Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Category: Hiking and Camping

Hiking and Camping

Personal hygiene kits

Years ago my buddies and I used to go camping along the salt marshes of southeast Texas – Bridge City and Orangefield, Texas. We would load up the boat with our ALICE packs, and head out for a weekend of adventures and exploring. One thing about those bayous and low lying areas, there is a plentiful supply of mud, and a short supply of fresh water. Its one of those situations where you bring plenty of water, some canteens and a good water filter.

This is a description of my personal hygiene kit. Personal hygiene is one of the topics that I take into consideration everyday. I wear contacts – everytime I put my contacts in, I think about if my hands are clean or not. Having infected eyes is no fun. If an eye infection can be prevented by washing my hands before I put the contacts in, then it needs to be done. My daily routine is – get up, shower, put contacts in – that way my hands are clean from the shower.

Maxpedition Water Bottle Holder and Mini Rollypoly

Maxpedition Vulture II with water bottle holder

Need to carry plenty of water on that pack of yours? Looking for a way to carry 32 ounce water bottles instead of canteens?

While looking for a water bottle option for my Maxpedition Vulture-II, I came across the Maxpedition water bottle holder and the Maxpedition mini rollypoly dump pouch.

The water bottle holder is just that – its a padded pouch that is designed to hold a standard 32 ounce water bottle.

Maxpedition Water Bottle Holder

The water bottle holder has webbing on 4 sides – 1 side to attach it to the pack, then webbing on the 3 other sides. The zipper closure makes sure that the pouch stays closed. I like the extra webbing so you can attach a couple of smaller pouches to the outside of the water bottle holder.

The 10” x 4” Bottle Holder is designed to fit a 32oz / 1L Nalgene bottle (sold separately) or similarly sized containers.

5 Fire Building Tips

Building a fire is a skill that must be mastered. There is a difference in knowing how to build a fire with a lighter and charcoal lighter fluid, and knowing how to build a fire just before sundown when you’re lost in the woods.

Fire building skills have become a lost art. People have gone from sticks and stones, to matches, and finally to fancy electric lighters that can resist just about any wind.

Several years ago I witnessed a young man hold a match to a piece of oak firewood that was three inches in diameter, and then asked why the wood was not catching on fire. He had no understanding of fire building basics.

When someone is lost in the woods, that is no time to doubt your fire building skills.

1) Alcohol prep pads – These are the things that the nurse uses to clean your skin right before you get a shot. Their good for cleaning wounds and starting fires. The alcohol content allows the vapors to burn before the cloth of the pad to burn, so you might get a couple of minutes of burn time out of 1 pad. Their lightweight, easy to use, easy to light, and multi-purpose items.

Gear Review: Maxpedition Vulture-II Backpack

Maxpedition Vulture-II on a hiking trip

Looking for a good quality 2 – 3 day pack? The Maxpedition Vulture-II be just what you’re looking for. Maxpedition has a reputation for quality, and the Maxpedition Vulture-II is no exception.

However, the pack is not without its issues, which we will talk about later.

One of the things Maxpedition does well is blend military standards with civilian products. In essence, take lessons learned from military applications and apply those lessons to a consumer grade product.

For example, Maxpedition uses 1,000 denier water ballistic nylon fabric, YKK zippers and then add military grade MOLLE webbing to the packs.

The Maxpedition Vulture-II is divided into three pouches:

Main compartment

Two outer pouches

Maxpedition Vulture-II

Thoughts on the Large MOLLE Pack

Large MOLLE Pack

After about 15 years of using the medium ALICE pack as my primary warm/hot weather backpack, I decided it was time for a change. So I got on Ebay and after looking through some of the listings, I decided to go with the large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system carrier.

There are 2 versions of this pack on the market – one where the main pack is separate from the sleep system carrier. And the one like what I bought, which is just one large pack.

First Impressions:

  • Large MOLLE is more streamlined then the large ALICE
  • Its easier to get into then the medium ALICE
  • It has more webbing then the large ALICE
  • The map case is larger then either the medium or large ALICE
  • The map case has a mesh bottom, so its easier to see the contents
  • The internal sleep system carrier has a zipper for easy access – lets talk about that just for a minute.

The way may pack is packed – the stuff to make camp is at the bottom of the pack. The ground cloth (6X8 tarp), tent, poncho loner or sleeping bag, hammock – all go in the bottom of the pack. When you reach camp you have to dig everything out of the pack to get to your camp gear. The bottom zipper access makes it easy to get your gear out without having to take “everything” out of the pack. Unzip the sleeping bag compartment and start pulling your gear out trough the bottom of the pack. Since the tarp (ground cloth) was put in the pack first, its the the first to go out through the bottom. Once the ground cloth is in position, its time to set the tent up, and spread the sleeping pad out. Once your finished getting everything out to make camp, zip up the sleep system compartment, and the pack is sealed up again.

