Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Pitch Your Tent: Polite Tip

Leave No Trace Principles

The great folks over at say it perfectly. And why mess with perfection:

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:
The Seven Principles

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
Repackage food to minimize waste.
Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
In popular areas:
Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
In pristine areas:
Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

So what does this amount to if you’re camping in a developed campground?
Clean up after yourself. Follow any posted campground rules and the requests of the camp hosts. Don’t damage what’s there. Remember that you want to leave the campground as-is for generations of campers to follow!

Mystery Monday: Getting Ready for the Trip

I’m going camping this weekend with my best friend Jessica. Yay! I haven’t been out since May, mostly because I’ve been super busy and the Arizona monsoons hadn’t started yet. Who wants to go camping when it’s hot, dry and windy? Bleck.

The other project I’ve been really busy with has been a new eBook: Family Camping for Beginners (it will probably end up with a MUCH catchier title!) that will be published to Nook and Kindle.

The funny thing about writing this eBook is that while I’ve been writing about camping basics since May 2006, I’ve never really stopped to think about all the things I take for granted that are completely new to a beginner. I’ve been working on the book since April, I had hoped for a release just before Memorial Day. Alas, I keep discovering more things that need to be added, clarified, and expanded. (Up to 157 pages and counting!)

This past May, I went camping with my “BS Club” to a private campground. I took Skippy the Tent Trailer. A couple of my girls stayed in tents and two “roughed it” in a cabin. Since I’m the only one with a pickup truck, I ended up taking a lot of the supplies with me. And it surprised me that some of the girls packed in real, honest-to-goodness suitcases. Not duffels which are stuffable around other bits of gear. Nope, suitcases that you can’t mash into another shape. And if they’re not full, well that’s too bad ’cause they don’t get any littler!

Bang! The concept of telling beginner campers to pack in duffle bags went into the section on packing.

My friend James proofread the first 50 pages or so for me. And in his notes, after I mentioned that primitive campgrounds regularly lack potable water he put in a little [?potable?] note. And I realized that not everybody knows that potable means drinking water.

I reached out to my Facebook friends for their suggestions. I had no fewer that THREE people tell me: “Put your tent together before you go; make sure nothing’s broken and you have all the parts!”

And I thought that was common sense!

As I am getting ready for this trip, running through real and mental checklists, I’m also going back to my own manuscript. Making sure I’m clear, that I haven’t left anything out that might be obvious to me but would take a newbie by surprise.

So, what’s your advice to the knows-nothing camper? What is a camping myth that you may have held that you now know is false?

And, please, give me feedback on the cover ideas! Courtesy of Jessica.

The thumbnails will be about this big!

Pitch Your Tent: Kids & Camping

Kids In Camp: Set Up, Tear Down & Hanging Out

This article will appear in my soon-to-be-released eBook about Camping For Beginners. Please leave me your comments on it and I will potentially include them in the final draft of the book. You can also use the links for Kindle and Nook to view my current titles.

Kid in Camp


The car is packed, the kids are excited and the campground is calling your name! But what are you going to do once you get to the campground?


First off, remember that kids can and should be enlisted to help with setting up camp. Not only does it make them feel important, it teaches them that while this may be a family vacation, they’re not at a 5-star resort where everything is done for them. Or, as my mother is fond of saying, “This isn’t a Howard Johnson, you know!”


By including your child in helping you also can keep an eye on them without making it obvious! Unless your child is in diapers, they have something to contribute. Little kids can help move sticks and pinecones off the tent pad. Older kids can help unload the car, put tent poles together, gather firewood, keep track of smaller kids, etc. When I was too young to be of much real help, my job was holding the dog’s leash while my folks did most of the important setting up or tearing down.


And when it is time to pack up and go home, just reverse the process! Kids are especially good to recruit to clean the campsite and pick up any wayward trash you or any prior camper left behind. I know one family that has every family member pick up one piece of trash for every year they’ve accumulated. The seven-year-old has to keep her thirty-three year old father from “stealing” her trash!


As you set up, make sure that you’re clear that everyone needs to take care of their own stuff. Adults are on the trip to have a good time too, not to baby sit toys, hats, and drinks. I recommend labeling any item that might be fought over: balls, hats, marshmallow sticks, etc.


