Day hike essentials, product reviews part 2

A few more reviews on some day hiking products I own personally and have deemed noteworthy and great.

Gonex daypack

A lightweight back pack with lots of compartments and folds up into an even smaller pouch for those times you want to bring it but don’t have a whole lot of room, say in your carry-on bag on a trip.

Pros

  • Lots of compartments – outside pockets with zippers and two mesh side pockets for water bottles for easy access. The front zip pockets are small enough and nice for things like lip balm, extra camera batteries, your phone etc.
  • Lightweight material – It’s nice and durable enough and makes it easy to fold up into the smaller pouch size.
  • The cost is a good value – I got mine on Amazon for $17.

Cons

  • The zipper gets stuck in pretty much all of the flaps that cover the zipper. You have to have both hands available to get anything in or out of the pack. The good news is that this complaint has been a big one a lot of the reviews on Amazon the company has improved and updated the pack to rectify this problem.

Ahnu Sugarpine Women’s hiking boot 

 I received these boots as a gift from the hubs a few years back. My first quality pair of hiking boots! As far as performance, these boots have never let me down. The only issue I have with my pair specifically is that they need to be a half size bigger. But like I said, they were a gift and when I got them and tried them on, I was so excited I didn’t notice how much they squeeze my toes. Not Ahnu’s fault though!

What I love about them

  • I love the color combinations Ahnu boots come in. 
  • The Vibram sole provides great traction.
  • Waterproof leather features around the bottom half of the boot
  • Lightweight
  • Durable boot with quality laces – I think they’ll last me years and years!
  • Great value for cost – $100 and just over that. Not bad!

Go Pro Hero 7 Black

I know you’ve heard of this little compact amazeballs adventure camera! 

We capitalized on the trade-up program Go Pro offers and sent in one of our older models for this one. We also have a Hero 5 with the Karma Grip accessory but the Hero 7 is equipped Hypersmooth function that magically smoothes out the video without the need of a gimbal. Trust me it’s worth it. Video is pretty much just as smooth as with the Karma Grip. Definitely enough to go with out it for sure!

What it has/features

  • Hypersmooth – Game changer!
  • Fully waterproof without a special case – Nice!
  • Super photo feature – A function that automatically chooses the best settings for a photo. Another game changer!
  • Time Warp mode – Similar to the time lapse mode of previous models. Time warp is a video with Hypersmooth, instead of a series of photos like time lapse. This mode plays back at a faster speed which you can choose from 2X, 5X, 10X, 15X, & 30X, depending on how long your video is.
  • Will shoot 4K video 60 FPS with Hypersmooth. 
  • Voice commands – This feature is and has been great since it was introduced with the Hero 5. Once in a while the camera doesn’t listen to you, so you have to yell at it a little to get it to mind. It’s all good fun though!

Day hike essentials – Product reviews

I decided to write up a few reviews on some handy products I already own and you may want too. These items can make your outdoor adventures a little more enjoyable.

NEOSLING – Water bottle sling

This baby is handy as hell. 

Convenient, durable, and comfortable.

Wear it over your shoulder for a quick drink from your favorite water bottle.

My Contigo 20 OZ bottle fits perfectly. The material is stretchy so you can easily fit larger bottles inside as well. It seems like it helps insulate your beverage if it’s already cold. 

The strap is adjustable, which means you can also purchase this for kids..

It’s comfortable to wear and I have never had a problem with it.

I have had it a couple of years and used it about a dozen times on some pretty vigorous hikes and haven’t seen a sign of wear yet. I received mine as a gift, but you can purchase these in an array of colors from Amazon for about $7 for most colors.

Bisgear backpacking stove and cookware set 

I wanted a small and lightweight but effective burner to heat up water for a French press to make coffee on my hikes. This has proven time and time again a great little stove with a pot perfect sized to fill the French press. 

Everything except the French press, water, and coffee essentials fit in this 6-1/2” H X 4-1/2 ” W package. I bought my set on Amazon for around $30 and it includes the following:

  • Mini stove with igniter & flame adjuster, plus a plastic box to store it in.
  • A medium non-stick pot with fold-out handle – (About 5” wide  X 4” in height)
  • A small non-stick pot with fold-out handle – (about 4-1/2” wide X 2” in height)
  • Fold-up gas canister stand
  • Fold-up stainless steel spoon, fork, and knife with pouch
  • Carabiner and drawstring mesh carry bag
  • Dishcloth and corkscrew bottle opener

To assemble for storage:

Place canister stand (folded up) in bottom of medium put, then gas canister upside down,(bottom of canister is now facing you)

Mini stove goes inside plastic case then on top of gas canister. Now fit the small pot on top upside down so bottom of small pot is facing you. All done!

