Outdoor Myths Debunked

Debunking Common Myths About the Outdoors

We hear it often: someone proudly boasting "facts" they heard from a friend. Unfortunately, many of these rumors become so common that they are largely accepted as fact. In this post, we'll cover a few of the most common and the science behind them.

Myth: Burn a Tick or its Head Will Kill You

Tick on a man's hand

When discussing outdoor safety, this is probably the most common rumor. Basically, it's often believed that you have to burn a tick off. Either that, or you have to drink alcohol to force its grip to loosen. Otherwise, the head will become lodged under your skin, cause an infection, and probably kill you. 

Fortunately, this isn't the case. In fact, yours truly has pulled off several ticks bare-handed without consequence. Granted, this isn't actually recommended, as it may just latch to your finger. But with a pair of tweezers or gloves, a tick can be safely removed with ease.

The one bit of truth here: grab the tick as close to the head as possible. Then, place it in alcohol (hence that bit of the rumor), wrap it tightly in tape, or flush it down a toilet. These are the best methods to ensure its death. Ticks are difficult to kill, so disposing of it improperly may just set it free in your home. 

Myth: Poison Ivy is Contagious 

Closeup of a poison ivy plant

Many believe you can contract poison ivy by touching someone who has it. This is only true if the oil is still on their skin and you happen to touch that area. 

Poison ivy oil is easy to remove and usually gone after a shower. Also, most people don't begin to break out until a day or 2 after coming in contact with the oil. So even if someone has an active breakout, they can't spread it to you if they've bathed since coming in contact with the plant.

Myth: A Praying Mantis can Spit in Your Eyes and Blind You

Closeup of a praying mantus

We're guessing this rumor was started to encourage people to leave them alone, but unfortunately, it often leads people to kill praying mantises unnecessarily. 

In reality, they can't spit in your eye. In fact, they can't spit on us at all. The worst a praying mantis can do is pinch you if you bother it, but even that is pretty harmless. 

Myth: Moss Only Grows on the North Side of Trees

Tree moss

Another classic case of people mistaking uncertain terms with absolute certainty. Moss mostly - not exclusively - grows on the north side of trees. In other words, most of the moss is usually on the part of the tree that faces north, but you'll still find it on other parts of the tree as well. And that's only if you live in the northern hemisphere. 

If you're exploring south of the equator, then moss mostly (but NOT entirely) grows on the southern side of trees. Also, there are exceptions that depend on the species of the tree, natural features of the area (such as waterfalls), and the local climate. 

A hike through any forest will quickly reveal this, but the rumor still persists. So if you find yourself exploring an unfamiliar area, keep a map handy. Yes, you probably have GPS, but wilderness areas tend to have the worst cell reception.

It's also helpful to keep a compass handy, especially when exploring new areas.

Myth: Light a Candle to Keep Your Car Warm

Icy tire on a snowy road

Imagine getting ready to hunker down for the night in your tent and sleeping bag, confident that its 30 degree rating will keep you warm during the bitter cold ahead. Just as you're settling in, you notice something: that temperature rating is in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. Fortunately, you found a little car camping hack on the Internet: light a candle and it'll keep your vehicle warm and toasty all night.

If that's you, you're in for a long night.

If temperatures are near or below freezing, a candle isn't going to make a noticeable difference. The large number of candles it would take to warm your car will also fill it with smoke, which isn't a good idea if you're planning to spend the night in there. Sure, you could roll the windows down to release the smoke, but you would still have to monitor the levels in the car. Plus, you would wake up in the morning to find your car's interior covered in smoke soot. 

Also, don't try to light a candle in your tent. It won't help and it poses a danger if you knock it over while you're sleeping. 

 Myth: Big Guys Don't Do It Better

Big guy hiking near a creek

Big guys always do it better. Having that iconic big & tall frame makes it easier to scare away bears when hiking, reach farther when climbing, and pull off the perfect cannon ball when swimming. That's why we specialize in the gear that big & tall guys need to get the most from their outdoor adventures. 

What Other Crazy Rumors Have you Heard?

We get it: there is no shortage of tall tales regarding the outdoors, and a few of them are probably your biggest pet peeves. Let us know which ones me missed in the comments section below. 


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