A great pair of boots can be the difference between a mountaintop view and a slow limp to the car. While looking pretty is always nice when shopping around for new gear, when it comes to your feet, performance should always come first. Here we explore some things to look for when shopping for your next pair so you can actually enjoy your next adventure, and take a look at some companies that give you both performance and looks at a great price.

Get the Right Fit
Finding the right fit sounds like a no-brainer, but most minor foot injuries during hikes occur from people pushing on in boots that don’t fit. The foot is a nuanced surface, with subtle curvatures that changes in shape as you step. The fact is, not all companies design footwear with all the necessary details included. Cutting corners for reduced manufacturing costs to increase profits isn’t an uncommon accident- It’s the norm.

Stable Insoles
Taking your time to find a product that took care in designing their insole shape and density is always worth it. This reduces the likelihood of buying something that is too tight in some places or too loose in others. And it doesn’t stop there–the supports around the insole are just as important. There are few things worse than an insole that slips around as you walk because it isn’t stabilized in the boot effectively. Stiff plastic supports to the structure of the shoe around the insole can have a harsh edge. Without adequate padding, this edge begins pressing against your foot through your stride.

Durable Materials
Materials are a major focus here too. Everyone likes leather, and it’s great. But leather has limits. Quality manufacturers use a combination of multiple, advanced materials in their boot designs to really shine. Some synthetic materials bring breathability, waterproofing, strength, weightlessness and comfort that leather alone just can’t do. Be wary of anyone that claims to make the perfect boots that are 100% leather. They may be great at some things, but they just don’t bring the same performance and versatility that premium designs do.

Boots Are Tools
Just as important as materials is function. Yes, you plan to walk in your boots and they should be able to handle that fine. But when searching for a pair of boots, start thinking of them like a tool. There is a job you plan to do, and you should be picking the right tool for the job. That is where tactical boots come in. Boots labeled as tactical often take all the qualities I mentioned above to the next level. Tactical boots take your footwear from being designed for walking to being designed to hike 10 miles through damp brush and mud without missing a step. Here are some of my favorites and why:

Our Favorite Boots

Chinook Footwear Scorpion II Heavy Duty boot

Chinook Footwear has been making boots in the Pacific Northwestern United States for 25 years, and in that time they have really gotten what they do down to a science. Their Scorpion II Heavy Duty boot is a masterpiece of tactical construction. It features shock resistance, molded ankle support, a waterproof breathable membrane, fully cushioned antimicrobial footbed, oil and slip resistant, ultra grip sole, and much more. All this weighing in at about 2 pounds. [$150]


Magnum Boots Stealth Force 8.0 Side Zip Waterproof boot
Magnum Boots Stealth Force 8.0 Side Zip Waterproof boot

Magnum Boots have a lot to offer when it comes to tactical footwear. Since their start in 1982, they have grown to a large line of military and law enforcement footwear, as well as boots and shoes designed for other demanding professions. Their Stealth Force 8.0 Side Zip Waterproof boot is one of their best. Loaded with all the comfort, lightweightedness and durability you could ask for in a protective and affordable package. [$140 to $160]

Danner Tanicus Sage Green Dry Non-Metallic Toe boot
Danner Tanicus Sage Green Dry Non-Metallic Toe boot

Danner Boots has been in the boot making business since 1932, and are crafted in Portland, Oregon. With a wide range of options, all supported by hand-crafted workmanship, Danner boots are sure to please. Their tactical boots are a joy, and they have some higher-end options as well. A classic, simple line of tactical boots from Danner called Tanicus will settle in as a more affordable, but still Danner quality option. [$150]

While there are a lot of companies making boots out there, the number that make quality, handcrafted, tactical boots right in the United States is much smaller. If you’ve been buying something else in the past, it’s time to try one of these three for your next pair. You will be amazed at how big of a difference the care and ingenuity of manufacturers like these make for your feet, and how much easier it is to hang in through testing situations with a pair of these on.

Tents are a mainstay of convenience for sleeping outdoors. They come in all shapes, prices and sizes. Here, we bring you a collection of unique tents to add some flair to your next camping or survival excursion. You may even discover your new favorite go-to tent among these!

Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent

Looking up is usually the last thing you would think to do when searching for a tent in the wilderness, but the Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent can be pitched high above hiker’s heads. They are manufactured in quite a few styles, colors and sizes to choose from. A three-person tent like the Stingray 3 weighs about 19 pounds fully packed, so it is viable for a long hike. They even make models that can connect together, creating a makeshift village in the canopy! This style of tent can make a world of difference when having to set camp in damp or marshy areas, or in areas where the ground is very rocky. [$650]  Image from rei.com


Coleman Pop-Up Tent

Coleman Pop-Up Tent

Next up is the Coleman Pop-Up Tent. Unzip the carry bag, and poof . . . setting up camp is over. Coleman makes a great affordable tent, and this style makes camping for people that always struggle with setting up and taking down camp a breeze. It is also light, keeping at under 8 pounds for a 4-person model. Fumbling with tent poles can finally be a thing of the past, and at a price that won’t break your wallet for trying something new. [$100]  Image from coleman.com

