Making Bannock for Backpacking

bannock

A long time favorite for backpacking or simply for eating something good is to make Bannock. Bannock is basically bread, which was utilized by the American Indian for hundreds of years. It can be made from just about any flour. The basic recipe is:

Basic Bannock Mix

  • 1 cup flour (white or a mixture of white and whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder (don’t add too much baking powder unless you like the taste of aluminum)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Preparation

  • You may also need some form of oil to cook the bread or keep it from burning. I like to carry a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil with me, but some people prefer a more buttery taste. If you like that as well try using Ghee. It is clarified butter that does not require refrigeration. A can of Ghee will generally last about 3 months before it starts to expire. Sometimes longer though depending on the brand and the climate.
  • I take the ingredients shown above and put them into a zip lock bag. When I am ready to prepare the bread I put in 1 1/2 cups of water and stir the mixture. You may have to add a little more water, so have extra. You want the mixture to be like the consistency of cake batter. Once it is, you simply take a spoon and get meatball sized amounts of the dough and put it into the oil in your frying pan. Once it starts to brown on the bottom just flip the dumplings over and in about 5-6 minutes they will be done. Repeat as necessary.
  • Other items you may want to include in the mix is Parmesan Cheese, Raisins, cranberries, nuts, or any other dried fruit you like. You can also just cook the bread and afterwards put PB&J on them, or butter, even powdered sugar, etc. The options are endless.

This is a great option for backpacking because you can carry several ziplock bags of it, and it makes a nice cozy and comforting snack on the trail.

Pulling The Trigger

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Every week or so I run into people that tell me that they are thinking about getting their concealed carry permit, going out and buying a gun and carrying it. The conversation leads to class options, firearm options, training, gun club memberships and so on. But no one EVER mentions whether or not they have made the decision….mentally….. to take another human life.   This leaves me thinking that they are taking some big steps that require time, money and effort but aren’t factoring in one of the most important parts of the equation which by the way doesn’t cost you anything. You just have to spend some time inside your head and your heart and decide if you can or cannot.

Several years ago I read a book called “On Killing” by David Grossman. A former West Point psychology professor who spent years doing research on people who were in live fire situations such as police officers, combat war vets and civilians who have had similar experiences in unfortunate circumstances with robbers, burglars, etc. The book talks about how the innate psyche of the human body and persona does not “Want” to kill another person. Only Psychopaths and serial murderers actually “Want” to do it.  The rest of the universe feels shame, guilt and remorse for their actions in this realm. On several occasions I have heard people say “Even if someone was murdering me I don’t know if I could kill them, even IF I had a gun”

The U.S. Military figured this out after the battle of Gettysburg, PA. Many rifles were found on the battlefield lying around next to dead soldiers. The rifles sometimes had 15 or more lead balls stacked on top of each other because the soldiers never actually fired the rifle, they would simply point it at the enemy, then drop down and reload.  Also during WWI many soldiers  didn’t want to fire their guns in combat. Many of them were witnessed throwing their rifles down and running for cover and later interviewed about the events. This happened, not because they were cowards or afraid of dying themselves, but because they did not want to HAVE to kill someone else. As WWII began to come into frame the military started developing a process for converting an average citizen into a killer. They started by stripping away a soldiers individuality. Making them a part of a team that was counting on them.  Also they programmed the soldiers by using specific stimuli to get a specific reaction. For example, instead of using big round fixed targets for soldiers to shoot at, they created targets that would pop up. When the pop-up target was hit by a bullet fired from the soldier down range, it would drop to let them know they had a hit. Much like a person would drop when hit with a bullet. As time progressed and the Vietnam war came along the targets were redesigned yet again into the Silhouette form so that they looked like a person and also so that soldiers would view this image as a “Target” and not a human so that when in real combat they would see this image and think “Target…Shoot”.

