Skurka Says – A Southerner’s Guide to Gearing Up for Winter

first_imgI’m not totally sure I’d be around to write this now if, before setting out on a backpacking trip last January, I hadn’t recently binge-listened to survival podcasts. The message repeated during each episode in ominous, Rod Serling-like tones: it’s seldom one poor choice that leads to wilderness tragedy but a whole series of compounding follies.Heading out underprepared had been my first bad decision. Continuing on by way of the steep, snowy, icy, boulder-strewn trail in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area looked a lot like bad decision #2, which would inevitably lead to #3 and #4 and the kind of fix that ends in hospitals or cemeteries. By contrast, admitting I’d been defeated by a winter storm in, of all places, South Carolina, didn’t seem like such a great tragedy.So I hiked to the nearest highway and hitched a ride, correctly trusting that drivers out in such weather would be proud enough of their vehicles and hardy spirit to gladly help a hiker in need. (Thank you, Seth, of Greenville.) Soon enough, I was home in front of a roasting-hot wood stove, leafing through a book I should have reviewed more thoroughly before I left—Andrew Skurka’s The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide—and trying to figure out what I did wrong.Skurka is the perfect advisor to help us efficiently and economically adjust for winter trips. He’s completed as many epic treks as any hiker in the country, and my well-thumbed copy has informed not only my equipment choices but my overall approach to backpacking. Not minimalist, exactly, but definitely no-nonsense. After rereading relevant passages of his book and taking in his emailed response to my questions, I saw how easily the trip I’d had could have become the trip I should have had.Footwear. Skurka is less about promoting stuff hikers need than about the expensive—and heavy—stuff they think they need but don’t. And no item of conventional gear attracts more of Skurka’s scorn than the good old hiking boot. Trail running shoes dry quickly and provide plenty of support at half the weight. The claimed moisture protection of boots, either from leather treatments or so-called waterproof liners, is overstated and temporary.At least, for most of the year. But in winter, the freezing rain and thin blanket of snow that fell overnight on my trip was enough to soak my feet and benumb my toes. If I’d read my guide more carefully, I would have noticed that trail shoes are strictly a three-season recommendation. Skurka wrote me that in winter he wears ankle-height boots lined with Gore-Tex, which provides sufficient moisture protection from dry snow.Sleeping bag. The second-most glaring gear deficiency, my bag, is optimistically touted as suitable for three seasons. Three seasons where? I asked myself, looking at its alarming flatness on the floor of my tent. Florida, maybe. I bundled up in every layer of wool and synthetic fiber clothing I had brought—one of the few things I did right, Skurka wrote. This kept me warm enough, barely, and only because the temperatures didn’t really start to fall until after daybreak. But I lay awake most of the night worrying that they would, which gets to one of the real values of a good sleeping bag—security. It should be, along with a good shelter and a set of warm, dry sleeping clothes, a guaranteed refuge even in the coldest weather. In our part of the country, that means a “comfort” rating of 20 degrees Fahrenheit, Skurka wrote in an email, which typically translates to a standard temperature rating about a dozen degrees lower. It’s the most expensive upgrade; winter bags usually mean down, and ones meeting Skurka’s recommendations start at more than $200, while premium brands employing the highest loft down can cost twice that amount. But even that’s not so much, really, for comfort of body and mind.Shelter. Like Skurka, I prefer tarps, and my standard rig, including guy lines, weighs in at little more than a pound. But, like a lot of other backpackers, I couldn’t quite resist the idea that a tent would be a cozy winter alternative. Unfortunately, mine is an old three-person Kelty, bought when my kids were small. It wasn’t until I’d returned that I put it on a scale and realized the horrifying penalty it had extracted; it weighed in at nearly 8 pounds, or about three times as much as a good down bag. Go ahead and use tarps in winter, Skurka wrote in an email, though it’s “best to have a full-sided model, to minimize drafts.” If not, pitch it so the sides protect from the wind. And if you have a choice—which you don’t in places such as Mountain Bridge, which requires reserved sites—camp low in breezy conditions and high when the air is still and cold settles.Stoves. Another thing I almost did right: I chose my butane canister stove over the homemade cat food  can alcohol burner that I’d adopted as my go-to heat source on Skurka’s recommendation. The relatively lux meal I thought I’d need at the end of a long day of winter hiking, Kraft Velveeta & Shells, required longer cooking time than standard backpacking fare. And I couldn’t imagine morning without coffee, which meant boiling not one but two pots of water. Skurka makes the same concession, but reminded me of a lesson I’d already learned from my trouble firing up my stove in the morning: because gas stays liquid in cold weather, you need to sleep with it in the foot of your bag.Route. This has nothing to do with gear and everything to do with common sense. No matter how smart you pack, your burden will be heavier in winter than in summer. Stream crossings will take longer because of the care needed to prevent soaking boots and socks. Sections of trail that you normally cruise through can bring you almost to standstill. So, pick shorter routes, especially because in winter you will likely have even well-traveled trails all to yourself.Lessons learned—the hard way.last_img read more