Tahoe Gear Bighorn XL

Tahoe Gear Bighorn XL tent

Tahoe Gear brings us another great option: Bighorn XL. A teepee style tent fitting as many as 12 people can make those awkward, fumbling attempts at dressing in your tent a thing of the past. It stands 18 feet tall, and is just as wide. It also has a set of adjustable vents along the base to help regulate temperature and humidity, and a rain fly to shed water from the top, but that still allows for  the ceiling ventilation the original teepees that indigenous peoples were known for. [$151]  Image from tahoegear.com

Mountain Hardware Space Station


Mountain Hardware Space Station Tent

If you are looking for something more futuristic than classic, search no further than the Space Station. Mountain Hardware makes an extreme weather ready masterpiece that appears to be suited for another planet. And when near the peaks of the tall mountains this tent was designed for, you might as well be. They come with more than 10 adjustable vents and a sound structural design to help sweep wind up and over in the harshest of weather. It’s a spendy investment, but supercool. [$5,500]  Image from mountainhardware.com

Lotus Belle

Lotus Belle Tent

Lotus Belle makes tents that look out of this world as well, but more in the fairy tale sense. They are made of heavy-duty canvas and are built to last through being set up in the elements for much longer than your average camping trip. They come in lots of variations, but across the board you can expect much more headroom than your average tent. People often utilize them for visually appealing outdoor seating in their yards or at festivals, but they work great out in the woods as well. Shown is the 13-foot Lotus Belle Outback Tent. [$5,500]  Image from lotusbelle.com

Nordisk Telemark Tunnel Tent

Nordisk Telemark Tunnel Tent


Last on our list here is Nordisk. They are known for making higher-end tents, and the Telemark Tunnel Tent is a staple of their line. It may look more like a windsock than a tent, but it sheds water and wind like a dream. They come in a range of sizes, but they really excel in the smaller range. They are one of the easiest tents to pack long distances out there, weighing in at around 2 pounds for their 2-person model. It also sports some nice features, such as magnetic closing and a pole for converting the door into a tarp. [Contact for pricing]  Image from nordisk.eu

Next time you are looking at upgrading your camping gear or disaster supplies with a new tent, give some of these a glance. While they all excel in different areas, one thing is certain–they’ll all stand out.



Forms of food dehydration have been around for centuries. Modern devices have resulted in things like banana chips being popular snack choices in your local grocery stores. Now, there are many affordable options that can fit on your counter at home, allowing you to save leftovers from your garden and meals. Properly dried foods can last up to 10 years when stored properly. It can be an appliance that saves you the money you spent on it early in its lifespan.

With so many options and features however, it can be confusing to know where to start. Here we give you some simple things to keep in mind when searching for your first food dehydrator.

Size: Think about what you plan to do with it. If you aren’t in a hurry or don’t plan to dry large amounts of food at once, save the counter space, electricity, and money- and go with something more manageable. If you plan to use it often, have a big project in mind, or have cheap access to large amounts of food to preserve, go with something with larger food drying capacity. Just keep in mind that most foods take up to 12 hours to properly dry, so you are looking at 1-2 batches a day of food being dried for many foods.

Horizontal, or Vertical Layout: Food dehydrators work by applying controlled, warm air flow evenly over the food inside. Vertical dehydrators blow heat from a heating element from below the food, cycling the air up through the racks. Vertical is often less expensive than horizontal. But these are often less efficient because the lower trays get most of the warm air and the top trays get less. Vertical dehydrators work best if the trays are rotated on a regular basis, which means you have to monitor the drying more often to make sure everything is drying evenly than you would in a horizontal model. A horizontal model places the heating element off to the side or in the back, pushing the warm air across the racks evenly. Horizontal airflow can reduce mixing of flavors between different types of food being dried at once. It also eliminates concern of fluids dripping from foods down into the heating element, easing cleaning.

Features: They can come with all sorts of settings and functions, but there are 3 things to make sure your food dehydrator has. A custom timer is a must for perfecting your recipes and getting those banana chips just the right level of crunch. A temperature selector for optimizing heat for the type of food you are preserving (meats for example require higher temperatures to dry safely.) And finally, shoot for something that is easy to clean. If it takes as long to clean as it does to dehydrate your food, you won’t ever use it.

Price: Industrial quality dehydrators can cost you hundreds of dollars. You can find them for as cheap as $30. For a horizontal one like mine, that has some capacity and is easy to use, you can find similar models around $80.

Pick something that will fit your needs and experiment. If you are anything like me, you will have a pantry full of your favorite fruits, vegetables, and meats by the end of the month, and struggling to save them for eating in an emergency.

Image shown is a horizontal dehydrator with sheets filled with apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon.