Posted on Leave a comment

12 OUTDOOR SURVIVAL SKILLS EVERY PERSON SHOULD MASTER

Think fast: You’re stranded in the woods with darkness falling and no help in sight. Can you to get safety before the elements (or wild animals) get to you?

 

Survival Skill #1
Locating a Suitable Campsite
“You want to stay high and dry,” Stewart says. Avoid valleys and paths where water may flow toward you (flash floods get their name for a reason—they can deluge a low-lying area in minutes). Choose a campsite free from natural dangers like insect nests and widow-makers—dead branches that may crash down in the middle of the night—as well as falling rocks. Ideally, you want to be close to resources like running water, dry wood (from which you can assemble your shelter and build a fire) and rocky walls or formations that can shield you from the elements.

 

outdooor

Survival Skill #2
Building a Shelter
Not surprisingly, hypothermia is the number one outdoor killer in cold weather. That means a well-insulated shelter should be your top priority in a prolonged survival situation. To make a simple lean-to, find a downed tree resting at an angle, or set a large branch securely against a standing tree, and stack smaller branches close together on one side. Layer debris, like leaves and moss, across the angled wall. Lastly, insulate yourself from the cold ground–which will draw heat from your warm body–by layering four to six inches of debris to lie on.

Survival Skill #3
Starting a Fire With a Battery
Any battery will do, says Stewart. “It’s about short-circuiting the battery.” Connect the negative and positive terminals with a wire, foil (like a gum wrapper), or steel wool to create a spark to drive onto your tinder bundle. Have your firewood ready.
Survival Skill #4
Building Your Fire
Stewart views fire building in terms of four key ingredients: tinder bundle of dry, fibrous material (cotton balls covered in Vaseline or lip balm are an excellent choice, if you’ve got them) and wood in three sizes—toothpick, Q-tip, and pencil. Use a forearm-sized log as a base and windscreen for your tinder. When the tinder is lit, stack the smaller kindling against the larger log, like a lean-to, to allow oxygen to pass through and feed the flames. Add larger kindling as the flame grows, until the fire is hot enough for bigger logs. Check out some of our fire starters.

outdoor

Survival Skill #5
Finding clean water
“You’ll come across two kinds of water in the wild,” Stewart says. “Potable water that’s already purified, and water that can kill you.” When it comes to questionable water—essentially anything that’s been on the ground long-term, like puddles and streams—your best option is boiling water, which is 100 percent effective in killing pathogens. But sometimes boiling isn’t an option.

Rain, snow, and dew are reliable sources of clean water you can collect with surprising ease, and they don’t need to be purified. With a couple of bandannas, Stewart has collected two gallons of water in an hour by soaking up dew and ringing out the bandannas. You can also squeeze water from vines, thistles, and certain cacti. Are there any maple trees around? Cut a hole in the bark and let the watery syrup flow—nature’s energy drink.

Survival Skill #6
Collecting Water With a Transpiration Bag
Like humans, plants “sweat” throughout the day—it’s a process called transpiration. To take advantage of this clean, pure source of water, put a clear plastic bag over a leafy branch and tie it tightly closed. When you return later in the day, water will have condensed on the inside of the bag, ready to drink. Check out some of our products for collecting water.

outdoorr
Survival Skill #7
Identifying Edible Plants
There’s no need to go after big game in a survival situation, and chances are you’ll waste energy in a fruitless attempt to bring them down. “Make your living on the smalls,” Stewart says. That means eating edible plants (as well as small critters like fish, frogs, and lizards).Separating the plants you can eat from those that will kill you is a matter of study and memorization. Buy a book to familiarize yourself with plants in different environments. And don’t take any chances if you’re uncertain (remember how Chris McCandles died in the end of Into the Wild). A few common edible plants include cattail, lambsquarter (also called wild spinach), and dandelions. Find these and eat up.

Survival Skill #8
Using a Split-tip Gig to Catch Critters
Gigging (hunting with a multi-pronged spear) is the simplest way to catch anything from snakes to fish. Cut down a sapling of about an inch in diameter, and then split the fat end with a knife (or sharp rock) into four equal sections ten inches down. Push a stick between the tines to spread them apart, then sharpen the points. You’ve got an easy-to-use four-pronged spear. Much easier for catching critters than a single sharp point.

Survival Skill #9
Navigating By Day
If you ever find yourself without a GPS tool (or a simple map and compass) you can still use the sky to find your way. The most obvious method to get a general bearing by day is to look at the sun, which rises approximately in the east and sets approximately in the west anywhere in the world. But you can also use an analog watch to find the north-south line. Just hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand at the sun. Imagine a line running exactly midway between the hour hand and 12 o’clock. This is the north-south line. On daylight savings? Draw the line between the hour hand and one o’clock.

Survival Skill #10
Navigating By Night
Find Polaris, or the North Star, which is the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. If you can find the Big Dipper, draw a line between the two stars at the outer edge of the constellation’s dipper portion. Extend this line toward the Little Dipper, and it will line up with Polaris. Face Polaris, and you’re facing true north. If there is a crescent moon in the sky, connect the horns of the crescent with an imaginary line. Extend this line to the horizon to indicate a southerly bearing. Once you determine your direction, pick a landmark nearby or in the distance to follow by daylight.

outdoorss

Survival Skill #11
Tying a Bowline
Knots come in handy for a slew of survival scenarios—tying snares, securing shelters, lowering equipment or yourself down a cliff face. Ideally, you should have an arsenal of knots, from hitches to bends to loops, in your repertoire. But if you learn only one, learn the bowline.

“It’s your number one, go-to rescue knot,” Stewart, who uses a mnemonic for every knot, says. It’s foolproof for fastening rope to an object via a loop, particularly when the rope will be loaded with weight: the harder you pull, the tighter the knot gets. Stewart’s mnemonic for tying the bowline from any angle is “the rabbit comes out of the hole, around the tree, and back in the hole.” Use this mnemonic, says Stewart, and “it doesn’t matter if you tie it spinning on your head. It’s going to come out right.”

