Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fight Gravity's Drag

Murphy's Law of the Inconvenient Migration of Stuff means that dense items (especially waterbottles, hydration systems, large cameras, and fuel) tend to gravitate to the bottom of your pack, especially when the pack is not full and tightly packed. Those are precisely the items that often need to be handy and whose weight should be up high and close to your back between your shoulder blades for easy carrying.

Pin a stuffbag inside the pack to stop dense items from gravitating downward

Here's a simple solution:
  • Suspend a stuffbag to form a pocket inside the pack at an appropriate height. Attach it with safety pins to the strong internal seam that encircles the top of most packs. That way the pins do not pass through to the outside skin of the pack, and it's usually easy to push the pins through just the binding tape on the seam.
  • If you use a waterproof stuff sack, such as Outdoor Research Hydroseal bags (various sizes and prices,, you have extra protection against a leaking bottle or hydration system wetting the pack contents. Just don't put the camera in with the water bottle!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Camp Kitchen

Keep it simple to get as much versatility as possible from the items you pack.
Cooking over an open fire should only be done in designated areas. Camp stoves are more practical and easy to use, cook food faster and have less impact on the environment.
A two-burner stove offers families the most efficient use of cooking time. You can choose from a variety of stoves that burn different kinds of fuel (white gasoline, propane, butane or kerosene). Base your choice on the availability of fuel in areas where you intend to camp.
When available, block ice will generally last longer in your cooler than cube ice. But count on any ice to leak water into the bottom of your cooler – always store perishable foods in watertight bags or containers.
Always have plenty of water. For clean-up after meals and general use you will find extra water containers nearly indispensable. For consumption, three quarts per person per day is a good rule of thumb. Purify water from natural sources.
Resist the impulse to feed the animals. Early instruction in the wisdom of low-impact camping will reward future generations with sightings of wildlife in a healthy environment.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sleeping bag basics

You know the basics – a sleeping bag is made for you to sleep in. But there’s actually a lot more to it than that. It’s all about insulation and keeping you warm on those chilly nights. In order to keep you warm, sleeping bags trap and hold your body heat that is constantly produced. This forms an insulated dead air space. How does that happen? Well, the dead air space is a result of the type of insulating fibers used in the bag and the amount of loft they provide. Loft is the amount of air space between the insulating fibers. Think of loft as the fluffiness of the insulation. So the greater the loft, the warmer the bag will be.

In order for your sleeping bag to work most effectively, the dead air space needs to be warmed by the radiated heat from your body. But this can’t happen if you’re bundled up in extra layers of clothes. When you’re camping in really cold weather, it’s only natural to want to pile on the extra layers when you go to sleep because you think they’ll help you stay warm. Wrong. This actually keeps the sleeping bag from providing warmth. How so? Your extra clothing traps warmed air around your body like the sleeping bag is supposed to do, but the clothing is much less effective. And since the warmed air isn’t being trapped by the sleeping bag, cold air can seep in, making you feel even colder. So though it doesn’t sound right, the less you wear while using a sleeping bag, the more effective the bag will be at keeping you warm.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Framing Materials Of Your Mountain Bike

The cost of a mountain bike frame is proportionate to its material, as well as the treatment that material has received. Currently, there are five types of material used in mountain bikes - high tensile steel, chromoly steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber. Oversized diameters, heat treating, and butting are tubing material treatments that will increase the cost of a frame as well.

High tensile steel This is a very durable alloy that's found in lower priced mountain bikes. It offers a high carbon content which makes it less stiff than chromoly steel, so more materials are needed to make it stiff enough for bicycle frames, which will in turn make it that much heavier.
Relatively inexpensive to produce, you'll find this material in trail bikes, city bikes, and even entry level mountain bikes. There are some bikes that come with a chromoly seat tube, while the rest is high tensile steel.

Chromoly steel Short for steel alloy, chromoly is best described by its major additives - chromium and molybdenum. This is probably the most refined framing material, giving over 100 years of dependable service.

