Cassie Ryan

Recent Posts

How To Plan A Successful Family Bikepacking Trip

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jul 21, 2021 11:01:05 AM

How To Plan A Family Bikepacking Trip

By Guest Bloggers Jason and Chelsey Magness

As professional adventure racers and race directors my husband Jason and I love big endurance training trips.  But as new parents of Max (4) and Revel (1.5) it has been a fascination to look for ways to incorporate more adventure, play and training into our family life. One of our most favorite ways to check all of these boxes is to go on family bike-packing trips. When we had just one kid, it was much easier to go on backpacking trips (one person carried the kid, the other the camping gear), but once we added little brother Revel to the mix, we quickly turned to looking for other alternatives that allowed for us to manage even more gear and weight. 

We just got back from our fourth bike packing trip through Central Oregon and it was amazing. We took 4 days (3 nights) to do 120 miles, most of it on dirt roads with lots of play stops along the way. Every night we ended at a different lake or river to ensure easy water access and lots of water, dirt and sand play (a kid's dream).  On average, we rode hard for about 2-3 hours before our first stop and tried to do a second push in the early to late afternoon after the kids had worn themselves out. A few days into the trip, we hit a small town, which proved to be a fun stop for the kids and enabled us to carry less weight in food and water knowing that we could refill during the trip.

Chelsey Magness Team BendRacing

Nite Ize products have always been a staple in our adventure racing kits, but they have become even more important to take on our family adventure trips. Attached to the kids bike trailer was a big stash of Gear Ties of all sizes. They weigh nothing, and came in handy for everything from fixing the boys' shade structure to keeping our tent stakes together when we lost the little baggie, to creating a handy hook for our water filtration system. Another favorite and coveted item for this trip (and all our family camping trips) are the Nite Ize Rechargeable Glow Sticks (referred to as light lasers by the boys). These “light lasers” provided countless squealing play moments between the boys in the tent before bed. For us parents, the Nite Ize GearLine proved to be our most clutch piece of gear.  After a full day on the bikes and then playing in the water for as long as possible before bed, the GearLine gave us a great place to dry out our wet and dirty clothes.

If you are reading this and are getting excited to plan your own solo or family bike packing trip, we have some advice that we have learned over the last few years:

 

1) Go for it

Bikepacking With Kids

Every family adventure sounds daunting until you are in it. Yes the planning and packing is a bit stressful (we are not going to sugar coat that) but once you start pedaling away, it all becomes so easeful and simple. Kids love to be outside and to be with you. They are also highly adaptable, way more so than adults. And the more you let them in on the adventure (have them “help” navigate, pack up camp, etc.), the more they will become excellent teammates. 

 

2) Let your kids see your struggle 

Bike packing with kids

When you are pulling them up a hard hill, or get “lost” on a dirt road, let them see you in this place and then get through it. During our trip, Max would see us working hard and say “Daddy, Mama you can do it!”  Immediately afterwards, Revel would then say the same thing. Later on in the day, hiking up a big hill at our camp spot, Max would say, “Wow, this is hard but I can do it!” Moments like this don’t come easy unless they see you doing it, and a bike packing trip is a perfect teaching experience. 

  

3) If you are still hesitant, do a test run

Family Bikepacking Trip Tips

For your first time out, plan an over night trip that is not too far away. When Max was 3 years and Revel was 5 months, we were planning a ten day trip, but before we bit off too much, we wanted to see first hand what worked and what didn’t. We chose a destination that was close to home and went out for 24 hours. We tested out all of our gear and found out quickly what was unnecessary and what was clutch. 

 

2) Pack light

Family Bikepacking Trip Packing List

Even though you are on your bike, you still have to think about weight and space. Our advice is to take the essentials but leave the “extra pair of bike shorts, etc.” at home. And if you forget something (which you will) you will either adapt or perhaps you can stop somewhere and get it. 

 

3) Have a loose plan, but don’t be too strict with it

Bikepacking With Kids

With kids in tow, plans as you know can get derailed fast. We found that mapping out multiple fun stops and having a few different camping options helped us not stress too much about needing to get a spot. Instead, we were able to see how the day was going and change plans as needed. If the kids fell asleep, we always opted to keep going a little further and if the kids were having a hard time, it was nice to be able to stop for a longer time. 

Above all, have fun, be safe and enjoy time spent with your family in nature! 

