Gear

Prep for the Eagle Rock Loop

After record breaking summer temps and what seemed like the longest ever gap between hiking seasons, I kicked mine off this past weekend with the Eagle Rock Loop in the Ouachitas. This 26.8-28 mile loop (depending on who you believe) is the longest loop in Arkansas and features a wide variety of terrains, from steep rolling ridges to leisurely riverside walks, to a short section on an old horse trail, ERL promised to be the perfect opening of the new hiking season. Plus, since none of my friends could make it out for this one, the big loop meant a long weekend without having to worry about setting up shuttles at the beginning and end of a section trail.

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Geocaching (Almost) Guest Post by Ty Denison

This Christmas, I was in the market for new hiking shoes. I had toyed with the idea of going minimalist for quite some time. When it came down to purchasing them, I made the leap with Merrell Tough Gloves. They are stylish enough to wear to work, but “tough” enough for the trail. At least that is what the name wants you to believe. Not wanting to find out that this is simple marketing while on a long trip, and wanting to make sure my feet could handle backpacking in minimalist shoes, I decided to make a day trip first chance I could.

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Wild Sport: Rambling and Hunting Trips Through the United States of North America

“We entered the Mississippi the second day, and soon left the state of Arkansas far behind us. Of all I had seen in America is was the one which pleased me most; I may perhaps never see it again, but I shall never forget the happy days I passed there, where many a true heart beats under a coarse frock or leather hunting shirt.” Wild Sport chapter 12, Friedrick Gerstacker

 

I have never done a book review here on the site but this one I just completed is pretty unique and I think will be of specific interest to those hikers out there who have hiked around Arkansas.
Wild Sport: Rambling and Hunting Trips through the United States of North America is the true recollections of Friedrich Gerstacker and his trip to the US in the 1830’s-40’s. Gerstacker was a sportsman and travelled throughout the Arkansas and Louisiana areas hunting bear, turkey, deer and more during his seven years over here before returning back home to Germany. Much of the book is spent in various areas of Arkansas eastern, southern and northwestern. Any hiker who is familiar with the layout of the land will recognize a lot of the locations he writes about.

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CHRISTMAS WISH LIST: day 7 TIM ERNST BOOKS

I have featured Tim Ernst’s books on this site before and if you hike anywhere in Arkansas you have heard his name and likely read his books. His is among the premier photographers of and in the state of Arkansas. I am using his Ozark Highlands Trail Guidebook as I move through the 150+ mile trail over the course of this fall and winter. For those not interested into that big a bite into hiking right now I recommend the following two books from Tim Ernst. The waterfalls book is for those wanting to get a bit more adventurous and get on the trail to do some hunting around and find these natural wonders. The hiking trail guide for Arkansas is the perfect book for anyone just getting into hiking. It lists trails from every regions throughout the state of various lengths and includes the best sights and routes of the trails.

 

 

Purchase here>>>


CHRISTMAS WISH LIST: day 6 GORE TEX HIKING GLOVES

Now that the cold season is here gloves are a must on the trail. I can generally do without gloves once I have been hiking for an hour or so as my body temps get the blood rushing and keep me warm. That is also when I start to shed layers. When I get to camp for the night though it is a different story. Goretex gloves offer warmth and waterproof keeping your hands safe and warm throughout the night and early morning while also providing light weight packing in the backpack. There are a lot of different kinds to choose from but these are the ones I would most recommend to buy your hiking pal for Christmas.

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CHRISTMAS WISH LIST: day 5 BACKPACKER MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION

This is an easy go to guide for any hiker our there and at the price it’s a great stocking stuffer for Christmas. I have a subscription to Backpacker Magazine and look forward to getting my magazine every month with features of great hikes around the country, hiking tips, featured gear, and other specialties that are all hiking and backpacking related. Backpacker Magazine covers everything from day hikes to multi-week expeditions. I highly recommend this one.

Click here to order>>>


CHRISTMAS WISH LIST: day 4 SMARTWOOL HIKING SOCKS

This is a lower priced item but a must for a hiker in the midsouth. There are a lot of different kinds of quality hiking socks out there but I swear by Smartwool. It is comfortable, warm and cushioned. I have been using them for wheels and have yet to have a major blister. My feet stay warm and as comfortable as possible. This item is going to run under $20 for a Christmas gift and is likely to be cheaper if you take advantage of the current sales.

