Another Truck Tent Adventure!

What do you do when you have two kids, a truck tent and the weekend off? You go camping of course! I spent the past weekend with my kids up at our favorite place, Rustic Rafters. We packed up the truck and headed out Friday after I got off work. Traffic was backed up in the construction zones and we didn’t make camp till late! Arriving at our destination we had less than a half an hour before sunset to set camp and get the truck hastily unloaded. We were up to the challenge! Like a well oiled machine, the kids set right to work unloading and stacking our wood from the truck while I grabbed the totes and table and started work on unfolding the tent.

Before the organized chaos began I fished out my reflector sticker pack from Gear Aid and stickered the kids! There was no way I was going to let it get dark and be able to keep track of them! They worked like a charm and the kids loved the fun camping shapes! Being retro reflective, the light from your torch bounces off the stickers and right back at you and gave me an extra bit of peace of mind!

With the wood stacked next to the fire pit my little helpers set to building the tent poles and hooking up the tie downs. As Noah was coming out from putting in the last pole, Zoe was going in and unrolling the air bed I passed up to her. Noah went into the truck and came back with the pump! Bam! We were in our bags, watching a movie on my tablet in no time! I was so proud of them!!

The water from the trees made a pop-pop sound on the tent and the kids thought it was funny. About 12:30a that pop-pop had transitioned to more of deluge with a side of splash-splash! I had opened the front vent on the rainfly to let the sweet pine air flow through the tent and lull us to sleep, but now I found myself getting wet from the rain coming in. I quickly sprang up, more like undulated on a squishy air mattress and promptly closed the vent. I went back to sleep expecting to find all manner of condensation in the tent and on our sleeping bags in the morning…Much to my surprise, there was no moisture! The bags were dry and so was the inside of the tent! I wish the same could be said about our firewood!

We rolled out of the tent, rubbed the sleep from our eyes and hoofed it to the bathrooms and returned to camp and began working on our breakfast fire.….Yeah right! The unexpected rain from the night before had gotten our wood wet but just on one side, no biggie I can work with that…the real problem was that even though my waterproof matches were waterproof, the box and striker strip were not… I managed to get one lit, the tinder going and then nothing…out it went. The box disintegrated in my hands and I was left standing there, with cardboard mush and no fire. I felt the gaze of my now ravenous children burning through my soul, their little eyes showing the worry and despair at no fire, no sizzling bacon and certainly no pancakes!

This was a perfect teachable moment….

The situation was not as dire as they thought. I always have a backup plan and a backup plan to the backup plan… I set the example by staying calm and upbeat. “ I got this guys” I said as I walked to the truck and grabbed my “Bad Things Can Happen Bag”. I knew that in these damp conditions it was going to take all my fire starting knowledge to get one going. I started at the basics and had them next to me as I did. We made feather sticks, looked for dry-ish kindling…inside the bark of fallen trees, brown pine needles still on the tree and birch bark… Tinder came in the form of dryer fluff that I always have in my bag.

Out came Old Reliable (fire steel) and poof! Moments later we had a roaring fire! They were part of the process every step. I showed them that level heads prevail and where to look find what you need in nature and to never give up or lose hope… It was a great life lesson and not something that can be learned sitting in front of a tv playing video games! This is what camping is all about! We stayed in camp that day, me, cleaning and organizing while the kids worked on their new found wilderness skills.

With three meals down and the sun beginning to set, we got ready for bed and gathered round the fire. As Noah and Zoe roasted marshmallows I played my guitar. All was right with the world. A beautiful tapestry of stars poked through the foliage overhead while the fire glowed and crackled at our feet and my children on either side of me, breathing easy and enjoying just being.

Into the tent we headed, tuckered out from the days chores. We each slipped into our own sleeping bags and soon, the little ones were fast asleep. I followed shortly there after. It was quite cozy with the three of us in there! Round about 3am I was awoken by the calls of coyotes. Calling and yipping as they moved about the forest. They make an eerie sound those calls…and it never fails to mesmerize, almost enchant if you will…these wild spirits running free, no master but instinct and hunger looking for their next meal.
Building on the previous days fire lesson and stoked up another one and I again cooked.

We had a fantastic breakfast and decided to break camp, shoot some arrows and do some exploring. We took the truck and headed out into the woods. Stopping at our secret spot, the kids jumped out and grabbed their bows. They have come such a long way with their archery and I was impressed by the results. Noah broke out his BB gun and finished off the targets. We mounted up, arms tired from pulling on bow strings and headed for the trails.

