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Outdoor Survival Skills

Snowshoeing For Beginners – Montem Outdoor Gear



Have you ever wanted to go snowshoeing, but don’t know how to get started?

You’re not alone!

Because snowshoeing isn’t as popular as skiing or snowboarding, you might not have many friends who can coach you on what to do. That’s where I come in.

In this article, I’ll go over all the intel you need to begin an epic snowshoeing career.

To start, let’s answer the question…

Why Snowshoe?

If you’ve never been snowshoeing before, you might be wondering why you’d want to go. The answer is that snowshoeing is an all-around awesome activity.

Here are “A” few reasons why:

  • Aerobic – snowshoeing (like walking), is an excellent form of cardio. The constant stepping through the snow bumps your heart rate and helps you burn calories.
  • Amicable – like hiking, snowshoeing is a social activity. It’s not a strenuous ordeal, so you can spend your time conversing with your friends.
  • Affordable – unlike skiing, you don’t need to buy hundreds of dollars worth of gear to go snowshoeing. As we’ll discuss, you can get snowshoes at a low cost.
  • Accessible – young or old, anyone can go snowshoeing. The rebound of the snow makes this activity easy on the knees. You can also tailor your pace (fast or slow) to match your group’s physical prowess.
  • Anywhere – as long as there’s snow on the ground, you can go snowshoeing! Don’t let your location hamper you from enjoying winter.

If you’ve read my blog at all, you know I’m a huge hiker. You might be wondering why I’m suggesting snowshoeing over hiking. The answer is that hiking in thick snow is a pain in the butt. Your feet get wet, and it’s hard to walk.

Snowshoes are a solution to this problem. The shoes distribute your weight across the shoe and provide traction when clawing through the snow. This makes it much easier to get around.

What Gear Do You Need For Snowshoeing?

One of the hardest decisions to make when doing any outdoor activity is what gear to bring. There’s a lot that goes into this, but now I’ll try to make this simple for you.


First things first, you obviously need snowshoes.

Make sure you pick the right snowshoes for your specific stature and plans (more on that later).

Don’t feel the need to get top-of-the-line snowshoes, either. If you’re a beginner, you won’t notice the performance difference with high-end shoes anyway.


In case you were wondering, snowshoes require you to wear your own boots inside of them. So, make sure you’ve got a nice pair of boots that you can use for snowshoeing.

Ideally, this is a pair of hiking boots. When snowshoeing, you’re going to be walking through a lot of snow (obviously). This means that your feet can quickly get cold and wet. A good pair of hiking boots will work against both.


Now that you’ve got your feet taken care of, it’s time to prepare the rest of your body. Wear warm clothes, of course, but make sure that you layer your clothes.

Layering is crucial while snowshoeing for a few reasons. To start, you don’t know when the wind or snow will pick up. So, you want to make sure you’ve got enough layers to protect you from a storm.

On the other hand, snowshoeing is a physical activity like any other. That means that your body temperature will increase as you get moving. Layer your clothes so that you can remove layers when you get too hot.


Next, make sure you bring some hiking poles (also known as trekking poles). This is pretty important, and I don’t suggest you go snowshoeing without them. If you encounter any hill, you’ll be thankful you have poles. Plus, quality poles can be purchased for about $20, so there are no excuses.

For snowshoeing, get poles that have snow baskets. These are the little half-spheres on the lower part of your poles that will give you stability in the snow.

Emergency Supplies

Believe it or not, stuff happens.

No matter how well you plan for your trip, you could quickly get stuck in the woods due to injury, snowfall, or navigation failure. Make sure that when you’re snowshoeing, you’re prepared for the worst.

How do you know what to bring? A thorough packing list for any outdoor activity is the Ten Essentials. This list of tools will make sure that you’re prepared in any situation, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

To sum it up, the Ten Essentials are:

  1. Navigation
  2. Sun Protection
  3. Insulation
  4. Illumination
  5. First-aid
  6. Fire
  7. Tools
  8. Food
  9. Water
  10. Shelter

Bringing something to tick off each line item above is a surefire way to defend against any natural disasters that could strike on your trek.

