An Adventurers Journal

How to plan a backpacking trip?

There is nothing I love more than spending a few days, if not weeks, in nature. There is nothing more satisfying than hiking through dense forests or paddling on beautiful lakes and covering miles and miles powered by your own arms and legs. At the end of the day you can enjoy a warm meal and a nice campfire before camping at night. But if you want to make the most of your upcoming adventure, knowing how to plan a backpacking trip is essential.

Pick a destination

The first step of planning your backpacking trip is a logical one: picking a destination. What are you interested in? Do you love mountaineous landscapes? Or do you prefer lakes and woods? Pick a country or region you are drawn to. You’ll want to consider which destination/ trail fits within your budget and skill set.

New to hiking? Check out these five easy backpacking trips

Choose the type or length of a trail

How many days of weeks do you have to spend in the outdoors? Once you have an idea of the place you want to visit, you can check which trail suits you best. Are you looking for a hiking trail or do you prefer paddling? There are many options, from loop hikes to point-to-point hikes and out-and-back hikes.

The terrain also plays a vital role in planning your trip. A hike in the mountains will take much longer than a trail along the coastline. Keep in mind that rougher terrain means that you’ll cover less distance per day. A strenuous 7 kilometer hike in the mountains can take a whole afternoon while a hike on flat terrain of similar distance will take only a couple of hours.

Check out local rules and regelations and see if you need a permit or not.

What time of year is best? 

Once you have decided on the destination and trail of your backpacking trip, find out what time of year is best for this trip? Hiking the mountains in winter season is extremely difficult and only recommended in summer season, while Scotland is best avoided in summer due to midges. Tropic regions on the other hand might have a rainy season. Besides weather, take wildlife into account. Are there any hungry bears or annoying mosquitoes around?

All of these factors will influence the gear you will need.

Choosing gear

Assuming you’re figuring out how to plan a backpacking trip sometime in spring, summer or fall, these are the three main gear groups you need.

  • Camping gear
  • Cooking gear
  • Clothing

See our full Gear list

Get in shape

To be able to enjoy your backpacking trip, it is recommended to be in good shape. Make sure your body is up for the challenge. A hiking trip will require muscular stamina and leg strength while a paddling journey will need you to get some strenght in your arms.

Get outside and train by doing the activity you intend to do. It’s the perfect moment to break in your gear as well and test all your equipment.

Food planning

One of the most important things about planning your backpacking trip is checking where you can resupply and get water. Are there stores along the trail or will you have to carry all the food from the start? Are there lakes and rivers to get water while you go?

Make a food schedule of the meals you will be consuming during your trip. Add some trail snacks as well for during hiking. You can easily sort out your meals by mixing the ingredients (freeze-dried is recommended anyway) in a zip-lock bag. Make sure the meals are lightweight and full off energy. Freeze-dried meals are recommended.

Foodplanning

Check out our posts about ‘What are the best foods when backpacking?‘ and ‘10 best meals to prepare for your outdoor adventure‘. 

Pack your backpack

Your preparation is over! Not only have you planned your trail, but you are geared up and are physically fit as well! Everything is set to have a successful backpacking trip. It’s time to pack your backpack. Make sure the weight not exceeds 1/4 of your bodyweight to have a comfortable hike. If you are paddling in a canoe, weight is not so much an issue.

Check our post about ‘how to pack your backpack?‘. 

Need help with planning your trip? Check out our adventure e-guides to help you planning your adventure! 

 

 

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Review LifeStraw Go water filter

Eerder dit jaar trok ik naar Jordanië en Zweden om enkele langeafstandstochten af te leggen. En zoals we al in een eerdere post vermeldden is er een iets heel erg belangrijk tijdens dergelijke avonturen: drinkbaar water.

Earlier this year I visited Jordan and Sweden to do some long-distance hiking. And as mentioned in an earlier post, there is something very important when planning an adventure like this: drinkable water. 

Vooral in woestijngebieden zoals Jordanië, kan het erg moeilijk zijn om water te vinden, laat staan drinkbaar water. Gelukkig hielp Hard2Find, een Nederlandse survival webshop me uit de nood.

Especially in desert environments like Jordan, it’s hard to find water, let alone potable water. Fortunately, Hard2Find, a Dutch survival webshop helped me out. They have send me iodine tablets and the LifeStraw Go for helping me getting safe water during my expeditions.

For more information, check out ‘What is the best way to treat your water?‘ 

Hard2find logo site

What is the LifeStraw GO?

De LifeStraw Go is een hervulbare waterfles die bestaat uit een filter in de vorm van een rietje die het water drinkbaar maakt, en een vervangbare waterfles. Het filtert het water is twee stappen. Het merk zelf beweert dat het 99.9999 procent van alle bacteriën en parasieten verwijdert. De fles heeft dan weer een inhoud van 650 milliliter, maar is zoals gezegd makkelijk hervulbaar.

Hoe gebruik je de Lifestraw, vraag je? Heel eenvoudig eigenlijk. Je vult de fles met het water dat je onderweg vindt en drinkt het door het rietje die in de kop van de fles vastzit.

