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

Nomad Pavilion is a woven goat hair desert shelter that collects its own water

May 14, 2018 by  
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Architects Dina Haddadin and Rasem Kamal have teamed up to create the Nomad Pavilion, an innovative structure that serves as both a desert shelter and a water tower. Inspired by indigenous Bedouin tents, the pavilion uses multiple layers of tightly-woven goat hair to insulate the structure from the harsh desert climate. A water collection cone at the top of the  shelter  collects dew and fog to fill the underground water tank. The hybrid shelter and water tower is made from 96 Corten steel rods and knotted ropes. Inspired by the national flower of Jordan, the Black Iris, the shelter boasts an intricate geometric formation. The steel rods rise from the circular base and slope inward. At the top, accordion-like “petals” open to the sky. Related: Tiny Papay Fire Shelter Inspired by Nomadic Tents Pops up in the Orkney Islands To create an extra layer of resilience and insulation, the architects wrapped the shelter in multiple layers of coarsely woven hairs . Residents can leave the cloth open to encourage air ventilation when needed, or they can close the cloth completely to protect the interior from extreme heat. The goat hair also traps heat during the day and releases it throughout the night to keep the shelter warm. When it rains or snows, the fibers swell, and the exterior tightens. As a water collection system , the pavilion is equipped with a “self-sustained drinking fountain” that will harvest dew and fog for water. A collecting cone — made of natural fabrics with hydrophilic and hydrophobic qualities — is located in the aperture at the top of the structure. These natural materials collect water, then funnel it through pipes to an underground tank. The Nomad Pavilion is meant to be a more resilient version of the traditional Bedouin tent design. The architects said, “The main vision is to create a new interpretation of the authentic tent, a structure that blends with its surroundings, yet stands out as a calling sanctuary for visitors in the nomads’ land; to become a shaded oasis, a gathering rest spot and a source of fresh drinking water.” The tent, which is in the prototype stage, is designed to leave no footprint on its surroundings . Haddadin and Kamal said, “As a result of using local natural materials, water collection and energy efficient space, the pavilion attempts to create a closed loop of existence — one that leaves no footprint, one that gives nature time to heal, to regrow and to flourish.” + Dina Haddadin + Rasem Kamal Via Dezeen Images via Rasem Kamal

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Nomad Pavilion is a woven goat hair desert shelter that collects its own water

The National Park System just got its first Dark Sky Sanctuary

April 24, 2018 by  
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While there are numerous Dark Sky-certified National Parks across the US, the stunning Rainbow Bridge National Monument just received the world’s fourth official Dark Sky Sanctuary designation – the first ever for a National Park System site. Rainbow Bridge already boasted one of the darkest skies on Earth, but with its new status, you can continue to see Rainbow Bridge’s night sky as it’s meant to be seen, free from the light pollution that has become a mainstay of modern life. The International Dark Sky Association is a non-profit organization working to stop light pollution and mitigate its harmful effects on our health. The organization also helps identify places where you can see the night sky with reduced or no light pollution. On April 16, the association awarded its “sanctuary” designation to Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument, ushering it into an exclusive list of the most light pollution-free places in the world. Related: Switching to outdoor LEDs has made light pollution worse — without saving energy Rainbow Bridge provides a particularly stunning natural environment. Dark Sky designated parks, reserves and sanctuaries must be remote enough that they aren’t impacted by light pollution nearby, and they must also adhere to strict lighting standards, such as shielding fixtures so light doesn’t escape upward and using warmer bulbs. But even amidst all the Dark Sky designations, sanctuaries are exceptional, with their status meant to increase awareness of the sites in order to preserve them for future generations. “We’re thrilled to be the first National Park Service unit to receive this specific designation, as this will only fuel our night sky preservation efforts,” Rainbow Bridge National Monument superintendent William Shott said. If you want to visit this special place, you will need to have a boat to cross Lake Powell in Southern Utah, or get permission from the Navajo Nation to cross the tribe’s land. Via Earther Images via NPS and Unsplash

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The National Park System just got its first Dark Sky Sanctuary