Two things the large MOLLE is lacking – internal pouch and external pouches.

Why I like to go camping

Why I like to go campingPlease Rate This Article Being raised in Southeast Texas has presented a vast opportunities to go camping. This includes everything from my parents taking my brother and I to local parks, to camping on the bayous with my buddies, to camping at the lake with my kids, hiking in and […]

Camping on the Angelina River

The Angelina River near Jasper, Texas

For those you in Southeast Texas that are looking for a little adventure, the Army Corp of Engineers has something you might want to look into. And that is a series of primitive camping spots set up along the Angelina and Neches rivers.

The Corp calls these camping spots “Primitive Campsites” and here is a list from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website. As of July 18, 2010, these is no fee to use these sites, and they have to be reserved. To reserve the site, you just fill out a form, fax mail or hand deliver it to the Town Bluff Project Office (phone number 409-429-3491) and they will give you a permit to use the spot. These primitive camping spots are reserved on a first com first served basis – so do not wait until the last minute to reserve the spot you want.

Primitive Campsite List
1. Bluff 1
2. Bluff 2
3. Hamilton Lake 1
4. Hamilton Lake 2 (Closed Indefinitely)
5. Hamilton Lake 3 (Closed Indefinitely)
6. Angelina 1
7. Angelina 2
8. Angelina 3
9. Angelina 4
10. Moon Lake 1
11. Moon Lake 2
12. Moon Lake 3
13. Warden 1 (Closed)
14. Warden 2 (Closed)

Alligators in the Angelina River

Southeast Texas alligator

Anyone boating southeast Texas during the summer months stands a good chance of seeing an alligator.

On July 9 – 10, 2010, my son, my son-in-law, a friend of the family and I went camping at Bluff 1 – which is a primitive camping spot on the Angelina River. We got up that morning, and headed down stream to another camping spot that has nice rope swing. While we were going down the river, we saw a gator eating on something. At the time we did not pay any real attention to it and kept driving the boat to the place we wanted to go swimming.

Well, on the way back we saw the gator again – and it saw us. As soon as we came into view, the gator broke of its attack on the dead turtle, and headed into a slew. We were not trying to harass the gator, in fact we kept our distance to about 100 feet, or more.

The gator was swimming at a pretty good rate and instead of following it, we turned around to look at what the gator was eating on. At first we thought it was a hog – because the corpse had a dark spot. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a large fresh water turtle that had been dead for some time.

Review of the Eureka Solitaire

While writing this review of the Eureka Solitaire one person tent, I tried to be as impartial and honest as possible. The tent was bought from Academy Sports and Outdoors in Beaumont, Texas and was not supplied by anyone. The first part of the review was setting it up in the yard and the the second part is taking it on a camping trip.

After about 15 years of use, I decided it was time to retire my Wenzel Starlight tent. The replacement had to be light-weight, fit into an medium ALICE pack or large MOLLE pack, easy to strap to the top or bottom of a pack, easy to setup, easy to take down, good for hot weather camping, bug proof,,,,,, just the typical stuff.


MOLLE Pack Versus ALICE Pack

molle pack vs alice pack review

“Should I buy, an ALICE Pack or a MOLLE Pack?” – that is one of the questions that I see a lot of on the forum. The answer is not a simple one. Before you can answer a question, sometimes you have to ask a few questions.

How much room do you need and how rugged do you need the frame? For example, the MOLLE pack has a plastic frame, ALICE has a metal frame.

A couple of weeks ago my son, nephew and I went on a boating / camping trip. We loaded up the gear, launched the boat and headed out to a camping spot on the river. While we were there, I decided to put together a video about the packs and do a little comparison.

My first exposure to the ALICE pack was way back in either 1992 or 1993. One of my good buddies had just came back from the first Persian gulf conflict, and one of the first things he did was buy himself a medium ALICE pack to replace the one he had been using in the ARMY. I liked the pack so much, I bought myself one. The difference between my buddies pack and mine – my pack was woodland camo, while my buddies pack was olive drab. After using the medium ALICE for a few years, I found it was a little so, so I bought a large ALICE pack in olive green.

My first exposure to the MOLLE pack was a couple of months ago after I bought 3 packs off ebay.

The three packs that my son, nephew and I brought on the camping included:

  • Large MOLLE with internal sleep system.
  • MOLLE II with external sleep system.
  • Medium ALICE pack.

