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4th of July

Declare Your Independence: Get Away From It All When You Explore the Outdoors

The Fourth of July -- Independence Day -- is coming up, and a lot of us will be planning a mini-vacation or stretching the weekend to make outdoor plans.

If you're backpacking, you'll want to plan your gear carefully. Every ounce counts, especially after the first mile. Check out all the backpack options for a rig that suits the way you like to stow and carry your gear. For car campers, a rugged piece of luggage will do just fine. No matter what your camping style, a waistpack comes in handy for carrying a snack and your valuables on day hikes from your base camp.

Staying in a crowded campground? To get away from it all and glimpse some real wildlife, grab your binoculars and a walking stick and head up the trail. For safety's sake, be sure to tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back. And take your Swiss Army watch so you won't stay out longer than you planned and miss the tasty campfire food your friends are cooking up for dinner.

Going camping doesn't mean you have to rough it completely. Be prepared- take along a combination flashlight that affords you safety and convenience as well as access to the weatherband. An ultra-light flat folding umbrella might not sound like standard outdoor paraphernalia, but it comes in handy in bad weather as you're pulling into a campground or have to unload the car in a downpour at the first motel with a vacancy. Lastly, some folks need help falling asleep outside. Either it's too quiet, or every snapping twig spooks them. If that describes you, pack a soothing sounds travel clock that mimics the gentle voices of nature and helps you drift off to sleep among the trees.

As you can see, the right combination of gear will ensure a camping trip that's safe, enjoyable and hassle-free. Plan carefully, pack wisely and have fun in the great outdoors!

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