A Hiking Guide to Easter Island

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Ask me which Pacific island has the most to offer hikers and I’ll probably answer Easter Island. Here on an island 11 km wide and 23 km long you’ll find nearly a thousand ancient Polynesian statues strewn along a powerfully beautiful coastline or littering the slopes of an extinct volcano.

The legends of Easter Island have been recounted many times. What’s less known is that the island’s assorted wonders are easily accessible on foot from the comfort of the only settlement, Hanga Roa. Before setting out see the sights, however, visit the excellent archaeological museum next to Ahu Tahai on the north side of town (the term “ahu” refers to an ancient stone platform). Aside from the exhibits, the museum has maps which can help you plan your trip.

The first morning after arrival, I suggest you climb Easter Island’s most spectacular volcano, Rano Kau, where Orongo, a major archaeological site, sits on the crater’s rim. But rather than marching straight up the main road to the crater, look for the unmarked shortcut trail off a driveway to the right just past the forestry station south of town. It takes under two hours to cover the six km from Hanga Roa to Orongo, but bring along a picnic lunch and make a day of it. (If climbing a 316-meter hill sounds daunting, you can take a taxi to the summit for around US$6 and easily walk back later in the day.) Once on top, you’ll find hiking down into the colourful crater presents no difficulty. It may also look easy to go right around the crater rim, but only do so if you’re a very experienced hiker and have a companion along as shear 250-meter cliffs drop into the sea from the ridge.

Another day, rise early and take a taxi to lovely Anakena Beach at the end of the paved road on the north side of the island (you should pay under US$10 for the 20 km). A few of the famous Easter Island statues have been restored at Anakena and you could go for a swim, although the main reason you’ve come is the chance to trek back to Hanga Roa around the road-free northwest corner of the island. You’ll pass numerous abandoned statues lying facedown where they fell, and the only living creatures you’re unlikely to encounter are the small brown hawks which will watch you intently from perches on nearby rocks. If you keep moving, you’ll arrive back in town in five or six hours (but take adequate food, water, and sunscreen). This is probably the finest coastal walk in the South Pacific.

Almost as good is the hike along the south coast, although you’re bound to run into other tourists here as a paved highway follows the shore. Begin early and catch a taxi to Rano Raraku, the stone quarry where all of the island’s statues were born. This is easily the island’s most spectacular sight with 397 statues in various stages of completion lying scattered around the crater. And each day large tour groups come to Rano Raraku to sightsee and have lunch. However, if you arrive before 9 am, you’ll have the site to yourself for a few hours. When you see the first tour buses headed your way, hike down to Ahu Tongariki on the coast, where 15 massive statues were reerected in 1994. From here, just start walking back toward Hanga Roa (20 km) along the south coast. You’ll pass many fallen statues and enjoy some superb scenery. Whenever you get tired, simply go up onto the highway and stick out your thumb and you’ll be back in town in a jiffy.

An outstanding 13-km walk begins at the museum and follows the west coast five km north to Ahu Tepeu. As elsewhere, keep your eyes pealed for banana trees growing out of the barren rocks as these often indicate caves you can explore. Inland from Ahu Tepeu is one of the island’s most photographed sites, Ahu Akivi, with seven statues restored in 1960. From here an interior farm road runs straight back to town (study the maps at the museum carefully, as you’ll go far out of your way if you choose the wrong road here).

A shorter hike takes you up Puna Pau, a smaller crater which provided stone for the red topknots that originally crowned the island’s statues. There’s a great view of Hanga Roa from the three crosses on an adjacent hill and you can easily do it all in half a day. A different walk takes you right around the 3,353-meter airport runway, which crosses the island just south of town. Near the east end of the runway is Ahu Vinapu with perfectly fitted monolithic stonework bearing an uncanny resemblance to similar constructions in Peru.

Easter Island’s moderate climate and scant vegetation make for easy cross country hiking, and you won’t find yourself blocked by fences and private property signs very often. You could also tour the island by mountain bike, available from several locations at US$10 a day. If you surf or scuba dive, there are many opportunities here. A minimum of five days are needed to see the main sights of Easter Island, and two weeks would be far better. The variety of things to see and do will surprise you, and you’ll be blessed with some unforgettable memories.


