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Qwick Wick Product Review

Qwick Wick

The good people at Qwick Wick sent us a box of fire starters to product test. They boast being able to start your campfire, wood stove, or fireplace without the need for kindling or newspaper. Reportedly, the starters will burn for 30 minutes with an 8-10″ flame. The Qwick Wick website features a video showing them boiling 8 cups of water in under 20 minutes with just one fire starter. Naturally, we wanted to test these claims. 

What’s in the box?

The box we so generously received contained 50 fire starters. They sell a 4-pack and 24-pack as well. These fire starters are little paper cups filled with wood chips that are soaked in soy wax with a red wick sticking out of it. Individually, the fire starters are about 2-1/2″ in diameter and 1-1/2″ tall. They weigh on average 2.5 ounces with a slight beeswax smell. If you are planning to carry these in your pack, we suggest putting them in a plastic bag to keep the rest of your gear from having a slight beeswax smell.   

Qwick Wick

Lighting the Wood stove:

Our main source of heat during the winter time is our wood stove here at Camp Gear Center world headquarters. Typically, we use either newspaper or old copier papers with kindling to get the fire started. Naturally, we wanted to test out how well the Qwick Wick would light the wood stove. We placed thew Qwick Wick in the middle of our wood stove and put some (not too small) split fuel above it and lit the wick with our fireplace lighter. We didn’t want to put the kindling too low since we were testing the flame height and it’s ability to light the fire (and we didn’t need kindling!). The fuel was about 8″ above the flame at an angle. Once we lit the wick, it didn’t take long for the rest of the unit to catch fire. Before we knew it, the flame was touching the side of the fuel igniting it. Next thing we noticed was that the wood was on fire and we were ready to add fuel. The Qwick Wick continued to burn adding extra help to the fuel that we added. Next thing we knew, we had a nice fire going & warm room!

Qwick Wick
Starting the wood stove
Qwick Wick
Lighting the fuel
Qwick Wick
Fuel is lit! Look at that flame!

Boiling Water:

On the Qwick Wick website, they have a pretty cool video of boiling 8 cups of water in under 20 minutes. Naturally, we wanted to test this claim as well. The Qwick Wick boil test used a pot sitting on 2 logs with the Qwick Wick in between. We believe that the logs catching fire contributed to the time to boil the water so we decided to try the Qwick Wick in between a couple bricks to let the fire starter do ALL the work. While we didn’t get a sub 20 minute boil, it took about 30 minutes to boil 8 cups of water. Not a bad heat output for this little fire starter, but if you really need to boil water, use one of these to start a fire and go for it. It is important to note that the Qwick Wick did deposit a fair amount of soot on the bottom of our pot that we used so a thin layer of dish soap will help with cleaning the pot. Apply the dish soap before putting on the fire.   

Qwick Wick
Boiling water

Lighting the Qwick Wick:

One would normally light the Qwick Wick much like you would a candle. Grab a lighter and light the wick just like you would a candle at home. Since we’ve never really been accused of “normal”, we wanted to try a couple different methods. We already know the lighter works (see wood stove above), so we tried to use a flint & steel and magnifying glass. The flint & steel will not directly light the Qwick Wick, however, if you surround the wick with a cotton ball and light that, ignition! The magnifying glass didn’t quite get the wick or wood shavings hot enough to light, but if you use the cotton ball trick, it will also light no problem. As a side note, if you pull a Qwick Wick out of the box and there happens to be no wick (it could happen), you can simply light the side of the paper cup with no issues. 

Qwick Wick
Lighting with a cotton ball & spark

Here’s a video of lighting the Qwick Wick fire starter with a spark:

Lighting the Qwick Wick with a magnifying glass test:

Conclusion:

These fire starters are awesome! They are lightweight, they start fires as promised, and they are easily transported. We certainly put them through the paces and were not disappointed. 

Qwick Wick
They also light campfires really well!

 Where can you get yours? Here

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Apeman A60 Action Camera – What You Need to Know

Action Camera

We are new into the action camera world and picked up the Apeman A60 Action Camera to get our feet wet so to speak. We are naturally into camping and all things outdoors as you know which includes canoeing.

It makes me nervous to pull out my phone to take pics and videos while canoeing so I did a little research and came across this little camera. Quick disclaimer: you will need your own Micro SD card (up to 32Mb) in order for this to work. 

What’s in the box?

Apeman A60 Action Camera

When we got the box, the first thing we noticed was how well it was packaged. This camera is packaged nice enough to be given as a gift. I say that because many lower cost action cameras are not packaged nearly as nice as this. Inside the box is a black zippered case that holds the camera, battery, and all the mounts that it comes with. The case is somewhat hard sided, but I doubt shock proof. It has foam padding and cut outs for the various attachments and mounts. 

There are a number of different mounts inside the box. There is the waterproof case, there are 2 flat mounts for helmets or whatever, tripod mounts, bike handlebar or pole mount, and extension pieces which make hinges for various angles, and a housing to use the camera on a mount outside of the waterproof housing, a clip to mount the camera to almost anything. Some of the miscellaneous items included are double stick pads for a couple of the mounts, 4 zip ties, a couple velcro straps, microfiber cloth, and the charging/data cable.  There is also an instruction booklet and extra door for the waterproof housing. 

Here’s the first video I ever shot with this camera to test it out:

What we liked about the camera:

This little camera takes great video and pictures! The battery seems to last most of the day while using it on & off. It takes really good video and pictures. The 170 degree field of view gives a really cool perspective. This camera is also really small. I think that was probably the biggest surprise; just how small it is. Outside any of the housings, this camera measures 2-1/4″ x 1-9/16″x 15/16″ and weighs just 2oz. The accessories aren’t terribly heavy either so You won’t really notice them if you’re hiking with it. The battery life really didn’t disappoint either. 

Action Camera
An example of the picture quality

This camera has a self timer so it shuts off when not in use after either 3, 5, or 10 minutes (you can select one or turn this feature off).

We didn’t get a chance to play with the motion detection recording, but plan to in the near future. Look for an update. There are other features we haven’t played with either (remember, we’re new to this). We plan to really dive into this camera and test out the various cool features soon. 

The camera was super easy to set up and you can both charge the battery and transfer files through the included micro-USB cable. No need to take the micro-SD card out to transfer files and risk dropping/losing the card. Those things are small!

Action Camera
An example of the easy to follow menu
What we would change:

The only thing we would change would be to have more instructions for the various mounts. We already established that we are new to this world and many of the mounts and accessories are not intuitive. Luckily, there are plenty of online videos that explain the different mounting techniques.  All you have to do is search YouTube for “action camera mounting” and be prepared to spend some time watching videos. We also discovered that storing your action camera in the waterproof case for extended periods tends to compress the pads on the door and the camera isn’t as responsive to turning on/off/changing modes. Removing the camera from the waterproof housing when not being used on/in/near the water seemed to fix this issue.  

