Gear Up for Winter Fun

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Dec 16, 2020 10:47:52 AM

Gear Up For Winter Fun

Winter is officially coming, and many of us might be dreading this one more than usual. If you live in a part of the country that doesn’t exactly get a lot of patio-weather days during this time of year, you might be desperately seeking safe ways to get out of the house. The great outdoors has been an absolute gift throughout 2020 to help us stay sane while saying safe. So, let’s think about winter recreation to help fill your free time – maybe you can even try something new!

Of course, you’ll have different options depending on where you live. Here in Colorado, ski and snowboard season is ramping up. In the upper midwest, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing are popular pastimes. Whatever activity might be up your alley, we’d like to share some of our favorite products that help us enjoy our sport of choice better.

 

Hit the Slopes

Skiing Hacks

My winter sport of choice is skiing, and it’s the one I have the most personal experience with. I ski with a small hydropack backpack, which does not give me a lot of storage space. For this reason, I always use the RunOff Waterproof Wallet because of its slim design, and because it keeps my cards and cash nice and dry in case of the occasional “yard sale.” (Hey, I never said I was a good skier!)

Hitch Phone Anchor + LanyardI also like to keep my phone handy to snap photos, but fumbling with it while on the lift always makes me nervous (Jerry alert). I started using the Hitch Phone Anchor + Lanyard for days on the mountain because I know I won’t lose it through my butterfingers, and it also makes it easy to pull out of my jacket whenever I want to check my season pass app or take photos. The Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether is also a popular choice for this use, and you can attach the S-Biner MicroLock to an anchor point on your jacket, or the belt loop on your pants.

My third essential for skiing is S-Biners. Did I mention my pack doesn’t have much storage? I keep a couple S-Biners clipped to it to hold things like my gloves or helmet when I head into the lodge for a toddy. You can also use one to attach to your lift tickets or season pass to your clothing or bag.

 

Gear Tie LoopableFinally, I always keep my skis and poles bundled with Gear Tie Loopables at each end for transporting and storing.

Because we’re lucky enough here in Boulder to live driving distance to the ski slopes, many of our team members are avid skiers and snowboarders. I asked a few of them what products come in handy for days on the mountain, and here’s what they had to say:

Cinch-A-Lot Stretch Strap: Great for attaching gloves that don’t happen to have loops, bundling poles, or holding small items like lip balm or hand sanitizer.

GearLine Organization System: If you’re staying in a hotel or rental unit, this is indispensable for organizing gear and drying out wet clothing.

RunOff Medium Travel Pouch: The perfect size RunOff bag for your paper trails map, so it doesn’t wind up soggy after you end up in the deep stuff. (I always carry a paper map as a backup just in case my phone runs out of battery or I lose signal.)

DoohicKey+ Key Tool: Good to have around for emergency repairs (or… emergency bottle-opening).

INKA Key Chain Pen: Keep this handy as a quick-use pen for signing bar receipts or making notes on your trail map. But the real bonus here is the pressurized cartridge with waterproof ink, allowing you to use it at any altitude, any angle, and in wet conditions.

 

Snowshoe the Trails

Snowshoeing

Gear Tie Reusable Rubber Twist Tie

If you live somewhere that has great hiking trails that are now covered in a blanket of snow and ice, you might give snowshoeing a try! You can rent a pair at many equipment shops, but you can also buy yourself a pair at reasonable prices.

Snowshoeing is a great way to get out, connect with nature, and enjoy the winter wonderland. For this activity, you’ll definitely need a backpack full of safety and survival essentials – always be prepared for the worst! Here’s a helpful guide of gear you’ll need to bring along, which includes a first aid kit, headlamp, and knife. Better hook an S-Biner on your pack too, because you never know when that will come in handy. For storing and transporting your snowshoes, wrangle and hang them with a Gear Tie.

No snow in sight? Go on a chilly hike! Bring those essentials, layer up, and hit the trails.

 

Try Cross Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing

If you’ve never had the opportunity to try cross country skis, it can be a fantastic way to spend a bluebird day. Dip your toe in with some rental gear and head to a nordic center, or research some Cross Country spots in your area. Much the same as snowshoeing, you’ll need a pack filled with your essentials so you’re well prepared for any unexpected scenario.

