Category Archives: hiking products

30 Hiking Trails Around the Globe

I don’t think that anyone doubts that those of us working at Ultra Lightload Towels are pretty enamored with hiking, so yet another blog post on amazing hiking trails won’t come as much of a surprise.

No matter if you’re a skilled backpacker or an average Joe who wants to really see what Mother Nature has to offer, there’s a gorgeous trail out there just waiting to offer you the experience of a lifetime. These 30 hiking trails are among the most beautiful in the world and certain to get your blood pumping!

One ofUltra Lightload Towels employees favorites hiking trails here in the US is the Florida National Scenic Trail. However we did not include that one here as we have several blog post for that one. If you are interested about the Florida National Scenic Trail here is the link http://www.fs.usda.gov/fnst.

Colorado Trail – United States: Spanning 486 miles, the Colorado Trail runs from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver, to Durango, through historic mining towns and along ancient Indian trails. For the “short version,” stick to the most beautiful 68 miles between San Luis Pass and Molas Pass, and expect to see a lot of wildlife and plenty of gorgeous wildflowers.

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Photo Credit: Travel Spirit

Buckskin Gulch – United States: Prepare yourself for some absolutely incredible rock formations. The Bucksin Gulch is one of the most popular destinations for slot canyon hikers, clocking in at 13 miles. In some places — like the 2-foot-wide Wire Pass — you’ll need to remove your backpack just to squeeze through. Plan about three to four days for this one.

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Photo Credit: Jason J. Corneveaux, Wikipedia

Kungsleden – Sweden: Also known as “The King’s Trail,” this 275-mile trek will give you a tour of some of Sweden’s most beautiful landscapes, running through four national parks and a nature reserve. Unless you want to spend a month hiking, stick to the northernmost 65 miles.

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Alexandre Buisse

The Snowman Trek – Bhutan: A challenging but rewarding high-altitude hike, the Snowman Trek passes beneath six mountains and crosses nine passes. Highlights include Buddhist monasteries, small villages like Laya, and unique wildlife like the Himalayan blue sheep.

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Photo Credit: Himalayan Expeditions

Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania: Reaching 19,340 feet into the sky, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak. Believe it or not, this trek is possible for even the most inexperienced of climbers and requires no special equipment, (which is one of the reasons why 35,000 people climb it every year). Backpacker magazine describes it as a “volcanic hulk [that’s] so massive that it supports five distinct eco-zones, from the banana trees growing at its base to the glaciers draping its upper slopes. … After 27 miles of climbing, you’ll watch Kili’s pyramidal shadow disappear as dawn spreads across an auburn sea of savanna that’s home to lions, elephants and more.”

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Photo Credit: Mount Kilimanjaro Porters

Paine Circuit Trek – Chile: If you want the view of a lifetime, look no further than Chile’s Torres del Paine Circuit. One of the most popular ways to experience Patagonia, the 75-mile hike offers surreal panoramas of icy lakes, blue glaciers, mountains and forests. Most people opt for the three or four day “W” route rather than the full five to eight day circuit.

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Photo Credit: Wanderlust

Roan Highlands – United States: Ranked No. 23 in National Geographic’s “50 Best American Adventures,” Roan Highlands consists of a 48-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail between the Nolichucky River and U.S. Highway 19E. This area is known for its breathtaking views and rhododendrons, and contains the largest expanse of “bales” (openings in the forest along ridges and mountaintops), in the Appalachian range.

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Photo Credi: Fine Art America

Superior Hiking Trail – United States: Named one of the five best hikes in America by Readers Digest in May 2005, the 275-mile Superior Hiking Trail overlooks Lake Superior and passes through forests of birch, aspen, pine, fir and cedar. Highlights include rushing waterfalls and a plethora of wildlife.

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Photo Credit: Black Coffee at Sunrise

Everest Base Camp Trek – Nepal: Face the world’s highest mountain without actually climbing the whole thing. The Everest Base Camp Trek takes hikers to the easily reached high point of 18,513-foot Kala Pattar, through terraced villages, by rushing rivers, over suspension bridges and to the famous Khumba icefall.

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Santa Cruz Trek – Peru: The most popular hike in the White Mountains of Peru, the Santa Cruz Trek is a four day, 31-mile hike for people of all experience levels. Hot springs can be found near the start of the trek, and hikers can enjoy beautiful views of snow-capped peaks, meadows, turquoise lakes and red quenua trees.

