need to be adjusted to avoid discomfort as you hike. The buckles should be highly resilient and constructed well. Cheaper backpacks lack this feature which could be a key factor in your comfort on the trail. Rubbing means chafing which eventually will equal pain as you move.  

Most hikers choose the current style of an internal frame backpack.  The frame material should be lightweight and made of a good grade of metal. A backpack’s frame provides stability for your pack and helps aid you in carrying the pack. A large bulky frame will be much heavier and less comfortable. Also, the frame of the backpack helps keep you balanced as you trek.  It will ensure that your packed weight rests on your hips instead of your back, which will undoubtedly cause your back to hurt.

Straps Are A Hiker’s Best Friend For Stability

Check whether the backpack you are considering offers compression, sternum and waist straps. These will all help stabilize the pack weight to give you a better fit and provide more comfort. Padded shoulder straps are more desirable. Even if they are not completely padded, they should lay one to two inches below the high point of your shoulders.

Compression straps are of value to adapt the fit to your body size. These straps will eliminate your hiking bag from flopping around as you hike when it’s not completely filled.  Sternum straps provide some extra stability for carrying a large load. If you are hiking for more than a half day, you should use a padded hip belt for better cargo weight distribution, which will also help save your back from pain.

Backpackers; You Can Always Add On

Many support straps can be added as a separate item to a backpack that does not already have them. The important thing is that you get a pack with a sternum strap already on it. If you really love a hiking bag without one, you can buy one to avoid strain on your shoulders. This strap will create a more comfortable experience on a longer trek because it will add stability. Keep in mind that straps vary in design and performance.  Straps get lots of wear and tear, so they need to stand up to the task. Your straps should be easily adjustable to your body size and removal should not be difficult when taking your pack off.

Trekkers; Choose Durable Construction And Fabric In A Hiking Backpack

outdoor backpack
Choose A Backpack With Sturdy Fabric

The outdoor backpack material most widely used is either nylon or polyester.  Heavier fabrics like canvas also make a durable hiking bag.  Heavy denier nylon fabric is very strong. 600D (denier) is a polyester fabric. 1,000D (denier) is a nylon fabric. Know the fabric your potentail new hiking pack is made of. Things like multiple loose threads, raw fabric edges or uneven stitching are signs of a cheaply made backpack.  Although, any item can have a loose thread here or there, you will want to make sure it’s not excessive.

Heavy duty metal zippers should be strong with adequate stitching to keep them in place without ripping.  If you grossly over pack your bag, you are stressing the fabric and zippers. If you have a cheaply made pack, your hiking bag won’t be the only thing stressed when the contents sill from a broken zipper. Choosing a durable bag will allow for some stress, but overdoing it is never advised. You may want to consider plastic zippers because modern plastics are highly durable, often more so than metal. Cheap plastic is fairly easy to spot, so it’s wise to avoid that product.

An outdoor backpack with a mesh backing is very comfortable, especially when you hike in the hotter months.  Even in cooler weather, with the load on your back, you’ll tend to sweat more and your skin will appreciate the ventilation from a mesh backing. Mesh padded shoulder straps are also a cooling feature. You’re most likely to find these amenities on better quality backpacks.

Hikers; Look For Multiple Organization Pockets

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Pockets, Loops And Straps, Oh My!

It’s all about the pockets for some trekkers.  You’ll discover that being organized with both exterior and interior pockets on a hiking pack will make life easier on the trail.  There is nothing worse than just throwing stuff into a main compartment and having to rummage through it all when you’re looking for something specific during your hike.  Items you’ll need quick access to should have a place on the outside of your pack, such as sunscreen, bear spray, water, a compass, and your wallet etc.

Your Backpack Should Have A Water Bottle Pocket

Your water bottle is something that should have its own flexible pocket to easily remove your bottle and put it back without breaking your stride or having to take your backpack on and off just to hydrate.  Some backpacks come with their own inner sleeve compartment that carries a water bladder with a drinking tube system. If you buy one that has this, trust me, you will still want that water bottle pocket for a single bottle to carry Gatorade or something other than water for hydration. It works even better if that pocket has a drawstring to secure your bottle as you move.  Look for a backpack that has a small opening at the side of the pack to allow for the drink tubing to come out and reach over your shoulder.  Most backpacks don’t come with the water bladder, which is usually sold separately.

If you choose a hiking pack with a hip belt, they often have pockets that are great for small items that you want to get to fast such as your cell phone, a snack or some first aid items.  Larger pockets are handy for items such as your trowel, a rain cover, or a jacket. In addition to pockets, a few external straps and loops always come in handy. Even if you don’t use them every time, you’ll find yourself relying on them to carry odd shaped items and things you’ve rinsed out that need drying, and most likely your rubbish bag.

Miscellaneous Hiking Backpack Features That Make Your Pack Efficient

Hiking Packs; Features That Matter

Some backpacks have an integrated rain cover. This cover is usually attached within a separate pocket at the bottom of the pack. It’s very convenient to just pull it out as needed during a sudden rain storm, plus you don’t have to remember to pack a separate cover. If you have to buy a separate rain cover, make sure that it properly covers your whole backpack. Some even have cut-outs to fit over the hip belt, so that it stays in place when you carry it.

An outdoor backpack hike may not be over even once you set up your tent to camp for the night.  You may want to explore your surroundings while you have daylight without lugging your entire backpack with you. That’s when you’ll be glad you have a small day pack with you. That way, you can unpack it and load some water, a snack, sunscreen, some TP, and a few essentials with you for a quick jaunt.

Backpack Hikers; Choose Your New Hiking Bag Carefully

If you are spending hours or days in the wilderness, make sure the craftsmanship of the pack you choose is up to the challenge of the outdoor elements.  A school backpack is not meant to be outdoors for any length of time or under harsh weather conditions and therefore, it is no where near the same quality as an outdoor hiking pack.

If you take the process of finding your hiking backpack seriously, you’ll most likely be happy with your choice. The staff at Nature Trail Backpacks is happy to answer any of your questions by phone or within a comment below. We would love to assist you in finding the best hiking backpack to fit your needs. Stick to the basics outlined in this article and you won’t go wrong. Happy hiking!

Hiking Bag | 5 Body Benefits From Backpack Hiking

hiking bag
Couch Potatoes Aren’t Cool

Hiking bag trail hikes will do your body ten times more good than lying around on the couch playing video games. Regardless of your age, a body in motion stays in motion. If you aren’t the person who wants to get up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym before work, why not consider being the person who enjoys nature and realizes that hiking is not a tedious exercise. If you need more convincing, here are five ways your body benefits from just a 90 minute day hike three times per week which will make you healthier without boredom.

Hiking ; Your Heart Will Get A Cardio Workout

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Hiking Is Merely Walking With A Backpack

Hiking bag trips, whether short or long, will do great things for your heart. Treadmills are a big yawn fest, but hiking on a nature trail is so much more adventurous and rewarding. Often, people freak out when they have to do cardio exercise. It’s designed to speed up your heart rate and improve blood flow. Can you imagine how your car would perform if you only drove it once a week at 30 MPH? Your heart is an engine also, it needs to be used and it needs to pushed a bit to increase your heart rate.

We’re not talking about uphill climbs for hours that leave you breathless. Even a short hike on a regular basis 3-5 times per week will produce cardiac benefits. It can even reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and help to prevent type II diabetes. If you use trekking poles while hiking, digging into the ground and propelling yourself forward will help produce better cardio results because it pushes your upper body muscles to work harder.

Bones, Muscles And Joints Gain Strength From Backpack Treks

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Hiking Strengthens Bones, Joints and Muscles

Women and men older than age 20 can help prevent bone loss with regular hiking.  It helps maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance.  Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to movement by becoming stronger. If you start hiking as exercise as a young adult, you’ll  achieve greater peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) than those who do not. Your bone mass typically peaks during your thirties. After that time, you can begin to lose bone strength. Weight bearing exercise, such as hiking with a backpack is ideal. Your backpack is your means of carrying essentials such as food, water, sunscreen, a jacket and a few first aid items. Just a few pounds will force you to work against gravity. It adds strength to your bones and can increase bone mass to prevent osteoporosis.

A hiking bag jaunt will also help your joints and muscles. Even a short hike a few times per week will compress and release the cartilage in your knees and will help your circulation of synovial fluid. This brings oxygen and nourishment to your joints and removes inflammatory waste products. Preventing arthritis can be achieved with hiking, but even people with arthritis can realize great benefit from hiking. Any weight loss achieved from hiking takes stress off hip and knee joints. If you choose to hike mild uphill climbs, you’ll strengthen your quads and the muscles that stabilize your knees, protecting them from injury.

Trekking Will Help You Lose Weight Without Dieting

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Say No To Dieting And Hike Instead

A 175-pound person who hikes for two hours can burn 1,100 calories, provided the terrain is hilly. A 200-pound adult will burn around 546 calories while hiking for an hour.  How long would you have to run on the treadmill or starve yourself to burn those calories? Obviously, eating junk food is never conducive to weight loss. But having plenty of water and sensible snacks on the trail, such as granola bars, fresh fruit or low calorie popcorn, will keep you full and satisfied during your hike. You will burn more calories than you take in, hence you should notice a weight loss if this is done on a regular basis. Hiking helps reduce belly fat as well as fat from other areas. It is a great fat burning form of exercise that doesn’t feel monotonous. Chances are, you’ll end up hiking because you love it, not just to lose weight.

Backpack Hiking Will Improve Your Mental Health

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Take Time For Yourself And Hike For Peace

Hiking in nature is good for the body, mind, and soul. Numerous studies prove there are multiple health benefits to hiking in nature. People who are afflicted with eating disorders, PSD, depression and anxiety have found relief in nature hikes. Walking in a natural environment reduces neural activity in the brain, which contributes to mental illness. It’s been found that urbanization has a direct link to depression, according to many studies. Those same subjects spent time outdoors where there were fewer mental stressors, less noise stimuli and fewer distractions. The results proved that brain activity associated with the views, smells and attractions of nature led to a more relaxed and calmer state of mind.

Hiking bag experiences in the great outdoors is powerful therapy when you consider the potential for meditation in a stress-free atmosphere. During a hiking backpack trip, you can make all the choices, such as how far to go, how fast you walk, what you look at and when you stop for a break. Overlooking a breathtaking landscape can give you pause and stop the commotion that normally exists in your mind. Our busy lives make us captive to electronics, work, kids and schedules, all leading to stress and frustration to be the best parent, spouse, housekeeper, cook, and leader. There’s no better gift you can give yourself than outdoor time on a nature hike to re-charge your battery and let your mind stop trying to figure everything out. It has also been found that children with ADHD have a positive experience when taken backpack hiking per this study; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448497/

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Kids Will Enjoy Backpack Hiking

Hiking Can Be A Mood-Lifting Social Time

A hiking bag solo trip can be an incredible experience for a spiritual and revitalizing experience. However, many hikers look forward to sharing the natural excursion with friends, family or a significant other. Hiking and camping in a beautiful setting can truly be romantic. Getting friends together or joining groups that hike can lead to great socializing with other backpacking enthusiasts. It could mean the difference between a weekend home alone and bored, or a fun experience in the mountains, forest or local hiking trail. You can find groups in your area simply by an internet research of hiking groups in your town or state.