The medium sized pot is the one used for heating water for the French press if you’re interested in that. The fuel used for this is a Butane/Propane mix. I buy mine at Walmart for around $5 for the 220 G/7.75 Oz size. I have used it for coffee around 10 or so times and have yet to run out of fuel. 

Our old set-up for coffee. Too bulky and too much to pack.

Ozark Trail 26 Quart high-performance cooler 

 This cooler is comparable to the Yeti of the same size and type but much cheaper. You can get these at Walmart for under $100. They keep things cold and ice unmelted for a much longer period of time than regular coolers. Especially if you can pre-chill it by putting ice blocks or frozen jugs/water bottles inside a day or two before your outing. A bonus feature for these coolers is that they’re rugged and keep dust and dirt out. (no more brown dirt water in the bottom of your cooler!) 

Measures L X W X H – 21.75” x 13″ x 15.5” outside dimensions. Fits nicely on our top rack of our RZR 570.

Back pack essentials for a hike

Are you planning on going on a hike that should last anywhere from 3 to 5 hours?
I gathered a list below for some essentials I choose to bring along in my back pack.


  • Water – Definitely a must have anywhere you go!
  • Sunblock – I usually pack the spray kind for re-applies. It just makes it easier!
  • Phone and GoPro camera – Gotta take pictures and video!
  • Snacks – My go to snacks are usually an apple or orange, trail mix or just nuts and a food bar.
  • Selfie stick/tripod for phone- I don’t always use it but ya never know!
  • Tissue – for runny noses (especially in the cold) and for bathroom breaks – I have a SheWee but I haven’t dared use it yet!
  • Empty baggie or sack for trash – Pack it in and pack it out!
  • Lip balm – lips get dry.
  • Extra Buff – If I’m not already wearing one.
  • GPS – especially if I plan on geocaching on the hike.
  • Extra jacket – especially if it’s cooler weather
Additional items to pack for winter hikes

If I’m going on a hike in the winter, I take my boot spikes or crampons and some gloves and maybe a warm scarf.

Geocache swag ideas, wooden dominoes

Supplies needed

  • Wood craft sticks 1.25 in X 10 in – purchase at a craft store
  • Wood burner – These can be purchased at any craft store and range in price depending on how fancy you want to get with your wood burning.
  • Small hand saw
  • Fine sandpaper – I used 220 grit
  • Pencil
  • Ruler

Steps to creating your dominoes

Take a craft stick and draw a line down the width of it where the rounded end stops and then measure 2 inches down the length of the stick until no more can fit. I was able to get 4 pieces out of each stick, so you will need at least 7 sticks. Extra pieces may pay off in case you mess up on the wood burning process.

Grab your saw and hang it over the edge of something sturdy and score on each line. If you do this right and carefully you should be able to just score and break each piece off. You can also score and then start sawing through at an angle carefully.

You’ll need 28 pieces for a regular dominoes game. After you have all your pieces you can start filing the rough edges with the sandpaper. I would just lay the sandpaper down on a table and move the pieces back and forth on the sandpaper until smooth.

Do a quick online search for what each domino should look like and draw with the pencil on each one.

I used the rounded tip attachment that came with my wood burner set. 

Heat up the burner and burn over your pencil marks.

I then burned around the edges to give it some pop!

Do an online search on gameplay and print, or type up your own instructions.

All done! Put all the pieces in a bag with instructions on how to play dominoes.

Alternative to wood burning

If you wanted, you could paint the dots on the wood pieces and then clear coat spray them all.

DIY Geocache swag idea, Tic-Tac-Toe

Let’s say you want to make some geocache swag of your own to start swapping.
Or perhaps you’ve decided to start some caches of your own.
Read on for a Do-It-Yourself Tic-Tac-Toe mini game.

Supplies needed

  • Cloth bags about 5” W X 6-1/2” L 

Now if you’re really crafty and/or have the supplies/time, you could make the bags yourself. I’m not however, so these bags were purchased at a craft store.