 

Jason and Chelsey Magness

About Jason and Chelsey Magness

Jason and Chelsey built their relationship on a shared passion for adventure. As professional multi-sport athletes, teachers, coaches, and race directors, they help thousands of people through live workshops, elite training camps, and online at BendRacing.com and JandCtraining.com.  As part of Team BendRacing, they travel the globe competing in some of the toughest races on earth, battling rugged conditions and exploring the edge of human potential.

Whether racing across remote icebergs, developing innovative acrobatic sets, or balancing a thousand feet above ground on a slackline, all while chasing their wild little boy Max and toddler boy Revel Wilder, Jason and Chelsey have learned to train the mind and body to surpass limits and take life to the next level.

Topics: outdoors, Adventure, "travel", camping, gearline, kids

How To Master Your Next Float Trip

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jul 13, 2021 2:09:35 PM

Master Your Next Float Trip

If you’ve been suffering through a summer heatwave where you live, you’re not alone. There’s no denying that we’re in the midst of the hot summer months, and you're probably in search of activities to beat the heat. A float trip might be just the ticket – or getting on the water however you can, for that matter. Whether you’re planning to go tubing on a creek, paddle boarding at your local reservoir, white water rafting down a river, or kayaking around a lake, we have some tips and gear to make your trip easier, safer, and more fun.

 

Pack The Essentials

Float Trip Packing List

Although your packing list will vary depending on what kind of trip you’re taking (such as half-day tubing vs multi-day rafting and camping), here are some things you’ll absolutely need:

    • Sunscreen
    • Water
    • Snacks
    • Phone (with waterproof case/pouch)
    • ID
    • Swimsuit
    • Towel
    • Change of dry clothes
    • Cheap sunglasses (in case they get lost or fall off)
    • Waterproof shoes
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Paper map and compass (if you won’t have cell service)

 

Keep It Secure

Tying Down Kayak

After you’re all packed up, you’re going to need to transport your floatation device to your aquatic destination. You can secure your tubes (or kayak, canoe, raft, or paddle board for that matter) to your car’s roof rack or truck bed with a Dual CamJam Tie Down to ensure everything stays in place all the way to the waterfront.

If you’re tubing with a partner, you might want to keep them from drifting too far by tethering your tubes together. The KnotBone Adjustable Bungee is a great way to connect multiple inner tubes. Pro Tip: we recommend tethering your own tube to the one carrying the cooler!

S-Biner Marine SlideLock

For securing belongings and gear to your tube, kayak, or board, always have some Gear Tie Reusable Rubber Twist Ties and S-Biners on hand. Gear Ties come in a variety of sizes, and are a unique and versatile way to hold assorted belongings in place. S-Biners (also available in various sizes) can be used to hook a water bottle, pack, or soft cooler to an anchor point on your float apparatus of choice, or small items to your PFD for example. Be sure to check out the S-Biner Marine SlideLock – it is highly corrosion resistant, and built specifically for aquatic environments.

 

Keep It Dry

RunOff Waterproof Bags Float Trip

No matter how you’re getting out on the water, you’ll need to protect your belongings from getting splashed (or drenched). RunOff Waterproof Bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you are sure to find one (or several) to fit your needs. For tubing, you might just want something to hold your phone, ID, cards and/or cash. The RunOff Waterproof Phone Case offers just that, plus, the touchscreen-friendly windows allow you to use your phone’s front and back cameras while still in the case! The removable lanyard is perfect to keep your device tethered around your neck so your phone doesn’t end up getting swept down a creek.


If you’re planning for a longer journey that requires more gear, clothing, and food, RunOff Waterproof Packing Cubes are ideal. They come in small, medium, and large sizes, and are compressible, allowing you to stuff more clothing into them. Attach them to your rig with some large Gear Ties and you’re ready to go!

 

Keep It Organized

Float Trip Organization GearLine

Staying organized while on and off the water will make your float trip run smoother so you can have more fun.

At the end of your float day, you might be looking for a place to dry out wet towels and swimsuits. The GearLine Organization System is perfect to pack with you on your trip since it takes up very little space in your bag. Just hang it up with its attached Gear Ties, and fasten your wet clothing and other gear onto the S-Biners.

Keeping your essentials grouped into multiple packs and RunOff bags will also be helpful in keeping things organized, so you’re not rooting around in one large bag for that specific item you’re looking for. This is especially helpful if you’re going on a multi-day trip where you might be camping along the river bank. RunOff Medium Travel Pouches are great for storing and protecting snacks, small electronics, maps, or lighting. You can also use a RunOff Toiletry Bag to organize your personal care items.