Nailing your first buyer meeting: 5 tips from food and drink startup founders

first_imgAideen Kirby of Brew Tea Co (top left), Vivien Wong of Little Moons (top right), Jonny Shimmin of Spoon Cereals and Pip Murray of Pip & NutThat first conversation with a supermarket buyer is as nerve-wracking as meetings come – and small brands can feel especially exposed.So how do you make sure you deliver the best possible pitch? The founders of Pip & Nut, Spoon Cereals, Little Moons and Brew Tea Co. share their top tips for food & drink entrepreneurs.Tip 1: Do your research“Apart from the obvious – why your product is amazing and the story – know the retailer and tailor your pitch to them,” says Vivien Wong of Little Moons.Here’s a quick checklist to bear in mind:Understand who you’re targeting and where you sit on-shelf relative to everyone else. You can only tailor the pitch by understanding on-shelf pricing and competition. “Store, shelf and product research make up as much of our pitch as our own products do,” says Jonny Shimmin of Spoon Cereals.Roughly know what margins the retailer is looking for and incorporate that into your pricing.Lay out payment terms, minimum order quantities, customer contribution, stores and SKUs count, so these roll up into one negotiation.Understand the available marketing mechanisms (vouchers, introductory discount, banner ads) – work out which suits your product best.Understand rebates, over-riders and other sales mechanisms so you’re ready for the conversation. “Be clear about all the commercial terms you need to agree, not just case price,” adds Pip Murray of Pip & Nut.Tip 2: Ask for helpAideen Kirby: “Ask for help from as many people as you can. Buyers have hundreds of other suppliers, so a conversation with someone in the industry on tactics can get you further.Vivien Wong: “We were lucky to have guidance from a fellow foodpreneur. It is useful to talk to others in the industry, which is why a platform like Young Foodies is so helpful.”Read more: 5 tips for budding food entrepreneurs from people who have made itJonny Shimmin: “Understand each retailer’s supply chain systems – they don’t always explain this up-front but investing our own time with supply chain teams was worthwhile.Pip Murray: “Fmcg mentors/investors are really beneficial when navigating the intricacies of supplying larger retailers.”Tip 3: Be human and interestingJonny Shimmin: “Tell your story! We have more interesting stories to tell than account managers who the buyers see daily.”Vivien Wong: “Share your delicious product. The buyer got our product immediately and really liked the texture of the mochi.”Pip Murray: “Set the tone at the start of any new buyer meeting: introduce your story, vision, mission and values. I’m passionate about what we are working towards and I want to bring any buyer into our world.”Aideen Kirby: “Let your buyer know you’re working hard. We used to send postcards from stores we visited and sampled in.”Tip 4: Appreciate the work once you’re on the shelfAideen Kirby: “A listing is the start of the hard work! Once your product is on the shelf, make sure it sells – meaning a lot of graft along the way.”Jonny Shimmin: “Plan getting your products off the shelf, not just on it. Rate of sale is important and your activation plan for making it work is key to getting on the shelf in the first place.”Pip Murray: “Lay out your marketing plans about how you are going to activate both in and out of stores to drive awareness of your brand and rate of sale. Whether this is through sampling in store, PR or point of sale, it’s key that buyers know that you are going to work hard to get products moving off the shelf.”Tip 5: Final thoughtsAideen Kirby: “Have agendas for discussions instead of ‘catch-ups’. Send your plan in advance so everyone is prepared and you don’t rely too much on busy buyers after the meeting.”Vivien Wong: “Getting listed takes time – manage your expectations accordingly. Don’t fret too much.”Jonny Shimmin: “Be honest about what you can realistically achieve. There is no point in having an amazing product you have slaved over if you cannot be a reliable and consistent supplier going forward. Don’t overpromise.”Pip Murray: “Pitching to a supermarket is not Dragon’s Den! You do need to know your numbers and tailor a presentation to that specific customer, but it’s not an interrogationAideen Kirby: Sell them the future. Small brands are a risk – but we’re more interesting, so that’s in our favour.”Thea Alexander is founder of Young Foodies, a community for early-stage fmcg brandslast_img read more