Accessories we picked up extra:

Handle (floating) – This camera is small. Without a handle of some sorts, it could easily be dropped. Since we really like the waterproof housing feature, a floating handle makes sense. This particular handle has a textured grip and is a good size in out hands. Get yours here

Action Camera

Flexible tripod – Being able to set the camera down for shooting videos for us is essential. This add-on was a much needed one. We liked this particular tripod because it is lightweight, can wrap around things such as branches, and isn’t terribly expensive. Get yours here

Action Camera

There are a TON of accessories available for action cameras. Helmet mounts, handlebar mounts, chest mounts, car dash mounts, the list goes on & on. After we purchased the above accessories, we bought this assortment  which contains items similar to the above & more. 

Conclusion:

When shopping for a decent action camera that takes good videos & pictures while not breaking the bank; this is the perfect camera. We use this camera for filming various product reviews, out with the Scouts in or out of the water, or just filming things around Camp Gear Center headquarters. If you aren’t sure if an action camera is for you, consider whether or not you take pictures or videos around water or not. This was the #1 reason we picked one up and have not been disappointed by this one. 

If you want to get your own Apeman action camera, click here.

 

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.    

 

 

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Foxelli 10w Solar Charger Review

Solar Charger

It’s no secret that we love the outdoors. It’s also no secret that we like to take pictures & videos in the out doors (hence our Instagram & Facebook pages). What we don’t love is our phones or cameras going dead while we camp. We typically use external batteries to charge our devices while we sleep. If we are going to be out for an extended period of time, we have to being a lot of batteries. This can get heavy. Enter the 10w Solar Charger by Foxelli.

Solar Charger
Folds down small!

We picked up this charger for the sole intention of charging our batteries during the day so we can charge our devices at night while we sleep.  We put this charger through the paces and here’s what our tester reports. 

First, some quick stats:

  • Converts up to 16% of solar energy into power for USB devices
  • Has 2 outputs to charge 2 devices at the same time
  • Puts out 1.85A in total charging power
  • Automatically detects input needed for connected devices
  • Has multiple loops (8) and 2 carabiners for hanging or attaching
  • It is weather resistant & durable
  • Weighs only 1.23lbs so it is hardly noticed in (or on) your pack
  • Open size: 24.6″ x 8.7″ x .6″
  • Folded size: 8.7″ x 6.1″ x 1.2″  

What we liked:

We were really surprised ho light this was. Since it doesn’t have it’s own battery, there isn’t much to weigh this charger down. We also like all the different areas for attaching. Attaching it to a number of backpacks and there were no issues. We found that it charged best when laid out on a log angle for the right sun exposure. Being able to charge 2 separate items is also a plus. That way, we didn’t have to prioritize which device to charge first. The outside of the unit is a canvas material that is fairly easy to clean.

Solar Charger
Charging our phone

How we tested the solar charger:

Like I mentioned earlier, we like to use external batteries to charge our devices while we sleep (aka not using them). We charged 2 different external batteries. On of the batteries has an output of 1000mA and the other, 10,000mA. Both batteries were completely dead when we hooked them to this solar charger. Obviously, how much of a charge there exists, will effect the recharge time, so we started with dead batteries. We hooked both backup batteries to the solar charger at approximately 8:00 AM. We left the charger on a log all day, not bothering to angle it for optimal sun exposure. Each of our batteries has an led indicator to show that is is charging and how full the battery is. The 1000ma battery was fully charged by 1:00 PM!

Solar Charger
2 USB outlets!

Since we were charging 2 separate devices and the solar charger had to split the 1.85A, it probably would have charged even quicker had we only hooked up the 1 device. We unplugged this batter and stored it away for use in the evening. The 10,000mA battery was about 1/2 full by lunch time. At the end of the day, and the sun had gone down, the 10,000ma battery was indicating 75% charged. Keep in mind, that this larger battery will charge a phone about 4 times.

Next we attached the solar charger to a back pack (vertically) and tested only the small battery. We didn’t hook it up until about 10:30 in the morning and since it wasn’t laying flat and getting full sun exposure to the whole unit, took the rest of the day to charge the battery. This smaller battery will charge a phone once per charge, so this was still pretty good.

Solar Charger
Charging the batteries

Finally, we hooked our phone to the solar charger since there is a really good charge indication. We used a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone. We laid the charger on a log then plugged in the phone. It is important to note not to put the phone in the pocket of the charger. It will get hot in there & could damage the phone. We just tucked the phone underneath.  Here are the time stats:

 

 

Time Battery          Notes
11:05 5% Plugged phone in
11:45 38%
12:15 65%
12:45 89%
1:15 100% Charged in full!

 

What we would change:

There isn’t a whole lot we would change about this solar charger. It works and it works well!  I’m sure there are people that would want different colors, but we’re good with the basic black. Some may even want a USB cable to be included but with all the different variations, that isn’t really possible. So I guess, we really wouldn’t change a thing.

Conclusion:

This solar charger is a great unit! While we didn’t experience testing it in any weather, it did sustain a fall off the log from high winds. We found by simply connecting our batteries and letting them go all day, we had plenty of power! If you need more power, Foxelli makes a 21w model that puts out 3.5A (link). So far, we have been impressed with the quality of products from Foxelli. We have their hammock, this solar charger, and their trail camera (look for reviews of those items soon).

This is a must have for any camper, hiker, or outdoors person!

If you would like one of these awesome solar chargers, you can purchase one here.

Solar Charger
Instructions are printed right there!

 

Solar Charger

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Garmin etrex 20x Video Review

Here is a quick video review of the Garmin etrex 20x GPS unit. We point out a few of the features we love and you probably will too!

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UST Folding Stove Review

Folding stove

We were recently given the opportunity to review Ultimate Survival Technologies’ folding stove. This stove burns the solid fuel hexamine type tablet. Hexamine tablets burn smokelessly, have a high energy density, do not liquefy while burning and leave no ashes. This stove doesn’t have to be used with the tablets, but that’s how we tested it.

First impression of the folding stove

folding stove

We opened the box to pull out the metal folding stove all folded with the hexamine cubes inside. (We sell each separately). The folded stove is about 4-1/2″ x 3-3/4″ x 1″ thick and weighs approximately 4 oz without the cubes. It’s a nice compact little stove. We decided to unfold it and see how long it would take to boil 12 oz of water.

The instructions say to use 1-2 tablets, so we used 2!. We figure if 1 is good, 2 is better!

Lighting the hexamine tablets proved to be a little tricky since the wind was blowing pretty well. A little research determined that these tablets don’t like the wind. We agree. We sheltered the wind and lit the tablets. After about 30 seconds, they were burning pretty well so we added our pot with 12 oz of water.

Folding stove

In hindsight, we should have angled the sides in to support the pot which it probably said to do in the instructions. Reading instructions was never a strong suit. To our surprise, the water started steaming within just a couple minutes; and by just over 5 minutes, we had boiling water. We probably could have used 1 hexamine tablet and achieved similar results. If we had though, we wouldn’t have melted the plastic coating on our handles! It is also advised to use this stove on a non-flammable surface. We accidentally set a few pine needles on fire that didn’t get moved.

folding stove

what we like:

This little stove has a couple things that we really like. 1. it is lightweight. Weighing in at about 4 oz, it is almost as if it’s not even in our pack. 2. The size. This stove is nice and compact and fits in the smallest of our pack pockets. 3. It cooled off quickly. We expected the metal to stay hot for much longer than it did once we removed the fuel tabs. It was cool enough to put back in our pack within 5 minutes (the air outside was cool, which may have helped that).

