Latest Side-by-Side Comparison from Sport Fitness Advisor
Well today’s the first day of Spring here in North America – so I guess it’s time to get ready to get back outside in the great outdoors; and we all know what that means – Gear Preparation.
To get ready for the Hiking and Camping season everyone has their own routine. What we do is take out all our gear, check it over for usability, clean up anything that needs a little tender care and evaluate what we have against the newest gear available to see if our gear has either “aged out” or if there are new products on the market that are significantly better than what we have. This allows us to make sure that the gear we take with us works when we need it in the outback, and keeps us up to date on the latest items on the market. Checking over all of your gear at the beginning of the season doesn’t’ sound like a lot of fun – but trust us – it’s better to find out now that you need a new piece of gear rather than the day before a trip, or even worse, on the trip.
To compare our gear against what is currently on the market we always head to our local outdoor stores (to see as many items as possible in person) and to the internet to read the great gear reviews that are online. Of course, many items don’t change that much from year to year (we doubt that we’re ever going to replace our Council Tool Woodcraft 24" Pack Axe, Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade, Buck 110 or Army Survival Knife), but we always like to keep current with what’s out there “just in case”.
While we were checking our gear for the 2022 Spring/Summer/Fall season we were contacted by Jillian, an editor from Sport Fitness Advisor about a comprehensive guide that they had just published about the "Best Backpacking Stove".
Since our site focuses on the specific gear selections that work for us, and our specific situation, and provides our evaluation criteria and rationale for selecting our gear, we don’t provide detailed side-by-side comparisons of products. That doesn’t’ mean that we don’t read a lot of the websites that provide side-by-side product comparisons – because we most certainly do – we just find that many of these sites do this better than we would (because of the size of their staff and budget). So our HCS site has direct links to many of the sites that do specialize in detailed gear reviews, just in case you want to see the side-by-side comparisons. Of course, we love it even more when a site that has evaluated the latest gear reaches out to us to let us know about a comparison our readers would be interested in; like Sport Fitness Advisor did.
We really liked the "Best Backpacking Stove" article because it was comprehensive in covering what features you need and why you need them. And, as all of our readers know, we think that providing you the most important evaluation criteria is vital since it allows you to assess if your situation equates to the evaluators when you make your gear selection decision. If it does – fine. If it doesn’t - then you can use the detailed information to make a gear selection that better fits your specific situation.
Here’s what the Sport Fitness Advisor article covers:
For comparison’s sake our evaluation criteria for compact hiking/camping stoves include:
The 10 stoves that Sport Fitness Advisor covers in their article include:
We don’t want to give away their conclusions, so you should go read the "Best Backpacking Stove" article for yourself; it’s worth a few minutes of your time.
In addition to their recent article about the “Best Backpacking Stove” Sport Fitness Advisor has numerous other articles related to Hiking and Camping. You should go take a look.
If you would like to see another expert opinion on what the best backpacking stoves currently on the market are - you should check out Clever Hiker’s latest list of “Best Backpacking Stoves”; he’s always got great insight into the gear you need.
Last Year We Had More Readers Than Ever Before
Like most websites, ever since we launched our Hiking, Camping and Shooting (HCS) website we’ve tracked the statistics to see who our readers are, where they’re located and what they read. Since 2021 recently finished we thought that we would share some of our latest statistics from the year with all of you.
In 2021 our readership increased by 32% and came from 112 different Countries from around the world. We had an increase of 10% of our readers coming from countries outside of the US, but 77% or our readers still came from the United States. The largest concentrations outside the US were from the following 20 Countries:
We have readers from all 50 of the United States - with the largest concentrations being in the following 20 States:
The 35 pages and blog posts that people read the most during 2021 were:
Like 2020, in 2021 we had more page views on our "Shooting" pages than either our "Hiking" or "Camping" pages. Probably because of the craziness of 2021, and the fact that approximately 38.9 million new firearms were sold in the United States during the year.
The majority of our users look at our website between the hours of 10:00 AM and 1:00 AM.
Most of our readers find us either by searching on Google (82%) or by previously having been to our website and coming directly to us (13%). A much smaller percentage (5%), find us through other sources to include our Hiking, Camping and Shooting Facebook page.
The majority of our users view our website from either their mobile device (55%) or their desktop computer (43%) using either Chrome (51%) or Safari (37%) browsers.
Since we launched our website back in April 2016 we've had people from 143 different countries stop by with 79% coming from the US and the other 21% from all over the World. The top 25 international countries and the top 25 US States are:
Hopefully this data shows you that in 2021 you were in good company as you read through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear write-ups and blog posts. We hope that they gave you some information that made all of your adventures a little more fun. Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you stopped by to look over our HCS website and look forward to seeing you again in 2022.