With their heads hanging out the windows we eased our way down the two tracks and around mud holes. The kids have learned that those are the best places to look for animal prints and excitement would build as we approached them. Several times we stopped and got out of the truck and see if we could read the story in this mess of prints around these windows into the soul of the forest. My Two have gotten quite skilled at the “Who, When and Which Way” of reading sign and then the imaginations start to run and off we go!
Our tracking and being observant was rewarded when Noah spotted a doe with her fawn and a bit further on when Zoe pointed out a spike horn and a doe sprinting through the bush. The kids get such a thrill from watching wild life and Rustic Rafters is our ground zero for that!
The sun was hanging high in the sky as we wheeled about and onto the highway heading home. Another great adventure in Northern Michigan in the books and a few more yet to go!

As always, thanks for reading!

links:

Napier Outdoors Truck Tents….

Gear Aid…

Rustic Rafters…

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Truck Campers Travel Journal!

I love camping. You can ask anyone, my friends…family…you name it and they will tell you how much I enjoy camping. Each time I pack up and head out, it’s a different experience…either because I forgot something crucial at home or camp gets raided by critters! Add to that I’m constantly trying to improve the experience and things can get a little jumbled and disorganized.
That’s where the Camping Journal comes in!

Made by Mike Young and costing only $12 there is no reason why you shouldn’t have one of these in your camper, tent bag or backpack! It catalogs and covers everything from fuel expenses to meal plans and even has a place for writing down favorite memories of the trip. So I get this thing in the mail and suddenly I have another reason to take the kids camping cause we have to test it out!

This time I didn’t forget a thing! I used the Camping Journal to plan our meals, build a shopping list and make sure nothing was left behind. It worked exactly as promised, now granted, your only going to get out of it what you put in to it, but the layout and design makes it simple to use and integrate into your routine.

The meal plan page covers BLD, ingredients used, cook method and a spot for prep work and cooking instructions. The next page holds info on your trip…the who, what, where of it all with details about the campground right down to cell service and local radio stations! At the end of each “Trip Section” there is a spot to record your activities and stand out memories. There’s even a blank page that I plan to use for pictures!

I have recorded two trips so far and started planning a third to see the fall colors up north. In the short time that I’ve used the Journal I have improved my organization, stepped up my cooking game and created a record of our travels! How cool is that, right?! I can look back at what worked and what didn’t, devise a new plan based on that data and record and compare the results. “But can you measure fun?” you ask….You bet I can! I’ve got two kids and trust me, they let me know if their not having a good time!!

But for me, and this is the best part of the whole thing, I’ve taken to using the Journal as a tool of perpetuity!

After each trip I make sure that I write a little letter about our trip in the space provided to my kids. My idea is to share with them the pride I feel as they develop their wilderness skills, the awe and wonder I feel when I experience things again through their eyes and just how plain happy I am that they are in my life. I hope years from now, when I’m gone, that my kids will reminisce about our trips into the woods, look at the pages and letters I have written to them and fondly remember the good times that we had and encourage them to do the same with their kids.

Isn’t that what its all about?

The Camping Journal is available at the link below. I highly recommend that you get one for your adventures!

Click here to get yours!

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“PPSS Groups New Emergency Body Armour Will Help Protect Civilians”

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday, 6th September 2017

Knaresborough, United Kingdom

PPSS Group’s New Emergency Body Armour Will Help Protect Civilians

Designed for individual protection, a new rapidly deployable ‘Emergency Body Armour™’ is offering the latest in globally respected and field-tested body armour technology, displaying truly outstanding protection from edged weapon, such as machetes and knives.

Following a number of well documented knife attacks on civilians in recent years, PPSS Group started a comprehensive R&D project with the aim to design a ultra-lightweight body armour that can be strategically located in public places and deployed within a very few seconds, in case of emergency.

The UK firm is now making this new ‘Emergency Body Armour’ available to airports, train stations, hospitals, city centre hotels, and other key locations civilians may flee to and seek shelter when faced by a suddenly occurring threat.

According to the company behind this concept, this latest ‘Emergency Body Armour’ also offers unmatched protection from blunt force trauma injuries, usually suffered following an assault by a blunt object.