Renting Snowshoes

If you’ve never been snowshoeing before, I advise you to rent gear the first time you go. Yes, you won’t get to keep the equipment, but you’ll also save a lot of money.

I recommend renting gear when you’re trying something new for one big reason – you might not like it. The last thing you want to do is invest hundreds of dollars into a hobby that you don’t even enjoy.

That’s why I recommend renting gear. If you don’t like it, that’s okay! Because you haven’t thrown your money down the toilet.

How To Find The Right Snowshoes

Youtube – How to Choose Snowshoes

Without getting into too much detail, here’s a primer on snowshoe anatomy. There are three parts – the deck, bindings, and traction.

The deck is the large bottom piece of the snowshoe. This is what keeps you on top of the snow.

A larger deck will help you float on the snow more. Heavier snowshoers (or those with large backpacks) should go for a bigger deck. When you look at snowshoes, you’ll see what weight they’re rated for.

Smaller decks are optimal for packed snow or if you want to run.

Bindings are what strap your feet to the deck, similar to ski bindings. All you have to do here is to confirm your bindings fit your boots well.

Traction is the name for the pieces on the bottom of the deck that grab the snow. Thicker traction needed for higher hills or icy conditions. Look at the snow depth and talk with some locals to figure out how much traction you need.

Where Should You Go Snowshoeing?

At this point, you’re probably ready to hit the trails!

But where do you go?

Truth is – there are probably millions of places near you where you can go snowshoeing. Don’t feel the need to find the perfect spot. Just get started!

A great place to look is your local outdoors store. Odds are, they’ll have experienced staff who can share some insider tips with you. You’ll also be able to pick up a map or any gear you need.

Another great place to check is your state parks. Most state parks stay open year-round so that you can snowshoe on the trails. Just make sure you get a map before so you don’t get lost.

A gem location is ski resorts. Although they prioritize skiers, resorts have trails nearby where you can get some awesome snowshoeing in.

Snowshoeing Technique

If you’ve never snowshoed before, you might be apprehensive about what to do once you pop your boots in your snowshoe.

My advice? Don’t worry!

On flat terrain, snowshoeing is just like walking. The only difference is that you have to take longer strides to accommodate the shoes and taller steps to get over the snow.

On hilly terrain, there are some pro techniques you can use to scale the mountain fast. However, I recommend you take it slow and treat it like you’re hiking. Plan your steps and use your poles to keep your balance.

Before you hike, try to warm up and do some stretching, especially in your hips and groin. These areas will take a beating through a long-distance snowshoe adventure, so be smart.

And whatever you do, don’t try to run in your snowshoes. They weren’t made for running, and you might hurt yourself.

When you get some miles under your belt, consider upgrading to trail-running snowshoes. These are designed to be smaller than regular snowshoes so that you can run without falling.

Snowshoeing Safety

Although snowshoeing is fun and easy, there are still risks involved. The #1 issue is that you could get lost.

Unlike hiking (where you can see the trail), snowshoeing puts you in the middle of nowhere without much guidance on where to go. That’s why it’s critical to bring a map, GPS, compass, or phone to help you guide the way. Make sure you know where you’re going and how to get home.

As with any physical activity, stay hydrated. Even though snowshoeing looks relaxing, it’s still a strenuous sport! Bring extra water for you and your party so you can quench your thirst.

Finally, prepare for avalanches, especially if you’re snowshoeing in the mountains. Check the weather forecast and make sure there are no avalanche warnings. In case of emergency, bring a beacon, probe, or shovel to save yourself from falling snow.


Well, there you have it, folks, everything you need to know to get started snowshoeing. I hope you enjoyed this article!


Mike Miller is the owner & operator of He’s also a hiker, father, and lover of all things outdoors.