The LifeStraw Go is a refillable water bottle consisting of a straw-style filter that makes contaminated water drinkable – with a replaceable carbon capsule. It uses a two-stage filtration process to make water safe to drink. The brand claims it removes 99.9999-percent of bacteria and parasites. The bottle itself holds 650ml of water. But you shouldn’t need to worry about running out of fluids anyway, as this is a refillable gadget. 

How do you use it you ask? Pretty easy actually, since all you have to do is fill up your water bottle and suck the water through the hollow-membrane filter built into the straw.

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The Lifestraw GO Field test

De LifeStraw was deze keer dan ook een nieuw gadget dat ik mee in mijn rugzak had naar Jordanië en Zweden. Beide avonturen waren dan ook ideaal om uit te testen of dit een must-have gadget zou moeten worden voor iedere avonturier.

Mijn grootste vrees in Jordanië was het tekort aan water gezien ik een ruime tijd buiten de steden zou verblijven. Daar werd meteen een voor-en nadeel snel duidelijk. Enerzijds gaf het wel een grote geruststelling dat iedere waterpoel onderweg effectief ook een bron van water voor me zou zijn. Anderzijds is 650 ml water geen grote voorraad voor een tocht door de woestijn. Ook verlies je door het vele zweten ook heel wat zout en mineralen, die ik soms maar al te graag vervang door een supplement toe te voegen aan het water. Dit is echter niet mogelijk wanneer je de LifeStraw gebruikt.

The LifeStraw was this time a new gadget in my backpack to Jordan and Sweden. Both adventures were ideal to test if this should be a must-have gadget for every adventurer. 

My biggest fear in Jordan was the lack of water, since I would be spending most of my time outside of cities. A advantage and disadvantage became clear quickly. On the one side, it was liberating to know that every bit of water would be a source of drinkable water. On the other hand, 650 ml of water isn’t that much capacity for desert adventures. Besides this, you lose  lots of salt and minerals because of sweating. Something I like to replace by adding supplements to my water. This however, isn’t possible when using the LifeStraw.

Pro’s in Jordan

  • Every water source could be used
  • Well-made
  • Durable

Con’s in Jordan

  • 650ml of water isn’t much in desert environment. 
  • Works only with water
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650ml isn’t a lot when spending time in desert environments

Mijn tweede fieldtest zou plaatsvinden in Zweden, tijdens het wandelen van de Bohusleden. Meteen een ander type omgeving, gezien er hier wel heel wat water aanwezig is. Daar was de beperkte capaciteit van 650 ml geen probleem, gezien je om de paar uur water tegen komt, waarvan je dus makkelijk kunt drinken. Ik gebruikte er ook een aantal keer de iodine tabletten, maar zoals algemeen geweten komt dit met een nare bijsmaak. Een ander voordeel van de Lifestraw is dan weer dat het gefilterde water geen chemische smaak heeft, maar gewoon smaakt naar kraantjeswater.

Anderzijds kwam er wel een nieuw nadeel opgedoken tijdens mijn tocht door Zweden. Na twee weken intensief gebruik kreeg de filter een muffe geur en hierdoor ook het water een vreemde smaak. Nu las ik online dat dit nog wel bij verschillende mensen is voorgekomen. De reden hiervoor zou zijn dat de filter te lang in contact is geweest met het water in de fles. Nu moet ik echter wel toegeven dat ik niet altijd het water heb terug geblazen zoals wordt aangeraden door LifeStraw, maar het lijkt me wel een vervelend nadeel om rekening mee te houden.

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My second field test would take place in Sweden, while hiking the Bohusleden. Another type of environment since there is plenty of water resources available. I also used the iodine tablets on several occassions, but as known these come with a nasty taste. Another advantage of the Lifestraw is that the filtered water doesn’t come with a chemical flavour, but tastes like tap water. 

However, during my journey in Sweden, another disadvantage emerged. After having used the LifeStraw Go intensively for two weeks, the filter got a musty smell and therefore the water tasted musty as well. Recently I read online that this could be caused by the filter containing too much water for too long. Now, I do have to admit I didn’t blow the water back through the straw after every use as the brand recommends, but it seems to me that this is an annoying advantage that should be considered. 

Pro’s in Sweden

  • No need for carrying water
  • No chemical taste
  • Durable
  • Refreshing water even in hot weather

Con’s in Sweden

  • Musty smell after intensive use
  • Doesn’t filter chemicals, though no problems occurred

LifeStraw Go statistics

Weight: 168 grams

Size:  235 mm long and 80 mm diameter

Flip-top bite valve and carabiner backpack attachment

Storage volume: 0.65 liters

BPA Free

Filters: bacteria and parasites

Conclusion

Water koken blijft in mijn ogen de beste manier om je water te behandelen, maar in warme omstandigheden wil je niet altijd warme dranken drinken of wachten tot het water lekker fris is (als dat al lukt). Zowel in Jordanië als in Zweden heb ik de tochten afgelegd in erg warme omstandigheden, waardoor een frisse slok best wel deugd kon doen.

Ik zie de LifeStraw GO dan ook niet meteen als de ultieme revolutie als het neerkomt om het behandelen van je water, maar als een gadget dat in specifieke situaties erg handig kan zijn. Dan denk ik vooral aan situaties waarbij je heel wat water hebt, maar waarvan de drinkbaarheid discutabel is.