Hikers Are Outdoor Lovers Who Thrive In Nature

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Hiking With Friends Is Loads Of Fun

Hiking and relishing the outdoors makes all the difference.  Save the gym for rainy days and sub zero weather. Fellow hikers would love to hear about your experiences with health benefits since learning to hike.  Help someone else by commenting below about your successes and viewpoints on hiking for health.  The staff at Nature Trail Backpacks will answer any questions you have and we welcome you to take a peek at our inventory of hiking backpacks to help you get started and choose the right one for your needs. Happy hiking for your health!

Backpacking Backpack; 5 Dangerous Hiking Elements You Can Conquer

backpacking backpack
Injuries Can Happen During A Hike

Your backpacking backpack trip; you want to be safe, right? Treks are not always carefree. Like anything else in life, the most enjoyable times can be met with circumstances beyond out control. Hiking is basically loved by men and women of all ages and physical levels.  But let’s face it, you are entering the wilderness of nature, you should be ready for situations that may be threatening. Here are 5 helpful suggestions on how to handle dangerous elements in the great outdoors if they happen to you.

Lightening Can Be Fatal To Hikers

Don’t Be In Open Spaces Watching Lightning

Knowledge eliminates fear, so it makes total sense to get educated to the natural dangers within nature. Lightening is very risky, but knowing the precautions to take will keep you safe. If you familiarize yourself with storm signals and recognizing lightening endangerment, you will not have to be a victim to direct lightening strikes.

Backpacking Backpack Dangers; Lightening Safety “Do’s”

A backpacking backpack trek sometimes brings storms with lightning. While it is awesome to view the beauty of a lightening show and thunder echoing throughout the sky, lightening is the most natural deadly phenomena on our planet.  Hikers are particularly vulnerable from being outdoors in all kinds of weather.  With summer being the most popular hiking season, backpack hikers must be aware that this season is the most active for storms producing lightening.

Always check the current and active weather conditions for the place you will be hiking. Stay on top of sudden storms approaching and unexpected changes in the atmosphere. At the first sign on lightning, head to low ground and look for a low- lying valley or depression. Crouch down with your weight on the balls of the feet, with your feet together and head lowered with ears covered.

Your backpacking backpack adventure will be safer during lightning if you don’t lie flat on the ground. Covering your ears will prevent acoustic shock from thunder. If you are hiking with a friend or in a group, separate yourselves 25 feet apart in safe areas as mentioned.

Safest Position During A Lightning Storm

Find shelter in clumps of shrubs or trees that are similar size and height. Be aware that tents, lean-to’s and sheds are not safe places to avoid lightening strikes. Move any metal at least 100 feet from you such as framed backpacks, trekking poles and bear canisters. Remain in your safe terrain for 30 minutes after you observe the last episode of lightening and/or thunder.

For more detailed research information, http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/ploutdoor.htm  makes great reading material info from the National Lightning Safety Institute.

Backpack Trekking ; Storm “Don’ts” To Pay Attention To

Backpacking backpack hiking treks should never be attempted by inexperienced hikers without some level of knowledge and education gained first.  The internet is a vast wealth of information, tips and clues on handling many wilderness situations, such as terrain, weather, and shelter from lightening. Don’t head off unprepared. Hikers should never stand under lone large trees, which are many times the target of a lightning strike.

Don’t ignore hearing thunder, even if it’s in the distance and the sky above you is perfectly blue, because you’ll have no idea how fast a storm is moving in your direction, sometimes without notice.

Backpack Hikers; Don’t Lie Down In Your Tent

Backpacking backpack hikers; don’t stay in your tent lying on the ground, especially if you are in an open area. You should be sitting up, crouching on the balls of your feet, with feet together like the image above. IF you decide to stay in your tent. Sleeping bags and mats are not enough insulation from ground charges.  Tent poles are often metal, therefore should not be touched. 

If lightning strikes your tent, there is a chance the current will be conducted by the wetness of your tent or its poles (if metal). This will make the current go around you instead of thru you to the ground and possibly cause a fire, causing you to evacuate the tent and risk a direct hit outside while seeking other shelter.

Be aware and don’t ignore shifts in weather patterns and approaching storms. Descend from higher elevations, peaks and ridges at first sign of any sign of approaching weather. Thunderstorms with accompanying lightening typically develop in early afternoon, so you may want to plan your hikes earlier in the day.

Backpacking backpack campers, don’t be afraid to help a victim of a lightning strike.  Eighty percent of lightning strike victims survive the shock. Victims do not retain an electric charge and are therefore safe to handle with immediate CPR if they are not breathing. If you, or another victim experience an electrical burn, use first aid methods typical of any other burn on the skin.

Backpack hiking excursions can be safe from lightning strikes by simple education and preparedness.  Don’t short change yourself by failing to become familiar with how to handle lightning during your hiking experience.

Through experience, speaking to forest rangers and researching questions, if you have confidence in dealing with wildlife exposures, you won’t fear the encounters nearly as much.  Fear always stems from the unknown.  The best way to conquer that is to arm yourself with answers before you take your hiking backpack trip, especially in regions you are unfamiliar with.

Hiker Tips; Animal Encounters In The Wild

Do You Know Your Animal Poop?

During a backpacking backpack hike, be on the lookout for animal tracks and droppings.  Experience will teach you how to identify threatening presence of wildlife to avoid.  There are many guides online to help you learn, with photos, various scat identification. There’s some helpful info here at https://www.discoverwildlife.com/how-to/identify-wildlife/how-to-identify-animal-droppings/

If you approach or see a wild animal from a distance, slowly back away and keep eyes on the animal at all times.  Running out of fear signals to the animal that you are fair prey for them to charge after.  If your escape causes you to trip and fall, now you could be adding an injury, possibly with blood, that will attract animals all the more.

Your backpacking backpack trek, may have you accidentally come around the trail bend and scare an animal who was not aware of your approach. Most wildlife naturally avoids humans. It’s important to remain calm.  One way to avoid this scenario is to make noise to warn the animal of your presence.  In most cases they will run away from you, especially if they have cubs. Some hikers attach bear bells to their hiking backpack, but your voice is truly more effective.

Dealing With Grizzly Bears While Backpack Trekking

While hiking in grizzly bear country, most hikers carry bear spray in the water bottle pocket of their hiking bag, or another easy to get at pocket.  It’s not enough to just carry it, you must know how to use it correctly and confidently, not while in a panic situation. It is recommended to use short 1-2 second bursts. The spray can only travel up to 25 feet for a total of 7 seconds.  

While backpacking backpack hiking, how do you know if it’s a grizzly? Look to see if the bear has a visible hump on its neck. If so, it’s a grizzly. If the bear sees and starts to approach you or displays aggressive behavior like slapping the ground with its paw or snorting, get your bear spray out and remove the safety lock to be prepared. Aim the spray just below the head, so when the bear gets lower to charge, it will run through the cloud of bear spray, deterring the bear from the attack. Then continue to slowly retreat as far away as you can without running.

If the bear ends up making contact, your smartest move is to play dead. Use your hands to protect the back of your neck. Lay down on your stomach and spread your legs wide, which will help stop the bear from turning you over onto your back.

Check your hiking locale before your trip because in places like Yosemite National Park, bear spray is illegal, while its acceptable in Canada, Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. Learn proper storage methods of food and hygiene items, and cooking procedures if you are in black bear or grizzly bear country. You should follow proper storage guidelines to reduce the potential for wildlife encounters with bears. Complete information is available here.

To significantly reduce wildlife encounters with bears, follow and participate in the Leave No Trace principles

Trekkers; Prevent Snake Encounters On Your Excursions

Rattlesnakes Can Present A Problem

Snakes, particularly rattlesnakes are typically seen in the South, Southwest, Rockies and California. Knowing what to do if you encounter a snake could mean the difference between getting bit or not. Keep in mind that a snake can strike a distance of half of their length. If they are coiled, you will not be able to determine their length, so once you see one, stay far back and continue to back away, which will make the snake feel less threatened and allow them to proceed on. 

During backpacking backpack hikes, if you hear a rattler, stop immediately and see if you can visually locate the snake.  The rattle is your warning to stay away.  It helps both of you avoid a bite. Remember to not wear ear buds while hiking because you would not hear that warning rattle in time to get away from the snake.

Among all the wildlife encounters possible, snakes generally are the ones to give a fairly loud warning to unwelcome visitors.

Hikers; What Happens If You Get A Snake Bite?

Backpacking backpack trekkers; your first instinct will be to panic. Try not to do that because an elevated heartbeat and movement are not going to get you through this situation. Hopefully you saw the kind of snake that bit you so that it can be reported when you get medical attention. Check to see if the skin is broken.

If you discover the bite on your arm or hand, do not elevate it or apply a tourniquet. Try to immobilize the area and stay stationary.  Call for help on your phone or SOS communication device. Studies show even venom kits may fail to work, so they are not totally reliable. It’s best to try and text a ranger station or first responder phone number that you should always carry with you for similar situations while on your trek. They will recommend staying calm and letting your immune system fight for you, while you try and relax.  Maybe knowing just because you were bitten, doesn’t mean you were injected with venom.  It’s more probable that you did, and treating it as suck is a wiser move.

Trying to “cut” the poison out is most likely too late and you could further damage yourself with a knife. No cutting and sucking the venom, which is outdated protocol. Do not apply ice either, even though it will help pain, you don’t want blood flow to that area compromised. Get help as soon as possible.  You can walk if you’re bitten on the hand. Put your arm in a make shift sling to immobilize it better.

The Mighty Mountain Lion

Mountain Lions And Cougars On The Hiking Trip

Backpacking backpack hikers may encounter mountain lions in the Western United States & Canada. Similar to bear country, noise is your best friend in keeping mountain lions and cougars away.  Check for cougar tracks, fresh poop and claw marks on trees.  When these things are identified, there’s an indication that a cougar lives in the area.  Whenever hiking with pets, keep them on a leash and consider heading back to your car if you see evidence of a mountain lion or cougar in your hiking space. Smaller children should also stay close to their parents.

Cougars and mountain lions are rather elusive and rarely make themselves known to humans. These big cats are similar to bears, so your approach need to be big and noisy, without making the cat feel trapped and has a way to move away from you.   Maintaining eye contact with these cats invokes dominance on your part.

 If your kids are hiking with you, put them in the middle of your group.  If you feel an attack is imminent, act aggressive with noise and throwing large objects like rocks or branches.  Aim for the cat’s eyes and head during your fight, all the while keeping eye contact with the animal.