Anyone can receive training that will make it an automatic response to point and shoot if threatened. The Military has proven this can be done with little effort. However, most of us civilians don’t have the benefit of a drill sergeant screaming at us to shoot our guns. There are other options though. First you have to come to a level of acceptance that IF someone threatens your life, your kids lives or your family you will do what is necessary to protect them. Including killing someone else to protect the innocent. However, you have to make that decision mentally before you decide to carry a gun. Then you need to get out and train. I hear it all the time, people say “I will rise to the occasion, I will adapt and overcome” but the reality is that you fight like you train. If you don’t train you have no idea what you will do in a real gun fight.  Once you make this decision get some quality training. I know training can be expensive but think of it as an investment.  Hopefully you will never have to use any of that training but if you do, you want to be ready. You definitely don’t want to have a mental debate on morality while you are pointing a gun at someone else.

Psalm 144:1, Blessed be the lord who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

What is the Best Concealed Carry Holster?

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A lot of people ask me….what kind of CCW holster works best for you? Well the short answer is, I don’t know. It depends. I don’t think there is any one holster that works for every occasion. In summer you won’t likely be wearing the same holster as in winter, but you might be. My philosophy is that I prefer options. Sometimes depending on what kind of clothes I’m wearing I like different styles of carry.  Some people will say “well you shouldn’t carry a bunch of different styles because you may forget where your gun is during times of high stress.” I disagree with this because when I carry a gun I consider it a serious endeavor and I don’t think I’m simply going to forget where it is. Plus if you train properly it isn’t going to matter that much. But I do agree that you do have to have a certain mentality to carry a gun, but thats another topic.

One particular style I have never liked as been the Inside the Waist Band (IWB) carry. You really need to wear jeans that are loose fitting in order for this to be comfortable. If you wear jeans that are tight around the waist or not loose fitting, this holster is going to dig into your side all day, become uncomfortable and you will likely stop carrying your weapon because its too annoying. This type of holster generally has a clip or some way of attachment on the outside (outward facing) portion of the holster. So that you can slip the holster between your skin and pants and the clip will slide down onto your pants or belt.  But as I said it’s not one of my favorites.

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Another style that I actually do like, but can be uncomfortable depending on your weight and stomach size is the belly band. Its a nylon band about 4 inches wide with velcro that wraps around your body, usually at stomach level just above your waist line and secures together with velcro. You can adjust the tightness of the band with the velcro closure system. There are then usually double layered pockets around the band that you can slide your weapon down into. Sometimes the bands have multiple pockets so that your gun will fit on either side of the band, along with extra mag pockets, flashlight pockets or carry two handguns if you wanted. The Galco brand is my favorite because its made of quality construction and is double reinforced with leather at the pockets where the gun fits. But there are other descent brands out there. You can also flip the holster inside out and use if you are a lefty. So its ambidextrous. All for around $40-$50.

galco belly band

One other style that isn’t my favorite but sometimes works is the ankle holster. The reason it isn’t my favorite is because its hard to reach and if you go in a restaurant and sit down, your pants might reveal it if they ride up a lot. The other reason its not a great choice for me is because no matter how many times I strap it high on my calf, after a few minutes of walking or movement it slides down my leg. So you pretty much have to be “Ok” with the holster just sitting above your shoes for the duration unless you get one that accommodates a calf strap (like the DeSantis version). But it does work if for example, you are wearing a tucked in short sleeve shirt and jeans. You probably want to stay away from wearing it with slim jeans or the boot cut jeans because the opening at the leg is smaller and might reveal that you are carrying, which defeats the concealed part. These vary in price based on brand and I consider all brands about the same. Some are higher quality of course than others, but its basically nylon and velcro in some form or fashion on all of them. Uncle Mike’s are generally good options.

ankle holster

A new shirt holster has come on the market in recent months by the company 5.11 (five-eleven) Its called the 5.11 holster shirt and has two padded holsters built in to both sides of the shirt. The colors of the shirt come in either black or white depending on your tastes. The shirt is designed and I think meant to be an under shirt to fit under any type of shirt you wear, whether it be t-shirt, button down or sweater. It is also ambidextrous or allows you to carry two guns if you wanted, or one gun and extra stuff on the other side (i.e., mags, lights, etc). The shirt runs around $70 depending on where you purchase it and comes in various sizes. Also Daltechforce sells a much less expensive version for around $33 made from cotton.