Buckwheat pillows offer a good night’s sleep without hurting the environment

February 23, 2018 by  
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The benefits of switching from an off-gassing synthetic pillow to buckwheat are well-documented by now: The crunchy hulls of this pseudo-cereal are densely packed into a surprisingly heavy pillow that conforms to each new owner’s unique contours, providing the kind of sleep dreams are made of. Plus, the pillows last longer than their conventional cousins (with diligent care), and when the hulls do start to flatten out with time, it’s easy to replace them. But there’s more to buckwheat than comfort. Every part of this highly nutritional, fast-growing plant has something to offer, and it is typically cultivated without herbicides or pesticides , eliminating environmental harm. It’s no wonder buckwheat has such a long, illustrious history. According to the Whole Grains Council , “Buckwheat has been providing essential nutrients, vitamins, energy, and fiber to humanity for approximately 8,000 years. Its first starring role as a cultivated crop appears circa 4000 B.C. in the Balkan region of Europe, but its thought to have truly taken hold inland in Southeast Asia and from there spread to Central Asia, Tibet, the Middle East, and Europe.” They add that the Japanese emperor Gensho reportedly ordered the entire country to cultivate buckwheat in 722 to prepare for a protracted dry spell. Ideally suited to the kind of soil most plants would reject, this smother crop helps retain water in the soil, prevents erosion, and keeps weeds at bay, which in turn makes it less necessary to use pesticides. After the flowers yield buckwheat groats, the stalks can be transformed into straw for livestock, according to the Whole Grains Council , and the rest of the plant can be tilled for further water retention. Buckwheat also “likes” northern latitudes and high altitudes, hence its popularity in Russia, China and Kazakhstan. The hulls that go into pillows are simply the outer shell of the inner groat, which provides a slew of nutritional benefits for most people. Related: Why a buckwheat pillow makes a good pillow The gluten free groats provide a rich source of protein, although the Whole Grain Council warns that digestibility may be low for some people. For others, according to Purdue University , “USDA-ARS analyses indicate that the grain has an amino acid composition nutritionally superior to all cereals, including oats. Buckwheat protein is particularly rich (6%) in the limiting amino acid lysine.” It is also rich in iron, zinc and selenium, reports New World Encyclopedia , as well as antioxidants. Given its multiple benefits, of which the above are just a few examples, it’s not hard to get behind a buckwheat pillow. And it really will provide superior sleep. According to Hullo , because buckwheat doesn’t collapse or “bottom out” like down or memory foam, their pillow provides excellent support (no more stiff neck). Also, in addition to being malleable, the pillow stays cool throughout the night since it doesn’t retain body heat. Still, the soft rustling sound, the weight and texture do take some getting used to, which is why Hullo offers a 60-day money back guarantee for their durable, breathable pillows made with a 100 percent organic cotton twill case filled with carefully-sourced buckwheat hulls. And if the filling isn’t just right, you can pour out some of the hulls until it is thanks to an elegant, zipped design. Hullo comes in three sizes, ranging in price from $59 to $149. And if that sounds steep, all you have to do is check out the glowing reviews people have left on the company’s website. Customer JP wrote, “My body feels so much better. My head feels so much better. I sleep through the night and I have energy in the morning. In short: I love, love, love this pillow.” + Hullo Pillow Images via Wikipedia , Mariluna , K.G.Kirailla , Vegan Baking , Andrey Korzun , Hullo Pillow

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Buckwheat pillows offer a good night’s sleep without hurting the environment

Yurt-inspired visitor’s center in China blends into its exceptional surroundings

February 9, 2018 by  
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This gorgeous visitor center in China was inspired by Mongolian yurts . Architecture firm HDD combined locally sourced stone and wooden beams to create a multi-functional space where local children can play and read. The Mulan Weichang Visitors Center also offers overnight accommodations and a great spot for astronomy enthusiasts to observe the night sky, all nestled within the stunning Mongolian grasslands. The building is located in the northeast of Hebei province, an area connected to inner Mongolia grasslands where ancient Chinese emperors used to hold autumn hunting festivals. Blending into its grassy surroundings, the building resembles the traditional Mongolian yurt. This layout creates a series of round, semi-public spaces that fit perfectly with the modern lifestyle. Related: A Firsthand Look at the Magnolia 2300 Yurt – the First Energy Star Home in British Columbia The middle of the library is a sunken living space, and the kitchen and dining area located off to the side. Large windows fill the interior with natural light and offer views of the landscape. This openness toward the exterior dominates every corner of the interior, including the bathroom, where a freestanding bathtub sits in front of another large window. Related: Trakke Transforms Ancient Yurt into a Packable Round House That Pops Up Anywhere for the Everyday Adventurer The architects used local materials including old stone and used wooden beams in order for the building to blend seamlessly into its natural surroundings. The main structure of the building is steel framing, combined with triple layered low-e glass panels, while the exterior wooden frames double as an efficient shading system. + HDD Architecture Via Contemporist Photos by Shengliang Su

