Friday, December 23, 2016

The Disabled Hiker, eps 5, Lost in the Woods, pt-1, GETTING LOST

Each year hundreds of hikers and backpackers are reported missing. 
And although the reasons and circumstances leading to these reports greatly vary, they all seem to only end in one of three ways. That is, that the party was found alive ... found deceased ... or is still missing.

"Lost in the Woods" is intended to be my first sub-series created with the intent of instilling some of the basic survival skills needed to keep the adaptive day hiker or backpacker safe long enough for rescue by the search party or even an attempt at self rescue. Although this series is intended to be only a feature in the yearly episode, I wanted to kick off the series by dedicating an entire episode to this worthwhile and possibly life-saving topic.

To quote some unknown survival guru ... 
"Knowledge is in the equipment that you can never forget at home."
Whereas I do not consider myself to be a survival expert, I am considered by many to be a collector of life skills that are proven to be very useful in a survival situation. And adapting these skills to my "new normal" has been a foregone conclusion over the last 20 years.

Click on the video below to begin the journey.



As anyone who knows anything about actually using survival skills will tell you, practicing these skills is key above all else. Without practicing these skills you are forced to learn how to work their magic within the madness, panic, and mayhem of the actual emergency situation they were intended to help you out of. Without repeated practice in different situations and weather conditions you may find out how truly unprepared you are for the real thing should the time come.

A good example of this is how most people seem totally unprepared for how hard even the simplest of fire making devices can be in a cold, wet, or windy environment. There's an element of panic that rushes over you as the rain is pouring down your back and the wind is howling in your ear, your hands shaking so bad you can hardly use your fingers... and that's when you start to realize it.
That some things are really hard even with practice.

As a matter of point, please keep in mind that there is no way that I could think of everything or hope to demonstrate it all in one episode. But I'll get around to it eventually. But in the meantime I urge you to continually learn and practice new survival skills on your own.
And who knows, maybe you'll be teaching me a few things.

Note: Sorry everyone. Due to my continuing health problems and further complicated by computer software issues that have slowed my usual process, Episode five will be coming out a bit later and released at a slower rate of speed than usual. I want to thank all of you for your patience, kindness, and understanding concerning this delay and will be doing my best to get things out as quickly as possible.

Thank you all so much for watching.

Please remember to
like  share  subscribe  and comment 

Be well ... and Happy Hiking!


Produced by: Terry Craig,  
The Disabled Hiker

Assistant editor: Dave Deubler

Photos & video by: Larry Deitch,
& Terry Craig, 

Featuring music by: Mad Mme. Em

Disclaimer: This blog, written articles, video presentations, and all content within are not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. Please consult your Doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan and/or changes to your exercise routine.

Check out these other great links from 


The Disabled Hiker on YouTube

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The Disabled Hiker on ReverbNation (music)

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier - a review by Terry Craig, The Disabled Hiker

If you would ask my wife, she would probably tell you that I have three
hiking gear obsessions that at least equal her obsession with purses and shoes. Inner-marital battles aside, she may have a point.

The first would be sleeping bags. (One for every 30° in temperature rating between 70° and -20°F.) 

The second would be tents. (lightweight and inexpensive, I have 4 total.)

And last would be water filters/purifiers. All featuring different levels of filtration and/or purification to the water. All totaled between water purification tablets, filter bottles, and pump filters I have seven different methods and levels of water treatment at my disposal.

All of these items were accumulated over what seems like a lifetime of hiking experiences. But I don't think of any of these items as simply "extra equipment. Over time, I've learned how to dial in the specific equipment I wish to carry with me on any particular hike depending on the particulars of the environment I will be passing through and the conditions I will find there. And why should water purification be any different? 

 Interestingly enough, unlike sleeping bags and tents that have lasted me 30 years or more, when it comes to water filters/purifiers, this is simply not the case. It became apparent to me early on that all water treatment devices were only as good as your ability to get filter inserts or cartridges for them. And once that ability was gone it became even more disappointing to have to throw out the whole device simply because they stopped making filter inserts and cartridges for them. This led to an early revelation that spending huge amounts of money on water purification was just unsound economically.