Backpackers; Moose Live in Many U.S. States

Moose Are Prevalent In Many States

When backpacking backpack hiking, you’ll come across moose in Canada & Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming.  They are a huge animal, so you will most likely see them before they spot you.

How To Handle A Moose Encounter While Hiking

Backpacking backpack expeditions could find you face to face with a moose.  They may not appear all that threatening but hikers can get injured by a moose especially if she has a calf.  The average moose weighs well over 1,000 pounds. If you see one, give it plenty of room so they don’t feel trapped or challenged.  Keep your distance and make lots of noise so the moose knows your location.  Signs of aggression to look out for are the ears back, hair raised, grunting and stomping. If you suspect the moose is getting aggressive, this is the only animal you should run from, quickly! You can then hide behind a tree, a big rock or whatever large stationary object you can put between you and the moose.

Trekkers; Keep Your Distance From Bobcats

Bobcats, sometimes called wildcats, are a nocturnal animal, which  are rarely spotted by humans. They tend to roam throughout much of North America and live in forests, swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas. Twice as big as a house cat, they have long legs, very large paws and tufted ears.  They are brownish red or all brown with a white underbelly. Their tails are short and black-tipped, hence their name, as in “bobbed” tail.  It’s screams in the night can be heard for miles.

Bobcat On The Hiking Trail

Just because you don’t often see them, hikers should be aware that they are a consummate predator.  If they are deprived of their natural prey, they will eat livestock and pets for food. Make sure you protect your children and pets.  This animal requires backing away slowly, make lots of noise and stay calm.  They rarely attack humans, but they could be rabid so you must notify medical staff of any injury you may receive from a bobcat.

Change in Weather Conditions; Hikers Take Notice

Storm Clouds Approaching

A Backpacking backpack trip that starts out sunny and cloudless can turn into a bad storm in a matter of minutes. The biggest mistake a hiker can make is not being prepared. Warm days can become cold and a brief rain storm can swiftly turn into a thunder and lightning episode. Do yourself a favor and ALWAYS be prepared for frequent and sudden changed in weather patterns throughout your hike.

Research Weather Conditions Before Your Hike

Always check on trail conditions and weather predictions for the day before, day of, and day after your hike. When they say “chance of shower” pack some rain gear.  Check with rangers at the trail head for any weather updates. It is beneficial for hikers to learn how to read clouds, not just the type, but how fast they are moving.  You’ve most likely heard weather reports that refer to “cumulus” clouds that are white and fluffy like cotton.  Anvil clouds signify, not just rain, but also a thunderstorm approaching. They are large with a flat top.  Clouds reveal a lot about impending weather, so it is advised to learn about the four major types of clouds and what they signify.  https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/corefour can help you learn them.

Pack For ALL Kinds Of Weather Scenarios

Bring extra clothing for hotter or colder weather, especially if mountain hiking.  Carry a pop up tent in your backpack in case you get stuck on your hike overnight.  Pack extra food and water, all-weather matches, a head lamp or flashlight and a whistle (which should always be attached to every backpack.) These safety items should not add much weight to your hiking pack and could be life saving.

Hiking Backpackers; When In Doubt, Abort Your Hike

During backpacking backpack exploring, be realistic about your hiking goals. You may be set on reaching a particular summit by sundown or conquering a descent in record time, but your life is not worth the kudos.  Instead, use good judgment and don’t let your ego put you in a dangerous situation unnecessarily.  Consider your fatigue level and changes in trail conditions when thinking you can make it quicker than you will be able to in order to avoid a storm.

Wind is another powerful indicator of changing weather conditions, so you need to pay attention to it. Wind shifts are created when there is a change in the atmosphere. Whenever you notice cumulus clouds that turn vertically and darken, it’s not wise to hike toward summits or open ridge tops.  Try to remember that nature is a matter of balance.  Regions of excess move toward those of deficit. Whenever warm air rises, air pressure drops.  The earth is continually attempting to balance our air pressure with stability plus hot and cold.

Hikers; What Does It Mean When Air Pressure Drops?

In addition to wind and clouds, be aware of a dropping of barometric pressure.  This identifies a potential storm brewing.  Many hikers carry an altimeter which measure barometric pressure.  As altitude increases, atmospheric pressure decreases. A barometric altimeter is a pretty simple device, and many multi-function sports watches and survival knives have this feature. You’ll find that the altimeter is very useful because it helps to identify your location when used with a topographic map. Be sure to always check the altitude reading to a known altitude printed on a map or trail marking.

Keep in mind that barometric pressure changes with the weather and therefore must be re-calibrated every so often when the altitude is known. Most wilderness areas display the altitude at various trail junctions or atop mountain peaks. F.Y.I, GPS altimeters tend to be less accurate when hiking in areas that have a weak satellite signal, or when you are hiking in areas such as gorges or canyons.

Nature Has Its Own Way To Measure Barometric Pressure

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Look For Weather Changes While Hiking

If you don’t own a device to check air pressures, you can turn to nature in the following ways for clues:

When the air begins to thin, you’ll notice that birds will have a tendency to fly much lower to the ground right before rain.  You may notice an increased sense of smell with the air in damp areas being more odorous and resembling the smell of compost. This is due to the fact that swamps and plants release gases as air pressure decreases. You may tend to feel rain approaching in your joints or with notable sinus pressure.

Trekkers; Turn To The Sky For Weather Clues When You Camp

If you notice a ring or halo effect around the moon, rain is forthcoming. Favorably, when you can see the dark part of a crescent moon, the next 24-48 hours will be favorable weather.  If the moon’s face is red, you can expect rain. It is fascinating to learn that the red color is due to the presence of dust being pushed ahead of a low-pressure front.  This will surely bring in moisture.

If you count the number of stars contained within the ring of the moon, you can fairly accurately predict how long away the rain will be. Each brighter star represents 24 hours, while the fainter stars mean 12 hours till rain.

Hike Enthusiasts; Check Out The Sun

You may have heard the quote “red sky at night, hikers delight; red sky at morning, hikers take warning.”  While this information can be a guide, don’t confuse a red sky with a red sun when you awake.  The sun can be red and the sky will be blue, which will mean fair weather.  A rainbow or white band around the sun indicates a drastic change in the weather within 12-24 hours. If the weather is currently clear, plan on stormy weather, however, if it’s a dreary day, plan on clearer weather.

Other clues are; a rainbow in the morning toward the west will mean approaching rain, and a rainbow at sunset indicates rain is leaving your area and fair weather is on the way. During a campfire, you may notice that the smoke hovers closer to the ground for the same reason.

Backpackers; Check Out Animal Behavior

Thinning of the air will cause insects and birds to fly lower to the ground. Flies, ants and spiders become more active when rain is impending. Most songbirds tend to sing less before a storm, although Robins often get more vocal before rainfall. Frogs, cicadas, and crickets get louder before rain.

Backpack Hikers; Plants Can Give Clues

Flowers bloom in fair weather and close up when rain is approaching. If you observe dew on the grass in the morning, it’s unlikely it will rain that day.  If the morning grass is dry, expect showers that afternoon.  Check out pine cones on the ground. During dry weather they will be stiff with their scales opened out. During dampness, the scales absorb moisture and will be flexible enough to bend.

Injury Or Illness During A Backpacking Trip

How To Handle Illness On The Hiking Trail

Backpacking backpack trekkers, once again, leave your ego at the trailhead.  Don’t pressure yourself to keep going at the risk of illness or injury just to prove something. Make a habit of always being careful to assess your risk before you try to get past it. Making decisions cautiously, with the understanding that you can always return when the conditions are better is the best rule of thumb. Prevention is always better than having to deal with dangerous circumstances to your health.

Ignorance Is NOT Bliss On The Hiking Trail

If you ignore the early signals of a potentially serious condition, such as hypothermia, heat exhaustion, or altitude sickness, chances are things will go downhill for that situation faster than you can descent. Yes, it’s annoying to deal with physical discomfort, but this is not the time to be bad ass and keep going.  Recognize the warning signs of outdoor illnesses and stop immediately to administer first aid at the very first sign. Don’t risk ignoring symptoms that could impair your ability to deal safely with any challenges as a result as you hike further. 

Taking a class to educate yourself is the absolute best prevention and confidence to handle situations that may arise for many hikers on the trail.Backpacker’s Wilderness offers an inline course to help you learn first aid basics. Click here: This self-paced online class covers assessing illness and injuries, making emergency response plans, and treating a variety of medical issues. 
If you experience shivering, loss of coordination, confusion, numbness, and apathy, it can indicate hypothermia.  Heavy sweating, flushed skin, a rapid pulse, nausea, and a headache while feeling especially thirsty may indicate heat exhaustion and dehydration.  Altitude sickness if you are above 8000 feet, has early signs of headache, appetite loss, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and irritability.

Coping With Strains & Sprains On Your Trek

Strains affect muscles while sprains involve ligaments and tendons.  These usually affect hikers’ ankles and knees. You will experience expect pain, swelling, or restricted range of motion, often after hearing a snap or pop. Because they require rest to heal, these injuries can be trip-enders. To prevent these occurrences, stretching before and after hikes, exercises to strengthen joints and staying fit will greatly help. Make sure you wear sturdy boots if you’re prone to rolled ankles, use trekking poles for balance and step carefully.

If you happen to sustain an injury, soak the injury in a cold river or lake, ice it with packed snow wrapped in clothing, or apply a cool, damp cloth as needed for short-term pain control.

Wrap in an elastic bandage (loosen if circulation is impaired). Massage and gently stretch muscular injuries. Elevate the limb above the heart during rest (about 20 minutes for a mild case; all night for a serious one).Evacuate if the affected limb is unusable.  

Don’t Ignore Stomach Upsets While Hiking

You may have stomach upset that you readily chock up to water bacteria (Giardia), but could also be more serious such as a GI infection or kidney stones.  It may be hard to pinpoint on the trail.  Learn to differentiate common symptoms from more serious clues.  Try alleviating abdominal pain by assuming the fetal position to relax abdominal muscles. Drink plenty of fluids and eat bland foods, such as crackers or pita bread.  If pain persists more than 12 hours, abort your hike and seek medical attention.

If stomach pain is more than just a crampy feeling, such as gas or period cramps and coincides with blood in the urine, feces, or vomit or a fever of 102°F or higher, get off the trail and head to the nearest ranger station. They can get you medical help.  Never try to self diagnose as all symptoms are not classic.

Eliminating bacterial or viral infections from water and food by using hot soapy water to clean dishes, your hands and surfaces you touch at camp.  Be super generous with hand sanitizer on dirt-free skin, including under your fingernails. Treat Rest and hydrate (drink when you’re thirsty; don’t skimp on the electrolytes), and wait it out (usually 24 to 48 hours).

Abdominal Pain, Vomiting And Diarrhea

If vomiting persists in spite of taking Pepto Bismol tablets (which should always be in your backpack) for more than 6 hours, and you can’t even keep water down, you are now at risk for severe dehydration.  Cut your hike short and get back to the trailhead.  If you are too weak to walk, use your phone or SOS measures to summons ranger help.

