Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials

September 17, 2018 by  
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Lace up your hiking boots and trod into places inaccessible via horse, quad or car. Backpacking allows you to explore the outdoors while enjoying a little distance from the crowds squished together at the state campgrounds. There’s just something about planning for and carrying all the supplies you need for backwoods camping that is empowering and exciting. Once you’ve decided to give backpacking a try, make sure you’ve got the essentials covered. You will find that you can survive with very few comforts while backpacking, but there are some “must-haves” on the list. Here’s a backpacking checklist to ensure a successful start to your adventure! Sleeping and Camp Supplies Backpack — Choose a bag with either an internal or external frame, with the capacity to hold your necessities. Aim for the size that will hold the maximum weight you’re comfortable carrying, even though the goal will always be to avoid filling it completely. The capacity is measured in liters, so look for indicators like 60L or 90L in the product description. It’s best to get fitted by a professional at an outfitter such as REI for the most comfortable experience with your backpack. A 45L is adequate for overnight trips, while a 60L will meet the needs of most multi-day trips. Sleeping bag — Be sure to bring one rated for your weather conditions to ensure that you stay warm and dry. Also consider the weight and packability of the sleeping bag you choose. Roll pad or inflatable backpacking mattress — This is a welcome addition for both comfort and insulation from the cold ground. Tent — This is optional but recommended for protection from bugs and other critters that scurry in the night as well as rain. Some backpackers opt for a hammock instead of a tent . If this is your plan, seek out a lightweight one with a bug net and sturdy straps. Backpacker’s pillow — This is a comfort item. A rolled-up sweatshirt will do the job if needed. Related: Six tents perfect for camping this summer Cooking and Food Supplies Cookstove and fuel — These are lightweight and offer different gas options. A JetBoil or similar device quickly boils water (in less than two minutes) for your morning brew, oatmeal or dehydrated chicken fettuccine. White gas stoves work well at lower temperatures, and gas is easy to find. There are now stoves that heat with sticks and pine cones with the added luxury of a recharging attachment for electronics , too. Any variety will do the job. Just make sure you have the right gas and give it a trial run at home before you go. Food — The lightest and easiest food for backpacking is the pre-packaged, easy-to-find dehydrated meals such as Mountain House, Backpacker’s Pantry or AlpineAire. However, these meals are typically high in salt and can lead to dehydration and puffiness. In my opinion, most of them are only moderately palatable. There are harder-to-find brands, like Food for the Sole, that offer a shorter shelf life but higher quality ingredients and less processing. Because they are cooked in their own bags with the addition of only water, dehydrated meals eliminate the need for pots, pans or additional ingredients. They are a great place to start, but with a little experience, you’ll soon find many alternatives to add to your cooking repertoire. In addition to dehydrated meals, pack snacks with high protein and a combination of carbs and sugar, such as trail mix or protein bars. Jerky, dried fruit and durable fig bars are other good options. Supplies — Pack a pot and/or skillet for cooking and a cup, a plate and silverware for dining. Related: Camping kitchen checklist Water Supplies Access to water is the most essential portion of your planning process. If you are hiking along a river or will camp at a lake, you can plan to sterilize water. Otherwise, you will need to pack in all of your water. The average person will use around one liter of water per hour of hiking. Plus, meals require a lot more water than you might realize. With the weight of water