shirt holster

The last version that might be of interest is the shoulder holster. You know, the one from Miami Vice that Sprocket and Tubbs made famous? Or was that Crockett and Tubbs? Either way you get the idea right? Well IF you intend to get a shoulder holster which I think is a viable option, I recommend you get something of high quality. Preferably one made from Leather. If you buy a nylon or elastic version of the shoulder holster if will flop around, and not remain in a sturdy fashion conforming to your body.  You need to get one that adjusts properly and fits tightly to your body for best performance and conceal-ability. Galco and Bianchi both make some great options for shoulder holsters and give you accessory options for extra mag pouches on the other side if you desire that.

shoulder holster

In conclusion, whatever you choose make sure it fits you properly and is comfortable, if either of those necessities aren’t met you won’t wear it and thus you want have your weapon available when you need it the most.  Also keep in mind that you don’t have to buy just one holster and try to make it work with every outfit, you may need to buy several holsters. Just make sure that whatever “system” you come up with you get to the range and practice with that system.  I often wear various holsters with my gun while I’m at home, just lounging around. Because you never know when the need to have your gun available will come and this helps you get used to wearing various holsters for varying lengths of time. Good luck out there.

Don’t put the P in the OOL

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How many of you enjoy backpacking? Camping? I really enjoy getting out in nature. Not long ago I went on a backpacking trip with our local boy scout troop into some rugged terrain. We hiked about 6 miles in to our campsite and started setting up camp. We dropped our packs and went on some excursions around the local area, did some day hiking and exploring. That evening we started our fire without matches, had dinner, marsh mellows by the fire, ghost stories, just a lot of good times enjoying nature.

But not everything is wonderful about backpacking. Sometimes the weather can be miserable. That particular night it was optimistic to say the temperature was 30 degrees and it was raining. I was in my tent, inside my nice snug down bag. Just a bit off topic here but I carry a 3 MIL contractor garbage bag with me that I insert my sleeping bag into while inside my tent. Since it is a down bag I want to try and keep it dry if possible and this is a cheap and easy way to do that. Anyway, on with our topic. I was nice and snug in my tent drifting off to sleep……Zzzzz.

I can’t remember when this happened to me, maybe in my late 30’s. But at some point I couldn’t make it through the night without a trip to the bathroom to relieve myself. It just started happening and I had to deal with it, like most of you who know what I’m talking about, do as well.  Anyway, about 3am I woke up in my tent with an urging nature call. Yep you guessed it the nightly trip to the bathroom. Only this time it wasn’t too my nice 71 degree F bathroom at home  where all that is required is a flip of the comforter on my bed and I’m off to the races. It was a task to get unzipped, out of the bag in my one man tent, turned around, finding my headlamp, getting my rain jacket on, getting my hiking boots on, getting out of my tent without getting everything in it soaking wet.  Then once I arrived outside the wind was blowing 25 mph, 30 degree F wind chill, heavy rain and sleet. Of course I needed some time to get awake, finish my task then reverse everything required to get outside by getting back inside.

Anyway, that will never happen again. Why? Because now I take a pee bottle with me. I pee in my tent and I drift back to sleep and I worry about discarding it in the morning. Whether you are male or female you can still make this happen relatively easy. You can purchase different types of urine bottles for this task, or you can utilize the gatorade bottle.  If you are a female and want something similar you can find urinal adapters that will fit almost any bottle. Companies like Go-Girl and P-Mate can help you out with similar products that will accommodate your needs.  Just remember to label the bottle that you designate for this task so that you don’t get confused and drink from the wrong bottle =(.

Enjoy.

Chocolate Goodness for Less Calories

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If you are a calorie counter (like I am sometimes) you want to get the best bang for your buck. I love comfort food. Ice Cream and donuts with milk, hmmm, but as I’m getting older I had to quit eating all that crap. Now I eat celery sticks and sun flower seed butter or apples when I need a sugar fix.  A while back I started eating Rice Cakes. At first I almost gagged because they were plain and bland. But then I noticed on Quakers website that they add all kinds of flavors. For example, they had white cheddar Rice Cakes and those almost reminded me of eating cheese puffs or white cheddar popcorn. 

