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Other Outdoorsy Stuff

What Kind Of Tent Do You Need?

December 1, 2017

When it comes to a long hike, a tent is an essential part of the experience. If you get the perfect tent for your needs you will be comfortable, dry and warm all night, but the wrong tent could spell disaster for your trip.

This is because tents come in a wide range of sizes and types, so some tents are completely different to other tents, even if they look similar. For this reason it is important to look at the different types of tents before buying one, as this way you will buy a tent that is perfectly suited to your needs.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself so that you buy the right tent.

Are You Camping With Other People, Or Are You Camping Alone?

One of the main things that you should think about when you buy a tent is the tent sleeping capacity. If you plan on regularly hiking with your family or friends you will need a bigger tent, such as a three-person or a six-person tent. It is also important to think about your gear and possible pets; if you are hiking alone but bringing your dog with you, you will need a tent that can fit at least two people.

It is also worth getting a slightly bigger tent if you are fairly large or if you toss and turn during the night, as you want to be comfortable when you are sleeping!

Will You Be Camping In Summer?

There are a few different types of tents to suit different weather conditions. Many people are only interested in arranging longer hikes when the weather is warmer as it is more pleasant. If you only camp during summer and winter you may want to invest in a three season tent, as this is a light-weight tent that is easier to transport than a heavier tent. The tent will be equipped with mesh panels to help circulate air when the weather is warmer, but they also come with a taut rainfly that can handle some heavy rain. The tents are even able to handle wind and light snow, but they are not ideal for thunderstorms or heavy show.

Three season tents are specially engineers so that they can be used during the majority of seasons, so they are ideal for most hikers. You can also by an extended season tent, which is slightly more sturdy and comes with more poles and fewer mesh panels than a standard three season tent.

If you are buying a three season tent for two or more people, it is best to invest in a cabin style tent with nearly vertical walls to make the space more liveable. You can even find tents with room dividers for privacy, such as this excellent 3 room dome tent.
If you prefer to camp alone during the warmer seasons, you may be interested in the Adventure Dome tent as it is ideal for one person camping during summer and spring.

 

Will You Be Camping In Winter?

If you plan on camping in winter you will need to invest in a four season tent to ensure that you stay warm and comfortable even in fairly harsh conditions. A four season tent is designed to withstand heavy snow and strong winds, and they can even be used for mountaineering. There are a few different designs that you can choose from, but one of the most popular is dome style tents as they tend to be stronger and more wind resistant than other options. This is will be appreciated by any hikers who are trying to get to sleep in the middle of a storm!

Four season tents are sturdier as they have heavier fabrics and more poles. This means they can be more difficult to transport around, but the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to camping in harsh weather conditions.

As the tents are thicker and feature less mesh panels they can get quite warm in summer, but you can solve this problem by keeping the main entrance unzipped for a few minutes before you go to sleep.

Extra Things To Consider

Tents can be particularly limiting for tall people, so if you are tall and you camp a lot you may want to buy a tent with a taller peak height. It can also be useful to buy a tent that has a floor length of at least 90 inches so you can sleep comfortably.

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The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

November 17, 2017
leave no trace

leave no traceOutdoorsmen have long touted the benefits of leaving the wild as you found it, often called Leave No Trace. No everyone is familiar with the seven principles of this outdoor eco-friendly philosophy and, admittedly, it can be a little confusing. If you’re new to the outdoors or would just like to leave a smaller carbon footprint, here’s what you need to know.

Plan Ahead and Prepare
You can avoid a lot of simple mistakes by simply planning ahead. Research the area you plan on visiting or camping in to learn the regulations and trails. If an emergency happens you’ll already know what to do to stay safe while also not harming your surroundings. The official Leave No Trace bullet points are as follows:

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Where you camp can have an impact on the environment. It’s important to stay on designated trails and campsites so as not to disturb the local wildlife and habitats. Durable surfaces like packed dirt at pre-formed camping areas, gravel or road are all acceptable.

  • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
  • Camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when it’s wet or muddy.
  • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
  • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly
Just because you’re out in the wild doesn’t mean you should act like an animal. Human waste, including stool, urine, food and water, can wreak havoc on the local habitat and displace animals from their homes. Whatever you bring in, take it back out when you leave whenever possible.

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in cat holes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cat hole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find
Along the same lines of taking your own belongings out with you, you should also leave what you find in the wild there where it belongs. Rocks, leaves and other objects can serve as homes and valuable protection for all means of wildlife. The area might also be historically significant or preserved. Avoid moving or removing anything you come across on your hikes.

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts
Campfires pose one of the biggest threats to the natural environment—a small gust of wind can ignite and entire forest in the right conditions. That’s why it’s important stick with established areas for setting a fire when possible and switching to an electric option when not. Avoid starting a fire whenever possible to have the smallest impact on the environment.

