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Category: Adventure

5 Best Games You Can Only Play In The Snow

Many of us love the summertime because it’s when we get to go outside and take part in many of the activities that are synonymous with the season. From swimming and hiking to playing baseball and tennis, the summer is when the most fun and games happen. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun during the winter, though.

There are plenty of great games that you can really only get the best of when it’s chilly outside and snow on the ground. If you’re looking for a fun activity to help with those winter blues, here are the five best games that you can only play in the snow.

Sled Racing

If you try to bring out a sled in the middle of the summer, you’re not going to go very fast and may end up getting stuck in some mud while on a hill. During the wintertime, though, you can bust out the sleds and have races to see who can reach the bottom the fastest. It doesn’t have to be sleds, either, as inflatable tubes are just as fun and put a new twist on things thanks to their spinning nature.

To make things even more fun (and quite honestly, safer), you can have people go down a hill one at a time and use a stopwatch to check on who had the fastest time. You can make things even more fun and start a family tradition by giving a trophy to whoever had the fastest time over the winter season.

Snowball Fight

It wouldn’t be winter without a good old snowball war between two sides. What typically starts off as two people tossing snowballs at each other can quickly, well, snowball. Teams on each side can set up their own snow forts to keep themselves safe or even build trenches in the snow to simulate a full-out snow war.

There’s a lot of creativity that can go into a snowball fight, and once some people see that you’re having fun, they’re going to want to join in on the action. In some towns, you’ll see two sides made up of dozens of people throwing snowballs as far as they can at one another.

Snowman Building Competition

Another one of those staples of winter that people of all ages love is building a snowman. If there’s a big enough snowfall in your town, you can get really creative and build on a larger scale. You’re able to put your own unique spin on things since snow is easily manipulated and can take on just about any shape when packed tight.

During sporting events that happen in heavy snow, the seats tend to get a bit empty. For fun, the fans that ended up sticking around during a blizzard have made snowmen that take the spots of those that have departed the game early.

Tunnel Building

During the summertime, you may be able to make tunnels in the sand, but it might not work as well since sand doesn’t pack tight unless it’s wet. Snow tends to stay packed, and makes for much easier tunnel building.

It’s also a lot safer to build a tunnel out of the snow as you can make the roof of the tunnel just a couple of inches. If it collapses, you might just be wet and cold instead of in any serious danger. Try to make yourself a cozy little igloo shaped snow tunnel, but always practice caution.

Pond Hockey

Pond hockey is one of those things that truly feels special when you live in Canada or the northern part of the United States like Minnesota, Michigan, or Wisconsin. When ponds and lakes freeze over thanks to the snow and cold temperatures, it’s the perfect time to grab your skates and play a little hockey with your friends.

You don’t have to have NHL-level talent to enjoy pond hockey, as you just need some skates, a stick, and a puck. Even the nets can be imaginary designated areas. The best part about pond hockey is that, compared to baseball, you don’t need to leap over a fence to retrieve a lost puck (hopefully).

5 Best Mountain Biking Trails in the World

One of the best physical activities that you can do with your free time, mountain biking is also one of the most accessible due to the abundance of trails around the world. Some trails offer the best visual scenery, while others have great wildlife, and there are even some that offer up varying challenge levels for bikers.

If you’re planning your next mountain biking trip and want to visit some of the world’s best destinations, we have five that every biker needs to check out. While some are considered to only be for experts due to their difficulty, there are still parts of the trails that can be enjoyed by all. Without further ado, here are the five best mountain biking trails and what makes them so great.

Copper Harbor Trails 

Based in Copper Harbor, Michigan, Copper Harbor Trail offers a lot for thrill seekers and outdoor lovers. There are hiking trails, skiing in the colder months, mountain biking trails, and tons of lush Midwest forest scenery to enjoy. 

The mountain biking trails have downhill tracks, flow trails, cross-country, and technical options. They feature expert trails like the Black Diamond, as well as some beginner-level trails such as Little Loon, Moose on the Loose, and Chipmunk Run. Enjoy a day out with friends and family and get a taste of Michigan while you practice your mountain biking skills. 

Colorado Trail

The Colorado Trail is a 500-mile stretch of mountain biking goodness that is only able to be trekked throughout a small portion of the summer months when the snow melts and reveals a great trail for long distance mountain biking fanatics. 