Survival Skill #12
Sending Up a Survival Signal
At times—like when you have a debilitating injury—your only hope for getting saved is to maximize your visibility so rescuers can find you. Two methods, if used properly, will guarantee that, if someone’s looking, they’ll see you.The first is a signal fire—and the first rule is to put it out in the open for visibility. That means hilltops or clearings in a forest where nothing, like a cliff face or trees, will disperse the smoke. Create a platform to raise the base of the fire off the ground so moisture doesn’t saturate the wood. Save your absolute best combustible material for your signal fire to guarantee a quick light. Once the fire is lit, pile on green branches, like pine boughs in winter, to produce thick smoke. “It’s not about warmth, it’s about 15 seconds of smoke,” Stewart notes. “That’s about all you’ve got when you hear a plane before it’s out of sight.”

The second is a mirror signal. A flash from signal mirror—even at night, by moonlight—can be seen for miles, much farther than any flashlight. You don’t need a store-bought signal mirror to be effective. Improvise with any reflective surface you’ve got, from rearview mirrors or headlights to a cell phone screen. Aiming the reflection is the key, and it’s simple. Hold out a peace sign and place your target–be it plane or boat–between your fingers. Then flash the reflection back and forth across your fingers.

Posted on Leave a comment

Build your own Underground Bunker

food_storage_survival_prep_pro1-1024x768-620x465

Okay, so you might not be able to do all this by yourself, but this might get you started on your way to having your very own, very quiet and thick skinned underground bunker.

Why would you want one?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it. Most people don’t do the whole underground thing, unless they’re mad dictators or something of the sort. The problem with this is that none of us are reallyready, if you catch our drift. If something were to happen, where you would need an underground, reinforced hideout, you’re out of luck now, aren’t you? Yes you are.

 

Whether you build this thing as a standard panic room or a separate shelter, it would be a good addition to your home, it’ll raise the property value (considerably) if you ever want to move away, and if the day should come when “they” decide to drop the big one on your local town, you’ll be up and about along with the cockroaches in no time, while everyone else are so much dust in the wind. Nice, huh? Yes it is.

What to do first.

According to BunkerBuilders.com, you have to find a suitable place for your bunker. They’ve got a nice checklist which we will take the liberty of reproducing here.

Things to consider when deciding where to build your underground shelter:

  • As deep underground as possible to protect from radiation, flying projectiles and debris.
  • Outside of areas known to be flood prone, including areas within the 100 year flood plain.
  • The bunker should be placed so that the evacuees have a short route to the entrance.
  • Away from any potential debris field and its emergency exits and air inlets can be extended on several sides of the building into zones that are free from debris and fire.
  • The bunker should have as much of its external walls against the ground as possible for protection from heat and for support provided by the surrounding soil.
  • Away from potential fuel concentrations, flammable materials, vehicles and hazardous materials.
  • Away from large objects and multi-story buildings, light poles, antennas, satellite dishes or roof mounted mechanical equipment.
  • The bunker should be made easily concealed.

Most sane people who decide to build themselves a bunker or a hardened part of their house to use as a panic room won’t fall in this trap, but we’re going to warn you anyway; If the people you’re looking to buy a shelter from (yes, some come pre-fab) has 2012 “Planet X” propaganda on their website, you should probably look elsewhere. “Stealth Installation” (yes, there are companies advertising this) isn’t really a viable option either, since a genuinely safe underground bunker will be noticed during construction. Also, you’ll probably need permits to build them, unless you live on a remote farm or on a huge property in the middle of a forest somewhere.

Ready-Made, perhaps?

We’ll mention one other alternative before we go on, however. There are a lot of read-made, nuclear-proof homes out there. It’s true! They’re on the market, too – readily available for purchase by anyone (who has the money). Granted, they can be expensive, but if you

have 400,000 – 4,6 million dollars just burning holes in your pockets, then this could be just what you’re looking for. What about a beautiful home built on top of an Atlas F missile silo with all the trimmings? 2000 lbs blast doors, several stories of hardened housing down into the earth, all the comforts of a top-notch residence on every level.

This probably isn’t for everyone, however, even if you’ve got the money and the financial planning for it. Most of these sites are pretty dreary – location-wise, at least. You pretty much have to choose between living in the middle of some desert or other (there’s one smack in the middle of Texas, for example) or deep in some woods where you actually need that private airstrip (like in the picture, there).

So we’ll go on to how you should go about building your own – slightly-smaller-than-a-missile-silo underground bunker. Should be fun.

Get your Permits, mister.

Make sure you’ve got the permits you need to dig and build in the place you found while following the list up above there. If you can’t meet all of the requirements, that’ll probably be okay, but you do need to come close, however. Also, you need to make sure that you’re not going to dig through your neighborhood’s watersupply, cables, drainage tunnels and all of those nasty things that seem to do nothing but cause trouble once they see daylight.

Once you know you’re allowed to dig, and you won’t cut off the nation’s internet access by severing a fiber cable down there, you’re good to go. Now you either get yourself a machine, or you hire someone to dig your hole for you. If you’re not in construction and you haven’t dug a hole like this before, hiring someone to do it for you is probably a great idea.

If you want to try doing this yourself, eHow has a nice write-up of a (very) basic shelter, which is probably possible to pull off on your own. It does require a lot of concrete work, which can be trying unless you have a lot of experience, but not impossible at all.

If you want something more than a basic shelter with four concrete walls and a bucket to do your business in, however, you should leave the construction itself to a professional contractor.

What you should do yourself is designing the place, making sure that you get it exactly the way you want it.

Bunker Design

One of the most fascinating bunker designs out there is the Vivos approach. This company is building bunkers all over the US, and will also build one for you, based on their own designs, but customizable to no end, apparently. Even if you don’t buy a bunker off them, it’s a good idea to check out their specs here (be patient with that pdf – their site is as slow as cold molasses).