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife 
One of the best parts of experiencing nature is getting up close and personal to all the beautiful creatures that live out there you wouldn’t normally see back home. However, getting too close can mean back with one less arm, or worse. Steer clear of any animals you come across outdoors. They’re just as awesome from a safe distance as they are up close and much less likely to attack.

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Finally, you can get the most out of the outdoors by respecting those around you. Treating others with respect can help you avoid uncomfortable situations out on the trail like arguments or acts of retribution. Keep the noise levels down and share campsites whenever possible.

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
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7 Reasons to Get Away From it All

November 10, 2017
solitude

solitudeSometimes you just have to get away from it all: be it the woods, the beach or the mountains. Getting away may mean different things to different people but the main idea is to flee your everyday life.

We’re too Connected
With the advent of wireless technology, it seems we are connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There once was a time, believe it or not, when we were on our own once we left the job. In today’s connected world the job follows us everywhere we go. There was also a time when everyone rejoiced that we may someday work from home. Little did we realize then that we would learn to regret that possibility.

We Don’t Have Much Time
Americans get less vacation than a lot of other workers. While many European companies offer up to 6 weeks of vacation a year, most Americans not only get less, they take less than entitled. In a recent study by Oxford Economics they found that U.S workers are using only 77 percent of their paid time off; what is wrong with these people? Estimates range from 8 to 10 days of paid leave for the average American which doesn’t leave a lot of time for getting away. Amazingly, a whopping 23 percent of Americans have no paid leave at all. That helps explain why all our favorite camping spots are full on weekends

We Work too Much
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is a proverb that first popped up in James Howell’s Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish in the year 1659. Now I have no idea who Jack was, or why he was working so much but I imagine he stands for all of us.  I don’t know how tough things were in 1659 but in this day and age, according to a recent Gallup poll, American adults work an average of 47 hours per week. I think most of us would agree, after 47 hours of work, we’re ready for a camp-fire, some solitude, or at least a little peace and quiet.

It’s Noisy Out There
Urban life is loud enough what with: sirens, car horns and other traffic related nuisances. Now we have car stereos that rival stadium sound systems driving right past you, while you probably have earbuds on with your playlist cranking away. TVs have sound bars and surround sound stereos so we can crank the news full blast while, if you’re like me, you have a neighbor whose leaf blower has the same decibel level and frequency of a jet engine. We are surrounded by noise now more than ever, making that quick getaway more necessary than ever.

It’s Getting a Bit Crowded Around Here
I live in Colorado and they say approximately 8-10 thousand people a month move to our state. I’m not sure who “They” are, and by that I mean the ones moving in and the ones counting them, but it explains my need to get away. Unfortunately, these new residents are not moving into the parts of the state I would like them to move into. We have plenty of open space in the western deserts and eastern plains but no, they want to live right next to me. That means that now, though I have to go farther away to get away, it is imperative that I do.

It’s Crazy Out There
This is not a news flash but people are nuts out there. You can blame it on politics, TV, movies, video games or as I do, Rap music but the fact is, things are getting worse. People are on edge more than ever which makes me want to run away. There is the problem of some of these crazy people following us out of town but if you get far enough away, they can’t find you.

For Your Own Good
Getting away from it all is good for the soul and body. Not only do our bodies require rest but our minds do too as well. The quiet of the woods, the gentle crashing of the waves or the cool breezes of the mountains are therapeutic.  In the hustle and bustle of today’s world  where every facet of our lives needs charging, we sometimes tend to forget to recharge ourselves.

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5 Hiking Trails That Are Stunning During Fall

November 8, 2017
fall hiking

fall hiking

The majority of hiking trails are beautiful all year around, but some trails are truly breath-taking during fall. As the seasons change and the leaves start to turn yellow, orange, red and brown, some hiking trails explode with colour and wonderful views.

If you love fall, here are 5 hiking trails that are stunning during fall. Grab your sweater, make a thermos of coffee, and head out to check out one of these scenic trails!

The Appalachian Trail, Tennessee
The Appalachian Trail can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is one of the most popular national parks in America. The trail is truly stunning from start to finish during fall (although it’s 94 miles long, so you may want to break the trail down into shorter trips!) as it winds through the lush mountains. Hikers will see brightly colored foliage as they walk, as well as beautiful waterfalls and amazing valley viewpoints that offer 360 degree views of the park.

If you want to hike this trail but you can’t spare a week to do the whole thing in one, check out the smaller section between the Iron Mountain Gap and the Cross Mountain. This section is only 17 miles long, so it can easily be completed during a weekend, and you will see some of the best views that the trail has to offer. You will also have time to camp in the Cherokee National Forest, which is one of the most relaxing and beautiful spots in Tennessee to set up camp.