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Photo Credit: Reyes Expeditions

Tongariro Northern Circuit – New Zealand: This round-trip hike encircles Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand’s most active volcano, with 61 eruptions since 1839. About 25 miles, the Northern Circuit takes approximately three to four days and is suitable for those without much experience. Between the lava flows, explosion pits, Emerald Lakes and glacial valleys, this circuit is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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Photo Credit: Experienza.com

Yellowstone’s Wild Southwest – United States: The southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park offers a 27-mile trail through Bechler Meadows, picturesque mountains and lush forests. The trek is known for its big waterfalls and trailside hot springs, like the famous Mr. Bubbles, in which hikers can enjoy a good soak after a long walk. Another highlight: the Lone Star Geyser, which erupts every three hours.

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Photo Credit: Martin Blean

Gospel Hump Loop Trail – United States: This 68-mile trail is not for the inexperienced. The terrain is rugged, with steep ups and downs and few hikers. But those who take on the challenge will be rewarded with spectacular views as they hike through sandy beaches along the Salmon River and wildflower-covered meadows, pass by shimmering high-mountain lakes and camp out next to Salmon River tributaries. Wildlife are more common than people  on this trail, and is inhabited by black bears, elk, moose and bighorn sheep.

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Photo Credit: Wilderness.net

Inca Trail – Peru: The ultimate way to visit Machu Picchu, this 27-mile trek combines Andes Mountains scenery with the subtropical Amazon jungle, ending at the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu mountain. Only 200 trekkers are allowed on the trail each day in order to prevent erosion, so plan ahead and expect a four to five day journey through cloud forests, alpine tundra, settlements, tunnels and Incan ruins.

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Photo Credit: Travel to Cusco

Tour du Mont Blanc – France, Italy and Switzerland: This three-country, 105-mile hike circles the 15,770-foot Mont Blanc Massif, the highest peak in Western Europe. One of the most popular long-distance walking trails, the Tour du Mont Blanc takes hikers through mountain passes, snowfields, lush forests, glacial valleys and secluded Alpine villages over a span of about 10 days.

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Photo Credit: Eurotrek

Presidential Traverse – United States: Only the most adventurous backpackers attempt the Presidential Traverse, an extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous climb through New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It’s so named for the summits of peaks named after U.S. presidents that must be crossed to complete the journey: Mount Madison, Mount Adams, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Mount Monroe, Mount Eisenhower and Mount Pierce. About 23 miles long, most people need two to three days to climb the whole thing. The area is known for unpredictable rain, snow and whiteouts, and the winds exceed 100 miles per hour every four days in the winter.

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Photo Credit: Summit Post

Israel National Trail – Israel: One of National Geographic’s “20 Most Epic Trails,” the Israel National Trail crosses the entire country of Israel, clocking in at about 580 to 620 miles. Experienced backpackers generally spend about 45 to 60 days trekking from Israel’s northern border, through major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well as the Israeli desert. Hikers will pass through mountains, valleys, forests, craters and orchards, varying from very easy to vary difficult, and crossing biblical sites and historic places like Nazareth, as well as archeological sites.

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Photo Credit: Israel Trail

Zion Narrows – United States: The Zion Narrows, part of Zion National Park, is a gorge carved out by the Virgin River, stretching 16 miles long, reaching about 2,000 feet deep and spanning only about 20 to 30 feet wide in some areas. Ranked No. 5 in National Geographic’s “America’s Best 100 Adventures,” the Zion Narrows is no easy feat. The river marks the route, so there really isn’t a maintained trail, and at least 60% of the hike involves wading, and sometimes swimming, in the river. Highlights include natural springs, hanging gardens and ponderosa pines.

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Photo Credit: World for Travel

Tiger Leaping Gorge – China: Legend has it that a South China tiger once leapt 25 meters across the Yangtze River to escape a hunter, giving this gorge its name. One of the deepest gorges in the world, it clocks in at about 9.3 miles long and 18,360 feet deep in between the snow-covered peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Snow Mountain. Backpackers can spend anywhere from three days to a week trekking the narrow winding trails beneath waterfalls and through pine and bamboo forests, visiting quiet rural villages along the way.

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Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Wales: The National Trails website for England and Wales describes this breathtaking coastal trek well: “From St. Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, the trail covers almost every kind of maritime landscape, from rugged cliff tops and sheltered coves to wide-open beaches and winding estuaries.” The 186-mile path is an estimated 35,000 feet of ascents and descents, but some 130 shorter, circular walks exist for the not-so-hardcore hikers. The Pembrokshire Coast Path passes through 58 beaches and 14 harbors, giving backpackers views of volcanic headlands, red sandstone coves, flooded glacial valleys, and a plethora of coastal flora and bird life along the way.

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Photo Credit: National Trail

Sentiero Azzurro – Italy: Pass through picturesque fishing villages, vineyards and terraced hills on this 7.5-mile path that follows the Italian Riviera coastline and connects five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Far from a challenging hike, the Sentiero Azzurro is almost completely flat and usually requires only about five hours, although you might want to allow for extra time to stop in each village and enjoy the local cuisine and wine.

