Health & Hygiene

Backpacking and hiking both require a high degree of self-sufficiency when it comes to taking care of yourself in the backcountry. This includes fitness, preventive physical “maintenance”, injuries, and therapies to keep yourself in top shape for the trail and off it.

Ticks, Lyme, and Permethrin

Wearing a Head Net on The Long Trail

Given the number of non-hikers that ask me about ticks and Lyme disease, it appears that either the awareness of tick-borne illness or it’s territorial spread are increasing, or both. According to the CDC, cases of Lyme disease are concentrated in the United States, with northern California. Connecticut, Rhode Island, …

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Preventing Dehydration in Winter

Hiking up to Mt Garfield in Winter

If you’re not careful, it’s very easy to become dehydrated in the winter particularly if you’re engaged in sports like snowshoeing, backcountry skiing or mountaineering. Under these conditions, it’s not enough to be on the lookout for yellow pee; you need to hydrate before exertion and regularly during all outdoor …

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The Human Burrito

human-burrito

This is NOT a backpacking recipe! It's a technique I learned for warming an hypothermia victim during my Wilderness First Aid certification class in Vermont recently. The Human Burrito is based on vapor barrier survival techniques that I've written about in the past. Hypothermia occurs when the body's core temperature …

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Grabber Hand Warmers

Last winter, my wife bought me some Grabber Hand Warmers to heat up my sleeping bag in cold weather. I didn’t pay much attention to them for almost a year until I tried one last weekend and I was blown away. These are so cool. Each warmer heats up to about …

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Chemical Free Insect-Bite Prevention

Ex Officio Halo Check Shirt with Insect Shield

Last year, I used 4 squirt bottles of Ben's 100% DEET to prevent mosquito bites. I'd slather Ben's on my legs, arms, and head every time I went backpacking and hiking near my home in Boston or when I visited my favorite backpacking haunts in the Catskills, the Gunks, or …

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Protec IT Band Wrap

Protec ITB Compresion Strap

Illiotibial Band Syndrome (ITB) can really slow down hikers and backpackers. I know, I’m suffering from it this sumer. But about 2 months ago, I bought myself a Protec Illiotibial Band wrap that has kept the condition under control and helped me hike some of the hardest miles on the …

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Iliotibial Band Syndrome: A Hiker’s Guide

Single Leg Toe Touch on a Bosu

On my last two section hikes, I experienced a cramping sensation in my left outer thigh on high mileage days. I attributed this to an electrolyte deficiency and brought along some extra salty items to compensate on my last trip. But the pain got worse and has persisted off trail. …

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Bodyglide: Skin Chafing Prevention

Picture this. You are forced to wear long pants on a backpacking trip because the black flies are biting, you hate wearing DEET or you are concerned about catching Lyme disease from ticks. The weather is hot and you start to sweat between your thighs. Then they begin rubbing against …

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Zinc Oxide: A First Aid Kit Essential

Zinc Oxide ointment is a must have item that every hiker needs in their first aid kit. This simple white ointment provides fast relief for chafed skin and diaper rash, also known as monkey butt amongst backpackers. It can be applied as sunblock and helps dry out the oozing and …

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Black Fly Season

Black fly season occurs from mid-March to mid-July in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, north through New York and New England, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and into Southern Canada. Some backpackers, campers, and fishermen avoid outdoor activities during black fly season, but the rest of us soldier on despite the …

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Blister Prevention and Treatment for Hikers

Leukotape

No one is immune to blisters. However, blisters are preventable if you understand the conditions that cause them and they will heal faster if you know how to treat them properly. In the following article I begin by explaining what blisters are and why they occur. I then discuss techniques …

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