Feel at home in the outdoors

Spring Wildlife in Missouri: Mushroom Hunting

mushroom huntingMissouri in the springtime is a wonderful time of the year. Flowers begin sprouting, warmer breezes fill the air, and we enter prime mushroom hunting season. Yes, that is right. Spring introduces a fun time of the year when outdoor explorers can embark on great mushroom hunting adventures. Whether you are in search of savoy, edible morels or just want to have a fun outdoor adventure, there are some things every mushroom hunter should know.

The Scoop on Mushroom Hunting in Missouri:

When

– Early spring provides a wealth of our most-coveted morel.
**This prime season for morels ends as quickly as it begins. In just a few short weeks this variety will dissipate.
– From autumn to early winter you’ll find a variety of lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms.
– The key factor in mushroom growth? Regular moisture and ground temperatures above 50 degrees fahrenheit. Because of this, days after it has rained are good times to go mushroom hunting, as many sprout up during this time period.

Where

Many mushrooms grow on dead or fallen trees, while others grow in the soil.

What

Knowing what you will need for mushroom hunting is key to your success. Below is a checklist of items to bring in tow on your next excursion.

  • Camera
  • Small digging tool
  • Flat-bottomed basket
  • Navigation tool — think map, compass, and/or GPS

Get to Picking Now

March and April showers bring more than May flowers. This spring, be sure to grab a basket and go mushroom hunting. Need some outdoor gear before you get started? Uncle Sam’s of St. Louis can help you get prepared. We have a comprehensive selection of outdoor camping and hiking gear that is sure to satisfy your needs.

To learn how Uncle Sam’s of St. Louis, Missouri, can assist with your camping & hiking needs, visit one of our store locations or contact us by phone or online.

Proudly serving the St. Louis, Missouri, community.

Going on a Winter Camping Trip? Follow Our Tips!

So far in our winter camping series, we have covered what to include in your packing checklist, how to prevent frostbite, and how to plan ahead for a great winter campout.

Today, we’re sharing tips that will come in handy when you’re on the trail, weathering the cold during your winter camping trip!

Continue reading “Going on a Winter Camping Trip? Follow Our Tips!” »

Tips for Planning a Winter Camping Trip

While many nationwide are taking refuge from the chilly temperatures, there are also plenty of outdoor enthusiasts eager to keep exploring. Winter camping might not be as popular as spring, summer, and fall expeditions, but the cold air has its perks: there are fewer fellow campers to encounter, which leads to less crowding and a more authentic wilderness experience.

If you’ve never gone camping in the winter months or it’s just been a while since your last trip, you may be at a loss when it comes to planning for winter camping. Don’t worry, Uncle Sam’s is here to provide some winter camping tips.

Continue reading “Tips for Planning a Winter Camping Trip” »

How to Pick the Best Camping Stove

Any good campout includes cooking food over a fire — but depending on where you’re camping, you may not be able to start an open fire. In backcountry camping areas that lack quality firewood or have a heightened risk of forest fires, a camping stove might be your only option. Even if you aren’t camping in a fire-restricted area, it can be handy to have a camping stove on hand in case of rain — or for those moments when you just want a quick cup of coffee without dealing with a fire build.

As with all of your other camping gear, you probably want to get the best camping stove available for your outdoor trips. Here are some tips for selecting the best camping stove depending on your preferences and purposes.

Continue reading “How to Pick the Best Camping Stove” »

What Should You Include in Your Winter Camping Checklist?

winter campingJust because there is snow on the ground and its cold outside, does not mean you cannot engage in winter camping. In fact, wintertime is one of the most beautiful times to enjoy this favorite outdoor activity. Glistening, snow-laden ground makes this activity especially enjoyable. However, because of extreme weather conditions, there are some things you will need to include in your packing checklist.

Winter Camping Tips: What to Pack

While some things, like boots and a winter coat, may be obvious items to include on your winter camping checklist, others are not. So, just for good measure, let’s cover the basics, along with a few things you may not think to pack.

Warm Clothing

There is more to preparing for a winter camping excursion than throwing on a winter coat and some gloves. When you pack clothing, you are going to need to think layers. Plenty of insulating layers are required to ensure your body has the proper warmth it demands. This is especially important when it comes to socks. Although you will want to have water-resistant boots, plenty of heavy-duty socks are needed to keep your body warm when it matters most. The takeaway? Be extremely thoughtful as you prepare for your winter camping trip.

Sun Protectant

When it is cold outside and there is snow-covered ground, wearing sunblock is an absolute must. White, frosty ground reflects sunlight, making campers even more susceptible than usual to sun damage. So, as you are packing your winter camping bag, be sure to grab the sunblock from your pool bag, placing it somewhere safe and accessible.