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Photo Credit: Walks of Italy

Muliwai Trail – Hawaii: Named “Best Hike in Hawaii” by Backpacker magazine, the Muliwai Trail stretches 9 miles from the Waipio Valley to the Waimanu Valley, allowing hikers to explore old ruins, swimming holes and a black sand beaches on the way.

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Photo Credit: Hawaii Guide

Haute Route – France and Switzerland: The Haute Route, also known as the High Route or Mountaineers’ Route, can be traversed on foot or by ski touring. It begins at the foot of Mont Blanc in France’s Chamonix Valley and takes backpackers through the Swiss Alps to the foot of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland. Distant Journeys, a company offering guided hikes, best describes the incredible trek on its website: “Hike beneath imposing peaks and glaciers of the Swiss Alps, wander though alpine meadows and larch forests, cross high, barren passes and descend into lush green valleys. We’ll picnic beside cool mountain lakes, stay in remote mountain huts, visit bustling Swiss villages and relax in the tranquility of isolated old-world hamlets.” Expect at least 12 days if trekking on foot and at least seven days if skiing.

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Photo credit: Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides

Long Range Traverse – Canada: Located in Gros Morne National Park, the 23-mile Long Range Traverse takes experienced backpackers through the Long Range Mountains, offering spectacular views of glaciers, waterfalls, verdant meadows, granite cliffs and coastal landscapes. The rugged terrain makes this a difficult hike, and most backpackers need about four to five days to complete the trek.

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Photo credit: Corner Brook

Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex – United States: This wilderness preserve is home to 17,000 miles of trails, which are traversed by all sorts of adventurers, from day hikers and backpackers to horseback riders and cross-country skiers. The complex hike consists of three wilderness areas: the Great Bear, the Bob Marshall (so named for Robert “Bob” Marshall, the forester, conservationist, writer, wilderness activist and one of the founders of the Wilderness Society), and the Scapegoat. Explorers will find themselves surrounded by rugged peaks, alpine lakes, grassy meadows, lush forests and cascading waterfalls. One of the highlights of the area is the Chinese Wall, a 22-mile-long limestone escarpment that averages 1,000 feet and is part of the Great Divide. The preserve has the highest population density of grizzly bear in all of the United States outside of Alaska.

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Photo credit: Eliott Reed

Bibbulmun Track – Australia: Though there are plenty of smaller hikes, the full, long-distance Bibbulmun Track spans 620 miles of Western Australia, from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills to the historic town of Albany on the south coast. Attempting the full trek takes approximately 60 days and leads backpackers through forests, tranquil farmland, vineyards, waterfalls, wild beaches and granite boulders. Named after the Bibbulmun Nyoongar (an aboriginal group that traveled long distances on foot for ceremonies), “the Bibb” passes through 22 national parks and other reserves, offering glimpses of beautiful coast scenery, wildflower displays and wildlife, such as emus, kangaroos, seals, dolphins and whales.

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Photo Credit: Conde’ Nast Traveler

North Drakensberg Traverse – South Africa: Aaren Adventures best describes this strenuous five to six day trek through South Africa’s highest mountain range: “A trek across this epic landscape begins by ascending chain ladders to reach the top of this barrier and the plateau of Mount-aux-Sources, where the Tugela River plunges 3,110 feet off the top in a series of five cascades that make for the second highest waterfall in the world. From here, the trek crosses the high plateau, broken by rock formations, views out across the cliffs, and the huts of Sotho herdsman, before it works its way down past more waterfalls and river crossings before meeting up with the welcome civilization of the Cathedral Peak Hotel.”

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Photo Shoot: Super Traverse

Sierra High Route – United States: A true wilderness-lover’s adventure, the 195-mile Sierra High Route runs north to south through the Sierra Nevada, crossing 33 passes without any clearly marked trails. Most backpackers choose to tackle one of its five segments, though Backpacker magazine editor Steve Howe hiked the entire thing in one month in 2006. Also known as the “Roper Route,” this hike is “the brainchild of mountaineer Steve Roper, who sought an alternative to the heavily pounded John Muir Trail,” says National Geographic. It passes through Kings Canyon National Park, the Inyo National Forest and Yosemite National Park and involves a good deal of boulder hopping and long stretches of peaceful solitude.

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Photo Credit: Traildino.com

Half Dome – United States: The ultimate way to experience Yosemite National Park, the 14- to 16-mile round-trip hike up the Half Dome (Yosemite’s famous granite dome), can be accomplished by even the average, in-shape person with some preparation. Most hikers need about 10 to 14 hours to get to the top and back, and the trek offers some incredible views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite Valley, the Half Dome, Liberty Cap and the High Sierra. Perhaps the most popular part of the hike is the last 400 feet to the summit, where two metal cables allow hikers to climb without rock-climbing equipment.