The trail stretches from the town of Durango, Colorado to Littleton, Colorado right outside of Denver. The Colorado Trail features a path through an insanely gorgeous landscape, with glorious mountain ranges, flowing rivers, and national forests. It’s not a trail for beginners and is rated 9/10 in difficulty, so make sure you’re prepared and skilled enough to make the journey. 

Kingdom Trails

East Burke, Vermont is home to the Kingdom Trails. The trail comprises over 100 miles of lovely New England terrain and goes through many plots of land owned by locals who generously allow the trails to pass through. 

The Kingdom Trails have been in development for over 25 years and claim to be one of the first trails built and excavated for the purpose of mountain biking. It’s known for its incredible scenery, trail quality and options, and generous community that enables the trail to thrive. 

Moab

Rated the number one mountain biking activity trail by many, The Moab in Utah offers all you could want. Try out four-wheeling, ballooning, bird watching, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and of course mountain biking. 

The views are to die for and the trails are some of the best in the country. There are over 100 tracks that range from easy to difficult. Great for families looking to enjoy the Utah landscape, or masters of their craft wanting to challenge themselves. The National Ability Center ensures even those with limited mobility can enjoy the activities. 

Pisgah

Located within the Pisgah Forest in Transylvania County in North Carolina, the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures has some of the country’s best biking trails. They are a locally owned mountain bike guide company, offering private and personalized guided mountain biking trips.

Perfect for those who want to venture out into the mountain biking scene, but are hesitant to do so alone. The beautiful North Carolina scenery will be enough to make you want to sign up for a trek through the different trails within the lush forest. It’s a safer and more reliable option for those who aren’t familiar with the mountain biking trail scene but still want to enjoy it. 

5 Ways To Make The Most Of The Sunset/Sunrise

Every single day has a sunrise and a sunset, but not everyone has the opportunity to make these into daily events that we get to appreciate. There are few things that have the same natural beauty as a sunrise or sunset, so making the most out of them can be a great benefit to your health and happiness.

Instead of sleeping through every sunrise or working through every sunset, try to enjoy them as much as you can on a daily basis. If you’re lacking ideas on how to do that, we have some tips. 

Here are five ways in which you can make the most out of each sunrise and sunset.

Photography and Art 

A couple of creative ways to make the most of the sunrise and/or sunset is by using them as artistic inspiration. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture the beauty of the change of night into day or day into night. Though, if you have a quality camera, the pictures will come out more stunning. 

The sunrise or sunset in the background will make average scenery intensely beautiful and make already gorgeous scenery more jaw-dropping. If photography isn’t your thing, you can paint your own picture and capture the vibrant, or mellow colors a sunrise, or sunset can produce. 

Get Romantic

The sunrise and sunset are relatively quick and stunning daily occurrences, giving you plenty of opportunities to plan something wonderfully romantic during that time, but you have to plan it properly if you don’t want to miss it. 

Sunrises pair well with early morning breakfasts at the beach, an open-air breakfast joint, or a hotel balcony after a fun overnight stay. Sunsets are best enjoyed by a fire pit, at a romantic dinner spot with a view, waterside, or even cozied up on your backyard patio. 

Correct Your Circadian Rhythm and Exercise

Waking when the sun rises is something our bodies naturally crave. Certain physical, mental, and behavioral changes take effect within the daily 24-hour cycle that makes up our circadian rhythm. Biologically, humans, like most creatures, are predisposed to respond to changes in light and dark. 

Waking up when the sun first peeks out can help adjust your body to the proper wake and sleep cycle it needs to work more efficiently. Exercising within that time can be a healthy addition to your morning routine as well. It keeps your body limber and your mind focused and ready to take on the day. 

Enjoy Them By the Beach 

Sunrises and sunsets are beautiful in their own right, but one thing that enhances their beauty tenfold is the beach. No matter the time of year, if you’re down to take a trip to the beach or any large body of water, it would be a fantastic way to enjoy the dewy sunrise and vibrant sunset. 

You could book a room by the beach so you can take in the sights from the comfort of a waterside room.  Or maybe plan an early morning, or late night trip to your destination of choice to catch the sunrise or sunset. 