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Outdoor Survival Skills

Building a Survival Garden: A Beginner’s Guide for Urban and Suburban Families



In times of uncertainty, having a reliable source of fresh food can provide a sense of security and self-sufficiency. For urban and suburban families interested in preparedness, growing a survival garden is an excellent way to ensure access to nutritious food. This guide will explain why you should consider growing a survival garden and provide step-by-step instructions to help even those with no gardening experience get started.

Why Grow a Survival Garden?


Food Security

One of the primary reasons to grow a survival garden is to ensure food security. In the event of supply chain disruptions, natural disasters, or other emergencies, having a garden can provide a steady supply of fresh vegetables and herbs. This reduces reliance on grocery stores and external sources.

Health and Nutrition

Homegrown produce is often more nutritious and flavorful than store-bought options. You have control over the growing conditions and can avoid harmful pesticides and chemicals. This results in healthier, organic produce that supports your family’s well-being.

Cost Savings

Growing your own food can significantly reduce your grocery bill. While there are initial setup costs, a well-maintained garden can produce an abundance of food for a fraction of the cost of buying it.

Environmental Benefits

Gardening is an eco-friendly activity. It reduces your carbon footprint by decreasing the need for transportation and packaging associated with store-bought produce. Additionally, plants help improve air quality and can provide habitats for beneficial insects and birds.

Steps to Start Your Survival Garden

Step 1: Plan Your Garden

The first step in creating a survival garden is planning. Consider the following factors:

  • Location: Choose a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily. For urban settings with limited space, consider container gardening or vertical gardening.
  • Space: Assess the available space and decide on the garden size. Even a small balcony or patio can accommodate a container garden.
  • Climate: Research the local climate and growing seasons. Select plants that thrive in your region.
  • Water Source: Ensure easy access to water. Gardens require regular watering, especially during hot, dry periods.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

Once you have a plan, gather the necessary supplies. Basic gardening supplies include:

  • Containers or Raised Beds: Containers, pots, or raised beds are ideal for urban and suburban gardens. They are easier to manage and can be placed on patios, balconies, or rooftops.
  • Soil: Use high-quality, nutrient-rich soil. You can purchase potting soil or create your own compost.
  • Seeds or Seedlings: Start with easy-to-grow vegetables and herbs such as tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and basil. Seedlings are often easier for beginners than starting from seeds.
  • Watering Can or Hose: Ensure you have a reliable method for watering your garden.
  • Gardening Tools: Basic tools include a trowel, pruners, gloves, and a hand rake.

Step 3: Prepare the Soil

Healthy soil is crucial for a thriving garden. Follow these steps to prepare your soil:

  • Test the Soil: Use a soil testing kit to check the pH and nutrient levels. Most vegetables prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.0-7.0).
  • Amend the Soil: Based on the test results, amend the soil with compost, manure, or other organic matter to improve fertility and drainage.
  • Fill Containers or Beds: If using containers or raised beds, fill them with the prepared soil mix.

Step 4: Plant Your Garden

With the soil ready, it’s time to plant your seeds or seedlings:

  • Follow Planting Guidelines: Each plant has specific planting depth and spacing requirements. Follow the instructions on the seed packets or seedling tags.
  • Water Thoroughly: After planting, water the soil thoroughly to help the plants establish roots.
  • Label Plants: Label each plant to keep track of what you’ve planted and where.

Step 5: Maintain Your Garden

Consistent care is essential for a successful garden. Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Water Regularly: Water your plants regularly, especially during dry spells. Ensure the soil stays moist but not waterlogged.
  • Weed Control: Remove weeds regularly to prevent them from competing with your plants for nutrients and water.
  • Mulch: Apply mulch around the plants to retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and reduce weeds.
  • Fertilize: Use organic fertilizers to provide essential nutrients. Follow the recommended application rates.
  • Prune and Harvest: Prune plants to encourage healthy growth and remove dead or diseased parts. Harvest vegetables and herbs when they are ripe to enjoy fresh produce and encourage more growth.

