In a perfect world, a pair of waterproof hiking boots would stay waterproof for life. Unfortunately, with use and wear, the waterproofing on hiking boots begins to deteriorate and the more miles that you wear them for, the faster this will happen.
When choosing the best hiking boot for you, the first question that you have to ask yourself is: “What am I going to be using the hiking boot for?” There is no such thing as a ‘best’ hiking boot for everyone.
Your hiking boots are your best friend when you’re on a hike. Not only do they protect your ankles - if you happen to lose your footing and fall – but they (together with your hiking socks) also protect your calves from being bitten.
Our very own ambassador, Peter Hoffmeister challenged world champion climber Hans Florine to climb 3,000 feet!
How to handle a bear encounter
Bear encounters in the wilderness are rare, but that doesn’t mean they are unheard of and they are scary when they happen. However, many bear encounters do not lead to aggression as most bears prefer to avoid human contact and are as frightened of you, as you are of it.
If you see a bear in the distance avoid the temptation to approach it. Give it as much space as you can – remember, you are in its natural habitat, it is not in yours. If possible, turn around and retreat back along the path you have been walking down. If you have to continue along your path, take a detour so you can give the bear a wide berth.
The trick is to successfully handling a bear encounter is to stay calm and composed and to remove yourself from their situation as quickly as you can (without running). As bear attacks are so manageable, it is well worth having some idea how to handle an unexpected meeting with bear so both of you are as safe and well after it as you were before.
QUICK TIPS FOR SURVIVING A BEAR ATTACK
- If you are in bear country, always carry bear pepper spray. It is your first line of defence if you encounter a bear attack.
- Avoid moving through bear habitat silently and alone – pay attention to your surroundings so you are aware of any bears before they become aware of you. Ideally, try to travel in groups (the larger the better) and even if you are alone, make lots of noise as you walk either by talking or singing.
- Make sure you stand your ground and make lots of noise. Bears mainly want to scare you away and can make false attacks to ward you off. Take the hint and back off.
- There is no point in climbing a tree. Most bears are excellent tree climbers.
- If the bear actually gets as far as attacking you, fight back.
When you meet a bear
The number one thing to do is to remain calm and get ready your bear spray (or any other deterrent you have). If you are with others, make sure you stay together so you appear larger and more intimidating to the bear. You need to work out:
- Whether it is a grizzly or a black bear (they behave differently).
- Whether there are cubs present.
- Whether the bear is defending food (a carcass, for example).
Handling black bears in a camp site
The best way to handle a black bear in a camp site is to persuade it to move on. Make sure it has a clear and safe escape route and that there are no people or obstacles in its path. Begin by standing up straight and looking the bear directly in the eye. Shout at the bear loudly and tell it to leave: “Get out of here, bear!” Make sure you have your pepper spray at the ready in case the bear get too close. If you encounter a grizzly bear in camp, do not use this method.
Handling a grizzly bear attack
If a grizzly bear makes physical contact the best thing to do is to fall to the ground and stay completely still so the bear thinks you are dead. Roll onto your stomach and do your best to cover the back of your neck and your head with your hands. Spread your legs and arms so it is more difficult for the bear to flip you over.
When the attack has finished, stay completely still and wait for the bear to leave. You must not get up until you are absolutely certain that the bear has left the area. You may have to wait a while – perhaps 30 minutes or more – but it is essential that you do not move until the bear has gone.
If a bear tries to bite or eat you, it is time to fight back with everything you have. Use your fists, rocks and any other weapons you can lay your hands on to fight the bear.
REMEMBER, BEAR ATTACKS ARE RARE
Even thinking about a bear attack may be enough to put you off going into the wilderness, but if you understand the risks, know how to behave and understand how to prevent bear encounters in the first place, you can enjoy hiking without fear of attack. Bear attacks really are very rare.While the above hacks will help you handle a bear attack - there is no great adventure companion than a pair of Ridgemont Outfitters hiking boots. Shop the range here:
10 AWESOME wilderness hacks, that might save your life. It is impossible to carry every kind of bandage you could possibly need in your pack if you are on a hike. That means you may have to improvise and use what is to hand if you find yourself out in the wilderness with a wound to dress.
How to remove ticks
Ideally, if you are going into an area – long grass and lots of plants and foliage – where you are likely to come across ticks, you should take precautions to minimise the risk of being bitten. You are most likely to find ticks in moist and humid areas, so be especially careful when you encounter those conditions. The way to avoid ticks is to:
- Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants instead of shorts to
prevent your skin brushing up against the grass and plants where
the ticks live.
- Use an insect repellent that contains DEET.
- Check your clothing and skin for ticks after returning from hiking,
trekking or cycling in the wild.
- After checking your clothing, it’s advisable to shower as soon as
you can. Then inspect your whole body for ticks (including those hard-to-reach areas).
Of course, it is important to be vigilant and guard against tick bites but rest assured, that ticks do not carry a threat of imminent disease. What is more, there is no need to panic if you do get bitten by a tick as there are several tick-removal devices available and a common set of fine-tipped tweezers will easily remove a tick effectively.