I also recommend assigning each family member their own water bottle or canteen. Write their name on a PBA-free washable water bottle with a permanent marker. Other drinks can be served from plastic cups but that way each child knows which water bottle is theirs.


Hanging out in camp

Hanging out at the campsite is not at all like hanging out at home. There is no refrigerator to peer into looking for a snack so make sure that you have plenty of kid-friendly foods on hand. I never wanted to take time from camping to eat so my mom was always sure to keep my favorite balanced snacks on hand so she could stuff one in my hand and off I’d go. Remember that whatever you normally eat at home, you can eat at camp!


I recommend taking both large air-tight containers of snack foods for sharing and individual portions so your child can grab it and take it with him. Just remember that any large container that goes to camp full has to come home empty! I recommend packing snacks into plastic bags to save on space.


Make sure your child stays hydrated. So drink lots. And I don’t mean soda! Take extra measures to keep kids (and adults) hydrated. That means plenty of water or clear liquids. Juices and sports drinks are okay, but in moderation. While camping is an excuse to break from routine, make sure that your kids are drinking plenty of appropriate liquids to keep them hydrated.


Plan for First Aid. It’s likely to get bug bites. And scraped knees. And a splinter. And, you get the point. Make sure that a full bottle of quality sunscreen is packed with your first aid supplies and that you apply it liberally and often. Sunburn is especially common at higher, cooler elevations where the sun doesn’t feel as intense and it feels so good to sit in the sun to stay warm. Trust me, sunburns happen even in the mountains! And they’re not fun anytime but especially miserable when you’re not at home!


It’s been suggested to me to pack spray-on sunscreen. It goes on evenly even when your kid is filthy dirty from playing in the dirt all day. A rub-on sunscreen applied over dirt and sweat can streak and leave your kids sunburned in streaks. Not fun!


Remember that while you’re on vacation and everything is flexible, kids may still need their nap. Take a few books or stuffed animals to help them quiet down. Even if your daughter doesn’t actually sleep, a half-hour resting will do wonders for her attitude. And yours too!


Along that vein, its okay to try for some semblance of routine while you’re camping, like enforcing bedtimes. Know your kid: what routine do you really need to follow to keep everybody happy and sane? Does he have to have a bedtime story? His favorite stuffed animal? The best part of camping is that you get to set the schedule so you can schedule what works for your child.


Eating outside is GOOD. But it may take some getting used to! You will eat dirt. Get over it.


In the tent

It’s every parent’s nightmare that their child will get out of the tent in the middle of the night and wander off. The littlest are unafraid of anything and will happily wander off after dark. Older children might want to sneak off on purpose. (Unless they’re like me: afraid of the dark!)


Put an adult in front of each door to the tent. That way, any child making a break for it would have to crawl over a sleeping adult to get out. And if you’re child is afraid of the dark, then he can sleep better knowing that there’s somebody between him and the great outdoors!


If you have more doors than parents, you can safety pin the zipper shut. If you have two zippers, just pin them together. If the door only has a single zipper, you can pin it shut by putting the pin through the hole in the zipper and fastening it to a duffle bag just inside the tent. I don’t recommend pinning the zipper to the tent itself because you’ll be putting a hole in the tent fabric!


Realize that no matter how many times you make them use the restroom before you go to bed, somebody will have to go potty in the middle of night. Take a flashlight and remember that camping is an adventure! If an adult has to go, you need to decide if you need to wake your child at the same time. It might be better to wake your kid when you’re up already rather than have her wake you just as you are falling back to sleep! And, you also don’t want to frighten your child if they wake and find you gone.


If you’re not staying in a campground with bathrooms, be sure to teach your little girl how to go potty outside. And do it in the daylight! My cousin Kris, the mother of three girls, just says, “Camp someplace with a potty. Little girls don’t go in the wilderness!” I remember when I was a little girl and hated peeing outside. Again, this comes back to knowing your child: if it’s an adventure, go for it. If it will stress them out and they’ll try to “hold it” all weekend, then you’re better off camping someplace with a restroom.


It’s also a given, your kid will likely get cold in the night. Plan ahead and know they’ll be snuggling into your sleeping bag sometime in the night. You can also pack two kids into a roomy sleeping bag so everybody stays toasty.


Kids can get uncomfortable in adult-sized furniture. You can get collapsible kid-sized picnic tables and camping chairs. It can be especially difficult for children to eat at a picnic table when they can’t sit on the bench and reach the table!