Have A Bonfire 

Bonfires are a fun and chill way to end a long day. You don’t have to save them for special occasions either. Plan a summer cookout, a cozy fall evening, or perhaps a refreshing spring evening after being cooped up inside all winter. 

Throw a little get together, invite friends and family, get the kids in on it, make s’mores, share laughs, and have a great time relaxing by a fire at sunset. Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures of the sunset while you’re at it. That feeling of seeing the bright colors and being surrounded by people you care about the most will spark a lot of joy in your life.

5 Most Extreme Escape Rooms For Hardcore Fans

No two escape rooms are exactly the same, with some being very tame and aimed at beginners while others are so extreme that you have to sign a waiver. Hardcore escape room fans have likely seen the most extreme options in their area, so if you fall in this category and want to branch out for a road trip, there are some escape rooms that will test your patience and sanity.

These escape rooms have insanely low success rates and offer outside factors that will have you hitting the panic button faster than you think. If you’re brave enough, check out these five most extreme escape rooms for only the most hardcore fans.

The Basement (Los Angeles, California)

This escape room is not for the faint of heart. The Basement, located in Los Angeles, California, features a devilish escape room where participants have been kidnapped by the cannibalistic serial killer, Edward Tandy. 

Set in his dead mother’s home, the sadistic, flesh-hungry, and psychotic Tandy gives you clues to help solve the scavenger hunt like puzzles to aid in your escape. The room has a slim 12.5% success rate with extreme difficulty and cryptic clues. Once you’ve collected all of the items, you can escape the crazy Tandy and breathe a sigh of relief. 

The Torture Chamber (Elk Grove, California)

The Torture Chamber in Elk Grove, California paints a grizzly picture. You and your team are trapped inside the torture chamber of notorious serial killer, the American River Killer. He’s killed before and you’re his next set of victims. The previous victim used her last bit of strength to leave clues and hints to aid in your escape. 

The sadistic killer has left for exactly 60 minutes and you must utilize every minute and every tool, no matter how small and unassuming, to help you escape before you suffer the same fate as the others. 

The 13th Gate Escape (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

Voted the #1 escape room in the US, The 13th Gate Escape in Baton Rouge, Louisiana features a great selection of rooms with differing themes, difficulties, and fear factors. Like the Tomb of Anubis, Death Row, and Cutthroat Cavern. One of the most notable is the terrifying Asylum Room, with intermediate difficulty and an extreme fear factor. 

The haunting story behind the room is surrounded by death. Dr. Victor Delacroix is said to have performed sickening experiments on patients of the Avery Island Asylum, a tuberculosis hospital in the early 1900s. After his death, the hospital of horrors was shut down, but mysterious and haunting activities still go on inside the tattered walls. You and your team go check it out and you’re all trapped inside. You must work to escape within the 60-minute time frame.  

Bates Motel Escape Rooms (West Chester, Pennsylvania)

Based on the fictional Bates Motel series, this escape room in West Chester Pennsylvania brings it all to life. They feature detailed rooms, with CGI, lighting, and sound effects. Along with mysterious hidden doorways and clues that require attentiveness and critical thinking. If you manage to pull it together in the 60 minutes you have to figure out the puzzle room, you and your team can escape unscathed.  

Trap Door Escape Room’s ‘Fear The Bogeyman’ (Bartonsville, Pennsylvania)

Located in Bartonsville Pennsylvania, Fear The Bogeyman escape room features you and your team playing as paranormal investigators seeking the whereabouts of children abducted by the Bogeyman. The intense action will make it challenging to keep your wits about you for the 60 minutes you have to solve the puzzles and save the unfortunate souls taken by the mysterious entity who is actually in there with you. It takes the fear factor to another level and makes this escape room a must. 

Singletrack Mountain Biking – What Are The Pros And Cons?

When you think about mountain biking in its purest form, singletrack biking comes to mind. This is when you’re riding on a trail that’s just big enough for a bike, with those paths that look like just one wheel has ridden through repeatedly. There’s no better way to get more in touch with nature on a mountain bike than singletrack riding, but there can be some drawbacks to this old-school method of riding.