How to remove a tick
- Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward using a steady and even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-part of it to break off and remain embedded in your skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick make sure you clean the bite area and your hands thoroughly using alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
There are several folklore remedies that it is worth avoiding, these include “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly and using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Anything hot may burn your skin and you want the tick off your skin as soon as possible so you don’t want to wait for it to fall off. Just remove it as quickly as you can.
If you develop a rash or fever within a few weeks of removing a tick, be sure to see your doctor. Tell your doctor about the tick bite, when it occurred and where you think you acquired it.
While the above hacks will help you to remove a tick safely - there is no great adventure companion than a pair of Ridgemont Outfitters hiking boots. Shop the range here:
How to find edible plants
If there are no fish available for your supper, you may be forced to forage for plants if you need to eat. Some plants will keep you alive and are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals, but some could make you very ill....or even kill you so care is essential when foraging. If in doubt, don’t eat it. Ideally, you will have some idea of what is edible in the area where you are hiking. If this is the case, having a bit of knowledge (and a reference guide to what is edible and what is not) is a precaution well worth taking.
Here, we’ve given a primer on seven of the most common edible plants you are likely to find in the wild. Check them out, make sure you know what they look like and refresh your memory of them often.
If possible, try to find and eat some of these plants when your survival does not depend upon having them to hand so you learn where to look for them and how they taste.
Plants to avoid
It is as important to know what plants to avoid as it is to know what plants to find so here is a run-down of the kinds of plants you need to avoid if you have any doubt about whether it is edible. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Steer clear from a plant if it has:
- Milky or discoloured sap
- Spines, fine hairs, or thorns
- Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods
- A bitter or soapy taste (nibble the tiniest bit to check)
- Dill, carrot, parsnip, or pasley-like foliage
- "Almond" scent in the woody parts of the leaves
- Grain heads with pink, purplish, or back spurs
- Three-leaved growth pattern
Many toxic plants have one or more of the characteristics listed here, but they can also be features of edible plants, too. This is why you need to know what you are looking for.
ASPARAGUS (ASPARAGUS OFFICINALIS)
Wild asparagus has a much thinner stalk than variety you are likely to find in the grocery store. The stems are longer, too. It’s a great source of source of vitamin C, thiamine, potassium and vitamin B6. You can either eat it raw or boil it for a few minutes in water, just as you would at home.
BURDOCK (ARCTIUM LAPPA)
Burdock is a medium-large-sized plant with purplish, thistle-like flower heads and big leaves. It is a popular food in Japan and you can eat the leaves, the peeled stalks of the plant and the roots. While you can eat them raw, the leaves have a bitter taste so it is recommended that you boil them twice to tame the flavour.
Clovers can be found almost anywhere in open grassy areas and best of all, they’re edible. This is a common plant you are likely to know instantly, too but if you’re not familiar with them, you can identify them by their distinctive trefoil leaves. Although you can eat clovers raw, they taste better when they have been boiled.
CHICORY (CICHORIUM INTYBUS)
Chicory is a bushy plant with small blue, lavender, and white flowers. It grows in Europe, North America and Australia. Handily, the whole plant is edible. You can remove the young leaves and eat them raw or you can boil them. You can also eat the root, but it needs to be boiled first to make it palatable. The flowers make a delicious quick snack.
DANDELION (TARAXACUM OFFICINALE)
When you want a snack and you’re stuck out in the wild this common plant get elevated from lawn-wrecker to lifesaver. Like chicory, the entire dandelion plant is edible: roots, leaves and flower. It’s best to eat leaves when they are young as the older leaves are tougher and can leave a bitter taste in your mouth. In fact, older leaves taste better if boiled. You must boil the roots before eating but you can drink the leftover water like an herb tea. The flowers make a perfect garnish for your dandelion salad.
PURSLANE (PORTULACA OLERACEA)
Purslane is a small plant with smooth fat leaves and has a refreshingly sour taste. While it is considered a weed in the United States, purslane provides essential vitamins and minerals so is perfect in a wilderness survival situation. The plant grows can be found all summer right the way through to the start of fall. You can eat it raw or boiled but if you don’t like the sour taste, make sure you boil it first.
GREEN SEAWEED (ULVA LACTUCA)
Seaweed is a great addition to any menu, whether you are in a survival situation or not. There are many different varieties so if you are by the sea you potentially have a perfect meal of fish and seaweed at your fingertips, making survival all the easier. You need to rinse seaweed with fresh water if possible before leaving it to dry. It is edible in either its raw or cooked state and is great when added to soups.While the above hacks will help you tell which plant is edible or not - there is no great adventure companion than a pair of Ridgemont Outfitters hiking boots. Shop the range here:
How to collect safe drinking water
Humans do not live long without water. Most of the time, you will be able to carry, buy or find water easily on a trek. But if anything goes wrong you will need to know how to get water safely when out in the wilderness. There are a variety of ways to do this, so choose the one that suits your circumstances best. In all cases, make sure you purify your water by boiling or with water purification tabs before drinking it.
COLLECT RAIN WATER
If the weather is wet, place cups and bowls or any other container you can make and place it in an open area so you can collect rainwater.
