Wilderness vs Standard First Aid Courses

Standard first-aid courses are great for the kinds of situations that they are designed for. Most standard first-aid courses are taught with the assumption that rapid professional medical response is an option. The training is focused on recognizing common life-threatening emergencies and managing them until emergency services arrives quickly. This is a good thing and, without a doubt, saves lives. But what do you do if help does not show up in 10 minutes? What if the emergency does not follow steps 1-2-3 that you learned? What if something happens that is not covered in a standard first-aid course? And what if, god forbid, help is not coming, and you need to handle it all on your own? This is where a Wilderness First Aid course differs and may be more appropriate for folks who are fishing in places where 911 is not an option.
For many anglers, much of their time on the water is spent semi off the grid. That is one of reasons we play this game. Cell phone service may be limited, and even if you do have a few bars, unless you are fishing in downtown Denver, emergency services are going to be delayed because of your location.

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The Best Boating Locations on the Great Lakes

You’ve pulled your boat out of storage, taken it in for its annual tune-up, made sure all of the safety gear is on board and took care of all the paperwork. Now it’s finally time to have some real fun.

The Great Lakes region has some of the best boating locations in the United States. If you plan on visiting the Great Lakes this summer, check out this roundup of the top boating locations according to the experts at Great Lakes Boating magazine.

Saugatuck, Michigan: Saugatuck, known as The Art Coast of Michigan, is nestled on the shore of Lake Michigan. The area includes many attractions that will make your boating adventure exciting long after you disembark. Try touring the Fenn Valley Vineyards and Winery or the Historic Felt Mansion. The Express Yourself Art Barn and the Crane Orchards are popular stops, and foodies will love the fine dining at Distinctive Dining. If you want to lounge by the beach, Oval Beach is the place. Rather partake in something more adventurous? Then check out the dune rides or horseback riding.

Racine, Wisconsin: On the other side of Lake Michigan is Racine, Wisconsin, America’s Kringle Capital. Kringle, for those who’ve never visited Racine, is a delicious oval-shaped Danish pastry. Beyond this sweet treat, Racine is also famous for the 50 beautiful acres of sand along its North Beach. If you want to get away from the lake, the Racine Art Museum and the Racine Zoo are popular attractions.

Door County, Wisconsin: You’ll enjoy Door County, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Midwest. Peninsula Park is the perfect spot for would-be campers and hikers, and the region boasts more than 20 beaches that are all great for swimming and relaxing. There’s also a wide array of options when it comes to shopping and a historic lighthouse.

Port Clinton, Ohio: Located on Lake Erie, Port Clinton, Ohio, is a popular tourist destination. Adventurous visitors can enjoy the African Safari Wildlife Park. Not your cup of tea? Then consider taking the Marblehead Lighthouse tour or visiting the Port Clinton City Beach, which has grills, restrooms and recreational facilities. There’s also Catawba Island State Park, which has a stone beach, a fishing pier and the perfect setting for a rustic picnic.

The boating season is just getting started. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll help make one to remember.

Do I Need Hiking Boots?

New hikers often ask me if they need hiking boots. You don’t, in fact, there might be better choices for you. I’ve hiked in boots, hiking shoes, a pair of hiking sandals, and sometimes barefoot. This is what I found out after a journey of a million blisters.

You Don’t Need Hiking Boots, Maybe
People have strong opinions about hiking boots. The common reason why hikers feel that you need them is ankle support. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter much. In fact, I’ve hiked and backpacked barefoot without ever rolling an ankle.

Barefoot hiking was an interesting experiment. But looking at the trail in fear of stepping on a twig or pebble is a drag. The main reason why you need shoes is to protect your feet from rocks and debris on the trail. Hiking footwear should also have good grip, keep your feet dry, and be light enough to move easily. Many Appalachian Trail through-hikers use trail running shoes. So you don’t need hiking boots, maybe.

I Recommend Rugged Trail Running Shoes
This is your best bet for hiking. A good trail running shoe has traction, is waterproof, and are light enough for you to move nimbly on the trail. You can step on debris and it’s not a big deal. Think of them as modern day moccasins. I day hike and backpack with some version of a trail runner and they’re always kind to my feet and get the job done. You can see what I’m wearing now on my gear page.

The La Sportiva Synthesis – a great beefed up trail runner / hiking boot hybrid that I used before it was discontinued. It’s basically a beefed up trail running shoe.
When You Need Hiking Boots
Even though I only use them for certain occasions, I do have a pair of hiking boots. I use them when the trail is wet and muddy, or rocky. In these cases, my shoes generally get caked in mud, my feet get wet, and it’s a pretty miserable experience. But not so with the boots – they protect and keep my feet dry.

Good hiking boots offer a maximum level of protection. You don’t feel much of the trail, but you can plow through it. They are heavier, and you use more energy wearing them. If you’re hiking in extreme conditions, and you just want to be sure that you’re feet are 100% protected, go with hiking boots.

The best hiking boots that I’ve owned – the Asolo Fugitive GTX.
My favorites are the Asolo Fugitive GTX, My last pair lasted for 8 years of hikes in the mountains, deserts, jungles, and cities.

Hiking Sandals
I went through a period where I wore my Chaco hiking sandals all the time. They were comfortable, but had some drawbacks. I loved wearing them on hot days. If I had to ford streams or just wanted to cool my feet off in a lake, these were awesome. But they don’t offer much protection. If you’ll be hiking on trails with little debris in hot climates, hiking sandals are your move. Some people swear by these, so if you’re willing to put up with occasional twig in your foot, give them a try.

Chaco hiking sandals have a loyal following. People love or hate them. And no, that’s not my foot. Photo Jeff Nobles
Vibram Five Fingers
Like Chacos, Vibram Five Fingers have a loyal following. I have a pair of Spyridon shoes that I tried out for a few months. I used them in all conditions, including an off-trail hike on rocky conditions in the Mojave. They offer good protection, and excellent trail feel and agility. But they always left my feet feeling a little sore.

Hiking in Vibram Five Fingers always looks funny.
So Do I Need Hiking Boots?
Unless you live in very wet or harsh conditions, try a good trail running shoe or trail running / hiking hybrid (for women and men).
If you want maximum protection, go ahead and get a good hiking boot (for men and women).
If you live in a hot climate with good trails, try the Chacos on at an REI.
If you’re into minimalist hiking shoes and feel, try the Vibram Five Fingers.