Toothaches & Other Teeth Issues

If you take a face first fall, or you get so ravenous you eat fast and hard, a bacterial dental infection can occur. Always check your food for windblown grit or sand before biting down.  I’ve had this happen!

If your fall causes you to lose a tooth, bite down on gauze to stop any bleeding, then flush your mouth with fresh water. Cover exposed nerves with a temporary “filling” of ski wax or gum. If you’re close to the trailhead, gently clean your tooth, place it back in its socket, and quickly get back to the trailhead.  You only have about an hour to save it.

Hiking In Cold Weather; Frostnip & Frostbite

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Hiking In Cold Weather Should Be Cautious

Whitish waxy skin and tingling feelings are signs of frost nip. Skin that feels hard and numb and dents with pressure, or is frozen solid, indicates frostbite.  Most vulnerable areas are your fingers, toes, and face.  If you are hiking with a partner, you can help rewarm the affected areas with skin-to-skin contact in your (or a partner’s) armpit or groin.

If you experience full frostbite symptoms, immerse the affected area in water just above 97 degrees until all numbness fades, then apply a bandage. Never rub frozen tissue or use heat from a fire or camp stove for thawing.  Burns can easily happen when you can’t feel your own skin.

Genito-urinary Symptoms When You Hike

Burning associated with urination most likely indicates a urinary tract infection which will only be eliminated with antibiotics.  However, Female burning and itching in the vaginal area is likely to be a yeast or bacterial infection.  If you are prone to either of these types of infections, you can pack Pyridium for UTIs, Monistat or another antifungal for yeast infections. 

If you don’t have medication with you, don’t allow symptoms to fester for more than a day without treatment, in which case you may have to cut your hike short before your condition worsens.  Prevention includes quick dry moisture-wicking undies and wet wipes for post sexual activity

Broken & Dislocated Bones On A Hiking Trip

Fractures are most common in the leg, ankle, or wrist if you take a fall. You may experience severe pain. Sprains and straining a muscle would be less painful. Dislocations usually affect the shoulder.  This will cause pain and restricted range of motion.  Whenever using trekking poles, exercise caution when scrambling. Leave your hands out of the wrist straps on the poles.

You shouldn’t attempt to pop a dislocation back in place. For a leg injury, place a foam or non-inflated sleeping pad under the leg. Pad the area under the leg with clothing; place a rolled-up item of clothing under the knee to keep it from locking out. Use at least two strips of cloth to secure the pad to your leg; one above and one below the knee.  Tie the pad’s extra length around the foot like a bootie, while supporting the ankle.

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Are You Physically Fit To Scramble Rocks?

Inflate the pad, if using a blow-up, being careful not to cut off circulation. If you can walk out, great, but don’t do it if the pain will make you pass out.  Call for help if you see bone break through skin or a limb at an odd angle, or if there’s no sensation or pulse below the injury.

Research the area you’ll be hiking and make sure you have experience in that terrain, such as rock scrambling, ice or creek and river crossings. Check with trail rangers to make sure conditions have not changed due to weather or flooding. Make sure your physical level of fitness is adequate enough to avoid falling or easy fatigue, which makes muscles weaker.

Enjoy Your Prepared And Planned Hike Safely

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Have A Wonderful Hike

Backpacking backpack trips can be safe and void of problems with preventative measures in place.  Sometimes unavoidable incidences happen, which the prepared hiker will be able to fix and continue their hike.  Isn’t that prevention worth spoiling your great hiking trip?  The folks at Nature Trail Backpacks readily accept and welcome your comments and suggestions below for fellow hikers to hike safely.  Check us out if you want to read more helpful hiking tips and grab yourself a new quality hiking pack.  Happy hiking!

Cool Backpacks | Hiking With Man’s Best Friend

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Having Fido Along Makes For A Great Hike

Cool backpacks mean exciting adventures for a hiker.  If you have a fur buddy you want to take along, because you do practically everything together, here‘s some advice that will increase the odds of a successful hiking experience for both you and your best friend on the trail.

Age, Fitness And Immunity; Key Trail Hiking Factors

It makes good common sense to only take your dog if he is fit and healthy. We’re not talking about puppies here, because they aren’t capable of carrying weight yet, and their bones are not fully developed.  They also need to build up their immune system first and get their shots during their first year.  Dogs that are used to long walks on different terrains should ace a hike with you without a problem.  However, if he’s just used to quick walks around the neighborhood streets to do his “business”, it is advisable to gradually build up the time spent walking and introduce different surfaces to him, such as crushed stone, rocks and dirt.

Easy Does It Initially On First Few Backpack Trips

Cool backpack trips should be eased into gradually just like you needed to build your stamina in your early hiking days. If you start out with an hour hike, you can assess at the end whether your dog seems exhausted, still raring to go, or somewhere in between with his energy level.  Adjusting the time you hike by his energy level, the next time you hit the trails, you can increase the time by 20-30 minutes with subsequent hikes thereafter.

Plan Ahead For Your Additional Hiking Companion

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Your Dog Will Enjoy A Hike If You Plan Properly

Environment instances should be explored before taking Fido on an overnight camping hike. Why not set your tent up in the backyard a few times and practice sleepovers in the wild at night?  Your tent should not be a one person pop up. Giving Fido some room will make for a more comfortable sleep for both of you. You’ll need to carry a foam pad and blanket for his bed. Make sure to trim his nails to prevent puncture holes in your tent floor.

 Outdoor sounds and nocturnal animal noises can startle a dog that is used to sleeping on your bed with doors and windows shut. If Fido hears anything outside your tent, he will become protective and start barking.  That may be a good thing if he scares an animal intruder away.

Just make sure you are not anywhere near grizzly bear territory on your backpack trip. Your dog’s barking and aggressive behavior will represent a challenge to a grizzly the bear, which he will not back down from.  Most likely it will make the bear more aggressive. An aggressive grizzly bear is not a good thing to encounter either on the trail or in your camp. Some places in Montana and around Glacier National Park do not allow dogs on the hiking/camping trail for this reason. It’s wise to check the area you’ll be hiking in to prevent disappointment for both you and Fido.

Dog Behavior Is Key; A Dog Who Obeys Orders Is Welcome On The Trail

Leave No Trace When Hiking With Your Dog

Planning cool backpacks treks, you’ll need to establish whether your dog, leashed or not, is allowed on the hiking trail. Make sure he follows your commands at all times, because the hiker is always responsible for the actions of his pet.   Trail etiquette should be followed to the letter.  Even though he is on a leash, he needs to be non-aggressive when other dogs pass by. You will be expected to yield to the right of way to other hikers, horses and bicycles by stepping off the trail as they pass by.

The Leave No Trace rule applies to humans and dogs. You’ll be required to bury Fido’s waste, just as you would your own, or double bag it for the return home if you are on a day hike. It’s incredibly rude to leave it bagged at the trailhead for someone else to pick up. Lead your dog away from water sources whenever possible when he urinates.  Urinating near camp will create a scent that will draw wild animals right to your tent.

Dogs Need Plenty Of Food And Water During A Long Hike

Keep Your Dog Well Hydrated During Your Hike

Hiking Water

If you are hiking where water sources are readily available, that is most ideal. You may want to bring along a small collapsible dish and share your fresh water. Make sure you bring enough for both of you so that neither of you get hydrated.  Don’t plan on just enough for you and sharing some with him.

Be aware of the water you let him drink.  Many hikers give their pets the same filtered water they drink to eliminate bacterial pathogens in fresh water from a pond, river, lake or creek.

Hiking Food

Larger dogs may drink between ½ ounce and 1ounce of water per pound of their body weight per day.  Dogs that are 20 pounds and lighter will be closer to 1.5 ounces per pound per day.  Offer water to him frequently whenever you are thirsty because he most likely will also.

When considering how much dog food to bring, start him with his usual meal amount plus an added cup for every 20 lbs of his weight. He will need more nourishment, just like you will, when you are hiking.

Consider Potential Pet Trail Hazards During A Backpack Trek

Man Goes Hiking With His Dog

Cool backpacks doesn’t just mean sharp looking, it means having cool features and heat reduction against your skin when you wear it. A vented and mesh hiking bag is most comfortable for humans as well as pets. Make sure your dog is not overheated by too much weight if you have him carry a pet pack. 

Protect Fido’s feet against sharp rocks, thorns and heated trails in summer that are asphalt or cement surfaces.  If it’s hot for your bare feet, it’s hot for theirs. You may want to consider dog booties, and if so, pack spares in case they get wet or torn.

You may want to consider a cooling collar during hot summer temps. All dogs struggle to dissipate heat.  This collar is a soak and wrap accessory that will keep your dog from overheating.

Pay Attention Hikers To Plants And Grasses

Don’t let your pet randomly chew on grass.  It could contain Foxtails which have barbed seedpods that will snag on your dog’s fur, They can affect sensitive areas such as nasal passages and eyes.  These pods are dangerous because they can work their way into a vital organ and be fatal.  If your dog comes in contact with the pods, remove them with tweezers right away.  Most hikers know to carry tweezers in their hiking pack because they are invaluable when needed.

Chewing on plants is also not advised because some are poisonous or tainted. It would not be pleasant to encounter poison oak, ivy or sumac, just like for humans. If you are going to be hiking in a heavy insect area, consult your vet for the best measure of flea and tick protection. Check your dog on rest stops for ticks so you can remove them immediately.  Some spray-on repellents for clothing that contain permethrin are also safe for dogs. Read your label.

Can Your Dog Swim?

Be safe around water even if your dog is a good swimmer. Don’t let him loose in a big lake or the whitewater section of a creek. A PFD pack meant for dogs is the best for preventing drowning if your dog is tired from the hike and his strength is diminished.

If you want to have your dog carry a dog pack, he will need to “practice” wearing it at home or out on brief walks.  Start with the pack empty, then add 1-2 lbs. to begin.  After that you can add gradual weight until you establish his tolerance.  A guideline for maximum carry weight would be 25% of his body weight, but considerations like his age, strength and size may alter that guideline. 

Make sure it fits properly and the load is distributed evenly on both sides of his body.  A pack with a top handle grip helps because it will be easier to grab him if he attempts to stray, or to keep him safe on creek crossings during backpack hikes.

Dogs Love Being In Nature

Cool Backpack Hikes; To Take Or Not To Take Fido?

Many factors play into the decision to take your dog hiking with you. Having the knowledge and information to prevent problems beforehand is key to a successful encounter. Clearly it is not a matter of simply bringing the dog along with you without preparation. Many great hikes have happened with man’s best friend tagging along, as any dog owner will agree.  If you have comments regarding tips or situations you had while hiking with your dog, fellow readers would love to hear your comments below.  Happy hiking from Nature Trail Backpacks.