Float Trip Tips

However you’re planning to get in and around water this summer, we hope these tips will come in handy in keeping everything secure, organized, and protected. Whether you’re just going for a couple of tubing runs on a creek, or a multi-day kayaking trip, these three principles will help make your adventure more of a success. A final important reminder: don’t forget to wear your waterproof sunscreen and re-apply every couple hours!

Topics: Gear Ties, outdoors, "travel", runoff, waterproof bags, dry bags, gearline, Tie Downs, float trip

SocialIZE: How To Throw An Epic Backyard Barbecue This Summer

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jun 30, 2021 5:01:55 PM

How To Throw An Epic Backyard Barbeque This Summer

Summer is now in full swing, and we’re ready for a party in the USA – or at least ready to start getting back together with our close family and friends again. What better way to celebrate than to throw a classic backyard barbecue? We’re here to help you bring that time-honored cookout to the next level this summer. Impress your guests with these seven party prep tips and product recommendations.


Plan your Menu

BBQ Party Ideas

First and foremost, you’ll want to figure out what food to make for your lucky party guests. Start by thinking of who you’ve invited and if they have any dietary restrictions (if you don’t already know, it’s nice to ask). You might need to offer a vegetarian option or consider any gluten-free guests when deciding on what to serve. If you’re already a master of your grill, you could browse for a more advanced recipe. However, if you’re relatively new to the grill game, keep it simple. There’s nothing wrong with a good backyard burger, as long as it’s made well! Do some internet sleuthing for barbecue ideas, or log onto Pinterest for some inspiration. Plan to have an appetizer or two (yes, chips and dip count), sides, and possibly a dessert as well, or ask your family or friends to bring something potluck style, while you cover the main course.

 

Curate Your Beverage Selection

Drink Cooler Lighting

Next, you’ll want to figure out what beverages to buy and serve. Again, it’s a good idea to consider your guests, and chances are you already have a good idea of their tastes. Make sure to include some fun non-alcoholic choices like flavored sparkling water or sodas. Think about which of your attendees are beer drinkers, wine drinkers, or if some might prefer a cocktail. If you’re going all out and making it a theme party (tiki bar, anyone?) you can look up some fitting drink recipes. Fill a cooler with ice and chill your beverages in it outside, so you don’t have to stuff your fridge with drinks and your guests won’t have to go back inside when it’s time for a refill. Since it can be hard to see the beverage selection after dark, add some Radiant Rechargeable Glow Sticks to your cooler (they’re waterproof)! 

 

Be A Good DJ

Backyard BBQ Party Tips

Music choice is crucial to set the ambiance of your party, and get it going on the right foot. Make a playlist of music you enjoy, and that you can see your guests enjoying as well. When in doubt, opt for the classics. You’ll also need an outdoor speaker solution. You don’t need to outfit your backyard with a world-class audio system (although that sounds pretty cool) – there are plenty of quality and affordable bluetooth speakers on the market that are portable and durable. Just be sure to cut the music off at a reasonable hour, so you don’t disturb the neighbors.

 

Have Fun With Yard Games

Yard Games for BBQ Party

Introducing a yard game or two to the mix can really bring your party to the next level. Cornhole is always a crowd favorite, but you could also consider Bocce ball (if you’re not familiar, it’s a simple game to pick up), ladder toss, or even invest in a giant Jenga set. After the sun sets, keep the fun going with a Flashflight Light-Up Flying Disc. You can play any standard flying disc game with it, or just toss it around and be mesmerized by its colorful glow. You could also wrap a Radiant ShineLine around the edges of the cornhole goals so you can play on after dusk!

Keep your beverage handy even while you’re focusing on the game (or the grill) with a Traveler Drink Holster. Now you won’t be having to ask “hold my beer” every time you’re up.

 

Utilize Fun and FUN-ctional Lighting

How to throw a backyard barbeque party

Since you’ll likely be partying it up into the evening hours, you’ll need the right lighting solutions. If you’re on grill duty, use a Radiant 170 Task Light to keep your food well lit. You can either use the magnet on the back to stick it to a metal surface, or the attached Gear Tie to wrap it around the grill handle. If you prefer to keep your beam right in your eyeline, headlamps are great, but what if you’re a hat wearer? The Radiant 170 Clip Light boasts the same specs as the Task Light, but clips easily onto your hat bill.

