Outdoors & Gear
Q. I’m going to the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, and I’ve been told that there’s tons of hiking. That might be a problem because my feet sweat a lot and give me blisters. Any suggestions for preventing and treating this?
– Jonathan Gingerly, Meridian, Miss.
A. Woo-hoo! Headed to the jamboree this month — that’s awesome. But blisters, not so awesome. Blisters are mostly caused by friction, heat and, as you know, sweaty feet. Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to blisters. Here are some tips:
- Make sure your boots fit properly (snug with enough room for your toes to wiggle). Choose breathable boots so your feet don’t get so sweaty.
- Break them in. Most boots these days are comfortable straight out of the box, but make sure the first time you wear them isn’t on an 18-mile hike.
- Wear good socks. Stick with good, merino wool socks (SmartWool are my favorite) or synthetic socks. Both will wick sweat and moisture away from your feet.
- When you get off the trail, always wash and dry your feet thoroughly and wear sandals around camp to let your feet air out.
- Liner socks. Some people like to wear synthetic or silk sock liners under their socks because they also help wick moisture and reduce skin-on-skin friction.
- Foot powder might help keep your feet drier, and there’s even spray antiperspirant available for feet, like Maximum Strength Gold Bond Medicated Foot Spray.
- If a blister forms, stop immediately and put some moleskin (or even duct tape) on the spot to help reduce further inflammation.
Q. Hey Gear Guy, I’m debating on whether to buy a Gerber pocketknife or a Swiss Army knife. My friend says Gerber; but I’ve heard Swiss Army my whole life. Which one should I buy?
– Sharp Jake, Mapleton, Utah
A. The answer is: You’re both right. Swiss Army pocketknives are legendary for their quality and usefulness. There are two companies that manufacture Swiss Army knives, Wenger and Victorinox — both make excellent knives. As for Gerber, they are a great knife manufacturer, too. Gerber has been manufacturing knives for the past 70 years, and makes a wide range of knives from standard folders and sheath knives to multitool-type knives like the Gerber Fit ($41; gerbergear.com). Similar to a Swiss Army knife, it’s packed with useful tools, 10 in all, including a fine-edge and serrated knife blade, scissors, tweezers, a few screwdrivers, and a super bright LED flashlight.
Q. My son wants a fire-starter. Which is the best and easiest?
—Mama Greta, Kentwood, Mich.
A. Hey, Mama. The real question is: Are you sure you really want your son to have a fire-starter? Just kidding. If he’s a Scout, I’m sure he’ll be responsible with it. A good option is the Light My Fire steel Scout ($12; lightmyfireusa.com). It’s basically a flint and steel set that was first designed for the Swedish military but is now used by outdoorsmen. Just scrape the steel across the flint and it throws a strong spark. It even works when wet. If your son gathers kindling and dry sticks and aims the sparks onto a cotton ball with a dab of Vaseline, he should be able to easily start a good fire. To make things even easier, he might also try Light My Fire Maya Dust ($5; lightmyfireusa.com). Just sprinkle some of the pulverized pieces of fatwood pine at the base of your soon-to-be fire and it’ll light quickly and easily and produce an extra hot flame.
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Throughout your time as a Boy Scout, you’re going to learn a lot of different things about a lot of different things. But it’s not enough to simply earn a merit badge and then never think about that topic again.
If you really want to learn something, you have to put your knowledge to the test.
To test your skills, see how you do on our online quiz based on information in the Boy Scout Handbook. Then check out the June 2013 issue of Boys’ Life to read how Scouts in New Jersey put their skills to the test.