Winter Socks


Winter Socks

When hard, bitter winter sets in, even the most seemingly insignificant items become crucial. Such is the case with winter socks. It has been said that once your feet get cold it is all but impossible to warm the rest of your body, no matter what you do. People already experienced with outdoor life will know how to buy the best winter socks; those who may be new to winter adventures may not. This article is written for them.

Types of Socks to Use with Your Boots

Winter Socks

The type of sock that you wear outdoors in cold weather is every bit as important as the kind of boot or shoe you wear. In fact, if you wear the wrong type of sock in extreme weather, it will not matter much what kind of boots you are wearing. Your feet will get cold (possibly wet) and therein lays the dangers of frostbite or other cold weather injuries.

Don’t Wear Cotton Socks in the Winter

Most of us have many pairs of cotton socks. These may be fine for everyday wear around the house and such, but they are horrible for cold weather protection. The reason that cotton socks are a poor option for winter is because the material offers virtually no insulation protection at all, and they are known to hold moisture. Keep in mind that as soon as a cotton sock gets wet, all of its insulating value is gone; not that it has much to begin with. Moreover, once wet, from perspiration or external water, it keeps your foot wet. The result is cold and wet feet.

Quality Winter Socks

Anyone planning to spend time outdoors during cold weather needs to invest in at least two pairs of quality winter socks. You wear one pair, and if they get wet, you put on the other pair while the first pair dries out. Armed forces across the globe have long used this technique to protect their troops, and it works.

So, what type of sock is best for winter wear?

Many people swear by the wool sock, and so do I. Wool offers exceptional insulating quality, and it dries super fast. Even your body heat can be used to dry them out. Other types of good winter socks include those made of shearling or fleece. All of these socks maintain their insulating abilities even when wet. These types of winter socks are thicker which allows them to absorb more moisture than any cotton sock.

You can find a wide variety of high-quality winter socks either online or at most sporting good’s stores. They may cost a few bucks more than cotton socks, but the investment is worth it. It only takes a short amount of time before frostbite sets in on those who are not prepared for it. If you live in a snow-prone area, throw a pair in your vehicle just in case you get stranded and have to hike for help.

Click here to check out our selection of winter socks.

Evaluating the Best Winter Eyewear

winter eyewear

Winter Eyewear

Now that winter is here, it is time to consider winter eyewear that can provide protection against the unique conditions your eyes will face. It is a mistake to believe that overcast, cloudy days and other winter conditions are not dangerous. In fact, without the proper eye protection, your eyes can suffer temporary or permanent damage.

Why You Need Winter Eyewear Protection:

Many people do not know that their eyes can become sunburned during the winter months. As much as 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can be reflected off of snow and ice. These rays can come at you from all angles, making it nearly impossible to avoid them. This is true even on those cloudy days.

UltraViolet (UV) rays that make it to the eyes can cause a variety of problems. One condition due to exposure photo keratitis, also known as snow blindness. Intense glare from any source can cause the symptoms of this painful condition.

In addition to preventing snow blindness, protecting your eyes during the winter can also help to prevent other eye conditions, such as:

  • Wrinkles
  • Cataracts
  • Cancer
  • Age-related macular degeneration

It is not only the sun’s rays that can harm your eyes, but also the cold itself. When eyes are exposed to cold, they can become painful, and you may find yourself with blurred vision. In extreme cases, the cornea can actually freeze.

While eye damage can occur at any time when UV rays are hitting the eyes, the highest risk of damage is during the late winter months and early spring. You will find that UV rays are strongest between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, and are stronger the more south you go and at higher altitudes.

Children Need Winter Eyewear Protection Too:

We often miss thinking about our children and their eye protection when they go out to play in the winter. Studies have shown UV rays can damage young eyes easier than adult eyes. It is also worth knowing that UV exposure will build up over a person’s lifetime. It is especially important to have protection for your kids if they play in the snow and this includes any activity that takes place on snow (or ice). You should look for protection that provide 100 percent blockage of UV rays.

To encourage your kids to actually wear their sunglasses, consider letting them pick out the style they want. There is an enormous variety of high-quality sunglasses on the market today.