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Photo credit: Backpacker

Haiku Stairs – Hawaii: What began as a wooden ladder installed on a cliff for workers stringing antenna cables, evolved into an incredible, and challenging, trail consisting of approximately 3,922 steps. Unfortunately, the Haiku Stairs were closed to the public in 1987, but there’s still a way to legally access them , but it’s not for the amateur hiker. Expert hikers can climb to the top of the stairs from the other side of the island and take the trail down.

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Photo credit: Amusing Planet

Staying Warm In Winter: Tips For Winter Backpacking/Hiking and Camping

Stick to the 3-layer rule.  When it comes to dressing for the cold, it’s important to stay both warm and dry. The best way to do this is to wear 3 layers of clothing – a base layer, a middle layer and an outer layer. Your base layer is the layer closest to your skin. Choose a fabric like synthetic and merino wool (NOT cotton! – Cotton takes a long time to dry and loses its insulating qualities as it gets wet) that dries quickly and wicks moisture up to the outer layers where it is evaporated, keeping you nice and dry. When you’re camping in the snow, it’s best to have 2 base layers – a lightweight one and a midweight one. Next is your middle layer, which serves as insulation to retain body heat. Down or fleece works best for this layer (again, stay away from cotton). Finally, your outer layer should be waterproof, windproof and well ventilated. Laminates, such as Gore-Tex and eVent, are prime for warmth and breathability, as they are designed to allow sweat to escape as moisture vapor instead of trapping it underneath the fabric. Polyurethane-coated fabrics are less-expensive alternatives to laminates and are equally as waterproof, though they are a bit less breathable.

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Maintain good circulation. When you have poor blood flow to certain parts of your body, you will have a very difficult time getting warm. Make sure that you don’t wear too many pairs of socks, as each extra one will fit tight on your foot. If the circulation in your feet becomes constricted, your feet will be cold no matter how many pairs you have on. It’s best to wear a thin, breathable pair of socks under a pair of thick, cushiony socks. Make sure that you boot laces are not tied too tight – this could constrict blood circulation as well. Also, wear gloves and liners that are not too tight, as they can prevent your hands from warming up. A good tip for helping your hands and feet stay toasty, especially in the morning, is to sleep with your gloves, liners, socks and boot insoles in your sleeping bag.

Drink lots and lots of water. Dry winter air dehydrates you faster than warmer air for various reasons. Mainly, you just don’t tend to get thirsty when you’re cold. And when you don’t feel thirsty, you don’t drink water and can dehydrate very quickly. It’s vitally important to drink tons of water in cold temperatures because water allows your body to generate heat, your body is working harder under the weight of all your extra clothing, and your sweat is evaporating much more rapidly in cold, dry air. Checking your urine periodically to see how clear it is a good way to make sure that you are properly hydrated. And to keep your water from freezing, put your water bottle in a wool sock, insulated bottle sleeve or a DIY cell foam sleeve. Mixing the water with something like lemonade or Gatorade will also cause it to freeze at a lower temperature than plain water.

Choose your campsite wisely. Pick a site with a lot of trees that is as sheltered from the wind as possible. If your only option is an exposed campsite on snow, dig a 1-2′ deep hole in which to put your tent, which will reduce the amount of wind that blows against your tent. Dig a pit at the entrance of the same depth to make getting in and out of the tent easier. Make sure to pack down the snow before you set your tent up – otherwise, your body will melt a deformation in the powder, which will refreeze and be very uncomfortable to sleep on. Also, avoid three-season tents, as they may be too ventilated and not sturdy enough to handle blustery winter winds and snow buildup. If you know what’s right and decide to hammock camp, find a spot with as many trees as possible, because hanging your tarp among trees will help block the wind. A tarp like the HouseFly, which has silicone impregnated nylon sides, overlapping doors and the most coverage of all ENO’s tarps, is great for keeping out any winter storm that may come your way. And don’t forget your sleeping pad, underquilt and topquilt! With all the right components, you’ll be swinging away in toasty bliss.

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Be smart with your food. When you winter camp, your body will need as much as twice the calories it usually needs. Choose foods that will provide your body with energy. Proteins like jerky (try Threshold Provisions‘ salmon jerky – an awesome source of amino acids and omega-3′s) and dehydrated eggs are great for bringing along on trips. Nuts containing fats, and carbohydrates like breads, oatmeal, dried fruits and candy will also boost your energy. If you’re backpacking, snack on your food throughout the day, taking short breaks or munching as you go instead of taking long lunch breaks. This will keep you from cooling down too much and then needing to adjust and put on more layers. Carry a small insulated thermos of hot cider, chocolate or soup on your pack hip belt so that you can take a sip here and there to warm up. Also, having a late-night snack before you go to bed will give your body enough fuel to generate heat during the cold night.