Hiking Pack – How Hiking Affects Children

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Kids Love Donning A Hiking Pack And Hitting The Trail

A hiking pack filled with a few essentials for the day is the best start to an amazing adventure for children and adults. You probably recall when you or your child first started school with a lunch box and a book bag. It was so exciting to pack your “stuff” and head off to the unknown like a little “big shot.”  Hiking is very similar except the explorations involved take place outdoors instead of in a school building.  Here is how the preparation, the journey and the lasting memories can affect a child via my childhood memories.

Childhood Hiking Preparation

The Family Rustic Camp In Redfield, NY

 At 8 years old, my original “backpack” was a homemade make-shift backpack and my trail was a forest in Redfield, NY surrounded by the Salmon River Reservoir waters.  Every summer my parents took me to my aunt and uncle’s camp there, which signified weeks of trekking, swimming, insect capturing and moments of awe.  The daily preparation began with a lunch, because it would be a full day outing. Our mothers packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, cookies and Koolaid in a thermos for my cousin and me. We were on private property and willingly explored every inch of the surrounding woods as our favorite pastime. We relished it as the most fun we ever had and the best form of entertainment we knew. Little did I know then that I was being molded to become an adult who loved nature as much as the kid in me.

A Hikers Journey Is Worth The Trek

Beautiful Footbridge Crossing The Creek

Our hiking pack travels took us for what seemed like miles through dense forests of pine, maple and oak trees.  No two hikes were ever the same, since there was always something new that we discovered each time. Familiar landmarks like the tree our parents had carved their initials into and the beloved footbridge we trampled across. The bridge was over a beautiful creek we fondly named “our dream stream.”  In your own hikes, you can make it your dream time and discover your individual memorable landmarks.

When it rained , the creek would flowing rather strongly.  If summer drought made it dry, we enjoyed it even more, because we could do some impressive rock jumping instead of using the foot bridge. Many crayfish and frogs were caught in a coffee can to show Mom, as a trophy, when we returned to camp. Your kids will feel pride with every discovery because it becomes a whole new world to them with each step on the trail. Kids love to explore, and there is no better education than nature provides.

Boundless Blackberries Were Along Our Path

On a hiking pack trip, there was always a nice sunny boulder or a big tree stump to sit and have our lunch. You can bring a picnic lunch and take a break during your hike simply by packing your meal in your hiking backpack. You can also bring snacks for rest breaks. Why not encourage the children to find shapes in cloud formations, just like we did when we rested in open areas on a blanket? Sometimes we hiked further on the path to a sandy beach where our older siblings met up with us. They left the camp via canoe and took the water route.  We always opted for the wooded trail because it was way more fun. 

Hiking Families Can Forge Their Own Trail

On hiking pack trips, you can choose any trail or path you want. Better yet, let the kids decide since it’ll make them feel part of the hiking plan. For us, we always opted for the forest. You couldn’t find blackberry bushes bursting with juicy berries from a canoe.  We’d fill up our paper bags and bring them home where they’d miraculously be made into scrumptious pies. Many trails have wild berries, which kids love to pick.

Creek Wading Was Our Favorite Part Of The Journey

Hiking can be sweaty work, but there was always a shallow creek or pond to cool off in.  We were always drawn to water, as are most kids. We would jump in, no fear or hesitation. Hiking trips that involve places to swim or collect rocks or bugs in the water will delight any child.

We’d giggle and screech with joy when one of us discovered a new bug or a water snake. We’d make walking sticks out of broken tree branches and turn our bandannas backwards to keep sunburn off our necks, after we dipped them in the cold creek. Ahhhhhh it was refreshing. Part of the beauty of hiking with kids is how simple things mean the most to them, just like it did with us back then and still today.

Hiking Treks Require Respect For Nature

Poison Ivy

We would scope out the plants and bushes, being taught early on what poison ivy looked like.  One experience with the resulting rash taught us to never go off the trail without scoping out the plant life first. Our homemade walking sticks made a good bush separator when we went off path to forge a new one. You can guide your kids to make their own walking stick, they’d be cool with that.

Encourage Kids To Be Kids

We girls each had a brother a little older than us, and they too would take off on their own hike.  The air was so clear we could hear our brothers burping in the woods, even though they were significantly further away from us.  We decided to have a contest between the girls and boys to prove who could burp loudest! 

Gross, I know. But as kids, we thought it was funny and loved the echoing sound through the forest. As ridiculous as that may sound, kids being kids and laughing is the moral to this story. Other than courtesy rules on public hiking trails, let children be themselves in nature because that’s what makes them happiest.

Nature Hikes Produce Lasting Memories

What we experience as children, good or bad, can undoubtedly influence our memories and viewpoints as an adult.  The excursions I had with hikes through the woods opened up a new world for me that was completely different from my suburban living in a neighborhood. 

Early Exposure To The Outdoors Is Beneficial To Kids

Being exposed to nature early on shaped me into an adult who respects and thrives in an outdoor environment.  Granted, things change from generation to generation, but what usually does not change is a child’s thirst for learning about what makes everything move, grow and become.

Decades later, you will still stumble upon questions of how plants grow or how wild things thrive within their environment. You will never stop learning or growing, which is why hiking is the perfect education play time.

Adults Who Hike Can Teach Youngsters

Photo of a little boy spending autumn day hiking with his grandparents

Let’s say you didn’t have a childhood that included hiking. Learning along with your children is another incredible experience of discovery together. It is so worth the journey. Just because you didn’t have early hiking memories and encounters with nature, you can still make new ones with your own family. Aunts, uncles and grandparents can spend quality time on a day hike with their loved ones. Why not invite a child’s friend who has busy parents to join in?

The Great Outdoors Is There For Everyone

We can all teach someone about the great big outdoors and create lasting impressions on a young mind. You will undoubtedly enjoy the heck out of each moment. Teaching children about nature and the science of natural things around us in invaluable.  The “teacher” in you will receive every bit of enjoyment that the child sustains. That will ultimately make it a positive experience for both of you.

Your Trekking Experiences Should Be Shared

You may have a family member, may volunteer with children, or you might know of a kid who seems distant, bored or in need of attention.  The most meaningful thing you can do for them is to take them on a hiking adventure and discover nature together.  Showing children the amazing attributes of the outdoors won’t be difficult. Nature will do the work for you.

The folks at Nature Trail Backpacks welcome your comments below and for your shares of this article to friends to make an impact on our young people who would love to learn more by being in nature.  Happy hiking!

Outdoor Backpack; 8 Best New England “Gotta Go” Hiking Trips

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Hiking Is Fun And Doesn’t Cost A Fortune

Outdoor backpack trips are a highly popular summer activity.  Beginner hikers may wonder, “where can I go”, other than local trails, for an extraordinary experience with incredible views and doable challenges?  Here are eight amazing New England areas to hike that will leave you in awe and bragging to friends how gratifying your trip was.

Hikers; Check Out Pitcher Mountain Trail In NH

Pitcher Mountain Delights Many Hikers

Perhaps not the most well-known hiking trail, but this trail in Stoddard, New Hampshire is preferred by nature lovers who truly want peace during their hike. This light hike of a half mile round trip is easy to navigate, which makes it perfect for a beginner.  This hidden mountain gem is located in the midst of the Andorra Forest in southwestern New Hampshire.  You will stumble upon plentiful delicious wild blueberries on your hike. The panoramic vista from Pitcher’s peak is truly breathtaking, even compared to bigger mountains with longer hikes. The view includes many surrounding hillsides, pastures and mountains.

This is the perfect hike for a non-crowded zen experience of nothing but true nature sights and sounds.  There is a fire tower you can climb for an excellent 360 degree view.  Leave traffic and tech devices behind and enjoy the mind-clearing gift of the pure outdoors.  Birds, rustling leaves and gentle breezes await your time on the trail.  If you long for a beautiful sunset, Pitcher Mountain is the perfect place to be at sundown.

A Great Trek; Blue Trail In The Charles Ward Reservation

The Blue Trail Is A Sight To Behold

An outdoor backpack will be perfect for this 2.2-mile hike in the Ward Reservation.  This area boasts 704 acres of conservation land open to the public in AndoverMA. Your hike will take you along three hills: Boston, Shrub, and Holt, which is the highest elevation in Essex County. The trails link three major hills; Shrub, Boston, and Holt.   Each of their summits shows how the property melds with the surrounding landscape.  The “Solstice Stones” mark Holt Hill, which is a grassy summit and the highest point in Essex County. There you will see the compass-like arrangement of stones.  These stones portray the cardinal points on a compass, the points of the summer and winter solstices, and the points of the spring and autumnal equinoxes. 

At the base of Holt Hill, you’ll step onto a boardwalk that leads to Pine Hole Pond.  This “pond” is a rare quaking bog, comprised of concentric rings of floating vegetation, each with unique growing conditions. Here you’ll see many interesting plant species, including orchids and insect-eating pitcher plants. This area has numbered stations along the way where you can get interesting botanical and geologic facts. This rare natural phenomenon is truly worth seeing on this hike.
This compass-like arrangement of stones indicates the cardinal points on the compass, the points of the summer and winter solstices, and the points of the spring and autumnal equinoxes

Hike The Skyline Trail At Middlesex Fells Reservation

Middlesx Fells – A Serene Place To Hike

Outdoor backpack hikers, are you looking for a bit more of a challenge?  Often referred to simply as the Fells, this public recreation area in Stoneham, Massachusetts covers more than 2,200 acres in Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester, Massachusetts.  There are eleven hiking trails of varying difficulty are at your feet in this 2,575-acre park.  If you take the popular 6.9-mile Skyline Trail to the observation tower atop Pine Hill, you’ll be rewarded with views of the Boston skyline and harbor.  You’ll love the woodsy feel to this hike. There is some New England stone on the trail, so wear good comfy boots. There are elevation gains and descents, but nothing overly strenuous.  You’ll want to give yourself 4-5 hours for this magnificent backpack trek.

If you proceed to the Virginia Wood Trail, you’ll be pleased to discover a beautiful hidden waterfall bridge. Deep within the reservation, this charming stone bridge crosses an 18th-century dam on Spot Pond Brook, The bridge and waterfall are located along the 0.8-mile of the Virginia Wood Trail. This is an easy to moderate hike depending on your skill level and perfect for explorers with dogs or older children.

Backpack Hike To The Tower Trail In Sleeping Giant State Park

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Backpack Through The Sleeping Giant But Keep Your Eyes Wide Open

This outdoor backpack trek in Hamden, Connecticut features six trails that run through this park. If you’re looking for views of New Haven and the Long Island Sound, take the popular 3-mile roundtrip graveled Tower Trail to the stone observation tower.  Beautiful wildflowers adorn this trail.  All skill levels of hikers could easily tackle this trip even though it is a gradual uphill hike.

