Rural Lifestyle Blog

Life in Rural America

Category: Hiking and Camping

Hiking and Camping

Vargo hexagon wood stove overview

Until just a few days ago, I had never heard of the Vargo hexagon wood stove. It all started with Mark, the owner of Ready Pro.org sent me an email and asked if I would like to do a review. Since I like to test out new gear, I said “sure”.

Right off the bat I was impressed with this stove – it looks like it can go anywhere and cook just about anything. Its versatile enough to be able to use wood, sterno, or an alcohol stove inside of it. The first thing that I notices as I took the stove out of the box is how thin it is.

Here are some dimensions:

Folded – about 3/4 inch tall
Folded – the widest part across the base is about 5 5/8 inches
Un-folded – about 4 inches tall
Un-folded – top – about 3 inches across
Un-folded – base – about 4 3/4 – 4 7/8 across

Continue Reading….

Internal vs external frame backpacks

Internal frame VS external frame backpacks, ask a group of backpackers which one they prefer and your sure to get a variety of answers. The truth is, asking about internal and external frame packs is like asking about:

chevy or ford
dodge or toyota
apples or oranges
iron man or spider man

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

ALICE, MOLLE II or Maxpedition backpack for a 2 day 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.

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Heat related problems while hiking

Summer time is almost here, and so is the summer heat.  It wont be long and the 90s and 100 degrees will be the norm, so lets take some time to review. Pace yourself – You should know your own physical conditioning, your not superman, so dont act like it.  If you rush up a hill, get overheated, wear yourself out and still have 6 more miles to go, you have nobody to blame but yourself. Carry plenty of water – stay hydrated at all times.  If your thirsty, then get something to drink. Wear a hat – to keep the sun off the top of your head. Wear clothing that wicks away moisture and promotes evaporation – this will help keep your body cool. Continue Reading….

Coleman Perfectflow Stove

Coleman Perfectflow StoveIt was the Sunday morning of the opening weekend of Spring Break 2010. My wife and I got up, setup the 15+ year old Coleman stove and started to cook breakfast. For its age, the stove was doing good, but it was just cooking a little slow. In all, we had about 8 hungry people standing around waiting on their food.

My buddy Lynn made the comment that he had a new propane Coleman stove that he wanted to try out. The conversation went something like this:

Kevin – Watching the bacon cook on the stove.
Lynn – I have a new stove I wold like to try out.
Kevin – Break it out then, this one is taking too long.
Lynn – Well, I did not want to step on your manhood.
Kevin – I’am hungry, get that stove out so we can cook faster.

So Lynn walked over to his SUV, got a brand new Coleman Perfectflow Stove out of the back, and set it up. Within minutes we had bacon, boudain, sausage and eggs cooking.

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What is your survival gear fetish

To some survivalist, collecting gear is like collecting stamps, or collecting coins – we can always find a way to justify buying something new. For some people its boots, backpacks, a compass, hats, gloves, sleeping bags,,,, you get the picture.

I guess my gear fetish is backpacks, I just like having the right pack for the job. Whether its a day hike, over night camping trip, 8 mile hike in 100 degree heat,,, its nice to have the right pack to carry the gear. Continue Reading….

Getting the maxpedition vulture II ready for a camping trip

The other weekend I took some time to get my maxpedition vulture II ready for a camping trip. Over the next few months, my family and I have a couple of camping trips planned. One is supposed to be next weekend, on March 13 to Dam B in Jasper, Texas. There is supposed to be another camping trip on the river, and another camping trip along the Sabine River sometime this summer.

Regardless of where your going on a camping trip, its best to be prepared. On my camping trips, I like to be comfortable, that might include bringing a hammock and a tri-pod stool, or even both. That way I can get off the ground for a little while and relax. Continue Reading….

Maxpedition Falcon-II and Pygmy Falcon-II

When looking for a daypack, or lightweight pack for an overnight trip, there are 2 packs that should be seriously considered – and that is the Maxpedition Falcon-II and Pygmy Falcon-II. This is not about which pack is the better between the two, but which one will suite your needs the best.

Each pack has something different to offer. So lets do an overview of each pack, look at what they have to offer, then compare tht to what the needs are.

