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Basic Outdoor Tips


1.  Basic Outdoor Tips
2.  Camping TipsChoosing Hiking Boots  
3.  Choosing/Loading Your Backpack  
4.  Dressing for the Outdoors  
5.  Low-impact Hiking and Camping  

Basic Outdoor Tips

Camping Tips

1.   In cold climates pack your water bottle deep inside your backpack so it will not freeze. Make sure the lid is screwed on tight and pack it upside-down. Water freezes from the top, so if it is stored upside down, the mouth of the bottle remains free of ice. You could also wrap a small heating pad that is activated when shaken around your water bottle, secured with duct tape.

2.   Before you crawl into your sleeping bag at night, fill your water bottle with warm water. Use it to warm your sleeping bag by bringing it into the bag with you, like a hot-water bottle.

3.   If you have room to carry them, take two sleeping bag pads, a self-inflating one and a lightweight closed-cell foam pad, for additional insulation when camping in cold climates.

4.   If you stop to take a water or snack break, store the outer shell of your mittens or gloves in your pack or attach them to your jacket with a clip. Sticking them under your arm makes it easier to have them blow away with a gust of wind. If you lose a mitten, use a spare sock as a substitute.

5.   Take a metal tube that is a bit wider than your tent pole with you. If a tent pole breaks, slide the tube over the broken area to act as a splint and secure the tube to the poles with duct tape. Store your duct tape around your ski pole or water bottle.

6.   Consider taking an extra stove and plenty of stove fuel, up to one-half cup per person per day. It takes a lot of fuel to melt snow for drinking water.

7.   Eat often and carry plenty of food. You can burn up to 8,000 calories per day when winter camping.

8.   Drink plenty of hot soup and beverages during your winter camping trip. You need to replace water lost both through physical exertion and also from the dry, cold air drawing moisture from your face and skin. Try instant cocoa, decaffeinated coffee or tea, fruit-flavored drinks and instant breakfast drinks. Caffeinated drinks are not recommended. They contain diuretics that cause you to lose fluids.

9.   Winter is not the time to go solo, always camp with others. Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member and check in with them on your return.

10. Watch for signs of hypothermia among your camping group: uncontrolled shivering, poor motor coordination, mental confusion and mumbling. If someone exhibits these symptoms, get them into dry clothes or a sleeping bag. Have them huddle close to a warm, dry person and give them a warm beverage.

11. Check for signs of frostbite and pay attention to cold feet. Protected skin, as well as exposed skin, are all susceptible to freezing and toes are the most vulnerable. The first sign of frostbite is white patches on the skin surface. If the skin does not return to its normal color after applying gentle pressure, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

12.  If you are backcountry skiing in hilly terrain, climbing skins help you ascend hills with less effort. Skins are slightly narrower than the width of a ski. They attach to a ski by straps or an adhesive backing. The skins have synthetic hairs or scales that flow from front to back so they grip snow and keep you from sliding backwards on hills.

13.  As you gain altitude, food takes longer to cook. Plan meals that do not require a lot of boiling.

14.  Pack a colorful bandana in your pack. In the rare event you need to signal rescue workers, you can attach the bandana to your ski pole and use it as a flag.


Choosing Hiking Boots

Your enjoyment on the trail rests literally on your feet. Nothing can end a great outdoor experience quicker than painful blisters, pinched toes or even injuries caused by inappropriate hiking boots. (The comfort, fit and construction of appropriate footwear can also add to your margin of safety in rugged terrain.) Here are our guidelines to help you choose the right hiking boots for all your outdoor adventures.

1.   Before you begin shopping for a pair of hiking boots, think carefully about what kind of hiking you plan to do. Select boots that are designed to provide the support and protection you will need for the most difficult terrain you expect to encounter.

2.   Choose boots that are designed to support the load you expect to be carrying. The heavier your load, the more support you will need.

3.   Remember that great hiking boots do not have to weigh a great deal.

4.   Today's high-tech materials have replaced the traditional metal shank and other heavy elements that provide stability in a boot. As a result, hiking boots are lighter but offer great support.

5.   Once you have identified your terrain and load, consider the various advantages of fabric versus leather boots. Fabric/leather boots are lighter in weight and easier to break in. Many hikers today are returning to traditional leather hiking boots for added protection and durability in rigorous terrain.

6.   Leather boots are supportive and water resistant yet still allow your feet to breathe.

7.   Consider the advantages of a waterproof boot. Today's top-quality hiking boots, including many of L.L. Bean’s fabric-and-leather boots, are made with a Gore-Tex® lining that lets perspiration escape while keeping water out. Gore-Tex® is more expensive, but you can walk through puddles and shallow streams and not get your feet wet, potentially a major advantage on longer treks.