coming in around 2.20 pounds per liter, you can easily tack 10 pounds onto your pack weight. It is essential to map out your water sources and plan accordingly. Water filtration system, Steripen or iodine (affects taste and is really only used for emergency situations) — These items ensure the water you drink is safe. Water bladder (2L or 3L) and collapsible water bottles — Each item will make it more convenient and efficient to grab a drink of water. Clothing Supplies Moisture is not your friend on the trail, so select your clothing carefully. When choosing clothing for your outdoor adventures, consider fabric performance. Avoid cotton, because it does not have good wicking abilities. Instead, pack wool-blend socks, shirts and long Johns. Opt for polyester/nylon options that wick away sweat and dry quickly. Depending on the weather, you can expect to bring several articles of clothing: at least two pairs of socks, underwear, shorts or convertible pants, long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, a jacket or sweater, rain gear, lightweight sandals, sturdy trail shoes or boots and a stocking cap, neck gaiter and gloves if necessary. Safety Supplies Map and compass — Make sure you know where you’re headed. Leave your itinerary with someone at home and avoid backpacking alone. For an added level of safety, consider a portable GPS device such as the SPOT or Garmin eTrex. Multi-tool or Knife — It’s amazing how handy a multi-tool can be thanks to having small screwdrivers, pliers, an opener and a knife in one small device. Paracord — This can be used for a clothesline, to make repairs, to hang a hammock or anything else for which you would generally use rope. Matches — A lighter is great, but also bring some waterproof matches. You can make your own by dipping strike-anywhere matches in melted wax. Store in a small mint tin. Flint and steel — Once you learn to use it, the flint and steel works great for backpacking and is also a basic survival supply. Bring a few cotton balls rolled in petroleum jelly or melted wax for an easy fire starter. First-aid kit — Include ibuprofen for sprains and stings, Benadryl for allergic reactions, bandages, gauze, tape, tongue depressors (they can be used as a small splint) and moleskin for blisters. Bathroom items — Don’t forget to pack toilet paper, hand sanitizer, medications, a toothbrush, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. Light trowel — This is helpful for burying waste (6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from any water source), and bring a resealable bag to carry out garbage at the end of your trip. Camp soap (biodegradable) — This can be used to wash your body, hair, dishes and more. Other essential items include several pieces that can come in handy for safety reasons: a flashlight or headlamp, bug spray, sunscreen , sunglasses and/or a hat, lip balm, heavy-duty tape for repairs, a needle and thread, pen and paper, a small amount of cash, personal identification, a backcountry access permit (if needed) and trekking poles (optional). Related: 4 must-have camping essentials Packing Tips With each item you pack, think about weight and size. Focus on putting the heaviest items at hip level with lighter supplies above and below it. Although many packs are set up for the sleeping bag at the bottom, we recommend putting it into a waterproof bag in case your water bladder leaks (we’ve seen it happen too many times!). Alternatively, pack your sleeping bag at the top of your backpack. Also look for ways you can minimize the size of supplies, such as wrapping the paracord around the bug spray container or taking tape wrapped around the tongue depressors. Use compression sacks to reduce the size of clothing and your sleeping bag. Place first-aid or food items in resealable bags, which can be used as a garbage bag on the trail. Once you’ve worked your way through this backpacking supply checklist, you should have everything you need to head out and enjoy the backcountry. Images via Ted Bryan Yu , Wilson Ye , Kevin Schmid , Colton Strickland , Emma Van Sant , Simon Migaj and Josiah Weiss