Before you set out to the mountains or forests to try your hand at singletrack riding, there are some things that you need to know. Here are the pros and cons of singletrack mountain biking:

Pros

Great Test For Advanced Riders

Perhaps the best test of anybody’s abilities with a mountain bike is to take it onto a singletrack trail. Because of the attention that bikers need while riding on singletrack, it’s the ultimate physical and mental test out there. You’ll also have to keep a good flow to make sure that you’re not in anybody’s way, meaning that you’re being pushed by the best singletrack bikers out there, as well.

Eco Friendly

Singletrack riders are all in agreement about one thing, and that’s keeping the ecosystem of the trails intact. The International Mountain Bicycling Association calls these the “rules of the trail” and they are very specific about maintaining nature while also being able to ride through it. The rule in place is called “leave no trace,” which means that only certain tires should be used to not disrupt the soil, and standing water has to be ridden through or walked around so as to not create a new bike path. Of course, littering is strictly forbidden, too.

Fantastic Workout

While mountain biking itself is a tremendous workout, singletrack biking takes it up a notch. Not only do the elevation changes combine both cardio and strength training, but you’ll also be getting off of the bike more times than you think. That’s because there are some natural obstacles for singletrack trails, so you’ll be hopping off to pick up your bike every now and then when a log or standing water gets in the way. 

Cons

Sharing = Slowdowns

There isn’t room for two-way traffic on singletrack, and even one-way singletrack can get clogged up. These are shared trails, so you’ll have plenty of people coming from the other direction, causing congestion where someone will have to stand to the side and let the other pass. Even when people are going the same way as you, an inexperienced biker can go extra slow, causing a jam in the flow of bike traffic.

Trailside Dangers

Because the trails are so narrow for singletrack, you’re going to be rubbing elbows with a lot of hazards to your left and right. Trees, of course, are the most inherent danger for any singletrack rider. There are also loose branches, bushes that can catch your handlebars, rocks, and much more. Even for more hilly or mountainous terrains, there might not be much leeway to either side that can cause a serious fall.

Bad Place For Breakdowns

Singletrack tends to take you on trails that are a little more remote and don’t leave much walking room outside of the trail itself. Because of this, a mechanical issue with a bicycle can be devastating. If you blow a tire or steering becomes an issue of any kind, you’ll have to carry your bike on the trail the rest of the way. This means you’ll be on the lookout for other bikers so that you can avoid getting hit all while lugging around a broken bicycle.

Now you know a little bit about what to expect when going singletrack biking for the first time. If you’re still up for the challenge, it’s a great way to meet new people and make the most out of your biking experience.

A Beginner’s Guide to Breaking into Backpacking

Do you enjoy the outdoors? Are you looking for a new great adventure? Or, are you looking for a way to convince yourself to spend more time in nature? Backpacking might be just what the doctor ordered.

Backpacking is a super fun sport that allows you to really escape and enjoy nature at a different level. It can be a fantastic mix of relaxing, invigorating, and adventurous. But before you strap on a pack and hit the wilderness, there are some things you’ll want to know — especially if you’ve never gone backpacking before.

1. Start Short and Comfortable 

Backpacking is an extremely rewarding outdoor experience, but there is a level of risk involved that needs to be taken seriously. 

You are about to carry everything you need to basically survive in nature for a few days on your back, and you’re walking away from society. You’re also walking away from your car, from restaurants, from emergency services, from reliable cell phone service, and from the protective structure that is a house. 

For beginners, we recommend choosing a destination that is close to your home and that is short — just an overnight trip or two to get started. You’ll learn a lot about your comfort level, your gear, and your level of preparation during these few days. 

2. Do Your Research and Invest in Your Gear

There are a ton of backpackers in the world, and there are thousands upon thousands of how-to guides, blogs, gear reviews, and entire stores like REI that have experts available to help beginners. Don’t be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS!

Backpacking involves hiking for miles upon miles each day in all sorts of weather and across different types of terrain, so you want clothing and gear that’s appropriate for your hiking trip.

Two essential gear investments are going to be the backpack you want to carry and your shoes. 

You’re also going to want to think about the level of shape you’re in and how much weight makes sense. When you’re carrying food, water, overnight gear, etc. that adds up quickly and you’re going to feel those pounds as you’re hiking. 

