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Lessons from Gannett Peak: #BeSafeGannett Expedition Report

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

This July, four of employees headed into the Wind River Range of Wyoming to attempt to summit Gannett Peak, the highest point in Wyoming. Joe Miller, Ben Pasquino, Chelsea Miller, and Jenny Hastings had the opportunity to put themselves and some of our products to the test at one of the most remote places in the USA. 

Team gear check before flying out for Wyoming – we carried a lot of important gear!

Day 1: Elkhart Park Trailhead to Little Seneca Lake
11.7 miles 1959 ft. elevation gain

Day 1 leaving the trailhead we were all smiles for the adventure ahead!

We set off from the Elkhart Park Trail head at about 8 am with big smiles on our faces. The terrain on our first day was pretty rolling and not too strenuous. As primarily East Coast hikers, we were thankful for switchbacks (we don’t find those often in the White Mountains); however, we were also quickly affected by the altitude. Ben, Jenny, and I found ourselves a little short of breath, dizzy, and with nagging headaches. Joe, who hiked Mt. Whitney in June, found that his prior trip above 10,000 ft. helped him acclimate quicker this time around.

Our first view of the high peaks came at Photographer’s Point, about 5 miles in. Those of you looking for a beautiful day hike in the area, we would highly recommend the trek to Photographer’s Point.

Photographer’s Point gave us our first breathtaking view.

After a quick break for lunch, we continued on through beautiful fields of wildflowers and past gorgeous lakes. We camped for the night at Little Seneca Lake, where the boys enjoyed some fishing, and Joe caught a Rainbow Trout.

Our first day was not without issues. A few miles in, we discovered that Ben had some pretty nasty blisters. This gave us a chance to break out our Ultralight/Watertight .7 and apply some blister treatment. Ben glued his skin back together with some tincture of benzoin (warning, he also discovered this hurts pretty badly) and bandaged himself up with some GlacierGel and Duct Tape. Take it from him, folks: definitely make sure your boots are broken in and fit well before undertaking a multi-day hike.

Ben patching up his blisters using his Ultralight/Watertight .7 medical kit

Day Two : Little Seneca Lake to Titcomb Basin
7.7 miles 1093 ft. elevation gain

We broke camp at Little Seneca Lake a little later this morning and made our way up mountain passes to Island Lake. From the pass above Island Lake, we got a great view of Bonney Pass, which would be our gateway to Gannett Peak. At Island Lake, we stopped to fill and treat our water using Aquamira. The water in the Wind River Range was pretty clear, so we didn’t need to filter out sediment. We only needed to kill any potential bacteria.

We drank a lot of Aquamira-treated water!

Hiking past the lakes and ponds on our way to Titcomb Basin, we encountered lots of bugs. On this trip, we all relied heavily on Natrapel. Natrapel is a Picaridin-based formula that will repel bugs for up to 12 hours and won’t damage any gear or synthetic materials.

Chelsea applying some Natrapel to keep the mosquitoes away

We also all had treated our gear with Ben’s Clothing and Gear, a Permethrin treatment, before we hit the trail for extra protection. One of the guys at the Great Outdoor Shop in Pinedale, WY informed us that the bugs were especially bad this year! Our insect repellent really helped though, and we were easily able to deal with the legendary bugs of the Wind River Range. As we trekked further into Titcomb Basin, the trees began to drop away, the sun became more intense, and we began to see more and more snow and rocks. At this point, we all transitioned into our glacier glasses and pulled out our brimmed hats.

We pushed as deep into Titcomb Basin as possible before setting up camp for the day. Joe found us a beautiful campsite sheltered from the wind and conveniently close to water. Make sure to look up camping regulations where you’re going – in the Bridger Wilderness, we were required to be 200 ft from trails and lakes and 100 ft from creeks and streams. We took a little longer getting up camp this evening, as Joe and Ben took some time building up a rock wall to block the wind.

Our camp at Titcomb Basin, where we built a rock wall for wind protection

We wanted to invest in this space because we were planning to spend a few nights here. We spoke to a few climbers coming down Gannett Peak and got all good news (the snow bridge over the bergschrund was still in good shape) and were advised by multiple people to start early. As the sun set in Titcomb Basin, we sat in awe of our surrounding and couldn’t believe we were finally here.