8.   Note that there are four distinct types of hiking footwear, ranging from rugged walking shoes suitable for smooth paths to rugged mountaineering boots that carry hikers to the world's highest peaks:

            Trail Shoes If you are hiking in a dry climate and on well-established paths that don't have a lot of rocks, a pair of trail shoes may be just what you need. Trail shoes are the most versatile type of hikers and are sometimes referred to as "approach shoes." This refers to their use for getting comfortably to and from difficult climbs. High-quality trail shoes like Bean's Gore-Tex Mountain Treads are ideal for one-hour to one-day hikes when you are carrying a light daypack.

Trail Hikers If you are going to encounter steeper inclines and muddy paths, or plan to stay out three days to a week, then you will need some sturdier, higher-cut waterproof boots like Bean's Cresta Hikers. These will provide added stability and ankle protection against protruding limbs and rocks.

Mountaineering If you plan to climb in the mountains (and might even need to attach crampons for a better grip on glaciers or hard-packed snow), you will want an extremely strong boot with a stiff sole to give your ankles sturdiness and support as you climb. Bean's rugged Mt. Guide Hikers, which weigh in at only about four pounds, offer reinforced heels and toes for exceptional protection on challenging terrain.

            Finding the Best Fit

1.    When trying on boots, wear the socks you plan to wear on the trail. Bean experts suggest polyester liner socks that wick away moisture, as well as an outer pair of heavy-weave wool or synthetic ragg socks for cushioning.

Safety Tip On the trail, wear any kind of socks but cotton, which absorbs water and perspiration and holds it next to your skin. If you get into a situation where you are hiking with wet feet and the temperature drops below freezing, you risk getting frostbite. A good sock system and hiking boot reduce that possibility.

2.   Boots should feel snug but comfortable, so you can still wiggle your toes. Most hiking boots won’t feel as instantly comfortable as sneakers, but they shouldn’t pinch, cause hot spots or constrict circulation. They should fit securely around your ankle and instep.

3.   When trying on boots, try walking down an incline. Your feet should not slide forward, nor should your toenails scrape against the front of your boot. If your foot slides forward, the boot could be too wide. If the back of your heel moves around, your boots might not be laced up tight enough.

           Breaking in Your New Boots
Once you purchase a pair of boots, break them in slowly and don’t tackle Mt. Everest on your first day out. Leather boots in particular take a while to break in, so take a couple of two- or three-hour hikes before your big trip or wear them around the house or even while mowing your lawn. If you find any sharp pressure points, use leather conditioner to soften the leather, working work spots with your thumbs to modify the shape and make the leather more supple.

           Care and Maintenance

1.   Cleaning and waterproofing your boots from time to time is critical. Use waterproofing on leather, and be sure to concentrate on the seams, which can become porous over time. For boots with a Gore-Tex lining, use a silicon-based waterproofing treatment, not a wax-based treatment. Wax-based treatments keep the leather from "breathing."

2.   On the trail, if a blister or hot spot develops, place padding such as moleskin or an adhesive bandage over the area. You can cut a donut in the moleskin to create a buffer around the blister.

3.   Remember, hiking boots will never feel like bedroom slippers


Choosing/Loading Your Backpack

Whether you are carrying an internal frame or an external frame pack, you should load it with balance and the convenient location of gear in mind. A few basic packing principles apply to both styles of packs.

  • Sleeping bag. Internal frame packs have a special sleeping bag compartment in the bottom. External frame packs have a special area below the pack bag where you can lash on your sleeping bag. In either case, make sure your sleeping bag is well protected from the elements. It is always a good idea to carry a large plastic garbage bag in the bottom of your pack. If it rains, you can line your nylon sleeping bag stuff sack with it for extra protection.

  • Carry clothing, cooking essentials and food in the main compartment. Heaviest gear should be stowed toward your back and centered in the pack to provide proper balance. It helps to use a soft garment as a buffer between your back and hard-edged items such as cook kits and fuel bottles. Midweight gear should be carried toward the top and outside portion of the pack. Organizing your gear in color-coded stuff sacks makes packing easier and helps you locate supplies quickly on the trail.

Carry sunglasses, guidebook, map, compass, water bottles, camera and other essentials in outer pockets. Nothing is more frustrating than having to sort through all the compartments in your pack to find something you need. The easiest way to avoid frustration is to consistently pack the same items in the same pockets. For example, your map, guidebook and compass in the top pocket.


Dressing for the Outdoors

Outdoor enthusiasts have long recognized that multiple layers of clothing keep them warm in winter and from overheating in summer. Adding or removing garments is a practical way to adapt quickly to different activity levels and temperature changes during your time outside.