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Yurt-inspired visitor’s center in China blends into its exceptional surroundings

Simba Snoozeliner night bus will let passengers sleep on their way home

December 15, 2017 by  
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We doze off on public transportation 27 times a year, according to James Cox, CEO of the UK -based sleep brand Simba . So they came up with a more comfortable alternative: the Simba Snoozeliner, a bus with 14 sleep pods outfitted with Simba mattresses, noise-canceling headphones, and liver-cleansing milk thistle. A steward would even be on hand to wake people up at their stop. Shift workers or late night partiers could hitch a ride and take a nap on the double decker Simba Snoozeliner, designed in collaboration with Andersson-Wood Architects . Each sleeping pod on the night bus would be equipped with a Simba Hybrid Mattress, a duvet and pillow, and eye mask. Travelers could really get cozy after taking off shoes and coats – there’s storage aboard for those, as well as valuables. Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel Other amenities seem to be targeted at those who may have had a tad too much alcohol, including free mineral water and revitalizer kits with milk thistle and vitamin C. Scent infusions aimed at inducing sleep or busting hangovers are also available in each booth, and travelers can buy smoothies or coffee. Living walls with peace lilies, Boston ferns, and snake plants inside the bus will also lend to a tranquil atmosphere. All this might sound like a dream come true, but Timeout London pointed out a few downsides: for one, there might not really be enough time between embarking and disembarking for travelers to really get a good sleep. They also wonder what would stop the Snoozeliner from becoming a big party bus. Simba pointed out in their press release many people are nervous about riding on public transportation at night: three in five worry about encountering antisocial or drunken behavior, and two in five are afraid they’ll be the victim of a crime. There’s the question of if the buses will ever really hit the roads at all. Cox said in the statement, “We know that there will be lots of red tape to wade through, but are looking forward to firming up meetings with local authorities in the New Year.” Simba aims to launch their service in fall of next year, offering trips starting at £8.50, or around $11, and want the buses to run on eight routes in four cities across the UK. + Simba + Andersson-Wood Architects Images courtesy of Simba

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Simba Snoozeliner night bus will let passengers sleep on their way home

Minimalist Revugia retreat is nestled amidst Germany’s Black Forest

December 15, 2017 by  
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Revugia is new wilderness retreat designed for Germany’s Black Forest and Harz Mountains. It consists of a series of beautiful cabins and treehouses designed to have minimal impact upon the environment. Designed by architect Matthias Arndt, founder of lichtecht , for German developer TIDEVAND Bau , the resort will be built using wood, natural stone and glass. The Revugia resort will offer 50 suites in the main building and over 30 additional lodgings spread throughout the forest. Its architectural style champions simplicity and minimalist forms so as not to draw attention away from nature. Related: Inflatable spiky pinecone-shaped roofs top this forest resort in Latvia Revugia will offer spaces for recreation as well as venues for corporate events, meetings, presentations and seminars. It is expected to break ground in the second half of 2018, and is slated to open near the end of 2019. + Lichtecht + TIDEVAND Bau Via Fubiz Images by lichtecht

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Minimalist Revugia retreat is nestled amidst Germany’s Black Forest