Anyway, I saw the store I visit had some called Chocolate Crunch Rice Cakes and Carmel Corn Flavor too. So I bought some. I have fallen in love with a new found friend. A great snack and tastes soooo good. So if you are in the market to fulfill your chocolate fix and you want to save on the calories, try this one out for size:

 

1 Rice Cake (Chocolate Crunch or Carmel Corn are my favorites) = 60 calories each

2 tablespoons of Peanut Butter (alternative butter, etc) = 200 calories

Thats it… 260 calories. No baking required either just spread on the goodness and eat. 

 

Ultralight Backpacking Series: Leukotape for blisters

ltape

When it comes to hotspots and blisters I hold the record for getting as many as possible. At least I used too. I have tried all kinds of remedies and prevention techniques. Including but not limited too moleskin, duct tape, masking tape, silk sock liners, 3M Tegaderm, Vaseline in the donut (moleskin method), etc. But a miracle tape has descended from heaven and I couldn’t go another day without telling you all about how great it is and you’ll be pleased to know that it’s lighter in weight than moleskin.

A friend of mine who is a former Green Beret sent me an email awhile back telling me about this tape and how much he liked it, so I just had to try it. Here is my opinion of it so far. First, moleskin is not bad, but if your feet sweat like mine do while hiking in summer you know that moleskin won’t stay in place on your foot when it gets wet. Also, just over time moleskin loses its adherence after an all day hike and you end up needing to change it. Leukotape has an amazing adhesive bond and even if you sweat or walk through creeks and rivers it will not come off from getting wet. One of the things I liked most about this tape is that it’s breathable unlike moleskin and duct tape which are not. It is also thinner and more tape like, so you can carry more of it.

In the past when I have used duct tape it was used out of desperation. Usually because I didn’t prepare ahead of time and bring a suitable alternative. Duct tape is not a good option for a couple of reasons. It can be rigid and not conform to the curvature of your foot like first aid type tapes can. Also the adhesive that bonds duct tape to your foot is not exactly bloodstream friendly. It’s glue and made from chemicals not designed for the human body. Leukotape also has an adhesive on it, but part of the chemicals used on it’s adhesive are known as Zinc Oxide.

Zinc Oxide is an inorganic compound that in powder form is used in all kinds of things. Such as batteries, adhesive compounds, plastic, glass, fire retardants, first aid tapes, cement, etc. Zinc Oxide was believed to have been derived from a powder created as early as 200 BC by the Romans. When .5% Iron Oxide is added to Zinc Oxide you get Calamine, which is the main ingredient in Calamine Lotion used to treat skin irritations. Zinc Oxide is also the main ingredient in other medicinal ointments like diaper rash ointments and was approved by the FDA to be used in sunscreen for its high reflectivity Ultraviolet blocking properties.

In conclusion, I have found a new love in blister prevention. Leukotape is also thinner than moleskin and stretchy. This tape is very strong yet can be torn with your fingers for easy application. It typically comes in a roll 1.5 inches x 15 yards in length and costs under $10.  You can wrap a couple feet of it around an old credit card, or a pencil or pen if you want to combine items and save some space in your first aid kit.  It can be worn for days at time, so you don’t need to carry the entire roll for a short trip. Give it a try, you might like it.

*Note: Some articles online indicate that Leukotape is latex-free, however it actually is made from rubber latex. So if you are allergic to latex, please use caution.

Get Home Bag (GHB) Philosophy

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In the Vietnam war, military pilots had survival vests issued to them in case they had to bail out over enemy territory. These vests were filled with fishing kits, first aid accessories, knives, cordage, etc. Today everyone practically has some kind of survival kit. Ship captains in the Northern Atlantic to FEMA workers, Red Cross personnel, fire fighters, cops, and teachers. It has become a common theme in this age of natural disasters, terrorist attacks and giving us the piece of mind that if something bad happens we can survive.