Two miles of mountaintop resemble a large man lying in repose, the “sleeping giant”, which is a popular feature of the south central Connecticut skyline. A 1 1/2 mile scenic trail leads to the stone observation tower on the peak of Mt. Carmel which provides an excellent view of Long Island Sound and the New Haven area. In 1924 Sleeping Giant was designated as a state park.

Grab A Hiking Bag And Head to The Summit Trails And Mount Major

What A View! Mount Major In Alton NH

Mount Major in Alton, New Hampshire,  is an awesome hike that provides spectacular panoramic views of Lake Winnipesaukee.  If you follow the 1.5-mile path to the top of Mount Major, you’ll have plenty of nature and views to take in. There’s a loop hike leading to Mt. Major State Forest, which is in the Belknap Range. This loop is a perfect half-day hike whether you are 5 years old or 65 years old; a first time hiker or an experienced trekker during any season.

As you walk through the deciduous-dominated forest you’ll notice some large boulders alongside the trail known as glacial erratics. Interestingly, these boulders were deposited during the last ice age by glaciers about 10,000 years ago. Every hike provides historical and current natural sites and discoveries for the avid outdoor enthusiast.  You’ll encounter some rocky ledges and mildly steeper terrain on the last half of the hike, but soon the glimpses of Lake Winnipesaukee will be observed. Be sure to pay attention to the wide variety of vegetation along the trail.

Save Some Hiking Time For The Napatree Point Conservation Area

Gorgeous Coastal Hiking At Watch Hill

An outdoor backpack haven in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Napatree is one of the most beautiful and least crowded beach spots in Rhode Island.  The 1½ miles of arcing coastline has paths leading off through dune grass, taking you from surf to coves. Plan on getting there early and parking is pricey, unless you are willing to walk through the beautiful little quaint village. There you can observe the oldest operating carousel in the country, and save some money doing so. After your hike you can enjoy the great shopping in the town of Watch Hill.

Hiking pack trekkers and bird watchers love the plentiful wildlife views along this easy beach-side trail, including several nesting areas, off the beach trail, of vulnerable birds. 

The first 1.5 miles is on dry or wet beach sand, depending time of day and the tide. The next half mile is on a single track through marshy grass. The .25 mile that rounds the point brings some scrambling across boulders and medium sized rocks. Soon you will emerge onto the smooth beach of Watch Hill which is excellent for cooling off in the ocean or lingering over sunrises and sunsets. 

Backpackers Love The Odiorne State Park Loop Walk

Odiorne State Park Overlooking The Ocean

Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire has 135 acres of trails with a very dramatic ocean front and rocky shoreline setting. An extensive network of trails wind through the dense vegetation and bisect the park. Hikers can enjoy the sweeping views of the ocean and rocky shore as they trek multiple hiking trails.

This outdoor backpack hike on the Loop Walk is a pleasant hike within The Odiorne State Park, just south of Portsmouth, NH in the village of Rye. Hikers are taken through the largest fodder of undeveloped coast in the state. Once you hit the trail and hike past the ocean, marsh, and a forest, you’ll encounter remnants of the era when the site was used for coastal defenses in World War II.   Don’t you love historical discoveries on a hike?  Part of your hike should include a visit to the Seacoast Science Center with awesome exhibits and a hands on tide pool tank.

Check out this video for a mini glimpse at this great hiking mecca:



Trek The Coolidge Reservation In Manchester-By-The-Sea MA

Coolidge Point Hiking Area

Perched on the peninsula known as Coolidge Point in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Coolidge Reservation is a 66 acre hiking area that showcases an unusual variety of rocky outcrops, woodlands, wetlands and a sandy beach. Breathtaking vistas await as you explore.. This notable collection of diverse habitats harbors an assortment of plant and wildlife species that would delight any hiker. If you trek past a scenic pond and through a small forest of pine and oak to reach the tip of the point, you’ll come to a spectacular seaside lawn offering memorable views of Massachusetts Bay and the North Shore.

Marble Place

This area had a beautiful mansion called “Marble Place” but is now an open grassy tract leading to gorgeous Atlantic ocean views.The Ocean Lawn is not the only draw to the Reservation though. Bungalow Hill, the highest point on the reservation provides a panoramic view of the sea.  The surrounding woodland is a characteristic New England mix of oak and pine, wildflowers and ferns. This area is home to a vast array of birds and other wildlife, including fisher, fox, and coyote.

Beyond the woodland, a trail leads past Clarke Pond. This pond was a former salt marsh which is now a predominantly freshwater pond, although saltwater periodically washes in during high tides and storms. Along with it come crabs and small fish from the ocean. If you are a bird lover, you will enjoy this habitat for ducks and geese, and heron and shorebirds that feed here. You will love the colorful wildflowers, including trout lilies, jack-in-the-pulpit, and swamp buttercups.   

A one-mile trail runs from the parking area to the top of Bungalow Hill, around Clarke Pond to Magnolia Beach, and to the Ocean Lawn. This trail is easy walking, though can be moderate in places. The beauty of a hike in this area is easy access to ocean water to take a swim after your hike to cool off.

 Hikers Check Out These New England Treks

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Coastal Hiking Is So Beautiful

For outdoor backpack hikes, New England states offer excellent hiking opportunities.  Why not check out one or more of these areas this summer or Fall and enjoy the beauty of nature in many forms.  Please comment below if you are familiar with, or have any feedback of these areas, which always helps other hikers.  The staff at Nature Trail Backpacks are here to help you try hiking or update your backpack.  Happy hiking to all!

Hiking Pack – Do THIS Before You Go On Any Hike

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Hiking Is More Enjoyable When You Plan Ahead

A hiking pack is all you need to hit the trail and enjoy a hike, right?  Wrong!  It’s a great first step but the best and most important thing to do first, is to learn.  You may ask, “what’s so hard about traipsing through a forest or meadow wearing a backpack and enjoying nature?”  It’s not meant to be hard, but it can quickly become difficult unless you take some time to learn about these important hiking issues.

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There’s Nothing Like Watching The Sunrise On A Backpack Hike

Some Exploring Begins Before The Hiking Trek

Once you’ve chosen your hiking trail, if you do a bit of research on the location, weather and information about the area, you won’t be heading out blind. Search out such things as the nearest parking area.  You don’t want to be exhausted just getting from the trailhead (parking lot) to your destination.  If you choose a short trip for the first couple of hikes until you get more experience, things like the pack weight on your back and hips won’t come as a surprise.

A hiking pack trip, once planned, should always be shared with someone close to you. They should be told where you’re hiking and an approximate time you expect to be returning home.  If you decide to camp for the night, let your person know so they don’t send out a search party for you.

Prepare For That Amazing Backpacking Hike

Hiking can involve some unpredictable variables. If you’re prepared for unforeseen weather and climate changes, you’ll be fine. Consider the possibility that you just may want to extend your trip because you don’t want to leave the hike.  Planning for what you don’t anticipate is the best solution for a relaxed hike. It eliminates panic if something changes mid hike or allows for flexibility in your journey.

Hiking Shoes And Clothing

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Comfortable Hiking Boots Are A Must Have

Be prepared with the proper quality backpack, supportive comfortable hiking shoes or boots and non-cotton socks.  You may be geared toward the thought process that cotton is best, but it doesn’t keep feet dry, so regardless of the season, use wool or synthetic instead. Wet feet are an ingredient that makes for a perfect recipe for infections and bacteria. Make sure you break in new boots or shoes by wearing them a few times before hiking in them.

Hikers; Consider Your Body And Mind

Prepare Your Body For Exercise That Is More Fun

Hiking pack excursions, especially if you aren’t used to a low impact workout, is something you need to prepare for physically and mentally. Physically, you should do some basic upper body and leg stretches both before and after the hike.  This is no different than preparing for a good jog. Your muscles need to be told you are going to challenge them somewhat. Hiking is very beneficial to your body and can actually prevent osteoporosis. Taking in all that fresh air is so good for your lungs as well. Pace yourself and don’t try to speed walk. Hiking is not about how fast you reach the summit, it’s all about the journey along the way.

Mentally, when you take in all the beauty of nature, you help reduce stress and anxiety.  There’s a sense of calm within a good hike that is almost indescribable.   You’ll get that feeling and recognize it most likely on your first trek as long as you prepare and don’t go off thinking you just grab a backpack and go off into the wilderness.

Trekkers; Don’t Weigh Yourself Down

Be kind to your back; don’t over pack and weigh yourself down. Stick to essentials for the time period you’ll be on the trail.  Think lightweight which means comfort and eliminate store food packaging.  Bring small sample size products and basics for the day or overnight.  Meal food and snacks are essential. Pack enough plus a little more in Ziploc bags. Why?  It’s wise to be prepared for any delay because things happen while hiking, like loving it and wanting to stay out longer. You may not get home exactly when you expected to. It is possible due to a weather change or taking a wrong turn on the path back to the trailhead, you could be delayed long enough to need extra nutrition and water.

The Most Essential Hiking Items You Need In Your Backpack

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Pack Your Essentials In Your Hiking Pack


Plan on bringing some from home, but don’t make the pack heavy from bottles if your map indicates natural water sources along your trek. Always calculate 1 liter to water per hour of hiking. Check the map for fresh water spots on your hike and you’ll be able to pack less water from home. Make sure you have purification drops or tablets in your backpack for use in all fresh water sources so you don’t get sick from water that may look clean but isn’t.

Make Sure You Stay Hydrated On Your Hike

Cell Phone And More

When hiking, bring a cell phone with GPS, a map and a compass.  Don’t rely on just the phone in case you get to a remote area with no cell service. If you learn how to read the maps and compass before you go hiking, you won’t get frustrated trying to figure out where you are once you’ve begun your hike.

Matches Or Lighter

Matches in a plastic bag to stay dry, or a lighter. Even on a day hike, being prepared for anything includes the possible need for a fire for warmth. Bring a jack knife to cut firewood kindling and a headlamp(for hands free use) or a flashlight in case you are out after dark.

Clothing And Outerwear

Pack an extra layer of clothing in case temperatures change colder than you expected. You’ll want to include a waterproof jacket for a pop-up rain shower. It may be warm when you head out and suddenly get cooler with elevation changes. Bring a sweatshirt or jacket that is lightweight but warm.

First Aid To The Rescue For Backpack Hikers

Always being some first aid items such as bandaids, antiseptic cream and gauze. Never hike without a few yards of duct tape wrapped around a pencil.  It can be used for so many unexpected repairs of just about anything, including covering a cut, scrape or blister. You’ll be glad to have sunscreen and bug repellent so your hike isn’t ruined by sunburn or insect bites all over.

Hiking Backpacks Should Include A Form Of Shelter

Be Prepared With An Instant Tarp Shelter or Tent

A hiking pack trip may not include a sleepover, but plan as if it were.  Bring some type of emergency cover shelter, even if it’s just a garbage bag.  Hiking tents are easy pop up for quick assembly if you need to get out of the elements fast. You could use a folded tarp in your backpack and use sticks in the woods to hold it up. Most backpack tents are very lightweight. If you needed protection from a sudden hail storm, you’d be glad you had this.