As futuristic as anything out there, these bunkers will apparently be able to save you from anything – tsunamis, anarchy, radiation, blasts, heat, fallout – they’ll apparently save humanity when 2012 runs out too… yes, we said something about that up above, we know, but still. These bunkers are seriously neat.

The military has been building bunkers for a long time, and they’re probably the best people out there when it comes to making secure, timeless and useful bunkers, functional to the bone and efficient on top of that. You would do well to read one of their survival guides, for example, before you start prioritizing your bunker design. Basing your design on the army’s specifications is a very good idea, but you might want to add some more comfort to your hole – after all, you don’t know how long you’ll be in there, and if you plan on using this space as an addition to your normal living quarters, then you might want more than four concrete walls and a wooden bunk bed.

Sitting down and drawing up your bunker is a good idea – remember that you don’t necessarily need to reinforce every single wall in there, as long as the structure is sound and strong. Plan for drywalls inside the shelter, so you can hide air filtering, wiring and pipes, just as you would in a regular home.

Some things to consider when designing your new underground shelter:

– Light.There’s not going to be any windows, so plan for more light sourcesthan you would in a regular house. Make sure that you have emergency lighting on separate curcuits – you never know when that might come in handy.

– Air. Filtration systems aren’t cheap, but the most common flaw in private bunkers is a lack of adequate ventilation. Spring for the bigger one, if in doubt.

– Water. Again, filtration systems aren’t cheap, but they’re necessary if you’re going to use an outside source as a water supply down in your bunker. The alternative is to get a water tank, but depending on the size, that won’t keep you for long. Plan to have more resources than you think you’ll strictly need.

– Food. Stock up with emergency stuff, and get the fresh meats and fruits down there when there might be a need for them. Storage of food is what drains the most energy, so plan for this. Use ground cold/heat to store your food, and go for high-quality dried foods (such as MREs) and canned goods. That will get you a long way.

Linked from: http://snallabolaget.com/?page_id=1343

Posted on Leave a comment

How to Bug Proof Your Hammock by Serac Hammocks

With the sun shining once again, it’s about time to dust off that hammock. Oh, you don’t have one? Didn’t you hear? Hammock camping is the new thing. It’s lighter, cozier, and way cooler than any other sleeping method around. Snark aside, hammocks are on the rise, and this has furthered a new crop of hammock-related questions.

One of the most common: What about bugs?

We got in touch with Jeff Zhang of Serac Hammocks, who wrote a guest post for us on how to bug proof your hammock. Serac Hammocks sells just one type of hammock — the Classic, which is lightweight, knot-free, and a screaming deal. The company is dead set on increasing awareness about hammock camping, and recently released a free e-book that describes everything about the process. We covered that here.

How to Bug Proof Your Hammock

As the weather gets warmer and the temperature rises, mosquitoes come out to play. Mosquitoes are completely inactive in the winter, hibernating through the cold months. But once the temperature warms, the mosquitoes begin to come out in force. I hate mosquitoes, but they sure as heck love me. To keep my undesired suitors at bay, I always make sure I’m properly equipped to bug proof my hammocks. Here are a couple ways to make your next trip sucker free.

Get a Jungle Hammock

A jungle hammock is a style of hammock that features a built in mosquito net. These hammocks provide full protection even in the buggiest conditions. They are often sold as complete shelters and can run several hundred dollars.

A cheaper alternative to a jungle hammock are parachute hammocks with a built in mosquito net. These hammocks are essentially the same as the popular parachute nylon camping hammocks, but with an attached bug net. These hammocks can also be used as a normal hammock by flipping it over, making it a versatile choice. This way, you can just hang out without being constricted within the net.

But watch out for low quality netting. A net that feels soft and lightweight might be comfortable to to the touch, but they will tear easily. A single hole in your netting can make it all but useless. Instead opt for a bug net that has strong individual fibers with a more textured feel.

Use a Mosquito Net Designed for Hammocks

If you aren’t looking to buy a new hammock just to fight some mosquitoes, you can still find great protection for your hammock. Many types of netting exist that are designed specifically for your hammock. The concept for all of them is essentially the same. The hammock is strung through the mosquito net through two openings on each end. The mosquito net is suspended with a ridgeline above the hammock. You can get in and out of the mosquito net through a zipper on one side.

A separate mosquito net provides 360 degrees of protection for your hammock. Unlike a built in mosquito net, a separate mosquito net will prevent insects from landing on the outer layer of the hammock itself. This reduces the chance of persistent critters biting through the fabric. This ridgeline style setup is also very easy to master.

Treat your Hammock and Gear with Permethrin

Sometimes we just want to sleep under the stars without a net obstructing our view. If you don’t want to fumble with a bug net, you can treat your equipment with permethrin. Permethrin is a synthetic molecule that is similar to pyrethrum, a natural compound found in chrysanthemum flowers. Permethrin not only repels insects, but it will kill ticks, mosquitoes and all sorts of other buggers on contact. It is the active ingredient in many insect repelling fabrics. It kills insects that come in contact with it by overloading their nervous system. But for us, don’t worry, it’s nontoxic and completely safe for topical use on anyone over the age of 2 months.

You can buy spray bottles of permethrin to apply to your own gear. Once properly applied, it is odorless and leaves no residue. A hammock treated with permethrin combined with insect repellent makes a powerful mosquito shield. This is great for people that are weight conscious about their gear or simply don’t want a mosquito net. Keep in mind that permethrin has “spatial repellency” to insects. This means that mosquitoes may swarm around you, but they will not land on a hammock that has been treated.

Use Natural Mosquito Repellents and Camp Away from Water

The easiest way to avoid mosquitoes is to set up camp far away from where they are likely to be. Mosquitoes tend to swarm around water sources where the females lays her eggs. Campsites that are far away from rivers and lakes will have a much lower concentration of mosquitoes. Having a hammock gives you plenty of options for campsites. However, this will only reduce the overall number of mosquitoes. It’s very hard to completely be rid of them.

