Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: hiking

Watch Out For Snakes in the Early Spring

Texas Water Snake in bushes

Watch out for snakes in the early spring. April 19, 2018 the dogs and I were walking around the farm when we came upon a snake. I was carrying a rather old camera which takes good pictures and just wanted to get some stock snake pictures.

Rather than finding a CottonMouth Water Moccasin, the dogs and I found a Water Snake. The Water Snake (Genus Nerodia) is non-venomous and poses no real danger to humans. Chances are the worst thing that could possibly happen is for the snake bite to get infected. Which is why we should not handle even non-venomous snakes.

The dogs and I walked through a low area where there is usually standing water. Wherever there is standing water, chances are frogs will be in the area. What eats frogs? Snakes. It is a typical predator-prey situation.

I spotted a snake tail sticking out from under a clump of grass. One of the dogs almost stepped on the snake, and the snake did not move. This told me chances are it was a Water Snake. If a Water Moccasin feels threatened, it will coil up and get ready to strike. This snake did not move when the dog almost stepped on it.

Snake Camouflage

How Good Does A LifeStraw Work?

LifeStraw Water Filter

Surely everyone has heard of a LifeStraw? It is a simple tube that is a water filter. Place the inlet into the water, then suck the water through the tube. Seems simple enough right? Almost too good to be true?

If something seems to god to be true it usually is, except for the LifeStraw.

Back in March of 2017 I decided to take the plunge and ordered a LifeStraw from Amazon. In April I took the LifeStraw on a hiking trip and gave it a test run.

First impressions were very good. It was just like pulling water through a straw. The water took a few seconds to get through the filter, but when it did, the flow was excellent.

LifeStraw Specifications

Video: Packing For A Day Hike

Three Day Assault pack

This is a video I put together for All Outdoor, and covers the basics of setting up a backpack for a day hike.

In short, keep the most used items within easy access. This usually means an outside pouch of the backpack. This is where I keep the maps, compass and water filter.

Least used items go in the main compartment. This is where I keep stuff like food, stove, cook pot… etc.

The pack in the video is a three day assault pack. Read my first impressions of the pack here – Three Day Assault Pack First Impressions.

Military Surplus Patrol Pack First Impressions

Patrol Pack

Overall, I found the patrol pack to be a well rounded and perfect addition to my backpack collection.

Call me old fashioned, if I like something, then I hang onto it. For the longest time ,one of my go-to packs for day hikes and even warm weather overnight trips was a Jansport black book bag. That pack was retired when I migrated to a Maxpedition.

For several years my go-to pack was a Maxpedition Condor II. The Condor II is a great pack that is perfect for day long excursions.

As with everything else, after using the Condor II for several years, I decided it was time to try something new. So where did I go to find a new pack? I went to Ebay and looked through various military surplus packs.

After shopping and doing my research for a couple of weeks, I found a military surplus patrol pack for $29.95 + $9.19 shipping.

Field Trip with a Nature Class

Maxpedition Noatak

Contrary to popular belief, nature classes do not take their clothes off and run around naked in the woods. In fact its just the opposite. We keep our clothes on and drive to where we want to go.

Saturday morning the nature class that I am a member of did a field trip. The purpose of the field trip was to see some of the native and rare plants, and to see some of the unique geological formations around the Jasper Texas area.

At 8:00am we met in the parking lot of the Stump restaurant on hwy 255, which is just north of Jasper Texas. The places where we were going to go were old logging roads. The people that drove cars parked their vehicles at a nearby hotel, then we carpooled in the 4 wheel drive trucks and SUVs.

The first place we stopped at was on top of a pipeline. We parked our trucks on top of the hill, then walked around the rim of the hill top looking at different types of trees and plants.

After we got finished looking at the plants, we went back to the trucks, over the hill and down to a creek bottom. The cool thing about the creek bottom, it was filled with petrified wood. There were small pieces, large pieces and medium sized pieces. One of the men in the group was an amateur geologist. He talked to the class about the different types of trees that grew in southeast Texas during the last ice age – white oak, pine (conifer trees) and palm trees.

Texas DSHS Urges Precautions to Avoid Rabies

Texas DSHS Urges Precautions to Avoid RabiesPlease Rate This Article The Texas Department of State Health Services is urging precautions to reduce the risk of contracting rabies. There has been a higher than usual number of animal rabies cases in Texas this year, particularly in Central Texas and the North Texas region. Protect yourself by […]

My 3 Favorite Maxpedition Backpacks

Maxpedition falcon-ii pygmy backpack

After using Maxpedition backpacks for several years, there are three which have made their way to the top of the list.

When it comes time to head out to the woods, I usually take a few minutes to think about what I’m going to be doing and what kind of gear I may need. If I’m going on a simple day hike, I might bring the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy, if its an overnight trip I might bring the Vulture-II and if its a short trip or hunting trip I’ll bring the Maxpedition Noatak.

Lets start with the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy – which is my favorite dayhike / warm weather overnight bag. Even though the Falcon-II Pygmy has capacity of only 1,400 cubic inches, for you ultralight backpackers out there that should be plenty of room.

One of the reasons why I like the Falcon-II Pygmy so much, its a light pack that is not big enough to bring the essentials. From time to time I see people post in the hiking and camping forum about some of the stuff they bring on a camping / hiking trip, and I just have to ask myself “why?”

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.

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 […]

Heat related problems while hiking

Heat related problems while hikingPlease Rate This Article 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 […]

Getting the Maxpedition Vulture II Ready for a Camping Trip

Maxpedition Vulture II

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.

There is nothing quit like laying in a hammock, in the woods, in the middle of nowhere. No phones, no cars, no noise pollution to bother you, just the relaxing sounds of nature.

Maxpedition Vulture II Contents

  • One man tent
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag
  • Hammock
  • 3 eversafe meals
  • Rain poncho
  • Garmin GPS
  • TOPO maps
  • Map Compass
  • Maglight flashlight

Maxpedition Falcon-II and Pygmy Falcon-II

Maxpedition 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 that to what the needs are.

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

Now lets move onto the details of each pack.

Maxpedition Falcon-II

Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger Review

maxpedition sitka gearslinger review

This 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.

Maxpedition Sitka 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.

Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy For a Warm Weather Backpack

Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon-II

The Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy is an excellent all around backpack, including a warm weather backpack. It’s just big enough for a day long hike, or a light weight overnight camping pack, without being too large the hiker is tempted to carry unneeded gear.

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.

Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018