Western Traveler

Tips and Tricks

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FROSTBITE FIX – Frostbite is a condition that needs to be taken very seriously. Let’s say you’ve headed out on a hike and all of a sudden the temperature drops like a rock and you have no protection for your exposed skin. Turns out Baby Oil is a pretty good thing to put on to protect it. Lay it on heavy and it will help prevent your exposed skin from freezing over.

HAND DEODORIZER – This may sound odd, but one of the grossest things you can get stuck with while camping and/or backpacking is smelly hands from handling food or whatever. If you want to get rid of the smell, just rub coffee grounds on the affected area and the odor is gone. It works on fish, garlic and onion.  Give it a try.

WRONG BATTERY SIZE FIX – One thing is certain, when you need a AA battery all you have is a AAA battery, Murphy’s Law. Believe it or not it’s not a big deal. If you’re in this situation, just ball up some aluminum foil and stick it into the battery compartment and fill in the gap between the two battery sizes.  As they’re both the same voltage (1.5 volts) you can use either one if you can get the current flowing.  Be advised they may have different amperage, but on stuff like flashlights it doesn’t matter.

THE RIGHT SHELL – One of the most important things you need to consider when heading into the backcountry is your clothing. Possibly the most essential thing you choose is your shell layer. Having the right material can “make or break” your experience.  Make sure it will keep the elements out for the conditions you’re going to be in.  Generally speaking, consider the need for wind and/or precipitation needs, temperature range and of course weight.  Taking a little time to select the right material can be crucial to the success of your outdoor experience.

LONG MATCHES–I’ve made a lot of campfires over the years, and gotten a lot of burned fingers in the process. Because of that I’ve become a huge fan of long-stem matches. I buy the ones made for fireplaces and/or specialized matches made just for camping.  Whichever one you pick, you’ll be much happier.  The biggest advantage to these (besides not getting burned) is that the extra length gives you more time to get your tinder bundle lit instead of wasting multiple normal matches to do the same thing.

LOW TECH STOVES–One of the fun things about going into the wilderness is how it can put you in touch with pioneers and explorers of old. Kind of hard to do when you’re taking a lot of high-tech gear with you. Don’t get me wrong, having an LED lamp that’s super bright and runs forever on a set of batteries is a good thing.  But there’s nothing more I dislike than the roar of a propane stove cooking my morning coffee and drowning out the sounds of nature.  Try this instead: either make a small fire and take a portable grate with you, or do like I do, use an old-school Sterno Stove.  These burn hot, are silent, go a long time on a single can and can even be lightweight if you get the right model.  My Dad turned me on to these back in the 1960s and I still love using them.


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Last modified on: June 10th 2021.
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