Natural insect repellents exist also exist, but are less effective than netting or chemicals. Natural oils like citronella are effective mosquito repellents. You can apply these to your skin before camping in your hammock. Drinking a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar can also reduce the amount of mosquito bites you’ll encounter.

Don’t Let the Mosquitoes Stop You!

All of this is our best advice, but keep in mind that when we’re outdoors, mosquitoes are often a fact of life. But just because they’re buzzing around, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy a trip into the wild! Whether you get a mosquito proof hammock or simply modify your existing one, hammock without fear the next time you’re out.

Posted on Leave a comment

A Modular Camper That Takes One Person, One Hour, And One Screwdriver To Put Together

Don’t have space to store a travel trailer? What if you could assemble your RV only when needed? The Tail Feather modular camper lets you do just that.

Lawrence Drake created the Tail Feather Camper Kit because he wanted to have a camper that wouldn’t take up space in the driveway or garage when it wasn’t in use. Designed as a modular camper, this build-it-yourself product uses multiple panels to allow assembly on a standard-sized utility trailer.

The Tail Feather Camper – a modular camper that can be taken apart and stored when not in use.

The camper/utility-trailer combination weighs around 1,000 lbs., making it easy to tow with an SUV or family car. There are four different models that fit utility trailers between the sizes of 5’ x 8’ and 5’ x 10’. When assembled, the camper’s living space is 6’ 1” wide by 8’ 4” to 10’ 1” wide depending on the model with an interior height of 6’ 2”.

One person can easily put together the camper panels to build the camper in an hour’s time using just a screwdriver.

Each panel weighs no more than 35 lbs., making it easy to handle and they nest together to minimize space when stored.

There’s enough space inside the modular camper to seat four at the dinette and sleep two when converted into a full size bed.

The panels are insulated and the kit comes with a floor liner to keep the camper dry and dust free. Included are a dinette/full size bed, removable cabinets made of canvas, windows that can be moved around, a roof that has skylights and vents, and a counter with a sink and faucet.

The kit also comes with 2 LED ceiling lights and one power panel that has a 120 V AC/12 V DC 15 amp supply. All the interior furnishings can quickly be collapsed and removed when needed.

Two of the models have doors on the side while the other two models have double rear doors.

The models that have the rear doors can easily be converted into a toy hauler to load a motorcycle, ATV, or bicycles when the furniture is removed.

Or use the panels to create a modular, stationary shelter.

The company also produces Quite Lite Shelters, which is a conversion kit that transforms the Tail Feather campers into a standalone shelter. The kit includes a special doorframe, additional wall panels (to increase the size of the camper), and an extra roof section.

Drake hopes that the shelters can be used as an ice fishing hut, shelter for backcountry skiing, or even emergency housing. The Quite Lite Shelter comes in one model which sits on a base of 8’ 4” x 15’ 6” and the space above the knee height is 9’ 6” x 16’ 6”.

As of May 2016, Teal International, the maker of the Tail Feather modular camper, is currently reorganizing, but hopes to have product available soon.

Posted on Leave a comment

The 26 Best Places to Pitch a Tent in the U.S.

After a day spent wandering wooded paths, admiring breathtaking vistas, and dipping your toes into a crystal clear creek, you huddle around a campfire to peer up at the glowing stars and enjoy a few (hundred) s’mores. Ahh, peace and quiet! Then you zip up into your tent for a few (mosquito-free) hours, and wake to the birds chirping and the faint hint of early morning sunlight. This is what camping is all about.

In honor of the National Park Service’s 99th birthday, we rounded up the best places to camp in the country. You’ll learn the coolest features of each natural wonderland, how much it costs, and the best time of year to visit. So gather up your tent, bear-proof containers, and a few good friends for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. (The list is organized by location.)

The Northeast

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

Why It’s Cool: Maine is known as The Pine Tree State for a reason: It’s covered in 17 million acres of forest. Plus it has 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams—basically, a camper’s paradise. Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is the ideal destination for nature lovers of all skill levels. Looking for a unique experience? Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain (the highest point along the east coast) just before sunrise and be the first person in the U.S. to see the sun that morning.

Where to Camp: The park has two campgrounds: Blackwoods (closer to the island’s town center, Bar Harbor) and Seawall (a more rustic, less touristy environment). While visitors can enjoy hiking throughout the entire park, camping is only allowed in these designated areas (backcountry enthusiasts, take note).

When It’s Open: Blackwoods campground is open year-round (permit required December to March). Seawall is open from late May through September.

Fee: Blackwoods costs $30 per site, per night from May to October; $10 in April and November; and it’s free from December to March. Seawall will set you back $22 for a walk-in site and $30 for drive-up tent, camper, and motor home sites.

2. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for a more rustic experience in the Northeast, the White Mountains are your best bet. The hiking’s pretty rugged in this section of the Appalachian range, but totally worth it if you’re up for the challenge. The sights here are particularly stunning in the fall, when the foliage turns to all shades of red, orange, and yellow.

Where to Camp: While the forest does have 24 drive-in campgrounds (with a combined 800 campsites—wowza!), the eight walk-in state park campgrounds in the northern part of the state are really what camping’s all about. Developed campsites require reservations. Backcountry tent camping is also allowed (except in noted no-camping areas); there are also log lean-tos scattered throughout the forest (a small fee may apply).

3. Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

Why It’s Cool: Vermont’s Long Trail is one of the Green Mountain State Park‘s biggest draws, so try finding a camping spot close by to hike a portion of it during your stay. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the 270-plus-mile trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the U.S.! It follows the ridge of the Green Mountains through Vermont from the Massachusetts border to Canada.

Where to Camp: The forest offers five developed campgrounds. There are no electrical hookups or dump stations, so arrive prepared. Campground accessibility varies by season. Dispersed or back country camping is allowed anywhere in the park unless specifically posted.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center and campground accessibility vary by season, but one campground is always open all year.

