LNT For Your Feed: Understanding the New Social Media Guidelines

New technological developments have changed our experiences in the backcountry. Particularly, the ever-common smartphone is now a staple, functioning as a map, flashlight, camera, and more. However, complete reliance on a smartphone can get someone into serious trouble.

A drained battery is not the only threat, though. Social media has popularized the outdoor lifestyle, leading to more and more people sharing their views and experiences online and thus increasing traffic at popular destinations. This, in turn, has led to erosion and overcrowding at places not yet ready to handle such heavy use. However, if used to advocate for stewardship, social media can be beneficial.

Contrary to popular belief, Leave No Trace (LNT) is not just the phrase angrily grumbled by a grizzly hiker as he picks up an energy bar wrapper off the trail to pack it out. Rather, LNT is an organization that advocates for sustainable outdoor ethics. In line with that mission, it recently released new guidelines regarding social media use—particularly, for protecting these spaces and ultimately strengthening our relationship with the outdoors. So, how does the everyday hiker make sense of these recommendations, and what shouldn’t you be doing?


Tag thoughtfully

“Avoid tagging (or geotagging) specific locations. Instead, tag a general location such as a state or region, if any at all. While tagging can seem innocent, it can also lead to significant impacts to particular places.”

Our social media posts have far-reaching impacts. What seems benign may actually end up drawing masses to the site featured in your post. In turn, the larger crowds contribute to erosion and may complicate relationships with landowners. While some areas can handle heavy use, like the above cascade in the Catskills, many destinations are not equipped for the increased foot traffic.

DO: Post something along the lines of, “Enjoying this refreshing mist on a hot day in the Catskills!” Consider tagging the mountain range or region of the state, rather than a specific place.

DON’T: Tag the exact location of a vista, or mention any shortcuts to get to a destination.


Be mindful of what your images portray

“Give some thought to what your images may encourage others to do. Images that demonstrate good Leave No Trace practices and stewardship are always in style.”

Our posts should empower others to take care of our lands. Before you post, ask yourself if the content you are sharing is geared towards sustainability and respect for our natural spaces. Think about how you will view the post in five or 10 years—it is never fun to look back and cringe.

DO: Post photos of area cleanups, or artistic and creative landscape shots that depict pristine wilderness, thus encouraging people to keep it that way. Remember: “Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footsteps.”

DON’T: Post photos of yourself or friends doing something dangerous or photos that may encourage others to harm themselves, others, or the land. As well, don’t show photos of you littering or camping in areas you’re not allowed.

Give back to places you love

“Invest your own sweat equity into the outdoor spaces and places you care about. Learn about volunteer stewardship opportunities and get involved in the protection of our shared lands.”

Nature gives us experiences and memories that we cherish forever. We can give back by cleaning up litter, maintaining trails, keeping our own impact minimal, and inspiring others to do the same through social media.

DO: Leave no trace, pick up litter and pack it out, follow the trails, and post photos promoting group cleanups.

DON’T: Litter, draw graffiti, damage plants, break trail, or post photos encouraging these behaviors.


Encourage and inspire Leave No Trace in social media posts

“Given the millions of social media users in the world, think of the incredible potential that social media has to educate outdoor enthusiasts—first timers to seasoned adventurers—about enjoying our wild lands responsibly.”

We sometimes see the effects of people leaving traces in the backcountry, which, then, influence our own experience. Greenhorn adventurers may not even realize that they are leaving a trace, such as when they leave obvious markings of a campsite. Even experienced adventurers sometimes violate LNT! Thus, we can use social media to educate others, regardless of their level of outdoor experience.

DO: If you see something in the outdoors that does not follow LNT principles, make an informational post to educate others!

DON’T: Post a photo of feeding wildlife, including summit chipmunks, or post aggressively or angrily about situations where LNT principles were broken (this may discourage people from listening!)


What other dos and don’ts would you add? Comment below!