 

Chill Out in an Ice Fishing Shanty

Ice Fishing

If you live in the upper midwest, you may already be familiar with the winter pastime that is ice fishing. Whether you catch a big one, or just spend the day hanging out in the shelter with family, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. While you’re waiting on the fish to bite, you’ll need a beverage. Use a SlapLit LED Drink Wrap to keep your cold drinks cold, your hot drinks hot, and click on the light for some colorful flair. A GearLine will come in handy inside the shelter to hang and organize your equipment and damp clothing. You’ll need some light inside your shanty, so bring along a lantern or two. A DoohicKey FishKey is a perfect multitool for any angler, and can help with tasks from fixing rods to opening bottles. For hauling your shanty to and from your lake of choice, our Dual CamJam Tie Down Systems will be perfect for the job.

 

Get Your Thrills on a Snowmobile

Snowmobiling

Adrenaline junkies will love the thrill of snowmobiling, whether you’re in the mountains or the great plains. Rent a vehicle for a day to give it a try, and if you love it, you can always think about buying one of your own someday. Remember that everything your bring along may get wet! Protect your things in the safety of a RunOff bag or packing cube, and secure it to your ride with a Gear Tie.

 

Give Fat Tire Biking a Go

Fat Tire Snow Biking

If you’re an avid cyclist, you might be getting that sad feeling when the weather turns snowy. With the new fat tire bikes built for snowy conditions, you can turn that frown upside down. Fat tire biking is a fun way to explore off-the-beaten-path trails, and you get a great workout to boot. You can rig a RunOff Bag with a couple of Gear Ties to create a waterproof handlebar bag full of your snacks and essentials. Because daylight is fleeting these days, be sure your fattie bike is equipped with front and rear lights, just in case you get caught out at dusk (or if you’re on dawn patrol).

 

Find Your Perfect Sledding Hill

Snow Tubing

On those magical mornings when you wake up to a blanket of fresh snow, grab a sled or tube and head for the hills! I would advise you to know your sledding location of choice at the very beginning of the season, so you know exactly where to go and won’t waste precious downhill time driving around for a hill. Because we know you’ll want to capture the fun on video, bring a RunOff Waterproof Phone Case. It will keep your device dry, and you can wear the included lanyard around your neck so you don’t lose it in the snow on your way down.

 

What winter activity are you most looking forward to? Report back, and give us a shout if you discover a new Nite Ize hack that helps you along the way.

Topics: Gear Ties, outdoors, Adventure, Bike, Fitness, fishing, runoff, gearline

How I Tie Down My Gear (And Keep It There)

Posted by MJ Smoot on Jul 23, 2020 10:08:48 AM

How To Tie Down Your Gear And Keep It There

As a rock climber for over 10 years, I never really paid much attention to tie down straps. I was a knot-tier and felt confident that I could secure just about any load with a piece of rope and the right knot. After losing a few items and pulling over to re-tie my loads one too many times, I’ve learned the value of quality tie-downs the hard way. And after years of trial and error, I’ve found the perfect tie-down options for my rig that ended up being a total game changer and time saver. With that said, I’ll jump right into the types of tie down straps that I like carry and some examples of how I’ve used them.

 

Outside the Vehicle

Whenever I am securing something to the outside of my rig – be it the roof rack of a car/SUV or in the bed of a truck – I prefer a tie down option that won’t accidentally come untied. The one that I always have in the storage box of my SUV are the Dual CamJam Tie Down System.

Dual CamJam Tie Down System

The Dual CamJam is great for larger items, and I’ve used mine to secure a lawn mower in a truck bed, mattress and box spring to my roof rack, as well as paddle boards and kayaks. The loop on the end of the webbing makes it easy to attach the strap to one anchor point and the dual cam system on the buckle allows you to rig your system in ways that a traditional cam strap won’t. Such as, wrapping the webbing around your load so that it does not slide around when driving (i.e. a load of 2x4s hanging out of a truck bed). The Dual Camjam also gives you a 3-to-1 mechanical advantage when tightening the webbing, meaning that pound-for-pound, you can put more tension on your load than with a traditional cam strap.

Dual CamJam Tie Down System

Pro Tip: When in doubt, buy a cam strap that comes with a longer webbing length. That way you’ll never come up short, and if you have extra webbing, you can tie up the unused portion so that it doesn’t flap in the wind when you’re driving down the road.