A top healthcare security specialist in Britain wished to remain anonymous, but commented: “To have something small, compact and lightweight stashed away or strategically placed that you could pull out and throw on, would make a huge difference between a potential life and death situation.”

Robert Kaiser, CEO of PPSS Group strongly agrees with this statement. Presenting at yesterday’s global product launch at London’s Hilton Canary Wharf Hotel he said: “An Emergency Body Armour makes sense, and it will help to protect human lives and reduce the number of casualties when a serious threat occurs.”

A live video demo of this new armour can be viewed on YouTube by searching for ‘PPSS Emergency Body Armour’ or please click on the following link: https://youtu.be/D54P9cjDIt8

Following the issuing of body armour to all Police Forces in the UK in the 90s, many hospital and university security teams have now equipped their teams with stab resistant vests since. The same can be said for several public sector enforcement teams, such as Trading Standards, Licensing, Community Safety, Environmental Health and Car Parking Enforcement.

About PPSS Group:

PPSS Group is specialised in the development, manufacturing and supply of high performance body armour, offering unrivalled protection from firearms, edged weapons and blunt force trauma. PPSS Group’s social media presence: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

Media Contact:

Jim Still – Head of Marketing & Brand Protection
js@ppss-group.com
+44 (0) 845 5193 953

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Slash Pro Hoodie!

Ok, this is some fantastic gear. Sitting at my desk writing this, I am wearing the latest in protective garment technology from SlashPRO, a slash proof/cut resistant hoodie! Based out of the UK SlashPRO has made a name for themselves in the protective garment industry with their cutting edge products and CEO that actually test the gear himself! From slash proof shirts to stab and bullet resistant vests, he dons his products and takes one for the team!!

So I get this hoodie, pull it out of the bag, put it on and to the horror of my family whip out my pocket knife and try to cut through the material! NOTHING HAPPENED! No matter how many times I slashed…left…right….up or down, not once did the blade touch skin! Serrations did produce a notable drag on the fabric but again no destruction of the fibers or rending of the material. It has an athletic cut so you may want to order one size larger to get a little more room.

The material is heavy and has an almost metallic look to it. The knit is tight and close and creates a feel that is hard to describe. It’s somewhere between thick and floppy and when you pick it up, just as your start to think “well that’s odd” you notice that it feels slippery! It breathes really well and is comfortable for all day wear. The hood is lined with the same material as the cuffs and bottom hem and once up provides total coverage for you neck and head. This hoodie has what it takes to be a life saving device.

The kangaroo pocket on the front is a accessable from both sides and is very spacious. Its a great place to stash your keys, phone and hands when they need warming! I was able to also stuff my holstered pocket pistol in there as well, keeping it handy yet descrete!

If you work in law enforcement or corrections, I would strongly recommend this hoodie. SlashPRO has many different clothing items that utilize this cutting edge material, from under shirts to full on combat wear you’ll be able to find a style that will fit your need.

Now, that’s all well and good and a great, if not boring, discussion of fit and performance….But how did it Really Feel? I’m so glad you asked! It felt great! I felt like an Medieval Knight in service to the Crown, unbeatable and ready to take on the world!

I have been using this hoodie for quite some time testing the fit, comfort, function and practical applications. I have come to the conclusion the no prep, especially urban, is complete without one of these garments…maybe not so much the boxers but definitely the shirts and hoodie. I’ve been wearing mine around town and no one is the wiser to its true purpose and function. It blends in and works fantastically in the Grey Man theme of gear that is becoming all the rage.

Click here to go to the SlashPRO Web site and see all the unique designs they have utilizing this revolutionary fabric!

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Napier 57 Series Truck Tent

This past weekend I got to take my new truck tent from Napier Outdoors for a shakedown run and boy was it fantastic! For the past few years I have been using the Napier Backroadz series tent for my adventures and it’s a great tent, love it to death but it was time for an upgrade. I contacted Napier and a few days later there was a knock at my door and a man clad in brown delivered my new 57 Series tent!!

Straight off, this one is much heavier than my old one and has twice the poles, more headroom , windows, side vents, rainfly and…ready for this… a 4’x4’ awning that extends out from the back over the door! How cool is that!! After setting it up in the driveway to get a feel for how it went up and the order of the poles I was ready for a full on overnight outing. I called my gal-pal Kim and off we went. Arriving at Algonac State Park around 7pm we only had a short bit of time until sunset to get everything setup…the pressure was on!!