Step 6: Protect Your Garden

Protecting your garden from pests and diseases is crucial:

  • Pest Control: Use natural pest control methods such as neem oil, insecticidal soap, or introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs.
  • Disease Prevention: Keep an eye out for signs of disease and take action promptly. Remove infected plants to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Physical Barriers: Use netting or fencing to protect your garden from animals and birds.

Starting a survival garden can seem daunting, especially for those with no prior gardening experience. However, with careful planning, the right supplies, and consistent care, anyone can create a thriving garden that provides fresh, nutritious food for their family. The benefits of growing your own food extend beyond the tangible produce; it offers a sense of security, promotes health, and fosters a connection with nature. As you embark on this gardening journey, remember that patience and perseverance are key. Happy gardening!

Do you and your family have a “survival garden?” Leave your tips in the comments below. 


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Now More Than Ever: You Need a Fallout Shelter




In today’s increasingly uncertain world, the threat of nuclear war looms larger than it has in decades. Escalating tensions globally, particularly in regions like Israel and Ukraine, have heightened concerns about the potential for catastrophic conflict. As families seek to prepare for worst-case scenarios, building a fallout shelter in your basement can provide a crucial layer of protection. This guide will walk you through the steps to create a safe and effective fallout shelter in your home, ensuring that you and your loved ones are prepared for any eventuality.

Why Build a Fallout Shelter?

The primary purpose of a fallout shelter is to protect you and your family from the immediate dangers of a nuclear explosion and the subsequent radioactive fallout. A well-constructed shelter can significantly reduce your exposure to radiation, provide a safe space for survival, and give you peace of mind during these tumultuous times.

Assessing Your Basement

Before you start building your fallout shelter, you need to evaluate your basement to determine its suitability for conversion. Here are the key factors to consider:

Structural Integrity

Ensure your basement is structurally sound and free of leaks. Cracks in the foundation or walls can compromise the shelter’s integrity and allow radiation to penetrate.

Space Availability

Choose a location within your basement that offers enough space for your family and essential supplies. A minimum of 10 square feet per person is recommended for comfort and survival needs.


Ensure that the chosen area is easily accessible and can be quickly reached in an emergency. The entrance should also be securable to protect against external threats.

Designing Your Shelter

Radiation Shielding

The key to effective fallout protection is adequate shielding. Materials such as concrete, bricks, and earth are excellent for blocking radiation. Aim for walls that are at least 12 inches thick with concrete or 24 inches thick with packed earth.


Proper ventilation is crucial to prevent suffocation and ensure a fresh air supply. Install an air filtration system capable of removing radioactive particles. Consider manual ventilation options in case of power outages.

Water and Food Supply

Stock your shelter with a sufficient supply of water and non-perishable food. Aim for a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day and a two-week supply of food. Include a water filtration system for long-term sustainability.


Prepare for sanitation needs by including portable toilets, waste bags, and sanitation chemicals. Proper waste management is crucial to prevent disease and maintain hygiene.

Emergency Supplies

Equip your shelter with essential emergency supplies, including:

  • First aid kits
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Radios (preferably hand-cranked or battery-powered)
  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Tools for emergency repairs
  • Building the Shelter

Wall Construction

Begin by constructing the walls using your chosen materials. Concrete blocks are highly effective and can be reinforced with rebar for added strength. Ensure the walls are thick enough to provide adequate radiation shielding.

Ceiling and Floor

The ceiling should be as heavily shielded as the walls. If your basement ceiling isn’t suitable, add a layer of concrete or earth above it. The floor should be solid and free from cracks; consider adding a layer of protective material if necessary.

Entrance Protection

Install a sturdy, sealed door that can withstand blasts and radiation. Metal doors with rubber gaskets are effective. Ensure the door can be securely locked from the inside.