Day 3: Rest Day in Titcomb Basin

We decided to spend our first full day in Titcomb Basin as a rest day because the weather outlook looked better later in the week, and we were grateful for one more day to acclimate. On our rest day, we brushed up on our rope and glacier skills. We practiced tying alpine butterflies and retraced figure-8s, moving as a rope team, and making snow anchors with pickets. We also packed our summit packs to make sure we had all of our gear ready for the trek up Gannett Peak. Shortly after, heavy rains pushed us inside our tents, making us glad we opted for a rest day, rather than a summit bid.

After our short rain break, we took some time to test and photograph a few of our amazing products. Ben practiced using the Survive Outdoors Longer Rescue Flash Mirror to signal for help (he successfully signaled Joe, then Jenny and I ,from over a mile away while we were hiking back to camp at one point), and Jenny took advantage of the Adventure Bath Wipes to feel a little more human after some sweaty, dusty days on the trail.

Ben catching the sunlight with the S.O.L. Rescue Flash Mirror – it’s bright!

At this point, hikers started trickling back into the basin after their days on Gannett Peak. We met one very experienced mountaineer who not only gave us great beta on climbing Gannett Peak, but entertained us with tales of his world-wide adventures. One of my favorite parts of spending time in the backcountry is meeting fellow hikers; it’s always fun to trade stories, and they often inspire my future trips.

Both Grizzly and Black Bears make their home in the Wind River Range. Throughout our trip, we stored all of our food and toiletries (including sunscreen and insect repellent) in bear proof Ursacks. We chose these over bear canisters for our trip, as they were lighter and more convenient; however, often you can rent bear canisters from the US Forest Service if you don’t own any (in the White Mountain National Forest, you can borrow them for free). Responsible food storage in the backcountry is important both for your safety and the safety of the bear. On Day 1, we were able to hand our bear bags in trees (at least 10 ft. off the ground); however, in Titcomb Basin, we didn’t have any trees to use. While in Titcomb Basin, we hung our bear bags off boulders, roughly 200 ft. away from camp. Throughout our time in the Wind River Range, we also carried bear spray in case of any threatening bear encounters. It’s vital to do all of your cooking and cleaning away from your camp; this way bears and other critters won’t be attracted to the smell and will hopefully leave your camp alone. While we didn’t end up seeing any bears, we were glad to have been prepared.

Day 4: Freemont Peak and Titcomb Basin
5.91 miles 2047 ft. elevation gain

As the weather for today was still a little iffy, and the weather for the next day looked beautiful, we decided to push Gannett Peak off for one more day. We were very lucky to have a lot of time out in the Wind River Range, which allowed us to be flexible and wait for a good weather window.

Joe, Jenny, and I decided to get up at 5am for a 6am start up Freemont Peak (the third highest peak in WY). This peak is traditionally approached from Indian Basin, but we figured we’d give it a shot from Titcomb. We scrambled up scree and talus over 3rd and 4th class terrain to just over 12,000ft before heading back down. We ran into a wall (literally) when we encountered some 5th class climbing. As we didn’t bring any rock protection with us on this expedition, we scrambled back down, happy to have warmed up our legs and lungs for our push up Gannett Peak the following day.

Jenny and Chelsea on their way up Fremont

Back at camp, we rested up and hid from the sun, which was very strong at 10,000 ft. (remember to pack sunscreen – we were glad we did!). Shortly after second dinner (more on that ahead), I noticed some ominous clouds rolling into the Basin. We hastily put all of our gear under our tents and strung up our bear bags as thunder echoed around us. Shortly after we were safe in our tents, the rain quickly transitioned into hail! Our tents held up just fine, and Jenny and I stayed unaffected, if a little exhilarated, by the hail. Joe and Ben had opted for an ultralight, floorless tent (they used the S.O.L. All Season Blanket as a base).

The boys’ floorless tent worked great overall, but definitely let in some hail!

While their tent held up great and they were grateful for the reduced weight during our 40 mile round trip hike into Titcomb Basin, the hail ended up bouncing up into their tent and off their faces. They were certainly glad it was only pea sized! The hail subsided after 20 minutes or so, and we turned in for the night around 5 pm to prepare for our 12 am wakeup call.

