Safety on the trail is a hot topic currently and apparently it's mostly in regards to women. This is my surprised face. I belong to a bunch of hiking groups for Ohio on FB, and in the last few weeks several women have asked a) if as a woman, they will be safe if they hike alone and b) what folks use to stay safe while on the trail.
I was shocked at the majority of responses (over 80) that said gun & a CCW...and not one person, besides me, said a GPS satellite communicator amidst the spackling of other suggestions (pepper spray, don't hike alone, tell someone...basically another blog post at some point).
Fuck that noise, noting that I have nothing against guns (I'm too clumsy to carry, not to mention I'm guessing someone would wait till they were right next to me to attack me and getting the gun pulled at that point would be quite difficult). However, this isn't to debate guns on the trails, but one particular way that can help you stay safe - GPS Communicators. Because, in reality, you're much more likely to fall, become seriously ill, etc. on the trail than you are to be attacked by a person.
In fact, one of my biggest sources of anxiety was getting in to an area, having an issue like a seriously fall or coming across someone in need of help, and not being able to contact anyone. It freaked my family out, too. With the Garmin InReach, that's not an issue anymore - and I can see it's practicality, not just in hiking, but all sorts of situations - like a car accident in a rural area without service (check out my previous article on all the benefits of a GPS Communicator here).
So what's awesome about it? Well, it's small - 3.9 x 2 x 1 inches and weights only 3.5 ounces. Weight reallllly matters to me with my back injury, and was one of the main reasons I hadn't picked one up previously.
What I Love - pls bear in mind I have the cheapest subscription option...:
I've used the Garmin InReach Mini on quite a few trips now, and EVERY. SINGLE. MESSAGE I've sent has made it through, even when in valleys, in the snow, and it's overcast with tree cover.
At some point, I'll go over one that I tried before the Garmin that wasn't quite as...successful, as well as how to stay safe against predators - both human and animal.
Do you use a GPS Satellite Communicator? Why or why not? Do you like it? Leave a comment below or contact me here!
I don't like to hike in fear, but I do like to hike in safety. Why get a satellite communicator? Cause they're fucking awesome. And not just for hiking - they're great for anytime who might be in a remote area and not have cell service. I couldn't find the article (of course), but I'd read something like 60% of SOS calls from satellite locators are by people that have been in a car accident. Legit. They aren't just for hikers, but joggers, walkers, anyone that's gonna be outdoors....
What They Offer: Varies drastically depending on the model.
Biggest Downside - Price. They're a chunk of cash, ranging from $150.00 up to $1200.00 and beyond. On top of that, you have to get a subscription. The plans range in price, depending on what features you want - I have one that costs $11.00 a month.
I'm big on access - and safety - for everyone. And these are prohibitively expensive for many, even with sales. I don't like the idea that because people can afford this, they're safer on the trails.
Other Downsides: They don't really work in caves and inside homes. They can also get a bit sketch if the sky is occluded (heavy tree coverage, etc.), but most models have a means to continually attempt to send the message until it gets through.
If you're thinking about getting one (they're hella on sale with the holiday), check out this article from REI on selecting the best one.
Over the next week or so, I'll be reviewing the Spotgen 3 and the Garmind InReach Mini. One is amazing and one is....not.
Do you have a satellite communicator? Love it? Hate it? Ever had to use it? Comment below or email me here!
This is a follow-up to the post I did last week on Vitamin I(buprofen), cause pain and inflammation sucks. From sore backs to tension headaches, nothing puts you down harder or faster than uncontrolled pain. So how the heck do you deal with it when you can't- or don't want to - take NSAIDS? Unsurprisingly, there's a bunch of methods to deal with inflammation and pain, you just have to find what works for you! Below are some of the tricks I, personally, use.
Honorable Mentions for Area Specific Issues
This is just what I've come across that has worked for me. I'm not a doctor or medical provider, and I do recommend you speak with them before starting any kind of supplement or making any significant change. And don't be afraid to do your own research!
Most importantly, know there's nothing wrong with you. You haven't failed and you are deserving of whatever adventure you want to chase.
How do you deal with pain/inflammation without NSAIDS? Comment below or email me here!
One of my work friends (hi Jenny!) asked me the other day if I'm doing anything different now that the cold weather has descended upon us. Short answer, yes. I love the cold weather, and the fact the landscapes look like an apocalyptic wasteland (original Red Dawn anyone?) only adds to the fun. However, my legs and thighs, in particular, get cold in all the wind we get here in Cleveland....these would be great for under garb at LARPS, too. So I went and found myself the REI Co-op Talusphere Pants. In a nutshell? They're great. If you want a pair of shell pants that protect from moisture and wind, at a reasonable price, this is them, so go by them at REI. There are a couple of downsides, especially if you're short and fat, like me. If you want the full scoop, read on!
