The Outdoors Blog

Foam: The Backpacker’s Secret Weapon

June 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Backpack hikingEvery time a backpacker hits the trail, he does so secure in the knowledge that he will rough it for a good portion of the trip. That’s the idea at least. Still, there is always room for just a bit more comfort when you’re in the back country. Any kind of comforts from home are welcomed when you’re surviving off the land, and foam can be one of the greatest secret weapons aside from a food dehydrator.


Foam inserts can insulate cold drinks, which makes them useful for the trail. Pack yourself a beer or a soda so you can enjoy something tasty on your walk. If you don’t want to pack bulky drinks, you can slip the foam inserts into knit bag and insulate some frozen or warm foods. By the time you’re ready to eat, your meat or veggies will have defrosted enough to be cooked. The residual ice and moisture will help you conserve drinking water too.


Custom cushions can be cut to fit your size without taking up too much pack space. Every inch is critical so polyurethane foam is a must. It is absorbent, which makes it a good cushion, and it’s flexible. Pack a single pad on one trip and you’ll never want to leave the car without one again. Every rock becomes a recliner when you’ve got a cushion for support.


Custom outdoor cushions made of foam can be cut to nearly any size. A six foot roll would make perfect bedding, especially if the foam was close-celled. Add an extra foot or two and you can roll the foam padding over for a makeshift pillow. Foam repels ground temperatures, which is especially useful during cold nights.

Bio: Carlo Badalamenti is the marketing director of Foam Factory, and an expert in the many uses of foam. Foam Factory products can be custom cut to nearly any size or shape.

Lighweight Packing

May 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

If you want to reduce the weight of your pack, you should do it gradually. Carry less on each trip that you make and for each trip find something that can be replaced with something lighter or left out completely.

If you don’t have enough weight in your backpack, it can be dangerous or uncomfortable. Lightweight backpacking has its own limits. Some of its techniques need to be practiced first. I’m talking here about pitching a tarp properly or choosing the lightweight clothes that will keep you dry and warm. Alcohol stoves also need some practice to use. You should test your skill and learn them better during a short trip or hikes that take only one day. One option at your disposal is going on a hike organized by a company.

First of all, when packing light, buy a scale. Every piece of clothing or gear should be weighed. Write down the weight of each item and some potentially lighter objects that you can use instead. You can see exactly how much weight you save if you get a scale.

Second, pay special attention to the pack, tent and to the sleeping bag. Getting lightweight versions of these items can save you a few pounds. While a lightweight tent has around 4 pounds, a normal one will have 8 or 9. If you go with a bivy or a tarp instead of the tent, it will only weigh around 20 ounces. A backpack that is lightweight will have around 2 pounds, while a regular one will have between 5 and 7. As for the sleeping bag, it usually has around 3 pounds, but a lightweight one will have 19 ounces.

One tip that I have for you is to get the backpack after you bought the other items, so that you know exactly how bit it needs to be to hold everything.

Lighweight Backpacking Food

May 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

If you want to go backpacking, there are plenty of choices when it comes to food that doesn’t weight much. A lot of people go with the prepackaged meals that are dehydrated. They usually taste good, have a low weight, they’re convenient and give you the right nutrition. The downside is their price.

The dietary needs for a backpacking trip are usually around 60-70% carbohydrates. You can get them from rice, pastas, grains and potatoes. Between 15 and 20% should be composed of fats. Fats can be taken from candy bars, cheese, chocolate or peanut butter. The rest should be made out of proteins (15-20%). You can get proteins from canned or dried meats, peanut butter, tinned fish and textured vegetable proteins (TVP).

You might want to invest in a food dehydrator, as it can be great when planning backpacking meals. You can make with it dried vegetables or fruit, sauces and jerky. Boiled water would be all that you need besides these foods.

Since the normal packages you get from shops are bulky or heavy, the food should be kept in bags that can be resealed or in Ziploc. You can easily eat directly from them, so you don’t need to carry recipients for that.

Drinking water in the wild should be done only after it’s treated properly and sanitized. Using a filter means that you can get 1-3 liters of water each minute. There is a good chance it will taste better as well. The problems of a filter is the sand and silt clogging that appears. Some filters can be cleaned in the field by yourself. If a filter stops working, boil the water to make it safe to drink.

There are also lightweight options when it comes to filters, like the Steri-Pen, which uses Ultraviolet light to get rid of viruses and bacteria.

Backpacking With Your Dog

May 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Travelling together with a dog can be a great experience and a way to unwind and get away from all the responsibilities of day to day life. Your dog will love the chance to get out of the house and experience new places and scents. A lot of people that went backpacking with their dog said that they enjoyed it much more this way. Since a dog has a powerful sense of smell, they can show you animals that you might miss otherwise.

There are some conditions however, if you want to go hiking together with a dog. First, the dog needs to be trained properly and you need to be able to restrain him physically when they see squirrels, deer or rabbits. Second, you need to be responsible and prevent your dog from bothering other animals or people. You should always pick up the mess created by your dog.

You should know what your dog will do. Know when he will become aggressive for example. In what situations you need to hold them and when you should pay attention to his reactions. If he can’t be controlled, leave the dog at home. Don’t risk injuring someone or spoiling their vacation.

All in all, just make sure the dog is well behaved, fit and healthy, before you take him on a trip. People camp when they need to rest after a long hike, so your dog shouldn’t disturb their quiet time. Barking is one of the things that would disturb the other campers. You should take your dog to a dog school if possible.

Before a trip, it might be a good idea to visit a doctor with your dog, to check for his general state of health. If you want him to carry something, tell the doctor to check for hip dysplasia.

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