  • 10 rocks

This geocache swag idea might take a little time to gather materials. These rocks were on hand because my sister is a little more of a rock freak than I am, so she had these rocks already. When you’re out and about, on a walk, hike, fishing etc. take a look at the ground and find rocks that are somewhat smooth, flat, and round or oval.  I’m sure you could buy these too, but in my opinion that going a bit far don’t you think?

  • White acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrush
  • Matte clear coat spray – I used Rustoleum Matte clear enamel. I don’t know if it will do much good to clear coat them, but I figured WTH it can’t hurt anything

Get it together

First have some cardboard or card stock handy to put inside your bag so the marker or paint doesn’t bleed through. 

Next take a permanent marker or some dark acrylic paint 

(marker could bleed on certain material) and measure, dividing evenly, then mark 9 spaces. 3 across, 3 down, etc. or eyeball it like I did! 

Wash your rocks and let them dry fully. Now grab your paintbrush with paint and either freehand X’s and O’s on the rocks or you could pencil them on first if the rocks are light enough to see the pencil marks. 

Let the paint dry and spray with matte clear coat if desired.

I’m putting my rocks in little baggies and then everything in another clear bag to put in the geocaches.

Yay! You’re all done. Comment below for any questions or let me know how yours went!

Alternative to using rocks

Use those glass gems in two different colors. Or get the bigger clear gems and Mod Podge or glue decorative paper on the flat part. You could even paint right on the gem if you wanted.

Travel packing hacks

8 good tips on packing for your trip!

Going on a trip? Yay! Alright you need to pack appropriately. Some of us tend to overpack and under pack, and we sometimes don’t think about it that hard until it’s too late. Let’s go through some basic things to keep in mind when packing for a trip and some hacks you may not know about to make it easier.

  1. How long will you be gone? – This is a really part one of a two part question that coincides with the next question listed here. You need know how many clothes to pack. 
  2. Where are you going and/or what will you be doing?

You don’t want to pack a bunch of nice clothes if your trip will mostly consist of hiking or lying around on a beach do you? So really it’s how long and what am I doing?

Generally plan on packing 

  • Comfortable clothes 
  • Comfortable shoes, or better yet wear those shoes on your travel there.
  • Pack at least one extra pair of socks. Do this even if you know you’ll most likely be in sandals or barefoot most of the time. 
  • Extra underwear – Unless you go commando! 
  • Pack outfits together if possible
  • Hygiene products/toiletries
  • Activity specific items – If you know what activities you’ll be doing ahead of time, this part is real easy. Going hiking? What gear will you need? Swimming? Take a swimsuit or two. You get the idea.

3.   What is the weather like? – Dress accordingly and bring extra jackets or sweaters if it’s cold. Research this ahead of time if you don’t already know.

4.   Remember to leave room for extra items

If you think you’ll be getting souvenirs or just shopping a bunch, remember to leave room for those items. Especially if you’re flying.

5.   Make certain things accessible – Pack your chargers, medications or supplements you have to take regularly in an accessible place like an outside pocket if you can. That way you don’t have to dig for it and mess up your nice packing job!

6.   Only pack essentials – Unless you have an entire car to fill up to the brim with whatever your heart desires, leave the majority of your what-ifs at home. 

7.   Separate your dirties – Bring a bag you can use to put all your dirty clothes in or designate a section in your bag or suitcase for them to keep them separate.

8.   Separate your shoes – Keep your shoes separate from your clothes. Put them in their own bag, put them in a separate compartment in your bag or just keep them on the bottom of your bag if you’re not too worried.

Space saving packing hacks

  • Roll your clothes up
  • Put outfits together – roll up together if possible.
  • Use packing cubes to help organize and minimize
  • Get a travel jewelry organizer – they really are worth it!
  • Utilize a bag you’ll need for your trip – If your hiking or backpacking, pack as much of your common needs in there.
  • Purchase travel size bottles – Don’t bring your full size stuff. Make it tiny!
  • Protect your souvenirs – If you purchased fragile items whilst on your trip, protect them for the ride home by wrapping your clothes around them. Especially if you’re flying and checking your bag. I once flew back from Hawaii with a bottle of wine in my checked bag that I wanted to take back home. Made it unscathed! 
  • Put things in your shoes – Stuff some socks and small things in your shoes if you can.

10 fun and creative things to do while camping

Read on for some nature Lovin fun!

