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What Experts Pack: The Mountain Series Recharged

September 14th, 2017

With over 30 years of guiding experience on the world’s greatest mountains, International Mountain Guides (IMG) is the definition of #adventureequipped! IMG guides know how to lead expeditions safely, which is why Adventure® Medical Kits is proud to have partnered with them for over 20 years. We’re excited to share this note we received from them during their Mt. Rainier season, where they’ve been testing out the Mountain Guide Kit from the Mountain Series Recharged. – Adventure® Medical Kits

Mt. Rainier

IMG climbers above the clouds on Mt. Rainier

Tye Chapman here at International Mountain Guides reaching out on behalf of our guides to say “Thank You” to Adventure® Medical Kits for the new med kits they provided this year and their continued support over the years.

Choosing to Be Prepared

With over 50 guides guiding close to 1500 climbers and trekkers on all 7 continents, on over 150 climbs, treks, and expeditions around the globe each year, you can imagine we take the safety of our climbers and guides seriously.  Simply put, that is why we work with Adventure® Medical Kits. There’s no better partner to ensure that our guides and expeditions are fully prepared for medical emergencies.

What We Pack

IMG climbers on summit of Mt. Rainier

IMG climbers on summit of Mt. Rainier

So what are we packing? Well, at the Guide level all of our guides are equipped with the new Mountain Series Mountain Guide Kit. What we like about these kits are the Find It Fast Map and the semi-transparent and secure pocket. These features make it easy to find supplies when we need them.

At the Expedition level, we carry a few different kits depending on the duration of the expedition and number of climbers or trekkers involved. A few examples include the Mountain Series Mountaineer Kit and the Professional Series Expedition, Professional Guide I, and Mountain Medic kits.

Everything We Need & Nothing We Don’t

While it’s impossible to prepare for every possible scenario, Adventure® Medical Kits has spent years dialing these kits in to provide us with exactly what we need, and equally as important in the mountains, nothing we don’t! Thanks for the continued support Adventure® Medical Kits. Although we hope never to need your emergency medical supplies, it’s nice to know you’re there when it counts!

Putting the Mountain Series to the Test

IMG climbers headed up Mt. Rainier

We’re in full swing on Mt. Rainier with climbs coming and going every day now. I’ve heard it many times already this summer, from several of the guides, that the Mountain Guide kits are perfect. They’re so well thought out and are the perfect size for our groups on not only Mt. Rainier but around the world. The kits you sent this spring have already been in Nepal, Russia, Bolivia, Mongolia, Europe, Tanzania, and Alaska with upcoming trips to Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Nepal, and Antarctica to name a few.

IMG Guide Jonathan Schrock is calling in on the radio from the summit of Mt. Rainier as I type this note. After 10 years at IMG, I still love getting that radio call!

Stay safe this summer!

Tye Chapman

International Program Director

www.mountainguides.com

Photo Credits: Austin Shannon, Senior Guide

The Last Day on Everest: Ending an Expedition Safely

August 31st, 2017

An International Mountain Guide climber in the upper Khumbu Icefall. Photo Credit: Dallas Glass, Senior Guide

Expedition Experts

International Mountain Guides (IMG) has been organizing Everest expeditions for over 35 years – they’re definitely experts and the definition of #adventureequipped! With 482 summits of the highest mountain on earth, IMG and its guides understand how to lead expeditions safely, which is why Adventure Medical Kits is proud to have partnered with them for over 20 years. Check out this note we received from Greg Vernovage, the Expedition Leader for the 2017 Everest expedition. As he speaks on wrapping up the 2017 Everest season and exiting the Khumbu Icefall, Greg reminds us of the excitement of completing an expedition and the importance of ending expeditions well, whether they be big or small. – Adventure Medical Kits

Leave Nothing Behind

Mount Everest 2017 is in the books. Everyone came down off the mountain, which left only a couple days of cleanup for the IMG Sherpa Team. We dried tents, and packed and carried gear back down to Everest Base Camp.

Not Done Till Your Team’s Done

The climbing season is not over for IMG until the last Sherpa is out of the Icefall and arrives back at Everest Base Camp (EBC). The final morning of climbing started like many mornings with burning of Juniper at our Puja Alter, followed by the Sherpa Team heading out. When the last Sherpa arrives back to EBC, a couple things happen.

  1. First, a split second pause, followed by a collective deep breath, and my thought, “We are all safe now.”
  2. The second and much more noticeable reaction when the last Sherpa arrives at EBC is a group cheer! We are out of the Icefall and off the mountain! Congratulations!

Pack & Celebrate as a Team

 

Climbers on the summit of Lobuche Peak in Nepal

Climbers on the summit of Lobuche Peak in Nepal. Photo Credit: Dallas Glass, Senior Guide

We finished up the final day working around EBC: packing, organizing, making loads for yaks and porters and wishing each other well. For the final night at EBC, the Sherpa Team gathered one last time in the dining tent, eating Dal Bhat and talking as confidently as ever about the strength of the IMG Sherpa Team. As I went to bed that final night of the 2017 Everest Expedition, I could hear the Sherpa singing and dancing. A perfect end to a great season on Mt. Everest!