We Have Readers from All Over the World
Like most websites, ever since we launched our Hiking, Camping and Shooting (HCS) website we’ve tracked the statistics to see who our readers are, where they’re located and what they read. Since 2020 just finished we thought that we would share some of our statistics from the year with all of you.
In 2020 we had readers from 81 different Countries from around the world, with 87% or our readers coming from the United States, and the largest concentrations outside the US being from the following 20 Countries:
In fact we've now had people from 126 different countries view our website over the past 3 years (2018, 2019 and 2020).
We have readers from all 50 of the United States - with the largest concentrations being in the following 15 States:
The 25 pages and blog posts that people read the most during 2020 were:
Unlike the previous two years, in 2020 we had far more page views on our "Shooting" pages than either our "Hiking" or "Camping" pages. Probably because of the craziness of 2020 and the fact that approximately 40 million new firearms were sold during the year.
The majority of our users look at our website between the hours of 9:00 AM and 12:00 AM (midnight).
Most of our readers find us either by searching on Google (82%) or by previously having been to our website and coming directly to us (10%). A much smaller percentage (5%) find us through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting Facebook page.
The majority of our users view our website from either their mobile device (50%) or their desktop computer (46%) using either Chrome (51%) or Safari (36%) browsers.
Hopefully this data shows you that in 2020 you were in good company as you read through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear write-ups and blog posts. Our wish is that they gave you some information that made all of your adventures a little more fun. Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you stopped by to look over our HCS website and look forward to seeing you again in 2021.
Great Article from Outdoor Explorer
This week has been a busy week for our readers since we’ve had several of them reach out with comments or links to articles complementary to gear write-ups and blog posts on our website.
The latest was Louis from Outdoor Explorer, a new Australian website all about camping and the great outdoors. Louis had recently read our blog post about The “Outdoor Code”, “Leave No Trace” and Low Impact Camping and reached out to share his article about the 8 Benefits of Camping – Why It’s Fun AND Good For You.
We thought that Louis’ article had some great information – to include links to detailed references for each of the 8 benefits he cites – so we thought that we would pass it on.
All of us that love the outdoors know that being in the outback, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday city or suburban life, is invigorating and makes us feel better. But, as Louis’ article asks, what can you tell a friend that’s reluctant to head outside to convince them that “camping is not only fun, but also great for boosting your mood, lowering stress, building relationships and generally improving your overall health!” To help you solve that problem Louis “put together this list of the 8 major benefits of camping” so that you can “shoot it off to your friends that are having trouble finding the motivation to leave their creature comforts behind and go camping with you!”
The 8 benefits that Louis cites are:
To get all the details on these 8 camping benefits you should head on over to Outdoor Explorer and read the whole article.
We certainly agree with the article’s conclusions that:
So get out there and enjoy the great outdoors - and take a friend that needs a little convincing with you.
Best Pocket Knife Article from Sport Fitness Advisor
Last week Ray, one of the editors from Sport Fitness Advisor, dropped us a line to comment on some of the information that we have on our HCS website about knives. In his note Ray included a link to an article that they had recently published about Pocket Knives - to include their thoughts on the:
Although we’re not convinced that their pick of the Elk Ridge Personalized knife would be our pick for the best knife (but then that's the beauty of looking at and reviewing gear since it all depends on what you plan on using it for and what your specific selection criteria are), we really liked all the detailed FAQ explanations that they included in their article - especially since one of the things we always try to do is to detail the criteria we use to select our gear - and why we like the gear we eventually purchase.
The Sport Fitness Advisor article includes some great explanations on:
You can read the entire "Best Pocket Knife" article from Sport Fitness Advisor here.
In closing here’s our two cents on the best pocket knife topic. As you can see on our website’s Hiking and Camping pages we have several knives (and other bladed tools) for different jobs - but our favorite pocket knife is our Case Cutlery 135 Case Slimline Trapper. We also love our Buck 110 Auto.
The Hierarchy of Survival Actions
Since everyone is currently focused on surviving the COVID-19 (e.g. coronavirus) pandemic we thought that this would be a good time to discuss the hierarchy of survival actions – as dictated by the “Rule of Three”.
For those of you not familiar with the “Rule of Three” it states that you can survive for 3 minutes without air/oxygen or in icy water. You can survive for 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment. You can survive for 3 days without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment). You can survive for 3 weeks without food (if you have water and shelter).
So what does the “Rule of Three” really mean? Well it’s pretty straightforward in directing what you need to focus on and how quickly you need to focus on it. After all, if you can’t breathe - you don’t need shelter. If you get hypothermia from the rain, heatstroke from the sun, or freeze from the cold - you don’t need water. If you are incapacitated or die from dehydration – you don’t need food. And, if you have a shelter and water, then knowing that you have 3 weeks to either improve your wilderness living situation, find a way to trek back to civilization, or help rescuers locate you, should greatly improve your mental condition – while you hunt and gather food.
