Monday, February 4, 2008

Camping Gear - Choosing the Right Backpack

Going camping? Likely you'll need some sort of backpack to carry your gear whether it's for a daytime hike or a long journey. Choosing the right backpack is essential for comfort and practicality. Choose the wrong pack and you may find yourself unable to keep up with your hiking partners, excessively fatigued and sore or otherwise distracted from the enjoyment of your outing.

What are the keys to choosing the right backpack?


The size of backpack you choose will depend on the nature of your trip. Are you taking a day trip through a local park or going into the mountains for a few weeks? What equipment or comforts do you need to take with you?

If you select a bag that is too big for your needs you will tend to overpack which will tire you out faster. Choose a bag according to what you must carry. Assemble the gear you require to determine the size of bag you need.

Manufacturers use different terms for size. What may be a large in one brand could be a medium in another. You will have a better idea of size based on the litre capacity or cubic inches listed.


Do you want an internal or external frame? Will you need a hipbelt? What kind of padding is provided?

Internal framed backpacks fit snugly against the body. They are counterbalanced with hipbelts and sternum straps. Look for good quality padding on the shoulders and hip belt to prevent chaffing and creating sore points. The internal framed backpack should fit the torso of the user. Women and children will usually need short torso fits. Men should measure for fit since torso length is not always relative to height.

External frames hold the pack away from the body. They are cooler to wear in hot weather but are less stable and not a good choice for hiking in less than ideal conditions that require balance, climbing, skiing or managing rough trails.


The material of your backpack will depend on the conditions you expect to travel in. Hardier fabrics will cost more and may be heavier but are worth it if you will be travelling in inclement weather or for an extended trip that will cause wear and tear. Choosing lighter, cheaper fabrics is fine for day trips.

If you are taking climbing equipment, snowshoes or other sporting equipment it is best to find a backpack with specific attachment features for your gear. Trying to retro fit your gear can cause undo strain to your backpack and force you to slouch to one side in compensation for an off-balanced pack.

Take all aspects into consideration when choosing your backpack since your comfort will be your biggest concern when you hit the trails.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A History of Basketball

There is much speculation about the humble beginnings of the now ever-popular game of basketball. Many believe that missionaries in China invented it. Others think that it is just a game that gathered most of its concepts from other goal-oriented games such as soccer.

But it was actually in 1891 that a Canadian physician working as one of the staff in a college who brought this sport into light. A minister at a college for young professionals, he was looking for a sporting activity that might keep the students busy, warm and healthy during the wintertime. At the time, he looked over a few sports that were suited for an indoor gymnasium but found that none of them fit his preferences. So instead of looking on for another sport, he created one of this own with a basic set of rules and two peach baskets. The peach baskets were nailed 10 feet high on opposite ends of the gym and he used sacks for nets. Of course, the problem was that the ball had to be poked out of the basket with a long stick every time a ball went in it. They used soccer balls to carry the game out.

More of an innovation than an invention, the game had many similarities to team handball, which required two teams of seven players trying to throw a ball into a goal on the ground. Team Handball was also invented in the 1890s. However, no close associations between the two were ever made and thus they each took their own evolutions in modern sports.

The first official basketball game to be played was in a YMCA gym on January 20, 1892. It involved 9 players and a court that is half the size of a regular present-day basketball court. With a quick rise to popularity, women also began to play the sport in the same year, the games rules changing as the months passed. For a while, credit was given to the YMCA for the creation and spreading of the fame across the country. After a few years, they began to discourage it because it attracted rowdy crowds and rough behavior from the players within the missions.

For a long time, soccer balls were used to play the games. After a while, a brown ball was designed to replace the soccer ball. It was only in the 1950s that an orange ball with better bounce was introduced into the game. This helped make the ball more visible to the players and to the hundreds of spectators that the game began to draw in. At first, bouncing the ball around the court was not a part of the game, except when passing the ball from player to player or what is called a "bounce pass". With the release of the newly improved and rounder orange ball in the 1950s, the rules quickly changed and players were required to dribble the ball.

Today, basketball is one of the most popular games on the planet, rivaling the popularity of soccer itself, which is enjoyed worldwide. Basketball has become part of American culture and is one of the games that were invented by North Americans. Other sports invented by North Americans include netball, volleyball and lacrosse.