The Price Tag: $89.50
There's some things I really love about the Talusphere pants - they're made from polyester and they have some significant stretch so I can move freely, which I appreciate for scrambling. You can cinch the ankles tight, and it's waterproof, but by some dark magic also breathable. I haven't turned in to a sweaty mess yet. And I love that the pockets have zippers. They come in a whole range of sizes and shapes, both for men and women.
There are two main downsides to these bad boys. First, the sizing. I don't know what's going on at REI, but it was crazy trying to deal with the sizing on these. The women's goes up to an XL (little small for an XL) and the women's "plus size" goes up to 3X. The problem with the women's larger-sized Talusphere is that they don't come in petite unlike the S-XL. Well......I'm short and fat. Awwwwwkward.
If you want to purchase the larger sizes at REI, be aware you must search for "plus-size talusphere women plants." Yes, they're in a totally different section on the website.
When I went in to the store, I explained to the very kind helper that I was short and fat (as mentioned above), and she very happily hung out and tried to help me find the right pants. The men's hips didn't fit, even though they get ALL kinds of inseam options for leg length to waist-size.
I finally had to settle on the 2X Talusphere Women's Pant. You can see from the way they bunch at the ankles they're significantly too big, but I can move freely in them and I can put a lot of layers on underneath if I want. My biggest complaint is the length of the leg, and would be great if REI added some petite options in the larger lady sizes.
My only other complaint, and it's echoed by the reviews on the REI website, is the draw-string waist. It's very thin, and the toggle that holds it in place doesn't work the best, but I just tie a small knot. I haven't had any issues with my pants sagging down, but I have a booty. If you don't, beware!
In the end, I'm very happy with the purchase and they've held up great on the trail so far!
What winter "shell" pants do you use? (If any) What do you love/hate about them? Feel free to comment or contact me here.
One of the big problems getting started with outside adventuring has to do with access. Beginning hikers and walkers can find it difficult to determine if a trail they find online is appropriate to their ability, if they can even find trails around them. Once they find a trail, they want to know what the terrain is like and if there are any obstacles. Are trail bikes welcome? Horses? What about finding the trailhead? Navigating the trail? Any special wildlife areas they should be aware of, like bat habitats? Is it safe for their therapy or service animal?
I've had a number of folks the last few weeks ask what I use to gain access to the outside world, and my go to right now is AllTrails. Hands down, this is the best app I've found to give beginners - and experienced hikers - the access and information they need to get out in the outdoors.
Six or seven years ago, I got lost on a Cleveland, OH trail. I had a printed map of the park, but the trails in the Metroparks aren't very well marked in most cases. It was cold and snowing. I had no cell reception and it was getting dark - of course I hadn't brought a headlamp/flashlight. The parks aren't all that big, so I knew I'd eventually find my way out. An hour after dark, my dog Charlie Chuckles and I made it back to the car. I was tired and reallllly pissed off.
And this wasn't the first time I'd gotten turned around on the notoriously ill-marked trails in the Cleveland area. Or been unable to find a trailhead with sketchy directions from the internet.
Then came AllTrails. Queue rescue-themed music.
AllTrails has been wonderful, and really opened up my access to trails in the Cleveland, OH and surrounding areas. Trails I doubt I would have found, or had the courage to try, without it.
AllTrails is awesome - You can select what you want out of a trail and search for it - distance from your home, dogs allowed, length of hike, trail bike accessibility, difficulty, etc. This makes it a great tool for folks with disabilities that need to know if a trail is paved, if there are amenities at the trail head, etc. A nice bonus is that you're able to read reviews and see pics of the trail - great way to check for mud or other problems like downed trees/washed out trails.
And it's free. Hiking and outdoor adventuring is already prohibitively expensive for many, and anything that removes additional spending is great (pro-version is $2.50 a month, and gives you access to download/print different topo maps).
You can use it to track yourself AND record your hike while on the trail, even when your phone is in airplane mode.
AllTrails also has a directions option that will open your phone's GPS app and take you right to the trail head. This is A-mazing. Previously, I found myself constantly lost on back roads, and a few times I even gave up on the hike. As a new hiker finding remote trailheads was incredibly frustrating.
It helps build confidence, since you can view nearly all the trails immediately around you, allowing you to add/shorten your hike as you want or need to.
There are a couple downsides to AllTrails to keep in mind - it's not always 100% accurate in regards to length of the trail. I find the trails are often a half mile to a mile longer than indicated.
Keep in mind the difficulty rating of the trail tends to vary wildly. I did a 9 mile moderate trail last weekend, which was, to my surprise, easily and quickly accomplished even though it was pouring rain and I had to take a lot of breaks. Whereas I did a trail a few months ago that was five miles and very hilly, difficult terrain. Both were rated as moderate.
I always encourage folks to have a printed map with them as well, and to understand how to read it, especially if you're in larger parks/national forests.
Despite these issues, I recommend AllTrails for the access it provides.
Have you ever gotten lost on the trail? Do you use an app or stick with a map, or both? Comment below, or feel free to contact me here!