Winter Eyewear for Adults

The sunglasses that you pick out for yourself need to block 100 percent of UV rays as well. You can easily find the exact style of glasses that fit your needs online or at eyewear clinics. If you spend a lot of time in bright snow, consider buying wraparound sunglasses as they provide the most protection against the rays. If you ski or snowboard, goggles are your best bet as they protect you from the rays, wind, and cold.

Check out our selection of sunglasses at Patriot Surplus for a great deal on winter eyewear.

Dislocated Joints: More Common Than You Think

Dislocated Joints: More Common Than You Think

There are many types of injuries that can occur when we are out in the wilds. One of the more common types of injuries are dislocated joints. These injuries can occur because of falls, twisting actions, and are often seen in ATV-type accidents. When confronted with a dislocated joint, many people tend to panic as the limb can look simply awful if the injury is serious. Here are some tips on handle dislocations.

dislocated_jointAs is true with any serious injury, if at all possible, get professional medical care as quickly as possible. Even so, there are some things you can do to help the victim in the meantime.

First Aid for Dislocated Joints:

When dislocations happen, the victim may freak out when they see the injury. Your first task is to reassure the person and keep them as still and quiet as possible. The less they move, the less pain they will feel.

If you find that the skin has been broken because of a broken bone, or if you believe the bone may be broken under the injury, you will need to do a couple of things:

Keep the open wound as clean as possible to prevent infection. Don’t touch or breathe on the wound. Dress the open wound with a sterile bandage before you move on to immobilizing the limb.

The next step may take some creative thinking on your part. It is important to splint the injury in place. That means not moving the limb or trying to “pop” a dislocated joint back into place. You want to tie the injury above and below the joint, but make sure you do not cut off the blood circulation.

If you can, apply ice to the area to help reduce swelling and to ease pain. Once you have the person stabilized, treat him or her for shock. You do this by keeping the person on his or her back and elevating their feet about a foot off the ground (if the legs are not injured). Cover the person with a blanket or jacket. It is imperative that you not move the person if you think they may also have other injuries to the back or neck. Moreover, of course, get help quickly.

Remember, with dislocated joints, do not:

  • Move the person any more than you have to until the injury is splinted.
  • Move the person if there is any chance of neck or back injury.
  • Move anyone who has a hip, leg, or pelvis injury unless you simply have to do so.
  • If you have to move them, drag them by their clothing as gently as possible.
  • Also, never try to put the joint back into place!

You can reassure the person by telling them that almost all dislocated joints can be treated and fixed and that full recovery is often seen within a few weeks.

Keep in mind that you as the caregiver will have to keep your wits about yourself if you have someone with a dislocated joint. Stay calm, move these steps, and get help. That is the best you can do with these types of injuries.

Hiking Boots: How To Select the Best Pair

Hiking BootsHiking Boots: How To Select the Best Pair

If you are planning to spend some time on any nature trail, you need to get the best hiking boots that you can afford. This does not mean the most expensive boots, but the hiking boots that meet all of your needs and are made of quality materials. Many people, especially those who may be new to hiking, may not know what to look for when selecting the right footwear. Here are some valuable tips to help you get started.

Where Are You Going with Your Hiking Boots?

This is the first question to ask. Many folks believe that they have to buy the biggest, toughest hiking boots on the shelf. This is not true. For those who are going on short, fairly easy hikes, lightweight hiking boots will work just fine. On the other hand, if you plan to hike up steep hills or travel over a variety of different terrain types, then a beefier hiking boot will be a better option for you.

There are four categories of hiking boots from which you can choose:

Light hiking shoes look a lot like running shoes and have a low cut design. These are a good choice for short hikes over maintained trails that are not too hilly or rocky. They are also very affordable and come in a huge variety of styles and colors.

The next category falls under the traditional hiking boot label. These come in either mid- or high cut designs and are an excellent option for challenging day hikes or longer hikes of several days. The important aspects found in these boots are that they provide a good deal of ankle support while also providing a great deal of flexibility once they are broken in properly. They also make a good “all around” boot for just about any use.