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Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials

Kenyan activists are using human poop to make affordable cooking fuel

August 15, 2017 by  
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Resources are scarce in Kenya, and nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line , but they do have poop. Activists with Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company are providing clean fuel for local residents in the form of small balls of human feces. The group takes in truckloads of sewage from septic systems and pit latrines and transforms the waste into safe, economical briquettes that burn cleaner and longer than coal. And don’t worry: they are odor-free. Ordinarily, human feces can pose various health problems if left untreated or if disposed of improperly. Sometimes, it can even lead to cholera outbreaks or other sanitation -related diseases. However, because it is the most abundant and widely available human resource, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company developed a method to turn it into an affordable, clean-burning fuel. To create the briquettes, the company slowly sun-dries the feces. Then, it treats it at a high temperature of 300 Celsius (572 Fahrenheit) in a kiln via a carbonizing process where sawdust is added to it. TreeHugger reports that the resulting product is then mixed with a small amount of molasses to act as a binder. It is then rolled into balls and dried. One kilo of the briquettes is said to cost just 50 cents USD — a very reasonable price for Kenyan citizens. John Irungu, the site manager at Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company, describes carbonization as “a process whereby we increase the carbon content of your materials.” He added, “In this case we are using the drum kiln whereby the sludge is fed, the drum has some holes at the bottom, these holes allow the oxygen to come in, in a controlled manner, that oxygen will only support combustion but to a certain level so that it doesn’t burn completely into ash. In this way, you are able to eliminate all the volatile matters, all the harmful gasses, and it is at this point that you ensure that your sludge doesn’t smell it is safe for handling when you are carrying out the other processes which is milling and briquette production.” Related: First-ever dog poop composting program in NYC comes to Brooklyn park It took some time to overcome the stigma that surrounds the use of human feces, but the company succeeded by informing residents that they could obtain a cleaner-burning cooking fuel for a fraction of the cost. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Turning poop into fuel These Kenyan entrepreneurs built thousands of special toilets to turn poop into sustainable fuel. Posted by Al Jazeera English on Saturday, July 15, 2017 Every month, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company produces about two tons of the human waste briquettes. By the end of the year, the goal is to produce 10 tons per month. This will occur once additional de-watering and carbonization equipment is procured, as it will scale up and optimize the present production methods. The company is also invested in the construction of more than 6,000 toilets that can collect waste. Someday, the company will expand its offerings elsewhere in Kenya, Africa. + Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company Via TreeHugger Images via  Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company

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Kenyan activists are using human poop to make affordable cooking fuel

Japan Airlines wants to transform used clothes into jet fuel

December 11, 2016 by  
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Old clothes could be given new life as jet fuel thanks to a new collaboration between Japan Airlines , recycling firm Japan Environmental Planning (Jeplan), and the Green Earth Institute . Jeplan developed a method to turn discarded garments, collected from retailers like Aeon and Muji , into biofuel using a kind of fermentation technology and is in the process of building an experimental fuel plant at one of its factory locations. Although cotton yields only a small amount of fuel, the resourcefulness of the technology and benefits of diverting unwanted clothes from landfills is promising.

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Japan Airlines wants to transform used clothes into jet fuel

Space station lettuce farm now producing fresh greens every 10 days for crew

December 5, 2016 by  
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This is the year “astronaut food” meets “rabbit food.” Finally, crew members living aboard the International Space Station can munch on fresh leafy greens as part of their regular diet , in addition to the airtight packages of freeze-dried meals that have sustained space explorers for decades. After several years in development and testing, NASA’s very own “space gardener” Shane Kimbrough has successfully harvested several batches of fresh lettuce, while carefully tending the tiny plants and troubleshooting their moisture and nutrient needs along the way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Gxn_nfgWA Finding ways to grow safe, nutritious fresh vegetables in zero gravity has been a challenge, to put it mildly. During his historic 340-day mission aboard ISS, American astronaut Scott Kelly assisted in the early stages of NASA’s “Veggie” system, which was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wisconsin, and tested at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida before deploying to the ISS in mid-2014 . ISS crew members feasted on freshly harvested leafy greens grown in space for the first time back in August 2015 . The next challenge was to increase crop yields so that the system could produce enough fresh greens for the entire crew, which typically ranges from three to six astronauts but can occasionally rise as high as 10. Related: Astronauts are munching on lettuce grown in space for the first time ever Kimbrough oversees the operations of the Veg-03 experiment, the most recent phase of the ongoing project. The latest round began October 25 and involves six red romaine lettuce plants growing simultaneously for the first time. Because lettuce can be harvested (by cutting) and then regrow in about 10 days , it’s the perfect renewable crop for the space station, where resources and square footage are at a premium. The most recent harvest, which took place December 2, yielded a small amount of lettuce which was divided between crew member consumption and conservation for scientific evaluation. The ongoing experiment serves a dual purpose, in that ISS crew will gain access to fresh, nutritious greens to help balance their shelf-stable diet and NASA will be able to learn more about how various forms of life function in zero gravity environments. Via NASA Images via NASA