The Essentials

Food, water, and light are all camping staples that should be included on your winter camping checklist. Do not let the cold temperatures undermine the importance of  water. Camping is hard work, whether it is hot or cold outside. And after a long day of hiking, you will need to keep your body hydrated and well-fed with food rich in nutrients and energy.

Fire Materials

All the warm clothing in the world  is sometimes not enough to fight off the cold, which makes it crucial that you keep on hand the proper materials needed to make a fire. A long-nosed lighter and matches are both things you will need to bring. However, you will want to pack them in a water-resistant bag, so you do not find yourself in an unfortunate predicament. In the event that your other fire-starting materials do not work, including an emergency fire starter on your winter camping checklist is also a good idea.

Learn More Now

When it comes to winter camping, making a detailed checklist is a great way to ensure all your needs are satisfied. Our last piece of advice? Be sure to take in the majesty of the snowy trees and ground that surround you as you camp.

To learn how Uncle Sam’s of St. Louis, Missouri, can assist with your camping needs, visit one of our store locations or contact us by phone or online.

Proudly serving the St. Louis, Missouri, community.

The Shemagh: Why It’s an Outdoors Essential

shemaghWhen it comes to outdoor survival gear, the shemagh, also known as a “Keffiyeh,” is one of the most useful and versatile pieces of equipment available. This basic woven cloth has roots in ancient Arabic culture, and it is still a staple in many modern-day communities. So, what has made this useful tool stand the test of time? When it comes to utility, the shemagh is an absolute must. In fact, once you begin using it, you won’t go back.

How It Can Be Used:

This full-head wrap can be used for a number of things. But, to get the most use from the shemagh, it is important to know the wide scope of utility it has. Before your next outdoor adventure or before you head into extreme weather conditions, be sure to grab this essential piece of clothing.

Protection From the Elements

Extreme exposure to the sun, as well as warm and cold temperatures, has the potential to cause harm over time. The solution? Although you will still need to protect other exposed areas of your body, a shemagh can protect your head, neck, and face from these damaging elements. With one wrap of this protective cloth, you will be better prepared for a number of weather conditions.

Sweat & Cooling Rag

The soft, cotton fibers of the shemagh act as a natural absorber for sweat. On your next outdoor hike or daily commute, be sure to have a shemagh in tow, using it to absorb excess sweat created from exercise. On the same token, this absorbent cloth naturally holds cool water and can thus be worn around the head or neck, helping cool your body temperature.

Bag Meets Blanket

The ever-versatile shemagh can also be used as both a bag and a blanket. When you have a big load to carry, try redistributing some items, placing a few of them in a makeshift bag. As a rule of thumb, place things in the middle of the shemagh so the load’s weight is evenly distributed, not stressing the cloth’s fibers. Need to take a rest along your commute? This woven cloth can be placed on the ground, providing a clean surface to sit on, or it can be placed over your body and used as blanket.

Learn More Today

If you are wanting to purchase your very own shemagh, look no further than Uncle Sam’s of St. Louis, Missouri. Here, you can find a wide selection of these outdoor gear staples.

For more information about our shemagh inventory, contact one of our St. Louis, Missouri, store locations or purchase online.

How to Prevent Frostbite

If you live in a cold climate, you’ve heard of frostbite. You’ve probably prepared for it a time or two. If you’re from a warmer climate, you might have heard the term but never had to worry about it. Many people don’t know exactly what frostbite entails.

What is Frostbite?

Frostbite occurs when parts of the body freeze from exposure to cold temperatures. Skin and the underlying tissues are damaged by extreme cold.

Severe frostbite may require amputation of the frostbitten area. Not all frostbite cases are that serious, however.

Frostbite has several stages. A tingle or itch is an early indicator that you need to get out of the cold immediately. Frostbite is a serious threat, so preparation is key in frostbite prevention.frostbite snow woman hiking

Risk Factors and Preventative Steps

Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol while in extreme cold result in quicker onset of frostbite. It is best to avoid them if you plan on prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures.

Gear

When you’re roughing it, you need to have the right survival gear so you can handle any situation you might run into. This is even more important in the extreme cold.

Layers, Layers, Layers

If you’re aware that its going to be cold, make sure you wear clothing appropriate for the climate. Wearing loose fitting clothing in layers is very important to reduce the risk of frostbite. The layers of clothing will allow some insulation between layers and your body. Clothing that is too tight or involves too many layers isn’t a good idea, as you risk sweating. Your body will lose heat much faster if it is wet.