On behalf of the entire 2017 IMG Everest Team: Thank you Adventure Medical Kits for all of your support! The med kits got hit hard again this year, but luckily it was for the bandages and ibuprofen, not the trauma shears.

Until next year…

Greg Vernovage
Expedition Leader
www.mountainguides.com

Lending Some Adventure

July 20th, 2017
ANDREW PRINGLE OF THE WASHINGTON TRAILS ASSOCIATION POSES IN A SEATTLE GEAR LIBRARY SPACE THAT THE ORGANIZATION RECENTLY OUTGREW, DUE TO DEMAND. (PHOTO COURTESY OF OUTDOORS EMPOWERED NETWORK.)
Sponsored content underwritten by LEKI

Kids who spend  time in wild nature reap all kinds of benefits, including improved physical and mental health, lower stress, and higher confidence. Yet many kids and their families have never camped nor hiked. The biggest  barrier to getting in the woods? The significant cost of outdoor gear. Now, “gear libraries” across the United States are addressing this challenge by enabling many organizations serving youths to use borrowed gear—for free.

The concept of lending gear isn’t new—universities and other organizations have been doing it for years. “What’s unique is that we’re empowering youth workers and teachers—these really important people within communities—by training them and then linking them with local gear libraries,” says Kyle Macdonald, founder of the Outdoors Empowered Network. His organization trains youth development leaders to take their groups on outdoor excursions. Once they complete the training, they can check out gear and get out on the trail.

“Enabling leaders who already know the kids is key,” says Macdonald, who founded the network after leading groups with the Appalachian Mountain Club—which pioneered the model with its Youth Opportunities Program in 1968—and later founding Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT). “The kids really got a lot out of it, they bonded with each other,” Macdonald says, recalling the excursions he led with the Appalachian Mountain Club. “But, they were going to go right back to their communities, and I thought, ‘This is something that’s just not quite as good as it could be.’”

One day, at a hut along the Appalachian Trail, he saw a group of youth workers and teachers finishing their training through the Youth Opportunities Program, which provides outdoor leadership training to urban youth development professionals in the Northeast. That’s when it clicked. “I thought, ‘They know the kids—they should be the ones taking them out.’” With the Appalachian Mountain Club’s blessing, Macdonald took that notion to California and in 1999 created BAWT, with a stated mission “to affect a generation by connecting youth to nature by breaking down the barriers to access—fear, expensive equipment, transportation, and trained adults to take them on immersive outdoor trips.”

Today, that model of training-the-trainer and lending the gear is on the rise, both within and beyond the Outdoors Empowered Network, says Macdonald, who notes that he’s heard of at least five gear library programs poised to open in Colorado alone. Other Network members include Los Angeles Wilderness TrainingForest Preserves of Cook County CampingChicago Park DistrictFamilies in Nature, and the Washington Trails Association.

Of the kids served by Outdoors Empowered Network programs, 85 to 90 percent are people of color, and most are from disadvantaged communities. Often, they are already connected to community-based organizations offering after-school programs, refugee nonprofits, or churches that have some kind of recreation programs. “It’s generally the schools and the communities that don’t have the resources to have a teacher hand the parent a gear list and say, ‘We’re going on a camping trip, and we need all this gear—please go buy it.’” About a third of the gear within the Network’s libraries has been purchased, and the rest has been donated by companies such as Osprey Packs, Keen, North Face, and GSI outdoors.

The average Outdoors Empowered Network outing is a three-night camping trip, but some are longer, and some are day hikes. Usually groups stay close to home, though  others drive several hours to get to their destinations, sometimes  crossing state lines. Teachers and group leaders, Macdonald says, bring a mix of outdoor experience to the Network. Some have never camped before; others are veteran backpackers.  “The one thing that they all feel passionately about is that they see the kids that they work with aren’t getting these opportunities,” he says. “They want to help the kids understand that public lands are for them.”

Often, kids’ lack of outdoor experience is eye-opening. Macdonald recalls taking a group of kids to the beach in San Francisco, during which one third grader looked really tentative. “He walked down toward the wet sand, asked what happens where the sand changes color, and eventually, got into it and then just played for hours.” Afterward, Macdonald learned it was the first time the student had touched wet sand. “He lived less than seven miles away from the Pacific Ocean.”

“Gear libraries are generally for the schools and the communities that don’t have the resources to have a teacher hand the parent a gear list and say, ‘We’re going on a camping trip, and we need all this gear—please go buy it.’”

Detroit Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO), a Sierra Club outreach program that offers wilderness experiences and environmental education, also  maintains a gear library, now in its third summer in operation. The gear library  was born when REI stopped renting out gear from its stores in southeastern Michigan, and donated much of its rental equipment to Detroit ICO. Says program chair Garrett Dempsey, “We suddenly had way more capacity of gear than we had volunteers and youth to take out on trips.” Partly because Dempsey had seen the benefits of a gear library first-hand while volunteering with BAWT, Detroit ICO decided to make the gear available to other local organizations serving youth.