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A Guide To Resorts In The Alps

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The alps are a popular winter travel destination. Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and other winter activities abound throughout the mountainous area. The Alps are shared among many countries, including Austria, France, German, Italy and Switzerland. Whether you are looking for a family vacation or are more adventurous and enjoy mountaineering and extreme skiing, you will find something for every one in this area.

Family Resorts in the Alps

Many resorts throughout the area cater to families. In these resorts, families with children make up the bulk of their business. There is plenty for both parents and children to enjoy. Horse drawn sleigh rides, skiing and snowboarding are popular family activities. Just about all family resorts offer ski instruction especially for children as well as adult lessons for mom and dad. Some offer night skiing, either nightly or on certain evenings during the week.

After a day of skiing, parents can enjoy the sauna and Jacuzzi, while children enjoy the variety of play areas and activities geared especially for them. If mom and dad want an evening alone, many resorts offer babysitting services. Many family resorts are low tech and don’t have internet access or video games, but some do have these features available. Many families enjoy the low tech atmosphere, which encourages children to enjoy the outdoors and other activities offered.

Many of these resorts are located in small villages scattered throughout the alps. These offer quaint scenery and older hotels. Restaurants are nearby, if you want to leave the resort, or you can eat right inside the resort. Others are in larger tourist areas and contain luxury hotels and apartments for families to rent.

Singles Resorts in the Alps

Other resorts are geared for the younger crowd. These are more popular with single people in their 20s and couples without children. These resorts offer more expert runs for skiing and snowboarding. Many are near glaciers and have monster pipes built into the glaciers that allow snowboarding even in the summer. More experienced skiers generally choose these resorts.

Many of these resorts are wired with internet access. Rather than family based activities, they contain bars, lounges and a busier nightlife. Most offer night skiing with lighted trails for skiing or snowboarding in the dark.

For the more adventurous, mountaineering is a popular activity in the area. Daily climbing excursions or multi day trips are common here. Hut to Hut tours make it easier to climb more difficult routes. These are great for multi day excursions. You won’t need to carry heavy overnight gear with you, as you would when camping. The huts have what you need for sleeping.

Easier to more difficult routes are available with hut to hut climbing. The easier routes tend to be more crowded and the huts fill up quickly. The more difficult routes are less crowded, but are not meant for beginning mountain climbers. There is generally more room in the huts on these trips.


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A Guide to Arizona RV Rentals

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Arizona is one of the most beautiful desert states in America. It is home to the Grand Canyon, the red cliffs of Sedona, mountains, and endless sights in Phoenix. And perhaps the best way to see all these attractions is to travel by RV whenever and wherever you like.

The cost of owning an RV, or the long drive from your home to Arizona may make RV travel seem impossible. It’s not. The solution: renting an RV in Arizona.

KOA, or Kampgrounds of America, provides a list on its Web site of its preferred Arizonan RV rental agencies, which are located throughout the state. The larger cities like Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Mesa all have RV rental agencies.

The class-C motor home is the most popular RV rental for families or couples. The motor home has one double bed, but can comfortably sleep six to nine people. It also has a toilet and shower, microwave and refrigerator in the kitchen, and heating and cooling. Most Arizonan RV Rentals also sell home-keeping kits with dishes and linens for your trip, perfect for when you fly into Arizona.

The summer season in Arizona lasts from the end of May to the start of September. This is the busiest and most expensive time to rent an RV in Arizona. RV rentals in the off-season cost around $20 a day less than during the summer season. You will generally get a cheaper per day rate the longer you rent your RV.

Before you rent, shop around. Pay particular attention to the pricing of each Arizonan RV rental agency and find a scheme that works for you. Many companies charge a day rate on top of an additional mile charge. Also ask about insurance, as your car insurance may not cover the RV rental. Ask about clean-up costs and if a security deposit is needed. A little preparation in the beginning can save you money and frustration in the long run, but don’t forget to have fun along the way!


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A Few Words In Praise of Birds

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Why do birds appeal to us ? Most people enjoy the sight of birds, even people who have never been active birdwatchers. Although birds are less like us in appearance and habits than our fellow mammals, birds undeniably hold a special place in our hearts.