Your head is accountable for a substantial amount of heat loss in cold temperatures. A proper winter hat is extremely important. Ideally, you’d want a high quality hat that covers your head and ears completely. Another good choice is a ski mask, since they cover the whole head and will give you maximum protection against frostbite of the ears, face, and nose.

Protect Your Digits

Hands and feet are extremely important body parts to protect. Fingers and toes are the farthest parts away from the core of the body, meaning that they lose heat fast. A high quality pair of gloves is a must. Footwear should be consistent with the climate. Heavy boots or snow boots are usually ideal.

If Frostbite Sets In

These tips should reduce your risk of frostbite so you can enjoy your adventure even in the cold temperatures. If you are concerned about frostbite setting in, go to a warm area as soon as you can and seek medical treatment.

 

Cold Weather Clothing: What You Need to Know About It

cold weather clothingWhether you live in a winter wonderland for a better part of the year or you just want to get out and explore nature’s bounty when it is cold outside, knowing what cold weather clothing to wear is an absolute must. At Uncle Sam’s of St. Louis, Missouri, we are all stocked up on our cold weather clothing. With so many cold weather clothing products on the market, it can sometimes be hard to know what you really need. Not to worry, though; we have the details here.

Cold Weather Clothing Guidelines:

Dress in Layers

When choosing cold weather clothing, it is strongly suggested that you dress in multiple layers. The layering of clothing will give you liberty to adjust clothes according to certain weather conditions. As you exercise, your body temperature is subject to quick changes. Because of this, wearing layers of cold weather clothing is important. Get too warm on your hike? Try taking a layer of clothing off. This way, if you get too cold, you can put on your top layer.

Base Layer

In a normal situation, cotton is a good option for base-layer clothing. However, when it comes to cold weather clothing, we strongly recommend not choosing cotton as a base layer. You will want to avoid cotton, because it can absorb moisture and leave you damp when you start sweating. So, when selecting base-layer clothing, opt for synthetic fibers or light wool.

Insulation Layer

When you are dressing for cold weather, your second layer of clothing should be insulating. This is important, because it can help you maintain your body heat when it’s needed most. Again, we advise against wearing cotton in this layer; instead, we suggest you wear wool clothing, such as jackets, vests, or shirts, made with polyester.

Outer Shell

Make sure the outer layer of your cold weather clothing is water-resistant, so it can protect you from the wind, rain, or snow. When you are selecting your outer shell, choose ventilated clothing — think zippers.

Head & Face Accessories

When it is cold outside, you lose most of your body heat from your head, so it is essential that you have a proper head covering. Also, if possible, we suggest you cover the face, nose, and ears. When you are selecting cold weather clothing, it is important to remember that sunlight on snow can create a blinding effect. Because of this, investing in some high-quality UV sunglasses or snow goggles is an absolute must.

Gloves

To prevent your hands from frostbite or weather-induced numbness, it is strongly advised that you include quality gloves in your cold weather clothing attire. Gloves will give you liberty to do your work without getting exposed to the elements.

Socks and Boots

When you are in cold weather, there is nothing worse than wet feet. Fortunately, the right clothing can help. To avoid this, selecting weather-appropriate boots and socks is key. When it comes to socks, layer them with a synthetic base layer and wool top layer. Also, when selecting boots, make sure to avoid leather material, because it can freeze in extreme temperatures. Instead, opt for plastic or rubber boots that will better protect your feet.

When it comes to cold weather clothing, Uncle Sam’s of St. Louis, Missouri, knows best. Both our online and on-site stores have a wide variety of cold weather clothing.

For more information about cold weather clothing, contact one of our St. Louis, MO, locations today.

Proudly St. Louis, Missouri, area.

The History of Fleece

Chances are you have at least one item made of fleece in your wardrobe or your home, whether it’s a fleece-lined jacket, a pair of fleece pajamas, a cozy fleece blanket, or some fleece camping gear. It’s not surprising — although it wasn’t sold to the public until 1981 and didn’t emerge as a popular fabric choice until the early 1990s, fleece is now one of the most ubiquitous fabrics in the world.

At Uncle Sam’s, we love fleece — a synthetic fabric made from a soft deep pile — for its ability to keep a wearer very warm even during cold rains, which makes it a great fabric for camping gear. True, wool may also keep you warm, but it isn’t so comfortable when wet. Avoid the high absorbency, smell, itchiness, and heaviness of wet wool and stick with fleece on your next spring camping trip!

In celebration of fleece, we’re sharing a brief history of the fabric.

The History of Fleece

When was fleece invented?