A high school outdoors club and a zoological society’s youth leadership program are among the many groups that use Detroit ICO’s gear to take kids camping. The library also helped the local Girl Scouts resurrect its backpacking program. “The sites the troops once used had not been visited for many years, so they borrowed backpacks to get out there again,” Dempsey says. “They were blazing trails and rediscovering these old backcountry camps—and rediscovering a backpacking culture in the regional Girl Scouts program, too.”

Detroit ICO is currently working with the Outdoors Empowered Network, the City of Detroit, and other groups to rehabilitate a once-popular campground in a Detroit city park. The idea is that Detroit ICO’s gear library will serve as the campground’s initial source of gear, allowing local groups to take kids camping and enjoy nature—“right there in the city,” Dempsey says.

One Outdoors Empowered Network member, the Austin-based Families in Nature, works with families rather than youth groups—aiming to connect family members to nature, and one another, through time spent outdoors.  Although its gear library is a little over a year old, it’s already stocked with camping gear as well as field lenses , binoculars, compasses, and fishing poles.

“The gear library allows us to expand our reach and fulfill our mission without having to raise huge amounts of money to support a large staff of instructors,” says founder and director Heather Kulhken. “It also enables diverse communities to bring children and families into nature—for example, when transportation is a barrier, we can help schools or communities host camping trips on their own land. We also loan gear to schools and train teachers to take their classes out into nature to learn for the day.”

Getting kids engaged in the outdoors, Macdonald maintains, offers “long-term benefits [in terms of] health, graduation rates, and just stress levels, alone. For a kid who comes back from a wilderness experience, those lessons reaped are ones that start to come out weeks later, months later, maybe even years later.”

What to carry in my sled pack when exploring and guiding on my Ski Doo?

June 16th, 2017

To even think that people still snowmobile without wearing a pack still boggles my mind!  Why are you depending on someone else to save you in any unfortunate circumstance if one were one to happen?  In the She Shreds Mountain Adventures backcountry survival lessons, I always make sure to go over what everyone in the group has in their pack before we head out on an adventure, to make sure we are prepared for anything.  I highly suggest doing this with your buddies that you regularly ride with.

“You’re out there on your own far from civilisation, be the most prepared you can be!” – Julie-Anne Chapman

                                                                                                                            

  • Full first aid kit Survive Outdoors Longer make amazing pre-packaged kits that you can add your own goodies to.  Its suggested to carry everything from band aids, antiseptic wipes, compress dressings, splints, gauze, triangular bandages, trauma/accident report sheets, etc, etc.  Make sure to keep all of this in a water resistant bag!  And it wouldn’t hurt to take a first aid course so you know how to mend someone.  The last thing they want is you trying to splint a broken bone if you don’t know how.  You ask why would someone even attempt to touch someone with a broken limb?  Well, because lets say you are very far from the trucks, you would want to make the limb immobile (make it the most comfy you can) for their ride down.  You’re out there on your own far from civilisation, be the most prepared you can be!
  • The pack itself – 18L (Highmark by Snowpulse avalanche pack recommended).  I rock the Ridge 3.0 vest. You want to be careful how much weight you carry on your back.  The Ski Doo LinQ bags are amazing to carry all the extra stuff you dont want on our back.
  • inReach Explorer and Sat phone – two way communication SOS device that relates on iridium satellites.  Incase you need a helicopter for a big bobo, or text your lover at home (when you’re out of cell range) to get dinner started, these little gems of devices are awesome.  The inReach tracks you wherever you are in the world, allows you to communicate with people via text and email even when you are out of cell phone range, and if you call for SOS, your GPS coordinates are dispatched to the closest search and rescue in the surrounding area. The sat phone allows you to have a direct conversation if you need to request rescue gear brought to the scene.
  • 40-100+ft rope & carabineers – for rescuing “your buddy” that thought the throttle was the break when he approached the crevasse really fast.
  • Shovel & probe & transceiver– duh!!  Wear the transceiver on your body, not in the pack!  Duh!
  • Snowmobile tools – hose clamps, spare break leaver, shock pump, basic kit with wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, zip ties, duct & electrical tape!
  • Survival kit – All hell breaks loose.  You have to stay the night in the backcountry.  I hope you are prepared! Survive Outdoors Longer make perfect survival kits to suit your every needs. Pack extra warm clothes/gloves, a tampon (to dip in your gas tank to ignite a fire), water resistant/strike anywhere matches, flint, wood carving tool (knife), compass, mini fishing kit, whistle, flare, bivvy sack…  And make sure to keep all of this is a water resistant bag!
  • Two way radios – You’re deep in the trees or over in the next drainage and you can’t find your buddy.  “I’m out of gas, Do you copy Bobby Jo?”… “10-4 rubber ducky on my way with the jerry”.
  • VHF Radio – to communicate with outside world to assist with things such as heli a evacuation
  • Mouth guard – For when I like to think I’m going so big that I need one.
  • Snow science tools – Snow saw, ruler, inclinometer, aluminium crystal card, thermometer, 10x loupe, field book (I call it my old lady diary, it’s the only book I write daily logs in). Always good to do your own research on what the snow is doing.   Once you are comfortable using your transceiver, I highly suggest taking an avalanche course that touches on snow studies/science. A course that will help you understand why avalanches happen. Doing a multiple day backcountry trip and don’t have access to the avy reports for days?  It’s a must to have these tools to observe what the snow is doing over such a period of time.
  • Extra food and water – High calorie food, energy blocks
  • A wood saw – We all go into trees!  It’s so much easier to saw a branch off than to flip a 500lb machine that is all tangled in branches.
  • Head lamp – I’ve seen people smash their lights out on a tree and have to sled out in the dark with only their head lamp shining the way. Frankensled makes a great helmet lamp that attaches with a GoPro mount.
  • Extra goggles/lenses– The worst is when your goggles are all fogged up and you can’t see where you’re going!
  • Extra fuel – Going on a long haul?  Pack a jerry on your tunnel.  Don’t be the kid that’s full pin all day and runs out of fuel first and uses everyone else’s fuel!!  Every pack has a buddy like that!
  • An extra belt for the sled
  • One last thing – always find out if there is a safety cache near by with spine boards, etc. or a cabin you can make yourself a warm fire in.