What we would change

When we lit the stove, there was a “chemically” smell. We’re not sure if it was the metal stove being used for the first time, our pot handles melting, or the hexamine tabs. Further use will clarify this question. We will post updates after further use to let you know if the smell continues.

Conclusion:

This is a cool little stove. The tablets burn for about 18 minutes which seems to be plenty of time (you can add another just after for longer cooking). The tablets also fit neatly inside the folded stove keeping everything contained. This is an inexpensive little stove that does a great job at what it’s supposed to do. You can purchase the stove here and the hexamine tablets here.

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Insulated Water Bottle by Liquid Hardware Gear Review

Insulated water bottle

We all know the importance of staying hydrated. When the Camp Gear Center crew is on a hike, out camping, or just on a road trip; we like our water cold. To us, it just seems more refreshing than room temperature water. We were excited to test out the Sidewindertm vacuum insulated water bottle.

Water Bottle Features:

  • Vacuum Insulated-  COLD 24 hours HOT 12 hours
  • Magnetic Quick Stick Lid tether allows you to quickly attach your lid to the bottle’s side
  • Food grade 18/8 stainless steel and BPA free 
  • Easy to hold in your hand and fits in car, golf cart, SUV etc. cup holders
  • Triple layer vacuum insulation technology – does not sweat!
  • Drink spout quick pops open for drinking and securely snaps shut to seal your bottle
  • Leak-proof lid design
  • Wide mouth opening is easy to clean, easy to fill and add coffee, tea, hot cocoa etc…
  • Fits most back country water filters that are Nalgene compatible
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • USA patented and international patents
  • Custom bottle Finishes Available on large Orders
  • Bottle sticks to just about any metal surface for storage, even when full! (refrigerator, gym equipment, playground equipment…)
  • Lid floats in water and becomes a survival compass!

First Impressions:

When I opened the box; inside was the bottle, the lid, the care instructions wrapped around the bottle, and a Liquid Hardware sticker. The first thing I noticed how solid the bottle felt. I tested the bottle in my vehicle and it fit every cup holder I have. The lid screws on snugly and try as I might, I couldn’t get it to leak when it was screwed on snugly.

Cold Water Test

I wanted to really test how well the bottle kept water cold, so I performed an unscientific test. I filled the bottle with ice and water at 3:30PM on a Thursday and the temperature was a nice cold 33.9 degrees.

Insulated Water Bottle starting temperature
Starting Temp

The next morning (6:40), I tested the water again and the temperature was 39.9 degrees. Pretty impressive only gained 6 degrees. I was busy and couldn’t test the water after 24 hours so I tested the water in the bottle at 4:15PM. The temperature was 48 degrees! Not exactly ice cold, but still cold and refreshing.

Insulated water bottle
End Temp

What We Like:

I like that this bottle kept my water cold while I was drinking it. I prefer colder water to room temperature any day. The wide mouth of the bottle is great! Easy to fill and even add ice. I really like the magnetic tether that keeps the lid in place. This is more useful when storing the bottle or drying it than while drinking since I would take the lid off, take a sip, and screw the lid back on. The fact that the lid seals so well is also high on the list of “likes”. My bottle spent a lot of time on it’s side and not a drop escaped! This bottle fits in my hand well and at 16oz is a pretty good size. Stainless steel! While a stainless bottle is a little heavier than a plastic bottle, you have zero issues to worry about with BPA. We love this! Another cool feature is that the lid can be used as a compass. With the magnet, the lid will naturally point north (magnet points south).  Speaking of the lid, I also liked that it has a loop for a carabiner to attach to a pack.

Insulated water bottle
Pointing North

What We Would Change:

The only thing I could think of changing would be color options (which I’m sure are coming) and maybe a larger bottle. 16oz of water is good, but if you’re doing some serious hiking, more water is better.

Conclusion:

This is a GREAT insulated water bottle! It does exactly what the manufacturer says. It keeps the water cold (& hot water hot) and just works. For all the reasons listed above you can’t go wrong with this bottle. Liquid Hardware is also concerned with the environment and offers a lifetime guarantee. How can you lose? You can purchase the insulated water bottle here.

 

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Travel Mug by Liquid Hardware Gear Review

Here at Camp Gear Center, we like our coffee. We also like our coffee to be (and stay) hot. Many travel mugs we have tried tend to loose heat quickly so we were excited to test out the Liquid Hardware Auroratm  travel mug.

Travel Mug Details:

  • Vacuum Insulated-  COLD 24 hours HOT 12 hours
  • Magnetic Quick Stick Lid tether allows you to quickly attach your lid to the bottle’s side
  • Food grade 18/8 stainless steel and BPA free 
  • Easy to hold in your hand and fits in car, golf cart, SUV etc. cup holders
  • Triple layer vacuum insulation technology – does not sweat!
  • Drink spout quick pops open for drinking and securely snaps shut to seal your bottle
  • Leak-proof lid design
  • Wide mouth opening is easy to clean, easy to fill and add coffee, tea, hot cocoa etc…
  • Fits most back country water filters that are Nalgene compatible
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • USA patented and international patents

First Impressions:

Upon opening the box, my first impression was how stout this mug felt in my hands. This mug just feels solid. The lid fits snugly and seals to the mug well. The magnetic lid is cool! As per the instructions, I washed the mug and lid and was able to magnetically attach the lid to the mug to let everything dry. Inside the box was the mug, the care and handling instructions as a band around the mug, and a Liquid Hardware sticker.

The next morning,  I filled the mug with coffee and went out to start my day at approximately 8:00 in the morning. During the next few hours of normal sipping, the coffee remained consistently hot. While many travel mugs I have tried usually cool off pretty quick, causing me to drink my coffee faster than I would prefer.

Hot Water Test:

That evening, I filled the cup with hot water with the intent of seeing how long it would stay hot. Keep in mind, this is a completely unscientific experiment. I started at 6:15PM with hot water in the cup and the temperature was 193.5 degrees.

Travel Mug hot water test start
6:15 PM Start

The next morning, I tested the water at 6:45 and the temperature was 98.4 degrees. While this is not “hot”, it is still warm and other mugs would be much colder. Again, I want to stress that this experiment is is no way scientific. I am using a candy thermometer in a room with an uncontrolled temperature (I think it got down to 57 in the house last night). Besides, who uses their travel mug in a comp[letely controlled environment?