Day 5: Gannett Peak Summit Bid
16.5 miles 5935 ft. elevation gain

On summit day, we got up at midnight for a 1 am start. We put on our crampons on a snowfield close to camp and were able to leave them on for the rest of the day. We got a little off route in the dark, navigating by our headlamps, and ended up scrambling most of the way up Miriam Peak before realizing we weren’t headed in the right direction. We pulled out our Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Pro Bivvies and waited for a little bit more sunlight to figure out our next move.

Joe in the Escape Pro Bivvy, looking at our route as the light increases

Once the sun had come up a little more, we realized that we were only one snow field over from Bonney Pass. We rappelled down from our bivvy perch to the correct snowfield and finished our ascent up Bonney Pass around 7 am. From the top of Bonney, we got our first view of Gannett Peak and its gorgeous hanging snowfield. To climb Gannett from Titcomb Basin, you have to ascend about 2,000 ft. up Bonney Pass, then descend 1,000 ft. to the base of Gannett Peak before making your final 2,000 ft. climb to the top. On the return trip, you have to climb back up Bonney Pass before making your final descent back to camp in Titcomb Basin.

We saw our first view of Gannett Peak from the top of Bonney Pass

Once at the base of Bonney Pass, we roped up to make our approach to Gannett Peak over the Dinwoody and Gooseneck Glaciers. On our way up, we had to hop a crevasse and cross a bergschrund on the Gooseneck Glacier.

Our rope team on the Gooseneck Glacier

By the time we were partway up Gannett, the snow on the glaciers had begun to deteriorate. Joe, who was leading our rope team, was post-holing up to his waist, and in the soft snow we were moving very slowly. About 500 vertical ft. below summit, we decided the snow was in too bad shape to continue and that we needed to turn around. At this point, it was already 1 pm and we had been moving for 12 hours. While this was a very hard decision, we knew we had to make it back over Bonney Pass and back to camp safely.

Gannett Peak descent

Descending Gannett Peak, shortly after we decided to turn around

By the time we got back to camp, it was nearly 9 pm – we had had a 20-hour day out in the mountains.

Turning around is always a hard decision, and not getting to the summit was definitely a disappointment for all of us. A number of factors kept us from getting to the summit, and we’ve learned a lot about glacier travel and how to increase our possibilities for success. In this case, our goal of getting out safely was paramount to our goal of summiting Gannett Peak.

Day 6: Titcomb Basin to Island Lake
7 miles 643 ft. elevation gain

We had a slow morning after our 20 hour day on Gannett Peak. We ended up packing up and leaving our camp in Titcomb Basin around 11 am. We quickly stopped at Mistake Lake, which the boys had heard often was full of Golden Trout. After an hour or so of fishing (and scaring marmots away from our bags and snacks), we packed back up and continued to Island Lake. At Island Lake, we stopped to refill our water in a stream, and Ben saw some enormous spawning Cutthroat Trout. The boys pulled out their rods and started fishing. Ben caught a beautiful trout before we headed on towards our campsite for the night.

Joe and Ben getting in some fishing at Island Lake

Just over the pass after Island Lake, we found a gorgeous camping spot by a peaceful pond overlooking the mountains. While our other campsites were stunning, this was one of my favorite campsites of the entire trip. Jenny, Joe, and Ben took a dip and had a blast jumping off rocks into the water. As this was a glacier-created lake, it dropped off rather quickly, making it great for jumping into. I opted to stay dry and warm.

Jenny enjoying a dip in a rather chilly lake.

That night we watched the sunset from a nearby rocky outcropping and used our head nets to keep the bugs away, especially over dinner.

 

Ben’s InvisiNet Xtra head net helped keep the bugs off us at night.

In the Winds, our dinners consisted of completely dehydrated freezer-bag meals compiled by yours truly. In this method, I used easily rehydratable ingredients which would cook quickly when we added boiling water. For a base, I used quick cooking carbs (instant rice, instant potatoes and couscous) with freeze-dried chicken and freeze-dried vegetables. We mixed it up by adding different spices. Some favorite meals were Alfredo couscous, Thai peanut rice noodles and Thanksgiving dinner. Keep an eye out for a upcoming blog post containing our favorite recipes!

Enjoying some couscous alfredo!

We ended up eating in 2 shifts. Our first night, I cooked up a large dinner all at once, but we struggled to eat it all. While we knew that we needed the calories, we filled up fast after a full day on the trail. We found it worked best for us to spread dinner out by having it in two courses. That way we could eat right when we broke for camp, then a little later before we had to put up our bear bags. Nutrition is such a personal thing when in the backcountry; you have to do what works best for you.