Noanet Woodlands, Massachusetts
The Noanet Woodlands are beautiful during every season, but the woodland really comes alive during fall. The woodland is very dense, with much of the trail being shaded due to the sheer amount of trees—and the trees explode with colour during fall, so you will be walking under a canopy of red, gold and orange! The park also offers beautiful views of the Massachusetts skyline.

The trail is 17 miles long and it isn’t too strenuous, so it’s ideal for beginner hikers as well as seasoned hikers. There’s also a shorter trail that’s just half a mile long that you may want to consider if you’re bringing along children.

Old Rag Mountain, Virginia
Old Rag Mountain can be found in the Shenandoah National Park, and the trail is very beautiful—but it’s also very tough, so you should pass on this one if you’re new to hiking. The breath-taking trail is 9 miles long, and the trail is mostly made up of rugged, steep paths and rocky areas.

The trail may be very tough, but if you make it to the end you will be rewarded with 360 degree views of the national park, including 200,000 protected acres of trees that are glowing with fall colors.

If you’re an experienced hiker and you want to try this trail, we recommend that you go during the week to avoid the big crowds that appear every weekend.

Beaver Lake Loop, Michigan
The Beaver Lake Loop can be found in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful trails in Michigan. The park covers around 73,000 acres of land, including scenic sandstone cliffs and lush forests that change color during fall.

The trek is 1.5 miles long so it can easily be completed in a day, and the trail ends at the coast of Lake Superior. This view is definitely worth the walk, as the icy blue of the lake contrasts perfectly with the orange and red forest!

The North Ridge Trail, Maine
The North Ridge Trail goes up the Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, and it offers some of the best views of the New England coastline. As you walk you will see birch, poplar and maple trees shedding their brightly colored leaves, as well as lots of beautiful rock formations.

The hike is slightly strenuous as it’s uphill, but it’s well worth the climb as you will be treated to some amazing views at the top! You can also ascend the Beehive Trail for more great views, but it’s important to note that this ascent shouldn’t be tried if you’re new to hiking as it’s very strenuous.

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How to Make Your Fall Outdoor Photography Pop

September 10, 2017
fall photography

Fall is great time for photography…but it’s hard to make images that haven’t been made a million times before.

The tricks fall into two categories: artistic and technical. As photographers, we operate gizmos with lots of buttons that connect to our computers, so it’s really easy to focus on the technical aspects: exposure, white balance, and depth of field. But at the end of the day, we’re telling stories—and that’s about creativity, meaning, and art. We’ll handle the artistic ideas first, and then the technical tricks.

Fall is More than Colorful Leaves
Everyone takes photos of colorful leaves. And that’s the signature image of the season, especially if you live in an area full of maples or Aspen. But those images have been done a million times, so if you’re going to shoot colorful leaves, do it in a creative way and make sure your images stand out. Even more importantly, don’t forget the other stories of fall. In the Pacific Northwest, fall is when salmon spawn and die in the rivers on the west side of the Cascades, when the mornings are suddenly crisp and cool, when gangs of geese form giant Vs and stage for heading south. Every region has its fall traditions, and colorful leaves are just one of them.

Tell Transition Stories
Photography is about telling stories, not just about recording what’s in front of the camera. Think in terms of transition themes: the end of summer can be about the kids going back to school, the last gasp of summer activities, a break from the humidity, or when the mountains empty out and you have them to yourselves. It could be about the mad dash to finish summer projects, or looking forward to ski season just around the corner, or brown hills turning back to green when the rain finally provides some drought relief.

fall photography

Now we go from the artistic topics to the technical ones.

Polarize
Fall images call for a polarizing filter. What’s a polarizing filter? It’s a circular gray filter composed of two rings. The effect is to darken the sky, cut glare, and increase saturation slightly. The inner ring screws into the lens; the outer one adjusts the effect, which is strongest at 90 degrees to the sun. It’s great for darkening skies, making fall colors pop, and cutting the glare of light reflected off water. They’re designed to screw onto DLSR lenses, but can also be held carefully in front of the lenses of point and shoots and phone cameras.

Use Colors Wisely
Fall color is spectacular, but to be truly spectacular it has to be paired with something else. Think red leaves against the green needles of evergreens, or the yellow-blue contrast between leaves and water or sky. If you remember your art classes from middle school, these are complimentary colors that make each other look more saturated when they’re next to each other.

Move the Camera
When you’re wandering around on your two feet, it’s easy to always put the camera at eye level. This works sometimes when you’re shooting grand vistas, but it definitely doesn’t work in fall, when you’re likely either shooting up or down. Get close to the edge of leaves, the color of water at sunset, and kneel down or climb high to get a perspective other than the usual.