Zit je in een regio waar het water onveilig is en beperkt? Dan is de LifeStraw Personal of de LifeStraw Mission een betere optie.

Zit je in een regio waar het water onveilig is en niet vaak aanwezig, dan zijn er betere opties dan de LifeStraw GO. De LifeStraw Personal is de variant die komt zonder de fles, waardoor deze lichter is. Hiermee kan je dan wel geen water meenemen, maar kan je wel veilig een slok pakken als je water tegenkomt. Dit in combinatie met een camelback lijkt me dan ook een betere optie qua watervoorraad gezien het beperkte volume van de LifeStraw GO.

Het is ook belangrijk om rekening te houden met het feit dat deze fles is ontwikkeld om water drinkbaar te maken. Wil je echter drinkbaar water om te gebruiken in een mix of voor het bereiden van maaltijden, dan zoek je best naar een ander alternatief.

Boiling water is for me still the best way to treat your water, but in warm conditions you don’t always want to drink warm beverages or wait till the water is cooled off (if that even works). Both in Jordan and in Sweden I did the hikes in hot conditions, making a cool sip really refreshing. 

I don’t see the LifeStraw GO as the ultimate revolution for treating your water in the outdoors, but as a nice extra gadget that might be useful in specific conditions, such as situations where water resources are plenty, but the potability is questionable.  

Are you in a region where water is unsafe and limited? Then the LifeStraw Personal or LifeStraw Mission might prove to be a better option.

Are you in a region where water is unsafe and not overly present, then there are better options than LifeStraw GO. The LifeStraw Personal is a similar product that comes without the bottle, making it much lighter to bring. This won’t give you the option of storing water, but gives you the advantage of being able to take a sip when a dirty pool of water comes around. This in combination with a camelback seems like a better choice considering the lack of storage volume of the LifeStraw GO.

It’s also important to note this bottle is designed to filter drinking water. You suck water through the straw. So, if you want to filter water for use in drink mixes or cooking without boiling, look to other options that force water through a filter and into a storage vessel.

Bohusleden Part IV – Final destination, Strömstad!

Misschien had ik er net iets meer van verwacht. Niet dat het wandelen van de Bohusleden tegenviel, verre van. Ik heb kunnen genieten van het prachtige weer, wildlife gespot en opnieuw wat tijd doorgebracht in een van mijn favoriete landen. Maar toch, mijn verwachtingen bij een tocht door de Zweedse natuur zijn altijd hoog, omdat ik weet dat ze kunnen ingelost worden.

Maybe I had expected more of it. Not that hiking the Bohusleden was not worth the effort, far from it. I have been able to enjoy some wonderful weather, spotted wildlife and spent again some time in one of my favorite countries. But still, my expectations of a journey in the Swedish outdoors are always sky-high, just because I know it can deliver.

Na twintig dagen wandelen van zuid naar noord, van Lindome naar Strömstad en meer dan 350 kilometer te hebben afgelegd, is de diversiteit van het landschap net niet groot genoeg om iemand de volledige trail aan te raden. Toegegeven, er zaten een aantal prachtige etappes tussen waar je je echt into the wild waant, maar eerlijk is eerlijk, ook een aantal etappes die bijzonder saai waren. Ik denk dan vooral aan die ene dag waar ik 32 kilometer heb gewandeld om toch maar voorbij het lange stuk over wegen te zijn tussen Kaserna en Lunden.

After hiking twenty days from south to north, from Lindome to Strömstad and having crossed over 350 kilometers, the diversity of the landscapes are just not great enough to recommend a thru-hike. Though, I have to admit there were some pretty amazing stages in it in which you could find yourself truly into the wild. But fair is fair, there were a few boring ones as well. Especially the day when I hiked 32 kilometers just to get over the long stretch of roads between Kaserna and Lunden pops up in my mind.

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Short trip vs thru hike

Dat maakt meteen ook waarom de Bohusleden de ideale route is voor wie enkele dagen de natuur in wil trekken, eerder dan een volledige doortocht. Zeker vanuit Götenborg kun je makkelijk een aantal dagtrips maken in de omgeving langs de Bohusleden. De volledige route is aangegeven met oranje markeringen, en loopt zo goed als altijd langs relatief eenvoudige routes. Toch wordt hier en daar in de gastenboeken in de shelters wel eens beweerd dat de Bohusleden wat dood is. Hier en daar zijn de paden inderdaad overwoekerd, missen er wel eens markeringen waardoor het soms zoeken is naar de juiste route en zal je niet al te veel andere hikers tegenkomen. Maar zijn dat niet net voordelen voor wie op zoek is naar wat avontuur?

This makes why the Bohusleden is the perfect route for those who wish to spend several days or a week in nature, rather than doing a thru-hike. Especially from Göteborg, it’s quite easy to do a few day hikes in the surroundings along the Bohusleden. The whole route is marked with orange markings and runs along easy trails for most of it? Still, in some guest books lying in shelters, people claim the Bohusleden is dying. Yes, on some sections the trails are overgrown, markings are missing making it harder to find the right route and it’s pretty rare to meet other hikers. But aren’t these advantages for those who are looking for some adventure?