One reason that birds capture our imaginations is that they can fly, while we remain trapped here on earth. What child hasn’t watched a bird fly overhead and dreamt of being up there in the sky flying alongside ? What adults have not, at one time or another, wished that they could take wing and fly away from all of their everyday troubles and cares ? Birds are natural symbols of freedom and escape. After all, what could better encapsulate our vision of pure freedom than the ability to fly off into the sunset ?

Birds can soar overhead and they can also cover great distances. They are privy to a “bird’s eye view” of a single building or a park, or an entire city or landscape, making them a perfect metaphor for obtaining a fresh perspective on a situation, or for taking a larger view of an issue.

Birds often symbolize other things, as well, such as human character traits and qualities. There’s the proud peacock, the noble eagle, the thieving magpie, squabbling crows, and billing and cooing love birds. Gliding swans are the perfect picture of grace and elegance in motion. The hawk is a symbol of war, the dove a symbol of peace.

What else attracts us to birds ? Birds have feathers, soft to the touch and a joy to look at. Plumage seems to come in an infinite variety of lovely colors and patterns, from the subtle, earthy tones of the common house sparrow to the outrageous, iridescent regalia of the showy peacock. Birds are beautiful works of art, signed by nature. Their plumage adds color and spectacle to a humdrum world. Their colors may also suggest many different locales and associations to us.

For example, those small, round, brown sparrows are homey, comforting and familiar to those of us who live in temperate climates. They are our backyard friends and neighbors. American cardinals and blue jays are highly colored, cheerful sights to behold on gray days, from the tips of their tail feathers to the fanciful crests on their heads. They are a bit more exotic, yet they are still familiar backyard friends. Then there are those birds who live in far off exotic places, such as African pink flamingos and tropical parrots, who sport wonderful tropical colors. We love them, not only for their magnificent colors, but also for their association with far-flung lands and exotic adventures.

Birds also come in a great variety of shapes and sizes, which further adds to their appeal. We can relate to them, in so far as they, and we, have two eyes, one mouth and bilateral symmetry. Yet, they are also very unlike us. They have protruding beaks, from the sparrow’s tiny jabbing beak to the toucan’s enormous appendage. They have wings, more unlike human arms than those of other mammals, or even of reptiles. In fact, when their wings are folded against their sides, birds appear to have no arms at all. They also have thin, bare legs and they have claws. Their heads and necks flow smoothly into their bodies. Their forms create graceful outlines, whether round like a chubby European robin, long like an African parrot, or sleek like a regal swan.

Yes, birds are beautiful to look at, but the beauty of birds is not confined to the visual aspects of shape and color alone, because birds also fill the air with music. They seem to offer us their song simply to entertain us, and they ask for nothing in return. Like a garden bursting with colorful flowers, the fantastic colors and songs of birds seem frivolous and out of place in a world full of harsh realities. It seems as though they were put on earth expressly to make life more beautiful. They were not, of course. Their color and song serve biological ends in the process of natural selection, but that does not prevent us from enjoying such sights and sounds. We can listen in on their free concerts and derive pleasure and serenity from the experience. We can also be amused when a few species of birds even mimic our own speech.

Another characteristic of birds that we humans respond to is the fact that they build nests. They seem so industrious and we watch with wonder as each type of bird builds its own species-specific nest, ranging from a simple assemblage of twigs to an intricately woven masterpiece of craftmanship. “Nest” is such a cozy word. Birds build their cozy nests, care for their young, and raise their families, all in the course of a single spring or summer. We admire their patience and devotion and attentive care to their offspring. We observe and marvel at a parent bird’s countless trips to and from the nest to diligently feed the helpless chicks. Birds provide us with fine role models for parenting.

Yes, birds are homebodies during the nesting season, but they also migrate. Birds are free to come and go and many cover vast distances each year, as they travel between their summer and their winter homes. They are social creatures, moving in flocks and creating great spectacles as they fly. A glimpse of a V-shaped flock of geese passing overhead thrills us and stirs something in us. We admire their strength and endurance in carrying out such grueling journeys year after year. We envy them, too, for they are free to go beyond mere political boundaries and to cross entire continents. We up north are sorry to see them part each autumn and we are heartened to see them return each spring. The return of such birds as the swallows signals the return of spring, with its promise of birth and renewal.