Cost: The best part? There are no entrance fees, and most of the campsites are free too. The Green Mountain Club maintains about 70 campsites along The Long Trail, all with a water source and privy, for which GMC caretakers will come by to charge a small fee during the summer and fall.

When It’s Open: Forest accessible year-round. Visitor center hours vary.

Cost: Daily passes to the park are available for $3; seven-day passes available for $5. Campsites vary from $18 to $24 per night, while backcountry tent camping is free. Parking at a trailhead may require a permit; check signage at your chosen lot.

The Mid-Atlantic

4. Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

Why It’s Cool: Located in south-central Pennsylvania, this scenic park sits at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains in an area known as South Mountain (confusing, we know). The Appalachian Trail, perhaps the most famous foot trail in the world, runs through the forest, which is home to the trail’s halfway point. While only 2,000 people attempt to hike the whole 2,186-mile trail each year (about a quarter actually finish), between 2 and 3 million people hike or walk a portion of it. Whether you cover two miles or 20, it’s still cool to say you’ve done it! Have some time after the hike? Check out the Appalachian Trail Museum, located near the midpoint of the AT.

Where to Camp: The forest has a mix of 70 tent and trailer sites (mostly rustic) available from late March to mid-December. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Backpacking and overnight hikes are not permitted. Electric and water hook-ups are available for a fee at specific sites.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Campgrounds open from April through December.

Cost: No entrance fee. Backpacking or river camping ranges from $4 to $5 per night, while basic campsites start at $15 per night.

5. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Why It’s Cool: If you love beaches and camping, this is the spot for you. Assateague is a barrier island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia covered in sandy beaches, salt marshes, forests, and costal bays. There’s even a community of wild horses (how exotic!). Enjoy relaxing on the 37 miles of beach or hiking by day, and buckle down your tent right by (er, a safe distance from) the crashing waves for a night under the stars.

Where to Camp: Camping is only allowed on the Maryland side of the island at two oceanside and four bayside camping areas. From October 16­ through April 14, the sites are first-come, first-served. Two campsites are also open for horse camping during this time (for a fee of $50 per night). From April 15 through October 15, reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Backcountry camping is allowed ($10, seven-day permit required), but it’s only accessible by backpacking or water.

When It’s Open: Year-round; visitor center and ranger station hours vary from season to season.

Cost: $20 vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campsite fee is $30 per night depending on season and location.

The West Coast

6. Yosemite National Park, California

Why It’s Cool: Nearly 95 percent of this breathtaking park is designated wilderness—meaning no cars, no structures, no roads, and no electricity. After a night spent under the stars, hike up to Glacier Point, which overlooks the park’s famous Yosemite Valley, Half Dome (a rock structure revered among climbers), and the High Sierra peaks. The Four Mile Trail route takes about three to four hours each way. Looking for even more of a challenge? The Panorama Trail is about twice as long.

Where to Camp: There are 13 popular campgrounds scattered throughout the park, and reservations are strongly recommended from April to September. But seven campgrounds operate on a first-come first-served basis year-round. Backcountry camping is also allowed, but requires a free wilderness permit (which can be reserved ahead of time).

When It’s Open: Park open year round. Campgrounds vary by season.

Cost: $30 per vehicle for a seven-day pass ($25 from November to March). Campsites range from $6 to $26 per night.

7. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Why It’s Cool: We know, camping in the desert doesn’t sound like so much fun (hello, sunburn). But the nearly 800,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park is so much more than just desert. The park sits at the intersection of two very different ecosystems: To the east is the low-lying Colorado Desert; to the west lies the slightly higher, cooler, wetter Mojave Desert (home to the park’s namesake, the Joshua tree). The park also has ten mountain peaks higher than 5,000 feet in elevation, making it a popular rock climbing destination. (Just be sure you know what you’re doing first.)

Where to Camp: The park is home to nine established campgrounds. Some campsites require reservations for October through May. The rest of the sites are first-come, first-served. Backcountry camping is allowed, but campers must register in advance at a designated backcountry registration board.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center and campground status vary by season.

Cost: $20 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes are available for $30 and national passes are accepted. Camping costs $15 per site per night without water, or $20 with potable water available.

8. Olympic National Park, Washington

Why It’s Cool: You’ll encounter three different ecosystems in one park, including a rainforest. Head to the Quinault Rainforest (one of only three in the western hemisphere) to see the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world. There’s a 30-mile road that loops through the rainforest, but we think hiking’s a better option. End your trip at Ruby Beach, where you can see mountains, glaciers, and rainforests right from the shoreline—or at La Push, the northernmost beach in Washington, where you can see whales off the coast during migration season.

Where to Camp: The park has 16 National Park Service-operated campgrounds with a total of 910 sites. Backcountry camping is allowed, but a permit ($5) is required (reservations are also sometimes required). If you’re not a tent enthusiast, stay in one of the rustic lodges open year-round.

When It’s Open: Park is open year-round. Camping availability varies, but there are some primitive sites open year-round.

Cost: $20 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campground fees range from $15 to $22 per night depending on season and location. A wilderness camping permit is required for back country camping: $5 per person, per night.

The Mountain States

9. Zion National Park, Utah

Why It’s Cool: With massive sandstone cliffs, brilliant blue skies, and a plethora of plants and animals, this almost otherworldly park is truly a national treasure. After spending the night in the woods, hike the Kolob Canyons in the northwest corner of the park. The five-mile and 14-mile trails make perfect four- or eight- hour trips. The longer trail takes you to Kolob Arch, one of the largest (and most remote) natural arches in the world. If you’re traveling in the summer and score a permit ($5), exploring The Subway, a unique tunnel structure sculpted by a creek, is an unparalleled experience.

Where to Camp: The park has three established campgrounds, which are full every night during summer. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips and can be issued the day before or day of your trip (or reserved up to three months in advance). Before you go, be sure to read through the Zion wilderness guide.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Some services and facilities may reduce hours or close at some point during the year.