Day 7: Island Lake to Elkhart Park Trailhead
12.5 miles 1586 ft. elevation gain

When we began our final day in the Wind River Range, we weren’t sure that it would be our last day. We thought we’d go about 7 miles, set up camp, spend some time fishing, and head out the next day. As we began our hike, we realized that we were making very good time. At about noon, we ran into a US Forest Service Backcountry Ranger. While talking to her about other campers wildlife encounters (side note: when we were headed up Gannett Peak, we ran into a party that approached Gannett from the East on the Glacier Trail. They told us that they had been stalked by a Mountain Lion that morning! While it ended up prowling off, it was definitely a scary morning for them.), she mentioned off-handedly that we were only 6 miles or so from the trailhead. Taking into account Ben’s worsening blisters and our growing desire for a burger, we decided to push out that day. After Photographer’s Point, Joe (the fastest hiker in our group) decided to go on ahead and drop his pack at the car, that way he could come back and take Ben’s pack to alleviate the weight on his painful heels. We made it out by about 4 pm, excited for a meal in Pinedale.

One of the many things we learned on this trip was how important it is to take care of injuries and discomforts early. If addressed early, you can prevent little issues from becoming big issues. This kind of prevention ranges from taking care of your nutrition and making sure to eat well before you end up crashing (guilty) to noticing hot spots and blisters early in the trip. When you add 60+ miles and 50+ lbs. to small injuries, they turn into bigger problems. We were so grateful that we went into the backcountry with well stocked first aid kits. Joe made sure that not only did we have small personal first aid kits, but that we also knew everything that was in our group first aid kit.

Needless to say, we loved our Explorer medical kit!

After coming back from a trip like this, where we broke into our medical kits often for blister treatment and treatment for the effects of altitude, it is very important to revisit your kit and refill anything you used on your trip. Nothing is worse than getting out in the backcountry and realizing that you never restocked the piece you need.

Thank you to everyone for following our trip – we truly appreciated all the support and interest! If you have any questions about our trip or how to prepare for something like our trip, please feel free to reach out to us!

About the Author: Chelsea Miller

I’m always scheming my next adventure. Whether it’s this weekend’s hike or an after-work mountain bike ride, I’m constantly daydreaming about my next chance to get outside. I love trip planning, maps, and lists; after ticking off NH’s 48 4,000 footers, I know the trails of the White Mountains like the back of my hand. The opportunity to plan a trip to the Wind River Range was unbelievable. I’ve hiked and climbed all over New England and taken a number of trips across the country and the world to hike and climb.

Anatomy of an Adventure: Solo Crossing the African Great Lakes

Monday, January 8th, 2018

This January, adventurer, biologist, and photographer Ross Exler will embark on the first ever human-powered solo-crossing of the African Great Lakes system in support of The Nature Conservancy. His journey will include approximately 1,000 miles of paddling across the lakes with 600 miles of biking between the lakes and will take him through remote parts of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. We’re excited to support Ross as he seeks to raise awareness about the lakes and support conservation efforts. Below, Ross shared with us about his decision to make this journey and his plans for safety. – Adventure® Medical Kits

For many years now, I’ve been driven to go out and explore wild places around the world. In 2015, I paddled an inflatable kayak 1,000 kilometers through the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon, staying each night in small villages. When I hit the Amazon River, I had a small motorized canoe built, which I navigated a couple thousand more kilometers through Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. To date, I’ve spent about 2 years of my life traveling in Africa, mostly solo expeditions, and have visited dozens of wilderness areas in East and Southern Africa.

My next expedition, which will commence in January 2018, will be the first entirely human-powered, solo-crossing of the African Great Lakes system. I will attempt to paddle a kayak across Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Victoria, traveling between the lakes via bicycle and along with all of my equipment. The journey will be over 1,600 miles and will take me through remote parts of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. I’ll be doing the trip alone, and every mile will be earned through the fair means of paddling or bicycling.

When I tell people about this expedition, they usually ask me one of two questions:

  1. What are the African Great Lakes?
  2. How do you stay safe?

I find that first question to be rather tragic, serving as further motivation for my trip, while the second question certainly deserves considerable thought. I’ll try to briefly answer both.

What are the African Great Lakes?

