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The Tower of Mordor

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
Photo: Matthew Parent

All Photos: Matthew Parent

Adventure Medical Kits’ Adventurer Gareth Leah’s Pico Cão Grande Expedition

A dark tower of volcanic rock shrouded in clouds dominates the unearthly landscape. Formed millennia ago when high-pressure magma solidified inside the vent of an active volcano, its presence is foreboding. This is the peak of Cão Grande, a 370m volcanic plug situated deep in the jungle on the island of São Tomé in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to the expedition, I’d spent a year planning (mainly dreaming) of the day I would be able to visit this island whose landscapes resembled a scene from a Jurassic Park movie. It was a project I knew was ambitious on so many levels. Everything had to be carefully planned and arranged, as the island offers almost nothing in the way of purchasable goods or medical help. If something was to go wrong, we would be on our own.

Arriving on the island was a cultural eye opener. Stray dogs running wild through the busy streets, a seven-person family riding a single 125cc motorbike, a balancing act fit for a circus performance. Navigating the narrow roads that winded south from the capital we arrived at Agripalm plantation, the furthest point we could reach before being forced to continue on foot through the jungle. A 3km hike through thick jungle and we emerged at the base of the wall, greeted unknowingly by a 100m high roof that jutted out some 30m. There was no information on the peaks rock formation prior to arrival and standing at the base we gained a very real sense of the task at hand.

image003        image002         image004

We climbed in 14-hour shifts every day for 4 weeks and had only 1 attempt on each pitch to make it happen before we had to leave the island. In the end we established a new 15 pitch 455m line up the wall, which goes at F8b (5.13d). We named it Nubivagant (Wandering in the clouds).

When we at last stood atop the peak, we were blown away by the magnitude of the challenge and not just by the climbing! It had been wrought with difficulties, many of which had threatened to end the project from the start. Luggage problems, blown battery chargers, generator issues, snake bites, jungle logistics, currency exchange, sickness and stuck vehicles all looked that they would stop us in achieving our goal. However, with each new obstacle that stood in our path, we would find a solution, though none were what you would describe as “traditional”.

Having now completed the route and with time to reflect upon the island, the peak and the people we have encountered along the way. I am thankful in all that I have gained from the trip which amounts to a lot more than just a new route, but new friends, skills and an understanding of a life where people are masters of their environment.

About Gareth
Gareth Leah is a worldly adventurer, passionate writer, business developer and rock climber. Born and raised in UK, he discovered rock climbing and quickly became obsessed with adventure and the unique problem solving qualities it presented. Leah owns his own guiding company and is currently living in Mexico, where he is working to grow climbing as a community, culture and sport through development of new climbing areas, local communities projects, and industry education and awareness. He supports a number of causes that benefit climbers such as, the Access Fund and Climbers Against Cancer. See more at

Essential Gear for the Journey:
Bug Spray – Natrapel
This stuff works great. I like the non-Deet option and it smells great.

Ben’s Face Net-Great to have when the bugs were fierce.

Ben’s clothing spray – We sprayed the entire basecamp with it. Tents, clothes, sheets etc and it definitely worked at keeping the bugs at bay.

Adventure Medical Kits Comprehensive- This was amazing to have. There were a handful of cuts, small health issues such as diarrhea, fever, headaches, vomiting, all the good stuff you get from visiting a jungle that no ones really been too. I think the really good thing about this was the book. When people were becoming sick, i used it to help diagnose the problem and decide on a solution.

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .7– It is great to have in the backpack. It has all the essentials needed to deal with common problems. If you can’t fix your problem with this kit, you’re up a creek and need an EMT anyway.

Dental Kit – I never used it in the end, my fillings held out. However, I did use it on one of the locals who developed a MASSIVE abscess in his molar. The information in the pack gave again helped me diagnose and decide the best solution. Using some broad spectrum antibiotics and this kit I was able to clean the wound out, numb the pain and he is now perfectly back to normal. Huge success!