A general rule of thumb for beginner backpackers is that a loaded backpack should not be more than 20% of your body weight.  

3. Plan Your Trip and Create Checklists

If you’re a beginner, one of the most important aspects of backpacking is actually making a plan. Making a plan though is not just figuring out where you want to go, where you’re going to park, how long you’re going to be gone, and how far you’re going to hike.

Planning also includes the following aspects:

  • Weather predictions
  • Water access throughout the hike (and the gear you need to ensure clean drinking water)
  • Meal planning (this is not just how many calories you’re going to consume during your backpacking trip, but ensuring you have the cooking gear, including a heat source)
  • Touching base with a service like the National Park, for example, to see if your hike needs a permit for being in the backcountry (for example, parks like Yellowstone have limited backcountry permits for safety reasons and tracking, so you just cannot show up)
  • Purchase a physical trail map if needed because things like cell phone batteries are not always reliable 

This is just a set to get you started thinking through things. 

4. Find Someone to Go With You and Always, Always Let Someone Know Where You’re Going and When You’ll Be Back 

We’re not trying to intimidate anyone, but backpacking is one of those things that you should communicate to your friends or loved ones. Shoot them a text or an email or even leave a physical note explaining what you’re doing, where you’re going, what your timeline is, and text them when you get to the trailhead and when you’re back to your car. Simple as that. 

The 5 Most Amazing Summits in the World for Non-Experts

So, you want to hike mountains, but aren’t a professional mountaineer, eh?

What if we were to tell you that’s totally ok?

If you have the right shoes, the appropriate clothes, the correct amount of sustenance for energy, water, stamina, and respect for the mountain, you don’t need to be an expert to conquer some serious elevation gains.

Yeah, it’s true. You don’t have to be all technical to access some of the most amazing views on this planet, and we’ve compiled a list of the five most amazing summits in the world for non-experts:

1. Pikes Peak in Colorado, United States of America

Pikes Peak is visited by over half a million people a year and is arguably “America’s most famous mountain.” Located just fifteen miles from Colorado Springs and coming in at 14,115 feet at the summit, Pikes Peak has two main trails: Barr Trail and Crags Trail. Both trails are out-and-back hikes and can take the average hiker six to eight hours to complete.

2. Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa

Mount Kilimanjaro is the “Roof of Africa” at 19,341 feet and is one of the Seven Summits non-experts can definitely tackle with a little training. There are seven different trails to the summit, and climbers are required to hire a guide or join a larger expedition group.

Acclimation at elevation is the beast hikers will deal with on Mount Kilimanjaro, and the routes vary from five to eight days.

3. Ben Nevis in Scotland, United Kingdom

Fancy a little hiking between Scotch drinks?

Ben Nevis brings in over 125,000 hikers a year and is located just outside the Highland city of Fort William. With a summit at 4,413 feet, the main day hike trail for non-experts is The Mountain Track (AKA The Pony Track).

Hikers can make it up and down in seven to nine hours and be back at the pub before dinner.

4. Mount Fuji in Japan, Asia.

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan, one of Japan’s “sacred peaks,” and is hiked by more than 300,000 people each year.

Due to snow, the best time to hike is July through September, and hikers have their choice of four different summit trails. Even though there are huts for overnight stays, hikers can make it up and back in between five and ten hours.

5. Tofana di Rozes in Italy, Europe

Tofana di Rozes is located in the Dolomites mountain range in northern Italy. Even though it’s only a 3,600-foot elevation gain and takes around six hours to complete, Tofana di Rozes is a great hike for those wanting a little more rock climbing experience.

While no technical gear is needed, hikers making their way to the summit will use iron ladders, rungs, and cables along the way.

A Lot More Than Just 5

This list is totally just the surface level of the amazing summit hikes that are out there.

Remember this is a big, wide world we live in, so regardless of where you’re located, a solid summit hike is probably pretty close. In Colorado alone, for example, there are 58 summits at 14,000 ft or more for you to choose from, and we bet that views once you reach the top, are all going to be amazing.

Note: We feel it’s necessary to put a little caveat here about the strenuous exercise that is tackling a summit. 

Completing a summit hike is no easy feat, whether you are a beginner or more advanced. It’s always recommended to do your research, to NOT push yourself out of your comfort zone, and to listen to your body. Safety is key to any outdoor activity because the goal is to keep enjoying all the beautiful views. 