Backpackers Need Tools; Just One

Have a small box or bag that contains a few small tools for repairs, such as a swiss Army knife or similar multi-tool device. You’d count your lucky stars if the need arose and you had one of these.

Food And Snacks For Tired Hikers

Bring a few extra Ziploc bags with extra food in case you are on the trail longer than you anticipated. It’s imperative to keep your energy up. A longer hike means staying energized. Don’t let your “tank” get empty and risk being too tired to go on.

Stay Fueled And Ready To Go

Hikers; Lean On These

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Trekking Poles Help Stabilize Your Body

Trekking poles can be very useful to help distribute your weight while wearing your pack as you hike. They can be folded up when not in use and attached to your backpack. They are minimal weight and can come in very handy in areas such as uneven terrain or crossing creeks to test the water depth.

Hiking Treks Are Best When Carefully Planned

This may sound like you’re packing everything but the kitchen sink.  If you pack wisely and use lightweight items, these suggestions won’t bog you down.  Much of this gear can be left in your backpack when you return so you won’t have to keep packing and unpacking the same stuff.  You may swear you’re only going for a ½ day hike, but situations arise and you must be prepared.  It could be anything from taking a wrong turn on the trail and needing more time to get back, or just loving being out in nature so much you want to extend that trip. Just being ready for any possible scenario is the wisest move. 

Enjoy your first hikes and learn about them and from them to become an experienced happy hiker. Fellow hikers and Nature Trail Backpacks enjoy and benefit from your experiences you share in comments. Please like and share this valuable information.

Black Backpack – For Hiking; Is It A No Or A Go?

black backpack
Black Backpacks Show Less Dirt Making Them Great For Hiking

A black backpack is a sharp looking pack, there’s no doubt.  Some hikers gravitate towards bright colors and often, personalities come into play when deciding what color hiking backpack to choose.  Can you go wrong with color choice?  Are you wondering if there are benefits or deterrents to certain colors?  Let’s clear up the confusion with some facts about colors in the wild.

How And Where Will You Be Using Your Hiking Backpack?

There are some differences regarding use of a hiking style backpack. Where will you be using it?  Some folks carry the same pack to work, on a hike and for travel.  Where and how you are using your backpack will help dictate the color choice in a few scenarios. Does your personality come into play?  Do you think of black as old and boring? Black can be classic, stately and strong, which may be your image. Then I say, go for it!

Hiking With A Black Backpack

There Are Pro’s And Con’s To Choosing A Black Hike Pack

Black backpack users that hike have found that the surface of the hiking bag gets hotter but that it doesn’t transmit too deeply into the contents during average temperatures of 60-85 degrees.  Above 85 degrees, unless you have perishable items inside your bag or chocolate candy, black is not advisable.  It’s much easier to change your cargo when weather conditions are super hot in summer, like leave the chocolate and perishables home.  When hiking, you may like the black color because it dries out faster when wet from rain or morning dew once you’re in the sun.

During hot weather hikes, some hikers “insulate” easy melt items by wrapping them in plastic and covering them with clothing. This is a tip for using a backpack in black in color when you are carrying items that need to be a few degrees cooler.  An added benefit is that it doesn’t show the dirt as readily as a light tan or green.  Some hikers just don’t like to “stand out” with bold colors when they use the same hiking bag for other purposes.

Hiker’s Who Enjoy Black Hiking Bags Deal With The “Con’s”

A negative, which needs to be mentioned, is that black may attract flies and mosquitoes.  Many backpack hikers don’t let this fact dictate the non-use of black hiking bags because they use repellent anyway.  There’s another option if you love a black hiking pack and you’ll be hiking in black fly or heavily populated mosquito areas.  Get yourself a removable rainproof pack cover, such as tan or khaki, because those colors repel these insects better. A waterproof cover is a useful thing anyway, so you wouldn’t be wasting money on it.

Another drawback you may think about, is that using a black hiking bag, when the interior is also black, you may have difficulty getting to your essentials.  It could seem like it disappears into a dark hole if the item is also dark in color.  However, this is easily fixed with an inner bag liner of a bright color, so it isn’t really a drawback at all if you like a black backpack.

Bears Are Attracted To Yellow

Interestingly, in the wilderness, grizzly bears can differentiate between colors.  Bears tend to be more attracted to yellows and blues, compared to tan or camo colors.  The last thing you want is to draw bears to your campsite for reasons other than you left food out. You may also want to re-think your tent color because of this fact.

Hiking Backpacks Used For Traveling

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Travelers Prefer Black Backpacks

A black backpack is the perfect choice for travelling, especially when you don’t want to draw attention to yourself using a flashy colored backpack. An innocuous gray or black is preferred.

Travelers like the fact that they blend into crowds better with a black hiking bag. You’ll love that it doesn’t show soiling like a yellow or blue backpack would. If you are concerned that air travel baggage carousels would make finding your backpack a nightmare among all the black luggage and bags, get a few elastic bands or ribbons in bright colors and attach to the zipper.  Once you arrive and get your backpack safely, you can remove them until you fly again.

A word of caution worth mentioning is whenever you are standing in line or on a train or subway, take your backpack off and turn it to your front.  Hold the strap like a sling bag when standing in lines for food, entry or crowds.  Precision thieves can cut into your backpack, and steal your wallet or credit card within seconds while you don’t even feel anything happening behind you.

Explore The Earth With Neutral Colors

A Black Backpack Is Popular For Hiking

It is important to choose hiking, backpacking, and camping gear and clothing that are natural earth tone colors like green, brown, tan, or black.   The purpose of this article is not to dictate what color backpack is the very best. That still remains your choice, of course.  At Nature Trail Backpacks we like to advise and inform so that your hiking, camping and travel experiences are the best they can be.

We sell backpacks in all colors, so why not check us out and pick the bag best suited for you. Feel free to comment below, all tips and hacks are appreciated by our hiker audience of all levels.  Happy hiking and traveling!

Lightweight Backpack – School Is Out Soon; Oh No – Bored Kids!

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Backpack Hikes Keep Kids Excited

Lightweight backpack hikes can help having to endlessly entertain your kids especially during school vacations.  It can be exhausting for you to suggest activities that kids reject from stubbornness, right?   When you teach a child about Nature, you’re opening a door to explore that will forever widen. Speaking of exploring, let’s dig into why hiking will motivate benefit the kids physically and mentally, and how to get started enjoying hikes as a family.

Cultivate Their Need To Investigate During A Hike

From the time babies and toddlers can first see and touch, they are mesmerized by everything around them.  Help this sense of wonder continue to keep summer kids engaged in the wonder of the outdoors .    Part of preserving wilderness for future generations is teaching our youth to appreciate and enjoy nature. 

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Kids Love To Examine Birds, Bugs And Everything Nature

Since birth, you teach your kids on a daily basis and you witness them experiencing many “firsts.”  They take those first steps and may even get into trouble now and then, but the learning shapes their future. You get excited watching them discover life and they’re eager to witness nature’s amazement’s.  Once a child goes to school, we tend to relax a bit and let the teachers do the teaching.  Ask any kid and they will admit that school becomes boring at times.  I’ll bet your kids become bored with the same tablet games and toys after time.  Why not seize the moment to play “school” with your youngsters…in the form of an “adventure” outdoors instead of a classroom.

What If I’ve Never Been Backpack Hiking?

Lightweight backpack hiking may sound very intimidating because you may never have done it.  There are many forms of hiking, from a 2 hour day hike to a 2 week backcountry thru-hike, over miles of wilderness.  When it comes to introducing children to hiking initially, you will save yourself undue frustration if you start with a brief trail hike and combine it with a packed lunch or picnic supper.  If you, as a parent have experienced hiking, it will be easier to introduce your child to the sport.

If not, there is nothing wrong with learning together. The best rule of thumb is to gently guide, don’t push. You’ve probably noticed that when you are excited over something, it gets the kids fired up.  Even if you have a resistant-to-suggestion child, many times that’s an act you’ve witnessed before. Once you set out on the trail and begin your journey, the adventure mode will kick in because excitement is contagious.

Hiking Treks Need Not Be Complicated

Check Out This Helpful Video

Let’s say you are a first time experimental hiker.  Are you concerned about where to go and how far? What if you meet resistance, which may come in the form of fear?  Adults may feel a bit out of shape from a desk job. Kids may get freaked out over flying insects. . Have no fear folks because planning is simple.  Start by checking your city and state online to find local hiking trails.  There are usually reviews from other families that will help you decide where to go each time and they are helpful. The whole family will benefit from some walking, which is really all day hiking is. Bugs are everywhere outside, so a repellent can solve that issue, either natural or store bought.  Many kids are fascinated by bugs because they rarely see them up close, so it becomes suddenly awesome to view them.

A Lightweight Backpack For A Day Hikehttps://naturetrailbackpacks.com/collections/day-backpacks-daypack/products/sling-backpack-concealed-carry-backpack

A lightweight backpack is perfect for a day hike.  It will be comfortable carrying your basic necessities, because it won’t feel burdensome.  Choose light hiking bags for kids and make sure they are not carrying too much weight.  Give them items such as binoculars or a light jacket, a snack and a water bottle.  Parents can go a bit heavier and carry extra dry clothing, first aid items, a picnic blanket plus their own water and the family food for the day.

What Do We Wear On A Day Hike?

Dress in layers so everyone is warm when they need to be and can remove clothing when they get sweaty. Earlier in the day you may be cold and end up hot later on, so layer pants on top of shorts. It’s easier to remove clothing layers than to stop and add clothing.

Good preparation includes supportive shoes, hiking boots, or sneakers if on a paved or sand trail. Socks are important also, in spite of summer when you’d rather head out in flip-flops, but don’t do it!  If your feet aren’t comfortable, you won’t be.  Wear a hat and sunglasses in the sun and be sure to use sunscreen.  It’s always a good idea to bring extra socks in your hiking bag because kids will find dirt, mud and water in a heartbeat.

Hiking Treks Should Start Flat And Slow

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Easy Does It On Initial Day Hikes

Beginner hikers may prefer straight path hikes rather than those involving uphill climbs.  Adults and kids should stretch before hiking to teach about bodies and what you’re expecting them to do on a hike. Make it a priority to take plenty of water for all hikers.  Take several breaks and encourage hydration and snacks for energy, although kids seem to have boundless stamina.  Try not to let them get too tired, too thirsty, too hungry or too bored.

Explore Everything On Your Hiking Excursion

A successful hiking trip isn’t just about walking from point A to point B.  It consists of wonder, joy and excitement over discoveries. Encourage the kids to turn some small rocks over and observe what they see.  Bring a magnifying glass in your hike pack.  Point out the sounds of birds and wild animals.  If you’re familiar with them, teach the kids the names. If you aren’t, record their sounds on your phone and see if you can identify them via the internet when you get back home. Whenever possible, choose a trail with a creek, pond or waterfall.  There is so much to discover there.  Wear your water shoes and beware of rocks that can be slippery from moss.