One man tent for a bug out bag

There has been ideology going around the survivalist circle for the past couple of decades – if some kind of end of the world event happens, I’ll just load up my Bug Out Bag and head to the hills. If you go to just about any survival forum, there will be dozens, if not hundreds, or even thousands of threads about what kind of back pack would make a good bug out bag. One of the next most popular questions is – what kind of one man tent would be good for a bug out bag.

Here are some of the things I look for in a tent

Weight – how much does the tent weigh? The more the tent weighs, something else has be be removed from the pack to keep the overall weight down.

1, 2, 3 or 4 season tent – where are you going to be using the tent, will it be for hot weather, cold weather, wet weather, or something else? If you live along the gulf cost where it rarely snows, do you really need a 4 season tent? If you mostly go hiking / camping in hot weather, you want to make sure the tent breathes well.

Most of my hiking / camping is done in hot weather – so I look for a tent with a removable rain fly, and mosquito netting across the top of the tent. This allows a cross breeze to go across the person in the tent, and helps with the removal of collected body heat inside the tent.

Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger Review

Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger

The Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger is unlike a lot of other backpacks, as it only has one shoulder strap. Its designed so that the user can disconnect an under-the-arm strap, and then spin the pack so that its in front of them. Thus, making the pack easy to access without having to dismount it.

Maxpedition makes 3 packs in its gearslinger series – the Sitka, Noatak and the Kodiak. In this article we are going to be looking at the Kodiak.

The single shoulder strap supports the weight of the pack, while the under the strap helps to keep the pack in place.

The Kodiak Gearslinger has 5 compartments:

  • Place for the water bladder
  • Small outer pouch on top outside
  • Medium outer pouch on outside
  • Zipper pouch on outside of medium pouch
  • Main compartment

Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove Review

Vargo hexagon wood stove

Until just a few days ago, I had never heard of the Vargo wood stove. Right off the bat I was impressed with this stove – it looks like it can go anywhere and cook just about anything.

The Vargo wood stove is versatile enough to be able to use wood, sterno, or an alcohol stove inside of it. As I took thee stove you of the box, the first thing I noticed is how thin it is.

Vargo Wood Stove Dimensions

  • Height Folded – about 3/4 inch tall
  • Width – the widest part across the base is about 5 5/8 inches
  • Height un-folded – about 4 inches tall
  • Top width – about 3 inches across
  • Base – about 4 3/4 – 4 7/8 across

The bottom of the stove has 19 hexagon holes stamped in it, which as about 3/8 across.

The way your “supposed” to use this stove, is you find some small pieces of wood and build a fire inside of the stove. But while looking at the stove, and doing some thinking, I found that a sterno / methanol gel fits perfectly into the stove. I know the Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove is not designed to be used like this, but oh well, it works.

Internal Versus External Frame Backpacks

camping hiking backpacking

Internal frame VS external frame backpacks, ask a group of backpackers which one they prefer and your sure to get a variety of answers.

This article is based on my personal opinion, established through years of hiking, backpacking and camping.

There are pros and cons to every argument – some of it depends on what you like, and what your going to be doing with it. Personally, I do not think there is a “right” or “wrong” answer here. All I can do is tell you why I pick my packs and go from there.

Cool weather – Having the pack right up against your body helps retain some of your body heat in cold weather. Depending on how cold it is where your hiking at, this may or may not be a big deal.

Hot weather – Here in east Texas summer temps can get stay in the 90s, day and night. In July and August day time temps can easily reach the lower 100s. The external frame allows your body heat to escape from around your back. Just having that little bit of air space can help out a lot.

ALICE, MOLLE II or Maxpedition Backpack for a 2 Day Trip

Maxpedition Vulture-II on a hiking trip

The other day I received a question asking which one would make a good 2 day pack – MOLLE II Rifleman pack, ALICE pack, MOLLE II pack, or something from Maxpedition. In my opinion, there is no clear cut answer. The large ALICE packs are big, but their too “fat” – meaning they extend off my back too much and make me lean forward to balance the load. For this discussion, lets just talk about the medium ALICE pack, 3,000 cubic inch MOLLE II with external sleep system, the Maxpedition Vulture-II and the Maxpedition

For a 1 – 2 day warm – hot weather trip, I would have to go with either the Maxpedition vulture-ii, 3,000 cubic inch MOLLE with external sleep system or a medium ALICE pack.

The large 4,000 cubic MOLLE would be good for cold weather – where you need to carry a large sleeping bag, coat, change of clothes, 4 season tent,,,,,. But for a 2 – 3 day trip in warm weather, the large MOLLE will probably be too big.

A lot of it depends on where your going, temperature, and how much gear you carry. During the summer months, I can usually get away with an 1,800 – 2,000 cubic inch pack for an overnight trip. During July and August, I can get away with a 1,500 – 1,800 cubic inch pack.

Here is a video about the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy that I use as a hot weather pack.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018