Inside Skinny

Family Vacations, Summer 1996

Inside Skinny

Until someone makes a four-wheel-drive cooler that can follow you into the backcountry, pack space will be at a premium. These staples save precious space by serving double duty.

  • Kool-Aid: As a drink mix, it disguises the taste of iodine-treated water; also makes a great flavoring for snow cones.
  • Grape-Nuts: After breakfast you can use it to make pudding pie crusts or casserole toppings.
  • Jell-O: Makes an excellent hot drink for kids.
  • Cup-A-Soup: Mix with instant Potato Buds for a high-carbo side dish that doesn't taste like glue.
Hiking boots need to be broken in before hitting the trail; the following techniques go far beyond just wearing them around the house: 1) use shoe trees to accelerate the stretch-to-fit process; 2) turn a hose on them, then wear until they dry to mold the boot's uppers to your foot; and 3) hold the boot at the heel and toe, then bend and straighten for a half-hour. If you find that your boots still need tweaking, call Steve Komito at Komito Boots (800-422-2668). He can make any brand of hiking boots fit like a glove.

Topo maps, compasses, and global positioning systems (GPS) can keep you from getting lost, but only if you know how to use them. A GPS is a handheld device that receives a signal from three satellites to buzz in on your exact location. The GPS 2000 from Magellan (800-707-5221) is priced for the beginning buyer at $200. Another recommended investment to help you get oriented is the book Be Expert With Map and Compass, by Bj÷rn Kjellstrom ($17; to order from Eastern Mountain Sports, call 603-924-6154).

Copyright 1996, Outside magazine

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