Get Stable
In the days of film, serious photographers always used tripods because the only way to get a decent image was to use slow-speed film. In the digital world, we have more flexibility because of adjustable ISO. But tripods—even small tabletop ones or Gorillapods help make sure your images are sharp. They let you shoot at low ISO, which means less pixelization. They also help you control focus when shooting close-up: less camera movement ensures that things close to the camera are sharp.

Control Depth of Field
Learn how to adjust the f-stop on your camera. Many point and shoots allow this, or have picture modes that have different pre-set depths of field. F-stop controls depth of field: the smaller the opening, the more of the field of view is in focus—but the harder it’s to hold the camera still, since the shutter has to be open to let more light in. Shallow depths of field are great when you want a soft background free of distracting elements. Deep depth of field is great when you want to establish a relationship between elements in a frame. Since fall photography involves lots of leaf edges, you want depth of field under your control, not the camera’s automatic settings.

Say goodbye to summer, but say hello to one of the richest photographic seasons we’ve got.

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How Camping Became Cool

August 8, 2017

©istockphoto/pixdeluxe

When you think about it, camping is a pretty weird pursuit. We voluntarily give up creature comforts that we’ve worked hard to earn and expose ourselves to hardships like cold, heat, rain and bugs. How did this become a pastime?

Camping’s journey from an uncomfortable necessity to a hobby for millions of Americans goes back a long way. A few centuries ago, the only reason to go into the woods or hang out in the countryside was hard work—forestry, farming and herding. “Outdoor sports” like hunting, riding, and fishing were the province of the wealthy landed gentry on their estates. The outdoors wasn’t cool. Being tan meant you worked the fields. Pale and plump was in. But somehow camping became a $646 billion dollar industry and one of the most popular things to do on vacation.

A Virginia Politician Looks West
From his comfortable tidewater plantation, a young politician looked toward the Ohio Valley opening up to settlement after the British victory in the French & Indian War. He believed that the openness of land in the west would be an opportunity for independent-minded, self-governing farmers to migrate west and break the power of an aristocratic elite of bankers and merchants in cities. The politician was Thomas Jefferson. His philosophy linked open land, independence, and the American national character for centuries to come. Ironically enough, Jefferson himself never traveled west of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains: his imaginings of the west occurred entirely in his head. But by connecting independence, wilderness, and national virtue, he shaped an American identity with the outdoors at it’s core.

Wordsworth, Byron, Coleridge and Shelly
The era of English romantic poets was a response to the industrialism and urbanism of the English Industrial Revolution, with its’ coal mines, steam power and “dark satanic mills.” The romantic poets promoted returning to nature for awe, inspiration, and the divine. They took long rambles in the Lake and Peak districts, and later in the Alps. Jefferson saw the west as the pressure valve for American politics: the British saw rugged nature doing the same for the human soul.

The Golden Spike and the Aftermath
On May 10, 1869, in Northern Utah, the last railroad spike was driven into the transcontinental railroad linking New York and San Francisco. In the decades that followed, the American West would be transformed from isolated frontier to urbanized society where most people lived in cities, conducted commerce with people far away, and lived lives removed from the natural world. In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner would declare the frontier “closed.” As soon as westerners moved into cities, they started to wax nostalgic for the frontier world, and that included appreciating the natural world more. Excursions to the mountains and rivers for fun, rather than to trap furs, grew in popularity.

“The Vigorous Life”
A few decades after the Golden Spike, an asthmatic New York state assemblyman was grieving from the death of his wife and mother sought rebirth in the hard work of ranching in the Dakota Territory. His name was Teddy Roosevelt. The hard work of sleeping outside and herding cattle in the Badlands cleansed him, and Roosevelt went on to popularize the “vigorous life”: hiking, horseback riding, camping, hunting and just about everything that cold be done outside, even as president. Today’s backpackers and climbers, who voluntarily sweat up mountains with a 50-pound pack, are direct descendants of Roosevelt’s idea of becoming a better person through hard work outside.

The Counterculture and the Car
Camping grew into a major pastime between the 1950s and 1970s. Climbers began gathering in Yosemite’s now-legendary Camp 4. National Parks became major destinations like never before. People started running commercial trips rafting western rivers like the Colorado, or backpacking deep into the wilderness….and, like Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner, writing about it. Two things made this possible. The first was the automobile, which, combined with the Interstate highways, made getting to the mountains and exploring off the beaten path much easier. The second was the back-to-nature ethos of the 1960s and ’70s. This massive interest in nature also led to a wide range of protecting wild places, such as the Wilderness Act and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The Nature Health Connection
By 2005, America had urbanized even further. We started spending huge chunks of online, and smartphones were creating ever-present internet addiction. In 2005, Richard Louv published his groundbreaking book, The Last Child In the Woods, which depicted how nature is essential to the development of healthy kids, both mentally and physically. The book launched a wave of concern that kits weren’t getting enough “Vitamin N”: enough nature to stay healthy, active and smart.