As a specific example of this survival hierarchy, if you watch the TV “survival” shows (e.g. Naked and Afraid, Alone, Man vs. Wild, Dual Survival, etc.,) you can see that there is often a great difference between the initial actions that the experts and the novices take when dropped into the wilderness. Many of the novices start by trying to build a fire – something that may be important – but can take a significant amount of time and effort – and can prove to be very frustrating; a bad emotion to encounter on your first day in a survival situation. In contrast, you’ll notice that the experts normally try to find a good site for their shelter (near water if possible, sheltered from the wind, away from any flood plain and safe from any “widow maker” trees). Once they have located a good site they immediately try to build the best shelter that they can in the available time that they have before nightfall; knowing that they can always improve their shelter on Day #2 if they survive Day #1. As they collect materials for their shelter they might simultaneously gather materials to make a fire, but the fire is of secondary importance (especially since having a shelter will allow them to more easily build, light and protect a fire and any firewood they gather). Only once they have a shelter do they begin to focus in earnest on their needs for fire, a longer term water supply and how to acquire food.
Rather than write a very long blog that still only superficially covers the vast amount of detail required to really prepare you for a survival situation, here’s a listing of six books that you might want to own so that you have access to the knowledge that the survival experts have honed over the years:
For more information on survival, especially what you might want to do to prepare for a potential short term disaster, you should check out our website’s “Camping/Maps and Books” and “Disaster Preparedness” pages. But, whatever else you do, please remember the “Rule of Three” - since it could save your life.
How to Enjoy the Outback and Leave it in a Condition for the Next Adventurers to do the Same
Last week we received an email from Troop 325 of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) - a troop located near San Diego, California - thanking us for all the camping and hiking tips on our HCS website. It turns out that when the Scouts from Troop 325 were writing their “Outdoor Code” principles they found a lot of ideas and helpful links on our site. As an Eagle Scout, and Philmont ranger, I’m always glad to receive positive feedback from Scouts – especially since the main reason we built our website was to pass on some of the knowledge, research, links, and tips that we’ve gathered over the years. Their email also got us to thinking that the “Outdoor Code”, and the ethos that it embodies, would make a great blog post. So that’s our topic for today.
For those of you not familiar with the “Outdoor Code” it first showed up in Boys' Life magazine’s March 1954 issue, which featured "An Outdoor Code for Americans" and "BSA's Conservation Good Turn". The Good Turn was prompted by a request from President Eisenhower, challenging the Boy Scouts to raise public awareness about the importance of caring for our natural resources.
Now, 66 years later, the Outdoor Code is probably even more relevant to all of our outback activities since there are more people out there enjoying the beauty and challenges that Nature has to offer. Since its initial publication in 1954 the wording of the Outdoor Code has changed slightly to keep up with the times. Here’s the latest version:
As an American, I will do my best to…
For those of you not familiar with the Outdoor Code, you may have seen similar outback principles under the title of “Leave No Trace” – a movement that began in the 1960’s and 70’s when there was a significant increase in the number of visits to US National Parks. This movement eventually drove the United States Forest Service, in conjunction with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), to develop a national education program on “Leave No Trace” in 1990. Today one of the main drivers of the Leave No Trace activities is the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics with their “The Leave No Trace Seven Principles” (© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org). Their 7 Principles are:
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has even refined their principles into 7 Principles for the Frontcountry:
Obviously, both the Outdoor Code and the Leave No Trace Seven Principles are great guidance for how everyone should act during their activities in the outback; with education hopefully more people will.
So, back to Troop 325 - in addition to suggesting this whole blog topic, as a way of helping spread their knowledge they also sent us the link to an article that we hadn’t seen: "Leave No Trace: Low-Impact Campgrounds" from www.wristband.com, written by Michele Wheat. This article has some great information about “Low-Impact Camping Tips” and “How to Hike and Leave No Trace”. The article also has links to over 20 other websites with additional resources. You should give it a read.
If you want more information on the Outdoor Code, or Leave No Trace, here are several links to other websites that you should check out:
“The Outdoor Code”
“Outdoor Ethics Guide”
“BSA Leave No Trace”
ScoutSmarts – “The Outdoor Code (My Ultimate Guide For Any Scout or Troop)”
“The Outdoor Code”
Leave No Trace
“The 7 Principles”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 2: Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 4: Leave What You Find”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 6: Respect Wildlife”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors”
“Leave No Trace for Frontcountry”
Leave No Trace Seven Principles
wristband.com - "Leave No Trace: Low-Impact Campgrounds"
We Have Readers from All Over the World
Like most websites, ever since we launched our Hiking, Camping and Shooting website we’ve tracked the statistics to see who our readers are and where they’re located. Recently we’ve had a few people ask who reads our site – so we thought that we would share some of our statistics with all of you.