10 Essentials Every Hiker Should Carry

Monday, June 27th, 2016


Headed out on a hike or even a multi-day backpacking adventure? Make sure you plan ahead for emergencies. We’ve assembled a list of the key items you should make room for in your pack.

While it may seem silly to carry them on your short hike, you’ll be grateful for these aids when you might need them.






The Essential List:

The most important thing you can pack before any adventure is knowledge. Know your abilities, know the area you are traveling and know the weather.


A compass and map of the area you are exploring. If you pack a GPS, always bring along extra batteries or a map/compass as a backup. Not sure how to find your way. Consider a navigation course to learn the skills. REI.COM sells a variety of GPS units including this Garmin.

Sun Protection:

Up high in the mountains or in harsh desert sun, sunglasses and sunscreen keep your eyes and skin protected from the sun’s rays. A broad rimmed hat works wonders out on glaciated terrain. Try SOL Sunscreens, great for when you’re in the mountains or in the water.


It might be sunny at the start of your hike but temperature and weather can change in an instant. Be sure to pack an extra layer based upon the worst weather you might encounter. Bonus, bring along a light hat and gloves and you’ll save 20% of your body heat. Try Mountain Hardwear’s Whisper Jacket, it’s light and packs to the size of a baseball.


Carry a headlamp. Repeat, Carry a headlamp! Even if you plan to end your hike by dark, delays can happen, darkness comes quickly and you’ll be able to continue on even in rugged terrain. The Petzl Tika is fit for the job.



First Aid Kit:

Nothing ruins a hike faster than blisters, bee stings, scrapes and cuts. Bring along a first aid kit stocked with supplies you might need. Not sure how to treat ailments? Adventure Medical Kits’ products include pre-labeled pouches and a first aid manual with how-tos.

0125-0290 AMK Ultralight Watertight 9 RT copy



And then Man or Woman had fire. Staying warm and dry is key in the event you get stranded out in the wilderness. Bring along fire cubes or a fire starter kit so you can light a fire easily.

0140-1230 SOL Fire Lite Kit STRT

Multi Tool:
A knife, multi tool and duct tape can be super handy for almost any need. Cutting, fixing and taping are a handy wilderness skill!

Make sure to carry at least an extra day’s worth of food. We like hearty bars and snacks that are lightweight and packed with fuel.s and map of the area you are exploring. If you pack a GPS, always bring along extra batteries or a map/compass as a backup. Not sure how to find your way. Consider a navigation course to learn the skills. REI.COM sells a variety of GPS units including this Garmin.

Carry a water bottle or reservoir. We don’t recommend drinking out of streams unless you have a filter or water purifier. Be sure to note water availability. Adults should have about 2 liters of water for a daylong hike. Stay hydrated by drinking water before you begin your hike, small amounts through the day and later refuel post-hike.


Day hikers are most likely to leave this off their list, but they shouldn’t. It could make a huge difference if you need to shelter someone who is hurt or find yourself in a downpour. Consider packing a light tarp, bivvy sack or emergency blanket.

Other items you may want to consider:

Insect repellent, Blister treatments, whistle and signaling device.


Tips for Assembling a 72-hour Emergency Preparedness Kit

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

By Christopher Van Tilburg, MD

Dr. VanTilburg

When I was a boy, I watched Mount St. Helens explode from the front yard of the family home. It was both thrilling and terrifying. The Toutle River overflowed Interstate 5, and school was canceled due to ash fallout. Hurricane Katrina, the Spring floods that devastated Northeastern states, and now Hurricane Earl — which at the time of this post was threatening to hammer much of the Eastern Seaboard — prove that natural disasters can hit close to home. So, everyone should prepare a 72-hour emergency kit for Mother Nature’s worst.


Ideally you need two kits: a large plastic bin for home and a small portable kit for your car. A good disaster kit has 5 components: water, food, first aid kit, extra clothing and bedding, and survival gear.


You’ll need a gallon of water per person per day, and a method of purification, in case you refill from a tainted municipal source. The simplest, easiest water storage is gallon jugs of commercially bottled water. I keep a supply of chlorine dioxide purification tablets, which I find lighter and more compact than a filter or ultraviolet light pen. Non-perishable food should be no-cook, ready-to-eat canned or dry goods with a good source of protein and carbohydrates. Simple, heat-and-eat meals are great, but you’ll need to add a small camp stove and fuel to your kit.