While cotton was once the mainstay of long underwear and cold- weather clothing, it is no longer recommended for strenuous winter activities because it soaks up moisture. Damp clothes are heavier and, if next to your skin, can pose a chilling hazard.

Modern performance underwear, made from polyester or polypropylene, is most effective in moving moisture away from your skin and into outer layers of clothing where it can evaporate.

Underwear should fit snugly, without hampering movement. Make sure the shirt is long enough to tuck firmly into the lower half. Too loose a fit may cause chafing.

In addition to traditional shirts and "long johns," many other garments including short-sleeve tops, bras, boxer shorts and briefs are now made with polyester fabrics to "wick" away chilling perspiration.

If you are performing an active sport such as skiing, or hiking in spring or fall, a polyester fabric, such as fleece, is an ideal second layer over your long underwear. It continues to trap your body warmth while "wicking" away moisture. Even in warmer seasons, a midlayer is useful to have handy in your pack for those times you begin to chill (particularly during rest stops.)

Depending on weather conditions, you may want to wear wind-resistant, water-resistant pants and an anorak over your other clothes. How many layers you need depends on your level of exertion, personal preference and weather conditions.

Many winter campers wear a system of underwear, a midlayer of polyester fleece (pants and top), followed by a windproof, water-resistant outer layer (windpants with full zips down the side for easy on/off and a high-performance wind shell with zippers under the arms for ventilation during active sports).

Be prepared for severe weather. Carry a waterproof rain jacket and pants with you, even if the forecast is for sunshine.

Up to 80% of your body heat can be lost through your neck and head. Carry a hat with you for added warmth or protection from the sun.

For overnight trips, carry a lightweight polypropylene hat. It is lightweight and stores compactly in your pack pocket and doubles nicely as a comfortable sleeping hat in cool weather.

Winter campers often carry a hat system consisting of a lightweight polypropylene liner and a nylon shell to adjust to changing winter temperatures.

For maximum comfort and blister prevention, many hikers wear two layers of socks, a thin polyester sock liner with a thicker outer sock. On overnight or extended trips, be sure to carry enough socks to be able to change into a fresh set each day.

Low-impact Hiking and Camping

To help ensure quality backcountry experiences for fellow outdoors people and future generations, we encourage our customers to join us in practicing low-impact hiking and camping.

Carry in, carry out. Before you hit the trail, repackage food into reusable containers. When empty, the containers can hold waste until you can dispose of it properly. Pack everything that you carry into the backcountry back out with you.

  • In bear country, protect wildlife, your food supply and yourself by storing rations securely. Seek advice from park rangers on proper food storage.

  • Some parks install bear-resistant containers or poles (for hanging "bear-bagged" food) in backcountry sites. Pick up and clean up spilled foods.

  • Use a backpacking stove to prepare meals. It takes less time and has less impact on the environment than building a campfire. In addition, many areas prohibit the use of campfires except in designated areas.

Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings or fire pans. Do not scorch large rocks or overhangs.

  • Keep your fire small. Gather sticks, no larger than an adult wrist. Leave branches on trees, even if they are downed or dead.

  • Put out campfires completely. In the morning, remove all unburned trash from the fire ring and scatter the cold ashes over a large area well away from camp.

Visit the backcountry in small groups and try to avoid popular areas during peak-use periods.

  • Stay on designated trails and walk in single file in the center of the path to avoid trampling trailside plants.

  • Many grasses and sub-alpine plants are extremely sensitive to foot traffic. If you must venture beyond the trail, choose the most durable surfaces to walk on (rock, gravel or snow.)

Choose an established, legal site. If you are wilderness camping, use previously used campsites when available to decrease impact on terrain.

  • Good campsites are found, not made. Don't alter a site for your own purposes- don't clear vegetation, build structures or dig trenches.

Set up camp in areas where vegetation is compacted or absent. Camp at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from lakes and streams to help keep pollutants out of water sources.

  • For bathing or dishwashing, haul water 200 feet from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. A small bowl of water and one baby wipe provide a thorough bath. Strain your dishwater and scatter it or bury it in a hole so it won't attract insects. Use gravel or sand to clean pots and pans.

  • Deposit human waste in a hole, six to eight inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, trails and your campsite. Use toilet paper sparingly.

  • Check your campsite to make sure you have removed all refuse and other evidence of your stay. Make sure you scan the tent area for small items that could inadvertently be left behind.

Keeping the "wild" in wilderness
Leave plants, rocks and historical artifacts for others to enjoy.

  • Domestic animals and wild country often don't mix. Most state and national parks prohibit dogs or require them to be on leashes. If you must take your dog with you, make sure it is under control at all times. Do not allow it to chase other animals or become a problem for other hikers or campers.

Enjoy your adventure in the backcountry. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.

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