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

OptimIZE Your Ride: Bike Safety Tips

Posted by Cassie Ryan on May 18, 2021 4:18:33 PM

Bike Safety Tips

With the weather now warming up, it’s that time of year to break out your bike and get back in the saddle. May is Bike Safety Month and the optimal time to make sure you’re hitting the roads and trails safely. Read on to see our tips to help get you ready for the cycling season.

 

1. Grab Your Helmet

Bike Safety Helmet

This one’s a no-brainer – so to speak. Even if you’re riding on gravel, or you’re if you're just confident in your abilities, always wear your helmet. It’s the smart (and in most places, legal) thing to do, so just do it. Make sure your helmet is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and that it is fitted to your head correctly using these guidelines. 

 

2. Check Your Ride

Bike Safety Check

Before you hit the road (or the dirt), give your bike a thorough checkup. Make sure the seat is properly adjusted to your height and is locked (follow these tips for proper saddle adjustment technique). Check that your tires are inflated properly and that the brakes and other parts are in working order. It might be worth taking your bike to a local shop for a professional safety check and tune-up.

 

3. Keep Yourself Visible – Day and Night

BikeSafety-Seen2

The threat of oncoming traffic is real, and sometimes it could be difficult for drivers to see you on the road – even in daylight. Make yourself stand out with the proper gear:

 

Bright Clothing

Neon, fluorescent, or bright colors are best when riding. Whether you ride in a full kit or a T-shirt and shorts, choose your colors wisely. This is not the time to channel your inner Johnny Cash – at least on a wardrobe level.

 

Headlight

Bike Headlight

A bright headlight is not only beneficial for lighting your way before sunrise or after dark, but it is an important safety feature in the daylight hours as well. The Radiant 125 Rechargeable Bike Light or the super-powerful Radiant 750 Rechargeable Bike Light are great options for visibility and staying visible. These lights also feature a day-safe flashing mode, which will help you stand out even more.

 

Tail Light

Bike Tail Light

Much like a car, a red tail light installed on your bike is a must. Be sure to turn it on when riding on the roads in the daytime as well as the night. The Radiant 125 Bike Light comes in red, and offers flashing mode (in addition to constant illumination) for added safety.

 

Side Visibility

Bike Spoke Light

Sure you’re staying visible to cars with your front and rear lights, but have you considered that you might still be easy to miss from the side? SpokeLit Rechargeable Wheel Lights are easy to install (tool-free) onto your spokes and make your ride safer, and more fun! You can set it to one of four colors, or keep it in color-changing “Disc-O” mode.

To browse all of our bike lighting and visibility options, click here.

 

4. Other Safety "Bells" And Whistles

Bike Safety Bell

A bike rearview mirror might be helpful to keep an eye out for oncoming cars or other cyclists behind you. Some attach to your helmet and others to your handlebars, so browse for an option that works best for your preference. A bike bell or horn also helps to alert people in front of you that you’re comin’ in hot.

 

5. Follow The Rules of the Road

Bike Hand Signals

Just because you’re cruising on two wheels instead of four doesn’t mean the same rules don’t apply to you. Brush up on bike safety laws in your state, and follow the general rules for cars, as those apply to bicyclists as well. Use proper hand signals for turning and braking, and always remain alert. And, much like driving a car, don’t ride distracted (or intoxicated for that matter).

 

Now that you and your bike have passed the safety check, it’s time to hit the road. Whether you’re out for a cruiser ride, commuting to the office, or running an errand, always remember to enjoy the journey.

Topics: Visibility and Safety, Bike, Fitness

Camping With Your Dog: 5 Things You Need To Know

Posted by Taylor Orebaugh on May 12, 2021 10:22:22 AM

Tips For Camping With Your Dog

As a seasoned camping couple plus pupper, I can tell you one thing for sure: There’s so much I wish I knew the first time around. The dreamy Instagram pics of campers out in the backcountry with their four-legged friends only told one side of the story. I’m here to tell the other side—the nitty-gritty details about what you need to know, pack, and prepare to keep your canine camper happy.

 

1. Know Where You're Going

Camping With Dogs

Before you set out, do your research to make sure wherever you're going is dog-friendly. If you're going to a campground, I would also highly recommend making reservations as far in advance as possible. The good spots go quick!