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Space station lettuce farm now producing fresh greens every 10 days for crew

Former Panasonic factory building in China converted into a modern events space

December 5, 2016 by  
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A former Panasonic factory building in China has been renovated to house a striking new events space for local entrepreneurs and multinational corporations. The combination of concrete , wood, polycarbonate, glass and steel is designed to highlight the technological nature of the space. Architecture firm LATITUDE designed the project, named MeePark, for China’s leading communications company, BlueFocus Communication Group. The company was looking to develop a series of venues across Mainland China and settled their main headquarters in a recently renovated former Panasonic complex. The 700-square-meter industrial building chosen to become a multi-use space was renovated to host events for a diverse group of clients, ranging from local entrepreneurs and SME’s to multinational corporations such as PepsiCo and Volkswagen. Related: Former Lima Bean Factory Turned into a Collaborative Workspace in Irvine The entire building is split into two main zones: the food and beverage service area is located in the north, while the events zone lies in the south-facing section. A casual dining area is located on the second floor. The double-height events zone features original trusses, which have been left exposed, and a large LED screen descends from the ceiling. + LATITUDE Photos by Hector Peinador

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Former Panasonic factory building in China converted into a modern events space

US House Science Committee tweets climate denial propaganda

December 5, 2016 by  
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Last week, the official Twitter account for the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tweeted a link to an inaccurate and hyperbolic article published by Breitbart – the far-right, white-nationalist-supporting news outlet that spawned Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist. The tweet proclaimed: “Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists.” It should go without saying that the linked article was deeply misleading . The piece was based on a misleading Daily Mail story by climate denier David Rose, which used satellite measurements of atmospheric temperatures over land only (completely ignoring the oceans that make up 70% of the planet) to argue that global temperatures had actually dropped over the course of 2016. Of course, if you look at the complete dataset that Rose cherry-picked his information from, you’ll clearly see a long-term warming trend, with 2016 set to become the hottest year in recorded human history. This isn’t the first time the House Science Committee has tweeted dubious material. Just the day before the Breitbart tweet, the account posted a tweet accusing a climate change support group of valuing “politics & emotion over facts.” It’s not the first time the account has tweeted links to anti-climate articles from Breitbart, either. Related: Donald Trump denies saying “climate change is a Chinese hoax”- but his own Twitter account contradicts him It’s deeply troubling that an official US government account would be posting such biased and poorly-sourced articles to begin with, but the fact that it’s the “science” committee makes matters even more frightening. If our legislators can’t be bothered to understand the science underlying important environmental policy , how can we be expected to take effective action against climate change? Unfortunately, with the Trump administration readying to take office, this problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. Via Ars Technica Images via William Warby and Joakim Berndes

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US House Science Committee tweets climate denial propaganda