Travel mug ending temperature
6:45 AM End

 

What We Like:

This travel mug kept my coffee hot for the few hours I sipped it. I have used other travel mugs that cool off before I get 3 miles down the road. The wide mouth is great for filling the mug; less chance of missing the opening and having to clean up a mess. The magnetic “tether” is really cool. Not only does it keep your lid in place, but it has a rubberized covering that keeps the bottle from getting scratched. At 16oz, this mug is the perfect size. Stainless steel is the way to go for hot drinks; plastic can leach chemicals into your drink. The lid is BPA-free plastic (your drink doesn’t spend a lot of time in contact with it). It fits your hand well, fits in all the car cup holders and is the right amount of coffee, tea, or whatever warm beverage you’re enjoying.

What We Would Change:

I honestly can’t think of anything to change on this travel mug. If I could add 1 enhancement, it would be a handle that could be clipped on to the outside of your pack, or maybe different color options. It already comes in black and brushed stainless steel, but I can imagine other stainless colors coming down the road.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, this is a great travel mug! For all the reasons listed above, you can’t go wrong with this product. Liquid Hardware is a company concerned with the environment and offer a lifetime guarantee on their products. You can purchase this travel mug here (link).

 

 

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UST SparkForce Review

UST Fire starter

The UST (Ultimate Survival Technologies) SparkForce is the fire starter that I carry in my fire starting kit. I have used many different fire starters and find this to be one of the best ones out there.

UST SparkForce
My fire kit

The fire starting kit I carry (& I have multiple) consists of the UST SparkForce & some cotton balls in an old mint tin. I find the tin to be the perfect size and holds everything I need to start about 6 campfires. If you use something other than cotton balls, you may be able to fit more into the tin.

What I like:

The SparkForce is self contained. The cap contains the striker which means you don’t need to use your pocket knife. It is light. If you do any backpacking, weight is an issue; this won’t break your back! It is easy to find in your bag. If you don’t keep it in a tin, the bright orange color makes it easy to spot in your gear bag. It works. The Spark Force creates a spark hot enough to start a fire with a variety of tinder.
It is simple to use. 1. You simply open the case and hold the striker against the metal rod and apply pressure. 2. You pull back the metal rod releasing the sparks in a downward direction into your tinder.
You may need to do this a couple times if your tinder doesn’t ignite.

Bottom line:

The SparkForce is a great addition to any camping kit. It is lightweight, economical, and works well. If you don’t have one of these yet, or are considering one, do it! You won’t regret the decision. You can get yours here.

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Camping Glossary

tents

Whether you’re new to camping, or a seasoned camper; there always seems to be terms we have either never heard or are not as familiar with. We at Camp Gear Center have out together a camping glossary to help with some of the terms associated with camping and backpacking. If you think of a term that we missed, please comment below and we can add it.

3-Season tent – A tent recommended for use in summer, spring and fall.

4-Season tent – A tent designed to handle any weather conditions, including harsh winter weather.

                                                A

A-frame – An older-style tent featuring a mid-support that runs the length of the structure in the shape of an “A”.

Altimeter – An instrument that measures elevation by using barometric (air) pressure.

                  B

Back country – The isolated and uninhabited sections of national park, public land or forest.

Making coffee on a backpacking stove

Backpack stove – Small lightweight stove that is easy to carry in a backpack. Most use either white gas or isobutane/propane gas. 

Backpacking – Traveling with all of your belongings, including tents and sleeping bags, carried in a backpack.

Baffle – Fabric panels sewn to the inner and outer shell of a sleeping bag. Baffles keep the insulation in place. Down bags must be baffled. Most synthetic bags feature quilted insulation.

Bank(ing) a fire – To build a wall around a fire (or where fire is to be) out of rocks or stones, or to build the fire next to a rock or dirt wall such that it blocks the wind.

Base plate – The see-through plate of an orienting compass onto which the compass housing is mounted.

Bear bag  – In bear country, campers must take measures to safeguard their food and cooking utensils. Food items are placed in a strong, waterproof bag (the bear bag), tied to a rope and suspended out of reach.

Bear Lockers – Metal lockers provided by a campsite to keep bears and other wildlife from eating campers’ foods.

Bearing – The reading of your compass in the direction you’re heading.

Bivoac shelter

Bivouac – A tent designed to accommodate only one person.

Bivy sack – A small one-man tent or bag of sleeping bag proportions often used for emergency shelter.

Boxing the needle

Boxing the Needle – The process of lining up a compass’s needle with magnetic north.

Breathable – refers to the porosity of fabrics. Breathable materials are not waterproof.

Bushwhacking – Off-trail travel through brush where no cleared path exists and hikers have to force their way through the branches.

                     C

Cache – A placement of food and/or supplies along or near a trail or route of travel for future use.

Canopy – The inner wall of a double-walled tent. The canopy is breathable; the outer wall, or fly, is waterproof.

Catenaly cut – the natural curve formed by a rope that’s tightly strung between two trees. A tent which has a catenary cut rigs tighter (less sidewall sag) than one without catenary cut. Catenary cut is a feature of the best tents.

Cardinal points –The four main points of direction on a compass–North/360 degrees; East/90 degrees; South/180 degrees; and West/270 degrees.

Chuck Box – A box or sack for camping cookware. Keep the chuck box separate from the rest of supplies to minimize cleanup.

Cirque (French, from the Latin word circus) – An amphitheater-like valley formed by glacial erosion.

Citronella candles – Popular and natural insect repellent that keeps away mosquitoes.

Cliff – A high, steep face of rock; a precipice.

                                            D

Day pack – Small backpack that holds enough gear for a one-day outing.

Deadman – A log or rock buried in the ground to provide a solid point for anchoring a tent in ground that is too soft for stakes.

Declination – The difference in degrees between magnetic north (the direction the magnetic needle on a compass points) and true or geographic north (the direction maps are printed towards).

Deep-lugged sole – A boot sole featuring deep ridges and grooves for maximum traction.

DEET – diethyl-meta-toluamide, the active ingredient in most insect repellents.

Dehydration – Excessive loss of body fluid that could result in headaches, fainting and more severe symptoms.

Denier -(den-year)- A weight measurement used to refer to the fineness of a yarn or thread used in some backpacking and camping equipment. The lower the denier, the more thin the thread. The higher the denier the more durable the fabric will be.

Diamond stone – a type of man-made sharpening stone which contains powdered diamonds. Diamond stones are lubricated with water (not cutting oil). They remove metal much faster than traditional oil stones.

Differential cut – The inner shell of a sleeping bag is cut smaller than the outer shell, to produce a Thermos bottle effect. The merits of this construction are still being argued by equipment freaks everywhere.

Dining fly – An overhead tarp (fly) used for protection from rain. Usually erected just before mealtimes, hence the descriptive name.

Typical dome tent

Dome – A tent shape where the poles create a dome by curving over each other (see picture above). 

Double-wall construction – A style of tent architecture utilizing two walls–an inner wall, or canopy, made of breathable nylon, and an outer waterproof wall or fly.

Down – The soft, fluffy under layer of waterfowl plumage used as insulation in some sleeping bags and coats.

Draft tube – The insulated flap that covers the length of a sleeping bag zipper. Without a great draft tube, cold air would be sucked in and warm air forced out every time you moved. A down-filled tube that runs the length of a sleeping bag zipper – prevents cold air from filtering through the zipper teeth.