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Practical guide

Binnenkort volgt er een e-guide over de Bohusleden met alle praktische informatie om (een deel van) de trail te wandelen. Meteen een leuke introductie tot de Zweedse natuur en hun allemansrecht. Ik geef er meteen ook enkele tripsuggesties in voor de beste etappes.

In a few weeks I will publish an e-guide about the Bohusleden, which contains practical information to hike (a part of) the trail. It makes a great introduction into Swedish nature and their All Men’s Right (Allemansrätten). I will include some trip suggestions in it as well to showcase the best sections.

Everything you need to know about food for backpacking – FAQ

You have decided to go on a backpacking trip and spend some time in the outdoors! Back to basic in a natural environment, whether it’s the mountains or a forested area. But what are you going to eat? Leaves? You hope to catch a fish along the way?

No, food planning is an important stage in your backpacking trip planning. Planning your meals sounds easy, until you get into detail and notice you want a little more than just a loaf of bread and a slice of cheese. How much food should you take? How will you keep your taste buds excited after weeks on the trail?

So many questions.  Fortunately, we’ve got answers for them all in this backpacking food planning FAQ.

General questions

What is backpacking food planning and is it important?

During your backpacking adventure you will burn lots of calories. Calories that will need to be replaced to have enough fuel to continue the next day. Whether it’s a day hike or a multi-day trek, keeping your energy levels up is vitally important.

Day hikes may require no more than a few energy bars and a few liters of water, but as the length of the trail increases, planning your meals becomes more important to ensure you stay in peak physical and mental condition.

What type of meals are good for backpacking?

When deciding what meals to bring on your outdoor adventure, there are two things to consider: ‘How much does it weigh? ‘ and ‘Does it contain a lot of energy?’

It is important to remember that you will have to carry every gram of food in your backpack before consuming it. Canned food or jars are not worth the effort, so it’s recommended to look for lightweight food. At the same time try to ensure they are as  full of energy as well.

Another factor well worth considering is the preparation time. Don’t forget that you will be preparing it with limited equipment and maybe even in poor weather conditions. At the end of a long you will be happy that you brought quick to prepare meals (< 10 minutes). Anything that lasts longer will take too much fuel as well.

Lastly, don’t bring food you don’t like. If you don’t like it on day 1, just imagine how it’s going to look on day 14!

Can you give some examples?

Sure. Fresh foods is only acceptable on very short hikes, since it will start to spoil after two days. For this reason freeze-dried foods are highly popular amongst hikers. Pasta, noodles, soups and instant rice are perfect, as they pack down small and only need hot water to be brought back to life and flavor.

Spices are a great extra as they weigh close to nothing and will improve the taste greatly! Pack all your meals in zip-lock bags to decrease the total weight.

An outdoor adventure is an opportunity to enjoy the serenity of nature and connect deeply with creations. It can be beneficial to everyone, especially people withdrawing from alcohol, or ex-convicts who have been confined to a place. Get outdoor, get more of life!

Meal planning

What are good meal ideas?

Check our post about ‘10 best meals for your backpacking trip

I would love chocolate or candy while hiking but is it practical?

Yes! Chocolate, nuts and other snacks are ideal to eat while hiking. They have lots of energy and often replace lunch on long stages. Soda and alcohol are considered luxury, so only bring them if you can handle the extra weight.

Do I need to consider the seasons when meal planning?

Yes, temperatures make a huge difference on morale! Multi-day hikes in very cold weather will require more (hot) food for extra energy requirements. In subzero conditions, consider keeping essential food in your pockets to ensure it doesn’t freeze.

High temperatures means more hydration so you will need to carry more water. Risk of fire may prohibit you from making campfire.

 

Is backpacking a good way for dieting?

Intentionally? No! While you will probably end up loosing some weight by the end of your backpacking trip, it is not wise to skip on meals or ‘go on a diet’ during. Long hikes require energy and deliberately creating a calorie deficit could be dangerous.

Meal preparation

Can I make my own meals?

Offcourse, be creative and buy ingredients in bulk. It is not only the cheapest option, but you will have a lot more options as well. Prepare your meals in advance by packing all dried ingredients in zip-lock bags.

Some hikers even freeze-dry there own food. This requires special techniques and equipment though.

I don’t like to cook. Can I buy prepared meals?

Definitely! While most people enjoy cooking their own meals during their outdoor trip, it is perfectly acceptable to buy freeze-dried meals in advance. These type of Adventure Food require no more than adding hot water.

When hiking in the mountains, mountain refuges often offer dinners and lunch packages on the go.

How do I get water?

Researching your trail for water sources beforehand is essential for a successful backpacking trip. Keep in mind that that in addition to drinking water, you will also need water for cooking and cleaning.

Since most water sources won’t be safe to drink, here is a quick guide on ‘The Best Ways to Treat Water

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I love hot meals, but is this possible in the outdoors?

Not only possible, but essential as well! A cooking stove and gas canister is an essential piece of gear for preparing meals. The MSR Superfly Stove is a lightweight option.

Is foraging for food a good idea?