Our interest in camping can seem odd: a nostalgic yearning for how it was “back then” in a simpler time. For some, it does seem odd to plan your vacation to carry your own weight on your back, sleep on the ground, and eat freeze dried food while being bitten by bugs. But if we think about it a different way—as Louv and Edward Wilson contend—nature is deep in our genes. When we’re backpacking, we’re going back to our evolutionary origins. We’re once again a small band of nomads traveling through the landscape with deep connections to nature’s rhythms. Seen in that light, it’s no wonder camping feels cool.

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Stansport Helps Get Families Outside, 4th Annual Castaic Lake Campout

July 24, 2017

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

Stansport is committed to what matters most. This year’s fourth annual campout took their promise to make camping fun and blew it out of the water, literally. Underprivileged families connected and expressed the purest form of joy on kayaks, canoes, stand up paddle boards, and a sailboat!

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

I had the pleasure of speaking with Robert Lafferty from Stansport who explained why the company goes all out every year from the intricate details and planned games to the financing required to throw such a massive event year after year.

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

“We as a company wanted to find a way to give back to our community and provide for sustainability for the camping world. Since we’re based in Los Angeles, we thought why don’t we take under privileged families camping? We can provide these kids a way to connect with their parents and nature and disconnect from their devices at the same time.”
~ Robert Lafferty

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

The Event
Stansport brought their A game to every minute of this campout. The day began with check in, or what I’d call a midyear Christmas for approximately 80 lucky people. Each member of the family was given a cool new Stansport shirt, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, lantern, and a backpack for each child filled with cool stuff like glow sticks and headlamps; plus the whole family gets a tent, of course. Did I mention they get to keep all of the brand new gear at the end of the event?

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

After unwrapping all of their new gifts, each family found the perfect spot to set up their new gear. This was the first of countless ways families connected. I witnesses many endearing parental moments where mom or dad helped a little one pound the tent stakes into the ground. This was just the beginning of many team building exercises over the weekend. Police cadets stood by to help any families who had questions.

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

After the camps were set up, we all enjoyed lunch, generously supplied by SOS Survival Products. Then everyone escaped to the water. Temperatures soared to 103 ºF! This may have deflated some events, but not so here. Families lined the shores of glassy Castaic Lagoon where California State University of Northridge Aquatics Manager, Chris Whiteside and his staff enthusiastically greeted us.

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

They taught us about water safety and how to operate a kayak, canoe, and standup paddle board, then it was a fun free for all! CSUN staff even offered rides on their sailboat where families were elated, their kids laid out, extending their fingers down to the water as the boat glided across the lagoon. No electronics could evoke the displays of joy I witnessed.

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

Then came the obstacle course. It was enormous! Stansport made it clear they go big or go home. It was a long relay involving a potato race, a blind fold trust obstacle field, crawl tunnels, a bean bag toss, and much more. While Stansport team members fried up countless burgers and hotdogs the kids enjoyed some free time climbing trees and checking out lady bugs, earwigs, and the variety of life around them.

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

The eyes on seven year old Maria Santos were enormous when she found a ladybug. Maria said she loves to be outside. When asked about her favorite part of the campout she quickly answered, “Swimming!” She said her favorite part about the outdoors was “All of the open space!” When she saw an earwig she cocked her head, eyes glued and asked “What is that? It looks like a tiny dinosaur!”

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

After dinner, families circled up around a huge bon fire and enjoyed s’mores. Things slowed down, and the families snuggled up together in their new tents. The next morning, Stansport provided breakfast along with a strong sense of connection and togetherness which made leaving even more difficult.

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

“Stansport really does a great job with these events, the kids really have an amazing time. We are so fortunate they picked our group to share this experience with.”
~ Sue Brunso, Director of LAPD Devonshire PALS

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

How You Can Help
Stansport pulls off this massive campout through key partnerships with LAPD Devonshire PALS and CSUN’s Aquatic Center at Castaic Lake, along with support from their loyal customers. Stansport has dedicated 5% of all website sales towards community building events like this one and they’ve made it transparent.

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

When you purchase an item from their online store you’ll see the breakdown (i.e. If I purchase a tent for $100 I’ll see in my cart that $5 of that hundred is headed to fund this campout. This means while you square away your camping gear you’re also helping under privileged youth do the same! What a breath of fresh air.

Stansport Castaic Lake California campout

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How To Dress For A Day Hike

July 14, 2017
How To Dress For A Day Hike

Day hikes are a great way to get some fresh air while taking in stunning views, and you can even bring along friends for a chat as you wander. And let’s not forget one of the main benefits of going on a long day hike: you will sleep like a log afterwards.