There is a growing amount of interest in creating a Bug Out Bag (BOB) or sometimes referred to as Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) bag. The philosophy behind this bag is to be able to stuff 72 hours worth of equipment in it, and grab it if all hell breaks loose and you have only enough time to grab one bag in your home and then evacuate with no intention of being able to come back. While I admire a persons courage to head out on their own with just enough to survive for 72 hours or even up to a month perhaps its not enough to sustain your life for long. You need more than just a bag full of gear to stay alive. You need training, knowledge, experience and practice. What if you have a wife, three kids and an aging elderly parent at your home, are you going to “Bug Out” with all of them in tow? It’s something to think about and plan for. I’m not saying you should never bug out, but make sure you have no other possibilities before doing so and make sure you plan ahead so that when that time comes you will have somewhere to go and not just out in the wilderness or in your car.

If you have a second home in the mountains, a retreat perhaps, then you may have the option of leaving your suburban home for the boondocks, but if not you should consider staying home, sometimes referred to as “sheltering in place”.  If you are in your home you have way more supplies than you could ever carry and you are familiar with your surroundings. On the road there are far more obstacles and unknowns that can kill you. Including undesirable folks who want to take whatever it is that you have, in desperate times.

The Get Home Bag Philosophy is one that encompasses creating a bag or pack that contains enough food, supplies to get from work to home in the event of an emergency. That emergency could be terrorism, dirty bombs, Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) power outages, or the start of the zombie apocalypse. Whatever the reason it may not happen at the most convenient time when you are home and ready for it. You could be on business travel or on vacation, at work, picking up your kids from school, etc. You may need certain items to ensure you get home safe.

Listed below are an example of some items to consider for your Get Home Bag. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you put your gear in a pack that doesn’t scream “I’M PREPARED AND YOU’RE NOT!” make sure its in a regular school backpack and not a super secret CIA Spec ops edition pack. You want to blend in with the masses and pretend to be as scared and unprepared as everyone else. Now on with the list…..

Navigation and Mapping
  • Local maps (In many states the DOT will offer free state maps)
  • Garmin Rino GPS 130 (this one has a special feature that most gps’s don’t, if you have one and your spouse has one, it will give the location of everyone you’ve created a profile for assuming they have their unit turned on,  plus it also is equipped with FRS/GMRS family radio good for 5 miles (some newer ones have texting capability too)
  • Topo maps (you can get these free also on google.com maps section) print of local area and keep in bag
  • Satellite maps on google(Shows you overhead of the area and your likely routes home, also shows you populated versus un-populated areas, they also show you power lines and where they go, those are nice straight shots home some times and not populated)
  • Also on google maps it will tell you how far your work is from home, time to walk it, bike it, or drive it.
  • Compass (mostly as a backup to the gps)
Weapons
This may vary depending on the person.
  • Bulletproof vest or armor plate carrier (your choice or not)
  • A nice folding lock blade knife. I keep one called a RAT-1 (Fixed blade is good too)
  • Your choice of a handgun or not. I keep 6 loaded magazines with mine and a holster.
  • 1 small can of mace or pepper spray (non lethal deterent) you could also get bear spray if you wanted a larger bottle, or stun gun works well too.
  • Large zip ties (Zip cuffs)
Tools
  • HackSaw or just a blade (with some wd40)
  • Small 9 inch pry bar
  • Screw driver with multi-bits (or a multi-tool)
  • Zip ties (see weapons)
  • Wet wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Glass break tool/sealbelt cutter
  • Files
  • Small hammer
  • Small pen size WD40
SERE kit (Survival Evasion Resistance & Escape)
These items should be integrated into your clothes.
  • Lockpicks (Bogota picks are my favorite they are titanium)
  • Bumpkeys (these unlock deadbolt locks easily)
  • Jiggler set (unlock some cars and start them easily)
  • Gas cap pick (unlocks gas caps on vehicles easily)
  • Kevlar cord (this is about $5, I run it through my boot laces)
  • Black ceramic razor blade
  • Handcuff key
  • Handcuff Shim
Communications
  • I keep a small FM/AM band radio with earbuds to keep abreast of local news while on the move.
  • Duct tape (multi-use)
  • Sharpie permanent markers
  • Rite in the rain paper
  • Pencil/Pen
  • Blackberry style throw away burner cell phone, with extra battery and minutes card (cell service might be spotty, easier to send a text through than make a multi-minute voice call
  • Police scanner small portable type (inform you of possible dangers along your route home)
First Aid/Survival
  • I keep a full medic kit in a fanny pack that i can wear under my backpack on my waist. It has everything in there and is black as well to match the backpack
  • Small fire building kit (just in case)
  • 25 to 50 feet of 550 parachute cord (you can buy paracord bracelets now to cover this if you’re tight on space)
Food/water
  • I keep some energy bars, gel packs or electrolytes, quick meals for on the go nothing that requires cooking
  • Vitamins, energy related supplements, caffeine gum, energy drinks that don’t require refrigeration.
  • Keep (2) 1 liter bottles of water and a camel back in my backpack with no water in it (unless its winter time and cold out)
  • You could keep some freeze dried food in your car like mountain house foil packs (these are unaffected by heat or cold during summer/winter and there expiration is about 7 years from time of purchase) but would require you heat some boiling water unless you got say the granola and blueberries which only require water (hot or cold)
  • Couple of rat traps  (drill a hole in non-capture end for tying it to a tree, stake, etc so your dinner wont run off with your trap, just in case you get stuck out there for more than your packed food lasts.
The main thing you want to remember with this type of GHB is that your mission (should you choose to except it) is to get home safely within 24 hours. Your main goal is to drive home if at all possible. But if you HAVE to get out and walk you want to have bare essentials in a small pack weighing less than 20 pounds so you can facilitate speed. You shouldn’t be planning a night sleep, or stopping for lengthy breaks, to cook meals,  you should be on the move until you get home to your loved ones. Period!
*Note: The items shown in this list are merely a suggestion and by no means encompass every possible scenario or fulfillment of every person. Your mileage may vary.