5 Full Moon Hiking Tips for the Best Nighttime Adventure

A full-moon hike elevates your hiking experience to new heights. A daytime trail known for being hot and crowded can transform into a peaceful, pleasant, meditative stroll under the moonlight.

But there are a few things to know to get the most out of this experience. 

1. Learn About Local Wildlife

The full moon isn’t the only sight you’ll get to enjoy while on a nighttime hike. This is a great time to see and hear animals you don’t experience when the sun is shining.

Depending on where you are, you may see or hear owls, bats, raccoons, crickets, fireflies, hermit crabs, opossums, wombats, lemurs, or white-tailed deer. This is a great opportunity to see another side of the animal kingdom. So keep your ears and eyes open as you walk. Take it all in.

With that said, many animals hunt at night, so it’s important to know about potential predators in the area. Most animal predators know how to stay away from humans. But some can present risks, so don’t be naive.

2. Bring 2 or More Friends

A full-moon hike can feel pleasantly secluded. Many fewer people hike at night, so you’re unlikely to run into anyone on the trail.

You can become one with nature. Many appreciate full-moon hikes because they give you an opportunity to meditate, practice mindful breathing, or recite your mantra.  

While that may sound invigorating, it’s inherently more dangerous than a day hike. Even though the full moon increases the light level, it’s dark. So you could trip on a rock or root. And it may be many hours before someone finds you.

So always bring a friend or two — and if you have cellular coverage on the trail, a fully-charged phone, even if you leave it on silent.

3. Dress Appropriately

Temperatures can change drastically once the sun goes down. If you’re hiking in a desert area, it could swing from blistering hot to freezing in a matter of hours. Most terrain will experience some swing.

So if you’re planning a hike while visiting somewhere, learn about the weather patterns. Wear layers. And bring a small backpack to pack for possible cold or rain. 

You’ll feel more comfortable and enjoy all your full-moon hike has to offer.

4. Bring a Flashlight, Just in Case

Most people’s eyes can comfortably adjust to full-moon light, allowing you to maintain a steady, albeit slower pace. But as you enjoy your walk, you may find larger trees or structures shade the path. 

Of course, you can venture on into the darkness if you’re familiar with this trail during the daytime. But you may prefer some extra lighting just in case. Your torch, headlamp, or flashlight may also come in handy if someone in your party experiences an emergency. 

A smartphone can provide this lighting as well. Just make sure your device is fully charged before you leave and can hold a charge.

5. Keep a Leisurely Pace

A full-moon hike can be a delight for the senses. And a slower pace allows you to take it all in safely. Take your time. Be aware of your surroundings. And enjoy all of the sights and sounds a night hike has to offer. 

These 5 Aggressive Insects Can Turn Any Camping Trip Into a Nightmare

Every area of the country has its beautiful sights. Unfortunately, it also has aggressive and cranky insects who stand ready to defend them. So, be on the lookout for these especially brutal invaders the next time you’re setting up camp. They mean well, but they fight dirty. And if you disturb them, a trip to the ER could end your vacation early. 

1. Wheel Bug

Wheel bugs, aside from looking like something from your very worst nightmare, carry a long, pointy beak that’s folded beneath them. This beak is actually part of what helps them survive, as they use it to drain fluids from their prey. However, when threatened, they’re not above using their beaks as weapons. The bite of a wheel bug is actually from that pointy beak, drilling into your skin. It’s intensely painful, too. Wheel bugs are out and about during mid-to-late summer in the southern half of the country. .  

2. Fire Ant

Fire ants like open fields and grassy areas, so be aware before you pitch your tent. Fire ants can be found in many southern states, including New Mexico, Arkansas, and Texas. If you disturb a fire ant mound, prepare to be rushed by a large number of scared and angry ants. And when fire ants bite, they lock powerful mandibles into your skin and then “rotate” to cause the most damage. These bites later form blisters that can pop and become easily infected. 

3. Africanized Honey Bee

Much like fire ants, Africanized honey bees attack in large numbers, and their reaction time to implied threats is 10 times quicker than that of regular honey bees. To date, over 1,000 people have died from being swarmed by Africanized honey bees. And these bees look very similar to regular honey bees, so you probably won’t know the difference until it’s too late. Steer clear of bee’s nests when choosing your next campsite. 