Depending on the type of heat treating and butting, you can find this material in bikes as low as 400 dollars all the way up to 1,500 and beyond. The chromoly steel material offers very good durability and a compliant ride characteristic.

Aluminum For the past 15 years, aluminum has been refined in pretty much the same way as chromoly. There have been various alloys developed, as well as heat treatment, oversizing, and butting. With dual suspension bikes, aluminum is the preferred material as it's the stiffest and most cost effective.

Aluminum is stiffer than chromoly, and therefore it will crack before chromoly. Of course, this depends on how you ride and how much abuse you give the frame. The advantages of aluminum is that the frame is very light and very stiff through oversizing or butting.

Titanium Even thought it's somewhat exotic, the prices for this material have come down over the last few years. Frames made of titanium remain expensive because it takes longer to weld the tubes to the frame.

Titanium is considered an alloy, normally mixed with small amounts of vanadium and aluminum to give it better weldability and ride characteristics. More compliant than chromoly, it offers better fatigue and corrosion properties.

The material you choose for your bike, all depends on where you ride and what style you use. Almost all materials will last you for years, as long as you take care of your bike and treat the frame with some respect.

About the Author
Having spent months of research on different subjects, for independant companies, Andrew Manifield has decided to publish his articles on many subjects at his own website, visit to learn more.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

How Mountain Bike Gears Work

The gears in mountain bikes just keep getting more and more intricate. The bikes of today have as many as 27 gear ratios. A mountain bike will use a combination of three different sized sprockets in front and nine in the back to produce gear ratios.

The idea behind all these gears is to allow the rider to crank the pedals at a constant pace no matter what kind of slope the bike is on. You can understand this better by picturing a bike with just a single gear. Each time you rotate the pedals one turn, the rear wheel would rotate one turn as well (1:1 gear ratio).

If the rear wheel is 26 inches in diameter, then with 1:1 gearing, one full twist on the pedals would result in the wheel covering 81.6 inches of ground. If you are pedaling at a speed of 50 RPM, this means that the bike can cover over 340 feet of ground per minute. This is only 3.8 MPH, which is the equivalence of walking speed. This is ideal for climbing a steep hill, although bad for ground or going downhill.

To go faster you'll need a different ratio. To ride downhill at 25 MPH with a 50 RPM cadence at the pedals, you'll need a 5.6:1 gear ratio. A bike with a lot of gears will give you a large number of increments between a 1:1 gear ratio and a 6.5:1 gear ratio so that you can always pedal at 50 RPM, no matter how fast you are actually going.

On a normal 27 speed mountain bike, six of the gear ratios are so close to each other that you can't notice any difference between them.

With actual use, bike riders tend to choose a front sprocket suitable for the slope they are riding on and stick with it, although the front sprocket can be difficult to shift under heavy load. It's much easier to shit between the gears on the rear.

If you are cranking up a hill, it's best to choose the smallest sprocket on the front then shift between the nine gears available on the rear. The more speeds you have on the back sprocket, the bigger advantage you'll have.

All in all, gears are very important to mountain bikes as they dictate your overall speed. Without gears you wouldn't be able to build speed nor would you be able to pound pedals. The gears will move the pedals and help you build up speed.

There are all types of gears available in mountain bikes, all of which will help you build up a lot of momentum if you use them the right way.

About the Author
Having spent months of research on different subjects, for independant companies, Andrew Manifield has decided to publish his articles on many subjects at his own website, visit to learn more.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Breadsticks Over Coals

by Scott Carey

An easy and fun way to cook bread over coals or a fire is making breadsticks with bread on a stick. They may be cooked while other food is cooking so that they are ready at the same time.

The basic method uses dough rolled into a long thin rope that is wrapped around a stick. The stick is held over coals and rotated until brown on all sides. It requires a little patience to get the inside done at the same time as the outside.

To start, take some type of bread dough and roll it between your hands, forming a long piece (like making a snake or rope out of clay). Don't leave it too thick, which will make it harder to cook all the way through.

Next, select a stick to cook with. This should be heavy enough to support the dough. Take the dough and wind it around the stick in a spiral, pressing the ends to the dough so that it does not fall off.