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CHRISTMAS WISH LIST: day 3 ACT LITE DEUTER 65+10

Are you or someone you know looking for a new backpack? This premium backpack from Deuter was the end result of several months of research and investigation on my end. I knew I needed something that could handle 1-3 days or longer out on the trail while at the same time managing to feel as light and comfortable as possible. The Deuter 65+10 is what I have been using since September and I don’t have a bad word to say about it. The multiple pockets make for easy access for my often needed smaller items such as maps or food while the big storage area offers plenty of room for my sleeping bag, tent, coffee pot, cooking pot, change of clothes and a lot of smaller items. I keep my first aid kit and lights as well my contact and glasses items in the top head storage section. On the link below you can see a video from EMS that discusses a lot of the highlights on the bag design including its ventilated air flow system that Deuter is famous for. A big feature to me is just plain old durability. My bag and my shoes are two of my higher dollar investments for hiking so I want to know that the bag is going to last a while. The straps on this one along with the locks and zipper are the type of craftsmanship you would expect to find on the space shuttle. This pack is not going to be tearing apart.

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Online Hiking and Camping Gear Deals

I receive notice of a lot of discounts for online sales via some of the affiliate advertisers we have here at the site. Here is a list of some of them. These deals have various end dates but they should all be active right now.

Eastern Mountain Sports – 20% off almost everything with some products as much as 50% off

Under Armour - $10 off cold gear items and free shipping

Finish Line -

  • $15 off $90 with code GIFTSFORME at FinishLine.com
  • Finish Line Weekend Warrior Sale $20 off $100 with code BFCM
  • Great offers: NCAA Fleeces – Now 2 for $40: hundreds of NCAA fleeces, all 2 for $40
  • $10 off $60 during the Holidays with code HOLIDAY10 (12/31)
  • 15% off $100 on Timberland with Code TIMB (12/1)
  • 15% off $100 on Adidas with code ADIDAS (12/1)
Target.com - 25-70% off various products at Target.com
Rocky Mountain Trail – Free 2 day shipping

CHRISTMAS WISH LIST: day 2 MOUNTAIN HARDWARE ULTRA LAMINA SLEEPING BAG 15 DEGREES

I have been needing a new sleeping bag all year long. My old one was still in good shape but it was heavy and bulky and added to discomfort on the trail when I got tired. There are two schools of thought on sleeping bags, down versus synthetic. Down is the most popular for being light and warm. It is also by far the most expensive. You are looking at a minimum of $400 for a good bag. I found this one by a MOUNTAIN HARDWARE a couple weeks ago and went ahead and bought it. It is synthetic and weighs 3 lbs, 1 oz. I tested it out last weekend on the OHT. Temps got down into the lower 20′s and I never felt a thing. It fits a 6 foot 6 inch person so I had plenty of room in the bag. It is a mummy bag and I was able to stay snug and warm all night long. I love this bag. It also comes with a compression bag ($30-$45 value) which helps to make it less than a foot long in your backpack. All the official specs are below. Price on this one is around $200 and after a lot of shopping around I am happy with this purchase and consider it the best deal out there.

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CHRISTMAS WISH LIST: day 1 JETBOIL!!!

This is one I have been looking at for a long time and weighed the benefits between this and some other models and brands out there. The official description is below but here are my two bits. What finally sold me on the JETBOIL was when I saw it in action on the trail. I was doing section 2 of the OHT and some guys I met pulled this bad boy out. Not only was it totally easy to use but it was VERY light and even better, super compact. Right now my cooking pot and coffee pot take up more room in my bag than my tent does. The JETBOIL folds up into one small super light unit. It is built for the trail and not just for camping. There are several variations of this unit but this is the one I like. You can add different pieces and parts when you want, say for example for group sized cooking pot. The JETBOIL sales for less than $100.  This one is at the top of my Christmas wish list.

Jet Boil is #1 on my Christmas wish list this year!