It’s important to wear the right clothing head to toe when embarking on a hike. Weather conditions can change quickly, so be prepared for the mood swings of Mother Nature.

This guide will cover all of the essential apparel you’ll need for a day hike—and be sure to customize, ensuring your hiking wardrobe is suited to any temperature, climate or weather condition.

Here’s how to dress for a day hike:

Layer Up
The way you dress will depend on the weather, but you should always dress in layers. In cold weather, lots of layers will help hold your body heat and will also protect your body from the wind and rain if you wear a top layer that is windproof and waterproof. If you are hiking somewhere very cold you should wear at least one insulating layer.

Even if you are hiking in warm weather you should still wear a few layers—just make sure to wear loose clothes that ventilate using zippers. You may initially think that layers will make you warmer, but in reality a few thin, light-colored layers will help regulate your body heat. The layers will also help protect you from sunburn.

Choose The Right Fabric
Hiking specific clothes are made in a variety of different fabrics, typically synthetics, and each fabric is designed to do a different job. You should definitely invest in a good raincoat made from waterproof-breathable material. And if you live in a hot or humid area, buy hiking clothes that help to move moisture away from your skin. Look for apparel that feature wicking and anti-microbial properties. And don’t be afraid of wool, even for warm weather activities, modern Merino is packed with performance benefits.

HatHats are critical for both sun and rain. Most people don’t wear hats on hikes at night time in summer as the sun isn’t out so it can’t burn them, but during the day time you will need to wear a hat so that you don’t burn. A wide-brimmed hat is recommended as this will protect your head, shoulders and neck. Hats also keep sweat from running down into your face!

If it is likely that it will rain during your hike, pack a waterproof hat and a jacket with a hood. You can even buy hiking hats specifically designed to repel water so that the rain doesn’t run down your face in a storm.

Jacket
A jacket is an essential piece of hiking gear, pretty much year round. Even in the desert, temps can drop, morning air is crisp, and the wind can howl. If you are hiking somewhere warm you should pack a lightweight jacket that is windproof and that has UPF protection. When hiking somewhere cold, layering becomes even more important, and you should invest in a jacket or coat with a removable fleece lining to keep you warm, or a shell that you can layer down or synthetic fleece underneath.

Footwear
One of the big debates among hikers is the best choice of footwear. Some hikers will only wear hiking boots, while others prefer hiking shoes or trail running shoes. Boots are heavier, more durable, have better ankle support, and are more often waterproof. Better traction means they are well-suited to wet, rocky or slippy trails. However, they add weight, so many people prefer to wear low top hikers or hiking shoes instead. Boots are also preferred when hiking with a pack. Equip yourself with breathable wool and synthetic socks to help prevent blisters and increase comfort when hiking.

Essential Extras
You should always pack water, snacks, sunscreen/lipbalm, a map, compass and a headlamp. Refer to the “Ten Essentials” and customize this list to your own situation.

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Questions to Consider Before Camping with a Canine

July 12, 2017

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We all want to take our precious pooch wherever we go, especially when heading out on a great adventure. But before you grab the leash and water dish, ask yourself these five questions to determine whether your dog is a suitable wilderness companion.

What are the Regulations of the Camp Site or Park?
Here’s an obvious one: some camp spots frown upon furry visitors. There can be a number of good reasons for this. Dogs have the capacity to disturb delicate environments with their snuffling, hunting and excrement. What’s more, many places aren’t safe for dogs. The local wildlife might include species that would find Fido to be a tasty snack. Even if you are allowed to bring your dog, she might not be allowed in certain areas, like environmentally sensitive trails. Always respect the guidelines of the place you’ll be visiting.

Is Your Pooch Medically Clear for the Adventure?
Some animals are fragile, others have compromised immunities, others just haven’t yet completed all the necessary shots to let them explore too far afield. Whatever the case, some dogs aren’t currently in a place where they can play the role of adventure buddy. Be aware of your dog’s needs. Never compromise her health for any reason. Safe is better than sorry.

Is Your Dog a Polite Camper?
In new environments, some canines flip. It’s sensory overload with all the new smells and sights. Anxiety, excitement and fear can all inspire your dog to behave in a rowdy manner. Most likely, people will want to pet her and play, so make sure she’s good with new people of all types, including rambunctious kids.

Bear in mind the types of activities you’re planning. Are they dog-friendly? Hikes on trails where dogs are welcome? Swims in lakes or rivers that dogs are allowed and safe? A dog behaves differently when mom and dad are around. If you’ll be leaving her at camp while you go out on excursions all day, her barking and boredom might get her into trouble. If you don’t think your favorite dog is trained and mature enough to handle it, leave her at home.