Dropped-point knife – The favored style for hunting knives – the point is centered (similar to a spear-point) on the blade. Dropped-point knives are ideal for skinning game animals but are not the most suitable style for camp knives.

Dry bag –  A bag used to keep contents dry when the top is folded correctly.

Duck – Two or three small rocks piled one on top of the other to be used as a trail marker.

Duluth pack – A voluminous envelope style (usually, canvas) pack popular with canoeists.

Dutch ovens stacked

Dutch Oven – A heavy metal pot with a cover used around camps to bake and prepare other delicious meals. Usually made out of cast iron.  There is an art to good Dutch Oven cooking and some spend their lives perfecting their tasty dishes. Often a complete meal can be prepared in one Dutch Oven.

DWR – Acronym for Durable Water-Repellent finish, a treatment found on outerwear that forces water to bead much as wax does for a car.

                                             E

Embers – The best thing to cook on if using a wood fire. When the flames have died down and the part-burnt wood glows orange or white, it is the most efficient heat to cook on.

Encapsulation technology – A special durable water-repellent finish (DWR) that wraps around each fabric fiber, as opposed to going on like a continuous coat of paint. Provides excellent water-repellency, doesn’t compromise breathability, is abrasion-proof, adds tear strength, and makes garments feel soft and supple. Used in some down and Polarguard 3D-insulated clothes.

Ensolite – A soft rubber material that makes wonderfully light yet, for the most part, comfortable sleeping mats for use under sleeping bags while backpacking or camping. Originally developed by NASA to protect pressure from damage.It has virtually 100% memory and is waterproof.

Escarpment – The steep face frequently presented by the abrupt termination of stratified rocks. 

EVA (ethyl-vinyl-acetate) – Strongest, most resilient, and most expensive of the closed-cell foams. EVA makes an excellent trail mattress.

External frame pack – A backpack supported by a rigid frame on the outside of the pack.

                                                  F

Face – The side of a cliff, escarpment, or other mostly vertical rock structure. The side of a geological structure, as in west facing slope.

Fanny pack – A small zippered nylon pack that’s attached to a waist-belt.

Ferrule – The metal sleeve that’s attached to the pole sections of fiberglass tent poles. Ferrules form a joint between pole sections.

Filling power (of down) – Same as “loft”. It’s the thickness of a sleeping bag lying flat and fluffed. Generally speaking, the greater the “loft” of a sleeping bag, the warmer it will be.

Flash Flood  – A sudden flood of water resulting from a cloudburst.

Flat-fell seam – Overlapping construction; the seam goes through four layers of material.

Floating dial compass – The compass needle is part of the numbered compass dial, which rotates as a unit. This allows the instrument to be read in the same plane as the eye of the user. 

Floor area – The amount of usable floor space in a tent, measured in square feet.

Foam pad – A sleeping mattress made of either open-cell or closed-cell foam.

Foot – The rounded end of a sleeping bag, also called a foot box.

Footprint – The shape and square footage of a tent floor.

Frame pack – a pack with an exterior aluminum or fiber framework.

Free-standing tent – A type of tent that doesn’t require ropes or stakes to keep the tent standing (see dome tent).

Frostbite – A medical condition caused by extreme cold that could eventually result in amputation if left untreated.

Frost liner – A detachable inner “roof’ for a tent that absorbs moisture which might condense, freeze, and drop on sleeping occupants. Frost liners are made from cotton or cotton polyester fabric and are needed only in below freezing conditions.

Fuel – 1. larger wood that keeps the fire going.  2. gas for a stove or engine.

Fuel bottle – Traditionally refers to “Sigg” aluminum bottles, which are used for the storage of gasoline and kerosene.

                                              G

Gaiter – A water-repellent, internal sleeve that can be tightened around boot and lower leg to keep out snow.

  or

Gators – Nylon anklets (usually with side zippers) used by skiers and mountaineers. Gators prevent snow from getting in your boot tops, and they add extra warmth.

Gauntlet – A glove extending beyond the wrist for added warmth and protection.

Geodesic dome – A dome-shaped tent with a strong faceted framework of tubular aluminum. Geodesic domes are the Cadillac of domes!

Gear loft – An overhead shelf in a tent. Keeps small gear overhead, providing more floor space for bags. Good place to keep a flash light or other small items. 

Giardia – A bacteria that contaminates water in the backcountry and can cause severe stomach cramps and other symptoms. More properly known as giardiasis, an infection of the lower intestines caused by ingesting the amoebic cyst, Giardia lamblia, in untreated water.

Giardiasis – A waterborne disease carried by the protozoan “Giardia.” Giardia is commonly carried by beaver. Incubation time is one to two weeks. The pathogen is very hardy.

Girth – The inside space, as measured around the sleeper’s waist area. Mummy bags have the smallest girth, and rectangular have the largest.

Gray water – Wastewater that’s created from bathing, cooking, laundry and other activities.

Grommet on a tarp

Grommet – Little round metal sewn-in rings found on corners of so-called post & grommet type tents – usually 2 or more per pole point/corner, on better tent models. These make for durable, fast set-ups, and easier adjustments when temps change fabric and pole lengths. Also found on generic tarps, and some custom tent footprints. Grommets can sometimes be plastic as well. 

Ground stakes or pegs- Anchors that hold a tent to the ground.

Gusseted tongue (bellows) – A leather piece attached to both sides of the upper on a hiking boot, designed to keep out water and dirt.

Guy lines – A length of cord used to secure or reinforce the walls and rain fly of a tent.

Guy-out loops (also known as guy-out rings, guy points, storm rings, storm ties) – Extra connection points on tent, for cord/line runs to additional stakes in event of wind gusts – basic tents usually require customer purchase separate line and stakes to make use of these rings, which is strongly suggested you employ in event of weather changes. 

Guy point – One of several points outside a tent where a line (a guy line) can be attached and then secured to a stake or other anchor in order to increase a tent’s structural integrity.

                                                        H

Haft – The handle of an axe. 

Hanging out in a hammock

Hammock – A method of camping where a nylon “bed” is suspended between two trees. Makes for minimal environmental impact and a great night’s sleep. 

Haversack – A bag or pouch used by hikers to carry food, usually carried at the side by a shoulder strap.

Head gasket – A piece sewn around the hood of a sleeping bag to keep in warm air.

Heat stroke – When your body temperatures rises significantly from being exposed to the sun.

Hike – A long walk usually for exercise or pleasure.

Hip belt – The main support device on a backpack. Large padded belt that buckles around the waist and is fully adjustable. (makes carrying the pack much more comfortable)

Hollow-ground (knife) – The edge is ground to a concave bevel which produces a thin, razor edge and a stiff spine.

Hood closure – The tie cord and fastener which secures the hood of a sleeping bag around the sleeper’s face.

Horn – A high pyramidal peak with steep sides formed by the intersecting walls of three or more cirques.

Housing – The rotating part of a compass that holds the damping fluid, the magnetic needle and has degrees engraved around its edge from 1 to 360. 