Backcountry Breakfast Recipe: The Eggadilla

Every day should start with a wholesome breakfast, especially when you’re in the outdoors. A dirtbag’s favorite inspired by professional climber Cedar Wright, eggadillas are quick, delicious, and nutritious, and they’re a breeze to clean up.

Eggadillas can be crafted in just about any kind of cookware, over almost any stove, and cooking them entails very little fuel. This recipe is so simple, delicious, and frugal that it will become your go-to breakfast for every adventure!

Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowski


  • 1 egg
  • 1 or 2 tortillas
  • ¼ cup shredded (or 1 slice) cheese of your choice
  • Olive or canola oil
  • (Optional): Onions, bell peppers, and salsa


Prep: 3 minutes

Cook: 7 minutes

Ready in: 10 minutes

Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowski


  1. Oil your pan generously. If you have onions and bell peppers, throw them in the oiled pan to sautée them.
  2. Once your veggies are sautéed, crack an egg over them. Cook your egg scrambled or over easy—whichever way you prefer!
  3. Cook the egg for two minutes and flip, or cover your pan and cook the egg for four minutes.
  4. After the egg is cooked, transfer it to a plate, and grab a tortilla, sprinkling on your cheese of choice. The cheese will melt in 30 seconds to one minute.
  5. Add your egg on top of the cheese.
  6. Next, fold the tortilla and cook for another minute or two.

And, presto! Your eggadilla is ready to be enjoyed. If your eggadilla is over-stuffed, however, consider adding more cheese on top, pressing a second tortilla on top for a minute, and then flipping it.

Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowsk

How To Safely Cross a Backcountry River

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “You never step into the same river twice.” Although this aphorism has broad philosophical implications, it still holds true if interpreted literally. Rivers are powerful and can be unpredictable. From trickles to torrents, river crossings are one of the most dangerous hurdles that hikers must overcome. So, to prepare, here are a few tips to keep in mind for the next time your hike leads you to a riverbank.

Before Your Trip

Study your map: Are there any obvious river crossings that you should prepare for?

Research beta: The internet holds a plethora of hiking guides and beta that can give you a heads-up for any challenges you may face.

Ask about the water levels by calling the park service or another land manager before your trip.

Pack wisely: Consider packing a lightweight dry bag and sandals!

Credit: Harry Berking
Credit: Harry Berking

On Your Trip

Risk versus reward

Is there another way around? Jumping on rocks may keep you dry, but practice extreme caution, because the water may make the rocks slick.

Take stock of the situation

How fast is the water flowing? Can you see the bottom of the river? Is the riverbed made up of solid rock, sand, or loose or slick boulders? What is the safest path? Typically, a wider section will be shallower than a narrow channel. As well, take a look downstream for obstacles like waterfalls that could pose a serious danger if you were to fall in.

Wear proper attire

Wearing sandals or other shoes will protect your feet from injury and help prevent slips. However, baggy clothes will make it substantially harder to move when you’re wet, especially if you end up having to swim. If you are wearing a backpack, it is wise to unclip your straps to make it easier to swim in case you fall in.

Have a plan

If you are in a group, decide whether someone should cross first, and then, set up a rope to make subsequent crossings and gear transport safer and easier. If you are alone, have a plan B. Always have a rescue plan.

Know the stance

If you are crossing alone, face upstream, or into the current, and take a wide stance, leaning forward with bent knees. Use a stick or trekking pole to create a tripod for more stability. Then, take small side-steps, judging the quality of each foot placement before committing. Avoid lifting your foot too high to prevent falling in if your other foot stumbles. Face upstream at all times, but travel at a slight diagonal downstream to save energy.

If you are hiking in a group of three or more, the safest way to cross as a unit is to form a stable foundation, such as a triangle, square, pentagon, or another shape. To form this sturdy base, group members should stand on the shoreline facing each other. Then, raise your arms, and place your hands firmly on the shoulders of the person standing next to you. With everyone holding this strong framework, take small steps as you cautiously cross the river.