Cost: $30 per vehicle for a recreational seven-day pass. Wilderness permits are $10 to $20 depending on the size of the group. Campsite fees range from free to $16 per night.

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Why It’s Cool: Featuring over 700 miles of trails through forests, meadows, and mountains, this park is a dream come true for hikers. You may have heard of Going-to-the-Sun-Road, a 50-mile road that winds through the mountains, but that’s only fun if you’re in a car. To experience the majestic beauty on foot, head to Logan Pass and Many Glacier  (there are several trails to choose from, many of which offer spectacular views of alpine lakes, as well as a campground nearby).

Where to Camp: There are 13 developed campgrounds with a whopping 1,009 established sites. Most operate on a first-come first-served basis, except for three that require reservations. Backcountry camping is also allowed, but a backcountry permit is required and you may only camp in designated campgrounds. (See the Back country guide for details.)

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor facilities open from late May through early September.

Cost: Summer entrance fees are $25 per car for seven days ($15 in winter). Annual and national passes are also available. Campsites vary from $10 to $23 per night during the summer season.

11. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Why It’s Cool: Located just north of Jackson Hole, WY, Grand Teton is home to a number of impressive Rocky Mountain peaks, majestic lakes, and incredible wildlife. There are a ton of hiking trails ranging from easy to very strenuous, so you can choose your own adventure based on how you’re feeling that day.

Where to Camp: Stay at one of the five campgrounds in the park (Signal Mountain earns enthusiastic reviews). All back country camping requires a permit, which is free and available to walk-ins on a first-come first-served basis. (You may also be able to register online depending on the time of year, but it will cost you $25.)

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center hours vary by season, but one visitor center will always be open year-round.

Cost: $30 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. All entrance fees are valid at both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. In the winter, there is a winter day-use fee of $5. Some national passes are also accepted. Campground fees are $22 per night, per site.

12. Arches National Park, Utah

Why It’s Cool: It’s a red rock wonderland with more than 2,000 natural stone arches, offering a variety of easy, moderate, and long trails. One of the most popular, the Delicate Arch trail, takes you to the spectacular arch of the same name (don’t miss the Instagram-worthy photo op!). Or take a ranger-guided hike through the Fiery Furnace, an area of sandstone canyons with no marked trailheads.

Where to Camp: The park has one developed campground, The Devils Garden Campground , with 50 campsites. Reserve in advance during the busy season (March to October), but there are also campgrounds located outside the park in the Moab area. Since the park is relatively small, there’s little land for backpacking. To do so, you need a free permit, and you should know what you’re doing (be able to read a topographic map, identify safety hazards, etc.).

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center is open every day except Christmas (hours change based on season).

Cost: Beginning October 1, 2015, a seven-day pass will cost $25 per vehicle (it’s currently $10). Annual passes also available.

The Southwest

13. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Why It’s Cool: Do you really need a reason? It’s the freakin’ Grand Canyon. The South Rim is more popular, accessible, and busier, while the North Rim is harder to get to, but offers a more secluded stay (and is actually in Utah). Both areas are gorgeous, so you really can’t go wrong. Back country hiking is one of the most popular activities, but it can be super tough (yet equally rewarding)—be prepared for a demanding hike that will test your mental and physical prowess. Whitewater rafting trips on the Colorado river are also crowd-pleasers.

Where to Camp: Reservations are recommended for two of the three developed campgrounds during the summer. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit.

When It’s Open: The South Rim is open year-round, but some facilities will close during winter. The North Rim is open mid-May through mid-October.

Cost: $30 per private vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available. Campground fees start at $12 per night.

14. Big Bend National Park, Texas

Why It’s Cool: The Rio Grande river runs right through Big Bend, so rafting, canoeing, and kayaking trips are an incredible way to experience the park. If staying dry is more your style, the park is packed with trails covering desert, mountain, and river terrain for day hikes or backpacking trips. One popular desert hike is Devil’s Den, a moderate 5.6-mile trip along the rim of and down into a limestone slot canyon. Another beautiful hike is the Santa Elena Canyon trail, a moderate 1.7 mile round-trip hike that provides both top-down and bottom-up views of the canyon. Oh, and don’t forget to look up at night: The park’s remote location provides gorgeous views of the starry sky.

Where to Camp: The park operates three developed campgrounds. You can find primitive roadside campsites for backcountry camping scattered throughout the park.

When It’s Open: Year-round.

Cost: $25 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available. Developed campgrounds fees are $14 per site, per night, while backcountry campsites require a $12 permit.

15. Carson National Forest, New Mexico

Why It’s Cool: Surprise: New Mexico is not all desert! Carson National Forest offers relatively cool summer temps as well as a great environment for fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking. In the winter, there’s even enough snow for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Hike the 16-mile round trip up to New Mexico’s highest peak, Mt. Wheeler, for a challenging but rewarding adventure.

Where to Camp: You’ll find 35 established camping areas scattered throughout the park. Backcountry camping is also allowed. Langua Larga offers four campsites right on the water’s edge and many good areas for dispersed camping (camping anywhere outside a developed campsite) a bit farther from the lake.

When It’s Open: Forest is accessible year-round. Campgrounds vary by season and location.

Cost: No entrance fee. Campsite prices range from free to $30, depending on location, time of year, and group size.

The Midwest

16. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Why It’s Cool: It’s a tough climate to trek through—but the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Between a variety of rock formations lies a mixture of tall- and short-grass prairies. And be on the lookout for fossils: The Badlands have one of the most complete fossil accumulations  in North America, providing a glimpse into the area’s ancient ecosystems. The park is also ideal for stargazing and even hosts an astronomy festival in early August.

Where to Camp: There are two campgrounds in the park: Cedar Pass Campground has some amenities (running water, electricity, etc.). Sage Creek Campground is primitive (bison often wander through!) without water on-site. Permits are not required for backcountry camping, but you do need and register before heading out.

When It’s Open: Park and campgrounds are open year-round.