When you’re leaving camp for a walk around the campground or to go on a hike, make a hiking train. This is where you sandwich the kids between the adults. It allows an adult to lead the way and the second adult to be able to see all the kids at all times. If you’re camping in an area with snakes, it also has a responsible party scanning the trail for slithering friends.


If you don’t have the advantage of a second adult on your camping trip, you can accomplish the same result by having everyone hold hands.


Two final thoughts from every camping mom I’ve ever met:

1. Baby wipes are your friend

2. Extra washcloths and a dab of water can clean anything

Find Your Geocache: Minting Coins

How To Mint Geocoins

So you’ve decided that you want to have your own geocoin minted? Congratulations! Here’s some things to think about before you click “Pay” and put it on your credit card.
Arizona centennial coin

1. Why are you minting coins?

Are you looking for a signature item? To promote or commemorate an event? Unfortunately, you really do need to think about this!

For example, when I minted the geocoins for a business promotion, I never expected to have to produce so many. And the cost really crept up. But, when I had a limited run of 50 Arizona Centennial Geocoins made it was for a specific purpose of commemorating that event.

However, an additional 1,000 collectable “medallions” were made that were not trackable and were sold at events across Yavapai County. (The county lawyers wouldn’t let them be called “coins” because they have no monetary value or “tokens” because they cannot be exchanged for anything. Geez!)

2. Set your budget and timeline

And do this BEFORE you talk to the various mints! If you only have $200 to spend and that’s it you need to know that going in.

And if you decide three weeks before your event that you want coins, well, I can tell you that it’s just not going to happen! It takes far longer to mint new coins than a reorder. I recommend giving yourself at least eight weeks from start to finish, just to be safe.

3. Trackable or collectable?

Trackable will add at least another $1.50 per coin to the cost. I say “at least” because most mints also charge for engraving numbers on the coin itself. Would you rather have fewer coins but they’re trackable or more that are for collections only? Again, think about your answer to number 1.

4. Come up with your sketch and features

Mints can take a rough sketch and produce beautiful coins! But, depending on the complexity of your geocoin it can drastically alter your price. Remember, geocoins do not have to be round either!

Yavapai County Centennial Coin

And you also need to think about things like how many colors of enamel you want, the finish of the coin, texture only versus enamel, how detailed it will be, etc. The mint you work with will have lots of ideas and suggestions for you. But be aware that some options will look amazing and have a price tag to match!

The Arizona Centennial Geocoins are trackable along the side. While the engraving was a bit more expensive, it allowed me to use the same dies for the 1,000 collectable “medallions.”

5. Select a mint has a great list of geocoin mints. I recommend contacting a few of them to get prices. Maybe even send them your sketch or artwork to get suggestions. But, be aware that for smaller runs of geocoins some mints charge an artwork fee. You need to be super clear that you are looking for suggestions and a detailed bid.

Then, go with the mint you feel the most comfortable with.

6. Get a finalized quote

Make sure it includes tracking numbers, engraving costs, shipping and handling, artwork fees and anything else you’re concerned about. For trackable coins, I also recommend making sure that the mint will contact on your behalf because all trackable coins must have their designs approved by Groundspeak prior to minting.

7. Decide about payment

Are several geocachers going to go in on the coins? Will you allow the mint to sell your coins (at a profit) in exchange for a few free geocoins? Will an event sponsor foot the bill?

In the case of the Arizona Centennial Coins, I got a start-up loan from the county committee and then sold the coins at my event to pay back the loan and cover the rest of the production costs. But at the end of the day, I still had to put it on MY credit card and then pay it off later!

8. Samples?

I haven’t pulled any samples for my coins that I minted but I know a lot of geocachers swear by them. It’s really up to you. If you’re budget is tight or your unsure how the design will look, then I highly recommend it. Just remember that samples can extend the process 4-6 weeks so allow enough time!


Readers Weigh In:

  • What have been your experiences minting geocoins?
  • Why did you mint your coin? How did it go?

Find Your Geocache: Swag

In preparation for my big upcoming geocaching event in September, I’ve been going through all my drawers looking for good swag as “seed swag” for the caches I’ll be placing. But, I’d pretty much already done that when I started caching and have placed or traded most of it.