Each spring we are able to welcome them back into our midsts, for nearly everywhere that humans live, birds live also. Birds cover the earth. There is such a diversity of bird species to fill each ecological niche on earth and to contribute to its balance by doing such things as eating insects and dispersing plant seeds. There are the ducks and moorhens of rural ponds. There are birds who live in the forests. There are birds in the mountains and birds in the deserts. The forbidding oceans have their hardy puffins and pelicans. Even frozen, icy places have their own birds, the lovable penguins.

Birds adapt to so many different habitats and situations, including human environments. The often ignored pigeon is a beautiful bird. (I have cared for and been grateful to have known many individual pigeons over the years.) As a species, they have managed to adapt to modern cityscapes, substituting cliff-like building ledges and bridge girders for their ancestral cliffs of rock. Other bird species may be less tolerant of such disturbances and avoid the prying eyes of humans.

Wherever they choose to live, birds remain symbols of untamed nature, surviving despite man’s interference with their habitats. They remain proud and free to the present day. They are also a living link to the mysterious and fascinating history of life on our planet, as birds are the surviving heirs to the dinosaurs. One look at unfeathered baby birds, with their oversized beaks and feet, and it is easy to see the dinosaur in them.

Each of us may have our own reason, or combination of reasons, for loving birds, but their appeal is indisputable and universal. Birds represent the perfect blend of beauty, strength, grace and endurance, from the cuteness of a tiny sparrow to the majesty of an imposing raptor. Birds fill both the eye and the ear with beauty. We enjoy them. We admire them. Sometimes we envy them. They add appreciably to the quality of our lives and to the diversity of life on earth and the world would be a smaller, sadder, emptier place without them.


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A Backpacking List – Ten Things To Learn

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Have you ever had a backpacking trip that was a disaster – even though you brought everything you needed? Maybe you had matches, but couldn’t get that fire going. You need more than good gear to assure a safe and enjoyable wilderness experience. You need to know how to do a few things, and the following list will get you started.

1. Learn firemaking. Practice in your yard if you have to, but try to start that fire with one match. Try it the next time it’s raining too.

2. Learn to pitch a tent. Do it wrong and the rain will come in, or the the wind will tear the seams. Tents should be pitched tight, and you should be able to set your tent up in a few minutes.

3. Learn how to stay warm. Practice camping in the yard, to see how blocking the wind, wearing a hat, and eating fatty foods before sleeping can keep you warmer.

4. Learn to cook over a fire. It’s not as easy as it seems. Block the wind, cover the pan, keep the fire small and concentrated. Practice, and time yourself. Faster is better in a jam, and it’s always possible your stove will break.

5. Learn about edible plants. Knowing how to identify cattails and three or four wild edible berries can make a trip more enjoyable, especially if you ever lose your food to a bear.

6. Learn how to walk. Learning how to pace yourself and how to move comfortably over rocky terrain means you’ll be less tired, and less likely to twist an ankle.

7. Learn about animals. Can you tell if a bear is “bluff charging” or stalking you? If it’s the latter, playing dead will make you a bear’s supper. Hint: lots of noise usually means he just wants to frighten you, but you need to read up on this one.

8. Learn to watch the sky. Is that a lightning storm coming or not? It might be useful to know when you’re on that ridge. Learn the basics of predicting weather, and you’ll be a lot safer.

9. Learn basic first aid. Can you recognize the symptoms of hypothermia? Do you know how to properly treat blisters? Good things to know.

10. Learn navigation. Maps don’t help if you don’t know how to use them. The same is true for compasses

You don’t need to be an expert in wilderness survival to enjoy a safe hiking trip. It can help to know a little more though. Use the backpacking skills list above, and learn something new.


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A Backpack With Wheels?

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I wouldn’t have thought a backpack with wheels would actually work for backpacking, but when I saw the web site for the “Wheelpacker”(TM), I was impressed. You wear a frame that attaches you to a wheeled pack. It can even go over logs and rocks. It started me thinking about what other backpacking innovations are just waiting to be marketed. Here are a few of the things I came up with. Steal these ideas, please.