For me camping is a great way to get in a bunch of ATV rides, hikes and even geocaching in. You can do those things all day and don’t have to go very far to get back to cook and sleep. But not everyone does or likes those things, so here’s a few ideas to keep yourself and kids entertained.

  1. ATV rides – Like I said, this is my number one choice. Even if I don’t want to go on a long ride, it’s great to use the side-by-side to get from camp to wherever.
  2. Hiking – Locate a hike you’d like to do in the area before hand. I’ve also just drove around until I found something that looks promising and hiked it to see what was up. That can be a little risky so do your research before you go. Check out my post on hiking tips!
  3. Make your own walking stick/roasting sticks – On your ride or whilst on your hike, look around for a perfect walking stick or marshmallow roasting stick to take back to camp to carve up later. You can put in some really cool designs in your walking stick with just a good knife. If you have kids at the camp, you can carve some up for them. Maybe if they’re old enough, you can let them do it with supervision. That’s entirely up to you though! (scary)
  4. Go geocaching – Look at the map at geocaching.com in the area you’ll be camping to see if there are any near geocaches to find. I’ll bet there are! Check out my post about geocaching.
  5. Go fishing – If fishing is your cup o coffee – by all means get your fish on. Camping and fishing is another pair of outdoor activities that go hand-in-hand. Make sure you know your states fishing guidelines before trying it if you don’t already know.
  6. Outdoor games – Or yard games they may be called. Games like horseshoes, Ladderball, Bocce ball, frisbee toss, corn hole, giant jenga, or even badminton.
  7. Play cards – This is a great one to do if you have a camper or tent to go in if it starts to rain. You can also hold a poker tournament outside on camping tables or if you’re at a camp site with picnic tables. That is if the wind isn’t blowing too bad!
  8. Set-up a photo scavenger hunt – This can be a photo thing like the one I have posted here. Or you can look around real quick at your surrounding area at camp and write down some things the kids can go find. Give them each a little baggie and the list. That should keep them busy for a while. 
  9. Stargaze – This is nice especially if you’re not allowed to have a fire due to restrictions. You can download an app for your phone to help you find and decipher what you’re looking at.
  10. Make Ice cream – That’s right! I said make ice cream. A long time ago I purchased some ice cream balls that you put ice and rock salt in the middle stainless steel cylinder. Then evaporated milk and any soda pop you want on the outside. Toss the ball around to each other and in no time you have some delicious homemade ice cream. This is especially popular with kids.

I also look at camping as a great way to unplug. As best as you can (I know it can be hard if you have service) try not to use your phone, except for photos or music. Try not to even look at it to see what time it is. It’s kind of nice not knowing I think. 

Like the song by A Perfect Circle says, “Time to put the silicon obsession down, take a look around” 

I LOVE MAYNARD!

How to Geocache

Who doesn’t love an outdoor adventure involving treasure hunting?

First off let me explain a little about what a geocache is. In its simplest form, a geocache is a container hidden by someone, outdoors with items inside that have been put there by the owner of the cache, and by people who have found it over time. It has a GPS coordinate and details about it like the size, and where it is located on a map at geocaching.com 

Then you log that you found it on the website. You may trade items inside by taking something and leaving something in return. There’s a log book in each cache you can sign and leave comments. You have to have a membership to use the website.

Now that we have that explained, there’s more to it than that.

It’s like treasure hunting. You don’t know what is inside until you find it. And looking for it is the funnest. Another benefit you get from going geocaching is you get the opportunity to see a new place and maybe even discover something you never knew was there. I’ve found this to be true countless times and those geocaches near something of interest are my favorite. 

Popular types of caches

Regular geocache

There’s the regular geocache that is classed as regular, small, or micro size. Regular size is like an ammo box, pencil box, or a large plastic container with a lid. Small is usually like a Play-doh tub or something the size of a cup. And Micro is like a film container or a tube. 

Earthcache

An earth cache has no physical container to find. It’s a geography lesson really. You navigate your way to the GPS coordinates listed on the website and once you are there you have to look at your surroundings and answer the questions listed on the website. Then you give your answers to the cache owner in whatever way they choose. They will review your answers to see if you got them correct and you will then get credit for finding the cache. 

Multi-cache

It’s a series of caches or steps you have to take to find the final cache. Directions are listed in the details on each one.

Mystery cache

These involve puzzle solving in order to receive the coordinates for the cache. 

There are a few more types of caches than this but these are the most popular.