I was first introduced to the African Great Lakes when I worked in a college lab studying several species of fish from Lake Tanganyika. I soon found out that these lakes have some amazing distinctions: Lake Tanganyika is the longest lake in the world, the second deepest (over 4,800 feet deep), and the second largest lake in the world by volume. Lake Victoria is the largest tropical lake in the world by surface area, and the second largest overall. Lake Malawi is the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world by volume. Altogether, the lakes comprise nearly 25% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater.

Further, the lakes are remarkably important for biodiversity. They contain thousands of species of fish, with as much as 10% of the world’s species of fish living in these three lakes alone. By some estimates, Lake Malawi holds the largest number of fish species of any lake in the world. Additionally, the shores of Lake Tanganyika include the Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream, both known for their populations of chimpanzees.

Unfortunately, the lakes are under threat due to overfishing, invasive species, climate change, and pollution inputs from deforestation and other human activities. These impacts are all contributing to ecological degradation of the lakes. One estimate suggests that over 200 species of cichlids found only in Lake Victoria have gone extinct in the past 30 years alone. These environmental issues also endanger the millions of people who live along the shores of these vast lakes.

After having visited the African Great Lakes region and completing my solo Amazon expedition, I came up with the idea of enchaining the three largest of the African Great Lakes by kayak and bicycle. As I planned the expedition, one of my goals was to team up with a conservation non-profit who works within the region, to help increase awareness.

That’s when I came across the work of The Nature Conservancy’s Tuungane Project, which operates along the Tanzanian section of Lake Tanganyika. The Tuungane Project brings a multidisciplinary approach to conservation and addressing the extreme poverty that is the underpinning of environmental degradation in the region. Their efforts include introducing fisheries education and management, terrestrial conservation, healthcare, and women’s health services and education, agricultural training, and other efforts to increase the quality of life and understanding on how human activities impact the very resources that the local people depend on for survival. Without the buy-in of local communities, efforts to conserve this incredible region will likely be unsuccessful.

How Do I Stay Safe?

The answer to this question is a fairly straight forward product of preparation and experience with regards to the different dangers and threats I am likely to face.

Animals & Weather

As someone with a background in biology and having spent a lot of time in the African bush, I’m well aware of the animals which may be present, their habitat preferences, and behaviors. Much like traveling in bear country, simple behaviors such as keeping a clean camp, traveling only during the day, avoiding likely habitats, knowing the behaviors of species (such as predatory or territorial), and maintaining constant vigilance can go a long way.

The lakes themselves are often referred to as inland seas, where storms and large waves can be a threat. So, I will rely on my years of experience on the water and travel prepared with the right equipment: an extremely seaworthy folding sea kayak and a securely fastened PFD.

Criminal

People can also be a threat to safety, but in my experience people are generally good and welcoming, and some common sense, vigilance, and interaction with local people should keep me safe. I’ve talked with local people and asked about crime and threats to safety, and their advice is generally good. On the whole, the areas that I am visiting are mostly populated with small rural villages, which are generally extremely safe. I will have to be more vigilant around larger towns or cities, or if someone points out a specific threat.

Diseases & Injuries

The final threat to my safety on this trip is wilderness health. This poses a unique challenge on my trip because I will be traveling alone in regions that suffer from endemic tropical disease and have little or no medical infrastructure. Similarly to other threats, a combination of education, preparation, and a having a plan in place can diminish or neutralize most of these health dangers.

First, it is important to understand the diseases that pose a health threat and understand transmission, recognizing symptoms, and treatment. Prevention of infection is the single most important thing that I can do. Before I leave home, I will identify all diseases for which there is an option for immunization or prophylaxis and make sure to diligently follow through. To prevent infection from ingested diseases, I will only drink verifiably treated water and only eat thoroughly cooked or reputably packaged food. I use UV and filter treatment for water, always have the ability to boil water as a backup, and generally cook my own food.

The main routes of transmission for parasites in the region where I will be traveling include exposure to contaminated water (Schistosoma) and being bitten by insects which carry diseases (Malaria and African Sleeping Sickness). To prevent this, I will take Malaria prophylaxis, insist on wearing clothes that are treated with insect repellent chemicals, such as permethrin, use insect repellents such as Ben’s 100 DEET and Natrapel Picaridin, and attempt to keep my skin covered as well as possible. To prevent exposure to Schistosoma, I shall avoid contact with the water, especially near shore and around villages and vegetation. It is advisable to know what types of areas have a higher density of the insects, and what part of the day they are active, and avoid both if possible.