 

2. Know Your Dog

How to Camp With Your Dog

As much as it pains me to say this, not all dogs are built to be happy campers. Consider your dog’s behavior, temperament, and sensitivities before counting them in. Are they an excessive barker? Injured or easily fatigued? Highly reactive? Always cold? High anxiety? Some of these can be a recipe for disaster at a campsite.

My dog, Teddy (that's us in the photo above), was already a big hiking fan prior to our first trip, so we knew he’d enjoy a night outdoors. Plus, he’s a larger dog with great stamina and a love of snow, so we knew he wouldn’t mind cooler temps at night.

 

3. Keep It Safe

Camp Safety With Dogs

Safety is the top priority when it comes to camping pups. Some pointers include: 

 

Check Their Vaccinations and Overall Fitness

Is your dog fully vaccinated and ready to embrace the outdoors? Are they protected from fleas, ticks, and heartworms? Have they been showing any signs of discomfort or pain? Might as well schedule a vet visit before your trip or give them a call to touch base.

 

Check Campground For Leash Requirements

RadDog All-In-One Collar + Leash

I already mentioned checking to make sure that dogs are allowed at your campsite, but be sure to find out their leash requirements as well. Some sites allow off-leash at your site, but require you to keep them on-leash when walking the grounds. The RadDog All-In-One Collar + Leash was made just for this, and is my go-to during the day for our trips with Ted.


But more than just what the site will allow, what's the right call for your dog? Are they trusted off-leash, or do you have some reservations? And, is the campsite private enough so they won’t stray over to surrounding campers? For their first trip, it’s a good idea to start with a tether at your site, or in a pinch, attach their leash to a chair, table, or tree with a SlideLock Pet S-Biner.

 

Gear Up With Pet Illumination For Nighttime

NiteHowl Rechargeable LED Safety Necklace

Trust me when I say that campfire light isn’t enough to keep your dog seen (and what if you can’t have a campfire at all?). The first few trips, we went without wearable illumination for Teddy, and I would constantly panic check for him in the dark—even if he was sitting next to me on leash. A SpotLit Collar Light is easy to clip on after sunset, but a NiteHowl or NiteDog Rechargeable Collar are my preferred option for my off-leash dog so I can spot him anywhere at the site.

 

Bring A Fido First-Aid Kit

A first aid kit is, of course, an essential item for the human campers in your party, but be sure to pack one for your pup as well. You can purchase a canine-specific pre-made kit (like this one by Adventure Medical Kits), or you can make your own. Check out this guide to learn how to put yours together.

 

Never Leave Your Pup Alone

This is a rule most campgrounds specify, but it is too often disregarded. Do not leave your dog unattended in your campsite! Most importantly, it can be unsafe for the dog, but could also be disruptive to nearby campers. There are too many unknowns and risks, so just don't do it. Plus, they'll be happier being with you anyway!

 

4. Keep It Clean

Camping With Dogs

Reality check: There’s no such thing as a clean camping trip. And when you throw pups into the mix, you better be prepared for dirt galore.

 

Wipe Your Paws

We always keep extra towels in the trunk for our dirty pup, whether he needs a wipe-down post-hike, swim, or camp. Before you let them into your tent or car for the drive home, whip out those towels and wipe down their paws, belly, and any other muddy areas.

 

Stay on potty duty

Pack-A-Poo Bag Dispenser

Common misconception: Camping in the great outdoors means you can leave your dog’s poop around the site. In reality, our domesticated dogs survive on a diet not native to the area, so an abundance of dog waste left behind can disrupt the local ecosystem, introducing new bacteria, airborne particles, and algae. If you’re in a campground with dumpsters, bag their poop throughout the trip and drop it off on your way out using a Pack-A-Poo and waste bags, featuring a roll-up dispenser that clips right onto their leash or collar (or your pack). But if you’re in a remote location with no nearby trash bins, kick it old school and dig a hole to bury the evidence.

 

Check for ticks

Before your settle in to sleep, do a visual check for ticks in their coat. I usually just run my hands through his shorter coat to check, but for fluffy pups, pack a lint roller and run it along their coat to see if any ticks come unstuck. Use a handheld flashlight or lantern to shine a light while you check.