Understandably, it would be hard to expect any company to keep making a product for 30 years without change or modification. And what lies
beyond this need for modification is the fact that water filters and purifiers have significantly improved over the last 30 years. And the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier stands as the latest testament to these improvements.
Removing 99.9999% of viruses, (e.g. Rotavirus, Norovirus, Hepatitis A, ...)
99.9999% of bacteria, (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella, Cholera, Shigella, ...)
99.9999% of protozoan cysts, (e.g. Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Amoebae,) 

NOTE: The GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier does not classify as a water desalination device. 

The GRAYL Ultralight steps beyond the normal ability's of water filters by also removing particulates like sediment and salt as well as many chemicals like chlorine and iodine. And then, as if that wasn't enough, it also removes heavy metals like lead and arsenic too.

When totaling all the facts, the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier not only far surpasses the capabilities of any of the drinking bottle type water treatment devices I've used in the past, but it is quite possibly the most thorough water purification system I've ever used... Period.

Because of my physical issues, the first time I used the GRAYL Ultralight in the field I found myself a bit concerned on a couple fronts. First, that I would not be able to find a level enough surface to operate the GRAYL's press, yet be close enough to the water that I wasn't continually getting up and moving between two separate areas either. And second, that like all the other pump handle, piston pump, and squeeze bottle filter/purifiers out there, I would almost certainly end up having to put an arthritic pain warning on the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier as well. But as you all know, I'm not the type to give up that easily and I soon found myself devising a plan to create the perfect work-around.

Using the GRAYL Ultralight on a number of rocky and uneven surfaces quickly put the first of these concerns to bed as I intentionally use the press on a wide variety of different surfaces. Even still, this ultralight water purifier seemed remarkably stable despite my prior concerns. But I knew the hand pain warning was going to be a bit more of an obstacle to overcome.

However, unlike other water treatment products in the past, I soon found a great DIY fix for using the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier in spite of one's arthritis and other painful conditions that affect dexterity and cause pain that makes using the hands difficult.
Note: you may want to get a little help with this DIY project for making the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier even more user-friendly than it already is.

I had a great summer testing out the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier and putting it through its paces. And no matter whether I was filtering from a pristine mountain spring, or from the edge of a beaver pond, I got the same results. i.e. clean ... safe drinking water.

Take a look at what I found out.


TDH Note: GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier
manufacturer; GRAYL inc.

* Pack weight – 11.25 oz. total. 
* Pack size –  2.7/8 in. wide (cylindrical) X 9.5/8 hi
* Max. capacity – 16 fluid ounces

1. Initial appearance & impressions upon delivery. Handsome packaging. I really loved all the information on the outside of the box. This information answered nearly every in-store question I had about the filter. I like to approach the opening of a product upon delivery as if I had just stumbled across the product in my favorite hiking store. It's all there... from how the filter works, to exact specifications and all that can be expected from the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier. Should I have come across the GRAYL as an in-store purchase, I feel I would be very confident in the purchase and what I was getting with this particular ultralight water purifier.
2. Comparative price – $59.50 + S&H

3. How easy is the product to set up and use? –
* The GRAYL Ultralight comes pre-assembled and ready to use. But it is highly recommended by the manufacturer to filter two presses (one liter) of water through the press to flush any loose particles from the carbon filter before taking your first drink. Of course this flushing process is typical of most (if not all) filters that use activated carbon within the filter core, and the process need only be repeated when replacing the core itself.
* Separating the two working halves of the GRAYL can be a bit difficult. Especially for those who are having physical problems in their hands, fingers, and wrists.
(Note: This does get easier once the parts are moistened, but this is definitely something to be considered for those who are living with these conditions.)
* The manufacturer suggests the following tip for separating the outer (dirty water) cup from the press & inner (clean water) cup.
A. Sit on a camp stool, chair, or rock) with your feet flat on the ground.
B. Remove the lid in place the GRAYL Ultralight on the ground between your two feet.
C. Use the inside of the soles of your shoes to grab the lower edge of the outer cup
D. Grip the rubber ring towards the top of the press with one or two hands.
E. Pull upwards in a slow and smooth motion.