If I do fall ill or am injured, it’s important to know how to deal with it and be prepared with the necessary medicine and medical supplies to do so. I recommend taking a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, and doing as much research as possible into first aid and tropical disease (or whatever diseases exist in the area where you are traveling). Another excellent resource that I always bring is a small wilderness medicine book, such as A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine by Eric Weiss, MD. I always carry a full range of medications so that I have some ability to respond to illness in the field. I am also packing a well-equipped first aid kit, in this case an Adventure® Medical Kits Mountain Series Guide Kit, which has supplies to cover situations including wound care, musculoskeletal injuries, cuts, bleeding, and over the counter medications.

Emergency Evacuation Plan

Finally, I utilize a satellite telephone and medical evacuation service in case of emergency. This service provides me with a final layer of protection, should the worst happen. I can call them and speak with a doctor who can talk me through diagnosis and treatment, and if necessary, they will extract me from the field and take me to a medical facility.

So, my advice to any adventurers or people of adventurous spirit is to seize the day and go out there, but make sure to be safe by going educated and going prepared

– Ross Exler

Picture Credits: Ross Exler Photography

End of Summer Camping Safety Tips

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Labor Day Weekend, just before the kids go back to school, is typically the last gasp of camping in many parts of the country. But the unofficial end of summer doesn’t mean the potential hazards that exist in the outdoors at the start of the season are any less of a threat. In the second of his two-part piece on camping safety, AMK’s wilderness safety blogger, Buck Tilton, tackles bears and the basics – starting with how to choose the right campsite.

Timing is Everything

If the sun is fading fast, you have already broken the first rule of safe campsite selection: do your selecting and setting up while you have plenty of light. Whether you are in the backcountry or a national park campground, if you can’t see well, you can’t do well. Yes, you’re looking for comfort, but even more you want a site free of hazards.

Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around!

Look up for “widowmakers,” large dead limbs that could fall. No tents or kitchen sites go under widowmakers, or underneath dead trees that could topple in a high wind. Look down for signs rain has puddled or run through your choice of campsites. Even if you don’t anticipate precip, choose another site with more elevation, just to be sure. If it’s thunderstorm season, do not set camp in the open, on ridges, or near tall trees where your site could be a target for lightning. Avoid being too close to the tops of cliffs that someone might stumble off or the bottom of cliffs that rocks could tumble off.

Location, Location, Location

You want to be near a source of water but not too near. The Leave No Trace program asks you to be at least 200 feet (about 70 adult paces) from water to reduce the chance of impact. With children along, you also want to avoid banks with sudden drop-offs into deep water and/or fast currents. Keep your campfire area clean of all objects – wood, kindling, rocks and anything else that may trip you up for a fall into the fire. Stack wood and kindling far back from the fire ring or pit.

The Bear Facts

If you see bear signs—bear scat, bear tracks, claw marks on trees, juicy berries, salmon leaping upstream, gnawed deer carcasses, or big furry bruins—you are not at a safe campsite. If you are in the backcountry and you find your designated campsite littered with tent stakes, cooking utensils and rope be aware the previous occupants could have left in a hurry do to a nearby bear or other wild animal raiding the camp.  Find a different spot. If you can see a long way from your site, good. Bears will see you a long way off and you can see them a long way off. Bears do not like surprises. Generally speaking, bears do not like noise either. This is the one time when a heavy snorer is a welcome addition to your tent! In bear country, don’t shush the kids too often.

Your trash is bear treasure. Practice clean camping. Consider all garbage attractive and keep it separately bagged within your food bag. Cache all food and anything else fragrant, such as toothpaste, soap, and chewing gum. You have three cache choices in the backcountry:

  1. You can hang your food and other fragrant items in a tree.
  2. You can store it in a bear-proof container.
  3. When trees are scarce, you can double bag your items in plastic and store it on the ground at least 300 feet from your tent.

When car camping, store everything in the car – camp stove, water bottles, cooking utensils, food and coolers. And lastly, check yourself and your kids to make sure no one is wearing food from dinner on their clothes or is carrying a spare candy bar in their pocket.