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Everything You Need to Know About Clean Drinking Water on the Trail

The Ozark Highlands Trail has given me a fast track education on managing water supplies and storage while hiking. A water bottle alone is not going to do it on a strenuous trail and even a purifier might not be enough on a trail like the OHT when the water sources are dried up.

The purpose of this post is to educate you to everything you need to know and own for having a good and safe water supply on the trail.

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30% OFF Jackets and Outerwear

Looking to get a new jacket or fleece for the fall and winter hiking season? Don’t forget the gloves and smartwool. Eastern Mountain Sports is offering 30% off a lot of brands including Northface, Thule, Marmot and others. check it out.


Hiking Starter Kit – All You Need to Start Hiking for Less than $250

If you have read the About page then you know some of how my journey into hiking got started. A significant part of that decision had to do with affordability. I considered other hobbies and sports like rock climbing, biking and a few others but hiking appealed most to me and part of that appeal was the price. You can and will add to your gear through the years to make a perfect custom hiking gear kit. In fact, this year I got new shoes, backpack and tent. These were big steps. But in the beginning, all I needed and all I got was a backpack, sleeping bag and good shoes. That was enough to get started. The trails showed me what else I needed and I was able to add that as I went along. If you are planning on starting your journey down the hiking path this year then here is a collection of gear I recommend for quality and affordability as a Start Up package.

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Choosing the Right Sleeping Bag

Gearing up for the winter already and making plans for my first multi-day trip in the snow. My current bag won’t cut it. I am looking for something light, able to handle temps at 5 degrees, and not too expensive. Can anyone offer some tips or some suggestions? Down or something else? Brands? Styles? Retailers? Any suggestions are appreciated!


A Light and Effective Water Filtration System for the Trail

 

MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Purification – unisex Gray One Size by MSR This is the worldwide best-selling microfilter delivering long-lasting field-maintainable water filtration in demanding environments. Effective against protozoa bacteria particulate chemicals and toxins. Ceramic Plus Carbon filter with a filter pore size of 0.2 microns Flow rate of 1 liter per minute 85 strokes per liter cartridge life of about 2000 liters Water bottle adapter included Warranty Limited Lifetime Lifetime Weight 1 lb / 456 g Dimensions 2.75 x 7.5 in/7 x 19 cm

Sale Price right now of $90 with free shipping

 


Two Great Books for Hiking in Arkansas

Whether you are new to the trails or an old pro, you need tools to make your hiking experience successful. Chief among these tools are knowledge of where the good hikes are at. Here are two books by Arkansas native Tim Ernst that I highly recommend you invest in for your hikes. I have listed them in the order that I would buy them if you can only get one. Tim includes personal accounts, narratives and information on the best views for each of the trails. Most of my first year of hikes came out of these books and I have rarely hit the trail without one of them.

Arkansas Hiking Trails

This popular guidebook is the most complete resource available on Arkansas hiking trails. It contains 78 maps and complete descriptions of trails all over the state – from short nature walks, to long-distance backpacking trails, and lots of others in between. It covers all of the major trails, plus many unheard of ones that lead to spectacular scenic areas. There is information about hiking, camping, equipment, and other useful subjects. Tim Ernst has hiked more trails in Arkansas than anyone, and his advice will be valuable for anyone who hikes, or wants to. It makes a great gift! The foreword was written by former President Bill Clinton. Click here to order>>

 

Buffalo River Hiking Trails

This bestselling guide (#4 – updated September, 2010)) has complete descriptions of over 30 hiking trails in the Buffalo River Area (including Hawksbill Crag). These trails range in length from less than a half mile, to more than twenty miles. There are even descriptions of how to get to some of the most scenic spots that don’t have developed trails to them. It contains 25 maps, many mileage logs and elevation profiles, information on camping, bugs, trailhead parking areas, scenic spots, area history, a complete month-by-month weather guide, tips on equipment, plus a whole lot more. The foreword was written by the late Neil Compton, the man who led the fight to save the Buffalo River. This book is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to hike in the Buffalo area for an afternoon, or for an entire week. Written by Tim Ernst, who lives in the Buffalo River area and hikes its trails nearly every day. Click here to order>>