As an avid hiker, I have run across more than a few hiking faux pas. From people hiking in flip flops to people forgetting water for their hikes, I have seen a bit of it all. It never fails to surprise me however, when something new comes up that I hadn’t yet seen. But I think back to many of my first hikes, well before I had any knowledge of products or much more than just my own common sense to get me through it. I was wildly ambitious like the next person and that made me think… Maybe I should share my own experiences and what I have learned to help me along my way.
The American Hiking Society has published a resource, “The 10 Essentials”. This little guide goes over many of the typical things that people will encounter when entering the world of hiking. While many of them seem to be common sense tips, sometimes finding the links which make that common sense actually work in your lifestyle can be a bit vague. So where do we go from there?
Over the years, I have toyed with several items trying to find the perfect fit for one stop shopping. A lot times, just like with other things in life, I like to find a brand I can stand behind and use them as much as possible. I just prefer to stick with what I like, especially if that company also happens to somehow make a difference in the world in a way that I align my own thoughts.
Finding a brand that you really enjoy can take some time. I have found that while large chain retailers are great for finding companies, sometimes the overwhelming sense of shopping inside with so many options can become a bit overwhelming to say the least.
I end up being a grazer, a person who shops around and while I might make a purchase here or there, I typically find brands which look interesting then go home and do some background on them to see what others who are in my world think. It is a really big deal to read reviews to know if the results I want are the same that others have been able to achieve with the product, especially on big ticket items or items dealing with safety.
After tireless searches, reviews and a lot of careful thought, I have found a few companies which really hit a lot of marks for me.
If we go back to that resource by The American Hiking Society of ten tips 3 can be answered by a single company, Sawyer.
#3 - Extra Water And A Way To Purify It
#7 - First Aid Kit
#9 - Sun Screen And Sunglasses
For over 30 years Sawyer has been exuding laser focus on providing the most reliable products for outdoor protection. They specialize in Water Filtration, First Aid, Sunscreen and Insect Repellants.
I first was brought to awareness about this company on one of my many trips to Bass Pro. I was grazing, as always in the camping section just trying to see what I didn’t have in my gear box that might be that hidden essential and I found their water filtration products. I am not super familiar with how the process of water filtration works, but I do know that there have been a few places that I really wish I had felt safe drinking the water when I was next to a cold spring on a hot day, so the idea of this section really made me start to do some research.
Maybe it was product suggestions based on some random key word search or maybe it was just dumb luck, but Sawyer popped onto my timeline on social media randomly not long after this fact finding expedition and from there I just knew I had to try out some of their items.
I had seen them featured in Men’s Health and the Washington Post, they were making waves on the scene of world relief for their efforts to provide clean water in several third world countries , they were helping out during the most horrific weather related issues here in the states including fires and hurricanes and they were all the rage amongst some of the top hikers and travel bloggers in the industry. I knew whatever it was that was fueling all this buzz was something which was much more than other companies I had encountered in way of these types of products.
Then I finally found out just what it was that was making them so unique. I tried them!
I can confidently say after that I no longer looked for products to fill #3, #7 or #9. I had a company which I was very much so impressed by, not just the products or their lifespan, but their footprint on the people of the world.
Now that might seem a bit sentimental to many, but when I am thinking of companies which I feel really hit the nail on the head, what better company than one who is well respected and effective for years not only here but abroad. And what better way to feel secure in using a product than knowing that this product is used in some of the worst conditions of the world, and it indeed makes them better. Knowing this, I know my little hike is nothing in comparison, so by far it will work me.
Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the product line is the diversity amongst the products which they provide. With the tag line “We Keep You Outdoors” they truly do have the attention to detail for the average person in addition to those with an active lifestyle.
I found that the three various bug repellant applications could fit into any aspect of my life with larger items for home or camping use or smaller packages perfect for storing in my backpack or daypack when or just going about my daily business in the wild mosquito rich Texas outdoors. While this item was not included in the Hiking Associations list of required items I have found that in so many locations this is one of the more importation items you can pack to have a successful and enjoyable hike or trip. In addition, this happens to be in my opinion one of the more diverse day to day items which can incorporate into your life at home or on the road.
The same sizing variety applied for the sunscreens which are available in a larger size which I would consider perfect for family occasions or a smaller more scaled down version perfect for individual use or leaving a smaller footprint in your baggage. But size isn’t the only factor the brand considers to integrate into your lifestyle. They also have paid attention to the various needs of their user and created a more usable and friendly product line which is safe for all users including children and even expectant mothers. They focus on the quality of wear of their lotions and creams and their strength and durability. Where some sunscreens, for example, you have to reapply because they wear off frequently, Sawyer has worked diligently to develop a technology which they refer to as the “breathable matrix” which penetrates deeper and holds longer to the skin to protect for longer periods.
But what about their water filtration? This, unlike the more commonly used products of sunscreen, bug repellant and first aid items, is more of an unknown to the average person. We are fortunate in that we have not experienced the need to filter our own water because it is not fresh or freely flowing through spigots and spouts at the average home.
But what if it was not always so?
The Hiking Society acknowledges that when out in nature we are less likely to find those common amenities and thus we need to be a bit more prepared. So this poses the BIG question to most of us who are not familiar with this need or the process of how to know and feel confident that when we find water we are in fact safely consuming it.
Sawyer again rises to the occasion as the most widely used filtration systems in the world servicing some 80 countries. While we have the convenience of simply turning on a tap and filling a cup some 884 million people do not know what it is to have clean water safe to drink. Sawyer has been on a mission to change that one filter at a time.
With over 10 options for filtering water, Sawyer addresses the need of those in crisis countries or at home simply needing an option for their recreational activities. Gallon sized storage bladders, individual hand held filters which allow you to drink directly from a water source such as a stream or water bottles which filter the fluids you have gathered as your drink there is something which suits all needs and removes all possible heavy metals, contaminants and microorganisms which could cause potential harm to the consumer.
I feel as though my discovery of Sawyer has been one of eye opening gratitude. Finding a company which I can see that their mission is not only in selling items to the consumer, but also in making an impact on the climate of the world around us through change and aid, has opened my eyes to the marriage of need and want. While I use items recreationally as a hiker, I am pleased to know that the company I am so proud to throw in my hiking pack or purse at the end of the day is thinking about the big picture, and in some way that inspires me to do my part as well. Each time I pick up my spray to use it I think of the bigger picture, and perhaps that is the first step in making a difference.
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