Cost: $15 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes also available. Campsites at Cedar Pass Campground are $13 per night, per site; $30 per night, per site with electrical hook-ups. Sage Creek campsites are free.

17. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Why It’s Cool: This park offers something different every season: Summer and spring are perfect for water activities; fall turns the park into a hiking paradise; and winter calls to cross-country skiers, snow-shoers and snowmobilers, and ice fishers. The park is composed of mostly water, so for those entering the park without their own vessel, guided boat tours are a popular activity (make sure to reserve in advance!). There are also a wide variety of hiking trails, accessible by both car and boat.

Where to Camp: The park features 220 free, designated campsites, but all are accessible only by water. They’re available on a first-come, first-served basis. Backcountry camping is also allowed anywhere in the park (unless otherwise stated).

When It’s Open: Year-round; visitor center hours vary by season.

Cost: Entrance is free, but there’s a $10 daily fee for private boating. No charge or reservations for individual campsites, but a free permit is required.

18. Ludington State Park, Michigan

Why It’s Cool: This 5,300-acre park is sandwiched right between two lakes (Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan) in western Michigan. You’ll find everything from sand dunes and shoreline to marshlands and forest, plus eight separate trails covering 21.5 miles. Canoeing offers gorgeous, up-close views of the water, and you can also bike on the designated 2-mile trail.

Where to Camp: Choose from three modern campgrounds with a total of 355 campsites featuring showers and bathrooms, plus three mini-cabins. There are also 10 remote sites in a hike-in only campground.

When It’s Open: Year-round, but camping is only allowed mid-May to late November.

Cost: $11 fee to purchase the required Michigan State Park Recreation Passport.

19. Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin

Why It’s Cool: There’s something for everyone at this park—recreation options  include an 18-hole golf course, volleyball courts, boating, hiking, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Eight miles of shoreline (right on Green Bay) call to water lovers and boaters, while miles of bike trails make for a more rigorous workout before spending the night under the stars.

Where to Camp: The park has five campgrounds with a mix of electric- and non-electric sites. Reservations are recommended. Backcountry camping is not allowed.

When It’s Open: Year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (except for campers, who are obviously allowed to stay overnight).

Cost: A vehicle admission sticker is required for park entry. Daily stickers are available for $7 (with WI license plates) or $10 (for out-of-towners), while annual stickers are available for $25 or $35.

20. Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Why It’s Cool: Fun fact: The Ozarks served as the setting for “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and as the home of the (fictional) Beverly Hillbillies family. Here you’ll find more than 200 camping and picnic sites, nine swimming beaches, thousands of acres of lakes and steams, and 400 miles of hiking trails. The 218-mile Ozark Highlands Trail is one of the best known hikes, but the amazing living cave systems at Blanchard Springs are also a draw.

Where to Camp: The park offers space for everything from RV to tent camping thanks to 23 developed campgrounds (a combined 320 sites). Primitive camping is also allowed almost anywhere in the forest, unless there’s a sign stating otherwise.

When It’s Open: Forest accessible year-round. Some campsites are open year-round as well; others are only open May through October.

Cost: No entrance fee. A number of campsites in the forest will charge a fee for camping, but many don’t. Camping fees can vary from free to $19 per night, per site.

21. Everglades National Park, Florida

Why It’s Cool: This park is the third largest in the lower 48 states, covering 2,400 square miles—so you definitely won’t get bored, especially with a wide range of hiking trails, campgrounds, and ample opportunities for biking. You can also canoe and kayak even farther into the park’s mangrove forests, freshwater marshes, and the Florida Bay. If you’ve had enough of doing the work yourself, check out one of the guided tours. And keep an eye out for rare wildlife species, including manatees, alligators, crocodiles, dolphins, and even the endangered Florida panther.

Where to Camp: The park has two drive-in campgrounds (reservations are recommended at Flamingo Campground). Most back country campsites ($10 permit required) are only reachable by canoe, kayak, boat, or particularly adventurous hikers.

When It’s Open: Year-round, all day, every day. Yep, 24/7.

Cost: $10 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campsite fee varies from $16 to $30, based on location.

22. Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Why It’s Cool: There are hundreds of different trails throughout the Hemlocks region, offering a diverse range of hikes and backpacking opportunities. Just an hour from Asheville, NC, the Pisgah Forest is known as the “Land of the Waterfalls” (guess why), so any trail you choose, regardless of difficulty, will provide ample opportunities to check out some gorgeous falls. The forest also contains four long-distance trails, including portions of the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail. The Art Loeb Trail  is one of the toughest (30.1 miles) in the forest but also one of the most popular. There are plenty of campsites along the trail too, making it a great path for a weekend backpacking trip.

Where to Camp: Check out the park’s camping guide to find out which sites are first-come, first-served and which require reservations. Dispersed camping is only allowed at one of the forest’s designated camping areas.

When It’s Open: Forest is accessible year-round. Campground availability varies by season.

Cost: No general entrance fee. Campsite cost varies by location. Some passes and permits may be required, depending on activity.

23. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Why It’s Cool: D.C.-area readers, get packing: Just 75 miles from your metropolis is the perfect natural escape. The park contains more than 500 miles of trails, some leading to magnificent viewpoints or waterfalls, and others through miles of quiet, peaceful wilderness. Regardless, there will be a hike you’ll enjoy. The eight-mile hike to Old Rag Mountain is the toughest route in the park (and also one of the most popular), and rewards hikers with spectacular views from its peak.

Where to Camp: The park’s four campgrounds are open in spring, summer, and fall. Reservations at any site are recommended, but some first-come first-served spots may be available. Back country camping requires a free permit.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Portions of road are closed during bad weather and at night during deer hunting season (mid-November through early January). Visitor services are typically open only from March through November.

Cost: Entrance fee is $20 per vehicle, valid for seven days.

24. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Why It’s Cool: America’s most-visited national park is known for its variety of animals and plants, serene mountain vistas, and storied past: More than 70 structures still remain from the prehistoric era, and the park now contains the largest collection of historic log buildings in the eastern U.S. The park is also packed with waterfalls, all of which make for perfect day hikes.

Where to Camp: The park has 10 campgrounds, all with running water and toilets (score!). Only one campground requires reservations; the rest are first-come first-served. Back country camping  is allowed at designated sites, but a permit and advance reservations are required.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Some roads, campgrounds, and visitor facilities close in winter, but Cades Cove and Smokemont campgrounds are open year-round.

Cost: No entrance fees. Campsite fees range from $14 to $23 per night, and backcountry permit fees are $4 per person per night with a maximum charge of $20 per person.

Alaska

25. Denali National Park, Alaska

Why It’s Cool: Six million acres of open land? Check. Unbelievable wildlife? Check. Trails to please even the most experienced of hikers? Check. It doesn’t get cooler than Denali—literally. The central draw to the park (especially for mountaineers) is Denali itself, known as Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak. Still, the park offers hikes for pros and beginners alike: Most trails start near the visitor center and are considered easy to moderate in difficulty. A few trails start deeper in the park, beyond the first three miles of the access road. Be sure to do your research before embarking on any backcountry camping trip here—this park is not for the inexperienced.

Where to Camp: The park has six established campgrounds with a combined 291 sites and also allows backcountry camping with a (free) permit. Riley Creek is the only campground reachable by car (and requires a minimum three-night stay to reduce traffic). The other two sites are only reachable by bus. One campground is also open year-round, and no fees are charged in winter.

When It’s Open: It depends on the weather in a given year. Parts of the park are open year-round, but generally, the park opens to private vehicles starting in mid-April. Summer bus service begins May 20 and operates through the second week after Labor Day. Fall and winter may bring some road closures, but there’s still plenty to do in the park, from skiing to dog mushing.

Cost: $10 entrance fee per person, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes are also available and accepted.

26. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Why It’s Cool: Glacier Bay National Park is mostly water: The bay itself serves as the passageway to the inner section of the park, which is (awesomely enough) a glacier. After spending the night under the stars, try cruising the bay on a tour, charter, or private boat. There are no marked trails in the park, so backpacking is more strenuous here than elsewhere. Rafting one of the park’s two rivers is a great alternative that allows campers to easily tow supplies—but make sure you’re with someone who knows what they’re doing. Park rangers also lead a variety of tours and talks every day during the summer.

Where to Camp: The park has only one campground, in Bartlet Cove, which has outhouses, a warming shelter, and safe food storage. Permits are free but required for campgrounds and backcountry from May 1 through September 30.

When It’s Open: Year-round, but accessibility and services are very limited in winter. Visitor center is open from late May through early September.

Cost: The best news? No entrance fees or camping fees for private visitors! Reservations are required for boating, camping, rafting, and other visitor services.

Posted on Leave a comment

Keep your home safe from bugs after a hurricane

Floods and high winds are normally associated with hurricanes. People board up their homes and seal their basements in order to stay safe from these threats. They emerge after the storm hoping the worst is over. But there is another threat most people don’t consider. This threat comes after the hurricane has come and gone. The standing bodies of water left by the hurricane are prime breeding grounds for pests.

Some of the most common bugs that become a problem after a hurricane include mosquitos, cockroaches, and carpenter ants. Each of these bugs presents their own set of problems. They also require separate strategies to prevent and reduce the amount of damage they cause.

Mosquitos

There are a lot of mosquitos after a hurricane. There is plenty of water for them to lay their eggs and multiply. Mosquitos can be annoying. They cause small, itchy bumps on our skin. But they can also be dangerous. Mosquitos can carry a broad range of diseases. This is why is important to know how to keep them away from your home after a hurricane. If you don’t take proper measures to keep mosquitos away, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk. There are several simple methods you can use to keep these pests away.

The first one is kind of cool, and most people don’t know about it. You can use coffee grounds to keep mosquitos away. This is your first line of defense. Sprinkle coffee grounds in any standing water around your house. The coffee grounds will force the eggs to the surface of the water, and they will not be able to survive.

You can also make traps. Cut a water bottle in half. Fill the bottom half with water and brown sugar. Turn the top half upside down and use it as a funnel. Place these around your house. They will attract and trap the mosquitoes inside.

Cockroaches

The risk of a cockroach infestation is worse after a hurricane. It’s important to protect yourself from them because they can carry diseases. There are some things you can do to prevent these bugs from invading your home. Keep all food in sealed containers. Keeping your windows and doors sealed and well-maintained will go a long way in preventing cockroaches from gaining access to your house. But these seals could be damaged during the hurricane. Keeping your home as clean as possible will greatly reduce the odds of your home being infested.

But what do you do if you already have cockroaches? You can start by fixing all water leaks in your house. Cockroaches can only live up to seven days without water. Cockroaches lay eggs all over your house, including your carpet so make sure to use carpet cleaners often. Make sure to ask if they have experience dealing with cockroaches. This is important because you if you don’t remove all the eggs, your home will be infested again.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are a serious concern after a hurricane. They infest your home, and they are hard to get rid of. They burrow their way into your walls and destroy your wood furniture. Poisonous bait is a great way to get rid of carpenter ants. They will pick up the bait and share it with their nest.

But what if the damage has already been done? You will need to find and remove any damaged wood. Your walls might need to be repaired. Cabinets are also a prime target. Make sure to use cabinet refinishers to avoid any infestation problems. They will be able to repair the damage caused by the carpenter ants and leave your cabinets looking good as new.

Final Thoughts

The best way to protect yourself from bugs after a hurricane is to take preventive measures ahead of time. Unfortunately, all the planning in the world cannot prevent infestations 100% of the time. When you notice mosquitos, ants, or cockroaches, you need to act before they spread.

If you know a hurricane is coming, stock up on supplies. Be ready with coffee grounds and containers to seal your food. These steps will help you stay safe from bugs after a hurricane.