Outdoor Essentials for an Endless Summer

Spring is swell, and autumn is amusing (and winter, well, it’s woeful if you ask me) – but summer is forever. My mission this season has been to embrace the idea of microadventures, and just get outdoors as often as possible. Whether it’s camping in the backcountry, hiking after work, or just going for a lazy Sunday drive in the foothills, this summer is all about being outside.

In fact, I’m writing this guide to the essential gear for an endless summer while swinging in my hammock out in my backyard. For the record: It’s 73º, breezy, and full of sunshine out here. And I just reached over to pluck a golden cherry tomato from my garden and plop it into my mouth. Like I said, summer forever. 

After months of testing, wearing, and munching, here’s a guide to my favorite summertime outdoor products:
Camping in Cottonwood Pass while snacking on a meal from Fireside Provisions

Camp food from Fireside Provisions

Ultra light backpacking is fine and dandy – but most of the time, I’m way more into convenient camping. I’m all about picking a random forest road, driving down it until I find a suitable dispersed campsite in the woods, and setting up a cozy nook in nature while snacking and soaking up fresh air. Have I become a lazy camper? Perhaps. But I dig it – sometimes you have to ditch the complications of getting outdoors and embrace the easy route. Cue the simple solution provided by the folks at Fireside Provisions. [Read more…]

What’s in my pack? #FLtoCO Road Trip Edition

In exactly 12 hours from this very moment, I’ll be on a red-eye flight down to my hometown, Miami. I’m heading south for a few reasons: I am in desperate need of some sea-time, I’m celebrating my little sister’s graduation, and we’re embarking on a cross-country road trip to move her out to Denver! Instead of the usual two-day haul I usually struggle through during drives from Florida to Colorado, we decided to make an adventure out of it.

First, we’re heading up the Florida coast to Tallahassee to see my pup, Amble, and climb at Tallahassee Rock Gym. We’ll visit my sister’s friend in Atlanta before heading to Chattanooga for my favorite part of this trip: climbing at Stone Fort and a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium! Then we’ll jet westward, stopping to visit family friends in Kansas City and exploring along the way.

Since my sister will be bringing everything she owns in her little sedan, I’m trying to pack as light as possible. I’m only bringing my Topo Designs Klettersack, and my new Keen sling I picked up at Outdoor Retailer last week. Here’s a quick peek into my #FLtoCO road trip bag:

What's in my pack? Miami to Colorado edition. #FLtoCO

[Read more…]

What’s in my Pack? | roadtrip to miami

One of the best things about living in a van? Everything you own (and ever need) is always with you. Transitioning to life out of my big yellow van has brought along a lot of interesting changes – and accessibility to my “things” has been so hard to adjust to. Now when I’m getting ready for an adventure, I have to pack smart – which I learned after a few weeks of forgetting everything all the time.

Visiting Miami is always pleasant. I’m heading to a land of palm trees, freshly fried empanadas, my mama’s homecooking, and more sunshine that I can possibly soak up in one sitting. Spoiler alert: my favorite thing to pack was my bikini – that poor thing hasn’t been worn in ages!

So what’s in my pack?

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset+ the pack: Returning to Miami always puts me under a bit of pressure to return to my former fashionable self. My stinky, mud-caked camping packs are just not going to cut it – so I turned to the best looking bag in my arsenal: the Topo Designs Klettersack. It’s undoubtedly stylish, but I was really impressed with it’s functionality once I realized I’d be easily able to stuff everything I needed in just this single pack!

+ sunshine state gear: If there’s one thing I can count on Miami to provide, it’s sunshine. The most important thing to bring for that? My favorite pair of Rayban sunglasses – to protect my little eyes! And while my body might need sheilding from those bright rays, my Goal Zero solar pack will be perfect for soaking up the energy from the sun and keeping my iPhone charged while I’m out on the boat all day. Toss in my ENO singlenest hammock for shady naps between palm trees, and I’m set.

+ reading & writing: This trip down south is somewhat of a retreat for me – I’m using this little adventure to refresh myself after transitioning from van life to “regular” life, and it’s prime time for words (both written and read). While continuing to write my own story, I’ve been seeking inspiration and getting schooled in the art of adventure writing as I read Brendan Leonard’s “The New American Road Trip Mixtape.” It’s the best book I’ve read in years. And of course, my little Moleskine planner and laptop (in that sweet Colcasac case) provide material for scribbling down random van thoughts. 

+ the boots: Ladies, take note: Steve Madden’s Troopa boot is the only boot you’ll ever need for day-to-day wear. These certainly aren’t hike-worthy footwear, but they’re the most trusty everyday shoe I’ve ever owned. Buy yourself a pair. Does this make me a hipster? I don’t even care.

+ what to wear: I’m somewhat cheating here – I have an entire closet full of clothes in Miami, so I didn’t need to pack much. The two things I insisted on bringing were my tasc performance sports bra and leggings (not pictured). I’m gear testing them, and after over a week total of wearing the leggings and not seeing any loosening of the fabric, I’m fairly sure the folks at Tasc are up to some bamboo black magic. And I like it. Plus, Miami is the perfect place to test the matieral’s breathability.

+ sustenance: To survive a 10-hour bus ride from Tallahassee to Miami, I need snackage. I have been mega crushing on PROBAR lately, especially their blueberry fuel bars and the cookie dough protien bars. Yeah, that’s right – cookie dough protien bars. Toss a packet of Skratch Labs hydration powder into my Nalgene, and I’m ready to roll.

