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Survival of the Sleepiest

I don’t do well in the cold. I’m the kind of person who wears sweatshirts in the desert summer (I’m not kidding) because my body believes it’s in Antarctica. Camping, while I love it, has always been a struggle because sleeping is something that only really happens when you’re comfortable….and having my entire body shaking from the cold like I’m having a seizure isn’t what I define as comfortable.

I recently discovered a sleeping bag liner; a little cotton sack that you place inside of your sleeping bag when camping. Placing a liner inside your bag provides a layer of insulation to help you stay at a comfortable temperature on cold nights. It adds an additional 10-20 degrees of warmth!!! I took one with me to the top of a mountain (where, typically, it gets rather chilly).

It was like a blanket on a bed. I slept like a baby!! No shivering, no shaking, no waking up wondering if I’m alive or in the tundra. Those few extra degrees were the difference between me enjoying the trip to me not enjoying the trip, but those precious degrees could mean a lot more if the situation was different.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, a few degrees can mean life or death. It could mean freezing or it could mean surviving. Sleeping bag liners are cheap, light, and efficient. Whether camping, backpacking, or preparing a 72-hour kit, a liner is something I highly recommend. If you’re a summer-baby like me and need to have 10 blankets and 3 jackets on (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration) then come by and grab one! It’ll save you! If you’re preparing for an emergency then come by and grab one! It could save you!

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Creek Havoc

Does the LifeStraw really work? Up front answer: yes, but it can be rather cumbersome to suck water through the filter. The Lifestraw is a personal water filter that is best suited for on-the-go situations like backpacking, camping, or roadtrips. It’s an amazing tool for emergency situations but the straws are a little trickier to use than reviews suggest.

This past week my family and I took a weekend expedition into the wilds to enjoy the fresh air, cooler climate, beautiful trees, and rugged off-roading trails. During the journey, I decided to bring my brand-new Lifestraw to test its functionality. I had read that water treatment was instantaneous and that it was the simplest water filter on the market. That might be true, I haven’t tried others, but here’s what I noticed with the Lifestraw: it needs to be primed before use.

A brand new straw has an inflated filter that makes your first use impossible to suck water through. Before ever sucking up that delicious mountain stream H2O, you have to soak it. Whether it’s in a water bottle, pond, or river, or sink, leave the straw submerged for at least two minutes so the filter can absorb the water and shrink a little bit. After it’s soaked for a bit, pull the straw out and suck…and I mean suck. Like there’s the last piece of orea from your oreo shake stuck in the straw kind of suck. After two or three mind-dizzying sucks, water will come through. Once the water comes through the first time the Lifestraw fits every review and is easy, quick, and effective.

The Lifestraw is small enough to pack and is a great tool to have for any 72 kit, camping expedition, or hiking trip. It might be difficult to use initially, and occasionally it’ll clog (repeat the above steps) but the low price and overall high functionality of the Lifestraw is hard to beat!

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Trip on Your Shoulder

Roaming buffalo, cascading waterfalls, boiling mud pots, and spewing geysers make Yellowstone one of the most geographically amazing places to visit in the world. I’d heard many tales about this magical national park and finally decided to visit a couple weeks ago. It did not disappoint.

Within 15 minutes of entering the park I saw a waterfall bigger than any I’d ever seen! (I’m from the southern Utah desert…we don’t see a lot of water).  Thirty-minutes later I glanced to my left and saw a brown bear nonchalantly walking along the river! A few more miles down the road and a buffalo had halted traffic as it strolled across the road and then started rolling in the mud next to the cars.  As I continued to drive, the sunset mixed with the steam from the boiling hot spots created a beauty that I can only describe as once in a lifetime! It took me less than two hours to realize Yellowstone lived up to its hype…it was incredible!! The unique landscapes and a plethora of animals isn’t all that made my trip to Yellowstone one to remember, however.

I had decided to take my road trip alone (I know I know, not very safe), but I had been safe and smart and nothing had gone wrong…until my third day in the park. Halfway between the West Entrance and Old Faithful my car broke down. I had no cell service, no help, and no more snacks. I flagged people down for 10 minutes but no one stopped to help, so I did what anyone would do:  sat by the river contemplating my life.

After waiting for 30 minutes my stomach started to rumble and I remembered I had brought a Mountain House meal from work along with a propane stove. I set up my pot and got the water to a boil and chowed down to chicken alfredo on the side of the road in Yellowstone National Park.

I learned two things that day: take your car to a mechanic before a long road trip, and always carry a mountain house meal and propane stove in your car in case of an emergency. While it was for reasons I wasn’t quite anticipating, my trip to Yellowstone definitely turned into one I would never forget.