4. Product Pros –
* What impressed me right off was the GRAYL water purification system’s ability to filter out such a wide variety of contaminants. Everything from particulates, protozoan cysts, viruses and bacteria such as Giardia or Cryptosporidium ... to chemicals and heavy metals.
Sadly, due to the ecological damage to our nation's waterways, having a water purification system with you such as the GRAYL is what I would call 'peace of mind’.
* Considering the wide range of contaminants this ultralight water purification system can eliminate, I truly would feel confident taking this water filter with me into a wide range of emergency/disaster situations as well. In areas where flood damage has occurred, it could take months to

restore public utilities such as the water and sewage system. Having a water purifier on hand such as the GRAYL Ultralight would literally be a lifesaver in such an emergency situation. And as you can imagine, even more so for the physically handicapped/disabled whose mobility will be even more restricted in such an environment. 
* Equally impressive, was the speed at which the GRAYL Ultralight filtered 16 ounces of water. Although my physical condition pushed me slightly past the 15 seconds that was listed on the box, I was still extremely impressed with its flow rate. With little more effort than my own body weight provided, the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier powered through 16 oz of water in just under 20 seconds. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though I needed to back off a bit on the pressure I was applying, the purifier continued to transfer the water at a good rate of speed relative to that pressure.
* Although the instructions that came with the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier recommend replacing the purifier cartridge on a yearly basis, further testing by the manufacturer has revealed that the purifier cartridge can last up to three years when thoroughly dried and stored properly between uses.

5. Product Cons – 
* Unfortunately, there is no way to back flush this filter should it become clogged by debris. Therefore I would recommend using a bandanna or other piece of cloth as a pre-filter when filling the bottle. This should be sufficient to keep out any additional and unwanted debris from clogging the purifier cartridge. On longer hikes, (more than 7 days) I would suggest purchasing and carrying an additional purifier cartridge with you.

Additional purifier cartridges for the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier are available online @ {GRAYL Replacement Purifier Cartridge }

6. Possible medical concerns –
* I must admit, I was a bit skeptical at first about how the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier worked. From the perspective of a person living with physical disability, my points of concern were that the amount of downward force needed, combined with the stability of the user, might cause the filter to slip out from under the user as they leaned over the filter to push downward. This could of course cause injury to the user. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the GRAYL felt very stable as I used it on a variety of uneven gravel, rocky and sandy surfaces.
* Sadly, those living with arthritis in the fingers, hands, and other areas associated with the physical requirements of using this water filter, may find their condition severely limits their ability to use the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier. Certainly to some degree, the use of two jar lid grippers (flat pieces of rubber used for opening jars) could possibly minimize this difficulty.
(Note: Click Here, to check out the cool DIY project on how to make an Easy Pull Handel that will help make using the GRAYL easier. )
* Other suggestions on how to make the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier easier to use can be found in section 8 of this review listed below.

7. Medical benefits of the product-
* As an adaptive hiker, physical pain is all part of the journey. And that's regardless of whether you're out on the trails, or safe at home in bed. However, I've run into a strange phenomenon over the years of dealing with constant chronic intractable pain. When in the wilderness, any and all "extra pain" is magnified by 10. This of course makes me a very cautious hiker that takes water filtration very seriously. And as mentioned before in #4 (product pros) ... the wide range of contaminants that the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier removes makes this filter particularly useful in a wilderness setting. Especially when you don't always know what's upstream.