 

Inside the Vehicle

Inside my rig, the CamJam XT Aluminum has been just as handy. I’ve used it to secure a propane tank and cooler to the back of my SUV, not to mention a baby stroller to the side of my cargo area while still allowing enough space for my dog. The CamJam XT has even doubled as a dog leash when I forgot to grab one for a camping trip.

CamJam XT

In other situations, I’ve found the CamJam XT Aluminum to be perfect for securing lightweight items and when there are eyelets to clip onto. To make setup easy, I keep a loop tied in the end of the paracord I use with the XT so that I can loop it over, around, or girth hitched to whatever I’m securing. Then to tighten the line, all I need to do is pull the cord through the CamJam XT and the camming lever on the buckle does the rest. This little tie down has come in handy when securing camping gear on my roof rack, a tarp over dirt in the bed of a truck, and when picking up a Christmas tree during the holidays.

CamJam XT Aluminum

 

The “All-Arounder” Tie Down

There have been more than a few times when the object I want to tie down isn’t quite compatible with a cam strap or paracord, and for these miscellaneous “How am I going to tie this down?” moments, I’ve come to love the versatility of Gear Ties.

Gear Tie Reusable Rubber Twist Tie

These reusable rubber twist ties have a soft, grippy rubber coating that won’t damage whatever they are tied to, nor will they slip or move about when tied to a roof rack or in your car. I’ve used the 32in. and 64in. lengths to bundle and secure pieces of trim molding in my car and have also used the thicker Mega Gear Ties to hold a ladder on my roof rack.

Gear Tie Mega

One of my favorite out-of-the-box uses was when I secured a milk crate to the roof of my SUV to transport firewood during a camping trip to Wyoming and Utah. I’ll be honest, I had my doubts but after driving several hours through Wyoming at 85mph without the milk crate moving, I was sold. With a few twists, those Gear Ties were rock solid!

 

How I Tie Down My Gear (And Keep It There)

Whether you use a cam strap, ratchet, Gear Tie or tie a trucker’s hitch when securing your loads is a matter of personal preference. No matter what method you choose, what is most important is ensuring that your load is secure and won’t come undone on a fast-moving highway, possibly putting other drivers at risk. For this reason alone, I always make sure I have a few tie-downs in my SUV. That way, I never have to worry about being stuck without one and can always lend a hand (or strap) to other drivers stranded on the road after their last-minute tie-down solution failed.

Topics: Gear Ties, Adventure, DIY, Tie Downs

6 Tips for Your 4th of July on the Boat

Posted by Taylor Orebaugh on Jun 23, 2020 11:33:00 AM

6 Tips For Your 4th of July on the Boat

When it comes to celebrating the USA, bringing out the boat for a 4th on the water only feels right. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or just learning the ropes, here are a few universal tips to ensure you don’t rock the boat when you hit the open waters this 4th of July.

 

1. Check official state regulations

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thirsting for a swim or cruise on the water after months stuck inside. I hope I’m not bursting anyone’s boating bubble here, but there are still many strict guidelines in place when it comes to waterway activities and gatherings. Check with official local mandates before launching off this 4th—there may be limitations to the type of watercraft allowed, as well as the number of people per boat. Generally speaking, you should only be boating with members of your household, so keep the party in the family this year.

 

2. Scan the skies

Summer Boating Tips

On top of government regulations regarding waterway use, we can’t forget to follow the most important authority for a good day on the water: the weather forecast. Check local forecasts and apps for the most up-to-date predictions to avoid any stormy seas. When in doubt, defer to the old-as-time saying that my boating family (Coast Guard members included) still follows: “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight; red sky at morning, sailors’ warning."

 

3. Break out the ‘Merica gear
USA SlapLit LED Drink Wrap

 

As long as the skies are clear and your boat’s in the clear per state regulations, you’ll be smooth sailing. Now for the fun part. Stock up on your fave USA gear and make sure to grab a float or two – after a few hours on the water, your legs will want a break from all that swimming. One of my favorite items to get me in the patriotic spirit is the SlapLit™ LED Drink Wrap in the new USA pattern. Not only does it provide great insulation to keep your beer at optimal chillness, but also great illumination after the sun sets.

Boating bonus: Speaking of sunsets, make sure to grab a hoodie, hat, or pair of pants for when that after-dark chill sets in. And don’t forget to pack a mid-day snack too. You’ll need to fuel up after a day of swimming, drinking, and soaking up the sun.