The third category is the backpacking boot line. These rugged hiking boots are made for long (day wise) hikes where carrying heavy loads is anticipated. They are very durable and provide a great deal of flex and support.  While they are heavier (in weight) than hiking boots, they are also much stronger and perform well on virtually any terrain.

The last type of boot is the mountaineering boot. As you might imagine, these are designed for tough terrains and rocky ground. They are the weightiest of all the hiking boots and are not a good option for those who want to walk or hike only. They are designed for climbing and quality brands can take on crampons for icy conditions.

There is no reason that everyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors cannot do so in comfort. The key, of course, is matching your type of hike to the right type of hiking boots. The best news is you can find a variety of good-quality hiking boots online these days. Just make sure that you get the right fit for your foot whether you buy online or off. When shopping for your hiking boots remember that you will need some extra room to handle thicker socks.

Check out our line of hiking boots at Patriot Surplus today!

The Call to Serve

The Call to ServeThe Call to Serve

The urge to enlist and the call to serve in the military is hard for many people to understand. In a world that has become so centered on the needs of the individual instead of the needs of the many, it can be hard for those who have never served to understand. It can be even harder on those who served themselves when a child seeks to serve during a time of war. Families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice deserve our utmost support.

The following is an incredibly moving short film. Get your tissues.

Lt. Alonzo Cushing: Lost But Not Forgotten

Lt. Alonzo CushingLt. Alonzo Cushing: Lost But Not Forgotten

The Medal of Honor is the highest award that the United States can offer our military personnel. Only those who have shown “gallantry above and beyond the call of duty” will be honored with this prestigious award. On November 6 of this year, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to the descendants of First Lt. Alonzo Cushing.

Lt. Cushing was killed during the Battle of Gettysburg, dying on 3 July 1863, as he commanded an artillery battery that was overrun by Confederate forces. It took over 150 years to being this young soldier’s heroism to light, culminating in receiving the nation’s highest military award. The brutal fighting that took place over this three-day battle in Pennsylvania is often cited as being a major turning point in the Civil War. Cushing was 22 at the time of his death, commanding six cannons and 126 men, with his battery positioned on Cemetery Ridge, facing thousands of opposing soldiers during  Pickett’s Charge.

The award ceremony took place in the White House, with Helen Ensign, 86, a distant cousin of Lt. Alonzo Cushing, accepting the medal on his behalf. President Obama said to the gathering: “This medal is a reminder that, no matter how long it takes, it’s never too late to do the right thing.”

This award was exceptional, also, in that it took so long for it to be granted. Generally, the Medal of Honor recommendation takes place within 2 years of the heroic act, with the medal presented with 3 years. As mentioned above, Cushing’s took over 150 years. In fact, an exemption had to be granted by the U.S. Congress. Obama went on to say: “Sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the passage of time.”

In the case of Lt. Cushing, his Battery A, 4th Artillery, was facing an estimated 13,000 advancing soldiers on the last day of the battle. With his battery under intense artillery fire, Cushing continued to fight even though he was wounded in the shoulder and stomach by artillery fragments, refusing to move to the rear for treatment. A bullet to his head finally brought him down.

Recognition of Lt. Cushing’s valor required the sustained efforts of his family who spent decades writing letter on Cushing’s behalf. Additionally, it also involved the efforts of Wisconsin representatives Ron Kind and Jim Sensenbrenner who were at the forefront of seeing this honor bestowed.

Our nation salutes all of our past, present and future military who so often are called upon to give that “last, full measure of devotion”.

Fitting Your Hiking Boots: What You Need to Know

Fitting Your Hiking BootsFitting Your Hiking Boots: What You Need to Know

So, you have decided on the type of hiking boot that you need and want. The next step is fitting your hiking boots. It should be noted that fitting a hiking boot is not the same as fitting a regular shoe. Here are some tips on how you can get the best fit for the hiking boots that you want.

Socks! It is always a good idea to wear good-quality hiking socks when on the trails. It is also an excellent idea to wear cold weather socks if you are out in the winter. These types of socks are thicker than normal socks, and that added thickness needs to be accounted for when you fit your hiking boots.

The best way to get the best fit is to wear a pair of appropriate socks when trying on your boots. In fact, this is the only way to know for sure if you are getting a boot that will be large enough to hold your foot and the sock comfortably.