Backyard lighting for parties

For a little extra flair, add some NiteGem LED Luminaries. They look great placed on tables, but since they’re waterproof you can throw them in the cooler or in a pool and/or hot tub. You can choose from one of six colors, or leave them in color-changing disc-o mode.

For a modern spin on the classic twinkle string lights, try a Radiant Rechargeable ShineLine (or three). They come in white, green, or blue, and can be used while plugged into power or on their rechargeable battery. Hang them easily with the attached Gear Ties, or wrap them around umbrella poles, bannisters, posts, trees, and more.

 

Keep Bugs Away

How to keep bugs away from backyard

If you live in an area where mosquitos and other flying pests are prevalent, you know that their presence is a great way to spoil any outdoor occasion. Get ahead of the problem with some mitigation techniques. You can opt to hire professionals to spray your yard, or try some of these methods first:

  • Make sure you don’t have any standing water in your yard
  • Visit your local hardware store to see what mitigation products they offer
  • Bring out some fans to move air around (mosquitos can’t fly well in the wind)
  • Light some citronella candles and mosquito-repellent incense sticks around the yard before the party starts

 

Prep The Fire Pit

Fire pit for backyard

A great way to close out your backyard BBQ party is to gather around a fire pit. You might be lucky enough to have one built into your patio, but if not, there are plenty of portable options to consider – either in wood-burning or propane form. You could even have a s’mores making station for a grown-up summer camp experience. The SlapLit LED Drink Wrap is perfect to have while you relax by the fire with your beverage of choice. Not only does it keep your can or bottle cool, but you can spot it in the dark. More importantly, it’s just fun.

We’re sure that putting these plans into action for your summer BBQ party will result in a truly memorable evening. Do you have a favorite grilling or potluck recipe? What are your favorite outdoor party games? Let us know in the comments below, and check out our July SocialIZE collection to shop products perfect for your summer gatherings. Be sure to tag your Nite Ize party pics on social media with @niteize or #NiteIze for a chance to win our weekly SurprIZE giveaway!

Topics: Games & Toys, Fun & Games, Flashflight, Party, LED Products, Surprize

Our Favorite Camp Recipes That Are As Easy As They Are Delicious

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jun 24, 2021 1:36:41 PM

Our Favorite Camp Recipes That are as Easy as They are Delicious

Looking for something to cook at your summer camping trip other than hot dogs? We got you. We asked our team members for their favorite, tried-and-true camp recipes that will help you break the monotony. Here are 7 fresh ideas:

All recipes sourced from Nite Ize staff

Camp Skillet Nachos

Camp Skillet Nachos

I recommend using a Dutch oven or cast iron pan with a lid for this camp time favorite that you can cook over a fire or stove. There’s really no wrong way to make this meal and the ultimate the success of this dish all depends on your ability to layer your ingredients. 

Here are my go-to base ingredients:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Black beans
  • Onion (sautéed)
  • Diced tomatoes (or your favorite salsa)
  • Jalapeño  (I like pickled ones)
  • Avocado
  • Cheese, cheese, cheese! (Cheddar, Colby + Monterey jack mix)
  • Oil for cooking

As I mentioned, there is no wrong way to make these nachos, and you can decide whether to use fresh or canned ingredients.


Camping Nachos RecipeStart by giving your pan or Dutch oven a light coating of oil to prevent the ingredients from sticking. If you are going to be using a Dutch oven, then you’ll also want to start a fire so that you have some hot coals to cook over after you’ve completed the following steps.

Next, cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of chips followed by a thin layer of the beans, onion, tomatoes/salsa, jalapeño, avocado and top with a layer of cheese. You can also add meat to your recipe and will need to cook this separately before preparing your nacho layers. Repeat this process of layering all of your ingredients until you are out of chips and toppings or once your pan is full. All that’s left is to cook your nachos on a low-to-medium heat for about 10 minutes or until all the cheese is melted and the ingredients are warm. For best results, place coals on top of and below your Dutch over and if you are using a pan then you may want to preheat the lid before covering your nachos to help heat the ingredients from the top of the pan. Enjoy!

 

Hobo Pizza Pies

Camp Hobo Pizza Pies
 
Camping Hobo Pizza Pies RecipeThese hobo pies are easy to pack, and a cinch to prep. Plus, they're delicious cooked over a fire.
 
Ingredients:
  • White bread
  • Pizza sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Packaged pepperoni
  • Pam or butter
  • You'll also need a pie iron
 
Grease both sides of the pie iron with butter or Pam to create a good golden toast. Spread the pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni on each sandwich half. Close it up, then cook it over the open fire until it's toasty and melty!
 