 

Stop the digging in their tracks

Don’t forget to keep your site in order, too—remember this isn’t your backyard. Some dogs have that digging impulse when they see dirt (unfortunately mine), so cut that behavior out as soon as you see it.

 

5. Keep It Comfortable

Camping With Dogs Tips

Now that safety and hygiene are out of the way, it’s time to make them comfortable for a night full of fun.

 

Manage stress with toys

Dog Toys For Camping

Even if your dog was born to adventure, their first camping trip can be stressful (and all of the trips after that). Keep them entertained and distracted with light-up toys for all-night fetching fun, from the Huck ‘N Tuck + GlowStreak Ball to the Flashflight LED Dog Discuit. If they’re aggressive chewers, maybe give them a tough bone to wear ‘em out.

 

Keep them well-fed and hydrated

RadDog Collapsible Bowl

Pack enough food for all of the days you’ll be camping, plus the drive there and home. And more than food, make sure you have plenty of water to keep them hydrated—pack a water jug or a water filtration system if there’s a nearby stream.

I love the RadDog Collapsible Bowls for road trips and camping trips alike because they roll up and clip onto his leash to save space and keep track of his dishes. Don’t forget that dog food, just like human food, needs to be safely stored before bed. Keep their extra food safe in a bear locker, bear bag, or return it to the car if it’s nearby.

  

Cuddle up for a warm night

Camp With Your Dog

My favorite part about camping with my pup? They’re like a built-in space heater! Teddy cuddles between us on trips to stay warm and keep us warm at the same time. Dog sleeping bags are also an option if you’re not a cuddler, or are limited on sleeping space. There are also many travel pet beds you can purchase for camping if your bed from home is too big (or too clean) for the campsite.

 

If this seems overwhelming at first, trust me, it gets easier with time. All of these pro tips have upgraded our trips with Ted, allowing us to camp free of worries and full of fun. I can’t wait to break into another camping season with Teddy. I’d love to hear your favorite tips, memories, and locations for camping with your pup below!

Topics: outdoors, LED Pet Products, Adventure, "travel", Pets, dogs, camping

A Practical Camping Guide for the Non-Outdoorsy

Posted by MJ Smoot on Apr 30, 2021 5:07:54 PM

Practical Camping Guide for the Non-Outdoorsy

Over the past year, the great outdoors has become a haven for people looking to escape the confines of the pandemic. Public spaces and lands are thriving as a result, with more people venturing to local trails, waterways, and campgrounds. For many, outdoor adventures are a new thing and a weekend trip to a local campground can be quite an intimidating experience. The good news is that there is plenty of space for everyone on public lands, and with a little research and preparation, a weekend camping trip to your local campground will not feel so daunting.  

As a seasoned outdoorsman, I too find trips to new places to be filled with uncertainty, often presenting more questions than answers. During my research of campgrounds, I’ve noticed that information for the first-time camper is often limited to what is referred to as “the 10 essentials”. What is missing are those practical insights that answer important questions like, “Where am I going to poo? Is there a place to shower? And more importantly, will there be coffee?”

Fear not my city slicker friends–I have put together a more practical list of camping tips for the non-outdoorsy. We’ll start with the basics, and by the end of this post you will have some great resources to help prepare you for your next, or first, camping trip.

 

Guide Tip #1: Don’t Trust Your Outdoorsy Friends

Camping Tips for First-Timers

(Pictured here: your outdoorsy friend MJ)

That’s right, I’m contradicting myself with tip #1. As your outdoorsy friend, I’m REALLY excited that you’re expressing an interest in camping and my brain is racing with images of all of the picturesque places I’ve been and that I’d love for you to experience. However, that enthusiasm could lead you down the wrong path. While I’m foaming at the mouth to tell you about my secret camping spot on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management), you may not be ready for that. Camping on public lands can be confusing. There are often no designated campgrounds nor facilities and can be miles down dirt roads far from the nearest cell phone signal.

Rather than take your friend’s word for the perfect camping spot, do your own research of the area. Search for places where you can make reservations ahead of time. This way you’ll be guaranteed a cozy place to camp for the night. Oh, and make your reservations as early as possible. Many campgrounds are fully reserved 3-6 months in advance.

