Outdoor Myths: Fact vs. Fiction

By Caileen  |  Monday, March 28, 2016  |  , ,  |  Leave comment

Outdoor Myths

As winter comes to a close and spring approaches, it's a great time to brush up on your outdoor knowledge! Recently, Backpacker Magazine published an article, "8 Wilderness Rules That are Actually Myths" and guess what itch-inducing plant made the list? Yep! You guessed correctly, poison ivy! So, naturally, as outdoor lovers and the makers of Tecnu® for poison oak and ivy, it was necessary we tag along with Backpacker and debunk these myths!

1.)    Moss Grows on the North Side of Trees: apparently this is only true in certain geographic areas. According to Backpacker, in the Southern hemisphere the sun has a slight northern arc, therefore, the South side of a tree provides more shade and is the ideal place for moss to grow.

2.)    All Black and Blue Berries are Safe to Eat: Most poisonous berries are yellow, white, or red in color, leading many foragers to believe that most black and blue berries are safe to eat. However, berries should never be consumed unless you can positively identify them. Backpacker gives the example of Poke and Virginia Creeper berries, both are blue in color yet lethal. It's imperative you do your homework!

3.)    Running Water is Potable Water: Unbeknownst to you, running water might look clean and inviting, meanwhile, just upstream a dead animal could be contaminating the water; or, an animal could be defecating in your "clean" water source. This poses a whole host of problems including: parasites, giardia, or cryptosporidium (my husband once contracted this while water-skiing, something you definitely want to avoid!).

4.)    Bears are Only Active at Dawn and Dusk: Although rare, black and brown bears have been known to be active at all times of day. While bears are typically known to roam around during the twilight hours to forage, they are awake throughout most of the day. If you cross paths with a bear, Backpacker suggests: "…stay calm, avert eye contact, and slowly back away. Do not run, as this may incite the bear to come closer and attack."

5.)    You Can Start a Fire by Banging Any Two Rocks Together: To successfully start a fire with rocks, you'll need to find a rock that has flint or quartz. Next, the stone that remains in your hand must have a groove in it to preserve the spark long enough to successfully transfer to your tinder bundle. Not as easy as it looks on T.V. after all!

6.)    Venomous Snakes Have Triangular Heads: According to Backpacker, because most venomous and non-venomous snakes come in a variety of patterns, stripes, and colors, identifying venomous vs. non-venomous on looks alone isn't the safest method. So what should you do to stay safe? Avoid snakes altogether unless you can positively identify the species you're dealing with! The good news? Most snake bites occur when an individual is intentionally handling a snake.

7.)    Garlic Repels Mosquitos: While it's true that mosquitos choose their victims by smell and sight, there hasn't been any scientific evidence to support the garlic-claims. According to studies, it's actually body heat and a strong output of carbon monoxide that lures mosquitoes, making physically exerted hikers the tastiest of snacks! In the words of Backpacker, "DEET is still the most effective mosquito repellant hands-down." We couldn't agree more! In fact, we suggest our 100% DEET product, The 10 Hour Insect Repellent for your next outing!

8.)    Dead or Dormant Poison Ivy Can't Hurt You: Ah, the best for last! As the trusted name in poison oak and ivy for over 50 years, we approve of Backpacker's breakdown of this myth! Yes, it's true, even when the leaves have fallen, even if the plant is dead, poison ivy (oak, and sumac) can still cause the itchy, red rash we all dread! The culprit? Urushiol, the rash-causing oil present in all parts of the plant (stem, roots, leaves) that does not evaporate and can last for years! The best way to identify poison ivy, oak, and sumac when the leaves have fallen? Hairy vines! Just remember, "a hairy vine is no friend of mine." Should you forgo our advice, or find yourself inadvertently exposed to poison ivy, count on Tecnu® to get you through to the next adventure!

It pays to do your homework before trekking into the vast outdoors! Study up, stay safe, and don't forget the Tecnu!

Until next time,


Live life. Get outdoors.

Original article: http://www.backpacker.com/survival/8-wilderness-rules-that-are-actually-myths/

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