While catching your own fish for dinner is great experience, it is not recommended to count on it. Looking for wild berries, fruits and mushrooms is a great way of keeping the day interesting but making a meal of it should be viewed as a nice supplement.

Make sure to know which mushrooms and berries to pick though! You have seen ‘Into the Wild’ did you?

 Food storage

How should I store my food?

The best option is to pack your meals in zip-lock bags. This is not only a good way of keeping it dry, but it will keep you organized as well. This way you can leave excrescent packages at home as well.

Will wild animals be attracted to my food?

Yes. During our trip in the Alps, we had our cheese and saucages stolen by a fox who entered our front tent. Think about what could happen if you were in bear territory. When hiking in bear territory it is best to keep your food stored in bear canisters, and hang them in a tree, at least 50m away from your camp.

Read about how the lack of trees ended up on encountering polar bears in Spitsbergen.

 

Bohusleden Part III – Into the thick tick woods

Mijn week kon niet beter beginnen. Ik ben pas een uur bezig aan het wandelen als ik zo’n vijftien meter voor me een diertje op me zie aflopen. Een kleine zwartwitte snoet en een grijs lijf dat door vier korte pootjes laag bij de grond hangt. Een das! Of zou het een stinkdier zijn, al snel twijfelend waar het verschil nu net ligt. Nee, die vind je niet in Zweden, toch? Die korte twijfel kostte me net de halve seconde die ik te kort had om een foto van het diertje te nemen. Helaas, hoe rustig hij ook was, zo rustig ging hij plots de bosjes in. Meer dan een goede blik op het dier heb ik niet gehad.

My week couldn’t start any better. I’m only an hour hiking on the trail when I see a small animal run towards me, about fifteen meters away from me. A small black and white face and a grey body hanging low above the ground by four short legs. A badger! Of would it be a skunk, doubting what the difference is between the two. No, they aren’t found in Sweden, are they? That short moment of doubt costed me half the second I missed to take a picture of the animal. Unfortunately, even though it was walking on a relaxed pace, it ran into the bushes in the same relaxes way. More than a good look at it, I didn’t have.

Vijf minuten later zou een nieuw schrikmoment komen. Deze keer niet van mijn kant. Een luid gekraak in de bosjes verraadt de sprong die de eland maakt. Geschrokken dat ik plots op tien meter voor zijn neus sta, zet hij het op een lopen. Dat ik plots zo dicht bij de eland sta, verrastte me ook, want voor hij de vele takken aan het kraken bracht tijdens zijn sprint, had ik hem nog niet eens opgemerkt. En ja, ook hier ben ik dus te laat om het dier op foto vast te leggen.

Five minutes later another shocky moment would come. Not from my side this time. A loud crack in the bushes gives away the jump of a moose. It was shocked that I suddenly stood only ten meters in front of him, and ran off. It was a surprise for me as well, since if he hadn’t cracked the branches by taking off, I would never have noticed it. And so yes, even on this occassion I’m too late to take a picture.

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Night of the bloodsucking mosquitoes

Een das, een eland en heel wat herten. Een mooi lijstje van wat ik deze week al aan wildlife heb gezien. Stiekem hoop ik nog altijd op een lynx of wolf, maar die kans is zo klein dat ik het wat heb opgegeven. Ze blijven dus nog even staan op mijn verlanglijstje van wildlife in Zweden. Sommige dieren wil je nu eenmaal zien in Zweden. Andere kom je dan liever weer niet tegen.

A badger, a moose and several roe deers. A nice list of what I have encountered of wildlife. I hope to catch a glimpse of a lynx or wolf, but the odds are so small that I’ve almost given up on them. They still remain on my wildlife wish list in Sweden. Some animals you want to see in Sweden. Some you just don’t.

Mijn nachten spendeer ik de laatste twee weken al voortdurend in een tent of in een van de shelters langs de Bohusleden. Deze laatste geven me het grote voordeel dat ik twee minuten uitspaar door het niet moeten opzetten van mijn tent. En toch hou ik er in een zeker zin van om in die schuilplaatsen te liggen, mijn blik richtend op het spiegelende oppervlak van het nabijgelegen meer terwijl de zon achter de bomen verdwijnt. Misschien komt het omdat het aantal muggen tijdens mijn tocht goed is meegevallen. Zeker gezien hun reputatie hier in Zweden. Daar kwam echter onlangs verandering in, in een van de laatste shelters waar ik de nacht doorbracht. Opgerold in mijn slaapzak moest ik noodgedwongen het vuvuzela concert van de muggen aanhoren. En wanneer ik er een te pakken kreeg, dan ging het vuvuzela geluid de hoogte in, alsof ze zich kwaad maakten. Muggen, het is een strijd die je nooit kan winnen. Evenmin het gevecht met de kleine vliegjes die maar al te graag bijten waardoor je de volgende dag opstaat met verschrikkelijke jeuk. Muggen zijn dan ook de horror van iedere outdoorliefhebber. Ze komen dan ook iets vaker voor dan clowns in het bos.

