“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise …” I’m not sure if the childhood song Teddy Bear’s Picnic is supposed to be fun or menacing, but the thought of that song still gives me the creeps. Luckily, the thought of possessed stuffed animals did not stop me from spending most of my summers growing up exploring the forests around my home.
Back then, I don’t think I ever took anything in case of emergencies. There certainly weren’t cell phones; maybe I grabbed some bug spray or sunscreen. But I was young and felt pretty safe aside from the occasional mosquito bite.
Now, when I venture into the “wilderness,” the scariest thing for me is not being prepared. Here are a few items I like to have handy if I’m off on an adventure.
Luckily, up here in the Northwoods we don’t have any dangerously poisonous animals, but ticks, specifically the deer tick, carry a plethora of dangerous diseases, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, so it is very important that you keep ticks off of you and/or get them out of you before they are able to transmit any pathogens. There are many different bug sprays you can use, from hardcore products with DEET in them to more natural formulations using geranium oil or citronella. Tick checks during your excursion and at the end of the day are non-negotiable. But if the tick does become embedded, you’ll need to get it out safely and in a timely fashion.
The Tick Kit is a single-use packet that contains everything you need to help you manage these nasty creatures. The Tick Kit includes some insect repellent as the first line of defense. It also includes tweezers, an antiseptic wipe, a bandage, and a resealable bag to keep the tick in in case of symptoms.
Other less dangerous but more annoying bugs include deer flies who love to target even the fastest mountain biker. The Deer Fly Patch honestly is pretty barbaric. But if it’s either them or us, you do what you gotta do. Basically, the Deer Fly Patch is a sticky strip that you attach to the back of your bike helmet, right where the deer flies like to hang out. They get stuck and you return from your ride bite-free.
If you’re just worried about the garden variety mosquito, the Park Pack includes insect repellent to ward off those bloodsuckers. It also contains suntan lotion, lip balm, some wipes, and some hand sanitizer. For me, the Park Pack is perfect to throw in your car or picnic basket when you’re headed on a quick nature hike or to the playground.
It’s easy to feel safe in the woods with your cell phone in tow, but if you run out of charge or are in a spot with poor reception it’s important to know the lay of the land. If you are biking CAMBA maps are a really important thing to have stashed in your seat pack just in case. Here at the shop, we can help you with a route that is safe and appropriate for your skill level, and the maps can help you venture out and find your way.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We hear it all the time. But it can truly be scary if your hike is a bit longer than expected and the temperature is a bit higher than forecasted. Having either water bottles at hand or a hydration pack like these from Osprey can help you feel a lot better on your outing and can save you from a true emergency.
Water can also help you defeat the dreaded poison ivy. Add the Crud Cloth and you’ve got a sure-fire method of stopping a rash in its tracks.
Crud Cloths are these amazing little packets —that I stash everywhere—with a cloth, essential oils, and gentle, non-sticky soap. Need to clean off after a hike? Wipe down your bike after a muddy ride? Take a “shower” while camping? The Crud Cloth is perfect. If you do get into some poison ivy, rinse the area thoroughly, wipe down with a Crud Cloth, and rinse again. That will go a long way toward removing the poison ivy oil responsible for your rash.
Another issue that I probably spend a bit too much time thinking about is (are?)…the facilities, or the lack thereof. What if there’s no restroom, what if it is locked, what if it’s disgusting? The Potty Pack and Sh*t Kit will come to your rescue. These kits include wipes, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and either a seat cover or disposal bag for your emergency. I’ve got them everywhere—in my cars, my backpack, my boat, bike bags, you name it. Wherever I go, they go…no pun intended.
A bit of forethought is always important before heading to the woods. Plan your route and stay on marked trails. Let someone know where you are going and how long you expect to be gone. Keep your phone charged. Luckily, ready for anything will help you enjoy the dark, deep woods. There is more to be excited about than afraid of, especially when you come prepared. Now, how to fend off a bunch of living teddy bears…