Inflatable Frame Backpack

With frame-less backpacks we often put folded sleeping pads in the pack for cushioning against our backs and some support for the load. Why not just have the part of the pack that rests against the user’s back inflate. With the same technology used for lightweight self-inflating sleeping bag pads, it would only add about six ounces. The backpack could then double as a foot-bag/pad for sleeping.

Taking this idea further, I imagine a self-inflating backpack that folds out into a sleeping pad. The backpack “frame” would be the pad, in a “U” shape for some rigidity in the pack. Self-inflating sleeping bag pads are as light as 14 ounces now, and frame less packs 12 ounces, so the combination could probably be made to weigh just 20 ounces.

Wax Paper Food Bags

Put backpacking food in wax-paper packaging instead of plastic. The packages then double as emergency fire-starters, since wax paper will usually burn even when wet.

Pillow/Waterbag

When I need to carry more water I use the plastic bladders from boxed wine. They are light, strong, and I inflate the bag with air to use as a pillow too. To market a dual-purpose water container/pillow, it just needs a soft removable covering of some sort.

Jacket Backpack

Why not a frame-less backpack with a jacket that is a part of the pack? It can be folded out of the way, and the pack would have normal shoulder straps. When wearing the jacket, though, it would stabilize the pack, keep you warmer, and make it easy to push through heavy brush, because it wouldn’t catch on things as easily. It is something like wearing a large jacket over a backpack, but with the weight-savings and stability that come from combining them. It could be called a “Jacket Pack-it.”

Backpacking Game

Print a chess/checkers board on a jacket or backpack, and you have a carry-along game that weighs nothing extra. Great for spending hours in the tent waiting out the rain. If you don’t carry the pieces, stones or pine cones could work as checkers.

Backpacking gear ideas and innovations keep popping into my head as I write this. Most are based on the idea of “dual purpose” items. They may work, some may not, but it is an entertaining dose of inspiration from a backpack with wheels.


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5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your BackCountry Gear

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Time out of doors is a precious commodity to the outdoor enthusiast – but are we getting the most out of this time. One way to ensure maximum backcountry enjoyment is to get the most possible value from the gear you acquire and use. Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your backcountry gear ? and your backcountry experience.

- Purchase the best gear you can possibly afford. If you are going to spend a year planning your next excursion on the continental divide, spend three months getting into great shape, take three weeks vacation when it’s time for the hike, purchase an airline ticket, and so on ? then why are you using the cheapest backpack you can find? A good backpack will make all the difference in the world. This applies to all of your backcountry gear. Whether its your GPS unit, sleeping bag, rain gear or dual-fuel portable stove, be sure to carry good equipment in order to get the most value for your money. Don’t buy cheap!

- Learn how to use all of your gear correctly and practice using it. When you are completely lost, it’s not the time to learn how to navigate with a compass and map. When you and your firewood are wet, it’s not the time to learn how to start a fire with the flare you’ve been carrying for 5 years in your pack. Take time to learn all of the features of your gear. You might be surprised to learn just how useful your GPS really is when you understand how to use the backtrack feature. You’ll be mighty thankful when you learn the proper weight distribution for your backpack. Take time to learn ? practice around your home before you venture into the backcountry.

- Keep your gear with you and use it as much as possible. Your backcountry gear isn’t just for the backcountry. It has unlimited uses in everyday life. Never go on a road trip without your pack. You’ll almost always find an opportunity to use your binoculars or GPS unit. If you don’t have your gear with you, you’ll need it ? never fails.

- Take great care of your gear. Hopefully you’ve learned this from your parents and not necessarily from experience. Your gear will only take good care of you if you take good care of it. Conversely, your gear will let you down if you don’t take good care of it. That’s a bad situation to be in. Inspect everything before you embark on your adventure. Clean and properly store all of your gear upon your return. Have you check your gear’s straps, fuel, waterproofing, batteries and overall condition lately? Taking good care of your gear is an important part of enjoying your backcountry trip.

- When you’re done with it, donate it ? and some of your time – to a local scout troop. They are always looking for assistance from outdoor enthusiasts. You’ll feel great getting this last piece of benefit out of your old trusty gear!

Optimize your time in the backcountry. The easiest way ensure maximum outdoor enjoyment is to get the most possible value from your gear. Let these 5 ways guide you in getting the most out of your backcountry gear ? and your backcountry experience.

Use this information and you’ll Get It Right The First Time. Get Outdoors!


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5 Tips for Successful Bird Watching

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Can you name the number one spectator sport in North America? It’s not baseball, figure skating or racing. It’s bird watching. That’s right, more people are watching birds than football and hockey combined. With so many people hoping to see a bird they’ve never seen before, it’s not surprising to see a clamoring for the latest tips and tools to get the job done. Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of your birding experience.

#1. Get to Where the Birds Are! This sounds obvious, but many birders spend the majority of their bird watching time and energy on poor locations. Some folk have the advantage of looking out of their windows into the back yard to observe nature’s best. The rest of us need to get moving. I would highly recommend visiting a National Wildlife Refuge. There are over 500 of them across the United States. To find one near you, visit http://refuges.fws.gov/

#2. Know What Species to Expect. There are approximately 900 species of birds in the United States and recognizing each of them is nearly impossible. So when you visit an area, do a little research first. You may find that perhaps only a few species actually inhabit that particular area. With a little preparation, you will be able to more readily identify bird species from each other. Keep a list of successfully viewed species ? we’ll call this tip number two and a half.

#3. Get a Great Pair of Binoculars. Spending time and money to get to the right place can be totally wasted when your binoculars are inadequate. If you have an inexpensive pair of binoculars you are not getting the most out of your viewing. Today’s technologies come at a price and they provide crucial benefits in wildlife viewing. For instance, image stabilization will keep your view from shaking-very important when watching from a long distance. Other cool features include anti-fogging, low-light viewing and wide-view characteristics. Additionally, binoculars with built-in digital cameras enable you to identify birds once you get home. These benefits will definitely enhance your bird watching. A great pair of binoculars will turn a mediocre experience into a great one. You can count on it!

#4. Practice Before You Go. A key to viewing wildlife, and especially birds, is to have the ability to very quickly put your binoculars on target. Many people have difficulty finding a full moon in a pair of binoculars-but alas-learning to focus on a bird in a bush or track a bird in flight is easy for someone who has practiced prior to their outing. Try this before you go; lower your binoculars to your side and very quickly raise them to find and follow a jet airliner across the sky. After only a few attempts, you’ll get good at quickly acquiring your target. Quite often, birds are visible for only a few seconds, practice to become proficient.

#5. Take Someone with You. Life is always better when shared. Not only do you get to spend time out of doors with someone you like, but they might alert you to the “Number One Sight of the Day.” Share your birding experiences with your friends and family. Pass the birding excitement to a child.

The best part about wildlife viewing is that you the viewer, control almost every aspect of the experience. The more you are prepared, the more rewarding your time in our backcountry will be.

Use this information and you’ll Get It Right The First Time. Get Outdoors!


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If a natural disaster or economic collapse occurs:

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5 Easy Steps to Giving the Perfect BackCountry Gift

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Does the thought of buying a gift for a friend or relative make you smile or does it stress you out? Is there a hiker or camper on your gift giving list? What can you give to the someone who already has everything? The secret of gift giving is not always the “what.” Many times the “why, when and how” make an ordinary gift the Perfect Gift. Continue reading to discover 5 sure-fire steps to giving the perfect gift to the outdoor enthusiasts in your life.

Step 1: Do Your Homework. This is the toughest of the 5 steps. Doing your homework means thinking about your outdoor enthusiast and what he or she likes about being in the backcountry. Are there any current or past outdoor interests? Perhaps he likes to fish or she likes to climb. Maybe you overheard the comment “I remember when I used to go camping every long weekend. I miss those days.” Our personal shopper service receives hints like this all the time. Chances are you already know their interests, so take a few minutes to think prior to shopping. There are loads of great outdoor gifts available.

Another part of your homework is to understand the relationship between you and your gift recipient’s outdoor hobbies. Last year I was camping with a dear friend who got mildly lost. After about an hour, he showed up in camp a little embarrassed ? but safe. So the perfect gift for him before our next trip was a GPS unit. I also included a hand written coupon good for one free lesson and an extra set of batteries. The relationship we had allowed me to have a little fun with the gift giving. I did provide him with a quality gift and he uses it all the time.

Step 2: Speaking of High Quality. The best way to get the most enjoyment out of our backcountry experiences is to have good gear. When giving a backcountry gift, be sure it’s high quality. There are two gear buying rules to live by. First, only give gear you would use. And secondly, buy the best gear you can afford. Nothing derails good times in the great outdoors like bad gear.

Step 3: The Right Way to Give Certificates. Gift certificates can be an excellent choice for a gift. Here’s a great use of a gift certificate – I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of this story. A friend living across the country knew I loved to hike. He also knew from his own experience that you can’t just buy a backpack for someone else. Backpacks are a very subjective purchase. Instead of buying a me a pack and giving me the task of returning it in order to get the right one, he sent me a gift certificate AND he told me what to buy with it. So now I get the backpack I want and my friend has proven once again how well he knows me. I loved the gift. When giving gift certificates, tell the recipient what to buy with it.

Step 4: Seek Out Customer Friendly Retailers. This is especially important when purchasing a gift on-line. Make sure you are purchasing from a store with visible customer satisfaction and return policies. If your gift recipient needs to exchange or return a piece of gear, the process needs to be hassle-free. If the return procedure is clunky, the perfect gift just became imperfect.

Step 5: Timing is Everything. The best time to get “the birding binoculars I always wanted,” is not on your birthday or at Christmas time. The best time to get them is just before you go birding. The new backpack is a more thoughtful gift just prior to hiking the Grand Canyon than it is for graduation. The value of a gift is greatly increased when given at the right time. Surprise someone with a perfectly timed present.

Giving the Perfect BackCountry Gift is easy to do. Determining “what” to give is important, but so is knowing “why, when and how” to give. Make your next gift giving experience a good one. The outdoor enthusiast in your life is counting on it.

Use this information and you’ll Get It Right The First Time. Get Outdoors!


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4 Season Tents For Gentle Summer Camping

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There is no need to get 4 season tents for gentle summer camping. Even if there is a heavy downpour, the use of sleeping pads combined with adequate planning should keep everything fairly dry. The important thing is to not camp at the bottom of a hill, to make sure the rain fly is secure, and to take advantage of natural cover.

But, a four season tent can be a nice thing to have for extreme conditions, and if you have the money to spend on one, it is a luxury that can really improve your camping experience.

Basically, the difference between 4 season tents and regular tents is that a 4 season tent is tighter, with heavier outer walls. When it is all zipped up, there is no space anywhere for the elements to get in.

In addition, 4 season tents are often stabler so that they can resist extremely heavy storms if need be. This does not mean, however, that you cannot use 4 season tents in nicer weather. Many styles of 4 season tents come with the ability to unzip the outer fly so that you can keep cool on summer days, while still braving near-arctic temperatures in the winter.

You will find, however, that the more extreme the conditions for which it was designed, the more specialized a 4 season tent will be. For example, some true mountaineering 4 season tents are not things that you would like to take camping on a warm summer night.

The ventilation panels are small, with the result that it will be stuffy and hot at night if you are camping during the summer with them. Additionally, they are made of heavier, stronger material, and as a result are an added burden for your normal camping trip.

And of course, good 4 season tents can be prohibitively expensive, running upwards of $500 dollars sometimes. Compare this to a 1-2 person summer tent that you might buy at your camping store.

I got mine for $30 dollars and, although it provides little warmth, it works alright during the summer when combined with a decent sleeping bag.

The truth of the matter is, it is important to think about what you will be doing before you go out and buy expensive mountaineering equipment and 4 season tents that you will not need. You must make sure that your equipment fits its purpose.


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If a natural disaster or economic collapse occurs:

* The 1st food item that will fly off the shelf
* Where to get the top 3 items even if you’re barely making ends meet
* How to lockdown your supplies when the starving mob hits

Don’t risk your family going hungry when crisis hits: Click Here

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