Ultralight Backpacking Series: Game Night

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One of the traditions our family has tried to do over the years has been Game Night every week. However inevitably something else comes up and that gets postponed. So we have moved that to Game Night once a year where we invite other adults over from our neighborhood or friends and have a game night with adults. We still try to have game night with the kids occasionally but they always seem bored or uninterested. But when you’re in the woods and there is no tv, no internet, no iPhone, no screens to distract us we find solitude in playing a game of cards or a board game.

A friend of mine who counts ounces a lot recently told me that he took a set of mini-playing cards on his trek because every ounce counts. Later when he returned he said that even though every ounce counts, he should have taken a regular set of cards, because the mini ones were too tedious to handle.

I couldn’t agree more, and on top of that I think the best playing cards are the ones that give other information as well. For example, a set of playing cards called “Night Sky Playing Cards” that show constellations on every card. Also there are playing cards with survival information on them, plant identification, periodic tables, even human anatomy if you are trying to spend the weekends camping while in medical school. You can also choose other card games though, scrabble slam is good, and UNO, all make lightweight fun choices.

Another cool game set thats easy to pack, lightweight and fun is called “Fjords”. Its a swedish board game with tiles and wooden pieces. Somewhat similar to playing Risk, if you are familiar with that, except this is for two players only. Of course if you are nostalgic you could try one of the classics like chess or backgammon. In fact, Seattle Sports makes a backpacking set called Terrafun pack games where the board is made of soft material and comes with pieces that will allow you to play backgammon, checkers or chess and fits in a small package, which weighs about 8 ounces total, for transport.  Other options would be the Simon Says carabiner, Rory’s Story cubes where you tell a story based on images on the dice as your roll them, other dice games like Farkel, Phase 10, etc. All of these choices make light weight options as well.

Another set of games that most adults like are bananagrams, the old faithful hackey sack, knot tying games or the classic Frisbee. In fact, I know some hikers who use the Frisbee as not only a game, but also as their dinner plate. They slide the Frisbee inside of a gallon ziplock bag. Then they eat their dinner off of the ziplock bag which holds its conformity with the Frisbee, then when they are done they turn the bag inside out keeping the remnants of their dinner inside the bag, dump in the napkins, etc and carry out there waste. Then continue to Frisbee on after dinner.