Hypothermia – A potentially lethal physical state caused by lowering of the body’s core temperature, due to exposure to cold wet weather.

                                               I

I-pole tent – A tent with a single vertical pole at each end.

Imu – A shallow pit used for cooking.

Inselberg  – Prominent steep-sided residual hills and mountains rising abruptly from plains. The residuals are generally bare and rocky, large and small, isolated and in hill and mountain groups, and they are surrounded by lowland surfaces of erosion that are generally true plains, as distinguished from peneplains.

Internal frame pack – A backpack supported by stays on the inside. The stays give the pack shape and make it more comfortable to carry than a traditional soft pack.

Iron ranger

Iron ranger – An “iron ranger” is a fee collection box used at campgrounds that do not have full time attendants. Upon entrance to the campground, you deposit your nightly fee(s) in an envelope with your name and site number and drop this in the collection box. At sometime during the day, a park ranger will make rounds of the campgrounds and collect the fees. You will often see these in National Park and National Forest campgrounds.

                                                  K

Kerf – A cut made by an ax, saw, etc.

Kindling – Small, thin, dead wood (1″ around or less) used to start a fire.

Knife-edge – A very narrow ridge crest. In spots, the crest of a knife-edge is too angular to walk on, and travel requires scrambling over and around pinnacles, along ledges on the side of the ridge, or even straddling the ridge.

                                               L

Layering – Wearing several thin layers of clothes, one over the other. Layering is the most efficient clothing system for cold weather.

Lean-to – A two or three-sided shelter with an over-hanging roof and one open side.

Leave No Trace – A set of outdoor ethics promoting outdoor conservation.

Lensatic compass

Lensatic compass – A compass which features a built-in magnifying lens for ease of reading directions. See above

Lexan® – A material used in water bottles and other camping gear that is extremely durable and can withstand a wide range of temperatures.

Lock-back knife – A folding knife that has an integral lock which “locks” the blade in place when it is open. Some modern lock-backs are really “side-locks” or “front-locks.” Lock-back knives do not have pressure springs like ordinary jack-knives, so they can be opened easily with one hand while wearing mittens.

Loft – The height and thickness of insulation in a sleeping bag. The thickness of a sleeping bag that’s laying flat and fluffed. Generally speaking, the higher the loft, the warmer the bag.

Low-impact camping – An ethic that treats nature with respect by leaving as little trace as possible (see Leave No Trace).

Lumbar pad – A support on a backpack to comfort heavy loads on the lower back.

Lyme Disease – An infectious disease usually spread through ticks.

                  M

Magnetic north – The geographical region towards which all magnetic needles point. This point is approximately 1,300 miles south of true north.

Map index – a specially gridded small-scale map which lists “maps in print,” how and where to get them, and their cost. A map index is available free from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canada Map Office. See text description.

Marquee – A large tent, often used as a dining or meeting tent.

Massif – A compact mountain group consisting of several summits.

Mesa

Mesa – A tableland; a flat-topped mountain or other elevation bounded on at least one side by a steep cliff; a plateau terminating on one or more sides in a steep cliff. Seen in many areas of the southwest.

Millar-Mitts – fingerless gloves used by mountaineers for technical climbing. Millar-mitts are great for fishing, canoeing and general hiking.

Mocoa – a popular camp drink which consists of hot-chocolate mixed with coffee.

Modified dome – A dome tent that has been designed for specific elements, such as wind or snow.

Moleskin – brand name of soft-surfaced bandaging material used to protect blisters. The sticky side of Moleskin is placed over the unbroken blister; the cushioned surface absorbs the friction from socks and boot.

Monsoon – In the Southwest, a seasonal outbreak of localized severe thunderstorms that deposit large quantities of rain often resulting in flash floods, especially in canyon country where there are narrow slot canyons and little vegetation to help absorb the sudden rush of water.

Monument – A large pile of stones used to mark a trail or often found at the summit of a peak. 

Mountain parka – A generic name for full zipper thigh-length parkas. Mountain parkas usually have lots of pockets. They’re traditionally constructed from 60/40 (60 percent nylon, 40 percent cotton) cloth, which is doubled for added warmth. The U.S. Army field jacket is a true mountain parka.

Mummy bag

Mummy bag – A close fitting, shaped, hooded sleeping bag very efficient at conserving body heat. 

                N

Nalgene Bottle – A type of “plastic” bottle that holds up well under the harsh conditions of hiking and camping. Originally designed to store chemical reagents, the plastic resists taking on the smell of the liquid or ingredients it contains. A very popular type of water bottle, especially the wide-mouthed variety. They hold up for years.

No-see-um mesh – A tent mesh so fine that it keeps out the tiny biting bugs called no-see-ums.

               O

Orienteering – Using a map and compass in the field to determine your route of travel.

Orienteering compass – A compass that has a built-in protractor which allows you to determine directions from a map without orienting the map to north. This is the most practical compass style for outdoor use.

Overlapping V-tube construction (sleeping bags) – A type of baffle construction in which down is secured into V-shaped tubes which overlap one another. Some very warm winter sleeping bags are built this way.

              P

Pack basket – A basket pack that’s traditionally woven from splints of black ash. This original Indian made item is still going strong in the New England area and is available from L. L. Bean. Pack-baskets are ideal for berry picking, picnicking, canoe trips, and auto camping. They will protect all your breakables. Compared to fabric packs, they are quite inexpensive.

Packed size – The dimensions of a collapsed tent and its contents, in square inches.

Parka – A thigh-length shell garment with integral hood. Parkas may be lined or filled with down, polyester or other insulation for use in cold weather.

Pile – A luxuriously soft fabric made from polyester. Pile absorbs little water and it dries quickly if it gets wet. Pile has almost replaced wool as the material for cold weather camping.

Plateau – A relatively elevated area of comparatively flat land which is commonly limited on at least one side by an abrupt descent to lower land. Sometimes called a table or tableland.

poison-ivy

Poison Oak/Ivy – A poisonous shrub or plant that causes itchiness and rash when touched. Poison ivy pictured above. Remember the phrase “leaves of three, let it be”. 

PolarGuard® 3D – A hollow-fiber, highly durable, polyester insulation used in sleeping bags and clothing that has a high warmth-to-weight ratio.

Pole sleeves – Fabric tunnels on the outside of a tent into which the tent poles are inserted.

Poly-bottle – short for polyethylene bottle.

Poncho – A rectangular, hooded rain garment. Ponchos provide good ventilation and can be worn over a hiking pack. They do not supply reliable protection from rain, but are great for an emergency. 

Pothole – A hole generally deeper than wide, worn into the solid rock at falls and strong rapids by sand, gravel, and stones being spun around by the force of the current. In desert country a pothole often collects water during rains and can contain a variety of small freshwater creatures. After rain they can be an important water source for the local wild animals. Care should be taken around potholes to not contaminate or unnecessarily waste the precious water.