We have readers from all 50 States - with the largest concentrations being in the following 15 States:
We have readers from over 90 Countries around the world - with the largest concentrations being in the following 20 Countries:
The 20 pages and blog posts that people have read the most over the past 3 years are:
Most of our readers find us either by searching on Google (52.3%) or by previously having been to our website and coming directly to us (31.2%). A much smaller percentage (4.8%) find us through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting Facebook page:
The majority of our users view our website on either Chrome (49.8%) or Safari (27.5%) browsers:
Hopefully this data shows you that you’re in good company as you read through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear write-ups and blog posts. Our wish is that they give you some information that will make all your adventures a little more fun. Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you stopped by to look over our HCS website!
Giorgia Hofer Photography
One of the things that we love the most about the outback is the clear night skies that allow you to see the moon and dramatic star scenes that are not visible from most locations due to light pollution. Many people try to capture the beauty of these sights, but in our opinion, few are as successful as Giorgia Hofer, an Italian photographer that’s a member of the Cortina Astronomical Association.
One of her photos that we really like is “Lunar Curve”, which shows the position and phases of the moon over 28 days. Each individual photo was taken from the same location at the same time of day.
Here’s a video showing some of Giorgia beautiful work; “Starry Nights in the Dolomites”:
If you want to see more of her spectacular nighttime photos, here are direct links to Giorgia’s website:
- Nightscapes: https://www.giorgiahoferphotography.com/nightscapes
- Moon: https://www.giorgiahoferphotography.com/moon
- Astrophotography: https://www.giorgiahoferphotography.com/astrophoto
Knots You Need to Know and Help to Remember How to Tie Them
This week we ran across an interesting article discussing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) new mathematical model which predicts a knot's stability; “A New Mathematical Model Predicts a Knot's Stability”
To examine the issue MIT mathematicians and engineers developed a mathematical model that predicts how stable a knot is based on several key properties, including the number of crossings and the direction in which the rope segments twist as the knot is pulled tight. "Empirical knowledge refined over centuries has crystallized out what the best knots are," said Mathias Kolle, the Rockwell International Career Development Associate Professor at MIT. But what exactly makes one knot more stable than another has not been well-understood, until now. "And now the model shows why."
In comparing the diagrams of knots of various strengths, the researchers were able to identify general "counting rules," or characteristics that determine a knot's stability. Basically, a knot is stronger if it has more strand crossings, as well as more "twist fluctuations" - changes in the direction of rotation from one strand segment to another. For instance, if a fiber segment is rotated to the left at one crossing and rotated to the right at a neighboring crossing as a knot is pulled tight, this creates a twist fluctuation and thus opposing friction, which adds stability to a knot. If, however, the segment is rotated in the same direction at two neighboring crossing, there is no twist fluctuation, and the strand is more likely to rotate and slip, producing a weaker knot. They also found that a knot can be made stronger if it has more "circulations," which they define as a region in a knot where two parallel strands loop against each other in opposite directions, like a circular flow.
If you do any Camping, and to a lesser extent Hiking, then a working knowledge of the most commonly used knots is essential. Based on our years of experience the 10 knots that we think it is critical for you to absolutely know are:
The problem is that there’s actually a lot to remember, especially if a significant amount of time passes between you actually tying these knots. So we use two items to help our memory as needed, and to give us information on other knots too. The first is the Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST’s) “Learn & Live” Knots card which has instructions and illustrations on how to tie 11 commonly used knots. You can see the details on this card, and the other 5 credit card sized cards that we think are valuable to have, on our Hiking/Emergency Supplies page.
The second item that we use to help us with knot knowledge is the “Knots 3D” app. What a great tool this is! The $4.99 standalone app (i.e. no internet required) by Nynix is worth every penny since it shows you in detail how to tie 135 knots.
The app includes the following information on each knot: best uses, other names that the knot is also known as, related knots, “Ashley Book of Knots” (ABOK) number, classification, structure, strength and reliability and a 3D animated video showing the knot being tied. In addition, the app allows you to:
The Knots 3d app’s ability to rotate a knot to see the front, back and everything in-between is indispensable and provides interactivity you can't get from a knot book’s static photographs. You can get the app at the Apple Store, Google Play Store, or Amazon Store.
If you’re looking for other good information on knots used for camping, or survival, here are four good online articles that we recommend you take a look at:
5 Best Survival Knots – Strong Life Saving Knots You Need To Know
Camping Knots: 6 Essential Knots Every Camper Needs to Know
The 7 Most Useful Survival Knots You Need to Know
Essential Knots: How to Tie the 20 Knots You Need to Know
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