PS: Notice all those little balms? I’m working on a head-to-head(-to-head) review of climbing’s three best hand salves: ClimbOn!, Joshua Tree, and Giddy. Keep your eye out for the full review in a few weeks!

Are you heading out on an adventure soon?
What’s in YOUR pack?

A Few of My Favorite Things | the first edition

For a few weeks, I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a bi-weekly post sharing some of my favorite finds – in life, in my belly, online, and on the trail. The plan is to write these with a Friday Favorites theme, if you will, but I ended up so tormented by the idea of creating the perfect inaugural post that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it until today. We’ll call it a mulligan. 

This inaugural “A Few of My Favorite Things” post explores some of my new favorite gear finds, sweet treats, and social media musings. It’s a summation of all the good stuff I’m currently into. I’m excited to watch this evolve as the weeks go on – so feel free to comment with any suggestions of things you’d like to see more of, thing you’re not diggin’, etc. Without further adieu, here’s what has been tickling my fancy lately: 

EATS & EDIBLES

Jaipur Avenue Chai Tea Mix Variety PackJaipur Avenue Chai Tea Mix

Here’s the thing: I always hated chai tea. When my hitchhiking gal pal Josephine gifted us a few packets of Jaipur Avenue Chai Tea Mix, I relinquished them to Niko – and immediately regretted it when he made the first batch. Where most chai tea I’ve tasted is painfully spiced, overwhelming, and irritating to my taste buds, Jaipur Avenue’s product is smooth, creamy, and sweetly flavorful. I’ve been on a major chai tea kick ever since, and have yet to find anything as delicious as Jaipur Avenue’s varieties.

The best part? These chai tea mix packets are perfect for life on the road. All you have to do is add hot water, and you’ll have a steamy mug full of milky chai goodness. The worst part? Choosing between flavors like cardamom, saffron, and vanilla. The fact that Jaipur Avenue is only distributed in Washington and a handful of shops in the northeast is quite troubling too – I’ve just run out, and am getting desperate!

Good Future bars

Good Future Bars out on the trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.I’ve never followed dietary trends like veganism, raw food culture, or the currently booming gluten-free movement, but Good Future bars hits the nail on the head by offering a healthy energy bar that any adventurer can enjoy. I probably wouldn’t have thought to try a raw, vegan, paleo bar on my own – but when my old friend Shunit told me about her new company, I had to have a taste. The bars come in enticing flavors like chocolate coconut, cashew fruit crunch, and apple cinnamon (which has big chunks of dried apple, my favorite).

I brought a few bars with me on my recent trip to climb at Rocky Mountain National Park, and totally wish I had an entire box with me – they’re such a refreshing take on the usual dense energy bars. They’re a bit smaller than the usual energy bar I’m used to, but I like that, because it gives me the opportunity to pack two different flavors in my pack instead of just one.

Pinterest Picks for the Kitchen:

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup | Oreo Rice Krispie Treats
Healthy Homemade Tortillas | Cheesy Quinoa Bowls
Six Clean Eating Homemade Dressings

For more edible temptations, healthy recipes, and tasty lookin’ food, follow my For The Foodies board on Pinterest!

GEAR & GOODS

Kühl women's Java Dress, made from recycled coffee!Kühl Java dress

I recently started partnering with Kühl to do a few gear reviews and contribute content to their blog – and the first pieces of apparel I wanted to test out were their more feminine products. The Java Dress is cute with crossed back straps, but suitable for my outdoor lifestyle with UPF 50 sun protection and a hardy fabric – which is made from recycled coffee grounds!

The not-so-deep v-neck left me feeling a little self-conscious at first, but when Niko came home after a day of climbing, he looked at me and said “Whoa, where did you get that? I really like that, it looks great on you!” And if you know Niko, you know he doesn’t just dish out compliments for no reason.

Topo Designs Klettersack Pack

My sweet new kelly green Klettersack from Topo Designs USA!When you live in a van, in the dirt, outside all the time, it’s easy to lose your sense of style. My van is loaded with fantastic packs, but they’re all technical and built for the outdoors – I got some pretty funny looks while walking through downtown New York City with my fresh-off-the-mountain hiking pack. There was a big void in my city slickin’ wardrobe, until Topo Designs stepped in with a backpack that combines function with fashion.

Topo Designs is an all-American based out of Denver, Colorado. I’ve been following them on social media since Colin from Wicked+ gifted me a few of their accessory bags. I just got my hands on a Kelly green Klettersack, and can’t wait to give it a proper review once I’ve put it through the dirtbag ringer for a few weeks.

 

READING LIST

  • Are wi-fi hotspots, boosted cell signal, and improved RV amenities the key to helping National Parks stay afloat? This article from Outside Magazine explores the issue.
  • This post from Idaho Pursuit gives a good review, about reviews. The piece, along with a recent question posed by a company about how I operate my gear reviews, has sparked a post that I’ll share next week.
  • Looking for some new gear? The Active Junky rounds up the best innovative packs coming out in 2014. I’m really into the Outdoor Research Rangefinder series. I’m all about gear that achieves outdoor function while still being able to transition into city life.

There you have it folks, a condensed version of the stuff that’s jiving well with me. Pausing for a few weeks in Denver has been a great experience thus far, letting me unwind and catch up on writing while taking a little break from van life. There’s so much to love about this city, like climbing sessions at the Denver Boulder Club, salted butterscotch ice cream from Sweet Action, walking to Washington Park, and driving out to the mountains. What’s on YOUR favorites list this week?