Here’s your once-in-a-lifetime chance to stay in a life-size LEGO House

November 3, 2017 by  
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Get ready to live out your childhood dream! The LEGO House in Billund, Denmark has partnered with Airbnb to offer one family the chance to spend the night in a home made of 25 million bricks . This is an incredible opportunity, and the two-story residence has some amazing features – check them out after the break! The home is well-suited for children, as nearly everything inside is made from LEGO bricks – from the bed in the middle of a LEGO-filled pool to a pixellated “waterfall” and even a giant teddy bear. Other quirky objects on display include a brick newspaper and a breakfast tray for the morning. There’s even a brick-built alarm clock! If guests do feel as if they are missing something, there are plenty more bricks to build with – patrons can use the LEGO molding machine in the lobby to build extra amenities. Other attractions a family might enjoy include the “Tree of Creativity” (which is built from over 6 million bricks) and “Experience Zones” that allow you to direct your own movie , create robotic cars and even design entire cities. LEGO also showcases fan-made masterpieces from all around the world in the Masterpiece Gallery. Related: LEGO relaunches its beloved Taj Mahal model with almost 6,000 bricks Though the LEGO House is a popular tourist attraction in the Danish town, visitors aren’t normally allowed to stay the night. To enter the competition, a family needs to share the one thing they would build if they had an unlimited supply of LEGO bricks. The winners will get the opportunity to bring the object to life, thanks to the help of Master Builder Jamie Berard. Said Berard, the Design Manager Specialist at the LEGO Group: “I am so intrigued to see what people will imagine . We have unlimited bricks here, and in some ways it can be a bit challenging but it also liberates you to imagine something that is truly meaningful and expressive. The uniqueness of the opportunity to stay in the home of the LEGO brick should hopefully inspire everyone. That’s how I feel when I come here.” Added James McClure, Airbnb’s General Manager for the UK and Nordic countries, “This really is a dream come true for any family with a passion for LEGO and I doubt there will be much sleeping as there is so much to enjoy in this incredible space.” + LEGO House + Airbnb Via Mirror UK Images via Airbnb/LEGO Home

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Here’s your once-in-a-lifetime chance to stay in a life-size LEGO House

Nike calls "Flyleather" its most sustainable leather material yet

October 16, 2017 by  
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When Nike introduced its Flyknit technology in 2012, the sportswear giant literally broke the mold of sneaker construction. By using a weaving technique that results in a virtually seamless one-piece upper, Nike is able to create a shoe that has the featherweight pliability of a sock yet the support and durability of a trainer. Flyknit is better for the environment, too. Compared with traditional cut-and-sew methods, the technology allows the company to slash its waste by roughly 60 percent. Five years on, Nike is employing a similar tack to Flyleather, a new “super material” that looks and feels like leather but is lighter and stronger. Nike calls Flyleather its “most sustainable leather material ever.” Unlike traditional full-grain leather, Flyleather comprises parts of a cow’s hide that’s typically discarded during the leather-making process—up to 30 percent, according to Nike. The firm grinds up the scraps, combining them with synthetic-blend fibers and polyester fabric before fusing everything into a single material. After a finishing process that includes final touches such as pigmentation, the material is placed on a roll for cutting, which improves efficiency and creates less waste. Related: Nike’s stunning Flyknit Feather Pavilion lights up the night at Beijing Design Week All in all, the Flyleather technique uses about 90 percent less water than traditional full-grain leather, Nike said. It also has an 80 percent smaller carbon footprint than conventional leather manufacturing. “Nike Flyleather completely mimics athletic, pigmented full-grain leathers in everything from fit to touch,” Tony Bignell, vice president of footwear innovation, said in a statement. “Unlike with traditional leathers, Flyleather can be produced with a consistent grade across a broader range of product.” You don’t have to wait to experience Flyleather in person. An all-white Flyleather version of Nike’s signature Tennis Classic is available for sale for $85 at www.nike.com and at the Nike SoHo store, NikeLab 21 Mercer, and Dover Street Market in New York City. + Nike

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Nike calls "Flyleather" its most sustainable leather material yet

England’s Stargazer’s Cabin will feature a precise glowing map of the night sky

March 28, 2016 by  
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British beachgoers will soon be able to visit the Stargazer’s Cabin and its glowing display of precisely-mapped constellations . The installation designed by George King Architects , which will be constructed on the southern coast of England near Brighton, will feature backlit LED lights on its facade and serve as a reminder to gaze up at the twinkling night sky. Read the rest of England’s Stargazer’s Cabin will feature a precise glowing map of the night sky

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