Monday, October 30, 2017

Candy Corn Survival

How can candy corn help you in a survival situation?
You left the office Halloween party early to take a quick hike around the lake but at some point you made a wrong turn.  You start to panic, heading deeper into the woods until you admit to yourself that you are lost.  With the sun about to set, you think it would be safest to stay the night and hope for some clearer direction in the morning.  
You find an upturned tree that will offer shelter and you empty your pockets looking for gear that will get you through the long night.  Unfortunately, you weren't carrying the ten essentials but you have excellent improvisation skills.  As you search your pockets for survival gear you find a first full of candy corn that you grabbed just before heading out.  "At least I have something to eat," you think.  However, what other survival priorities can you satisfy with this orange sugary goodness?  

Fishing Lure

Candy corn on a fish hook.

Whether you have a few fishhooks stashed in your kit or have fashioned one from scavenged materials, candy corn may make an excellent lure for fishing. The bright colors attract fish in the murkiest water and a sideways piece of candy is generally minnow shaped. Best of all, candy corn doesn't dissolve in water as quickly as other sugary sweets.

Trap Bait

Candy corn in a trigger stick on a deadfall trap.  

If angling isn't your thing, you can also use candy corn for trapping.  I recently observed squirrels stuffing their cheeks with this orange striped candy, so small mammals seem to be attracted to it.  It seems that no one can resist the call of candy corn.  Wedge this Halloween treat into the split end of a trigger stick on your deadfall trap.  

Leave Trail Messages 

Signaling for help with candy corn.  

A pocket full of candy corn may also be helpful for leaving trail messages and directing others for needed assistance.  If you happened to be hiking with a 50-gallon drum of candy, you could probably construct a visually striking ground to air distress signal.  As stated above though, animals love candy corn so your messages may be very temporary.  


With several experiments, I've found that candy corn would not be a good fire starter.  It does however melt and contort as exposed to heat and that is kind of amusing.  As we all know, a positive mental attitude goes a long way in a survival situation.  Keeping your mind busy watching the heated and oozing candy corn may strengthen your will to survive.  


Candy corn as a survival meal.  

When it all comes down to it, candy corn is food (well kind of).  Only a mere thirteen pieces will power your body with 140 calories.  Now, I can't recommend a diet comprised solely of candy corn but as a pretty dense snack, especially in a survival situation it isn't bad.  It resists heat, is pretty tasty and has an excellent calorie to weight ratio.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Multifunctional Multi-Tool Paracord Case

The Paracord and the FlashBlade Multi-Tool are two seemingly very different, yet equally useful items to have in your pack, both fit nicely into any pack and can be useful in many situations. It was only a matter of time before we would find a way to combine these two great tools into something even better, and that is how the Multifunctional Multi-Tool Case was born. Creating a useful paracord into a case for your multi tool will keep it safe and easily accessible with an attached carabiner, ensuring that you will always have paracord when you need it.

Step 1:
First we need to gather our materials. For the sides of the case I used the black Para 325, for the front and back, the camo Para 550. With your multi-tool closed, measure the length you will be working with. I did this by grabbing a bit of the cord and folding it in half. You should be able to wrap the sides of the cord around the multi-tool at least 6 times to insure you have enough cord. Cut the cord with the ParaHatchet or your multi-tool. You will also need a paracord needle for the weaving process.

Step 2:
Let’s begin the construction of our new case! We will be making the sides of the case first. Essentially, we will be making a paracord bracelet that spans the full length of the multi-tool. Fold the paracord in half and mark the point where the measured length of the sides meet, not including the top of the multi tool. This is going to serve as the starting point for our knotting process.

Step 3:
Keep the two strings in one of your hands and use the other to create a loop over the two strings folding back underneath them. Pull the same string back into the loop above the two strings until tight. Now, take the other string and repeat the process in the opposite direction. Repeat this until you read the hook and only a tiny loop remains. Use a lighter to secure the two sides onto the rest of the braid.

Step 4:
It is time to make the front and the back for the case. This is the time when you bring out your paracord needle. Before starting this leg of the process, melt the end of the cord you wish to use and screw it into the sewing needle. Starting with the top loop, take the camo paracord and weave it through to the next loop. Starting here you will begin alternating the thread from one side to the next. It is helpful to have the finish side wrapped around the multi-tool to check that you are leaving enough room for it to fit. Continue alternating the sides until you get towards the bottom. Stop here.