All you need is a geocaching.com membership, a GPS device or GPS enabled smart phone, and a way to get around and you have yourself a whole lot of adventure time on your hands! 

Hiking Tips

Need a little guidance on hiking? Read on for some great tips.

Everyone has their own definition of hiking. Every site or book that informs you of hikes available for whatever location your researching has a difficulty level. Which is great for a reference but I have learned that for the most part, these levels of difficulty are to be taken lightly. The more you research and take note of these and then actually go out and do them, the more you’ll be able to judge and re-calculate to your idea of a hard, moderate, and easy hike listed on your searches. 

It would be tough to rate something like that because it all depends on physical fitness really. Someone who is fit will be able to complete a “hard” hike much more easily than someone who is more used to a flat walk on pavement and isn’t really all that fit. That’s a no-brainer!

They probably will feel like they’re going to die. Sometimes you get one labeled with an “easy” and it ends up being more of a moderate in your book. Once in a while you get a moderate or hard that really should’ve been knocked down a level. 

Regardless of difficulty, these are really just about being outdoors, in the wilderness, being one with nature and all that. I’m going to go through some tips on hiking, tips to make it easier on yourself, and some common knowledge type stuff that may need reminding of.

  1. Research – Like I said previously, do a little research so you know what you’re getting yourself into. It may require certain gear to complete or to make it safer. It’s another reason I like to research especially If I’m traveling a long way from home. You may read that there’s little shade. So maybe protecting yourself from the sun might need a little more, like a big floppy hat.
  2. Gear up! – Depending on how serious you are about hiking and the types of hiking you like to do, you’ll need the right gear. Good hiking shoes are a must no matter what. They need to be comfy, yet supportive and durable. Sometimes I wish you could take the shoes out for a hike before you buy to really be able to tell if you like them or not. A good lightweight backpack is also another item you may need depending on how long you’ll be on the hike. If you can get one with a section for cold items and water bottle pockets on the outside, I’d call it an all around good one. Some people like using hiking poles to help them up rough terrain. That’s great for when you need them, but think about what you’ll do with them when you don’t. Especially if you’re not taking a backpack. Just sayin!
  3. Dress appropriately – This is more of a supplement to gearing up but I feel it’s important. Of course you should dress according to the weather your hike is at but I believe you really can’t go wrong if you dress in layers. Like a tank top, light loose shirt, jacket or hoodie depending on how cold it is. As far as pants go, light breathable pants in the warmer months and maybe some thicker or possibly denim when it’s colder. Thermal underclothes are smart when it’s really cold, and underwear are a big deal too. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on a hike and my underwear were riding up in all the wrong places! Making me stop to adjust way too often. Get some good socks and good hiking shoes and a couple comfortable hats.
  4. What to pack or take with you – Decide how long you’ll be gone. How long you’ll be hiking and whether or not to take a meal and snacks. This is entirely up to you, but you should always take plenty of water with you and also on your hike and some to spare. Take your phone and your camera, or just your phone if that’s what you use for photos. Take a GPS device if you have one, especially if you’re planning on finding a geocache on your hike. You’ll need sunblock for re-applying and maybe some hand wipes for cleaning your hands especially if your planning on eating.
  5. Be aware of your surroundings – Maybe in your research before hand you find out about animals, plants and things native to the area to avoid or look out for that might be a danger to you or for you to know about so you don’t disturb the environment. Looking out for rattlesnakes, scorpions, mountain lions, bears, badgers, skunks and not stepping on cryptobiotic crusts, are some examples of things in Utah we need to usually, but not always keep in mind when hiking. Not to mention keeping yourself out of wasp nests and the like, especially if you’re allergic. There are also some plants to look out for like poison ivy and stinging nettle, but just a quick search of harmful plants in the area to be hiked should provide you with more than enough info on what to look out for. Additionally, I know you want to look around at the gorgeous nature around you, but look where you’re walking. You don’t want to put your foot into a badger or prairie dog hole and hurt yourself do you? I once peed on a ground wasp nest and luckily didn’t even realize it until I was finished!

Always remember to respect your environment and never leave anything behind.

Take all of your trash with you, don’t disturb the animals, and never vandalize anything.

These things are harmful to nature and ruin the experience for the rest of us.

Just be careful, be mindful, and remember on every hike you take, enjoy it completely!

After all, that’s what it’s really about right?