It’s Not about the Journey

May 16th, 2017

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE JOURNEY

It was cold, it was dark, and it was the evening of November 30th. 2.73 miles–that’s all we needed. Less than a week earlier I had hurt my foot by foolishly wearing the wrong shoes on a hike while on vacation. Now, it was up to Daddy to take our two children out onto the city streets in the cold, dark night. Completing the HiB 30 November Challenge with a total of 30 miles depended on it. A round-trip journey to the grocery store with just a few detours got them the mileage they needed, and my children returned home triumphant and tired.

 

THE JOURNEY EVOLVES.
Before I go any further, I realize this might seem like extreme lengths to go to for a personal challenge; but you see, that’s just it. We’ve been participating in the Hike it Baby 30 Challenges since September of 2015. However, for the first time since then, the challenge truly was personal–not for me, but for my daughter. November marked the first challenge that she, at 6 years old, decided to own it for herself and go after all 30 miles. In the past I would try to plan at least one after-school hike a week so that I could make sure she got out with us, but it was never enough to get her close to 30. When I explained the challenge month to her and I saw her eyes light up at the thought of completing it, I knew I had to do whatever I could to make that happen. Our journey that month took us on some amazing trails. But, ultimately, it was those last few miles on the sidewalks close to our house that made all the difference. For my daughter, completing this challenge was the ultimate goal–and we did it.
It wasn’t always this way, though. As a baby we took her out hiking all the time. We spent most of the minutes of our days outside, and if we stayed in too long she would crawl to the front door and start knocking to go out. That was when we lived in the sunshine; the only bad weather was warm rain you could play in and the occasional tropical storm.

ADAPTING TO NEW CHANGES.
A few years later she was three years old, we had a baby for a younger brother, and we were living in Michigan. Originally a California girl I didn’t know how to get out with my babies in the cold, dark north. We kept our hiking to the brief spring and summer months. Sadly, this wasn’t enough to foster a love for the trail in her. When she was four-years-old we moved to Atlanta and found Hike it Baby (I wish I had found it in Michigan!) and finally started hiking again on a regular basis. When we started back into it there was so much complaining and lots of bribing; I was so disappointed that my beautiful, once outdoors-loving little girl didn’t like to hike. Only a year-and-a-half later and my daughter is hiking 6-mile hikes without complaining and completing 30-mile challenges. We did it, we made it, we got there! The journey wasn’t always easy, but I have a daughter that asks to go hiking–and would rather go camping for her birthday than have a party.

 

BALANCING THE JOURNEY AND THE DESTINATION.
So often, we make a point to focus on the journey, rather than the destination. This is great advice, especially in the little years. I host a toddler-led hike every week and let me tell you, that hike is all about the journey. We never really know where we are going to end up. But while taking care of little ones day-to-day, it can be hard to constantly stay positive when you have no idea where all of this is heading. I’m here to tell you that just as in hiking, there is a destination, and it’s pretty great. It’s ok to remind yourself of that every once and awhile. One day, little feet and little hands are going to get bigger and they’ll be asking to go outside before you even get the chance to suggest it.

 

When the trail is hard and your feet start to hurt, you need to look up and enjoy your surroundings for what they are; to find beauty amid the pain and the struggle. I have to say this is much the same for raising little ones. However, when you catch glimpse of the end of the trail, of the peak you’ve almost reached, and realize how close you are–it’s ok to rejoice in knowing you are almost there. Sometimes it is about the destination. Believing that you will reach it can be the hardest thing, but don’t worry, you will.