 

Campfire Baked Potatoes

Campfire Baked Potatoes Recipe

These baked potatoes can be cooked right in the hot coals of your campfire.
 
Here's what you'll need:
  • Russet potatoes
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Sour cream and chives for serving 
First scrub the potatoes clean and dry them off. Stab the potatoes with a fork on all sides, and spread with an even layer of butter. Season skin with salt, then wrap each potato lightly with two layers of aluminum foil. Then, you can either bury the wrapped potatoes in the hot coals, or you can cook them on a wire rack above the flames. Cook for about 30-40 minutes, then carefully remove from flames with tongs and oven mitts. Unwrap and stick a fork in one to make sure it is cooked through. Split open and enjoy with butter, sour cream, and chives as desired (or add more of your favorite toppings like shredded cheese and/or bacon bits)!
 
 

Ah-So Pork Tenderloin

 
Just cover the loin with store-bought Ah-So sauce, wrap it in aluminum foil and toss it in the hot coals or over a grill. Serve with applesauce for that classic Peter Brady feeling.
 
 

Make-And-Take Chili

Make-Ahead Camping Recipes
 
Okay, so maybe this is more of a hack than a recipe, but one of my favorite meals for car camping actually is made at home. I make my favorite chili, then store it in some tupperware and pack it up on ice in my cooler. Chili holds and reheats really well, so all you have to do is heat it up in a pot over your camp stove or open flame, then have your go-to garnishes ready for serving. This method is designed so you can spend less time stressing over meal prep and more time relaxing in the great outdoors.
 
 

Campfire Baked Apples

Campfire Baked Apples Recipe
 
 Don't let s'mores take all the glory. Here's a tasty camp dessert you might not have tried before.
 
Ingredients:
  • 4 apples
  • 2 Tbsp butter softened
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 c. caramel plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. quick oatmeal
Slice off the 1/4 of the apples and scoop out the cores using a sharp pairing knife or apple corer. Cut the holes so they are about an inch wide. Leave the bottom 1/2'' intact. In a small mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients, and stuff the apples with the mixture.

Place each apple on a piece of heavy-duty foil (about 12 in. square). Fold foil over apples and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from grill and open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Serve and enjoy!
 

S'mores With a Twist

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores
 

For a unique and simple spin on the classic campfire s'more, try using a Reese's peanut butter cup in place of the chocolate! Why didn't we think of that sooner?

 

GearLine Organization System

To help level-up your camp kitchen, use a GearLine Organization System to hang your utensils, mugs, and more. Not only is it great to keep everything conveniently in reach, but it's a great way to air dry utensils after washing. Be sure you get all that food residue off before you hit the hay as to not attract bears and other curious critters!

Radiant 170 Task Light

When the sun sets before you finish cooking dinner, you'll need some extra light in just the right spot. Our Radiant 170 Rechargeable Task Light is perfect for the job. Not only can you stick it to any metal surface (like your camp stove), you can also use the attached Gear Tie to wrap it around branches, posts, poles, and more. Then, just tilt the beam wherever you need your light.

Now tell us your favorite camp recipes in the comments below! What's your family-favorite camping meal?

Topics: outdoors, Adventure, camping

Maximizing Adventure Travel In The Utah Desert

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jun 17, 2021 2:24:12 PM
Maximizing Adventure Travel in the Utah Desert
Written and photographed by Sunny Stroeer
 
Imagine a quaint, red rock western town that used to be one of the most isolated spots in the lower 48.  What comes to mind?  You may be thinking Moab or Sedona, but the town I am talking about is further off the beaten path than either of those: it is a small pioneer town in Southern Utah by the name of Kanab.
 
Kanab is located smack between Zion, Bryce, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is a fantastic jumping off point for many of the Colorado Plateau’s incredible national parks; it is also home to me personally, and to the guides of Dreamland Safari Tours - a hardy bunch of most excellent backcountry desert guides with decades of experience in delighting guests by creating access to hard-to-reach locations like the Wave, White Pocket, and more. 