We unloaded the truck bed with all haste and then set to the task of erecting our shelter.

So, first things first. The 57 Series comes with its own expandable duffle bag that is large enough to hold the tent, poles, rainfly and gear loft. It’s a durable nylon bag with strong zippers and padded handles! As a stroke of genius, the instructions to assemble the truck tent are sewn into the carry bag!! How cool is that, absolutely zero chance of loosing the instructions! Its this attention to details like this that sets Napier Outdoors products apart from the crowd.

Opening up the duffle, I set about unrolling the tent into the bed, sorting the poles and consulting the instructions for the proper order of setup. It was a breeze! Figuring out what pole goes where couldn’t be easier because the sleeves the poles go into have color matching trim at the openings that correlates to the color of the correct pole!!! Its idiot proof!…well, almost….

Anyway, after getting the poles in their correct positions it was time to raise this puppy. It went up smooth and secure with no issues. From start to finish, it only took about 20 minuets to put up and then it was ready for use!

One thing I really like about this design are the straps that hold the tent in place in the bed. The left and right side both have three tie downs that hook to the truck body and inside the wheel wells. These straps are nylon webbing connected to a section of elastic to maintain tension. The really cool part is that all six of these tie downs are shrouded in nylon to protect your trucks finish…again, attention to detail.

The real wow factor aside from the taped seams is the 4’x4’ awning off the back! That was the real showstopper. Many campers walking by would stop and asked questions about the tent…where did I get it….was it easy to set up….cool awning!! It really made a difference and offered a bit more covered room, enough for two chairs to enjoy some shade or shelter from the rain!

With the tent up I turned my attention to dinner and started a fire and began organizing the camp kitchen. I have found there are two things that can ruin any trip, bad food and rough nights sleep! With dinner in the works we finished off the inside of the tent.

It was no longer a truck bed but a refuge from the elements, a place to rest after a hard day of adventure and relaxation!

As evening transitioned to night the campground came alive with happy figures illuminated by campfires, twinkle lights were strung and games were being played! I broke out my guitar and played to the stars and the trees…

The fire began to die down and we decided to turn in. Now, this is where the true test of the tent comes in. Some people will say “what test? It just has to sit there.” and yes, in that they are right but there’s more to it. First off there’s enough head room to move around comfortably and I was able to stand upright in the center. Second is breathability. With all the possible venting configurations with the tents windows it did a great job on cutting moisture inside while maintaining a comfortable temperature.

We bedded down for the night as the campground grew quiet. All that could be heard were the crickets chirping and the occasional lake freighter going past. I haven’t slept that good in quite some time!

We woke up with the sun as its light gently filtered trough the tent rousing us from our slumber. Everything was dry inside with no condensation issues and we climbed out, rested and ready to start the day!

I stoked up a fire for breakfast set to work while Kim prepped the fixings. We had bacon, English muffins and some fantastic omelets all cooked over an open fire!

Even if your roughing it, that’s no reason to live like a savage, and trust me, with this tent from Napier you’re far from roughing it!

Click here for more information or to get yours!

As always, thanks for reading!

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Gear Aid Revivex Durable Water Proofing!

Nothing can ruin a good day of bushcrafting and dampen spirits like a downpour! I don’t know about you but I don’t always carry rain gear when I head out, but I do always have a boonie with me! Their great at shedding rain and sun and are must have for any adventure . At some point though, they do soak through and Blam’O! You’ve got a wet head!!The weather around HQ has been exceptionally rainy as of late so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test Gear Aids Durable Water Proofing spray. Designed to refresh raingear, coats, hats and tents the Gear Aid DWR is a fantastic product. Following the instructions I headed outside, hat in hand with the expectation of creating a waterproof cover for my head.

Hanging my boonie on a weathered nail protruding from the arbor in the backyard and taking the “more is better” approach I sprayed the hat at the instructed distance and until it was rather saturated. Satisfied with my application I proceeded to the dryer. Again, following the instructions on the bottle, I set the dryer temp and timer and waited….

Time for the science!

Gear Aids DWR is a proprietary inert fluoropolymer that does not change, combine or degrade over time into something else…What that means is that the performance is consistent through out application on various items. How cool is that right?! It is hypoallergenic, colorless and made in the USA!

Once dry I inspected the hat to see if there was any discoloration or alteration of the ATACS FG print. I found none. The boonie looked the same as it did before application and I was excited to continue evaluating the spray.