4. Sunblock, sunblock, sunblock
RunOff Waterproof Pocket

 

Enough said. Lather up liberally with water-resistant sunblock and make sure to apply extra to your face, shoulders, and any hotspots for sunburn. Bring the sunscreen with you on the boat and reapply every few hours—just toss it in a RunOff® Waterproof Pocket, along with your ID, keys, and any other must-haves for instant protection and accessibility.

Boating bonus: If you’re planning to set sail in ocean waters, make sure to grab a reef-friendly sunblock to protect the corals’ home while you’re visiting!

 

5. Protect your phone

RunOff Waterproof Phone Pouch

Let’s face it: It’s too hard to part with your phone for a day on the water, and you’ll want to capture some memories while you’re out there anyway. But being surrounded by water with a drink in hand and zero pockets for storage doesn’t exactly sound like a phone-friendly environment. Have no fear, RunOff is here. The RunOff® Waterproof Phone Pouch is perfect for boating days, keeping your phone protected while keeping your hands free with its attached lanyard. You can even send texts, use apps, and snap underwater pics with your phone safe in the pouch, giving you the power to stay connected and protected all day long.

S-Biner Marine SlideLock

 

Boating bonus: On top of protecting your phone, keeping your boating equipment, keys, and other valuables stowed and secured is an important lesson in Boating 101. And trust me, one big wake or gust of wind will send your stuff flying if not properly anchored to your boat. Lock down your cooler, life vests, boat keys, and more with an aquatic-friendly and rust-resistant S-Biner® Marine SlideLock®.

 

 

6. Follow the sun
Radiant 300 Rechargeable headlamp

 

Once the sun is headed for the horizon, it’s probably time to bring in the boat and take the patriotic party ashore. However, it’s likely you’ll still get caught in the dark on your way back in, so make sure to prepare with a few portable lights. Check that your boat lights are up to snuff before heading out and grab a few handheld lights for any on-the-spot navigating and diagnostics. Most of our INOVA LED flashlights are waterproof, and come in a variety of sizes and lumen counts perfect for scanning the waters to your port and starboard, while the Radiant® 300 Rechargeable Headlamp is a must for any underway hiccups and when returning back into hoist.

 No matter how you celebrate the stars and stripes, always celebrate safely and smartly. Sail away and happy 4th!

Topics: Adventure, fishing, runoff, boating

First Aid Kit Checklist For Hiking & Camping

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jun 18, 2020 10:34:58 AM

How to make your own first aid kit for hiking and camping

Warmer temperatures and sunshine have arrived and the outdoors are calling. June is National Safety Month, so we’d like to take this opportunity to share how you can stay safe when out in the wilderness. Before you head out on your next day hike, camping trip or backpacking adventure, be sure you’re prepared for the worst, so you can enjoy the great outdoors worry-free. Although there are a variety of pre-packaged first aid kits out there, putting one together yourself can allow you to tailor your kit to your own needs, and become more familiar with what exactly is inside. Here you’ll find a checklist of items to build your own basic first aid kit for your summer adventures.

 

Basic First Aid Kit Checklist:
✔️ RunOff Waterproof 3-1-1 Pouch (to keep your kit organized, protected and dry)
✔️ Medical tape
✔️ Alcohol wipes
✔️ Gauze
✔️ A couple pairs of latex gloves
✔️ Blunt-tipped shears
✔️ Pocket knife (the DoohicKey Key Chain Knife is a great choice)
✔️ Band Aids (variety of sizes)
✔️ Butterfly wound closure strips
✔️ ACE bandage
✔️ Antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin)
✔️ Hand sanitizer
✔️ Ibuprofen
✔️ Antihistamine such as Benadryl (in case of allergic reactions)
✔️ Tweezers
✔️ A few safety pins
✔️ Moleskin for blisters
✔️ Emergency contact card
✔️ Pocket-sized first aid guide (in case your know-how is a little rusty)

 

First aid kit for hiking

 

Beyond first aid, here are a few more safety essentials to consider when packing for a day hike, so you can be prepared for the unexpected:

✔️ Plenty of water
✔️ Prescription medications (if you take them)
✔️ Epi Pen (if you have one)
✔️ Sunscreen
✔️ Aloe vera for sunburns
✔️ Lip Balm with UV protection
✔️ Bug spray
✔️ Anti-diarrheal medicine
✔️ Electrolyte tablets or powder (Scratch Labs and Nuun make good options)
✔️ Protein snacks
✔️ Feminine hygiene products (as needed)
✔️ Duct Tape
✔️ Gear Ties (you never know when they’ll come in handy)
✔️ A good headlamp (in case you get caught after dark)
✔️ Map of the area
✔️ Whistle
✔️ Compass
✔️ Bear spray (if there are bears in the area)
✔️ Emergency blanket (such as this one from SOL)

 

How to make your own first aid kit for hiking and camping

Be sure to maintain your kit regularly by replacing any used items or expired medications. Did we miss anything? Let us know what else is in your kit in the comments below, and we wish you a safe and happy hiking season!

Topics: Emergency Preparedness, outdoors, Adventure, dry bags, camping, Mountaineering

Camping For Newbies: The Beginner’s Guide

Posted by Taylor Orebaugh on May 27, 2020 9:58:51 AM

Camping Tips for Beginners

After a few months stuck inside, the great outdoors has never looked more inviting. And with summer appearing before our very eyes, taking a good ole’ fashioned camping trip sounds like just the ticket. But if you’re a camping newbie like I once was, there are a few things you could learn (and use) to make sure you’re not lost in the dark. Keep reading to learn from my camping blunders and make the most of your night under the stars.

 

Step 1: Select your site wisely

Plan you camping trip

Setting off on a spontaneous camping trip is virtually impossible in 2020 – especially if you’re planning to set up camp in a particularly stunning area (ahem, all of Colorado). Basically, if you think you’ve found the perfect camping spot, chances are, other people are thinking the same thing. Save yourself the disappointment of a day-long campground tour around the state scouring for an open spot and plan ahead. After learning this lesson the hard way and wasting a few gallons of gas in the process, I won’t hit the road until we either (1) Have a spot reserved in advance, or (2) Have read enough reviews/forums to know that our first-come, first-serve spot in question isn’t too popular. If you opt for route 2, keep in mind that you’re always taking a gamble and prepare a backup plan. And don’t forget to check weather forecasts and know the route to the closest hospital before you hit the road!

Semi-pro tip: If you’re looking for a true camping experience, don’t bother with a “family” campground chock-full of pools, small sites, and Wi-Fi. Check out some dispersed camping sites for unbelievable views that are easier to come by, but be prepared for zero access to plumbing and a rough ride to get there. But first, check your local and state regulations for dispersed camping policies, and if/where it is allowed.

 

Step 2: Pack accordingly (and then some)

How to pack for camping trip

Once you put that first stake in the ground, there’s no turning back, so make sure you’ve got all your essentials packed tight. If your site is near water or sand, be prepared for everything (and I mean everything) to end up muddy and sandy. Sidestep some of the mess with a few RunOff® Waterproof Bags in tow. I personally love the RunOff® Waterproof Phone Pouch, as well as the Large Packing Cube, to keep my clothes, gear, and phone dry. And if you’re planning to have a wilderness shower (or showers are available on the grounds), the RunOff® Waterproof Toiletry Bag is a must.

On top of staying dry, keeping your things organized is crucial. Bundle up your camping cutlery, tent poles, lighters, bottle openers, and other must-haves with a few Gear Ties. And don’t forget toilet paper, bug spray, firewood, adequate lighting, warm socks, a first-aid kit, and a deck of cards. You’ll thank me later.

Semi-pro tip: Running out of room in your car? Take your larger duffels and gear to the roof, securing with the Dual CamJam® Tie Down System.

 

Step 3: Make the most of your daylight

Camping tips for newbies

If your spot is near water and the sun is out, aim to set up camp earlier in the day to enjoy a dip or two. You can set up a GearLine Organization System to hang your wet clothes, swimsuits or towels out to dry (as well as clip and hang your water bottles and other essentials).

Once you’ve arrived at your dream spot, pitching a tent is usually the biggest struggle. There’s no shame in bringing along a tent manual and brushing up on a tutorial or two before setting off on your trip—but remember, once you’re there, data service is bound to be limited, so don’t expect the internet to help you. Once the sun sets, you’ll surely have some difficulty navigating around your tent. Avoid tripping over your virtually invisible tent line (like I have in the past) with the high-tension, knot-free, and light-reflective Figure 9 Tent Line Kit.