Backpack Hiking Brings Kids In Touch With Nature

Make the hike a fun time.  Put a Ziploc bag in your child’s backpack. Give the kids a list of things to find before lunch, such as something smooth, a wildflower, a pine needle or something squishy.  Give them plenty of time to lift up rocks or examine weird things. You can make up the list with virtually anything found outdoors. Positive reinforcement for a great hunt will keep the kids motivated and curious about what other family members added to their bags.

Exercise An Ounce of Prevention On Hiking Trails

For your first few initial hikes, don’t wander off the trail. Know beforehand and let the kids know what poison ivy looks like and monitor where the children walk. You’ll want to avoid tall grass and thoroughly check yourself and other family members for signs of ticks on pant legs and shirts. Prevention is key, so don’t be scared off from hiking, just be aware and alert to things in nature that should be avoided.

Keep Teaching Kids Throughout Your Hike

A lightweight backpack trip is a good way to emphasize no littering and the importance that being in the hiking world requires responsibility.  After we enjoy nature, we leave it as beautiful as we found it with no trace of having been there.  Pack a gallon sized plastic bag and encourage kids to put all candy and food wrappers inside, even a tissue after a sneeze. Don’t leave bread crusts for wild animals or empty juice or water containers.  They are learning from you to willingly respect the planet.

Be Prepared For Kids Having Kid Moods

Kids Play- Kids Get Hurt; It Happens

You’ll see that short initial hikes will expand in time and distance as you feel more comfortable after experiencing early hikes.  Kids can be unpredictable and moody, so be prepared for random situations like a bruised knee from a fall.  Carry bandaids, gauze pads and antibacterial cream in your adult pack.  Kids frequently have minor injuries whenever they play, so this is no different. Carry some Tic-Tacs as an “energy boost” to end the drama and hike on. My kids always responded to that trick.  You’ll work through any typical kid issues to a point where an all day hike or even an overnight camping hike will be incredibly fun

Enjoy Your Hikes With The Kids

A lightweight backpack hike adventure with kids is family time, making memories and learning what works best for your family.   You can choose the duration, fun activities and treats along the way.  After a few hikes out, it’ll take less time to get ready and more willingness from the kids to actually look forward to each new exploration.  The folks at Nature Trail Backpacks would love to hear your comments below on tips for successful kid hikes and what works best for your family.  Help new hikers with ideas you have.  All hikers thank you.  Happy hiking!

Backpacking Pack – I’m Giving Up Hiking For Good!

Your backpacking pack is all set to go and you are really psyched about your hike.  Don’t cave in to the scare of ticks and Lyme Disease.  Instead, protect yourself with against Lyme disease from a tick bite before you head out.  Current hysteria about ticks; yes you should take it seriously, but don’t stop enjoying a great outdoor hike.  You don’t have to cover your body in toxic Deet.  Instead, adapt the theory that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Here’s how you can keep doing what you love while preventing disease!

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Backpack Hiking Is As Safe As You Make it!

While most tick bites can be successfully treated with antibiotics, if you prevent them altogether, this is still the best way to go. The very prospect of getting bitten by a tick can turn the simple pleasure of hiking and camping into a gamble with your health.  It’s unrealistic to think you’ll never encounter ticks in the wild, which makes a precautionary tactic the best ammunition.

If you understand as much as you can about ticks, you will automatically make prevention something you do prior to every hike.  You should know where they like to hang out.   How do they find their way onto your body?   It’s also important to know how to properly remove them and care for yourself if you do get bitten.

Hikers;  You Can Avoid Contact With Ticks This Way

Typical Deer Tick (Magnified)

Avoid These Areas While Backpack Hiking

Choose your hiking location carefully because certain areas are more prevalent than others for ticks. If you do some basic research of seasonal information regarding ticks for your area, you may choose a different location. Some people no longer enjoy hiking or camping because of the threat of ticks and tick-borne diseases. Why would you just stop enjoying the outdoors?  You simply have to be prepared with knowledge and alter the way you explore the outdoors to minimize your risk.  It’s a small price to pay for not having to give up what you love in the wild.

Early in hiking season, when cold days are still prevalent, if it’s uncharacteristically warm for a few days, that’s an extra dangerous time. Ticks will come out of dormancy and be hungrier than usual on a day like that. Avoid hiking in heavily grassy or wooded areas on warm days that follow colder days for this reason.  During the spring and early summer, ticks are at their most dangerous growth stage. They’re tiny, like a poppy seed, making them hard to see, and if they’re carrying a disease, they’re already potent.

The greatest exposure to them is from May to July in states with lower elevations (1600 feet or lower) such as New England and the Northeast states. You may prefer using a hiking trail that is paved or gravel bottomed to limit tick exposure. These trails are more popular for hikers who enjoy day hikes or don’t want to go backcountry thru-hiking.  There are still many ways to enjoy backpacking without giving up our joy for being outdoors.

Backpacking Pack – Here’s The Facts, Not The Fiction

The deer tick or blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is the one that transmits Lyme disease as well as other nasty illnesses such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and Powassan virus disease.  These ticks thrive in fields and woodlands where there is an abundance of deer and mice, which are their favorite hosts. So, where do they hang out mostly? Since they’re not a flying insect, they can be found on grass blades and bushes 18-24” off the ground. 

When you brush past them, they will attach to clothing or skin not covered.  This is why you should walk in the middle of the trail if you are hiking in a highly tick-ridden area. Avoid tall grassy meadows and leave the bushwacking for fall or winter, when ticks are more dormant.  If you are hiking in a higher elevation, usually more than 1700 ft., you find fewer ticks, if any.

Backpack Hikers – Ticks Are Everywhere; Be Protected

They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls.  They are attracted to grassy areas where the creatures they feed on live and roam.  So, in areas that have deer, rabbits, birds, lizards, squirrels, mice, and other rodents, ticks will be close by for easy meals.  Sounds like they are everywhere and would be impossible to avoid, right?  Once again, prevention is the way to go, unless you want to be totally house bound.

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Higher Elevations Have Less Or No Ticks

During Your Hike – Best Precautions Against Ticks

Backpacking pack hikers, don’t sit on the ground without a pad.  Ticks also crawl on the ground, so avoid sitting directly on it.  Also, avoid sitting on logs or directly in the grass. Choose a bench or large rock instead. If you pack a blanket, then enjoy that meadow, just check your clothes when you pack up and move on.

Always Sit On A Hiking Pad Instead Of Directly On The Ground

Hikers may prefer to sit on a pad that’s been treated with permethrin. Ticks like to crawl into dark, moist areas, so when you do tick checks, pay attention to your armpits and groin.

Backpackers:  Make Your Own Homemade Tick Repellant 

Backpacking pack hiking trips can be much safer with this simple recipe you can easily make yourself.  And no, you don’t have to know how to cook. Just mix 1 part tea tree oil to 2 parts water.  Tea tree oil is easily found in stores or on Amazon.  For example, mix ¼ cup tea tree oil to ½ cup water and put in a spray bottle. It’s natural, non-toxic and safe for skin and the environment.

How Do Ticks Get On You While Outdoor Hiking?

Ticks can easily brush onto your clothing as you hike through grass. They tend to start low and climb until they find your bare skin. If you spot them early, just pick them off your clothes instead of pulling them out of your skin. Wearing light clothing makes them much easier to spot. Do periodic checks of your clothing, shoes and hat throughout your hike.  They take their time scouting out the best part of skin, which gives you time to remove them before they bite you. When you pick off live ones, step on and crush the little buggers!

Some Hikers Prefer Permethrin Insecticide   

You may prefer to use a Permethrin product which kills insects on contact, since it’s been found to reduce the chance of tick bites. Whether you make your own natural spray or Permethrin, be sure to spray all of your clothing outdoors when there is little-to-no wind. Let them dry for several hours before wearing. Spray your hat, boots, backpacks, tent, and clothes. Dogs need protection too, so spray your dog’s bandannas, collar, and backpack. Tuck your sprayed pant legs into your sprayed socks. Don’t give ticks exposure to skin, even in warm weather.

Hiking Trekkers;  Do This If You Spot A Tick on Yourself Or Fellow Hiker

First of all, don’t panic.  Ticks don’t usually land on you and immediately bite. When a tick bites a human or animal, it firmly latches on to the skin to feed.  It may stay there for days sucking blood if it isn’t interrupted. The longer a tick is attached to your skin, the greater the risk of disease transmission.  So, if you spot one on your skin, in spite of careful preparation, you’ll need to remove it as soon as possible.

Backpackers; Get Out Your Surgical Instrument (Haha)

Start by wiping the area with an antiseptic solution. You should always carry a pair of tweezers in your hiking bag.  Place each side of the tweezers on each side of the tick’s head, then firm;y but gently pull the tick straight out. Be careful not to squash the tick or pull it sideways, because this can leave part of the tick left in your skin. Once you see that all parts of the tick body are removed, clean the area again with your antiseptic solution.

Trekkers, There’s An Easier Way I Like

Another easier tip, which I use, is to carry a small 3 oz. plastic bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid and some cotton balls in your backpack. They aren’t heavy and sure can be handy. Saturate the cotton ball in Dawn and apply it to the tick.  Give it a few seconds and the tick will withdrawal and adhere to the cotton ball for easy extraction and disposal.

Hikers Should Be Aware Of These Symptoms From An Unknown Bite

Backpacking pack trekkers remember, Lyme Disease is nothing to ignore.  The sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.  It’s important that if you notice a rash or develop an itchy feeling near a tick bite, seek medical attention immediately. It’s possible the bite is infected or you may have contracted a tick-borne disease. Be aware of these early symptoms:

  1. Rash with Bulls eye appearance of a red circle
  2. Fever or chills
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Reduced energy or fatigue
  5. Muscle and joint aches (can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring)
  6. Generalized stiffness, discomfort, or pain; headache

Often, a two to three week treatment of an antibiotic will quickly clear up Lyme disease. But, when ignored or misdiagnosed for prolonged periods, your body will produce more severe symptoms. These could include short-term memory issues, facial palsy, arthritis, heart palpitations, and inflammation of the brain. At this stage, the illness can be difficult and expensive to treat.  Protect yourself always.

Maybe It’s Safer To Forego Hiking Completely?

Never Give Up What You Love

The answer to that question is a resounding NO!  Ticks are just another nuisance that you find in the wild, probably even in many backyards.  Concentrating on prevention, and learning how and where to avoid them, you’ll be able to keep enjoying your hikes. You can still enjoy and be safe in the great outdoors. There will always be insects and creatures in the wild that you need to respect and prepare for exposure to them.  If you let bears, snakes, wolves and ticks fill you with fear, you’ll be sitting home all the time.  You have the facts, so simply apply them and keep happy hiking safely. Come see us at Nature Trail Backpacks and feel free to comment to help other hikers.