4. Tarantula Hawk

Taratula hawks are actually oversized wasps found in the southwest deserts of the United States. They’re called tarantula hawks because the female wasps hunt down and “kidnap” unsuspecting tarantulas to use as food for their larvae. The sting of a tarantula hawk can paralyze a large spider, and for humans, it has been described as “the most painful sting on the planet.” 

5. Saddleback Caterpillar

The Saddleback caterpillar is the weirdest little guy you’ll ever see, if you actually see him, that is. He’s bright green and brown, which makes him blend in well with his surroundings. And he’s found mostly in the eastern states. Saddleback caterpillars have stinging hairs filled with poison that feel much like a bee sting. However, they can cause nausea, and you’ll likely feel the sting for days afterward. 

So, the next time you’re setting up camp in the woods, in the desert, or in a clearing, take a quick scan for these tiny terrors. They can be painful or debilitating to adults and worse for children and pets. They really just want to be left alone, but if you accidentally disturb them, or they perceive you as a threat, your relaxing getaway could become a full-blown, waking nightmare. 

 

 

The Great Outdoors: Five Things You Should Want From Your Hiking Shoes

Whether you are a day hiker looking to tackle a few miles on a local trail or a more serious multiple-day backcountry type of hiker, taking care of your feet is key. 

 

Hikers tend to carry quite a bit of weight on their back regardless if it’s a day pack full of water, snacks, and extra layers or a larger backpack that’s 20% your body weight. In addition, hiking trails vary across multiple terrains, elevations, and difficulty levels, so having solid foot support is necessary. 

 

To help you think through this a little more, here are five things you should want from your hiking shoes:

 

Support & Stability

 

Having a hiking shoe that fits correctly is extremely important. You want a shoe to be snug and support your foot and/or ankle from twists, but you also want to pay attention to hot spot areas. 

 

Hiking involves a lot of ups and downs, uneven ground, slippery sections, and things like roots, rocks, streams, etc. that all cause a hiker to make more athletic movements. This is not a walk around the neighborhood track. 

 

Your feet should feel comfortable but protected. 

 

Pay attention to the arch, and the width of the toe box, and take into consideration the natural swelling that will occur after a few hours on a trail (this is a natural body reaction to exertion, but it can cause issues if your hiking shoes are too tight). 

 

Quality

 

In our opinion, hiking shoes are definitely one area where we do NOT recommend going the cheap route. There is a lot of technology, research, and seriously intentional design that goes into creating a high-quality hiking shoe, so you get what you pay for. 

 

Something worth researching when it comes to quality is the technology used to create lighter hiking shoes without compromising support and stability. 

 

Traction

 

Hiking shoes, even the lighter-weight ones, are different from gym shoes or tennis shoes in terms of traction. When you’re hiking, you are in the elements and not in a controlled gym environment. There is weather to deal with, mud, water crossings, rock faces, and just uneven terrain to trek through, so not slipping is a big deal. 

 

According to CamoTrek “[t]he two most frequent reasons for injuries on the trail (even in cold environments) are slipping and falling.”

 

Breathability

 

Hiking is a strenuous workout and exercise activity, and your feet get hot. 

 

Hot feet get sweaty, and that is a ripe environment for blisters to thrive if you’re not careful. Hiking also exposes people to rain, snow, mud, and water, so the more a hiking shoe can repel liquid and moisture and actually dry out quickly, the better. 

 

Flexibility 

 

Due to the varying terrain that is the natural outdoors, a hiker’s foot needs to be able to move around a little when it lands on the ground. Our feet and ankles are designed to help us balance as humans, so your hiking shoe should not take that away. 

 

It’s also worth noting that many outdoor stores that sell hiking shoes, like REI, have hiking experts on their staff that can talk to you and give you options. You can try on the shoes, see how they feel, and, ultimately, you can always return them and get a new pair if they are just not comfortable or right for your needs. 

 

You can also view a wide range of hiking shoes online, taking note of reviews, pros and cons, highlighted features, etc. This list is enough to get you on the right track, but you’re going to have to spend time looking at and trying specific shoes.