 

Camping at White Pocket in Arizona
 
If you love hiking adventures and the varied geology of Utah, you have most likely heard about the Wave — it is both an iconic destination and incredibly tightly permitted: in any given year, upwards of a quarter million people apply in the hopes of obtaining one of the ~64 available daily permits. White Pocket is the Wave’s lesser known brother formation: it is a geologic and photographic wonderland, just about to burst onto the adventure aficionado scene, and not yet subject to permit regulations.  
 The Wave in Arizona at night
 
At Dreamland Safari Tours, we guide guests to both the Wave and White Pocket, as well as many other incredible locations – and we venture into the backcountry every day of the year. We need our gear to live up to the demands of an extreme environment where temperatures can easily vary by forty or fifty degrees over the course of a 24-hour cycle, and early-evening katabatic winds cascading off the Colorado Plateau create daily opportunities for sandblasted exfoliation. Needless to say: given the challenging conditions of our "office", we expect nothing but maximum performance and durability from our gear.  That’s why we rely on Nite Ize both to light our way during the many remote overnight trips that we host, and to help secure our gear and loads not just en route to a destination but also once at camp. 
 
Radiant Rechargeable Glow Sticks light the path
 
Among our lighting favorites are not just Nite Ize Radiant Headlamps and Lanterns, but particularly also the rechargeable glow sticks that we regularly use as an environmentally friendly way to light the path for our astro photographer guests to find their way back to camp after a night-time shoot. Prior to using Radiant Rechargeable Glow Sticks, we brought single use glow sticks that would make their way to the landfill once used; now, we simply collect our Radiant Glow Sticks at the end of the night, plug them into a USB charger, and they’re ready to go again for the next trip. As an outdoor company and proud member of 1% For The Planet, being environmentally conscious is important to us, and Nite Ize helps us reduce our impact.
 
Gear Ties have thousands of uses
 
In addition to an assortment of rechargeable lighting solutions, we of course also use tried-and-true S-Biners, GearTies and tie downs for every use in the book - from securing loads on the back of our pickup trucks, to hanging water dispensers to mounting easy-access paper towel holders: Nite Ize gear is infinitely versatile and has an almost unlimited number of uses, which is exactly the reason that we at Dreamland Safari Tours love it. By having Nite Ize as integral part of our guides’ gear setup, we get to maximize the time we spend on being fully focused on our guests - thanks to the peace of mind that comes with using awesome gear. 
 
Dreamland Camp at Night

 

Topics: Gear Ties, outdoors, Adventure, Field Team, "travel", camping, headlamp

10 Ways to MaximIZE Your Summer

Posted by Cassie Ryan on May 31, 2021 1:00:00 PM

10 Ways to Maximize Your Summer

Summer is here and we’re more excited about it than ever. Considering how limiting our summer activities were last year, we're looking to make up for lost time and make the most out of each and every long day this season. Here are 10 ways you can celebrate summer to the max, plus a piece of gear for each activity that will make the experience easier and/or more fun.

 

1. Take a Trip

Summer Travel Tips

If you’re like many Americans, it may have been a while since your last official vacation. This summer might be a great time to plan one, whether you’re going somewhere familiar to visit family or friends you haven’t seen in a while, or exploring somewhere new. Wherever you’re going, you’re going to need to pack smart. Packing cubes can be a game-changer in the organization department – the RunOff Waterproof Large Packing Cube can fit a weekend’s worth of clothes, and be compressed down so you can zip it up and throw it in your carry-on.

If you’ll be flying to your destination, make sure you follow the TSA liquids rules. The RunOff Waterproof 3-1-1 Pouch is sized to adhere to the rules, is perfect for organizing your toiletries, and is water tight to contain any leaks that might occur at high altitudes.

 

2. Gather ‘Round the Fire Pit

Summer Fire Pit

Whether you’re camping in the woods, heading to a beach bonfire, or simply relaxing in your own backyard, there’s nothing that says (and smells like) summer more than an outdoor fire. For some throwback charm (that just so happens to be delicious too), head to the store before you light the fire pit for some s’more fixings. While you’re there, pick up some of your favorite beverages to enjoy out there as well. Our SlapLit LED Drink Wraps are made for this setting – they keep your drink cold, and light up so you'll be able to find it in the dark. (Plus, they just look cool.)

 

3. Find a Swimming Spot

RunOff Waterproof Phone Case

When the dog days of summer get too hot to handle, you might start googling the nearest body of water you can jump into to cool off. Depending on where you live, you might be headed to the beach, the lake, a swimming hole, a creek, or a local pool (each of which sound fantastic when the weather is warm). Be sure to snap some pics of the fun, and keep your phone dry and protected in a RunOff Waterproof Phone Case. Bonus: it also has a pocket inside for cards and cash, so those won’t get wet either.

