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Archive for July, 2013

Hikers: How To Hike Faster (Without Training Til You Drop!)

July 31st, 2013 by ironcooker

Hikers: How To Hike Faster (Without Training Til You Drop!)
Outdoor hiking is a time that should be filled with amazing views, new adventures and good friends. You may be surprised in a group hike that many hikers walk at different speeds. And though you might feel like you’re in good shape, you might find yourself straggling behind others in your group. Being left in the dust of other hikers is no fun and it slows down the pace for everyone else. Don’t worry, there are ways to ensure you are not left on the trail. You can actually teach yourself to hike faster without training harder.

Find Your Head Space

Find Your Head SpaceThe first thing to do before improving your time is to put yourself in the right frame of mind. Set aside the worry of the tough terrain and long hike so you focus more on the adventure itself. You can visualize yourself going faster and looking ahead at the finish line. Don’t stare at the steep terrain worrying about your steps. Set goals that you know you can reach. It may seem difficult at first, but visualize yourself hiking at a high speed and reaching your destination with a happy heart.

Don’t Forget Form

Don’t Forget FormYour form when outdoor hiking is an integral part of your speed. If you walk with your back hunched over or your hands at your sides, the hike will take you longer. Shorten your stride and make sure you maintain your posture. Always look ahead and swing your arms to help you move along the trail. Don’t let your arms hang for too long or they will swell. Breathe deeply, find a rhythm in your steps. Singing in your head can even help keep a good pace! Take time to realize how your steps aligns with your breathing. This will help you work at a faster pace without using too much energy.

Lighten Your Load

Lighten Your LoadLighten your load to speed up. You don’t have to put everything at the camp in your pack. Even a few ounces can hold you back during your hike. Bring only the necessities with you in your pack. Make sure to include an adequate amount of food and water. Ensure the duration of your hike works in coordination with the weight of your pack.

Test Endurance Levels

Test Endurance LevelsGetting to your preferred speed isn’t done in a day. You don’t need to approach the 25 mile hike on one of your first adventures. Choose a shorter route (below 10 miles) and map out your hike. Try to climb more than 1000 feet when you have the chance to teach your body endurance when climbing. Remember, hiking is all about the adventure, and you really only need to build your endurance so you can see all the sights of nature and to stay with your group.

Find a Familiar Track

Find a Familiar TrackChoose a familiar trail and try to beat your personal best time. Use a stopwatch to measure how long each trip takes. Some hikers use a heart monitor as well. Keep a journal so you can note what is working for you every time you’re out on the trail. You can test different weights in your pack or different breathing techniques that may let you travel faster. Listen to music, stay conscious of your breathing patterns, and figure out what works best for you every time you’re on the same trail.

By using all of these techniques you can increase your speed without training harder. Are you ready to increase your outdoor hiking time yet? Do you have any other great ways to improve your hiking time?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

Posted in Outdoor Hiking | 1 Comment »

Campers and Hunters: Why Dutch Ovens Are Your Best Friend

July 18th, 2013 by ironcooker

Dutch Ovens for Campers & Hunters - Featured
For our regular readers and those who do a lot of family camping, you know that a Dutch oven is your most utilitarian campfire cookware. Whether you are backpacking, hunting, or just camping with the family, a good Dutch oven can be used for all kinds of campfire cooking.

In fact, you can prepare most kinds of camp meals in a Dutch oven: from a side of beans to a hearty hunter’s stew, or even the king of comfort foods,  chicken with dumplings. Cast iron cookware is ideal for camping because it’s rugged, easy to care for, and cooking with iron gives you a more even cooking heat. And one-pot meals are a great way to cook while camping since you can prepare tasty meals, often with ingredients at hand, and you don’t have to worry about spreading your cookware over a single fire or not having enough burners on the Coleman stove. And cleanup is a snap!

So what do you look for when hunting for the perfect cast iron cookware for camping? There are some basics to remember:

1. Gotta Have Legs

Got to Have Legs Stand Dutch OvenIf you are going to do cast iron cooking over an open fire, you need to be able to distribute the heat evenly around the pot. Some Dutch ovens designed for stove-top cooking have flat bottoms; for campfire cooking you want a Dutch oven with sturdy legs. That way you can nestle the cast iron pot into the fire’s coals to get even heat across the bottom.

Flat Iron Lid Dutch-oven

2. Flat Iron Lid

Some Dutch ovens come with a glass lid, which is fine for cooking at home but useless on the trail. Others come with a domed iron lid, which won’t break but is less useful for camp cooking. For campfire cooking, a Dutch oven with a flat, lipped lid with an iron rim is perfect. The lid needs to have a good fit, and once you place the Dutch oven in the fire you can shovel hot coals onto the lid so you get even heat from the top and bottom. It’s great for baking cobbler or fresh game.

3.  Get a Handle On It

Dutch Oven HandleAlmost all Dutch ovens come with a bail handle, like the handle on a bucket that runs from loops on the side. The bail handle is extremely useful for removing a hot pot from the fire, or if you prefer, suspending a cooking pot over the fire on a cooking tripod. You also can get an oven with a wound wire bail handle to make it easier to manage when the pot is hot.

4. Size Matters

Size Matters Multiple Dutch OvenDutch ovens are generally round, but they come in different sizes from four the 12 quarts. Consider how you plan to cook. If you are cooking for a family then a larger Dutch oven of 8 to 12 quarts can cook a meal for everyone. If you’re hunting and plan to cook your kill, consider how big a pot you will need for stew or cooking your game. If you are camping solo, backpacking, or have to pack in and out to your campsite, consider a smaller Dutch oven to save on weight.

A good Dutch oven can be your best camping cookware investment. Use your camping experience and think about how you are going to cook with it, and you’ll be able to find the perfect Dutch oven that will last a lifetime.

Do you use a dutch oven when you’re out in the wilderness or on the trail?  Do you have any tips for choosing a pot that works best?  Or a favorite recipe to prepare while you’re camping out?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Posted in Campfire Cooking | 12 Comments »

Hikers: How To Hike Faster (Without Training Til You Drop!)

Wednesday July 31st, 2013 in Outdoor Hiking | 1 Comment »

Campers and Hunters: Why Dutch Ovens Are Your Best Friend

Thursday July 18th, 2013 in Campfire Cooking | 12 Comments »

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