5 Tips to Prevent Dehydration While Hiking

April 25th, 2017

Hiking is a pleasurable pastime and a good way to stay healthy and happy, as it presents ample opportunity to get sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. However, the exertion makes you susceptible to dehydration, which can make a hike less enjoyable and even dangerous.

Staying hydrated is especially important for senior hikers because, on an average, older adults have 10% less fluid in their bodies than younger adults. In addition, seniors also experience a diminished sense of thirst that leads to a reduced fluid intake, making them more susceptible to dehydration. But young or old, each and every hiker needs to stay hydrated before, during, and after a hike in order to be safe.

1. Drink Water before Hitting the Trail

Before embarking on the hike, you should drink one or two cups of water. Your body only begins to feels thirsty when the water level is already low, meaning you shouldn’t wait for the body’s “thirsty” signal before drinking. Instead, keep your water level from dropping in the first place by hydrating pre-hike. Developing habits for long-term hydration in your life will help you be at your fittest and healthiest before going on a hike.

2. Steer Clear of Caffeinated Drinks & Alcohol Prior to a Hike

Planning to hit the trail in the morning? Opt for water instead of soda the night before. A hiker should refrain from or at least limit drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee or cola before a hike, as this can increase your fluid loss.

caffeineted beverages can contribute to dehydration

Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee before a hike

Consuming alcoholic drinks prior to hiking should be absolutely avoided, as they significantly contribute to dehydration. These drinks are also not great drinks to bring on a hike, as they won’t hydrate you properly and may dehydrate you.

3. Carry Food & Water (& Make Them Easily Accessible)

Any person going on a hiking trip should carry ample food and water. Water keeps you hydrated, while food is the body’s main source of fuel and salts (electrolytes) – you need both to prevent dehydration. Individually wrapped snacks, energy bars, dried food, and bottled water are typically sufficient for a person embarking on a day hike, unless the trip involves meal times. Remember to balance your food intake with fluid consumption to avoid becoming severely ill and dangerously debilitated.

Whether you use a bottle or a bladder, make sure you’re drinking regularly 

For longer, more strenuous hikes, you may also want to pack electrolyte tablets. Sweating causes you to lose electrolytes, which can make hiking more difficult. Adding electrolyte tablets or a sports drink to your pack is an easy way to stay at the top of your game.

Of course, packing water or food alone won’t keep you hydrated and healthy – you have to consume it. Maybe hydration comes naturally to you and you’ll remember to drink, but if you find yourself regularly forgetting, here’s a few ideas that might help:

  • Use a bladder – if you use canteens or bottled water and find yourself forgetting to stop and grab a drink, using a bladder lets you drink on the move with water always easily accessible.
  • Prefer bottles? Pick your pack with care – if you prefer bottles or canteens to a bladder, make sure the hiking pack you use lets you easily reach your water. Some packs have forward-facing pockets that make it easier to pull your bottle out than the traditional side pocket.
  • Keep a few snacks stashed where you can reach them – the hip pocket of your pack is a great place.

4. Drink Water before Feeling Thirsty

You shouldn’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, because that means you’re already dehydrated and not performing at the top of your game. You should replenish fluids and electrolytes by drinking one half to one quart of water every hour you’re hiking. You may need to drink more depending upon the temperature and the intensity of the hike.

Hiking in warmer environments increases your water intake needs

For variety, consider alternating between plain water and a sports drink with electrolytes. This will retain fluids, maintain energy, balance electrolyte levels, and thus make hiking more enjoyable.

5. Stay Hydrated after Hiking

Don’t stop drinking when you stop hiking. You should continue to intake fluids even after completing the hike to replenish water and electrolyte loss. Since thirst always underestimates your body’s fluid needs, drink more than you think is necessary.

If Dehydration Strikes

Prevention is always the best treatment, but if you or someone in your party does become seriously dehydrated, make sure you have the first aid supplies and knowledge you need to treat them. Oral rehydration salts are a lightweight addition to your first aid kit that are proven to help your body absorb and retain fluids more effectively. If you’re headed on an extended adventure, adding these to your pack could make a huge difference.

Stay Hydrated & Get Hiking!

A hike, when done correctly and safely, has many medical benefits such as reducing the risk of diabetes, colon or breast cancer, osteoporosis, and heart attacks, as well as decreasing disability risk and increasing overall physical function. More than that though, hiking gives us a sense of adventure and a rush of adrenalin from being amidst nature and discovering new places, all of which is wonderful for mental well-being. To hike successfully and get optimal benefits, though, make sure you stay adequately hydrated to prevent dehydration.

How To Prepare for Multiple Day Trips.

March 23rd, 2017

 

Brian Threlkeld just took an 8-day trip around Baxter National Park where he experienced some extreme conditions. During any trip no matter its duration it’s important to be prepared, we asked Brian to summarize his experience and give future hikers some advice on what to carry. Check out some of the key items that made his trip enjoyable and his advice for future adventurers.