Step 5:
Once, you get to the bottom of the piece you want to start weaving your paracord. Instead of going across the piece you want to move up and down. You want to alternate moving your needle over and under the existing paracord. As you move to the bottom you want to make the opposite choice of under and over as your previous weave. Continue this process until you filled all the loops or the weave becomes too tight to add more weaves.

Step 6:
Once you complete the weave you want to take out your lighter and melt the paracord in into the piece to secure it. I recommend doing this outdoors for safety reasons. Also, please remember that the area is going to be hot to the touch and some melted paracord may get on you.

Step 7:
Starting the next section you have two options. If you left enough string on the other side of your initial loop, you can use this to weave the second side. If not, you can start a new string and melt it into the loop. For the second side, you will simply repeat the same process as the previous side, remembering to secure the end piece.

Step 8:
Double check that your pieces fit together correctly and move it in and out of the case a couple times to adjust the paracord. Since, it is a weave it will have some flexibility.


To add functionality to the case I added a carabiner. Luckily if you bought a paracord hank from UST it already comes with a carabiner and it will work perfect for the case. Where the original look for the piece is, insert the carabiner in the two loops below it. This will creep your case upright when you attach it to your pack.

And there you have it! You completed Multifunctional Multi-Tool Paracord Case!

Friday, October 20, 2017

UST Jack-o-Lantern Jamboree

With the Fall season in full swing and Halloween lurking around the corner UST is hosting its first annual pumpkin carving contest! Break out your Paraknives and carving tools and tag us in your favorite boo-tiful Jack-o-Lantern designs.

To enter:

Tag UST in your videos, photos and youtube videos of your best pumpkin carving projects on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To make it easier to find your entrees, include the hashtag #USTPumpkins in the description of your creations! This Spook-tacular event will take place from Oct 20th to November 3rd, 11:59 pm ET.


Eligible Social Media Outlets:

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram

To be Considered:

The contestant has to be at least 18 years old of age. Each contestant is also limited to three entries per person. UST ambassadors or employees of UST are prohibited from entering the photo contest. Contest applicable to US residence only.


Judging will be conducted by the UST Staff.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Gear Focus: Double Down with the Double Ups

By Bernardine Wood

Multi-featured for multi-purpose is a hallmark of UST’s product design, and the Double Up Cup and Double Up Bowl are no exception, offering a two for the price (and pack room!) of one in each. As the name suggests, the cup and bowl are made of a hard, anodized aluminum outer shell, with a removable food-grade BPA-free silicone liner (including a thoughtful “lip guard”).

Sunning on the rocks.

Don’t Use the Silicone Liner Over Direct Heat!

Although the silicone liner is advertised as heat tolerant to 300°F (149°C), never use it alone or inside the aluminum outer shell over direct heat. Heat your food/fluids in the aluminum shell only, a burning flame could easily exceed the silicone limits. I also tested the silicone liner alone to see if I could hold it tolerably with boiling water added, and it quickly became too hot to handle.

Best and safest use for this product is together with hot beverages or foods cooked elsewhere and added, or separately with the aluminum liners used for cooking and the silicone used as a carrying or serving dish/cup for not so hot contents (picture a soup in the metal bowl and salad in the silicone).

Is there anything better than camp coffee?

I have the UST Packit Stove in my kit, which fits the Double Up Bowl just fine, though the cup is too small. I tried stacking the cup inside the bowl and was able to get water pretty hot, though I wasn’t able to reach a boil (this may be poor fire making on my part.)

Both parts of the bowl and cup are dishwasher safe, making clean up after your hike or camping trip easy. And as with all UST products ... the price is right.