Bacolod boosts pneumonia, flu protection for elderly

first_imgPersons with disabilities aged 50years old and above also availed of free pneumonia and flu vaccination duringthe activity dubbed “Bakunado si Lolo at Lola, Iwas Pulmonya” with vaccinesprovided by the Department of Health in Western Visayas.(With a report from PNA/PN) Dr. Jovy Vergara, assistant cityhealth officer, said pneumonia ranks second and third in terms of morbidity andmortality, respectively, among those 60 years old and above. In 2010 alone, 57,809 deaths due topneumonia were recorded – making it the top five leading causes of death in thecountry, reports said.  Pneumonia causes inflammation of theair sacs in one or both lungs. It can be caused by a variety of organismsincluding bacteria, viruses and fungi. Symptoms may include breathingdifficulty, coughing, fever, and weakness. BACOLOD City – Around 1,000 seniorcitizens here received vaccination against pneumonia and flu as part of thecity government’s efforts to protect them from respiratory infections. Aside from weakened immune system,elderly patients with pneumonia are more prone to severe complications,hospitalization and death due to pre-existing health conditions and illnessessuch as diabetes, chronic lung disease and kidney or heart conditions, amongothers. The disease could be lethal orlife-threatening for senior citizens, Vergara added during the immunizationactivity at the Bacolod Arts, Youth and Sports Center on Thursday. In the Philippines, pneumoniaaccounted for over 57,000 deaths among Filipinos annually in the past decade,according to authorities. Vergara added most elderly patientsseek treatment only during the last stage of the disease. Vergara said pneumonia is avaccine-preventable disease, noting that the government is putting a premium onvarious programs like free vaccination especially among the elderly.  “Among the elderly, especially thosewith chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia is more dangerous astheir immune system is weaker,” he said.last_img read more

Sangakarra, Thomas and Santokie propel Tallawahs into CPL playoffs

first_imgKINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – Krishmar Santokie and rookie fellow-fast bowler Oshane Thomas followed up Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara’s third straight half-century with incisive bowling to lead Jamaica Tallawahs to a 41-run victory over St Kitts & Nevis Patriots on Wednesday night and into a place in the Caribbean Premier League playoffs.Santokie grabbed 3-10 from 3.5 overs and Thomas snared 3-31 from his allotted four overs to earn the Player-of-the-Match award, as the Patriots were bowled out for 116 in 17.5 overs in pursuit of a victory target of 158 in the 26th match of the tournament at Sabina Park.Sangakkara had continued his rich vein of form after the Tallawahs were sent in to bat, smashing four fours and three sixes in 69 from 55 balls to be the rock upon which his side built their total of 157 for five from their allocation of 20 overs.Thomas then rocked the Patriots, when he trapped Jamaica-born talisman Chris Gayle lbw for a third-ball duck in the first over, but West Indies opener Evin Lewis and Pakistan star Mohammad Hafeez got them moving with a stand of 43 for the second wicket.Lewis fell caught-and-bowled to Mohammad Sami, another Pakistani star, for the top score of 40 off the last ball of the sixth over and this triggered a steady decline for the Patriots, as they reached 80 for four at the halfway point.Hafeez made 21 and Devon Thomas was the only other double-figure contributor with 14, as the visitors lost their last six wickets for 30 in the space of 44 balls.Earlier, Sangakkara eased the concerns of the Tallawahs, after opener Lendl Simmons was bowled for a duck with the first ball of the match from left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell.Sangakkara shared 81 for the second wicket with Phillips that provided the base for the innings and added a further 54 with West Indies all-rounder Rovman Powell for the fourth wicket before he was caught at fine leg in the penultimate over off former Australia fast bowler ben Hilfenhaus.Phillips made 31 from 32 balls and Powell led the late charge with 43 from 26 balls that included two fours and three sixes.last_img read more