For first aid supplies, I like the Fundamentals for home because it has enough components for multiple people for many days, with room for extra medications and tools. A combo kit, like the SOL 3 which comes with essential first aid, survival and repair tools, is ideal for the car, when time and space are in short supply.


Select a kit with enough supplies to cover all the members in your household for a minimum of three days.


Have a spare sleeping bag, or a lightweight bivvy which is always a mainstay in my SAR pack, car kit, and household bin. Toss in an old raincoat, fleece sweater, a hat, and gloves for everyone in your household.


Survival supplies are of paramount importance. Start with a personal survival kit that includes a whistle, fire starter, signal mirror, cord, wire, compass and other essentials. Include a headlamp with extra batteries, a pocket tool like a Leatherman Juice, hand sanitizer and body wipes for personal hygiene, insect repellent, sunscreen of SPF 25, and a battery operated AM/FM radio.


Don’t forget personal items like spare prescription glasses; extra prescription medicine; baby formula and diapers, if required; hygiene sundries; family documents, like photo ID and passports stowed in a waterproof travel case; and access to cash and credit cards. Make a list of emergency contacts and emergency utility shutoff valves in your house.


Toss in instructions! Even the most skilled benefit from reminders, such as Dr. Weiss’ excellent Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine 3rd Edition , which includes life-saving tips on how to improvise treatments when you don’t have ready access to professional medical care — a common occurrence following a major disaster.

Storing the whole shebang is pretty simple. For your home kit, get a large waterproof plastic bin like a Rubbermaid Action Packer. Make sure everyone in your household knows the location. Rotate the food and water out every 6 to 12 months as expiration dates recommend. Add an empty backpack to the bin so you can grab gear in a jiffy. For your car, stash the gear in a soft kit in the trunk or under a seat. In your car, you should always carry repair tools too, including: a jack, spare tire, jumper cables, extra oil, a flat repair kit, basic tools, a tow strap, duct tape, and a small folding saw.

Check expiration dates on your kit's food and water supplies every six to 12 months.

Check expiration dates on your kit’s food and water supplies every six to 12 months.

Let’s hope the natural world will calm down for a while. But when the seas heave, the winds blow, and the earth rattles, access to a complete disaster kit will make life easier and safer.

Chris Van Tilburg, M.D., is the editor of WMS’s Wilderness Medicine and the author of eight books on the outdoors. His most recent book is Mountain Rescue Doctor. Van Tilburg is also a member of Hood River Crag Rats Search & Rescue Team. He lives in Bend, Oregon.

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:

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.


AMK Donates Gear to Boy Scouts’ 100th Anniversary Jamboree

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Look for AMK gear at the BSA's National Jamboree

Adventure® Medical Kits is proud to announce that it has donated gear to the Boy Scouts of America’s 100th Anniversary National Jamboree, which is taking place this week at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.

Working in concert with Scout Troops 364 and 361, of Madison, AL, AMK is supporting the Jamboree with the donation thousands of samples of DEET-free Natrapel® 8 hour insect repellent wipes, which will distributed along with “Be Safe” outdoor first aid pamphlets in goodie bags to scout leaders. In addition, AMK is also providing a variety of its medical kits, survival packs and hygiene products, including the alcohol-free Adventure® Hand Sanitizer and Fresh Bath Travel Wipes.

Throughout the Jamboree, Troops 364 and 361 will use the AMK products to teach four outdoor merit badges — for camping, hiking, backpacking and cooking – to scouts in attendance. All of the AMK gear will also be showcased in designated areas as “suggested products” that scouts should pack when camping, backpacking or hiking.

Separately, AMK is also shipping a significant amount of Natrapel® 8 hour wipes to the Scouts’ New York City Jamboree, which will take over part of Times Square from July 30 – August 1st. NYC-based outdoor retailer Tents & Trails will hand out the wipes on behalf of AMK along with prizes for troops, including AMK’s Day Tripper medical kit and stainless steel SOL Survival Bottle.