Last weekend I was doing some shopping and decided to look into just BUYING swag. Of course, the toy department at my local Walmart had a ton of selection: for a ton of money! And the toys at the dollar store, while priced better, were just too cheap and boring looking.


This is the swag in just two and a half bags. We ended up with 7 bags of swag so 70 trade items!

Then, I hit upon it: Goodwill!

Now, I don’t know if every Goodwill store offers toys. Of the two here in Prescott, I think only one does. But it was still worth the trip!

There were about twenty bins attached to a back wall, each filled with a selection of plastic toys. And the sign above the bins:

10 for $1.49
4 for $0.99

ESP Boss & I spent about thirty minutes carefully going through each and every bin. The next result: 7 bags of toys (70 items) for $10.43. It turned out to be a lot less than anywhere else. Plus, I really liked it that I wasn’t driving all over to hit yard sales, the money goes for a good cause, and all the items were in good condition. (They’ll get a bath, though since some were a bit dirty or sticky!)

And, if I had gone in on Saturday (it was Friday) it was a 50% off Saturday. Our Goodwill stores offer specials that every-other Saturday are 50% off everything in the store.

We picked up a large selection of plastic snakes, toys from a variety of fast-food kid’s menus, “army” men that are PIRATES, and a lot of exciting random toys including a bendy Oreo figurine, M&M characters, dinosaurs, and bugs.

So the next time you need seed swag for a cache, think about stocking up at your local Goodwill or other re-sale store.

At these prices, I think that it’s a good idea for ALL cachers to carry a bag of trade with them when they’re caching. Too often the “adult” cachers forget that just because they don’t trade doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t make sure that the caches they visit aren’t full of great trade items.

After all, geocaching is a family activity and kids always enjoy trading for swag. As geocachers we take care to remove any trash, food, or inappropriate items from the cache, but how often do we ensure that the cache is filled with fun trade items?

I know that even after my event, I’ll carry a bag or two of Goodwill goodies to replenish and refresh any caches I visit!

Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you trade for swag?
  • What toys or kid-friendly items do you leave?
  • Do you make it a point to refresh any caches that are in need of swag?

Find Your Geocache: Container Maintenance

Geocaching Maintenance

It’s that time of year again. Time for my annual trip to Flagstaff to check on the geocaches I placed there.

Some new geocachers get started, get a few finds under their belt and then decide to HIDE a geocache without ever realizing that there is on-going work associated with it. simply says:

  • Owner is responsible for geocache page upkeep.
  • Owner is responsible for visits to the physical location.

Geocache containers waiting to be hidden


But what does that MEAN? That means that as the cache placer you need to be ready to go check on your cache if you get notes saying that it needs maintenance. Notes might be that the log is wet or full. Or the cache seemed to be either too hard to too easy to located.

In the case of The Quiet Zone GC1X2F5 two years ago a BEAR made off with the cache. Or at least the cache disappeared over the winter. Since I live 200 miles away, I temporarily archived the cache and send a note into the review letting him know that I had a trip planned to check on the cache. "Royal" Family

The "Royal" Family placing The Quiet Zone in 2009

When I went, I went prepared to replace the cache if I couldn’t find it. I replaced the container and updated the coordinates and it was good to go!

As a cache placer, I am responsible for occasional (but regular) visits to make sure everything is a-okay. In the case of caches that are far away from me (like my Flagstaff caches) I have a few caching buddies that I can always call upon to take a quick look if I’m too busy.

And those occasional visits are why requests that caches are not placed while you’re traveling on vacation or for business. If you live a 4 hour plane ride away, how is it feasible for you to check on a cache every time you get a report of a wet log? But, it is possible to place a cache and then have it adopted by a local cacher or to even have a non-geocaching friend maintain it.

If a cache is not being maintained, or has been “temporarily” disabled for an unreasonable length of time, we may archive the listing.

When I’m placing a new cache, I always ask myself these three questions:

  1. How often can I visit?
  2. How easy is it for me to visit?
  3. Do I have time to maintain another cache?

Readers Weigh In:

  • How many geocaches have you placed?
  • How often do you check on them?

Mystery Mondays: Independence Day

FireworksHappy 4th of July! Take the day off and celebrate America!

Mystery Monday: Skippy’s Maiden Voyage

I’m back from the maiden voyage of Skippy the Tent Trailer! For our “shake down cruise,” a friend & I decided to stick pretty close to home by heading to Williams. We stayed at White Horse Lake Campground which is the largest campground in the Williams area.