8. Clinical Observations and Suggestions –
I truly enjoyed using the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier. Especially on day hikes when I really wasn't feeling up to carrying a lot of water. Carrying the GRAYL I was able to simply rely on the water sources I came across as I went. Even when some of them didn't look all that appetizing to my thirst. However, when forced to use more questionable water sources I found that my bandanna or even my T-shirt made a perfect pre-filter that helped to keep larger debris out of the filter core ... if not also to give me a false sense of security as well.

At this time in the review I try to offer some kind of insight as to how to make the product more adaptive hiker friendly. And in spite of the usual arthritis/hand pain issues associated with nearly all water filters, I found the GRAYL Ultralight to be a very thorough and well thought out product. And when experimenting with the arthritis/hand and wrist pain issue, I couldn't help wondering that if there was a textured surface around the bottom of the bottle, it might enhance the manufacturer’s suggested method of separating the two halves (see #3) by giving your boots a little something to dig into. This can be easily achieved by storing some extra duct tape around the base of the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier. Another suggestion to create a more textured surface around the base would be to use an extra wide Ranger-Band around the base. 
(Ranger-band - a wide rubber band cut from a bicycle tire inner-tube.)

When you start talking about filters that require no use of the hands you are usually talking about UV light, which doesn't hold a candle to the level of purification the GRAYL provides. The other method would be to use a slow drip filtering process, which can often take hours. And neither of these ideas are good for an on the move situation when you may be forced to drink from less than desirable water sources.

And so... for the innovative design,  high flow rate, ultrahigh purification quality, and emergency situation preparedness abilities, all made testing the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier a pure joy. 

When combined with the many ways I found to adapt the GRAYL to the needs of the adaptive hiker or backpacker, I find myself extremely impressed and proud to award the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier with a full five star endorsement. 

Great job to the people at GRAYL inc.


Reviewed & written by: Terry Craig, 
The Disabled Hiker

Assistant editor: Dave Deubler
Photos by: Larry Deitch, 
Terry Craig,
& GRAYL inc.

Disclaimer: This blog, written articles, video presentations, and all content within are not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. Please consult your Doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan and/or changes to your exercise routine.

 Check out these other great links from THE DISABLED HIKER.
The Disabled Hiker on G+

The Disabled Hiker on FaceBook

The Disabled Hiker on Twitter

The Disabled Hiker on  Instagram

The Disabled Hiker on Pinterest

Terry Craig on YouTube

The Disabled Hiker on ReverbNation (music)

The Disabled Hiker on SoundCloud (music)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ArmaSkin Dermal Protection Layer Socks - a review by The Disabled Hiker, Terry Craig

Trail Log entry date: 6/28/1991 - "... More Damn blisters?!?#?*!#!
My feet feel like they are each but one BIG BLISTER crammed into a tiny pair of shoes. The pain is UNBEARABLE! After 27 miles I now have only one real desire... To set fire to these shoes until there is nothing left but ashes blowing away in the wind.
These are without a doubt the most evil and torturous hiking shoes on the planet."

 For some reason, I always seem to be between sizes when it comes to footwear. So typically, when buying a new pair shoes, one of the first things I used to do was to also buy a whole bunch of new moleskin to go with them. They just seem to go hand-in-hand.

Ah, moleskin. That most wonderful of blister saving inventions, conceived of by moles and praised by hikers and backpackers everywhere.

So okay, moleskin may not have been invented by moles. But it has saved many a hiker from the tortures of breaking in a new pair of hiking shoes. Blisters seemed to be an inevitability. Or are they?  What if somebody were to design a pair of socks that provided the same blister protection as moleskin? What would they be like?

First, they would have to be form-fitting so the foot would not move around inside of it.

Second, they would have to wick moisture.

Third, they would have to allow your foot to move freely inside your shoe.

And finally: fourth, they would have to be comfortable enough to wear all day, especially on hot summer days when hikers can usually be found
scurrying across the mountain tops. Sadly, in the 1990s no such technology existed. At least none that actually worked.

