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The Troubleshooter’s Handbook

Murphy’s Law, meet your match. Our experts offer trip-saving fixes for 44 mishaps, from bug bites to bad partners to broken bones.

ELEVATED – These mishaps are annoying, but not deadly.

Busted Stove
A sputtering flame ain’t fatal, but raw grits could kill your trip (“like chewing a desiccant pack,” says one editor). Here’s how to address.

1. Clean problem areas.
>> O rings
Dry and stiff? Lube with cooking oil. Cracked or missing? Replace with spares. (You packed some, right?)
>> Fuel line
Slide the internal cable (like you’re checking the oil in your car) to dislodge buildup. Flush with clean fuel before reassembling.
Cable really sooty? Wipe it with sandpaper.
>> Fuel jet
Unclog by shaking (late-model MSR stoves) or disassembling from the priming cup to probe with included cleaning (or sewing) needle.
>> Connections
Clean threads and bushings by wiping with a cloth. Retighten on bottle, pump, and stove.
2. Prep meals with cold water.
>> Still no flame? You need calories nonetheless. For freeze-dried foods, add water, seal, shake, double the “cooking time,” and
think of the crunchy repast as an alfresco gazpacho. With dehydrated meals, expect an hour or more of soaking.
3. Use alternative heat sources.
>> The sun can fry eggs on a sidewalk. It’ll also speed cold-water cooking. Set your meal in a sunny spot (in a dark pot or stuffsack) for a slow
solar roast.
>> If conditions and local regulations allow, cook over an open flame.


Suck. It. Up.
Your crybaby partner wants to bail yet again. Here’s how to battle five common excuses and stop the whining.

1. “My lawn needs mowing.”
The fix: Shame is a powerful tool. Drive over on your John Deere and spend an hour cutting it for him Thursday afternoon.
2. “I have to work.”
The fix: Volunteer to drive, so he can get it done on the way to the trailhead. Use wififreespot.com to locate the last high-speed
connection en route.
3. “My bum knee/foot/back is acting up.”
The fix: Offer to carry group gear to a basecamp. That way, he’ll be dayhiking, which won’t exacerbate most nuisance injuries.
4. “My boots aren’t broken in.”
The fix: Buy him some mink oil (a little dab will do) to speed leather softening. Still stiff? Try bribery, Moleskin—whatever works.
5. “Who’ll watch the kids?”
The fix: Bring the brood (and fixings for s’mores).


Sleep Deprived
Your crybaby partner wants to bail yet again. Here’s how to battle five common excuses and stop the whining.

>> Punctured pad: Bed down on leaves, pine needles, clothing, your Crazy Creek camp chair, or anything that’ll add comfort.
>> Cold feet: Cuddle with a hot-water-filled bottle or bladder.
>> Snoring tentmate: Roll him onto his side and improvise earplugs with balled-up TP or a bit of your Vaseline-covered cotton ball
firestarter. Didn’t work? “Accidentally” put your earbuds on him and crank up the iPod’s volume.
>> Woodpecker: Lovingly toss pebbles at the bastard.
>> No sleep apnea machine: Insert a Provent nostril patch.
>> Insomnia: Sorry, Colin Fletcher fans, but reading The Man Who Walked Through Time is a surer remedy than any pill.


Fire Icon
Raw, Red, Blind, Burned
Four ways to cool and soothe what ails you.

Annoying: Chafing rash
Swap out wet clothes, and sleep in your freshest skivvies. Give yourself a daily trail spa treatment: Wash hot spots with soap, zap bacteria with
hand-sanitizing alcohol gel, and use a skin lube like Sportslick ($11; 4 oz.; sportslick.com).

Alarming: Poison ivy/oak
Wash anything that touched the offending foliage with soap and water. Crush dandelions into a poultice and apply to the affected area for 30 to 60 minutes.

Dangerous: Snowblind
Take lots of ibuprofen and apply cool, wet compresses to help relieve the pain, which feels like sandpaper on your eyeballs. Your sunburned
corneas will heal within 48 hours.

Deadly: Caught in an inescapable wildfire
Submerge yourself in a lake, or lie face down in a ditch or rocky spot where there’s little burnable fuel. If the fire’s less than five feet high or
deep, you might survive a jump-through. Shed your synthetics first and hold your breath.


Sprayed by a Skunk
Minimize the musky stink to maximize the chances of salvaging your gear.

In camp
>> Avoid water, which spreads and sets the oily musk. Caveat: If you’re sprayed in the eyes or mouth, flushing with water will soothe the sting.
>> Strip off clothes and bag them in plastic to launder later.
>> Dab (don’t wipe) spray droplets with a throw-away rag. Sprinkle moist spots with dirt, flake off the residue.

At home
>> Take a tomato juice bath on the lawn; the acid often helps stop the stink.
>> Before storing, drench infused gear in Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover ($13; 32 oz.; ilovenaturesmiracle.com).


Insect in your ear
Insect In Your Ear
Once you finish screaming, use your hydration bladder’s hose to flush the bugger out.

Leech Sucking Your Blood
Don’t panic: Slide your fingernail along your skin toward the leech’s small end and push sideways to dislodge.
Engorged one lodged in your ear? Panic. Then puncture it with a pin and pull it out.

Out of Toilet Paper
Wipe with one of these*: snow, moss, leaves (no poison ivy!), grasses, river stones, smooth sticks, bark (carefully), pine cones (not open).
*Listed in order of tush-friendliness

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