The last two weeks, I spent my nights in a tent or in one of the shelters along the Bohusleden. The latter one gives me the great advantage of saving two minutes a day not having to pitch my tent. And still, in some way, I love to lay down in those shelters, watching the mirroring surface of the nearby lake while the sun sets behind the trees. Maybe it’s because of the fact that the number of mosquitos were better than expected so far. Especially taking their reputation into account. However, that changed in one of the last shelters I spent the night. Rolled up i my sleeping bag, I was forced to hear the vuvuzela concert of mosquitoes. And when I finally got one, the vuvuzela sound increased as if they were angered. Mosquitos, it’s a battle you can never win. Nor is the battle with the small flies that like to bite you, making you get up in the morning with a terrible itch. For this reason alone, mosquitoes are the horror of every outdoor enthusiast. They occur more often in the woods than clowns as well.

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Into the thick tick woods

Hoewel Night of the bloodsucking mosquitoes, geen slecht script zou zijn voor een tweederangs horrorfilm is er een dier dat nog veel erger is dan muggen die zich in de bossen verschuilt. De ochtend na die horrornacht merkte ik een andere beet op: van de teek. Een bloedzuigende parasiet, niet groter dan een speldekop. Maar door het risico op de ziekte van Lyme, misschien wel de grootste nachtmerrie van iedere outdoorliefhebber. Het wordt erger als ik niet één, maar drie teken ontdek, verspreid op mijn lijf.

Even though Night of the bloodsucking mosquitoes wouldn’t be a bad script for a second ranged horror movie, there is an animal that is even worse than mosquitoes; hiding in the woods. The morning after that fateful horror night, I noticed a different type of bite: a tick bite. A bloodsucking parasite, not larger than a pinhead. But due to the risk of Lyme disease, it may well be the biggest nightmare of every outdoor lover. It gets worse when I don’t discover one, but three ticks, spread out all over my body.

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Vooraleer ik verder ga met de afloop van het tekenhorror verhaal, komt er nog een voorgeschiedenis aan te pas. Zo’n vijf weken terug boek ik mijn vlucht naar Götenborg voor 200 euro. Bagage niet inbegrepen. Als ik de op de website van KLM check hoeveel de bagage inchecken me zou kosten zie ik staan: 60 euro. Thanks, but no thanks. Ik neem mijn rugzak wel mee als handbagage, ondanks het grote formaat. Dat zorgt er uiteraard voor dat ik mijn trouwe zakmes voor één keer thuis moet laten.

Before I continue with the rest of my tick horror story, there is a short story that precedes it. About five weeks ago I booked my flight to Göteborg for 200 euros. Luggage not included. When I checked the KLM website to see what it would cost me to check in my backpack, I find out they would charge me an extra 60 euros. Thanks, but no thanks. I take my backpack with me as hand luggage, despite the size. Offcourse, this makes that I had to leave my trustworthy pocket knife at home for once.

Het moet natuurlijk passen dat ik één keer mijn zakmes thuislaat, en daarmee dus ook de pincet. De pincet die wel eens zou van pas komen om teken uit mijn lijf te trekken als het erop aankomt. Dus nu zit ik hier met drie tekenbeter en geen pincet. Er zit me dan ook niets anders op dan met de blote hand trachten de parasieten te verwijderen. De eerste lukt me vrijwel perfect. Kronkelende pootjes spartelen in de lucht als ik hem uit mijn huid trek. 9/10. De tweede en derde krijg ik er uit, maar iets moeilijker dan de rest. 5/10. Hopen dat het goed genoeg is om er achteraf geen last van te krijgen.

Destiny makes that I leave my pocket knife just this one time, and so the tweezers that come with it as well. Tweezers, that may have been usefull now to pull out the ticks out of my body. So here I find myself with three tick bites and no tweezers. There nothing else to do but, trying to pinch them out with my hands. The first one seems to work pretty well. Twurling legs struggle in the air when I pull it out of my skin. 9/10. The second and third one I manage to get out, but with more effort than the first one. 5/10. Let’s just hope it’s enough to avoid any problems in the future.

Tijdens mijn etappe zaterdag, verloopt de route via overwoekerde paden. De perfecte plaats om nog meer teken te verzamelen. En jawel, een aantal keer mag ik nog teken van me afschudden voor ze zich nestelen. Misschien is dit dan wel een beter script voor die tweederangs horrorfilm. Het zou in ieder geval de natuurliefhebbers al doen huiveren van schrik.

During my stage last Saturday, the route meandered via overgrown trails. The perfect way to collect more ticks. And yes, on several occassions, I get the chance to remove some more ticks before they are nestled in. Maybe this would be a better script for a B-horror film. It would make nature lovers shiver with fear, that’s for sure.

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Beat that Tarantino!

 

10 best meals to prepare for your outdoor adventures

When you pack your food for your outdoor adventure, there are several things you should consider. Weight, nutrition profile and preparation  are all aspects you should think about before departing on a camping trip or a long-distance hike.

Hiking, climbing, paddling, gathering fire wood, carrying your heavy backpack — you’re going to be burning more calories than you think. Needless to say you will need some high-energy and easily prepared meals to gain your strength along the way.

Here is my list of 10 best meals for an adventure.