Here are a few camping reservations sites that I have found to be helpful when looking for the perfect place to camp:

  • Recreation.gov – This site has information for campgrounds of all types and is likely where you’ll end up when looking for a campsite at a National Park or with the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
  • The Dyrt – The Dyrt’s user-generated database has lots of campground reviews and images from people just like you with information about all types of campsites, including some that are well off the beaten path.
  • HipCamp – Looking for something untraditional? HipCamp is the Airbnb of camping with sites available from private landowners.

 

Guide Tip #2: Choose Your Own Adventure

Camping for Beginners

Camping doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Whether you are looking to rough it in the woods for the weekend or a blissful glamping experience, choose a shelter that most closely matches the experience you are going for. Some shelter options to consider are as follows.

Tent Camping in UtahTent Camping – You’ll need the appropriate gear for this method. Other than a tent, you’ll need something to sleep in and on. Sleeping bags and sleeping pads come in a variety of styles and perhaps the most important factor for you to consider is what the weather will be like at night. Colder nights call for warmer sleeping bags and insulated pads. As a non-outdoorsy camper, this method can feel intimidating and the cost of all this gear can get expensive. Rather than buying everything you will need, check with your local outdoor store to see if they have a rental program or ask your outdoorsy friends to borrow gear. Chances are that they’ll be happy to outfit you with camping gear if they’re not already planning to use it. 


Popup Trailer CampingTrailer + RV Camping – For those of you that are not interested in sleeping in the dirt, or that like the privacy of your own bathroom, a trailer or RV rental may be what you are looking for. The website Outdoorsy has everything from small teardrop trailers to large Class A RVs for rent, outfitted with everything you will need for a night out of the city or a week on the road. This is also a great option to consider if you have a fear of unwelcome encounters with wildlife or the weather. Trailers and RVs provide a hard-sided shelter to help minimize those fears so that you can get a good night’s rest. 

 


Glamping TipsGlamping + Cabin Rentals – Glamping, or glamorous camping, and cabin rentals are a great way for the non-outdoorsy to have a unique experience. These options often have more of those creature comforts we are all used to like running water, electricity, and even WiFi. They can also be pretty swanky! While you can find many cabins on VRBO and Airbnb, the website Glamping.com is a great source for finding those unique, Instagram-worthy places that you see in your feed.

 

 

Guide Tip #3: Optimize Your Gear

Essential Camping Gear

Remember those ten essentials I mentioned earlier? They are a key part of being prepared for any adventure into the outdoors. You’ll find the standard list of the ten essentials below along with a few practical essentials from my personal packing list.

 

The Ten Essentials

Camping Packing Checklist

  1. Navigation – If you plan to do any hiking or exploring, you’ll want to bring a map along with a compass, GPS device and/or your smartphone with a downloaded trail app like AllTrails or Gaia GPS.
  2. Sun Protection – There is nothing worse than trying to sleep with a sunburn or getting a headache from too much bright light. Be sure to pack your sunglasses, a hat, and some sunscreen. This is especially true at higher elevations where the UV rays are more intense than at lower elevations. Long sleeves and other UV shielding clothing can also be quite helpful while keeping you cool. As a plus, long sleeve shirts are also great for keeping bugs off of you.
  3. Illumination­ – A great headlamp and lantern are enough to keep the party going when the sun goes down. Whether you’re planning a game at the picnic table in your campsite or taking a midnight trip to the bathroom, you’re going to need a light. My favorites are the Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp and Radiant 314 Rechargeable Lantern. If you want to take your campsite from basic to badass, or add a little fun for the kids, then a rope light like the new ShineLine might be the perfect addition to your campsite.
  4. First Aid Kit – You can buy or build your own first aid kit easily with items you may already have around the house. Things like band aids, ointment, and over-the-counter pain relievers are cornerstones of a basic first aid kit, but also be sure to pack any prescription medications you may be taking as well as bug spray. Bugs can be quite unpredictable and very annoying. Most importantly, if you decide to make your own first aid kit, then be sure to put all of the contents in a waterproof bag like the RunOff Travel Pouch to protect these important items from the elements.
  5. Fire – Are you really camping if there’s no campfire or s’mores?! Be sure to bring something to start a campfire, or the grill, as well as a backup way to start a fire in case your primary method doesn’t work (I.E. matches, lighter, fire starter). However, bear in mind that many areas may have fire restrictions, so call your campground ahead of time to make sure, and pack a camp stove or propane fire pit instead if traditional fires are prohibited.
  6. Knife – Bring a sharp knife. You’ll need a knife to help with cooking in particular, but may also need one for unexpected gear repairs, or to whittle yourself the perfect marshmallow roasting stick.
  7. Shelter ­– You are going to want a place to sleep. Be sure you packed your tent before you leave the house and know how to set it up. A little practice setting up the tent at your home can save you loads of time and frustration at camp.
  8. Extra Food – It’s always a good idea to have an extra day’s worth of food in case your plans change, or you need a little snack while you’re on the way to/from camp.
  9. Extra Water – Other than drinking water to stay hydrated, you will likely be using your water to cook and clean. So, bring plenty and drink lots of water especially if you are going to be active during your camping trip.
  10. Extra Clothes – Layer up! One of the wild things about camping is the temperature swings that you might experience throughout the day. It’s not uncommon to be wearing a t-shirt and shorts during the day and a warm jacket and pants at night. Check the weather before you travel to see what to expect, but also be sure to pack for the unexpected. I like to pack clothes that can be easily layered to increase warmth, that dry quickly if wet, and to always have something waterproof like a raincoat. A warm hat, like a beanie, and a baseball cap are also on my packing list. Hats help to keep you warm and shaded, but are also great for hiding your messy hairdo in the morning.