The next step is to put the boots on make sure that the weight of the boots is to your liking. Keep in mind that rugged hiking boots are often heavier than other types of shoes, and they may take some getting used to over time. Lightweight hiking boots usually do not feel much heavier than, say, running shoes. However, backpacking boots and mountain boots will feel different. If the boot is just too heavy, choose another style or brand.

Once you have the boots on your feet, see if you can slip one finger behind your heel (before you lace the boot). You will need this added space for sock room. Your toes should not come into direct contact with the front of the boot. Remember, you need more room in hiking boots than in other types of shoes.

Lace up the boots and take a short walk around. You want to pay attention to whether or not your heel slips around. It should not slip around. This type of movement is what causes painful blisters on the foot. Also, make sure that your ankles have the support you need while you do your walk-about. Good-quality boots will need to be broken in a bit so do not be too critical if the boots feel a bit tight at this point. You should also move about in different ways. For instance, squat down, kneel down, tiptoe, etc. If you feel any pinching, you may need to select another boot.

Tip: If you find a great online deal on the hiking boots that you want but are concerned about the fit, jot down the boot’s information and go to a brick-and-mortar sporting or tactical store. Find that boot and go through the steps noted above. When you find the proper size and fit, jot down the information on the boot and go home and order it online. No, this is not cheating. It is simply smart shopping.

Identifying Poisonous Berries

Identifying Poisonous BerriesIdentifying Poisonous Berries

Can I eat that berry? Identifying poisonous berries can be difficult. There are many parts of the US (and the globe at large, for that matter) where wild berries flourish at certain times of the year. It is not at all uncommon for hikers, campers, and those lost in the woods to be tempted to eat those berries, especially if no other food source is available. The problem, of course, is that some berries are poisonous and can make you very sick or even kill you if you eat enough of them or if you are allergic to them. This article offers some useful (albeit general) tips on wild berries and how to stay away from the dangerous ones.

Tip 1: Don’t trust your eyes

There are many types of dangerous berries found in various types of terrain, and many of these look very delectable. Chances are you will not be able to determine all of the “bad” berries in any particular area unless you are an expert in berry identification. The easier way to approach this is to learn which berries in your area are “good” berries, those that are edible. It is much safer (and easier) to learn about blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc. than it is to memorize every dangerous type of berry that may be in your area.

Tip 2: Color often matters

Berries that are blue or black are usually edible. Berries that are red are often NOT safe to eat. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Strawberries are red and are safe to eat (unless you are allergic to them) while poinsettia berries (red as well) are not safe at all to eat. You should NEVER eat white berries unless you know for sure it safe to do so.

Tip 3: Don’t eat that

While it may be difficult to memorize all of the dubious berries that thrive in your area, it is possible to memorize the main ones that you are likely to encounter. These would include berries and plants such as mistletoe, holly, yew, nightshade, and jasmine for example. It is good to teach this to your kids as well. If you are out in the wilds a lot, consider buying a pocket-size plant identification booklet.

Tip 4: Bits and Pieces

Do not assume you can eat a berry just because you see birds eating them. Do not eat berries that you do not recognize if they have a bitter taste; spit it out. Poisonous berries, in general, will only harm you if you swallow them. Always watch your kids while in the woods. Children are notoriously curious about berries and have been known to gobble down a handful of whatever they happen upon without a second thought.

The best course of action should someone eat suspicious berries is to encourage vomiting as soon as possible. It takes a bit of time before the stomach can begin digesting the berries, so the faster you get the material out of a person’s stomach the better. You can promote vomiting by sticking a finger down the person’s throat, engaging the gag reflex. If a person shows any symptoms of distress, get to a medical facility ASAP.

Identifying poisonous berries is an extremely important skill to learn if you plan on spending an extended amount of time outdoors. Want to learn more about what is edible and and what is not edible? Mother Earth News has a fantastic, in depth, guide that is very helpful when identifying poisonous berries. Signup below to download the guide.