Bear-Proofing Your Food

Trees for hanging food should be located at least 300 feet from camp

I recommend packing about 60 feet of strong cord or light rope for hanging a bear bag. The trees you choose for hanging the bag should be at least 300 feet (91.44 meters) from your camp. Although you can toss the line over a high limb and haul it up, food is safer depending from a line stretched between two trees with the bag ending up at least 10 feet off the ground and at least four feet from the nearest tree trunk.

With Small Kids

With the site selected, the kids need a safety briefing. Establish the boundaries across which they are not allowed. Point out any obvious dangers: poison ivy, attractive berries that should be avoided, plants that can puncture. Then see if you can get them to help set up camp!

Recommended Safety Gear List for Your Camping Trip:

First Aid Kit – Adventure® Medical Kits’ Day Tripper.
Bug RepellentBen’s® Deet-based repellent or Natrapel® 8 hour Deet-Free.
Bite TreatmentAfterBite® – America’s #1 brand for effective bite relief.
Survival Blanket – The Heatsheets® Survival Blanket . Can be used as an emergency shelter or as a ground cloth for your tent.
Hand Sanitizer – Alcohol-free Adventure® Hand Sanitizer. Using it will reduce the chance of contracting a stomach ailment in the backcountry.
Body Wipes – Rinse-free Fresh BathBody Wipes. Specially formulated to kill odor causing bacteria while also helping to moisturize the skin. Next best thing to a shower!

For more great camping safety gear go to: www.adventuremedicalkits.com

Buck Tilton is a wilderness medicine and survival expert and author, who has written 36 books on outdoor safety. Over the past 20 years, he has contributed hundreds of articles and a regular column to Backpacker. Tilton also co-founded the Wilderness Medicine Institute, now WMI of NOLS, which is the largest school of wilderness medicine in the world. This month he joins AMK as a regular blogger.

 
 
 
 

Good Morning America Features AfterBite

Friday, July 17th, 2009

AfterBite was featured on Good Morning America.  Watch the full segment here and download a $.50 coupon here.

Don’t forget to stock up on insect repellent to stop the bites!

Want Deet?  Try Ben’s 30 or Ben’s 100 the ultimate in long lasting mosquito and tick protection!

No Deet?  Try new Natrapel 8hour. CDC Recommended deet-free repellent that provides up to 8 hours of protection against mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects.  Download a $1.00 off coupon!  Added bonus – Natrapel 8hour won’t harm your gear – safe for fishing line and other synthetic materials.

It’s Tick Season! Learn How To Protect Yourself

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Ugh, it is tick season. As we all know, they are nasty little buggers that carry Lyme Disease and other viruses. Do you know how to protect yourself against ticks?

Download our Tick Field Reference Guide to learn more about:

  • How to protect yourself.
  • How to identify a tick.
  • How to properly remove a tick.
  • What to do if you have been bitten.

Tick Reference Card

Tick Reference Card

(Click image to download)

You can also read our blog about Lyme Disease to learn more.

Don’t forget to use Ben’s 30 Deet Insect Repellent or Natrapel 8 Hour Deet-Free Repellent to protect against ticks and other biting insects.

Lyme Disease: The Biggest Health Threat To Outdoor Enthusiasts This Summer

Monday, May 11th, 2009

By Christopher Van Tilburg, MD

I’ve been chomped by a tick multiple times, as have most people who regularly tramp in the outdoors. It’s creepy — the tick drops onto your skin, burrows in painlessly, and sucks. Its anticoagulant can cause tick paralysis, and these arthropods carry all sorts of infections: Colorado Tick Fever (a virus), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (parasite), Tularemia (a bacteria), and the more commonly known Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease can be scary. Lyme Disease is caused by an inoculation of the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks around the world carry it:  In North America it’s transmitted by deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) and the Western black legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). It was first identified in Old Lyme, Connecticut, after a group of kids complained of having a strange pain in their joints and an odd rash. So one might think, No problem — bacteria can be killed by antibiotics. But, there is a problem: Lyme is hard to kill and it can turn chronic. A single bite from a Lyme-carrying tick can require years of treatment and recovery.