New man-made diamonds turn nuclear waste into long-lasting batteries

November 29, 2016 by  
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Researchers have found a way to use diamonds to convert nuclear waste into long-lasting batteries . A team of physicists and chemists at the University of Bristol discovered the new technology, which transforms thousands of tons of troublesome nuclear waste into lab-grown diamond batteries capable of generating a small amount of electricity. The diamond batteries, like the precious gems they are based on, could last essentially forever. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6ME88nMnYE Ushering in what researchers are calling the “Diamond Age” of battery power, the technology developed by the University of Bristol team uses man-made diamonds formed from nuclear waste, plus a small amount of radioactive energy, to create a low-current battery durable enough to outlast human civilization. The team unveiled their discovery on Friday at a sold-out lecture at the Cabot Institute. While traditional batteries require wires and coils to operate, the diamond-based battery needs only to be placed near a radioactive source in order to begin generating small electrical currents. The lack of moving parts makes the battery far more durable than its conventional counterparts. Related: Recycled diamonds provide an ethical choice for glittering milestone gifts Additionally, the diamond batteries could help dispose of nuclear waste in a safe, permanent way, while resulting in usable energy that does not produce greenhouse gas emissions or require supplemental fuel. “There are no moving parts involved, no emissions generated and no maintenance required, just direct electricity generation,” said Tom Scott, Professor in Materials in the University of Bristol’s Interface Analysis Center. “By encapsulating radioactive material inside diamonds, we turn a long-term problem of nuclear waste into a nuclear-powered battery and a long-term supply of clean energy .” Early prototypes of the battery rely on nickel-63 as the radiation source, which is encased within the man-made diamond, but the team is testing other options to boost efficiency and output. Next on the list is the addition of carbon-14, a radioactive version of carbon which can be easily harvested from graphite blocks. The United Kingdom currently stores around 95,000 metric tons of graphite blocks, so the utilization of carbon-14 in diamond batteries would greatly reduce the cost and risk of storing that particular form of nuclear waste . Via New Atlas Images via Michelle Tribe/Flickr and University of Bristol

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New man-made diamonds turn nuclear waste into long-lasting batteries

We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

November 4, 2016 by  
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I recently saw an article going around about how much land we would need to power our country with solar energy, and I was blown away — to say it’s a small amount is selling it short. According to Elon Musk, we only need a couple of counties in…

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We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

Superhydrophobic Coating Makes Better Solar Panels

June 2, 2015 by  
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Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a coating for glass that is superhydrophobic, making it so that it will literally bounce water off the surface. This coating also decreases the amount of light that reflects away from the glass. The benefits for solar collectors are immediately evident. The ability to be self-cleaning would be an enormous benefit for solar panels, even without the additional conversion efficiency benefits. Although many of the best locations for solar panel farms are in dusty desert climates with very little rainfall, even there, the ability to clean the solar panels with just a small amount of water and the self-cleaning ability of the panels would be a benefit, and a savings in labor and in water use. The coating can be applied to glass in a number of different categories, including architectural purposes, and military applications, but the use of superhydrophobic coating for solar panels could be particularly beneficial: “Where solar panels are concerned, the suppression of reflected light translates into a 3-6 percent relative increase in light-to-electricity conversion efficiency and power output of the cells. Coupled with the superhydrophobic self-cleaning ability, this could also substantially reduce maintenance and operating costs of solar panels. In addition, the coating is highly effective at blocking ultraviolet light.” According to the ORNL press release , the coating is also highly durable, unlike other hydrophobic and self-cleaning technologies. The process to make this coating is also cost-effective, and it “can be fabricated through industry standard techniques mak[ing] it easy and inexpensive to scale up and apply to a wide variety of glass platforms.” via: Oak Ridge National Laboratory press release image via: ORNL

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Superhydrophobic Coating Makes Better Solar Panels

cARTon muebles ecologicos Transforms Recycled Cardboard Into Decorative Storage Solutions

July 27, 2012 by  
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Cardboard continues to show us that it knows no bounds, and this cute little treasure chest by  cARTon muebles ecologicos is another great example of how with the right amount of creativity, the corrugated material can be transformed into a coveted piece of decor. Led by Zafra Miriam, cARTon muebles ecologicos focuses on using cardboard to create permanent pieces that are durable and can bear a tremendous amount of weight — all while being very lightweight themselves. Each piece incorporates recycled cardboard and newspaper, a mix of white glue and flour paste, and a small amount of gesso for smoothing the surface, sealed with water-based polyurethane. Designs are custom-made, and clients can work with Miriam to create a piece that meets their size and decor needs. Check out her site here for more information and to see other designs! + cARTón muebles ecológicos The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cardboard furniture , cardboard treasure chest , cARTon muebles ecologicos , eco furniture , lightweight furniture , recycled cardboard design , recycled furniture , recycled newspaper design , Zafra Miriam

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cARTon muebles ecologicos Transforms Recycled Cardboard Into Decorative Storage Solutions

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