 So, when the folks at ArmaSkin asked me to review their Dermal Protection Layer Anti-blister socks I felt like I was suddenly and finally going to be propelled into the space age. Sadly however, my health issues may have stalled my rocket out on the launchpad.

Initially, I was not all that pleased with the ArmaSkin socks. The compression of the material when I first put them on seemed almost unbearable. Which in turn seem to drive up my pain level and the next thing I knew I was sweating buckets.

 During the first 30 days of testing I did my utmost to test the socks as often as possible despite the oppressive heat wave we were experiencing. Each day I tested them out, within a few hours I found myself looking for a place to sit down so I could peel off the ArmaSkin socks.

I thought I was done. “How can I continue testing?” I thought to myself. Unable to wear them for an entire afternoon I could not begin to conceive wearing them for a multiple day backpacking trip. But now I had to find a way to go back to the folks at ArmaSkin and tell them what went wrong.

This is never a fun task. Over my years as a product reviewer I have tried my best to never ask for a piece of equipment to review unless I actually thought it was going to work for the adaptive hikers and backpackers who follow my site. And I must admit, it's rare when I'm wrong.

I do my best to warn all manufacturers who send equipment to review, that not all hiking gear qualifies as adaptive hiker friendly. And just because it's not right for us, it is not my intention to put out negative reviews based on our ... more specific needs.

But when the folks at ArmaSkin heard that the socks weren't working out for me, accompanied by my offer to opt out of the review should they wish, the folks at ArmaSkin urged me to continue testing and proceed with the review. Even if the review wasn't as positive as initially hoped. I truly admire ArmaSkin for this willingness to proceed with the review. And I'm glad that I was able to proceed. Who knows, this may actually lead to a change in my review policies.

After the decision was made to proceed, I continued testing but not much changed. That is, not until a piece of old-school wisdom popped up to put the ArmaSkin socks through repeated washings and then stretch them over something of relative size for a few days. The thought was that this would stretch them out a bit and perhaps loosen the strength and stiffness behind the elastic in the socks.

With any hope this would lessen the compression and lengthen the amount of time I could spend wearing them.

Here is what I found:

Manufacturer - ArmaSkin
Product - Anti-blister socks  (dermal protection layer)



* Breaking in new boots/footwear while hiking or backpacking.
* Long-distance day-hiking.
* Possible Protection against injury from footwear due to poor circulation or nerve damage in the feet.

* Pack weight – 1.5 oz. total.  (40 GM.)
* Pack size –  variable depending on size ordered
* Max. weight capacity – N/A

* Nice eye-catching package.
* The right left foot design is intriguing.
* I'm a bit concerned about the density of the material and its ability to wick moisture.


* Surprisingly, by turning the sock completely inside out except for the toe area, and then placing the toe area over my toes, I was able to use the slippery silk-like material on the outside of the sock to my advantage while stretching them onto my foot. I had relatively little problem putting them on in this way.

* After stretching them out with both repeated washings and stretching them over a water bottle for a minimum of two weeks, I was able to more than quadruple the amount of time I was able to wear the ArmaSkin socks per day. Bringing me well
within that 8 to 10 hour time period required for the task of breaking in new hiking shoes on the trail.

* ArmaSkin Socks seem to replace the need for moleskin. Once applied to the feet, the socks do exactly as advertised. Adhering to your feet while allowing your sock-covered foot to move within the shoe, while protecting the foot from pressure points that develop inside the shoe. Especially on long hikes.

* The craftsmanship and attention to detail was extremely thought out, placing all seams and stitching on the outside of the sock
instead of the inside.

* The types of materials used lead me to believe that they are extremely durable and well suited for long-term use.

* Many long-distance hikers go through multiple sets of boots or hiking shoes on each expedition. Therefore they are constantly faced with breaking in new footwear on the trail and on the move. The ArmaSkin socks seem like they would be a great way to lessen the torture of those first few days of breaking in the new shoes or boots.