Whatever you choose to fill your time with during backpacking, remember to have fun and do it safely. If you are going hiking on the top of a mountain don’t take a frisbee unless you’re going to bring along a parachute (just in case).

Ultralight Backpacking Series: Brushing your teeth

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Backpacking and hiking has been a hobby of mine for a number of years. I really enjoy getting out in nature and witnessing what goes on beyond the concrete jungle that most of us live and work in. But as I get older I find that the part I like less and less about backpacking is the weight. So I decided this year to become an ounce counter.  Well ok, not really. But I did want to lighten my load without compromising too much. I like my luxury items and I cannot and will not give up on certain things.

Anyway, one of the items that I cannot do without on a backpacking trip is my toothbrush and toothpaste. I don’t know why and I’m not a fanatic about brushing my teeth, but in my daily work life I just don’t feel like I’m ready to take on the world until I shower, shave and brush my teeth. Unfortunately showering in the wilderness sometimes can not happen due to logistics, but more simple tasks like brushing your teeth or shaving can be accomplished. So today I want to discuss how I go about accomplishing the minor task of teeth brushing and not breaking your piggy bank.

For a tooth brush I typically carry a cheap one. You can use the ones you get from your dentist, which are generally free. You can also pick up toothbrushes in the travel budget section of your local pharmacy for a buck or so, or you can use the colgate wisp brushes which are very small and have paste built in them. I however, prefer to carry a folding normal size tooth brush. I prefer the Colgate Travel folding toothbrush. It folds into the handle and weighs about 3 ounces.

In terms of toothpaste I prefer to use toothpaste tablets.  The latest brand I have tried are called Archtek toothpaste tablets in cool mint flavor. You receive 60 tablets for about $6. Each tablet foams in your mouth while you are brushing your teeth. These have proven excellent for me because I can take out the tablets from the bulky bottle and put in a small ziplock baggy (I use the pill pocket zip bags) that you can purchase in most pharmacies. That way I don’t have to lug around the whole bottle, just what I need for the trip. Anyway, you really only need 1 tablet per day. You can also use a pill splitter and just use a half tablet per brush if you like.  Plus buying products in a recyclable plastic bottle helps keep some of the 560 million toothpaste tubes discarded every year, out of landfills.  So you would be doing the world a favor on top of using tasty toothpaste.

These toothpaste tablets aren’t just for backpacking. You can use them while on business travel also or everyday for that matter if you like them. I have found that they taste as good as mint toothpaste and aren’t as bulky to pack.  So, give them a try!

*Note: I did not receive any monetary gifts from any manufacturer or products mentioned in this article. All reviews or opinions are my own.

Ultralight Backpacking Series

Ultralight Backpacking

For years I have been backpacking and camping with my kids and occasionally my spouse. I really enjoy being outdoors and my kids enjoy it too. It allows us to bond together. Anyway, over the years I have tested and used tons of gear but haven’t really shared my findings with many people. So this year I decided to start sharing some of the pro’s and con’s of backpacking. Most recently I have decided to lighten up my pack. The main thing I must accomplish though is to lighten it up but not give up on some of the luxury camping. For example, I just cannot give up my pillow.

When I was younger and in Uncle Sam’s military I could do anything. Run faster than a speeding bullet, leap tall buildings in a single bound and all that jazz. But now that I’m aging I cannot do those things with ease anymore, I need help. Which is why I cannot give up my pillow for example among other important items.

So I plan to write a new series on my blog that describes how I plan to accomplish all this. The difficult part will be accomplishing this while not blowing too much money. I know most everyone wants to save money wherever possible. So I will do my best to find innovative ways of doing certain things and keep the cost low.

I’m going to try and cover personal hygiene, first aid, electronics, clothing reviews and maybe food. If things go well I may continue on with other items. We will see. So hop in, sit down and put your 5 point harness on folks. It’s going to be a fun ride.