Breakfast

Nutella oatmeal

Why? Oatmeal probably is the most popular and best backpacker’s breakfast you can get. However it is easy to get bored of eating it every morning. Making blends with dried fruit, nuts, berries or herbs can be a creative way of preparing a delicious breakfast. My favorite is the Nutella oatmeal.

What you need. Mix oats, milk powder, salt and sugar in a zip-lock bag.

On the trail. Boil water and pour water into the oat mixture. Stir it and let it cool off for a minute. Add one spoon of Nutella (available in small plastic jars) and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

Tip. Cappuccino Oatmeal is a great alternative. Mix a pack of instant cappuccino with oats and milk.

Nutella Oatmeal

Source: Trail Recipes

Pepperoni and Cheese Quesadilla

Why? Quesedillas are a easy way of having a warm, tasty breakfast.

What you need. Flour tortillas, tomato paste, oregano, grated cheddar, pepperoni slices

On the trail. Mix tomato paste with some water and oregano in a mug. Heat the tortilla in a pan and smear it with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the cheddar on it and heat up till melted. Then top it off with pepperoni. Remove from the pan, fold the tortilla en cut into wedges.

Tip. When going on a long-distance trip without the option of resupplying it is wise to bring food that doesn’t spoil in a few days. Consider bringing a salami saucage and some dried parmezan instead of the pepperoni and cheddar.

pepperoni-quesadilla (1)

Source: Trail Recipes

Brown Rice Cereal

Why? Brown rice cereal is a quick option for those who are fed up with oatmeal or lack the time to make the quesedillas. Not only delicious, but it also has lots of nutrients that are essential for an adventurer’s diet.

What you need. Cooked rice, brown sugar, milk powder, cinnamon and dried fruits (mix in a zip-lock bag)

On the trail. Pour hot water in the mixture. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Tip. Uncle Ben’s has packs of Express Wholegrain rice that is ready in about 2 minutes to save fuel.

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Source: Trail Recipes

Lunch

Most adventurers tend to eat snacks as lunch, but if you have the time to prepare a meal, here are a few lunch ideas.

Tomato Basil Soup

Why? Warm and quick meal to get through the day

What you need. Tomato sauce powder, dried basil herbs, vegetable bouillon cube, milk powder  (mix in a zip-lock bag)

On the trail. Pour hot water in the mixture. Stur well and let it rest for a few minutes.

Tip: Add vermicellis for extra carbs.

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Source: Tiphero

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Why? Because you can and it is tasty.

What you need. 3 tablespoons instant mashed potatoes, 1 tablespoon milk powder, 1 tablespoon dried mushrooms, beef bouillon, croutons (optional)

On the trail. Put the dry soup mixture in a pot and add water. Cook for 5 minutes. Add croutons.

creamy-mushroom-soup

Source: Trail Recipes

Bannock bread

Why? Because you can prepare it in advance and you can preserve it for 3-4 weeks.

What you need? Bannock bread is a bread you can bake at home or on the trail and doesn’t spoil in a few days.

Tip: Perfect with some soup

The full recipe you can read here: How to make Bannock Bread

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Dinner

 4 Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Salami

Why? At the end of the day you need some hot food you really love!

What you need. Instant mashed potatoes, 4 cheese sauce powder, salami, pepper

On the trail. Boil water and pour it into the mix of mashed potatoes and sauce powder. Cut the salami in small pieces and add it to the meal. Season to taste with pepper.

Tip: While instance cheese sauce is an easy option, you can choose your own cheeses by selecting some dried ones yourself (parmezan, mozzarella powder, etc.)

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Source: Trail Recipes

Mushroom risotto

Why? Risotto is a tasty meal to end a hard day of hiking.

What you need. Cooked rice (Uncle Ben’s express), vegetable bouillon cube, dried mushrooms, dried parsley and thyme.

On the trail. Put the rice, bouillon and mushrooms in a pot and add hot water. Let it soak for 10 minutes. Season to taste with parsley and thyme.

Tip: Mix different types of dried mushrooms (porcini, portobello and cremini)

3-mushroom-risotto

Source: Trail Recipes

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with bacon

Why? Carrying a bag of potatoes might be a little bit too heavy, but this is the next best thing.

What you need. Gnocchi, bacon, oregano, salt and pepper

On the trail. Bake bacon in a pan. The fat of the bacon will help you bake the gnocchi. Season to taste with oregano, salt and pepper.

Tip. Baked gnocchi is a good option for a bbq meal as well. Put some hotdogs or burgers on the campfire. No bbq? You can add some sauce to the gnocchi if you feel the meal is too dry.

pan-fried-gnocchi-1

Source: Trail Recipes

Mac and cheese

Why? Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? Pasta is one of the best meals to eat on the trail because it’s rich of carbs.

What you need. Pack of macaroni, 4 cheese sauce powder, milk powder, parmezan or grated cheddar, pepper.

On the trail. Boil water and add the macaroni until it’s al dente. Pour off the water only to leave it a little bit in it. Add the sauce powder and milk powder. Season to taste with pepper and add grated parmezan or cheddar on top of it.

Tip. Choose any type of pasta you like. Instead of 4 cheese sauces you can opt for an instant tomate sauce as well. Or just add some tomato paste to the creamy cheese sauce.