MJ’s Essentials

What to bring camping

  1. Toilet Paper – Seriously though, don’t overlook this. While a campground may have restrooms, I have stayed in quite a few that didn’t have toilet paper when I needed it. Pack your own and you will never be caught with your pants down. 😉
  2. Hand Sanitizer + Soap – Before hand sanitizer was cool, it was an essential part of my packing list. A lot of the places I have camped had minimal facilities with vault toilet (I.E. a big hole in the ground with no sink). You’ll want a way to sanitize your hands after a visit to a place like this, or before making any meals at camp. In addition to the sanitizer, I also bring biodegradable soap with me that I use to wash my hands as well as the dirty dishes.
  3. Games – Have some fun with this one, there are no rules here! While camping I’ve played everything from bocce ball, to dominos, to cards against humanity, to two truths and a lie, and catch with the Flashflight Light-Up Flying Disc (a camp time favorite)! Games that are easy to play for a group of people work best.
  4. Coffee – It’s easy to overlook this morning staple and there are many ways to make coffee while at camp. Pack accordingly. Some brewing options that are also camp-friendly include a percolator, French press, and AeroPress. If all those options sound like too much work, then opt for some instant coffee. Believe it or not, there are some tasty instant coffee options available these days at your local grocery store. You’ll also need a way to boil water for said coffee. The easiest way is to bring a camp stove (or portable burner) and kettle.
  5. Trash Bag – While a campground may have a dumpster, individual campsites do not have trash bins. Bring a few trash bags with you so that you can throw all your trash away at once before you head home.
  6. Wireless Speaker – Not everyone will agree with this but whatever, I want you to have a great time at camp. Adding some music to happy hour while you are prepping dinner can be quite enjoyable at camp. Just be respectful of your neighbors and do not blast the music all night.
  7. Battery Backup – I like to have a way to recharge my headlamp and phone at camp. Like many people, I use my phone for lots of things such as looking up places to hike, for driving directions, and, most importantly, to take pictures.
  8. Crocs – Yup, I said it. Crocs. Slip-on shoes or sandals also work. The point is you are not going to want to wear your shoes or hiking boots all day and night. Having something comfortable and easy to slip on is perfect for lounging around camp, going in and out of the tent, or for a quick trip to the bathroom.

Camping Tips For Non-Outdoorsy People

Thank you for reading this not so tongue-in-cheek practical camping list. I am sure there are some things that I’ve forgotten or that you are still wondering about. Please post your questions or additions to this list in the comments section below to keep the conversation going. If there’s one thing the outdoorsy like to do, it's talking about our gear and sharing our knowledge. Also, be sure to check out the Nite Ize OptimIZE collection for some other fun and practical camping gear.