Place the stick over the coals. It is much easier to cook breadsticks using coals than fire, since they give off a better heat. It may be helpful to prop the stick up over the coals with a couple of rocks, or pile a couple of rocks on either side and lay the stick across the coals so you don't have to hold it the entire time. Occasionally rotate the stick so that the bread gets brown on all sides. Patience is helpful here, to ensure that the bread is cooked through.

You can use a thicker, longer stick laid horizontally above the coals to make several at one time. This will save time if you need to cook for several.

A variety of dough can be used--try various kinds to see which one you like best. The easiest is tube biscuits, which come in a number of types and prices. Take one or more biscuits and roll it between your hands to form the rope of dough to be wrapped on the stick. Other possibilities include Bisquick (don't make the dough too wet), bread dough (if frozen, let it thaw and rise a little), and scone dough (sometimes available at the bakery or deli in your local supermarket).

After cooking, serve with butter, jams, jellies, or honey. This is sure to be a family or group favorite!

About the Author
Scott Carey has many hobbies and interests, including outdoor cooking. Find more outdoor cooking tips and recipes at
OutdoorCookingMagic. Look for information on some of his other interests at InfoTesoro.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Being Safe in the Outdoors

by John E. Spragg

So why do we like to hike and camp? Most of us would say that there is nothing like the closeness of nature at her finest. Hiking brings you closer to the natural world and puts you in touch with things you may have lost or forgotten: things that civilization takes from us. You'll discover and cultivate a harmony with and a respect for the wilderness that no nature show on public television can generate. No matter if you are a seasoned pro or just getting started at hiking, lets not overestimate our abilities or try to fool mother nature, because either one could and often does ruin your outing. A few things I have learned over the years to be safe and to enjoy the great outdoors is to get some reference material on hiking and camping and to stay fit. I still have my Boy Scott manual that I refer back to from time to time. Here are a few more tips that I've learned over my 40 years of enjoying the outdoors:

If you get cold at night put on a wool stocking cap and socks on your feet. Most heat loss in a sleeping bag is via your head. Plan your trip and take along a compos or now a days a GPS. Take along extra garbage and Ziploc bags. They have a thousand uses in camp. A paper bag can have other uses too like you can boil water over a fire if you have to. Water boils at 212 degrees while paper burns at around 452 Degrees. It is a good idea to start out by taking short trips then work your way up to longer ones. It is better to have a shallow fire pit instead if ringing the camp fire with rocks because some rocks explode when they are heated unevenly. A note on tents, zip the zipper closed before pitching it, that way you know it will close latter. If the zipper is hard to work rub some unscented soap on it to keep it moving. If the weather man misses the forecast and you find yourself out in an electrical storm get as low to the ground as possible or go to the middle of a stand of trees.

Enjoy the wildlife from afar by using binoculars and do not try to pet that cute bear cub, because momma bear is closer than you think and playing dead will not save you. The wildlife deserve there space to, respect them. A comfortable backpack is one forth your body weight properly adjusted to your back. A pair of leather gloves is good to protect your hands from hot pots and firewood. Dental floss is not only for your teeth but a good camp thread because it is strong and durable. It can be used to sew up holes in tents, sleeping bags, and clothing. In a pinch, a fishing line as well. Dry your tent and sleeping bag before storing. Putting them away wet is a good way to rot the fabric and make them smell. A blackened pan heats up faster then a silver pan. But if a blackened pan bothers you rub some liquid detergent on the outside to aid in the clean up.

One thing I always pack is my first aid kit; because accidents do happen, even the preventable ones. I like to take along one of those shake or crank LED flashlights, because you will always have a light they do not need batteries and the LED are good for 50,000 hours. Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. So be safe and enjoy the great outdoors. For quality hiking equipment, I recommend

About the Author
I am fifty one years old and have hiked around most of the USA and parts of Europe, but I prefer seeing more of the United States. I enjoy being out in Nature and seeing Mother Nature at her finest. I have had a few close calls and decided that being prepared and more knowledgeable would cut down on the unexpected and make hiking safer and more rewarding for all