Does Your Four-Legged Friend Really Want to Go?
The great outdoors isn’t everyone’s thing. Your dog is no less of a dog for preferring to hang in the back yard. Be attuned to her needs and avoid stressing your pet.

Will a Canine Cramp Your Style?
Your pet is as precious to you as your child, and sharing new experiences creates great bonds. But sometimes we want to get away from home to escape all our daily pressures—including our cherished pets. Will letting your dog ride along restrict your activities, or stress you out? It’s okay to make her sit it out this time. Make it up to her when you get back with plenty of extra time at the dog park.

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8 of America’s Best Summer Swimming Holes

July 10, 2017

The summer heat can be downright oppressive. Scoping out the nearest swimming holes for you and your family is one of the best things you can do. Forget about crowded public pools and venture out into nature, where you’ll find an abundance of beautiful lakes, creeks and rivers to wade into. Here are some of the best natural swimming holes in the country.

Blue Hole of Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa, New Mexico

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Santa Rosa is often deemed the City of Natural Lakes. The region is chock full of pristine swimming holes to choose from, but one stands out from the rest. Blue Hole is a spring-fed natural pool of water that runs roughly 80 feet deep. Water temperatures stay around 64 degrees all year long, so you don’t have to stick to summer if you want to take a dip. Divers come to this desert location often to see what’s lurking beneath the surface.


Beaver Falls, Havasu Creek Waterfalls, Arizona

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Six miles downstream from the village of Supai lies one of the most picturesque swimming holes in the nation. Beaver Falls, part of the Havasu Creek Waterfalls, lies smack dab in the middle of the Grand Canyon. It provides some fairly epic views of the surrounding landscape as well as plenty of seclusion. Getting there requires quite the hike in, but the turquoise waters and stunning falls make it well worth the effort.


Sliding Rock, North Carolina

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Sliding Rock might not be the warmest body of water on the list, but it does provide the most fun. This family friendly attraction is a 60-foot-long slab of rock that forms the perfect natural waterslide. The ride down is quite an epic adventure, though you and the kids might be waiting in line a little while to try it out. The rocky slide deposits you right into a cool lake of water at the bottom, in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest.


Cummins Falls, Tennessee

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Cummins Falls is a true treasure located deep within the heart of Jackson County that provides some spectacular views and a great dipping spot for the kids. It’s the eighth largest waterfall in the state of Tennessee with a cascading array of water providing the perfect backdrop against a pool of warm water. You’ll have to hike a ways in to reach it, but the views of the surrounding Blackburn Fork State Scenic River are some of the best the American South has to offer.


Aztec Falls, California

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The Aztec Falls are a natural wonder hidden deep within the San Bernardino Mountains, just a few hours outside of Los Angeles. Wind your way along a six-mile loop located just off the Pacific Crest Trail and you’ll come across a beautiful swimming hole made of high cliffs and astonishingly deep waters. If you’re the adventurous type you’ll really enjoy the jumps; the cliffs run up to 60 feet high around the water and are great for those into taking risks.


Redfish Lake, Stanley, Idaho

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A rugged trip into the backcountry will often lead to the most promising natural wonders. That’s certainly true with Redfish Lake. Located just outside the town of Stanley, this beautiful piece of untouched wilderness was once a prominent swimming ground for so many sockeye salmon that it supposedly turned the lake red. Nowadays birds and people willing to make the trek to reach it mostly populate the area. Imagine swimming in crystal clear waters with awe-inspiring reflections of the snowcapped Sawtooth Range glistening back at you, surrounded by peregrine falcons and ruby-crowned kinglets. That’s Redfish Lake.


Johnson’s Shut-Ins, Reynolds County, Missouri

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Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park serves as a prime swimming hole for the entire state of Missouri and is touted as the unofficial state water park. It’s crowded for sure, but still tons of fun for adults and kids. The East Fork of the Black River converges on a slim channel of rock formations at Johnson’s Shut-Ins, creating a series of small swimming pools to splash in. The joy lies in trying to hop from eddy to eddy without getting wiped out. It’s perfectly safe to slide around on the volcanic stone while staying cool.


Echo Lake, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

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The 39-acre Echo Lake provides ample opportunity for families to enjoy their own little patch of water along the Franconia Range. The lake is nestled right where the Franconia Range and Kinsman Range meet, creating a notch enclosed by the slopes of the Cannon Mountain ski area. The views are extraordinary and the shores are lined with sand, making them perfect for weekend getaways and building sandcastles.

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6 Types of Camping You Need to Try at Least Once

June 30, 2017

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Camping is an incredibly diverse activity with endless locations, styles and sleeping systems to be tried. While some types of camping (mountains vs. desert, for example) just come down to personal preference, these six varieties of roughing it should be part of every adventurer’s life goals. Even if you try them only once, don’t forget about these six important camping types.