Ventilation System

Install your ventilation system, ensuring it can filter out radioactive particles. Include manual ventilation options, such as hand-cranked fans, in case of power failure.

Interior Setup

Arrange the interior for maximum comfort and efficiency. Place cots or sleeping mats along the walls, leaving the central area free for movement. Store supplies in an organized manner to make them easily accessible.

Testing and Maintenance

Regular Inspections

Regularly inspect your shelter for any signs of damage or wear. Check the integrity of the walls, ceiling, and floor, and ensure the ventilation system is functioning correctly.

Supply Rotation

Periodically rotate your food and water supplies to ensure they remain fresh and usable. Replace expired items promptly.

Emergency Drills

Conduct regular emergency drills with your family to ensure everyone knows how to quickly and safely access the shelter.

Building a fallout shelter in your basement is a proactive step towards ensuring your family’s safety in the face of nuclear threats. By carefully assessing your space, designing for maximum protection, and maintaining your shelter, you can create a secure environment to weather any storm. In these uncertain times, being prepared is not just a precaution; it’s a necessity.

Do you have any tips on building a fallout shelter in your basement? Leave them in the comments below. 

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Outdoor Survival Skills

A Quick Way To Estimate Remaining Daylight That Can Save Your Life




Navigating the great outdoors can be a thrilling adventure, whether you’re out for a leisurely hike, an invigorating run, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature. But as the day wears on and the sun begins its descent towards the horizon, it’s essential to keep track of how much daylight you have left. 

While smartphones have become indispensable tools for many aspects of life, they’re not always reliable in remote areas or during outdoor activities. So, what do you do when you need to know how much daylight remains, but you don’t have access to your phone or any other timekeeping device? Fear not, for there’s a handy trick that has been passed down through generations – using nothing more than your hands and a bit of observation.

In an era where technology reigns supreme, it’s easy to overlook the simplicity and practicality of age-old techniques. Yet, sometimes, the simplest methods are the most effective. This is certainly true when it comes to estimating daylight using just your hands.

Now, before we delve into the intricacies of this method, it’s important to note that it’s not an exact science. Factors such as geographical location, terrain, and weather conditions can all impact its accuracy. However, it provides a rough estimate that can be surprisingly reliable in many situations.

So, how does it work? Let’s break it down step by step.

First, find a clear view of the horizon – a flat, unobstructed area where you can see the sun’s path as it moves across the sky. Ideally, you’ll want to be in an open space without tall buildings, trees, or mountains blocking your view.

Next, extend your arm straight out in front of you, with your palm facing towards you. Your arm should be fully extended and parallel to the ground, creating a straight line from your shoulder to your fingertips.

Now, focus on the position of the sun relative to the horizon. Place the bottom of your pinky finger on the horizon line, with your fingers together and pointing upwards. This creates a makeshift measuring tool that you’ll use to gauge the remaining daylight.

Observe how many fingers can fit between the horizon and the bottom of the sun. Each finger represents roughly 15 minutes of daylight, with four fingers equaling one hour. If there’s more space than one hand can cover, you can use your other hand to continue counting. And if the space exceeds the width of two hands, you can stack them on top of each other to measure accordingly.

By using this method, you can quickly estimate how much daylight you have left without the need for any external devices. It’s a simple yet effective way to stay informed and plan your outdoor activities accordingly.

Of course, it’s important to remember that this method is not foolproof. Variations in terrain, weather conditions, and other factors can affect the accuracy of your estimate. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to carry a backup timekeeping device, such as a watch or a smartphone, especially if you’re venturing into remote or unfamiliar areas.

Despite its limitations, the hand method can be a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, runners, and anyone else who spends time outside. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of humans and our ability to adapt and thrive in any environment.

In conclusion, knowing how to estimate daylight using just your hands is a useful skill that can come in handy when you least expect it. So, the next time you find yourself outdoors and in need of a quick time check, remember this simple yet effective method. Happy exploring!


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