Alternatively, lay out a vinyl sheet on a piece of ground that has a natural hollow and form a depression in the centre using stones rocks. If possible, make sure your tarp and rocks are as clean as possible before using them.
Collect dew with a towel
This is perfect if you are in an area where there is a heavy early morning dew. Simply drag a clean towel over a dew-covered area then wring it out over a bowl. You may not collect a lot of water this way but you can often get enough to keep you going until you find a better water supply.
Collect water with plastic bags
This one works great for wooded areas when you have a bit of time and the trees are in leaf. Tie a large plastic bag over a leafy branch. Wait a while and water from leaves will evaporate and condense into the bag. You may have to filter out any bugs or plant material before drinking the water. A clean handkerchief or scarf can serve this purpose.
Collect water with a solar still
This one takes a bit more effort and time and is a bit more complicated but it can produce a good supply of water if done correctly.
- Find a piece of ground that is on a slope.
- Dig out an oval-shaped trench.
- Around the edges of the first trench, dig a second trench. This means you have an inner ‘bowl’ or trench and an outer perimeter trench.
- Place a tall stick in the center of the inner trench
- Fill the inner trench with some plant material, like leaves and twigs.
- Cover both trenches and the stick with a large plastic bag. The whole thing needs to be completely covered.
- Use rocks to hold the edges in place.
- Water should condense under the plastic tend and pool in the outer trench.
How to pitch your tent in the rain
There’s nothing more uncomfortable than getting wet when you’re out camping. If you have to pitch your tent in the wet, there are some easy ways to keep the inside of your tent dry so you have somewhere warm and comfortable to rest up when you’re ready to eat or sleep. Staying dry is important for maintaining your body temperature. Once you get wet, you are in danger of getting cold so always aim to stay dry in your tent.
SELECT THE RIGHT CAMP SITE
Look for a flat, well-drained area that is above streams and pools so your site won’t flood if the waters rise rapidly. If all flat areas are sodden due to heavy rain, set your camp on a slight slope so water doesn’t get into your shelter.
PITCH YOUR CAMP
The aim is to keep your gear and the inside of your shelter dry. Remove your shelter from your pack carefully so other kit isn’t exposed to the rain and doesn’t fall out. You will only have a problem keeping your tent dry if the tent pitches inner-first. If this is the case, you need to get your tent up fast. If possible, throw the flysheet over the top of the tent to keep off as much of the rain as you can.
GET UNDER COVER
The goal is to get inside the tent without wetting the groundsheet or any dry gear so make sure you do any outside chores such as filling your water containers before you go inside the tent. Ideally, put your pack in the porch of the tent and crouch next to it while you strip off your wet waterproofs and any other wet garments. Do not sit on the groundsheet in wet clothing.
Once you are in the tent you need to get warm so put on some dry clothes and sit on your sleeping mat. Do not bring any wet items inside the tent. To reduce condensation and keep the inside of the tent dry, make sure the tent is ventilated enough to get some air flow without letting in the rain.
Avoid going outside again if you can but if you do, it’s worth checking guy lines and pegging points as Nylon stretches and sags when it gets wet so they may need tightening. If your pegs start to pull out of the damp ground stamp them down.
If it’s still raining when you pack up, make sure you pack your rucksack inside your shelter so it stays dry. This includes the inner tent if there is one. To avoid a wet tent getting everything else inside the pack damp too, it’s worth strapping it on to the outside of the pack or stuffing it in an outside pocket.
While the above hacks will help you with setting up your campsite - there is no great adventure companion than a pair of Ridgemont Outfitters hiking boots. Shop the range here:
How to clean and gut a fish
Getting caught in the wild without any food is dangerous as your energy reserves can deplete quickly. If you are lucky enough to have caught some fish, you now need to know how to prepare it so you can cook and eat it.
Preparing fish isn’t difficult, but if you forget to descale and don’t know how to gut and clean it, it can make your fish supper a meal to forget. Here is a quick guide to fish preparation that will make your delicious fish supper memorable and enjoyable.
Hold the fish by its head and scrape off the scales of the fish using a blunt knife or some other blunt bladed instrument. When you apply the correct amount of pressure the scales fly off quickly and easily. Keep your strokes short and quick and work carefully around the fins. Wash the outside of your fish and your hands so all the scales are removed before you begin the gutting process.
Place the fish on its side and place on a clean, flat surface. You can put it on a piece of clean cloth or onto a plastic over a rock so you have a good working surface.
Insert your knife into the anus of the fish, which is near the tail and cut a straight line along the belly towards the head. This will split the fish open so you can get to the guts.
Gently push the fish open so that the abdominal cavity is exposed. Carefully cut away at the insides until they are separated from the flesh.
Scrape out the insides of the fish and discard them in a safe manner. Put them in a plastic bag or bury them so you do not attract the attention of foxes and other wildlife. Rinse the fish so it is clean and ready to be cooked.
The easiest way to cook fish in the wild is on a wooden skewer over a fire or, if you have it, wrapped in aluminium foil. If you have salt and other seasonings, add these before you begin cooking. Fish cooks quickly, so don’t leave it on the fire for too long.
Enjoy your freshly caught barbecued fish.
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