THE REAL SCOPE OF LYME DISEASE

Lyme Disease is a widespread, global disease that is poorly understood. According to the CDC, in 2007 there were 27,000 cases in the U.S. and, because of the sometimes-vague symptoms, it may be dramatically underreported. While West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, and even Swine Flu have gotten press lately, they account for much less illness. For example, in 2007, there were only 3,600 imported cases of West Nile Virus.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Outdoor adventurers should follow standard insect, tick and arthropod preventions when traveling in the backcountry or abroad. Ticks don’t jump or fly, they drop or fall onto humans from trees or grasses. So, long sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into socks is a great start.

Insect repellents, including ones containing DEET like Tender’s Ben’s 100® pump and Ben’s® 30 wipes, work well at warding off Ticks. For people looking for a DEET-free alternative, repellents like Natrapel® 8-hour, which contains 20% of the active ingredient Picaridin, provide protection that’s as effective as DEET. Insecticides with Permethrin also work, and can be sprayed on clothing or impregnated into the fibers of garments.

When in tick country, remember to check your entire body after the day’s hike. Often you have two or three hours before a tick burrows. If it does, your chance of getting Lyme is low if you remove the bugger right away.

HOW TO SAFELY REMOVE A TICK

Once burrowed, ticks are tricky to remove. Don’t try those old wives tales like fingernail polish or a match. The best technique is to use tick or splinter-removal forceps, grabbing as close as possible to the head, and pulling the tick out with slow, gentle pressure. Sometimes I’ve had to wiggle the head gently to unclasp the tick’s pinchers. Unfortunately, many people sever the body from the head. I’ve had to dig out many tick heads in the emergency room. Like all wounds, clean thoroughly with soap and water.

RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS OF LYME DISEASE – WHAT TO LOOK FOR

How do you know if you have Lyme Disease? First, you will see a circular rash that looks like a target or bull’s eye called erythema migrans, which slowly enlarges. Then, the Lyme bacteria can spread to your body causing fever, fatigue, malaise, muscle and joint aches, headaches and swollen glands. Some patients have these symptoms for several months or years. That’s the big problem with Lyme Disease: It affects multiple parts of the body and may be difficult to diagnose if the initial symptoms go unnoticed. The symptoms can take anywhere between three days to one month or longer to emerge. Twenty percent of people who do not receive treatment develop severe complications within weeks or months after the bite, ranging from heart and neurological problems to severe attacks of arthritis.

If you think you need treatment, see your doctor and let him or her know that you have been bitten by a tick. Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment, but don’t try to treat yourself at home with an old prescription in your medicine cabinet – treatment requires a specific antibiotic, like Doxycycline, with a longer course than typical.

For more information on avoiding bug-borne diseases, visit www.tendercorp.com.
Christopher Van Tilburg, MD, is the editor of Wilderness Medicine and the author of eight books on safety in the outdoors. His most recent book, Mountain Rescue Doctor: Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature, is now available in paperback.

AMK’s Frank Meyer on KGO AM 810’s “On The Go” SF Travel Show

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Adventure Medical Kits’ marketing director Frank Meyer appeared on San Francisco’s KGO AM 810’s “On The Go” Travel Show on Saturday April 18th.

In the first segment Frank discusses with host John Hamiltion the Ultralight Series, the Adventurer, the S.O.L. Pak and other essential gear for camping in Northern California.

In the second segment on KGO AM 810,  Frank talks about the World Travel kit, Ben’s & Natrapel 8 hour insect repellents, AfterBite and other must-pack items relevant for adventure travelers.

Dr. Weiss Advice – Malaria Prevention

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Dr. Weiss Advice – Malaria Prevention

There is no anti-malarial drug that is 100% effective. The best way to avoid the disease is to avoid the anopheles mosquito which carries it and feeds at night. Maximum precautions must be taken from dusk to dawn.

  • Wear long, loose fitting clothes.
  • Use Insect Repellents containing Deet or a 20% Picaridin formula.
  • Sleep behind mosquito netting or effective screens.
  • Spray your clothing with Permethrin before your trip. Permethin kills mosquitoes that land on your clothing.
  • Consult a travel medicine physician on the appropriate anti-malarial medication for the area where you will be traveling.


Are Deet Insect Repellents safe for kids?

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Q:
Doc, Are the products safe for kids?

A:
The EPA, CDC, and American Academy of Pediatrics all deem 30% DEET or less to be safe for children when applied according to directions. Children should not be allowed to apply insect repellent to themselves, and repellent should not be applied to their hands. For more information check out these sites:

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