Specs of Double Up Bowl (MSRP $12.99)
Size: H x W: 2.25” x 4.6” (57 x 117mm)
Weight: 3.8 oz. (110g)
Capacity: 12 fl. oz. (355 ml)
Warranty: 2-Year Limited Warranty

Specs of Double Up Cup (MSRP $10.99)
Size: H x W x D: 3.5” x 3” (89 x 76mm)
Weight: 3.6 oz. (102g)
Capacity: 10 fl. oz. (296 mL)
Warranty: 2-Year Limited Warranty

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sewing a Camp Shoe with Paracord

Sewing a Camp Shoe with Paracord

Paracord is one of those materials, such as duct tape, that seem to be able to do everything. It ties up your gear, hangs up for bear bag, and you can even sew with it. But along the endless amount of tutorials about paracord, you will be hard-pressed to find a tutorial on how to sew much of anything with it. To demonstrate how capable it is of sewing together damaged gear or making gear for on the trail we decided to make a shoe. The shoes we will be demonstrating are great for around camp and for around the house. They fold up easily and you can make them out of a variety of materials to customize them for what function you wish you use them for. In our case we used a lightweight canvas and jersey cotton.

Let’s gather the materials.

Felt or a sturdy flexible material
Thin canvas or water resistant material
Soft fabric, we used cotton jersey but water resistant soft comfy material is recommended
Chalk or pencil to trace the pattern
Ruler (for making the pattern)
Paracord Cutter (we used a Parahatchet FS)
Sewing needles

1. Make the Thread

First we need to actual thread for our shoes. It’s a little bulk to use the whole paracord 1100 so let’s get out some of the fibers. You can also use these fibers for fishing line.

I discovered that the fibers in the paracord were still a little thick to be practical. No fear! The paracord can be broken down further to make sewing thread! I would recommend finding a needle that is just big enough for the thread. Picking a larger needle, will cause you to have difficulties pulling it through several layers of fabric that we will have at the end of the project.

2. Make the Pattern

Next, we need a pattern. Now you will probably notice we are not providing a pattern because each foot is different. So unless you are small like I am, or have kids, they will not be super helpful. However, I will provide you with the steps on how to make your own:

The Sole: 
For the sole you want to trace your foot. Remember, to make it a little larger than your actual foot size since some of the fabric will be used to sew together. After you trace it, give yourself some extra room in the front for your toes. Your best solution is to use the insert of one of your day to day shoes and tracing that.

The Top:
The top is a bit harder but with some measuring it will not be too difficult. This process of making a shoe will also allow you to customize it some. First, remember that the top of the shoe is going to be the same length as the sole. For the width, measure how far you want to the to go over your foot in the front and in the back. In between the two points you should have a gentle curve to allow comfort for your ankle. In the end it will look like a horse shoe, the thickest on top, thinnest in the middle, and moving out again on the bottom. The bottom will have a slight angle down from the middle.

The Felt: 
For the felt you are going to make a smaller version of the sole that will be sewn on the sole of the outer fabric. You can also put felt on the “Horseshoe” but I didn’t find this necessary since it was already pretty stable.

3. Start Shaping the Shoe

Sew the edges of the “horseshoe” together. Leave about a quarter inch of extra fabric at the edge of the stitch, this will be used to keep the shoe nice and neat. I used a simple running stitch to keep the two pieces of fabric together. You can probably iron the two extra pieces flat but I ended up sewing them. It made for an interesting pattern on the back of the heel at the end of the process. You will repeat this process for both the liner and the outer shell.

4. Attach the Upper and Bottom Piece

Let’s start putting pieces together! We used a running stitch with the folded pieces facing the outside on the heel. The goal is that once you fold the shoes once again they will not be visible. You want to leave about an 8th of an inch on the edge when stitching. Once, finished you will cut small triangles in the outer fabric to help fold the two large pieces over.

Flip it! Fold the fabric over so you do not see the stitching.

5. Attach the Sole Lining

I combined the step of sewing the bottom pieces and attaching the lining of the sole. Make sure to pin the three layer of fabric together since it will be difficult to hold together as you sew along the seam. For this I used a blanket stitch, which basically is a running stitch but you make a “knot” but running your needle through the loop you just created.

If you are doing this for Instagram, it looks done from the top!

6. Get the Sole ready for sewing

Now let’s combine the felt and the sole. Sew the felt to the sole with a simple button stitch. (The x shape you use for sewing buttons on your shirt or pants)

7. Attach the Sole to the Shoe

Next lay the sole of the shoe on top of the opening of the shoe. This is a little confusing. The first time I tried it, it didn’t make sense to me how it worked but it did, so do not worry. Also, make sure you are using the right sole on the right side of the shoe, you don’t want to worry later why you have two left feet.