Natrapel 8 hour wipes to be distributed to Scouts at Times Square Jamboree

Whatever Jamboree you’re attending this week, be sure to make it a safe one!

Best — Adventure® Medical Kits.

AMK’s Natrapel 8 hour at Mid Atlantic Truck Camper Rally

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

mid atlantic truck camper rally

Look for DEET-free Natrapel 8 hour at this week’s Mid Atlantic Truck Camper Rally (April 15 -18) in Sanford, VA. Outdoor expert Brian Brawdy will be on site with his camper at the Tall Pines Harbor Campground handing out the gear-safe, as effective as DEET Natrapel 8 hour wipes to attendees and discussing outdoor safety.

Along with the Natrapel 8 hour wipes, Brian will be distributing Tick Reference Cards containing valuable advice on identifying and safely removing ticks, as well info on how to recognize symptoms of Lyme Disease.

Be sure to stop by and say hi to Brian. For more information on avoiding ticks, mosquitoes, Lyme disease and other bug-borne illnesses, check out Brian’s video below and download the Tick Reference Card!

Look for Brian Brawdy at Mid-Atlantic Truck Camper Rally

Natrapel 8 hour contains 20% Picaridin, recommended by CDC to repel ticks

AMK to Support Community Screenings of Lyme Disease Documentary ‘Under Our Skin’

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

under-our-skin blog

AMK will be providing educational support materials at community screenings of the award winning documentary Under Our Skin — a film which examines Lyme disease, a highly debilitating disease spread by ticks that has become one of the most controversial and fastest growing health problems of our time.

At select screenings this Spring, Adventure® Medical Kits and its parentco Tender Corp. will distribute copies of special Tick Reference Cards, which include tips for identifying and safely removing ticks as well recognizing symptoms of Lyme disease. AMK and Tender will also provide free samples of its DEET-free insect repellent Natrapel® 8 hour to attendees.

Natrapel 8 hour contains 20% picaridin, recommended by CDC to repel ticks

Natrapel 8 hour contains 20% picaridin, recommended by CDC to repel ticks

Spread by the Deer Tick, Lyme disease is an infectious disease that can cause long-term and ongoing illness with a range of symptoms that include chronic pain, fatigue and anxiety. According to the CDC’s statistics, close to 29,000 cases of Lyme disease were confirmed in 2008, with another 6000 cases suspected.  However, as the film Under Our Skin documents, Lyme disease is often difficult to test accurately, which means tens of thousands of people go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed each year.

Look for Natrapel® 8 hour educational Tick Cards and Wipe samples at screenings of Under Our Skin at the following venues:

-University of New Hampshire – Manchester, NH – April 13

-Sherman Theatre – Stroudsburg, PA – April 24

-Peace in Medicine – Sebastopol, CA – April 27

-Winthrop Performing Arts Center – Winthrop, ME – April 30

-Scripps Ranch Library – San Diego, CA – May 4

Click here for full details on AMK and Tender Corp.’s  support of the community screenings of Under Our Skin.

DEET-Free Natrapel 8 hour featured on Backcountry Utah

Monday, March 15th, 2010

back country utah

Adventure Medical Kits’  co-founder Frank Meyer spoke recently with outdoor radio show Backcountry Utah about the benefits of using powerful DEET-free insect repellent Natrapel 8 hour. Click here to listen to the interview.

Natrapel family

Natrapel 8 hour contains CDC-recommended active ingredient Picaridin

Along with providing protection from insect bites and stings that is equal to or greater than that of DEET, Natrapel 8 hour’s formula — containing 20% of the active ingredient Picaridin — is also gear safe, meaning it won’t melt your fishing line, sunglasses, camera lens or other pricey plastic or synthetic materials like DEET can.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends people use Picaridin-based repellents to help ward off ticks (which are responsible for the spread of Lyme Disease) and mosquitoes (which are responsible for the spread of West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Malaria and other serious illnesses).

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.