Know what to do if you fall in

If possible, swim to the other side, directing your stroke slightly upstream. If the current is too strong to swim, drift with your feet in front of you on your butt until the river calms down.

River Crossing

Things to Consider

The early bird gets the worm

In the spring, water levels are the lowest early in the day before the snow melts, so time your river crossing wisely!

Water flows in tiers

The water’s surface flows at a different rate from the depths, and the flow rate is typically slower near the banks than in the middle. So, lifting your foot too high can mean it gets caught by a faster-flowing current, which can cause you to stumble or fall. This also explains why you should be cautious with every step until you are safely on the other side. The current will flow at different speeds throughout the entire river, so each step presents a different challenge.

Volume and velocity

A slow-moving river with a high volume of water can pose just as much danger as a lower-volume stream moving quickly.

Don’t rely on underwater support

Logs and boulders may seem like attractive handholds, but they can easily break loose underwater. Instead, try to rely on the stable tripod foundation that you form with a stick or trekking pole.

Practice caution with logs

Logs that span a river offer an appealing way across, but they can break loose and could even pin you underwater. Be sure to thoroughly test logs before trusting them.

Be willing to back out

If you feel uncomfortable going any further, turn back and search for another place to cross.

Know when to wait it out

Being able to identify when you shouldn’t cross a river is just as important as knowing how to ford through it. You may want to reconsider if you cannot see the bottom, the water level is above your knees, the current seems intensely strong at the riverbank, there is flash flood potential, or if the water is excessively cold. Be patient, because water levels can change within an hour!

River Crossing

The next time your adventure requires you to pass through a river, keep these tips in mind. Can you think of any more tips? If so, leave them in the comments below!


10 Tips for Spending the Night in a Lean-To

Shedding the weight of a tent on the occasional backpacking trip can be a big relief. After a long day of hiking, outdoor adventurers can take a deep breath when they remove their packs and lay down in one of these five-star backcountry hotel rooms.

Lean-tos are comparatively lavish accommodations for being so deep in the wilderness. Solid, usually dry wood floors, a storm-proof roof overhead, and a sleeping bag view worthy of only having three walls make these shelters prime campsite real estate and an option every backpacker should have in his or her quiver.

But, for those more familiar with nylon-enclosed nights out, these cozy shelters can take a little adjustment. Optimize your stay by considering these tips:

Carry Leanto in the Adirondack Park. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Carry Lean-to in the Adirondack Park. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

1. Understand the lean-to’s rules

Parks have rules in place to ensure the lean-tos’ longevity. Oftentimes, tents are not allowed to be set up inside, and only certain materials can be used to block off the shelter’s front. Lean-tos, as well, may have a fire ring, but some only allow the use of camping stoves. So, check the park’s website before heading out on your trip!

2. Have a backup plan

Sometimes, your map will bring you to an empty spot where there used to be a lean-to. Or, the shelter where you planned on staying may already be full. Although, with a shelter able to hold eight people on average, it’s a courtesy for inhabitants to squeeze until that limit is reached. So, always make a Plan B in advance.

3. Find a nearby stream

When you arrive, check your map and go exploring to find a stream. Filling up your water supply right off the bat ensures that your campsite duties run smoothly, from boiling water to washing dishes. Just make sure you filter out anything you don’t boil!

Fifth Peak Leanto in the Adirondack Park. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Fifth Peak Leanto in the Adirondack Park. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

4. Keep everything organized

Organization is key in making sure any overnight outdoor adventure is enjoyable. Keep your gear organized inside the shelter, and divide tasks up between the people in your party to ensure smooth sailing at your campsite.

5. Bring a pair of camp shoes

Having a pair of clean camp shoes keeps all the dirt and mud from your hike out of the lean-to. It also gives your feet a chance to breathe and your shoes and socks some extra time to dry out. And, because you’re probably not bringing a tent, your pack has ample space to carry along something light.