Pin it together to make sewing it easier. I didn’t do this and ended up with extra fabric. Sew the top to the bottom with a simple running stitch. Remember to leave a space which we can use to fold the piece inside out so the felt will be on the inside of the show between the lining and the sole.

8. Finish the Shoe

Now we just need to turn it inside out.

Now we are going to use a blind stitch to sew the inside of the hole we used to turn the piece inside and out. If you don’t care about the thread showing, just use a running stitch. My blind stitch failed pretty miserably. If you do want to attempt a hemming stitch I have provided a link here for instructions.

Fantastic! Now we got a shoe perfect for around the house or for the campsite! Super easy to make and super lightweight. It basically folds down to the size that fits into a regular pocket. If wearing these shoes to the campsite, remember to make it out of water resistant fabric instead of cotton.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Celebrating Fossil Day on National Lands

Article by: Nature Tech Family

National Fossil Day in the United States is a great time to share geology and paleontology with kids and students! Every October, the National Park Service promotes one day as Fossil Day, and celebrations and events are held at numerous parks, monuments, museums, and businesses around the country.

This year, National Fossil Day is on October 11th. Our family is very fond of fossils, and geology in general, so we tend to make a big deal out of the day. We like to visit National Park Service locations that prioritize fossil conservation and protection, and go out of our way to take part in geology and paleontology activities.

We thought this week might be a great time to review fossil “etiquette” on public lands, or even on private lands when the find is a large one.

  1. The most important rule of fossil “hunting” on public lands is that the fossils need to STAY PUT! It is super exciting to find fossils when you are hiking in places like Badlands National Park, but if you pick up the fossil and take it to the ranger at the visitor center, then the scientists will not be able to explore the find site for more fossils! Leave fossils where they are!

  2. Tell a ranger. You can use your phone or GPS device to get the GPS coordinates of the fossil site, and even take a picture of the site with your camera to show the location of the fossils you found and what they look like.

  3. Take only a picture. I don’t know about your front yard, but ours is already full of some hefty rocks, so we certainly don’t need more. We allow our kiddos to pick up rocks (but not fossils) and then we take a photo of it and place it back - so someone else can enjoy it, too! We always take pictures of the fossils we find in place, and even our boys, ages 6 and 10, carry their own cameras so they can join in on the memory-making.

  4. Talk to staff at the park or museum locations. The best way to learn more about geology and paleontology is to talk to the professionals! Park rangers and museum curators are also usually scientists, or can direct you to one on staff that can answer your questions or give you more information. You can also learn more about National Fossil Day specifically by visiting the National Park Service website dedicated to this event:

  5. Become a Junior Paleontologist! You’re never too old to earn a badge, and there is a paleontologist badge offered by the National Park Service. Many of the geology-focused parks and monuments (Badlands, Dinosaur, Agate Fossil Beds, etc.) have the booklet on hand to give out to kids and adults who want to learn more about this field of science. The other option is to visit the NPS website and download and print a copy of the booklet. It can then be mailed in to the National Park Service and you will be awarded the Junior Paleontologist badge through the mail!
No matter where you are on October 11th, take a moment to appreciate the geology around you. You may live in an area that has the right age of sediment to find dinosaur bones, or you may come across sea shells in a dry, high location from prehistoric waters. Or you may live in the city and be able to visit a local museum or library that has a display of fossils. However you celebrate the day, celebrate the history of this continent and also take time to appreciate those who have dedicated their lives to studying and learning more about our past through the rocks around us!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Section Hiking: The Practical Compromise

Section hiking is likely to be the only thing that makes completing your favorite long-distance trail a reality for most of us. When most picture a thru-hiker, they imagine someone just out of school young enough to live foot-loose and fancy-free, or someone old enough to share some valuable lessons around the campfire or spin tales from their thrilling life adventures. What about the rest of us, though, the people who have work and life responsibilities that keep us from thru-hiking our favorite trail in one trip? Even here, at UST, we all have obligations to keep the company running smoothly. So, how do we go about hiking our favorite trail and following our dreams? One answer may be section hiking.  In addition to making the possibility of hiking a long distance trail a reality, there are a number of other benefits that section hiking brings.