Now for the real test, I took the hat for a spin in the sink….It worked!! The stream of water from the faucet was neatly deflected by the DWR and rolled of the brim like water off a ducks back! After showing off the performance to the crew here, answering questions and listening to the Ooo’s and Ahh’s I grabbed my hat and headed outdoors…It hasn’t rained since, but when it does, I’m ready!

I’m really impressed with the performance of this product. It took a hat that had no repellency in it what so ever and made it this awesome piece of kit. I can only imagine how it will work to renew your favorite raingear!

The applications don’t end there… You can apply it to packs, jackets, sleeping bags, tents….anything that needs to be water repellant even your existIts uses are endless and I cant wait to see what I use it on next!

Click the link below for more information and as always, thanks for reading!

Gear Aid Revivex

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Rustic Rafters Campground…

As I write this post it seems almost a lifetime ago that my kids and I were at Rustic Rafters, but in reality it was just the other day. I keep feeling like its time to start prepping the fire for lunch! Splitting wood, getting the fire started and working on a hot bed of coals for the burgers while my two little campers sit on the cabin steps whittling.

My kids and I had the pleasure of spending another long weekend at our getaway of getaways, Rustic Rafters. Nestled away in northern Michigan, Rustic Rafters is the quintessential “Up North” campground. With spacious sites, beautiful showers and charming cabins, this place is everything you need for a basecamp for your wilderness adventures or to just sit in camp and watch the sun move across the sky!

We were the first people to stay in one of Ray’s new bunk houses! Designed and hand built by him they are fantastic for a large family or hunting party! The bunk houses are laid out with a table, chairs, coffee pot, fridge, microwave and toaster. There are two sets of bunks on either side of the cabin with a heater between them and to top it all off, a beautiful porch with a table and benches for eating out!!

Our meals were true Cowboy fare! Saturdays dinner consisted of flame grilled steak and beans followed by a breakfast of bacon and flapjacks. That was chased by a round of grilled burgers for lunch and then a mess of eggs and flapjacks the next morning. Everything was cooked over an open fire and hot coals, imparting that delicious, smoky flavor that can only come from cooking outdoors. The children and their sophisticated pallets have decided that brown eggs taste better than white and I was right in my decision to go with them. Originally being met with skepticism and doubt, I had to convince them that the browns were the way to go and take it on faith that I knew what I was doing! Their little faces certainly mirrored the doubt in Dad they were feeling inside!

Fosters Market in Lake City has some of the freshest meat around and the staff is always helpful. Bill came to our rescue when we had a S’mores Emergency and was able to save the day! Thank you Bill!!

We did manage to stroll into town and visit the Family Diner. There has been a restaurant in that spot for as long as I can remember and its tradition to eat there at least once per trip! The food is great and the prices are very reasonable. As with Fosters, the staff was excellent and saw to our every need. They even have a gluten free menu!!

So when you go up north you need to do up north things. Looking for wildlife is near the top of the list and we were not disappointed. The local back roads provide the perfect venues for critter watching and we were treated to seeing a doe and her fawn cautiously picking their way along a creek, a lone turkey roadside and a badger! Yes, a badger!! He crossed the road in front of us in such a manner as to appear angry that a road was cutting through his swamp!

Having access to some private land I decided it was time for my kids to experience an up north rite of passage…their first bows! They took to them like fish to water! I found two nice little compound bows for them, attached the sights ( like a flat lander, or so I was told!) and we headed out to the back forty. Large McDonald’s cups were the targets of opportunity with a sawmill and its dust pile as our backdrop. After a detailed and lengthy safety discussion and many arrows being let loose, Noah was the first to put one through his target and was soon followed by his sister. With turns being taken and arrows flying it became quickly apparent that I had a couple of archers on my hands! In fact, Zoe asked about bow fishing!! I’m so proud of the both of them.

Cupping my face, my hands still smell of work and the forest. Hands that split wood, worked the fire, carried water and provided for my family. Hands that did real work….hands that affirmed our connection to the real world in a time of Facebook and video games and virtual reality. The skills I used were real, the knowledge I used was real and time we shared together was priceless!

Below are links to the places mentioned in the article and as always, thanks for reading!

http://www.rusticrafters.com

http://www.fostersmarketlakecity.com

http://www.family-diner.com

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