 

4. Take an Extra-Long Hike

Summer Hiking Tips

More hours of daylight mean more time available for outdoor adventuring. Take advantage of it by either hitting the trails extra early, or you can finish up your hike later before the sun sets. This is the perfect time of year to tackle that summit you’ve been eyeing. One thing you’ll definitely need to bring with you on your hike is sunglasses. Make carrying them easier with the Rugged Optics Case, which clips right onto your pack strap or belt, protects your eyewear from scratches and the elements when not in use, and even has a built-in microfiber cloth for when they need a quick cleaning.

 

5. Go For a Night Ride

Night Biking Tips

Warmer nights call for being outside as much as possible. Why not go for an after-dark joy ride, or bike to your favorite local hangout? Just be sure you stay safe while you’re out there with front, rear, and side bike lights. If you’re riding with friends, impress them by wrapping your bike frame with a Radiant Rechargeable ShineLine.

 

6. Plant a Garden

Start a Vegetable Garden

Planting flowers, herbs, or even your own vegetable garden can be a rewarding spring and summer activity. With all the time you’re spending on your front porch or back patio these days, having a thriving garden can make a big difference in the atmosphere. New to vegetable gardening? Check out our tips for beginners here, and don’t forget to pick up a roll of Gear Tie Foam, which is a cut-to-size, soft, and plant-friendly version of our popular Gear Tie Reusable Rubber Twist Tie.

 

7. Spend Some Quality Time With Your Dog

Nighttime Dog Toys

Don’t forget – dogs love summer too! It’s always fun to include them in your activities – whether you’re camping out, hitting the lake, visiting your favorite brewery, or embarking on that long hike. Just be sure to keep them cool and shaded, (or if it’s just too hot, they might be happier at home in the A/C). If it’s too warm of a day to be outside with your pup, wait until after dark in the cooler hours of the day, and play some night fetch. They’ll love the Huck ‘N Tuck with GlowStreak Ball at night, and you’ll love that your arm doesn’t get as tired after throwing the ball over and over. 

 

8. Master The Grill

Summer Grilling Tips

Summer is practically synonymous with grilling, and there's nothing like the smell of barbecue in the warm air. This season is the perfect opportunity to perfect your grilling or smoking game and impress your friends and family at your next backyard cookout. When you need a little extra light on those patties, the Radiant 170 Rechargeable Task Light is a handy accessory. You can use the built-in Gear Tie to wrap it around the grill handle, or the magnet on the back to attach it to any metal surface, then aim the beam where needed.

 

9. Take a Road Trip

Road Trip Hacks

Ah, the all-American road trip. With so much to explore around the country, why would you want to fly to just one destination when you can hit several in one trip? Plan a multi-day road trip somewhere and fine-tune your route so you can stop at some fun landmarks. Check out the website roadtrippers.com (they also have an app) where you can plan your journey and discover cool places to visit along the way. Make sure you're not having to fumble with your phone while you follow directions by picking up a car phone mount before you leave. The Steelie Squeeze Windshield Kit is perfect for keeping those maps in view with a strong hold on your device and 360˚ rotation. Additionally, if you happen to be renting your road trip vehicle, the windshield mount can be easily transferred between cars.

 

10. Go Stargazing

Stargazing Tips

Another way to enjoy a balmy evening is finding a great stargazing spot and posting up with a blanket, a beverage, and some snacks. If you live in the city, make a plan for an overnight camping trip where the skies will be much clearer and free from heavy light pollution. Bonus points if you can plan it for when there will be a meteor shower. Although it might seem counterproductive when you’re out there trying to unplug from technology, you might have fun with one of the many stargazing apps that help you pick out constellations, such as Star Walk 2, or Star Chart. If you're walking to your stargazing spot, be sure to bring a headlamp so you can see where you’re going. The Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp is bright and sturdy, and also has red mode so your eyes will stay adjusted to the night sky.

 

We hope these 10 ideas will help get you inspired for all the summer fun that lies ahead. What plans are you most excited for this year? Leave us a comment below, or tag us in your summer photos featuring a Nite Ize product for a chance to win a SurprIZE prize!