1. Take advantage of the best time of the year

Hiking a trail in sections allows you to determine the best season to visit each location either to the take in the best scenic views or possibly avoid the crowds. The fresh green of Spring on the Florida Trail and the Autumn leaves on the Appalachian Trail both fall outside of the prime hiking season, and therefore are often missed by thru-hikers. Being able to spread out your sections beyond hiking season also helps you escape some of the crowds that come with the popularity of scenic trails.

Cranberry Lake 50 Trail, Adirondacks 

2. Learn from each section to improve your next hike

Before joining UST, my first hike on the Florida Trail was met with disaster. I had an old over-one-shoulder backpack from high school that I over stuffed with drawing supplies and very little water. Since, that back-aching trip I have learned a lot about gear, survival, and each successive trip bring further improvements. That is a great advantage of section hiking your favorite trail. Thru-hiking generally requires you to be better prepared than I initially was, but section hiking allows you to improve your skill level one hike at a time.

Florida Trail at Big Oak Trail

3. It allows you to enjoy each section for what it is

Even though it may be over generalizing, I expect most of us go hiking for the beauty of nature and to relax, with the bonus of some enjoyable physical activity. With section hiking, you avoid the worry of completing your daily miles to make trail’s end before winter sets in or your own personal time constraints send you back to reality. Section hiking allows you to take a breath and stop to watch the little squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, without having to worry about being late.

Enjoying the view from a side trail near the 290 mile long Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail in the Red River Gorge Geological Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky.

4. Spread it out over time

Speaking of deadlines, with section hiking you can spread your hike out over many months, years, or even decades. Each section can either last for weeks or can even be as short as day trips. You can set a pace you are comfortable with that also keeps you truckin’ along the trail. Ultimately, the choice is yours on how you spread out your hikes and how much you do.

Black Forest Trail, Pennsylvania 

5. You can also spread out the cost

When it comes to thru-hiking the cost is often underestimated. I mean, how much can hiking in the woods really cost, right? As it turns out, it can actually be a lot. Between gear, supplies, and the loss of income, the cost of a complete thru-hike is several thousand dollars. Section hiking can cut down on the cost by limiting supplies, being able to invest in more multifunctional gear and, most importantly, the ability to keep your day job.

6. Update your gear between trips

This is the best part of section hiking, being able to upgrade your gear. However, some may say we are a bit biased since we make gear. As you continue hiking the trail you will discover what specific gear fits you the best and it may not always be whatever is most recommended by the ”experts.” You also don’t have to worry about having the lightest gear (also often more expensive) and can trade weight for comfort since you will not be backpacking for as long. You may be surprised what you learn along the way from camp set up, to cooking gear, to sleep arrangements, each hike will bring you a little closer to being an expert in your own right.

Finger Lakes Trail - Western Terminus 

7. It is easier to avoid bad weather

Here in Florida rain is generally accompanied by lightning, which does not make for the best hiking conditions. Section hiking allows you to look out the window or at the weather forecast, to determine that perhaps right now or maybe next weekend would be best to do a certain part of the trail based on the weather. When hiking a Scenic Trail in one long session, you will be stuck traveling for miles under those threatening clouds until you make it to the nearest shelter or camping spot.
Florida Trail at Big Oak Trail

8. Medical Limitations

Even though plenty of people with severe limitations inspire us with what a determined person can do, for some of us it is more realistic to do a bit at a time based on our medical history or physical limitations. Always do your best to follow your dreams, and with section hiking you are able to do just that without risking your health or putting too much stress on your body.


Since we always love talking about dogs, section hiking allows you to bring your dog into areas that are safe and allowable for your pet. Several trails do not permit dogs for the whole length of the trail and alternatives have to be found for them during those sections. When, you section hike you can bring them along for those stretches and leave them with family members that will spoil them as you hike the rest.

Section of the Florida Trail at Gold Head Branch 

In the end, you may not get the cool points of being a thru-hiker, but you can still say you hiked your favorite Scenic Trail from end-to-end. And, you had the chance to follow your dreams, even if a took a little bit longer

Candy Corn Survival

How can candy corn help you in a survival situation? You left the office Halloween party early to take a quick hike around the lake ...