Primaloft® – A microfibrous polyester insulation so close to down in terms of structure, warmth, and feel that it’s also known as patented sythetic down. Primaloft is lightweight, durable, very compressible, and unlike down, highly water repellent.

Primitive campground – A place to camp without amenities, including bathrooms, showers and electricity.

Prime  (as in “priming” a gasoline or kerosene stove) – Some stoves are usually primed by filling an integral “spirit cup” with gasoline or alcohol, then setting the fuel aflame. Stoves can be “over-primed.” If too much gasoline is forced into the spirit-cup, the unit may ignite into a ball of uncontrollable flame.

Priming – Allowing fuel to collect in the burner of a white-gas stove before ignition.

Prismatic compass – A compass with a mirror designed to allow a user to see both distant objects being sighted and the compass face at the same time.

Private campground – An area to camp that’s owned by a business.

Puncheon – A log bridge built over fragile terrain that is wet.

Punkies – Also called no-see-ums; a tiny insect called a midge, which bites severely.

Purifier – A drinking water system that removes contaminates and eliminates viruses with a combination of specialized filters.

                  Q

Quallofil® – A synthetic material developed by Dupont for use in sleeping bags and parkas. Each filament has four longitudinal holes which trap air and add warmth. Quallofil®  is one of the best synthetic insulators.

Quick-release knot – A knot which can be removed by a simple pull of the tail. The most common quick-release knot is the “bow” used for tying your shoes.

Quilted  or Quilt Construction – A stitching style that runs through the shell and lining of a sleeping bag or garment to keep insulation from shifting. Quilting is lighter and less expensive than it’s more complex cousin, baffle construction. It is also less efficient because the stitching compresses the loft out of the fabrics and allows cold to move freely through the compressed area around the needle holes.

                  R

Rain fly – A tent covering that aids in keeping a tent dry and windproof.

Rating – The degree Fahrenheit to which a sleeping bag is constructed to sleep comfortably. i.e. -30 degrees, 0 degrees, +15 degrees.

Reef – A sedimentary rock aggregate, large or small, composed of the remains of colonial-type organisms that lived near or below the surface of water bodies, mainly marine, and developed relatively large vertical dimensions as compared with the proportions of adjacent sedimentary rock. In canyon country a “reef” is simply a nautical term carried over into geology to describe a barrier, such as Waterpocket Fold in Capital Reef National Park in Utah.

Reflector oven – An aluminum sheet-metal oven which bakes by means of reflected heat. Reflector ovens are hard to keep clean and they are very cumbersome. They require open flame for baking and cannot be used on stoves or over charcoal. They are very efficient if you have a nice bright fire.

Ridge – A relatively narrow elevation which is prominent on account of the steep angle at which it rises. The narrow, elongated crest of a hill or mountain; an elongated hill; a range of hills or mountains.

Ridge-vent – The triangular window at the ridge of A-frame tents.

Ring & Pin – On tents, a very easy-to-use corner assembly design where long pins (1 to 3 inch steel or aluminum) with metal rings attaching are permanently sewn to the exterior corners of the structure, and the pins are then inserted into the hollow ends of the tent poles. Fast, goof-proof, inexpensive, widely used, and suited to most 2-3 season general rec tent models; the higher line post & grommet corner system is main alternative, found on most 3+ season mountain grade tents.

Rip-stop nylon – A lightweight nylon fabric that has heavier threads sewn in at approximate one-quarter-inch intervals. Rip-stop is less likely to tear than taffeta but it has less resistance to abrasion. Rip-stop nylon is commonly used for outwear garments, and is distinguished by a fine pattern of boxes (barely noticeable) that are designed to keep fabric from tearing. Rip-stop is very lightweight material. It is water and wind resistant.

Rock Glacier – A glacier-like tongue of angular rock waste usually heading in cirques or other steep-walled amphitheaters and in many cases grading into true glaciers. 

Rucksack – A type of knapsack or backpack, usually made of canvas with two shoulder straps.

                   S

Saddle – A low point on a ridge or crest line, generally a divide between the heads of streams flowing in opposite direction.

Scarp – An escarpment, cliff, or steep slope of some extent along the margin of a plateau, mesa, terrace, or bench.

Scree – Loose rock, typically fist size or smaller that accumulates at the base of a rock wall. 

Seam-sealer – A special glue, available at all camping shops, used to waterproof the stitching on tents and rain gear.

Seam Sealing – Coating, waterproof of the sewn seam areas on tents, backpacks, and other combined outdoor fabrics, to decrease water entry. Treatments range from inexpensive water-based dauber bottles, to heavier brush-on polyurethane coatings, to very heavy technical grade near-plastic fillers.

Seam tape – A waterproof tape applied over all seams on a tent or other equipment meant to be totally water repellent.

Self-inflating air mattress – A camping pad to go under your sleeping bag that has foam inside and a valve on one of the corners. When the valve is opened, air is allowed to enter and can be trapped inside by closing the valve.  Very insulative and comfortable to sleep on. They come in all sorts of thicknesses and sizes.

Self-supporting tent – Theoretically, a tent which needs no staking. However, all self-supporting tents must be staked or they’ll blow away in wind.

Semi-mummy bag – A sleeping bag with a barrel-shape and no hood. A good choice for those who feel confined by the mummy shape but want lighter weight and more warmth than that supplied by standard rectangular sleeping bags.

Sewn-through construction (same as “quilt” construction) – A stitching style that runs through the shell and lining of a sleeping bag or garment to keep insulation from shifting. Quilting is lighter and less expensive than it’s more complex cousin, baffle construction. It is also less efficient because the stitching compresses the loft out of the fabrics and allows cold to move freely through the compressed area around the needle holes.

Shell – The outermost material in a sleeping bag or outdoor clothing, consisting of a fabric used to meet a particular demand such as abrasion resistance, water repellency or suppleness.

Shock cord – An elastic cord running through tent poles to separation or loss of the poles, and to expedite set-up. 

Shock corded pole

Shock corded poles – This means that a bungee cord runs through each pole assembly. This keeps the pole together so you don’t have to hunt for pieces. As the poles sections slip together the cord holds them together so they can be handled as a single pole.

Side canyon – In decreasing order of size, local usage is: canyon, fork, gulch.

Sigg fuel bottle – Traditionally refers to aluminum bottles, which are used for the storage of gasoline and kerosene.

Single-walled tent – A lightweight, single-fabric construction tent that is chemically treated for insulation and waterproofness but which may not be very breathable.

Sixty-forty parka – A parka made from fabric which consists of 60 percent nylon and 40 percent cotton. The term “60/40” is now generic; it defines any mountain style parka, regardless of the fabric composition. Mountain  parkas of water-repellent 60/40 cloth, polyester/cotton blends, or waterproof Gore-Tex are  light-weight,  windproof and  “breathe-able”, making them an excellent choice for use as the outer shell of your layered clothing system.  In  a  downpour, 60/40 and polyester/cotton mountain parkas can be  augmented with a lightweight, loose – fitting poncho of plastic or coated nylon, which can be worn to protect your  pack  as well as your body.  Gore-Tex mountain parkas need no additional rainproof layer.