How to Treat Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, and Sumac

Treat poion oak

How Do You Treat Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, and Sumac

If you spend any time at all out in nature, chances are very good you are going to run into poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac. These green, leafy plants thrive throughout most of the U.S., and virtually all people will have reactions to them if they come into contact with these plants. All three of these plants can cause what it known as contact dermatitis with symptoms that include redness, rashes, and itching. The compound urushiol is what causes this misery, and it is so powerfully toxic that a pinhead amount can affect up to 500 individuals!

It should be noted that over the course of any given year, nearly half of the population of the US will present with symptoms of these plants. You can also find urushiol in other plants as well such as cashew nut trees, mango, and ginkgo trees to name a few.


So, what should you do if you come into contact with these plants while you are out in the wilds? How do you treat poison oak and these other ailments?

The first treatment aid you should do is to wash/flush the area with plenty of water. This should be done as soon as possible before the reaction can take full effect.

The second treatment option you can perform is to use a baking soda paste. Mix about 3 teaspoons of soda with 1 teaspoon of water into a paste and then apply this paste to the area. You can easily carry a small bag of baking soda in your pack and is worth having on hand.

Another item you may want to carry in your pack is witch hazel. This liquid works well on relieving the itching. It will not affect the rash, but it can help with that awful itch until you get back to civilization.

Tea tree oil is another item that can help if you come into contact with these plants. Tea tree oil is a natural anti-inflammatory what can help reduce the rash symptoms as well as reduce swelling and itching.

Most people have heard of aloe vera, and this compound can be found in many over-the-counter products. It can reduce the itching and helps to speed overall recovery for those suffering from poison ivy contact. Aloe vera is also good for treating many types of wounds, making it a good pack item.

where-does-poison-growWe medics in the Army were told over and again that the best cure is prevention. That applies here, too. Take some time to learn what these plants look like, where they grow, and wear protective clothing and boots when you are trampling around in their territory. Stay away from these pesky plants, and you will not have to worry about treating yourself or others for their effects.

Important Note! Never, ever burn these plants. Inhaling the smoke can kill you, and getting the smoke on you and your clothing can literally cover you with urushiol. These dangers are present even if the leaves and vines are dried out. Be safe and never burn these plants.


What To Do When You are Lost


What to do when you're lost

What To Do When You are Lost

Getting lost in the wilderness is bad, but it happens all the time. What to do when you are lost starts before you leave on an adventure. By knowing a few tips, you can reduce your chances of becoming lost and increase your chances of getting out alive and well.

The first rule is always to tell someone where you are planning to go. This is true if you are planning a hike, a camping trip, or just exploring. You need to give map coordinates if possible. You must also tell them when you expect to be back. This information is needed in order for this person to direct rescue teams should you become lost or injured and not make it out on your own.

The second rule if you get lost is to stay where you are if you are close to the point you left with your friend. It is usually NOT a good idea to simply start wandering around if you discover you are lost. Now, if you did not tell anyone where you would be, then disregard this rule. Sitting down when you are lost is not going to get you out of trouble.

Rule three applies to those who need to move because no one is coming for them. First, do not panic. Relax and think about where you are and how you got there. You may be able to backtrack your way out of trouble. Here are some other things you can do:

Listen for signs of people. This usually comes in the form of traffic noise, but it could be any noise that people make such as church bells, trains, or factory noise.

Head for Higher Ground: If you do not hear anything, head for high ground where you can get a better look at your surroundings. Once you find a good spot, look for buildings or towns and forest ranger towers. Also, look carefully for roads. Unless you are truly in the wilds, you should be able to spot at least one road, and this is where you want to head as you may be able to flag down a vehicle. If there are no roads or anything else that looks man-made, look for rivers or lakes. Many times you can find humans on or close to rivers and lakes or at least be able to flag down a passing boat. This will also provide you with water if you need it.

When you decide on a direction to travel, keep yourself on track by spotting a fixed object ahead of you and travelling to that object. Then pick out another object and travel to it. Make sure that the object you choose is not too far away, or you may lose sight of it.

Of course, the way to handle these problems is to not get lost in the first place. Buy a compass, learn how to use it, and remember to always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. The few minutes it takes to do this can save you hours, if not days, of trouble and worry.