Field Gear

Learn how to choose the right equipment for going out doors, from bird watching to hiking. We’ll explore how to pick the items that will make the most sense for you.

Montem Trekking Pole Review, Ultra Z Folding Model

Hiking with the Montem Ultra Z folding trekking poles (Photo: K. McDonald)

Trekking Poles That Work

In a previous article I wrote about Why You Should Use Walking Poles to Hike, because they are great tools for all ages, and they help with burning calories, provide stability, and aid in endurance . I still strongly believe that walking or trekking poles are a wonderful tool to use  and that's why I agreed to do a review of the Montem Ultra Z Folding Trekking Pole. You may remember that I mentioned this small start-up outdoor company in my previous post. You can  read all about Montem on their home page here.  I also want to take you on a journey of how to consider the different features and materials that you should consider when examining a trekking pole, using these as an example.

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Tree Identification: The Arbor Day Field Guide

cotton wood leaves

Tree Identification: What Tree is That?

I know that trees aren't the fuzzy charismatic mega-fauna that most people adore and love, but they are an important part of our world, from ecosystem services to wood products and even the lowly toilet paper. Being able to walk into the woods and identify trees is like going into someone's home and saying hello to friends. It creates a familiarity with your surroundings and helps you to understand what is going on around you. For instance, the presence of willows means water and the presence of sweet gums means the land was probably disturbed in the not too distant past. All forests tell stories, you just have to know what trees you're looking at, and what their presence means.

arbor day guide
The Arbor Day website lets you choose your region in North America (Photo: Arbor Day Website).

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Walking Poles Are Good For Your Health and For Hiking

800px-TrekkingPolesCarbonWoman Wiki
Trekking poles, carbon fiber (Wiki commons)

Scientists and Researchers Support Using Poles To Hike and Walk 

Working outdoors, in a variety of terrains and situations with kids I find that my hands are usually taken up with field gear, children's hands, or pointing out objects along the trail. However, when I'm hiking alone or on a longer trek I find it useful to take along a walking stick or hiking poles, especially because I have bad knees. I was curious if there really was a benefit to my knees and health, or if it was just anecdotal. After some digging I found out some surprising results that I thought I would pass along to you for consideration.

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Do You Find the EPA's New Awareness Graphic Helpful?

The EPA is looking for feedback on its new "Repellency Awareness Graphic" for insect repellent. The graphic would look something like what you see below, a circle with information about the types of insects it repels and the average number of hours it works.

EPA repellant ratings


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Choosing the Best Field Guide For Birding

As an educator I'm often asked to help people with advice about choosing a good field guide for bird watching or birding. There are so many different guides it's hard to wade through them all and to know which ones are the most user friendly. This post is not designed to tell you if the Sibley field guide is better than the National Geographic field guide.  I am giving you guidelines to help you make your own decisions by offering a rubric so that you can intelligently weigh all the options.

flicker common use Niconectado

(Photo: Common use flicker, Niconecado)

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Proper Focus Means the World When Being Outdoors

I know most of you already have binoculars, but one of the most common problems I find is that people don't really know how to focus them properly for their myopia (eyes with different sightedness). All of us have different eyes, we see better in one eye than the other, one is near sighted or one is far sighted, one needs contacts and another doesn't. All of this translates into needing to be able to adjust your binoculars properly when birding or out looking for wildlife. I can't tell you how many times I've taught classes, of adults and children alike, and no-one knew how to focus properly. They thought that it was a matter of simply looking through through the binoculars and turning the knob until everything looked clear.

If you want to know how to choose the right pair of binoculars for you check out this page from the Best Binoculars and Binocular Review Website

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