 

While traveling for 8 days around Baxter State Park in northern Maine, we encountered many situations requiring diligence and preparedness.  The mercury in the thermometer never rose above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  Most nights were single or double digits below zero, and we had to manage lots of frozen gear in the mornings.

 

The ability to have fires at night and in the morning allowed us to thaw out frozen gear and body parts.  A reliable and trustworthy stove (JetBoil’s Joule) was critical for melting snow, boiling water and cooking meals.  Without it, we would have had a very difficult time sustaining our energy and our morale.  -20 degree sleeping bags and closed cell foam pads were crucial.  Inflatable pads, even if they’re rated for winter temps, still have a tendency to deflate during the night, and the moisture trapped inside from blowing them up, compromises their warmth and their dryness.

 

We felt somewhat secure knowing we had the ability to make quick fires with the SOL Fire Lite Kit and having the SOL Longer Escape Bivvy Sack gave us the confidence to rewarm someone if a case of hypothermia arose.  Thankfully we avoided most situations that required medical attention minus a few blisters here and there.

 

When you’re in the back country, it’s critical to have the knowledge and experience to handle the risks associated with activities you’re undertaking.  In our case, we needed to stay warm, hydrated and fed.  We used an ax and small saw to collect dead and down wood for fires, and paid extra special care to using sharp objects because we couldn’t afford any mishaps.  Careful attention to water bottles was important to staying hydrated and staying safe.  We boiled water at nights to fill bottles which were then put in our sleeping bags to act as a small and effective furnace.  I highly recommend using hot water bottles to stay warm at night, and I HIGHLY recommend making sure the lids are securely fastened.  Tighten the lid once, and then tighten it again.  We thankfully had zero leaky water bottles in our sleeping bags, but because we tightened them so much, they were nearly impossible to open in the mornings.  The solution, wave them over the stove in the morning, very quickly and lightly, to loosen up the caps.  Just be careful to not melt them!

 

All in all our trip was fantastic.  We skied over 70 miles through an amazing wilderness area of northern Maine safely and in good style.  We traveled as a solid crew, helped each other when the going got tough, and made jokes when the going got really tough.  Find people you trust when you go out into the woods, as your life could literally be in there hands at some point.

 

What do you think the most common injuries you could face during your trip and what items could of made a difference in the trip?

 

-As long as you’re not doing anything stupid (though one could argue that winter camping is stupid, haha) the biggest concerns for injuries are blisters and cold injuries.  If you feel hot spots on your feet, address them immediately by adjusting your socks, tightening or loosening your boots a bit, or applying duct tape to the hot spot to help reduce friction on the affected area.  Keep gloves on while you’re doing things around camp (liner gloves come in handy for chores that require more dexterity) and I like to wear a Buff-type accessory that can quickly cover most of my face and add an extra layer of warmth to my ears and neck.  If you’re traveling with a hat on and you’re getting hot, take the hat off, but perhaps use the Buff as an ear warmer.  It’ll keep your ears from getting super cold but it will still allow heat to escape out the top of your head.

 

For the first time hiker what are necessities on the trip (any gear not just kits) that will make their trip easier and more enjoyable?

 

A warm sleeping bag, insulated puffy pants, a big warm down jacket and down booties are all key essentials to staying warm and actually enjoying winter camping.  Closed cell foam pads are way better at keeping the ground from sucking your body heat out, they’re light weight, you don’t have to spend time blowing them up and then packing them away, and they’re completely fail-safe, unless of course you forget one in camp or lose one on the trail.  Make sure that doesn’t happen by sweeping your campsites every time before leaving for the next camp.

 

Layering is also key.  Make sure your next-to-skin layer is good at wicking (I love wool base layers in the winter) and be sure to temper your pace with your level of temperature.  What that means is don’t go too fast because you’ll sweat way too much and when the wind blows, you’ll get cold.  Make sure to have a wind resistant shell handy for when it gets gusty while you’re on the move, and make sure to have a good puffy jacket handy for rest breaks.  Its way easier to get warm and stay warm then to get cold and try to re-warm.  Put the puffy on right away at every break and take it off when you start moving again.  The name of the game is temperature regulation with winter travel.

 

Make sure someone knows your itinerary before you leave.  Have a plan on what to do if you know what hits the fan.  Have some good first aid training.  Know how to read a map and compass and don’t forget to bring them.  We live in a day and age where everything is at the tip of your fingers on that cellphone, but when you’re out of range, you have to rely on yourself and your friends to face any mishaps or accidents.  Your brain and self-reliance are the most important pieces of gear you can bring on any trip.

 

Fun tips, tricks and hacks you’ve learned while adventuring outdoors.

Use an electrolyte replacement tab in your water.  It’ll taste better and keep you feeling more energized.  They make caffeine tabs too which give you an extra boost when the going gets tough.