Coleman Taos Tent Trailer aka Skippy

Here are some of the things we learned:

  1. Pull-through campsites mean you don’t have to *gasp* back up the trailer!
  2. You’ll always forget something you need (bow saw, syrup for pancakes, Lily’s tick medicine.)
  3. Leave early (Thursdays are good) to get a pull-though campsite.
  4. Stop and snap pics of the sheep.Sheep near Williams, AZ
  5. White Horse Lake Campground doesn’t have a single pull-through campsite.
  6. There is a perfect speed that makes dirt roads less bumpy.
  7. You’ll always follow somebody who doesn’t know this and drives so slow your teeth rattle out of your head.
  8. No matter how fast or slow you drive, everything will be covered in dust!
  9. S’mores are the best when the chocolate is a little bit melted.S'more
  10. The Forest Ranger will always come to your camp to invite you to their evening talk RIGHT as you are burning dinner.
  11. Get dirty.
  12. After twenty minutes of trying to back the tent trailer into the campsite RIGHT WHERE IT IS NOW is good enough.
  13. Oatmeal Stout beer and s’mores go together surprisingly well.Oatmeal Stout Beer
  14. Bring more trash bags and paper towels than you think you’ll need.
  15. Dogs are bed hogs.
  16. No matter how short you cut your fingernails, they WILL get dirty.
  17. When your friend tells you you’re over-packing, ignore him. He’ll appreciate all the “extra” things you bring.
  18. Always bring sweatpants to sleep in.
  19. Take plenty of pictures!
  20. Put extra sunscreen on your nose. You’ll regret it later if you don’t!
  21. When you just can’t get the tent trailer to come down, find another tent trailer owner and beg for help.
  22. Keep an extra beer on hand to offer to said tent-trailer helper.
  23. It takes Lily 24 hours to get into the groove of camping.
  24. Three days without a shower is my limit.
  25. When your dog jumps out of the kayak, be thankful you not only put her in her life vest, you attached it to the kayak!
  26. Meals taste better outside.Cooking Outside
  27. Sleep in at least one morning.
  28. Have the first meal of the trip already cooked so all you have to do it heat it up.
  29. When you’re saying “Yes dear!” while gritting your teeth, it’s time to stop trying to back up the trailer and time to start heating dinner!
  30. Bring plenty of snack food.
  31. Buy enough wood to have a fire and then collect more to keep it going.Corn over the fire
  32. No matter what you do, cooking corn over the campfire will get you filthy!

Pitch Your Tent: Spring Pre-Camping Checklist

Spring Camping Maintanence

Yeah! I am so excited it’s FINALLY spring. It’s been a long LONG winter here in Chino Valley. To make matters worse, spring teased us several times by getting warm and then snowing. Getting warm and then having knock-you-down wind that dropped the temperatures back into sweatshirt weather.

But it’s spring. For real. (And if it’s NOT for real, I’m here to tell winter to take a hike!)

That means that it’s time to do a pre-season shakedown of all your camping gear and head out!

Stoves and table top BBQs: Wipe them down from any residual grease or food particles. Yes, you should have done this in the fall, but a winter of storage will usually attract dust (and other more unsavory things!) to any spots you missed.


Dirty campstove

Fuel: Check your stove’s fuel source to make sure you have enough and that it didn’t leak away over the winter. (Scary!) It is a good time to take the stove or BBQ outside and fire it up to make sure that all the hoses and connections are still in good shape. Replace anything that you’re worried about.

propane fuel

Lanterns: take a look at the mantels to make sure they don’t need to be replaced. Make sure you have a stock of replacements on hand. (And yes, I use a propane lantern like the one pictured below. BUT, I also carry a battery powered one as well!)


Propane lantern

Ice Chests: Check for mold, mildew, sour smells and left-over bologna sandwiches. A little chlorine bleach and mild detergent should clean them up sufficiently. I’m also a big fan of letting them sit opened in the sun for a while; UV rays kill a lot of icky things. Just be sure to properly store the ice chests away from UV rays since they’ll deteriorate the plastic and shorten the life of the ice chest.

Ice Chests

Ice Chest

Water Containers: You DID completely empty them and allow the inside to fully dry, right? If you grew mold in your water container over the winter, you might want to consider replacing the container; you’ll probably always have a funny taste. Make sure all the seals still work and that the inside is clean, dry and critter (bugs or mold) free.