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Source: Tiphero

Need more inspiration? Purchase Amc’s Real Trail Meals, Recipes for Adventure or Backpackers’ Ultra Food for more inspiration! 

Bohusleden Part II: Be honest, could you resist?

“Zou het nu al gepermitteerd zijn om een duik te nemen?”

“Misschien nog even wachten. Tenslotte ben ik nog maar halfweg mijn etappe.”

Het is een gevoel waar ik de hele week mee speelde. Iedere dag wakker worden in de natuur en met een stralende zon een vijftiental kilometers wandelen. En dan onderweg prachtige meren ontdekken waarvan het glinsterende water naar je lacht. Zeg er maar eens nee tegen.

“Should I already have a dip or not?”

“Maybe just wait a little longer. I’m not even halfway my stage yet.”

It’s a feeling I have been having all week. Waking up in the outdoors day after day and hiking about fifteen kilometers under a Swedish, but warm, sun. And then there are the numerous lakes to be discovered along way, with their shiny surfaces luring. Try saying no to them.

Midnight sun

Ondertussen ben ik net iets meer dan een week bezig aan de Bohusleden. Met 154 kilometer in de benen – en nog 192 te gaan – mooi op schema. Een week waarin de zon amper niet te zien was. Letterlijk dan, want behalve een regenachtige namiddag gaat de zon slechts een viertal uur echt onder. Zelfs voor een vroege vogel als ik is het verwarrend om de vogels te horen fluiten en de eerste zonnestralen om drie uur in de ochtend je tent te zien binnenvallen.

Meanwhile I am little over a week hiking the Bohusleden. With 154 kilometers in my legs – and 192 to go – I am on schedule. A week in which the sun was barely not to be seen. Literally. Because except for one rainy afternoon, sun only sets for like four hours. Even for an early bird like me, it’s been confusing to hear the birds whistle and see the first rays of sun entering my tent at 3 am.

Hottest summer ever!

Vanuit Gotenborg vertrok ik te voet naar het noorden. Langs het platteland met zijn vele gekleurde Scandinavische huisjes, natuurreservaten en uiteraard de hemelsblauwe meren omringd door een golvende groene lijn aan bomen.

Ik heb me laten wijsmaken door een familie Zweden dat het de warmste maand mei is geweest sinds de jaren 1800. Reeds vier weken daalt het kwik niet onder de 20 graden. Het doet me zelfs wat denken aan mijn tocht in Jordanie. Maar daar hadden we dan ook dit niet:

Starting from Gotenborg I hiked north. Along the many coloured Scandinavian houses, nature reserves and offcourse the blue-coloured lakes surrounded by a green line of trees.

I was told by a Swedish family at one of those lakes they had the hottest month of May since the 1800s. For the last four weeks, temperatures haven’t dropped below 20 degrees. It even reminds me of my journey in Jordan. But offcourse in the Middle-East I hadn’t these:

Dus wat denk je nu zelf? Vijf tot zes uur wandelen per dag, in tropische temperaturen en onderweg heerlijke frisse meren tegenkomen. Kon ik aan de verleiding weerstaan van die frisse duik onderweg? Tuurlijk niet. Maar wees eerlijk, zou jij het kunnen?

So what do you think? Five to six hours of hiking per day, in tropical conditions and encountering refreshing lakes. Could I resist the temptation of a refreshing dip along the way? Offcourse not. But be honest, could you resist?

What is the best way to treat water?

Traveling often comes with the inconvenience of not having drinkable tap water. Or when in the outdoors: having water sources available (hopefully), but not being able to drink from them without treatment. In this guide, we will show you the best ways of treating water.

Why you need water

Water is essential in daily life. Depending on the environment you are in, people need to drink about 2-4 liters of water per day. Besides this, you need more water to cook your meals. Fortunately you don’t need to carry all of it.

Planning and preparing your outdoor adventure is essential for not getting lost, but also for finding water resources along your route. Most water sources aren’t drinkable without treatment. This makes water treatment a very important factor, as this allows you to refill your water anytime you come across a stream or river on the trail.

How to treat your water?

There are several options to treat your water. Here are the most common and practical ones.

Boiling

Boiling is by far the best option to kill parasites and bacteria in the your water. will not evaporate all forms of chemical pollution, but it is still one of the safest methods of disinfection. Five minutes of a rolling boil will kill most organisms, but ten minutes is safer.

How: Use your gas stove or make a campfire

Tablets

Another easy and quick option to treat your water is by adding a disinfecting tablet in it. Most backpackers use iodine tablets and it takes about half an hour before the water is ready to drink. The main disadvantage is the iodine flavor that comes with it.

How: Add tablets to the water (follow instructions) and wait half an hour before drinking

Water filter

There are several types of water filters to be found for outdoor activities. While some use a pump to fill their bottles, there is an easier way: the Lifestraw. This is a refillable water bottle with replaceable 2-stage LifeStraw filter technology for outdoor recreation and travel. It allows you to fill your bottle at any source and is safe to drink with the straw.

How: Stop at a river, stream, or even a puddle. Fill up the bottle, screw on the lid, and sip filtered water through the mouthpiece. It’s as simple as that.

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Indispensable piece of gear when drinkable water is rare