Topics: Adventure, Bike, "travel", gardening, runoff, dogs, Surprize

How I Optimized My Gear (And My Mind) For the Iditarod Trail

Posted by Cassie Ryan on May 25, 2021 11:44:49 AM
Sunny Stroeer Iditerod Trail
By guest blogger (& record-setting endurance athlete) Sunny Stroeer

 

Imagine wanting to ski 350 miles through Alaska - next week, without much training or real experience on cross-country skis.  That’s the situation I found myself in a few months ago:  I was signed up to ski the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 350-mile race through the interior of Alaska.  The only challenge was that I am neither a skier, nor had I ever completed a 350 mile non-stop race — and in true “me” fashion I didn’t have the time to properly train for this behemoth of an adventure, either.  

Iditerod Trail Invitational
 
You may ask “Why would anyone WANT to do something like that?” That’s a great question, but it’s not what I want to talk about today. Instead, I want to talk about the how: HOW does one go about pulling off 350 miles on minimal training and in a new discipline in extreme cold? The answer is this: strategy.  Race strategy, gear strategy, and mental strategy.  When you find yourself in a situation where you are swimming upstream, be it as a rookie on the Iditarod Trail or while preparing for a stressful and difficult deadline at work, optimizing your strategy is critical.  
 
I knew that I had little margin for error in Alaska.  Failing to finish the race was the smallest risk that I faced - there were more severe consequences such as hypothermia, frostbite, and the possibility of real harm to limb if not life. As such, I put a lot of forethought into deciding both my strategy for the race itself, as well as into my strategy for the gear that would keep me alive.
 
Radiant 170 Task Light
 
Here’s what optimizing my setup looked like on the gear side: rather than pulling a sled, and having to work through both a new-to-me mode of travel (skiing) and the mechanics of dragging a sled over at times steep terrain, I opted to carry all my gear in a backpack.  I also knew that the biggest and potentially fatal danger out there was the possibility of breaking through the ice and getting wet - which, in subzero temperatures, can be a death sentence if you don’t have dry clothes to change into and ways to make a fire.  That’s why I kept a fire starter kit on my body, and carried a designated survival set of dry clothing in a Nite Ize RunOff Pouch: I needed to know that these clothes would stay dry even if I, and my backpack, were to be submerged in water. 
 
Another important gear consideration was lighting: I knew that I would have to travel through many a night during this ten-day race, and with 12 hours of darkness and the extreme cold of the Alaskan night I needed not just a reliable and rechargeable headlamp — I needed a multi-level, lightweight and adaptable lighting system to help me see through whiteouts and create depth perception in flat white light.  I choose a combination of my trusty INOVA STS PowerSwitch headlamp, and the new Radiant 170 Rechargeable Task Light which I attached to the chest strap of my pack.  I also used GearTies to secure extra gear to my pack, which came in beyond handy when one of my bindings broke at mile 250 and I was faced with the task of rigging a ski carrying system so I could complete the remaining 100 miles on foot. 
 
Gear Ties for Skis
 
But I didn’t just focus on optimizing my gear for the Iditarod; I also went into the race with a clear overarching strategy for how to get through those 350 miles, and a mental strategy for how to overcome the emotional low points and moments of wanting to give up that I knew I would inevitably encounter.  My overall strategy was simple: since I wasn’t properly trained going into this adventure, I needed to use the early days on the trail to get stronger rather than weaker. That’s why I did not push mileage in the first few days of the race: twenty to thirty miles a day was all I needed, and rather than trying to go hard and push through the nights I stopped every evening and got as much rest as possible - sometimes as much as eight hours of sleep.
 
In addition, I had made a simple rule for myself to optimize my mental game: I wouldn’t ever consider quitting, or dropping out of the race, before having slept.  The thing in ultra races is this: no matter how well prepared you are (or aren’t), there’ll be parts of the adventure that feel amazing and parts of it that feel terrible.  The secret is figuring out how to get through the terribly challenging sections without giving in to the temptation to quit. Often times that’s as easy as having quiet confidence in the knowledge that how you feel will change: no matter how difficult a section may be, or how exhausted you may feel - a good night’s rest will make all the difference.
 
Alaska Iditerod Trail
 
For what it’s worth, that’s precisely what I love about ultra-endurance challenges and the very reason that I WANT to take on crazy adventures like the Iditarod Trail Invitational: the lessons that the trail teaches me are 100% transferable to day-to-day events, and help me dial in my mental game across all areas of life. 
 
Iditerod Trail Invitational Finish Line
 

 
Want to read more about the Iditarod and other epic adventures?  Follow Sunny on Instagram or check out a long-form essay about her time on the Iditarod Trail on her blog over at www.sunnystroeer.com

Topics: Gear Ties, Adventure, Field Team, headlamp

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