Aqua-Tainer (this is the brand I use personally!)

Water Container

First aid kit: Make sure that you replenished any supplies you used last year. I recommend opening a bandage and making sure the adhesive hasn’t turned into a sticky mess. (Be sure to replace it!) Discard any outdated medicines. If any ointments look or smell funny, replace them as well.

First aid kit. Get a pre-made one and then customize it to your family.

First aid kit

Sleeping bags and pads: open and fluff! Look for any smells (mold or mildew are possible!), check zippers, drawstrings, etc. Now’s the time to repair any holes, rips or tears in your bag as well. Be sure to inflate your sleeping pads and check for leaks.

Sleeping bags

sleeping bags


See my article on sleeping bag maintenance.

Tents: set it up and make sure that all the zippers still work, the seams are in good condition, and all poles are still in good shape. Now’s the time to make sure you still have all the tent stakes and guy lines as well. Before your first camping adventure is the perfect time to apply seam-seal (if recommended by the tent manufacturer) and repair any rips in the walls or floor. Don’t forget to check the rain fly!




Other gear: go over your camping checklists to make sure that all your favorite camping gear is still in working order.

If you discover anything broken, you can repair it yourself, find a professional repair service, or set about replacing it. And it’s better to do that while it’s still a bit cold and windy rather than when you’re heading out for your first camping adventure of 2011!

To make your life easier, I included a link after every category to I’m more and more impressed with that company and use it to get a LOT of my gear! Those are affiliate links, FYI.


Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you fix your gear in the fall or spring?
  • If you had a tear in a sleeping bag or tent, do you fix it or buy a new one?
  • What’s you must-do activity before heading out for the first camping trip of the season?

Set Your Hook

I need your help!

Okay, Friends, I need your help. I can’t tell if the Set Your Hook blog and newsletter are getting the job done for you.

I’ve been writing the Set Your Hook newsletter for nearly five years now. But what I’ve found is that I have some GREAT articles that get a lot of comments (both on the blog and emailed back to me) and then a lot of articles that seem to fall flat.

Examples of articles that you like:

The goal of Set Your Hook was to be a resource for people just getting started in fishing. I take my own knowledge, research tips and tricks from experts and try to produce a quality weekly article for you.

But I feel like I’m not doing a good job at it.

Just between you and me, I’ve pretty much reached the end of what I KNOW about fishing. From here on out, it would be a lot of research and compiling of the “truth” from other experts. And maybe that’s fine, but I want your opinion about the future of this blog.

Here are some of my thoughts about it all. But what I REALLY want is for you to leave me comments or email me about YOUR thoughts. Because at the end of the day, I don’t write this blog just to see my words in print. I write it for you.

  • Focus more on a section of beginner fishers. Like maybe women. Or women with kids.
  • Focus on a species, like trout. Of all the fresh water fish out there, I know the most about trout.
  • Focus on tackle. All types of tackle and what you do with it.
  • Or… What are YOUR thoughts?

Here’s something really weird though: I DO get a fair amount of search engine traffic from fishing terms like ‘gang hook’ or ‘worm threader’ or ‘fishing for pike’. But I can’t tell if those searchers are finding what they’re looking for or not!

Now, what about video? It seems that the two fishing videos that I’ve done have gotten some good results.

Video links

Do you want me to do more videos about basic techniques? Knots? Tackle? Putting line on a reel?

Of course, on the other hand, I could just call Set Your Hook a grand experiment and then move on to something else. But if I do that, what would you be interested in reading about?

Keep in mind that I want to gear everything I write towards the beginner!

And, in case you weren’t aware, the Thursday Set Your Hook fishing article is just ONE of the 5 weekly articles I write. If you haven’t looked, check out to see all the topics I cover.

So if we decide that the time for the Set Your Hook blog and newsletter is over, never fear that I won’t find something else to fill our Thursdays with!

The bottom line is I really need your help! Tell me what I’m doing right, what I can improve on, and what you want to see more of.

And PLEASE, don’t just read this and NOT comment! Set Your Hook doesn’t get as many comments as the other blogs I write, but I don’t want to assume that you aren’t out there, somewhere, reading it. Comment or email me and let me know what you want.

All the best!


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