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And last but not least be sure to pack a winterized first aid kit.

 

This checklist is by no means comprehensive, but a basic overnight first aid kit should include the following items:

  • Bandages: Assorted sizes for small cuts, blisters, etc.
  • 4-inch closure strips or butterfly closures: For closing large wounds. 4-inch strips are more effective than butterfly.
  • 4 inch by 4 inch sterile dressing pads (5 to 10): To apply pressure to a wound and stop bleeding
  • Non-adherent sterile dressing (2 inch by 2 inch): Use these or Second Skin to cover blisters, burns or lacerations.
  • Gauze roll: Holds dressing in place.
  • Small roll of 1-inch adhesive tape: Holds dressings in place.
  • Multi-use tool or knife: Should include knife, scissors. A scalpel and blade are also useful for first aid.
  • Forceps or tweezers: For removing splinters, ticks, and removing debris from wounds.
  • Scissors: Trauma scissors, which have a blunt end to protect the patient, can be used for cutting away clothing from injury, cutting medical tape, etc.
  • Thermometer: Digital is generally more accurate, but batteries do wear out.
  • Malleable splint: Lightweight foam-covered aluminum, such as a SAM splint.
  • Irrigation syringe (35 cc): Used to flush and clean wounds.
  • Suction syringe (65 cc): Used to clear mouth of fluids when giving CPR.
  • Safety pins: Can help remove splinters, fasten arm sling, or make a whole in a plastic bag for improvised wound irrigation.
  • Cotton-tip swabs: For removing  foreign objects from eye, or applying antibiotic ointment.
  • Resealable plastic bags: Many uses, including icing a swollen joint or creating wound irrigation device.
  • ACE, Coban, or other rubberized bandage: Can be used as outer wrap on splints, wound dressings or support for joint injuries. Be careful not to wrap too tightly.
  • Antiseptic towlettes: For cleaning small wounds.
  • Cleansing pads with lidocaine: For cleaning. Includes a topical anesthetic for abrasions, stings, etc.
  • Topical antibiotic ointment: For application to wounds. Simple Vaseline can also be used in dressing a wound.
  • Moleskin: Prevents blisters. Cut and apply a section to your foot as soon as you discover a “hot spot.” Duct tape also works for this purpose.
  • Povidone Iodine USP 10 percent, 1 oz.: For preventing infection. Bottled PVD iodine 10 percent solution should be diluted to a ratio of 1 percent or less for flushing wounds.
  • Aloe vera gel: Found in packets or small bottles for relief of minor burns.
  • Pain relievers, including aspirin and Ibuprofen: Provides relief for minor aches and pains, reduces fever, helps reduce inflammation of sprains and other injuries.
  • Antihistamines: For relief of pollen allergies, or to reduce reaction to bites and stings.
  • Immodium 2 mg capsules or tablets: For relief of diarrhea from intestinal infections.
  • Pepto Bismol or antiacid tablets: For relief from general diarrhea, abdominal upset.
  • After Bite or hydrocortisone cream USP 1 percent: Relieves skin irritation from bites, poison oak, stings, or allergic reactions.
  • Latex or nitrile gloves: Protects against blood-borne diseases and infection.
  • CPR microshield mask: A compact flexible barrier with a one-way valve for rescue breathing, which protects user from blood, vomit or saliva.
  • Oral rehydration salts: Packet of electrolyte salts and glucose for treatment of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or loss of fluids from vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Space bag/blanket: Lightweight emergency shelter. For treating hypothermia victims. Lightweight camp towel and large towel. I don’t normally recommend specific products but in this case the Lightload Camp Towel and Travel Towels are worth their LACK of weight!
  • Paper and pencil: For recording medical data such as body temperature, pulse, time and date of symptoms, injuries, medicines administered, etc. Most repackaged kits include accident report forms.
  • Wilderness First Aid booklet: Many prepackaged first aid kits contain one. An excellent pocket guide is the Wilderness Medical Handbook by Paul Nicolazzo, available for $20 from Wilderness Medical Training Center,www.wildmedcenter.com or (509) 996-2502.first aid small

Some of the items above not commonly found in standard first aid kits (including forceps, CPR masks, trauma scissors,and suction syringes) can be purchased online fromWilderness Medicine Training Center.

What to wear for fall hiking a check list

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The following is a clothing checklist for fall hiking. It applies both to children and adults. Once people are experienced with what their bodies require in various weather conditions, we allow individuals to tweak it according to their needs. This list also assumes that you will be spending the entire day outside without the luxury of easily being able to go indoors to warm up. If you are only going out for a couple of hours, you can adjust as necessary.