Lets start out with a basic overview of the Maxpedition Falcon-II and Pygmy Falcon-II

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Vargo triad titanium alcohol stove review

Back in my teenage years (1982 – 1986), when I was camping in the woods and marshes of Southeast Texas, a typical meal on a camping trip was some Wolf brand chili, vienna sausages,,,,, canned goods which were bulky and heavy. This was mostly because the cans were opened, then warmed up over the coals of the camp fire.

In the 1990s I was getting a little tired of packing cans in and out of the woods – and so were my camping buddies. One of the guys in the group bought a single burner stove that used a 1 pound propane cylinder. It was a trade off, the weight of the propane bottle replaced the weight of the cans. But now we could carry dried foods, such as noodles.

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Gearpods adventure and survival system

gearpods reviewUp until just a few weeks ago I had never heard of a Gearpods. Which is marketed as a modular adventure and survival system. When I was approached about doing a review of the Pod, the first thing I did was go to youtube and do a search. Well, no results came back – which is kinda strange. You can find just anything you want on youtube, except in that point in time I could not find a video about “GearPods”. Ok, we need to fix that problem.

When on a backpacking trip, organizing small items can be a real pain. This is where the Gearpod comes into play. Not only does it help organize items, it helps keep electronics dry with o-ring seals.

Continue Reading….

Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger Review

maxpedition sitka gearslingerThis review of the Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger should be able to answer most of the questions that people have about the pack. First of all, when the Sitka was received, it was well packaged. Inside the box was a large packing slip that was easy to read and everything was spelled out. The toll free phone number is located in the top left hand corner of the packing slip – so its easy to find.

First impressions: This is everything you might expect to find in a daypack – and more. There is a pouch on the outside for a 32 ounce water bottle, a compartment for a water bladder, the main compartment is big enough for a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE), or an Eversafe meal, rain poncho, some tent stakes (for setting up an emergency shelter), water filter or water purification tablets, and a few other odds and ends. The large outside pocket is big enough for a small first aid kit, TOPO maps, flashlight, matches,,,. The small outside pocket is big enough for map compass, medium sized GPS and maybe a couple of other small items such as a swiss army fire starter.

The reason why its called a “GearSlinger” is because the pack has one shoulder strap and another strap that goes under the opposite arm. The under strap is released and the pack can be “slung” under the right arm and positioned in front of the wearers chest. The pack is designed to be unzipped in a horizontal position while being worn.

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Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy for a warm weather pack

maxpedition pygmy falcon-iiThis is a Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy that is used for a warm weather pack. Its just big enough for a day long hike, or a light weight overnight camping pack.

One of the questions I have been asked, “what makes a pack a warm weather pack?” In my opinion, its the packs size – its so small you can not carry spare clothing. In a cold weather camping or hiking situation, you will probably want to bring extra clothing, maybe a hat gloves, extra socks,,,, the usual stuff that hikers and campers my need in cold weather.

In hot weather you can take clothing off, in cold weather you have to have extra clothing to put it on. If the extra clothing is not in the pack, there is nothing to put on.

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Wilderness survival quiz on snake bites

Lets say that your hiking along, you dont see this snake on the trail, step on it and your bitten – what do you do? Your a couple of miles from the trail head, your out of cell phone range, what should you do in this type of situation? This picture and video were tank in East Texas, just a few miles north of Beaumont, and during the month of September, 2009. The snake was left unharmed and was not injured in anyway. My son, step son, and I were hiking along a nice clear stream that flows year round. When we stopped for a break, I walked up on top on a sand bar only to see this snake coiled up. After filming a Continue Reading….

Food sources in streams and creeks

If your in a wilderness survival situation, keep in mind that everything in the world needs water.  So if you come across a creek, stream, pool of water, pond, lake or river, chances are your gonna be able to find some kind of food source. A couple of days ago my kids and I (Kevin) went on a fishing trip on local creek. While we were there I noticed some Muscadine grapes hanging over the creek.  Its been awhile since I have seen these grapes – I see the vines all the time but you have to catch the grapes at just the right time of year.  When the grapes are ready to eat they will turn a bright purple color. When the grape is Continue Reading….

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