The adventure  photos in this post were provided by Ali and Garret Photography

Topics: outdoors, Adventure, "travel", camping

MobilIZE: 6 Simple Ways You Can Help Protect Our Planet This Earth Day

Posted by Taylor Orebaugh on Apr 19, 2021 4:04:19 PM

6 Simple Ways To Help Protect The Planet This Earth Day

With the impacts of climate change becoming ever-present, protecting our planet is more important than ever. But for many of us, that goal seems out of reach, leaving us asking: How can I help? Well, there's no day like Earth Day to get started! Keep reading for 6 easy ways to start thinking more sustainably, locally, and globally this Earth Day.

 

1. Introduce a recycling bin at your home + office

How To Introduce A Recycling Program

The benefits of recycling can’t be overstated. Obviously, recycling means less trash is dumped in landfills every year, but even larger than that, recycling allows our industry to repurpose non-renewable resources, using significantly less energy and raw materials to create our goods.

If your neighborhood or workplace doesn’t already have a recycling program, some ways you can break into it are:

  • Find a local recycling center in your area you can personally return to
  • Talk to your boss about setting up a recycling program at work
  • Read up on which materials are accepted at your local facility to prevent recycling contamination that can do more damage

2. Volunteer for local cleanups in your community

Earth Day Cleanup

If you’re more of the hands-on type, a community cleanup might be just the ticket. Check out what Earth Day cleanups are happening in your local community, and if your area is running low this year, have no fear. One of our Brite Side philanthropic partners, American Rivers, is hosting a year-long Virtual River Cleanup Challenge through the Litterati app. Through the app, you can take pictures of the litter you collect and track it, allowing Litterati to map national litter totals and cleanup efforts.

 

3. Find reusable alternatives for single-waste products

Gear Ties vs. Zip Ties

A simple way to help protect the planet is to reevaluate your shopping choices. Instead of choosing a single-waste product like water bottles, switch to an insulated thermos to reduce your annual waste and ultimately, the emissions created when producing so many products at mass rates.

Taking it a step further, look around your home and see where a single-waste option could be replaced with a reusable one. Gear Ties are a perfect alternative to zip ties or cable ties, providing the reusability, adjustability, and strength you need. Another reusable option to consider is swapping out your battery-powered products for rechargeable ones. Nite Ize proudly produces 25 different rechargeable products and counting, including LED Dog Collars, flashlights, and more.

 

4. Shop local produce or plant a garden

Start Your Own Vegetable Garden

Commercial agriculture takes a toll on our environment with harmful pesticides and fertilizers, excessive waste, and heavy carbon emissions from transit by truck to grocery stores everywhere. To help minimize this impact, seek out a local farm or market in your area for your produce. And for those up to the challenge, planting a garden is a great way to learn more about agriculture, develop self-sufficiency, and control the pesticides and fertilizers used, keeping your community’s soil and waterways clean. Check out our tips on starting your own vegetable garden this spring here!

 

5. Drive less—bike + walk more

Reduce Carbon Emissions by Biking

Transportation alone makes up 14% of our yearly greenhouse gas emissions. Reduce the number of cars on the road by carpooling to work and social events when you can. Around your town, consider investing in a bike for local errands and work commutes—you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll love it! And instead of taking a long drive around the neighborhood after a hard day, take a walk outside instead to enjoy the fresh air and get your body moving.

 

6. Get out there and appreciate it!

Enjoy The Outdoors This Earth Day

Now that you’ve done the work, it’s time to reap all the benefits. Get out there and soak in all the beauty that mother nature has to offer. Take a hike, set up camp, plan a picnic, or hit the beach—wherever you feel most connected to our beautiful planet. Remember to Leave No Trace when enjoying our great outdoors to prevent trail damage, wildlife risk, water pollution, and forest fires.

How are you planning to mobilize for Earth Day? Share your favorite ways to give back to the environment in the comments or on social media. Now what are you waiting for? Go get out there!