Shell (garments) – Refers to unlined garments, or the interior or exterior wall of a sleeping bag.

Side-wall baffle – A baffle that is opposite the zipper on a sleeping bag; it keeps the down from shifting along the length of the bag.

Siwash – To live off the land with a bare minimum of essentials. Most modern campers do not siwash!

Slickrock – Generally a smooth, weathered sandstone surface that becomes slippery due to the presence of sand grains. These can be dangerous to walk across.

Slot canyon

Slot canyon – A deep, narrow, steep-walled canyon, most often cut through sandstone, and often with water running along its bottom. Sometimes referred to as narrows.

Smores – Simply a great camping treat to make for kids, big and small, around a campfire at night

Sou’wester – The traditional rain hat of sailors and commercial fishermen. The sou’wester was developed centuries ago and it is still the best of all foul weather hats. The best sou’westers have ear flaps, chin strap, and a flannel lining.

Space filler-cut – Where the inner and outer shells of a sleeping bag are cut the same size. This construction allows the inner liner and fill to better conform to the curves of your body than the Thermos bottle shape of the “differential cut.” The merits/demerits of space-filler versus differential cut are still being argued by sleeping bag manufacturers.

Space Blanket – Mylar-coated “blanket” used in survival kits. Space-blankets are waterproof and are very warm for their size and weight. Every camping shop has them. They are also called Mylar blanket, Aluminized blanket. The blanket measure 84″ X 54″ when spread open, they are the perfect for retaining warmth in any emergency. Easy to store with it’s compact design and light weight packaging. A must have item in your survival or emergency response kit. The blanket can serve different uses. It can deflect heat when used as a shelter from the sun. You can decrease heat inside your automobile by using the solar blanket to cover the roof and windows. Primary use is to reflect back your own body heat. It conserves 90% of body heat when wrapped around a person.

Sternum strap – A short nylon strap which connects the shoulder straps of a hiking pack. A properly adjusted sternum strap transfers some of the pack load to the chest.

Storm-flap – A panel of material which backs the zipper of a parka. This helps to keep the cold out and the warmth in. 

Stuff sack – Traditionally, a nylon sack in which a sleeping bag is stored. The term now defines any nylon bag with drawstring closure.

Swiss Army knife – originally, the issue knife of the Swiss Army. Now, generic for any “Scout-style” multi-tool pocket knife.

Switchback – Climbing a mountain or hill with a zig-zag motion. This allows for a significantly easier ascent in many situations.

                  T

Table – A relatively elevated area of comparatively flat land which is commonly limited on at least one side by an abrupt descent to lower land. Also called a plateau.

Talus – The loose rock of all sizes that falls from a cliff and accumulates at the base. The distinction between scree and talus is generally that talus is large enough not to move underfoot.

Tank – Natural depressions in an impervious stratum, in which rain or snow water collects and is preserved the greater portion of the year. Also a natural or artificial pool or water hole in a wash. Seen often in the arid southwest. 

Tarn – A small rock-rimmed lake in an ice-gouged basin on the floor of a cirque or in a glaciated valley.

Technical climbing – Mountain climbing requiring use of ropes and fixed belay anchors on either rock or ice. Also includes any sustained climbing where the arms are used to pull upward rather than being used solely for balance.

Tent – The main type of shelter for camping. Tents come in all shapes, sizes and sleeping capacities. Read more here

Tent stakes

Tent stake (or peg)  – A piece of wood, metal or aluminum pointed at one end for driving into the ground to hold a rope supporting a tent. Why you need to stake your tent: for without the stakes your tent could quickly become a kite in the lightest of winds and destroy itself as it tumbles through the woods or across the sand dunes. Sometimes called tent pegs. 

Tinder – small twigs, wood shavings, dry leaves or grass, dry needles, bark or dryer lint (ultra-fine dry material).
This should start to burn immediately with a lighted match or spark from your magnesium fire starter. 

Topographic map

Topographic map – A map showing the topographic features of a land surface generally by means of contour lines.

Trenching (also called “ditching”) – Digging a trench around a tent to carry away ground water which accumulates during a heavy rain. This form of guttering is illegal in all wilderness areas. Ground cloths and tent floors have eliminated the need to “trench” tents. Trenching goes against the principles of Leave No Trace. 

Trailhead – The point at which a trail begins. In most parks and popular areas there is a parking lot or turn out for easy access.

Traverse – Horizontal travel across a mountainside or over a ridge. An ascending or descending traverse refers to a gradual elevation change while traveling across a much steeper slope.

Tread – A trail’s surface. Refers to the amount of traction there is for hiking. 

Trekking (“to make one’s way arduously”) – A very difficult or lengthy hike. Or perhaps over unmarked or totally undeveloped terrain

Tumpline – A strap across the forehead and over the shoulders, used to carry loads on the back. Voyageurs carried hundreds of pounds of furs with only a tumpline. Today this feature is found only on traditional canvas duluth packs which are used for wilderness canoeing.

Twist on a stick

Twist-on-a-stick – Baking powder bread made by twisting dough on a stick and baking it over the fire.

Tunnel tent – A low profile tent that is long and rounded.

                 U

Ultralight tent – A tent designed for one or two people, weighing five pounds or less and designed to carry on or in a backpack.

UV degradation – A breaking down of material due to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays. UV degradation can be a potential problem with tent flies exposed to the sun for extended periods.

               V

Vestibule – A covered area outside of or connected to a tent, usually created by an extended rain-fly or a special attachment. Vestibules provide a place to store gear out of the weather

Volume – The amount of space in a backpack measured in cubic inches.

                W

Wachita stone – A medium-hard mineral oil stone used for sharpening knives.

Wash – The wash of a stream is the sandy, rocky, gravely, boulder-strewn part of a river bottom. In the southwest a wash is usually the dry bed of an intermittent stream often at the bottom of a canyon. Also called a dry wash.

Waterproof – Impervious to water. Covered or treated with a material (as a solution of rubber) to prevent permeation by water.

   

Water-resistant vs. Waterproof

 

A garment that is water-resistant is “treated with a finish that is resistant but not impervious to penetration by water,” while a garment that is waterproof is “covered or treated with a material to prevent permeation by water.”

 

 

Water-repellent – Treated with a finish that is resistant but not impervious to penetration by water.

Water pocket – A bowl in rock that has been formed by the erosional action of falling or running water. Often times a collection point for rain and run off water, and thus a potential source of drinking water for wild animals and humans. 

White-gas – A distillate of petroleum, also called petroleum naptha, commonly used in backpacking stoves.

Wilderness – A tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, essentially undisturbed by human activity, together with its naturally developed life community, generally an empty pathless area.

Wind shirt – Differs from a wind-parka in that the shirt is cut to waist length and does not have a hood. Wind pants are made of breathable fabric and are popular for winter camping.

White-print map – A provisional map that’s similar to a “blue-print.” White-prints are up-to-date maps which show the location of logging and mining roads and man made structures. These maps are designed for professional use; they are not listed in standard map indexes