Head

  • Winter hat – a light fleece beanie works great
  • Balaclava or Buff (optional) – not required if you are bringing a hoodie (see below). We have found Buffs to be highly versatile pieces of clothing and highly recommend them.

Torso

  • Wool/synthetic undershirt – For more info on what we like to use, read our article onunderpants.
  • Wool/synthetic t-shirt
  • Wool/synthetic long-sleeve undershirt
  • Light-weight fleece hoodie (preferred) or fleece sweater
  • Windbreaker – the lighter weight, the better
  • Rain jacket (optional) – whether or not you need this will depend on the forecast. For fall we prefer to bring something waterproof, breathable, and durable. I.e. I wouldn’t recommend a rain poncho.
  • Insulated jacket (optional) – Something light-weight and windproof and preferably with a hood. This jacket is meant to be worn at rest stops. If you have to wear this to stay warm when hiking then you aren’t bringing enough other layers. In early fall or late spring when the temperatures are mild we don’t bother with this. In colder weather this becomes essential.

Hands

  • Wool/Synthetic light-weight gloves or glove liners
  • Mitts (optional) – in early fall or late spring when the temperatures are mild we don’t bother with these.
  • Light weight hand towel for accidents and wipe downs.

Legs

  • Wool/synthetic underwear – as with the undershirts, for more info on what we like to use read our article on underpants.
  • Wool/synthetic long underwear
  • Fleece pants (optional) – some people get cold more easily than others and long underwear isn’t enough.
  • Synthetic hiking pants – make sure they are highly wind resistant and durable.
  • Rain pants (optional) – whether or not you need this will depend on the forecast. As with the jacket, we prefer to bring something waterproof, breathable, and durable.

Feet

  • Wool/synthetic liner socks (optional) – in colder weather, these can add a little extra warmth
  • Wool socks – the warmer the better
  • Waterproof socks (optional) – in cold/wet conditions these are VERY helpful
  • Hiking shoes – we like to wear light-weight trail runners
  • Gaiters (optional) – we will bring these when we think there might be snow and/or ice
  • Crampons (optional) – we will bring these when we think there might be snow and/or ice

If you are going to be hiking in the fall during hunting season, make sure that one of your clothing items is blaze orange. You should also always bring along at least a basic first aid kit.

 First-Aid Checklist

Be prepared! Outdoor enthusiasts should always carry either a prepackaged first-aid kit or a DIY kit created using our comprehensive list as a guide.

Basic Care: Prepackaged first-aid kits available at REI typically contain many of the following items:

The Ten Hidden Gem National Parks

We here at Lightload Towels are always looking for that ultimate get-away from it all place. So when we ran across this article in Esquire we just had to check it out. How does 400+ square miles all to yourself in some of America’s most pristine and remote wilderness sound to you for a total get-away? According to Esquire these are 10 of North Americas least visited National Parks.

1) Kobuk Valleykobuk-valley-national-park-new-lg

Far and away (no pun intended) the least visited of our national parks system, Kobuk Valley National Park attracted only 847 visitors in 2007. Located in the Arctic Circle, accessible only by foot, dogsled or snowmobile, and featuring exactly zero designated trails and roads, the park’s title of least visited isn’t really that surprising.

What Kobuk Valley lacks in user-friendliness, however, it more than makes up for in sand dunes and caribou. The park is also a great place to experience the anomaly of 24-hour daylight (but only for one month a year).

 

2) Lake Clarklake-clark-np-lg

Concentrating all the best that Alaskan wilderness has to offer into a single park, it is surprising Lake Clark National Park and Preservation had only 5,549 visitors in 2007. Lakes, active volcanoes, three mountain ranges, glaciers, waterfalls, arctic-like tundra and even a rainforest comprise this majestic park outside of Anchorage. Sled dog teams were the best way to travel around the area until the 1960s, but they have recently faced competition from snowmobiles.

At 6,297 square miles, Lake Clark National Park provides plenty of open space for your personal enjoyment. With an average of only 15 visitors per day, this means each visitor has 419 square miles of pristine national park to him or herself every day

 

3) American Samoaamerican-smoa-np-lg

How many national parks can boast a rain forest and a coral reef? The National Park of American Samoa is unlike any other park, and if you weren’t one of the park’s 6,774 lucky visitors in 2007 (which, statistically, you probably weren’t), we suggest you check it out.

The park, which spans three islands, offers a chance to see some great wildlife, from flying foxes to humpback whales. Admission to the park is free, which is good news because you’ll probably need to book a couple flights to get there — and don’t forget your passport. Sure, it’s basically three-quarters of the way to Australia (a nonstop flight from Los Angeles takes about 10 hours), but the National Park of American Samoa is way cooler than one of those overcrowded touristy national parks.