Topics: Gear Ties, take action, outdoors, Bike, gardening, Surprize

MobilIZE: Phone Accessories For Every Lifestyle

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Apr 13, 2021 2:11:38 PM

Phone Accessories For Every Lifestyle

Let’s face the grim reality: we’re all hopelessly reliant on our smartphones. Whether we’re having GPS guide our way to our next destination or taking ‘gram-worthy photos on a hike, it’s likely that wherever we go, our phones go with us. While we’ll spare you the sociological examination of our society’s relationship with our devices, we will give you a breakdown of our favorite mobile accessories to help simplify your life and keep you connected around the house, on the road, and beyond.

 

For The Outdoor Adventurer

Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether

Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether

Do your adventures in nature put your phone in some pretty precarious situations? You know you need that perfect photo off the side of a cliff, but you do risk losing a grip and having your phone tumble down hundreds of feet to it’s ultimate demise. The Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether is the perfect companion for mountain hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and more. Clip one end of the coiled tether to your belt loop or jacket and snap away worry-free. For city adventures, it also makes a great defense against pick-pocketers. You can also clip the tether onto it’s other end to form a loop, and conveniently carry your phone around your wrist when your hands are full (attention, busy parents).

 

For The Cycling Fanatic

Squeeze Rotating Smartphone Bar Mount

Squeeze Rotating Smartphone Bar Mount

Whether you’re a regular bike commuter, a casual joy-rider, or a weekend warrior mountain biker, keep your phone secured to your handlebars with the Squeeze Bar Mount. Universally fit for virtually any phone, the Squeeze is easy to install tool-free, and intuitive to use. Just pinch the levers to open the arms, place your device, and release for a super strong hold that can withstand bumps, twists, and turns. It also can rotate between portrait or landscape modes, so you can track your maps and apps as you ride.

 

For The Road Warrior

Steelie Magnetic Phone Mounts

Steelie Magnetic Phone Mounts

If you’re an avid road tripper, daily grind commuter, or business traveler, you need a place in your car to dock your phone for hands-free calls, GPS navigation, or music selection. The Steelie family of magnetic mobile phone mounts are reliable, secure, and easy to use – but with so many options, where do you even start? We’ve made it easier than ever with this flowchart to help you find the right Steelie for your lifestyle:

Find Your Steelie

 

For The Angler

RunOff Waterproof Phone Case

RunOff Waterproof Phone Case

Dreaming of catching the big one? Whether you’re heading out for a deep sea fishing excursion, a day of fly fishing on the river, or hitting the lake by motor boat, you know you’ll want your phone close to document your catch. Keep your device dry, protected, and in reach with a RunOff Waterproof Phone Case. With a clear, touch-screen friendly front and back window, you won’t need to remove your phone from the case to use it, and the included lanyard allows you to wear it around your neck for accessibility. Tested to IP67, the RunOff Phone Case is completely submersible in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, so if it does decide to take a dip in the water, it will stay completely dry!

 

For The Jet Setter

QuikStand Mobile Device Stand

QuikStand Mobile Device Stand

Planning to hit the friendly skies this year? You can keep up with your latest Netflix binge while in the air with the QuikStand Mobile Device Stand. At just about the size of a credit card, this stand is ultra packable, and folds out to hold your phone or small tablet right on your tray table so you can give your arms a break.

 

For The Minimalist

Ca$hBack Phone Wallet

Ca$hBack Phone Wallet

If you’re not one for toting around an assortment of belongings everywhere you go, choose the simple route. With the Ca$hBack Phone Wallet, you can carry your phone, cards and cash all in one!

 

For The Super Scroller

FlipOut Phone Handle + Stand

FlipOut Phone Handle + Stand

Are you a social media aficionado with a penchant for selfie-snapping? Keep a better grip on your cherished device with a FlipOut Phone Handle + Stand. The low-profile design slides into pockets without snagging, but flips out to create a convenient handle – or use it as a kickstand so you can sit back and catch up on your favorite YouTube channels.

 

For The Home Chef

Steelie Pedestal Mount

Steelie Pedestal Mount

If you love to cook or bake, you know the struggle of looking up recipes on your phone and then fumbling to read it at the right angle with your flour-caked hands. Enter the Steelie Pedestal Mount, and the answer to your digital recipe woes. If you’re already a Steelie user, this mount is a perfect addition to your arsenal. If you have the original or plus-sized magnet, you can snap it right onto the pedestal. If you’re a Steelie Orbiter user, just purchase an additional Orbiter Socket that lives on your Pedestal to use it the same way. You can also put a Steelie Plus magnet onto the back of your tablet if you prefer a larger screen.