St. Louis | The History of Fleece | Uncle Sam's

Post-WWII, Malden Mills Industries noticed a definite shift in fabrics toward synthetics. Polyesters were growing in popularity, Nylon had been an instant hit in the 1930s, and Spandex was spawned in the 1950s. Not wanting to be left out of the fabric innovations, Malden Mills aimed to make their own synthetic designed to mimic the qualities of wool. They started the endeavor by spinning plastic materials into yarn and in 1979 they created the fabric we know as fleece. When weaved into fabric with small loops on one side, Malden Mills created a very thin fabric. In the factory, they found that brushing the yarn made it break down into its individual fibers. As the loops puffed up, the texture, thickness, and insulation of the fabric improved yet the weight didn’t increase. And thus, fleece was created, pulling Malden Mills out of near-bankruptcy and changing the fabric of outdoor and sports apparel.

How was fleece marketed?

At the time that fleece was invented, Patagonia, a major producer of camping apparel and gear, was pushing mills to produce new fabric for camping and sportswear. Fleece fit the bill perfectly. Malden Mills employee Doug Hoschek was in charge of marketing the textile, and he turned to the camping and outdoor community to sell fleece.

How did fleece jump from the outdoor niche to more widespread distribution?

In the early 1990s, popular clothing brands like Old Navy noticed how comfortable fleece was and began using cheap imitations of the Malden Mills fabric in their lines. Malden Mills struggled with competitors, but secured some government contracts. After filing bankruptcy in 2007, Malden Mills rebranded itself as Polartec, a nod to the polar fleece they invented.

Get Fleece Clothing & Camping Gear Today!

You can get all the fleece clothing, outerwear, and camping gear you need from Uncle Sam’s. Visit or Manchester, MO or St. Peters, MO locations to see our fleece items in person, or shop our online military surplus and camping supply store to find a wide selection of fleece goods, including fleece hats, fleece-lined pants, fleece jackets, fleece blankets, and more!

Survival Tips Every Outdoors Explorer Should Know

Fall and winter can be great times to explore the wilderness; however, for good measure, you should know some basic survival tips. In the event that you find yourself in an emergency situation, having familiarized yourself with survival skills becomes essential. This knowledge will enable you to potentially help yourself and your loved ones survive during such calamities. Do not let the possibility of being in a survival situation prevent you from exploring the great outdoors, though. Uncle Sam’s of St. Louis, Missouri, has some basic survival tips that serve to help you stay safe throughout your outdoor adventures.

Survival Tips Everyone Should Learn:

Stay calm.

This is one of the greatest survival tips that you should consider during potentially life threatening situations. It is important to keep your cool and never panic, because panicking will interfere with the efficiency of your brain, thus limiting your chances of devising and executing survival tips. Therefore, be sure to relax and stay calm when you realize you are lost in the wilderness or become mixed up in other adverse circumstances.

Stand still and glance around watchfully.

When you are lost, one of the best survival tips is to ensure that you identify your exact location. Why? You can use it to guide your way out by marking it with visible items, such as rocks and extra pieces of clothing. Doing so should enable you to gauge your progress.

Stay in one location.

If you are unable to immediately find your way out of the wilderness, it is sometimes best to stay in one location. This is because there is a possibility that someone else is also searching for you, and staying in one area will make it easier for you to be found. This is also one of the more important survival tips, because it helps you conserve energy, reducing the amount of food and water your body will need.

Look for water and safe food.

Even though you will be saving energy by staying in one location, your body will still demand food and water. You should, however, ensure that the food you are eating is safe before actually consuming it. Sometimes this means playing it safe and consuming things that you know are okay to consume.

Make a shelter.

Creating shelter is one of the more important survival tips. In addition to keeping you safe and protected from the elements, a shelter will increase your likelihood of being discovered.  So, while you are waiting things out, make sure a shelter is one of the first things you create and utilize.

survival tipsLight a fire.

This is another crucial wilderness survival tip, because fire will help you scare away harmful animals and keep you warm throughout cold nights. During daylight hours, be sure to search for things you can use to keep a fire going throughout the night.

Explore the surrounding area.

This is another one of the survival tips that you need to employ when you are lost. Although you will want to stay close to your shelter and fire, exploring your surroundings can help you find the essentials like food and water.  Don’t stray too far from your home base, though, or you will run the risk of getting even more lost — something nobody wants.

Quality Outdoors Gear Can Help

If you are planning on making a big outdoors excursion, be sure you have the best survival gear possible beforehand. Although it can’t always prevent you from getting yourself lost, a warm, well-insulated coat and a good water bottle can make a big difference when you find yourself in survival situations.

For hiking and survival tips and gear, contact one of Uncle Sam’s St. Louis, MO, locations today.

Proudly serving the St. Louis, MO, area.