 

4) Gates of the Arcticgates-arctic-np-lg

Don’t let Into the Wild scare you away from the almost-untouched-by-man natural beauty of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Considering it’s roughly the size of Switzerland, it’s surprising that only 10,942 people ventured through this Alaskan park in 2007.

Millennia of glaciation and erosion have carved out a breathtaking array of valleys, rivers, mountains and crystal-clear lakes. For an opportunity to enjoy tranquility like you’ve never experienced before, head north — far, far, north — to this park, where you’re more likely to encounter a moose or caribou than another tourist

 

5) Isle Royaleisle-royale-np-lg

Isle Royale is a true hidden gem — perhaps this is why Michigan’s state gemstone (Isle Royale greenstone) is named after the remote little island that’s closer to Canada than it is to the States. Isle Royale is the largest island in Lake Superior, the greatest of the Great Lakes. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Isle Royale National Park attracted 15,973 visitors in 2007.

Due to its remoteness, the island is populated by only about one third of the mammals that are found on the mainland. Interestingly, it is the only known place where wolves and moose live together without bears. If you don’t like crowds (or bears) pack up the seaplane and head to Isle Royale National Park.

 

6) North Cascadesnorth-cascades-np-lg

Considering its size and location (which is inconvenient, to say the least) it’s no surprise Alaska has so many parks on this list. While Alaskan national parks feature some truly amazing stuff, North Cascades National Park in Washington provides an opportunity to experience Alaska-like wilderness closer to home. In addition to bears, moose and cougars, the park has the most glaciers (more than 300 of them!) outside of Alaska. Sadly, that number is steadily decreasing as global warming continues to claim its victims, so go see them while you can.

Located in northern Washington, the park is popular among backpackers and hikers. Its 400 miles of trails also make it accessible to less-adventurous outdoor lovers. North Cascades National Park was enjoyed by 19,534 visitors in 2007.

 

7) Dry Tortugasdry-tortugas-np-lg

Looking for sunken pirate ships and lost treasure? Civil War history buff? Really into masonry? If any of these apply to you, then Dry Tortugas National Park is the park for you. Seventy miles west of Key West are the Dry Tortugas islands, so-called because they lack surface fresh water (“dry”) and Ponce de Leon caught a lot of sea turtles (“tortugas”) here in the 1500s.

The centerpiece of the park is Fort Jefferson, a behemoth brick fortress originally intended to protect the U.S. from Gulf Coast invaders (namely pirates), but also used as a Union stronghold during the Civil War. The fort, although never completed, is comprised of more than 16 million bricks, making it the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere.

Dry Tortugas is also a great place to watch migratory birds in the spring. With almost 300 bird species in the park, birdwatchers are in for quite a treat. As the 60,895 people who visited the park in 2007 can attest, Dry Tortugas National Park offers some great history in an idyllic setting.

 

8) Wrangell-St. Eliaswrangell-st-elias-lg

The largest of all the national parks, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is actually larger than nine states. It is almost impossible to understand the scope of this park without experiencing it firsthand. Glaciers and mountains — many of which could support their own national parks — are the only ones crowded here. The park’s 13 million acres provide a sprawling remote destination that is actually pretty accessible, as far as Alaskan national parks go. With 61,085 visitors in 2007, the park is increasing in popularity so enjoy its majesty before the Yellowstone crowd catches wind of it.

For those who just need some room to breathe, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park offers an average of 124 square miles per visitor, per day. That’s the size of the country of Malta — and it’s all waiting for you at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Smoky Mountain National Park, the most popular in the national park system, only offers a measly 0.03 square miles to each visitor each day.

 

9) Great Basingreat-basin-np-lg

Think of tourist destinations in Nevada and the first place your mind likely goes is Las Vegas. But our 36th state has so much more to offer than just strippers and slot machines. Head toward the Utah border and you’ll find Great Basin National Park, which attracted 81,364 visitors in 2007.

Thanks to an almost complete lack of civilization in these parts, the night skies of Great Basin National Park are among the darkest in the country. Think of the park as the yin to Las Vegas’ yang. Flashing neon lights are replaced with awesome, naked-eye views of the starry night — a rare opportunity for many. It’s estimated that two-thirds of Americans cannot see the Milky Way from their backyards, and as light pollution continues to worsen, chances to observe the cosmos as nature intended might be running out.

 

10) Katmaikatmai-np-lg

Katmai National Park in southern Alaska provides thrill seekers an opportunity to hike among 14 active volcanoes and the world’s largest population of protected brown bears. Active volcanoes and thousands of brown bears not extreme enough for you? Well the National Park Service Website also warns visitors to expect only “some sunshine” and to “be prepared for stormy weather.” And here’s the kicker: it also offers the caveat that “light rain can last for days.” Consider yourself warned.