6. Find out if a composting toilet is nearby

When nature calls, knowing the location of the throne makes life much less hectic. If the area has no composting toilet, be considerate and hike at least 150 feet from water, trails, and campsites and dig a cathole.

Nightime at the Adirondack High Peak's Uphill Leanto. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Nightime at the Adirondack High Peaks’ Uphill Leanto. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

7. Bring your normal camping sleep setup

Although lean-tos offer a flat, cozy place to spend the night, the humble amenities only include a wooden floor. To prepare, be sure to bring a sleeping pad and sleeping bag.

8. Leave no trace!

This is the golden rule for enjoying the outdoors. Lean-tos and established campsites help minimize human impact on the forest, and odds are in a given season, hundreds of people will stay in any single lean-to. So, do your part, and keep both the shelter and the surrounding area clean and free of garbage.

9. Be prepared

Lean-tos are only closed on three sides. This means, if the wind is strong enough, rain can get in. Bugs and wildlife also have no problem sharing the lean-to with you. And, during the winter, snow can pile up outside and may blow inside the shelter.

To create a shield in front, consider bringing a nylon tarp and rope, but be sure to read the lean-to’s rules in advance, as nails are not allowed. If snow is predicted, bring a lightweight shovel, because you may need to dig your way out in the morning.

10. Respect the area

Lean-tos are a gift and should be respected and appreciated. If something needs to be repaired at a shelter where you stayed, let a park official know, or even volunteer your own time to do it. Keep your trail-karma high by always leaving the lean-to area better than how you found it!


The next time you stay in a lean-to, keep this information in mind. Can you think of any other tips? Share them here in the comments section!

Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowski

7 Tips for Wet Weather Hiking

Spring is upon us, which means that the temperatures are rising and more adventurers are heading outside. But, sometimes, a rainy forecast or a surprise storm challenges our spring trips. Don’t let it discourage you, however. If you’re prepared, it should hardly slow you down! Embrace the wetness with these tips:

1. Pack Garbage Bags and Ziploc Bags

Garbage bags and Ziplocs are cheap, light, and effective solutions for rainy weather’s challenges. Keep one or two in your pack throughout the season for emergency waterproofing, and pack less-critical items inside them. On the other hand, more important stuff, such as phones, headlamps, and other electronics, should be packed in more waterproof, durable, and trustworthy roll-top dry bags.

Rainy Hiking

2. Dress for the Occasion

Water’s thermal conductivity is 26 times that of air. So, your body loses heat four times as fast when you get wet! A 60° F sunny day is beautiful, but a 60° F rainy day can pose hypothermia risks if you are not prepared. As a solution, shells and rain jackets make adventuring in inclement weather possible and are much more breathable than garbage bags. As well, synthetic clothing like EMS® Techwick® will help prevent hypothermia.

For selecting the right gear, check out our “Top 7 Rainy Day Hiking Essentials” to see if you need to make a stop at your local EMS. As well, if your equipment’s water repellency needs to be restored after the winter season, read “A Guide to Picking the Right Nikwax Product” beforehand.

3. Pack Extra Calories

Hiking in muddy conditions is physically demanding, and wet trails can take more out of you than an easy dry hike. So, be sure to pack extra calorie-dense foods to keep yourself fueled up.

When backpacking, be aware that, in a downpour, you may not be able to cook food, so items like trail mix and energy bars are a safe bet. Finding shelter to get out of the rain while you take a break to eat can make a big difference, too.

Rainy Camping

4. Optimize Overnight Trips

For extended trips, make sure you have a way to dry your clothes and boots out. As backup, always carry dry clothes in a waterproof bag.

Additionally, when you’re pitching your tent, find high ground and avoid basins, or you may wake up in a pool of water! Try to get as little water as possible inside the tent, and if your structure needs it, lay a footprint down when you set up camp. If you are attempting this during a storm, look for sheltered areas where you will be safe if a tree falls.