5. PRODUCT CONS Initially, I was not very pleased with the fit even though I was on the lower side of the largest size sock ArmaSkin made. In fact, the compression was almost unbearable for any length of time. As a result and due to my plantar fasciitis, sciatica, and other chronic pain issues, I was soon sweating buckets that the ArmaSkin socks could never keep up with.  Therefore, stretching the ArmaSkin socks out before use may be required.

6. POSSIBLE MEDICAL CONCERNS - Certain medical conditions and medications can have an adverse effect on the body's core temperature. I would therefore recommend checking with your doctor before purchasing the ArmaSkin socks while being treated for these conditions or when taking medications that would have an adverse effect on your core body temperature or your ability to perspire.

* As a person already dealing with physical pain on a 24/7 basis, I think I can attest to the fact that anything that can save one from more pain on the trail is a huge medical benefit to the adaptive hiking community.* Fitted properly, I cannot help but wonder about the further medical applications for those who have nerve damage in the feet and ankles. As a protective layer the ArmaSkin Socks may have an everyday use for people with diabetes and other peripheral neuropathic pain and numbness issues that can cause injury to the feet. Without the warning signs of the pain associated with blistering, these injuries can often go unnoticed until they lead to a dire need of medical attention, and in some cases even amputation.  
Note: Always consult your physician before making changes to your current treatment plan. 

First and foremost, I would like to point out that I have health problems that may have directly impacted this review, and beyond that of your average consumer. So this should be taken into account when comparing this review to the opinions and thoughts of a completely healthy individual.

Second, although I do realize that it is both the compression and the nonslip silicone inside of the sock that makes them work, I really do believe the materials are too tightly fit considering the strength behind both the silicon and spandex to make them comfortable without


Although I had originally thought that reducing the amount of coverage of the inner silicone might help with this, since stretching them I can't help thinking that a few more choices in sizes might be a great help when fitting a wider range of consumers. 

As it was, had I not taken a page out of my grandfather's 1930s Depression-era survival and "make it work anyway" guide, I might not have considered stretching them in order to fit them to my feet.

I'm quite confident that had my body not been in its present state I would have had no problem with using the ArmaSkin socks. Unfortunately however, the pain from my sciatica often reaches all the way down my leg and into my foot. And the added constriction made the pain quite unbearable. I would assume the same would go for those dealing with gout, bone spurs, and arthritic pain in the feet as well.  But let's not forget, we are an adaptive hiker/backpacker site and it is my job to look at the product through the eye of The Disabled Hiker.

After my own modifications proved I could indeed stretch the ArmaSkin socks so that I could continue testing, I was able to bestow 1 Star on the

ArmaSkin socks in my physical tests for doing as advertised and protecting
my feet. But the fact that I had to take the chance of destroying them by modifying them prevented me from giving any more stars in the physical testing.

But when considering that the ArmaSkin socks have the potential to help those dealing with conditions such as diabetic nerve pain and numbness in the feet and other such conditions, I am pushing the rating to a 2 out of 5 star rating on the disabled hiker scale. However, I must strongly recommend checking with your doctor to make sure there are no foreseeable complications with the use of the ArmaSkin socks for this purpose.Remember, your health comes first above everything else. 

So be safe out there.
And happy hiking.

 ArmaSkin Socks can be purchased by clicking on the following link.


Reviewed & written by: Terry Craig, 
The Disabled Hiker

Assistant editor: Dave Deubler

Photos by: Larry Deitch,
& Terry Craig,

Disclaimer: This blog, written articles, video presentations, and all content within are not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. Please consult your Doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan and/or changes to your exercise routine.

Check out these other great links from THE DISABLED HIKER.

The Disabled Hiker on FaceBook

The Disabled Hiker on Twitter

The Disabled Hiker on  Instagram

Terry Craig on YouTube

The Original MUSIC of Terry Craig
The Disabled Hiker 

The Disabled Hiker on ReverbNation (music)

The Disabled Hiker on SoundCloud (music)