With 82,634 visitors in 2007, Katmai National Park is the most visited of our least visited national parks.

All of these places are truly the “hidden gems” of North America, remote and unfettered by man or machine, so if you are planning a visit to one of these locations make sure you pack plenty Lightload Towels for the trip!

The Benefits of Hiking to Your Health

Hiking CoverWe here at Lightload Towels are huge fans of anything that takes us outdoors, into the wilds, but hiking holds a special place in our hearts, literally! You know hiking is good for your health. But do you know just how good it is? If you are heading out for a hike this Fourth of July weekend, take note of all the good you are doing for your body. Oh and be sure to bring along a couple of our hand towels to mop up the glow of exercise!

For adults, regular aerobic exercise such as hiking leads to:

Kids get many of the same benefits, including:

What’s more, hiking exercises almost every part of your body: legs, knees, ankles, arms, hips and butt, abdominals, shoulders and neck. “Hiking exercises your body and your mind, and nourishes your imagination,” says Ignacio Malpica, a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer in Boulder, Colorado. “It creates awareness in your eyes and ears and the rest of your senses.”

How Much Time?

How much activity do you need to reap these incredible health benefits? Experts say getting active for  just 150 minutes a week – doing “moderate-intensity” aerobic exercise such as moderate hiking or brisk walking – leads to most of these benefits (reducing risks of colon and breast cancer requires another hour a week). That’s only 2½ hours a week. And you don’t have to do it all at once. Sneaking in a lunchtime hike up the hill near your office counts toward your total, as long as you’re active for at least ten minutes.

If you take part in more vigorous aerobic activities, such as running, dancing, or hiking uphill or with a heavy pack, you need only half that amount of time, or 75 minutes a week, to get health benefits.

For more tips on Hiking, Biking and much more check out our website http://www.ultralighttowels.com

Escape the City with a Towel

Urban Escapes is a great way to get away from the city and do outdoorsy stuff like hiking, climbing and boating. Lightload Towels is a proud sponsor. Urban Escapes Founder Maia Josebachvili says:

I brought a three-pack of lightloads with me while backpacking in the Himalayas in Nepal for a month. They were awesome! Didn’t weight a thing (which I really appreciated at 18,000 ft) and were just as effective as a regular towel. I’ll be using them again for sure!’

Check out National Geographic’s Urban Escapesuggestions. http://on.natgeo.com/1lsNQXO

Please contact Urban Esapes if you are an outdoorsy person living in the New york city area

-Maia J.
Maia Josebachvili
Founder and Guide
Urban Escapes
212.609.2547

Check out www.urbanexcapenyc.com

Lightload Travel Towels Comparisons for Outdoor, Camping and Backpack Gear

Easily packable lightload Towels

Susan Hamilton the award winning travel writer did a comparison of three towels used for travel. Here is what she had to say about Lightload Towels.

Lightload Towels

“This super compact 12-inch by 20-inch towel comes vacuum sealed in a package that is smaller than palm size. Lightload towels are wickable and should be hand washed. Because these towels are made of viscose, they are more absorbent than microfiber or cotton.

Lightload towels can provide insulation in extreme weather, as well as being used as a fire starter or coffee filter. Backpackers use Lightload towels in place of bandanas and camp towels. Athletes use them for drying off as well as cleaning their gear.”

Susan also went on to describe what a travel towel is. She writes, ”

Compact and thin, travel towels are a practical way to take towels on vacations, camping trips and international destinations. Much less bulky than regular terrycloth or cotton towels, travel towels are made of synthetic materials that dry quickly.

Many travel towels are made of microfiber. These towels are soft but the microfiber can sometimes irritate sensitive skin. Some travel towels are made of viscose rayon, nylon or polyester. Some travel towel fabrics are infused with antibacterial fibers that prevent bacterial growth.

She goes on to write, ”

Travel towels allow campers, backpackers, travelers and athletes to have the convenience of a towel without the added weight. When packing for yurt camping (such as destinations in Oregon, Washington and Idaho), travel towels keep the load light. Their compact size is ideal for saving space in luggage and packs. Super absorbent and quick drying, travel towels have a multitude of uses — from blankets to fire starters.”

Susan Lynne Hamilton is an award-winning writer, specializing in travel, recreation, wine, food and health. As the Feature Writer for Suite 101’s Northwest U.S. travel section, she showcases the rich features this unique region of America offers.

Read more at Suite101: Travel Towels Comparisons for Outdoor, Camping and Backpack Gear http://nwusalaskatravel.suite101.com/article.cfm/travel-towels-comparisons-for-outdoor-camping-and-backpack-gear#ixzz0rxG93HPW

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