Bring hand sanitizer.  You don’t want to get any type of bug from gross stuff.

Hand warmers are amazing

Lost? The First thing You Should Do to Survive

February 1st, 2017

1-hiker_overlooking-mountainscape

 

Heading out into the wilderness can be an amazing experience that allows you to explore remote areas and challenge yourself. As a smart adventurer, you’ve probably already taken the steps to prepare for your journey by bringing along the basics for survival and knowing the terrain. But anytime you’re a few hours off the trail or deep in the wilderness, you are assuming risk and should be prepared for potentially life threatening survival situations like getting lost or injured. That’s why it’s good to know some basic skills you can draw on when the going gets rough.

Taken from Wilderness First Aid and Survival download By Eric A. Weiss M.D. and Adventure® Medical Kits

First Rule of Survival: STOP TO SURVIVE

Stop sign

 

If you find yourself lost, hurt or in a survival situation, take a deep breath, try to relax, and remain calm. Don’t Panic

Use the acronym: S-T-O-P

S-Stop:

Do not travel farther until you assess your situation.

T- Think:

Should I stay here or move? What is the likelihood that I will be found here? How far am I physically able to travel?

O-Observe:

Look around and determine whether you can obtain shelter, water, and fuel for a fire at this location.

P- Plan:

Decide what you should do and take action. Staying put may be the best choice, especially if someone knows where to look for you.

If you’ve decided to sit tight and wait for help, this is a great time to start signaling for assistance.  We’ll cover how to signal for help in more detail in our next survival skills installment but consider adding a whistle to your gear. Many packs, like the ones from Deuter USA come standard with a whistle built into the chest strap. Or purchase this one and hang it from your pack.

The sound of a whistle will travel much further than your voice. Three sharp blasts at regular intervals is the standard distress signal. While you’re whistling, think about how you can make a shelter, find some water and get a fire started so can stay warm in the event of an overnight.

Other Survival Tip

A. Leave a detailed trip itinerary with someone you trust*

B. Never forget that your brain and your ability to remain calm and not to panic are your most important survival tools.

C. Make sure your personal survival kit is waterproof, compact and fairly lightweight, so you will carry it always like the Hybrid 3 Kit from Survive Outdoors Longer

D. Know how to use each and every item in your kit. Don’t wait till you need it. Adjust your kit to fit the appropriate outdoor environment that you are venturing into. (Mountains, desert, wet conditions, cold climate)

Basic First Aid Skills-Identifying and Addressing Altitude Sickness

October 10th, 2016

thinkstock_people-with-dog-hikingMountain sickness is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, or travelers at high altitudes, usually above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). On your next trip to the mountains, be sure to watch yourself and your companions for signs of altitude sickness as you travel to higher elevations.

Taken from Adventure Medical Kits’ Wilderness & Travel Medicine Guide, By Dr. Eric A. Weiss

What causes Altitude Illness or Mountain Sickness? Altitude Illness is a direct result of the reduced barometric pressure and concentration of oxygen in the air at high elevations. The lower pressure makes the air less dense, so each time we breathe each inhalation contains fewer oxygen molecules and the body begins to feel deprived resulting in headaches, shortness of breath, weakness and nausea.

Prevention

  • Follow the “Golden Rule of Altitude Illness”- Above 8000 feet, assume headaches, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting should be considered altitude illness until proven otherwise. Even with mild symptoms, symptoms should be addressed and/or resolved before continuing to higher elevations. Anyone with worsening symptoms or severe symptoms should descend immediately to lower altitudes.
  • Graded ascents are the best and safest method for preventing illness. Average no more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain per day after 10,000 feet.
  • Avoid abrupt ascent to sleeping altitudes greater than 10,000 feet.
  • Day trips to higher altitudes with returns to lower altitudes for sleeping will aid in acclimatization.
  • Eating food high in carbohydrates and low in fat and staying well hydrated helps.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption

Mild Altitude Illness: Acute Mountain Sickness

Signs and Symptoms

Acute Mountain Sickness is common in travelers who ascend rapidly to altitudes about 7,000 feet. They typical sufferer experiences a headache, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and nausea. Swelling of the face or hands may be an early sign. Children are generally more susceptible than adults.

Treatment

  • With mild symptoms, refrain from going any higher in elevation.
  • Watch the victim closely for worsening symptoms.
  • Usually, within 1-2 days, the victim will feel better and can travel to higher elevations with caution.
  • For headaches, administer acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen. Follow directions for dosing.
  • Minimize exertion
  • Avoid sleeping pills
  • Visit a medical professional for a prescription of Diamox (a drug that aids in relieving symptoms)

When to Worry

Severe Altitude Illness-High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

If the victim presents the following, seek IMMEDIATE Medical Help and assist the victim in descending immediately at least 3000 feet and administer oxygen.