Solo Survival Mode
Leave the plushy accessories at home and say goodbye to your loved ones. It’s time to test yourself against the elements. Everyone deserves the opportunity to meet mother nature on the closest terms possible—minimal comforts and only the essentials. For a hardcore wilderness lover, this might be your preferred manner of communing with nature. But even those who usually create a more homey experience for their expeditions need to feel the rush of independence at least once in their lives.

Mentor Style
Whether you’re a parent, family member or volunteer counselor, everybody should get at least one chance to be the expert guide for a group of youngsters. Be an introduction to the joys of the outdoors for a generation that’s more accustomed to email spam than camp recipe spam. It’s an incredible way to strengthen your bond and improve kids’ self-esteem and peace of mind.

Super Luxe
Sometimes you want all the trappings of the good life and the rugged beauty of the wild all at once. Give glamping a shot. Don’t worry, you needn’t abandon your more rough-and-ready preparations on every trip. But give luxury a chance just once. From shockingly comfortable accommodations to staff on hand for your every whim, there are lots of options for a pampered camping experience. Fish all day and let the chef prepare your catch while you relax with a glass of wine. What’s not to like?

Wild Adventure Seeker
Sleep dangling from a cliff side. Pitch your tent in arctic conditions. Find shelter in a bat-filled cave, get your adrenaline pumping. Find that intersection between curiosity and trepidation, and you’ve uncovered your next adventure destination. If you’re hesitant to go it alone—and in many wilder locales, you should always have a buddy—seek a guided tour or the company of other seasoned adventurers to enjoy the event with you.

Spontaneous Nature Lover
As a true outdoorsperson, you’ve got some gear packed in your car for last-minute trips: emergency seeping bag, first aid kit, pre-packaged food stash, and shelter. Sometimes you just need to escape. Immediately. Without notice. Take advantage of your supplies and hit the road. There’s an unmatched thrill in retreating to nature at the spur of the moment.

Romantic Couples Getaway
The great thing is, you can make your campout romantic no matter which style you’re pursuing. Climbing mountains together and roughing it, or relaxing in a luxury tent, a flask, some deodorant—any trip is romantic as long as you’ve got the one you love by your side.

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Camping During the Total Solar Eclipse

June 23, 2017

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On August 21st, the sun will go out. The temperature will drop 20 degrees. Animals will think it’s night and go to sleep. Massive streamers of light will arc across the sky. It will last about two minutes and 40 seconds if you’re in the path of the last total solar eclipse in North America until 2044.

Across the American west, campers have been laying plans for watching the solar eclipse. If you haven’t made plans yet, it’s time to get on get on the ball. You don’t want to miss this.

What Is It?
A total eclipse is when the moon blocks the entirety of the sun. Unlike a lunar eclipse (where the earth’s shadow falls across the moon) in a solar eclipse, the moon simply gets in the sun’s way. It won’t last long—the whole process of the eclipse will last two hours, and the totality just under three minutes.

When?
Eclipse Day is Monday, August 21st. The time of the eclipse depends on where you are on the planet. It moves in a West-to-East arc from the Oregon Coast to South Carolina. The eclipse path includes some stunning spots: Cape Lookout, the Oregon Cascades, Smith Rock, and Grand Teton National Park, to name a few. The time depends on where you are, beginning at 9:06 a.m. in Central Oregon, and 1 p.m. in Columbia, South Carolina.

Where to Camp?
Obviously you’ll want to camp somewhere within or near the path of the totality, and an open spot without a lot of trees or obstructions will give the best viewing. You’ll also want to get away from city lights. There are plenty of scenic spots along the path of the totality and camping is the best way to experience the eclipse.

What If You Didn’t Plan?
Many people made reservations for key campgrounds months or years ago, and reservable campgrounds along the path have been fully booked for a long time. So have motel rooms, and hoteliers have taken advantage of the demand to raise prices. Many towns have hired “eclipse coordinators” to make sure they can put up with the influx of people. Some people are renting out camp spots on their farms or in their yards. First-come, first-serve campgrounds are likely to be full of folks who are staking out their spot.

The eclipse coordinators may be able to help you find a camp spot. Another option is to drive into federal land that allows dispersed primitive camping, as is legal on much of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Land. Just be sure to bring your own water, portable toilet system, and pack out your waste.

Avoid driving on Eclipse Day: it’s expected to be a snarl of traffic as people rush to get into position: after all, you’ll only be able to see it for a couple minutes, so don’t be late.

How to Watch It Safely
The Eclipse can blind you. Looking at the sun without some sort of Eclipse glasses—through a camera, binoculars, or with the naked eye—will damage your eyes. Solar filters should be put over telescopes and other optics. The only time it’s safe to look at it directly is during the totality.