5. Respect the Woods and Stay on the Trail

Whether you are out for a day hike or an extended trip, spring is a very delicate time for the trails. Even though there may be puddles and mud on the path, stay inside the trail’s edges to minimize erosion and widening.

6. Have an Emergency Plan

In case of a surprise storm, making cautious calls is the key to having an enjoyable experience. Lightning is always serious, so read up on lightning safety before planning any trips. If you happen to be outdoors during a storm, seek lower ground, avoid open areas and isolated trees, and never set up camp near water, as it is a strong electrical conductor.

7. Keep Morale Up!

Hiking in rainy weather challenges you in new ways, both physically and mentally. But, whether the weather turns for the worse or the weekend forecast is foreboding, the outdoors can still be enjoyable. During your journey, notice what looks and sounds different when you are outside in the rain. Odds are good that few people will be out. And, if the rain subsides and the sun comes out, you may even catch a rainbow!

Credit: Gregory Robben
Credit: Gregory Robben

5 Recyclable Pieces of Outdoor Gear

Spending time in the outdoors tends to foster a sense of environmental consciousness. We all love getting new gear, but the equipment we accumulate and use up can be tricky to dispose of responsibly. So, as a solution, here are some ways to minimize your outdoor gear’s environmental impact.

Fuel Canisters (MSR, JetBoil, etc.)

From MSR’s PocketRocket and WindBurner models to JetBoil’s Flash and Joule, many camping stoves have one thing in common: They use non-refillable fuel canisters, which then end up piling up in your gear closet. However, to recycle these canisters, don’t just throw them out on the curb, though. As they are a mixed metal that is potentially hazardous for recyclers, they have to be prepared beforehand:

  1. Burn off all of the fuel in the canister. This may take a while, because the pressure in the canister is low. Even after the flame sputters out, there may be some residual vapors. So, instead, keep your stove valve open for a few more minutes.
  2. Once you are sure no fuel is left in the canister, it is time to puncture it! To begin, use a screwdriver, a hammer and nail, an ice axe, or a special tool, like the JetBoil Crunchit. As you do, make sure to wear protective equipment while puncturing the canister. After, labeling the canister with permanent marker as “empty” or “punctured” helps ensure it will be accepted for recycling.
  3. Find out where to recycle it. A quick internet search will let you know if the weekly recycling will accept those canisters. Not many local programs pick up mixed metals from the curb, however, so they might be thrown away if they are just tossed into a bin. As another option, local recycling centers may take them. So, once you’ve amassed a large quantity, it might be time to take a bag full of them to the nearest recycling plant.


Some recycling centers also accept batteries. To find such a location, a quick search on Earth911 or Call2Recycle provides you with recycling centers and drop-off locations taking used batteries and other items.

Headlamps, GPS Units, and Other Electronics

Headlamps can be broken down into components:

  1. The lamp body is recyclable as waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), which can be deposited at a local recycling center. Find a location, again, through Earth911.com.
  2. The strap is typically not recyclable, but a fabric recycler may accept it for scraps.
  3. Batteries (see above).

GPS units and other electronics can be similarly broken down into components and taken to a recycling center.

Old or Damaged Climbing Gear

Some rope companies, including Millet, Sterling, and PMI, will recycle your retired climbing ropes, regardless of the manufacturer. For retired hardware, your best bet is to bring it to a metal recycler.

Shoes, Clothes, and Other Fabrics

Some companies have recycling initiatives, like The North Face’s Clothes The Loop, and some even offer incentives for recycling your old hiking, backpacking, and climbing apparel! Shoes and clothing can always be donated to a thrift store, as well. There, the store will put your donations up for sale, and if they are not sold, they are converted to scraps to be reused.


It is important to remember that recycling is only one component of the three R’s. Reducing and reusing are even more essential to sustainable living! So, buy quality gear, consider buying used gear, and try to repair your equipment when possible.

Credit: Edmund Falkowski
Credit: Edmund Falkowski