 

Do you have a hobby or lifestyle we didn't cover? Let us know in the comments and we'll give our best recommendation for an accessory to fit your needs. Curious for more mobile product recommendations? View our specially-curated April MobilIZE Collection here.

Topics: Mobile Device Accessories, outdoors, Adventure, "travel", Home, Steelie

MobilIZE For Spring Adventures: Favorite Accessories For Life On-The-Go

Posted by Katie S on Mar 31, 2021 4:49:22 PM

Mobilize For Spring Adventures

Spring has sprung and the smell of summer barbeques is so close we can almost taste them. Meanwhile, thoughts of springtime adventures stir in our minds. Whether your spirit of adventure leads you to explore new local parks or faraway destinations, we have a few tips and tricks for adventuring safer and smarter with your smartphone. For better or worse, smartphones and technology have generally changed the way we explore and experience the world around us. Rather than packing up maps, a camera, a video camera, a GPS, and relying on the kindness of strangers to lend directions, we bring along one trusty, compact smartphone.  So, here are a few ways we recommend keeping your device protected and accessible on your next adventure, as well as a few ways your phone can keep you safe and enhance the experience.

 

Make It Snug with a Little Steelie Hug

Steelie Squeeze Windshield Kit

If your next adventure starts with hitting the road, make sure you’ve got Steelie as your co-pilot. Steelie is a strong magnetic device holder that secures your phone at easy viewing angles in the car so you can view what’s really important: the road. I personally like the Steelie Squeeze Windshield Kit because it seriously suctions to your windshield, and the Squeeze bracket can hold your phone or anyone else’s who may be riding shotgun on your adventure. (And, it kind of looks like it’s giving your phone a snug little hug, and that makes me smile!)

Squeeze Smartphone Bar Mount

If your road trip happens to end at an amazing biking destination, you can move your phone from the Steelie Squeeze Mount in your car, to the Squeeze Smartphone Bar Mount on your bike and hit the trail without missing a beat (or dropping a phone).

 

Protect from the Big Three: Water, Sand, and Drops

RunOff Waterproof Medium Travel Pouch

Every generation of smartphone seems to get a little more durable and water-resistant, but they haven’t reached perfection yet. There is very little that drops your stomach as quickly as watching your favorite device dropping to the bottom of a river, and nothing more frustrating than trying to pick granules of sand out of the charging port. Pack your phone and other small essentials in a RunOff Waterproof Travel Pouch, and clip on an S-Biner to instantly make it waterproof, dirt-proof, and drop-proof.

 

Apps To Help You Adventure Smarter

Apps To Help Adventure Smarter

You know that tagline, “there’s an app for that”? Well, it really does apply to just about everything these days. Research what will be most helpful to your specific activities before you leave, since you may not have service for downloads where you’re headed. Here are a few of my favorites for outdoor exploration and travel:

FEMA – In general, I recommend that everyone have the FEMA app downloaded and set to send notifications for your area. If you plan to travel outside your hometown, update your notifications so you will be pinged if any major storms or other emergencies occur in the area so you can prepare/react appropriately.

Red Cross First Aid App – If your adventures take you more than an hour away from medical facilities, it’s a good idea to have some medical knowhow yourself. This app provides step by step instructions on how to identify and treat many common injuries and ailments. And always be sure to bring along a first aid kit too.

The Dyrt – This site is amazing for finding and getting in depth info on camp sites all over the U.S.

SEEK iNaturalist – Identify and keep track of plants, animals, and insects as you go. It’s fun to learn more about the world around you, and it could be useful if you find yourself in a survival situation (but hopefully just for fun!).

 

Where will your next adventure take you? We’d love to hear about your explorations with any Nite Ize products you bring along. Drop us a line in the comments section below, or share your photos on social media with the tag #NiteIze – you just might win a SurprIZE gift! For more products that keep you mobile, check out our April MobilIZE collection, full of top-rated gear for your phone and beyond.

Happy Adventuring!

Topics: Mobile Device Accessories, Bike, "travel", runoff, waterproof bags, Steelie, Surprize

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