  • Marked breathlessness upon minor exertion
  • A severe headache unrelieved by Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion, hallucinations, stupor or coma
  • Transient blindness, partial paralysis or loss of sensation on one side of the body.
  • A dry hacking cough
  • Anxiety, restlessness, and rapid pulse
  • Bluish color of the lips and nails, indicating poor oxygen in the blood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Things I Learned While Running in the Colorado Rockies

October 10th, 2016

us-finish-line

By Adventure Medical Kits’ Adventurer Heather Gannoe

This past August I had the incredible pleasure of venturing West to participate in the 10th annual TransRockies Run. A New Englander by birth, and current South Carolina resident by choice, I am as “East Coast” as they come. Having never been to Colorado or the Rocky Mountains, I knew I was going to be in for the experience of a lifetime, albeit a potentially difficult experience. As I mentioned in a previous post, training to race at altitude while living at sea level was…interesting, to say the least. So what did I discover about running at altitude?

Nothing will prepare you for running at a higher altitude. Except, of course, training at higher altitude, I imagine that probably helps. Sarcasm aside, coming from sea level to race anywhere between 9,000 to 12,600 feet above sea level was as hard as I imagined it would be. As soon as we heard the “GO” horn at the very first stage of the race, we took off down the flat road running at an incredibly conservative pace. Despite cruising along at a pace that would barely be considered a warm up back at home, I suddenly felt like I had been sprinting down the road as hard as I possibly could: my lungs were screaming for oxygen and my breath was very labored. At the time, the sudden perceived lack of oxygen was hilarious…but it quickly lost its humor over the next 120 miles. The goods part was:

Your body adapts quickly. The human body’s ability to adapt is simply incredible to experience. Technically, it takes your body anywhere from two or more weeks to truly adapt to altitude, however, I noticed changes in my body’s willingness to deal with running at altitude daily. Though every stage of the race started with the same feeling of oxygen depletion, the feeling seemed to dissipate faster each day, until I was running and breathing comfortably by the end of the race.

climbing

Speaking of altitude:

Chapped lips will be your nemesis. I knew that staying properly hydrated at altitude would be imperative to my race performance and overall health, so I chugged water and consumed electrolytes frequently. If I wasn’t running with my hydration pack, I was walking around with a water bottle in hand to remind myself to drink up. But despite my well-hydrated status, my lips took a beating from the dry air, and they were painfully chapped until we returned back to South Carolina. If you are headed to moderate or high altitude, be sure to pack SPF-containing lip balm, and apply often.

The weather can change in an instant. I imagine this is the norm for most of the world. In South Carolina, a summer storm can roll through, effectively cooling the temperature from a steamy 95 degrees to a cool 91 degrees, but likely adding a few percentage points to the humidity reading in doing so. In Colorado, my experience was that one cloud covering the sky could lower the temperature by ten or more degrees, especially at higher altitudes. And a rainstorm? Forget it. Get ready to shiver! Some days we would wake up with frost on our tents, only to be sweating in  the 80-degree sun just a few hours later. The temperature changes were drastic, so it is important to layer your running gear and always pack a jacket, just in case of a shift in weather patterns.

The terrain is incredibly variable. In New England, where I’m originally from, our trails are covered in roots and rocks, and often quite soft or muddy due to the lush forests. Down here in South Carolina, our trails are very dry, flat, and sandy, as is the nature of the coastal terrain. The Colorado Rockies greeted us with almost every sort of terrain you could imagine, from moss-covered trails to passes littered with loose rocks. But what surprised me the most was the high desert, complete with cacti lining the trail. I found that in all instances, a mildly aggressive trail shoe paired with a gaiter helped me keep my feet well protected, comfortable, and dry.

There’s plenty of wildlife…but you might not see it. As many of my friends on social media know, I was thrilled at the potential of seeing a mountain goat. I know that sounds silly, but mountain goats are one of the first things that come to my mind when you mention “Colorado” Further, I’ve read and heard that Colorado is ripe with wildlife, and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself (except for maybe grizzly bears or mountain lions). Alas, a few marmots and one tiny snake were all that I ever saw on my 120-mile journey across the Rockies. Therefore, if you want to experience the wildlife yourself, might I suggest that you take a path less traveled…and not run in the middle of a pack of 400+ other runners.

heather-in-a-sharkYour camera will never do the views justice. Being a social media guru and first-time visitor to these majestic mountains, my face was buried in my camera almost as frequently as my feet were running. The views were breathtaking, like nothing I had ever seen before, and nothing I ever wanted to forget. But as the days went on and the miles passed by, I realized the pictures I was taking would never do the actual views justice. So I put the camera way, and instead went about really living in the moment, and taking in the gorgeous views.

The world is a big, beautiful place. This, of course, is probably a statement many readers are already well aware of. But having the opportunity to view the wonder that is the Colorado Rockies while running 120 miles was an experience I will never forget (insert link: http://relentlessforwardcommotion.com/2016/08/transcending-the-transrockies/) . There are plenty of ways to view all that the world has to offer, but in my opinion, running through these places is one of the best options.

Get out there, and happy running!