Semi-pro tip: If you’re not up for sleeping on hard ground, buying an air mattress is worth its value and then some. And it may sound obvious, but if you bring an air mattress, don’t forget the air pump and extra batteries too. Again, learn from my mistakes.

 

Step 4: Get your lights ready to shine

SlapLit LED Drink Wrap

On your first night out in the backcountry, you’ll be shocked by how truly pitch-black it gets in the later hours. Protect yourself from a night of frustration and mishaps with plenty of portable illumination. I love the lightweight, hat-friendly Radiant® 170 Rechargeable Clip Light for prepping and cooking our dinner by the fire and when walking around the site. And the SlapLit™ LED Drink Wrap will solve all of your drink mix-ups and spills, while some NiteGems will allow you to easily dig through your cooler and spot your favorite snacks and drinks.

While the pure peace of sitting around a campfire can’t be overstated, that doesn’t you mean you can’t enjoy the rest of your site, too. When you get an itch for entertainment, gather 'round for a game of cards – a BugLit® Rechargeable Micro Lantern is a camp table lighting solution the kids will love. Bring along a Flashflight®  to toss around under the stars for some nighttime fun (bonus points if you snap some color-changing long-exposure shots).

Semi-pro tip: Camping is better with dogs, plain and simple. Keep your furry best friends protected and visible with a NiteDog™ Rechargeable LED Collar or Rechargeable NiteHowl®.

Semi-pro tip 2: While the whole point of camping is to unplug, keeping your phone charged is always advantageous for photos, music, or safety reasons. Pick up the Radiant® 314 Rechargeable Lantern for campsite or in-tent illumination with built-in USB charging.

 

Step 5: Rest easy (and critter-free)

Camping tips for beginners

After a night of making memories (and s’mores), all that’s left to do is hit the hay. Bear in mind, you’re not the only creatures out there. Avoid any encounters with bears, raccoons, and other scavengers by cleaning up your site and stowing away any trash in sealable bear-proof containers. We like to put our trash, cooler, and extra food in the car to be safe, but some opt to hang theirs up in a tree — just make sure to never leave it with you in the tent. Once your site is cleaned up, make sure to put out your fire completely by dousing it with water and spreading out the embers to prevent any reigniting.

Semi-pro tip: You’ll likely wake up colder than you expected, so make sure to wear extra layers and thick socks. My secret weapon to a warm night in the tent is cuddling up to my dog.

 

Stay safe, happy campers!

At this point, congrats! You’ve weathered through your first camping night. You might wake up early with a few backaches, but as they say, "No pain, no gain." Bask in the beauty of pure, natural views with the smell of sweet campfire as you enjoy a fresh breakfast and coffee à la French Press. Enjoy your trip, happy campers!

Note: As the world continues to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, many campgrounds and National Parks may be closed or operating with strict guidelines. Refer to your local resources for the latest updates and camping practices, and stay safe out there!

Topics: outdoors, LED Pet Products, LED Dog Products, Flying Disc, Flashflight, Adventure, "travel", LED Products, runoff, waterproof bags, dry bags, camping, headlamp, slaplit

We Chat With 2019's Awe x Nite Ize Summit Scholarship Winner

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Mar 12, 2020 10:23:37 AM

MelissaBlog-Featured

Last year, we worked with our friends at AWExpeditions to create a scholarship for one woman to travel to Nepal for a mountaineering trip of a lifetime. We are excited to announce that we have again partnered with AWExpeditions to bring the Summit Scholarship back for year two! We caught up with Melissa, last year's Summit Scholarship recipient, to talk about her experience trekking to Everest Basecamp and summiting 20,305ft Island Peak with AWE. Read her interview here and prepare to be inspired.

 

Q: Hi Melissa! First off, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into mountaineering.

Sure! I have lived in Boulder, Colorado the last 8 years where I’ve been enjoying the Rocky Mountains, but am originally from California where I grew up exploring the Sierras and Cascades. I work as a water resource engineer and hydrologist, and feel lucky to work in a profession in which I can connect to the outdoor places I love. Although I enjoyed the outdoors growing up, moving to Colorado after college multiplied the opportunities for getting outside. I made a conscious effort to try every activity that sounded fun and at least a little bit terrifying, all of which led me to appreciate the numerous dramatic peaks in the Rockies. I had the opportunity to learn how to ice climb, started overcoming my fear of heights by scrambling (climbing low-grade exposed rock without a rope), then transitioned from resort snowboarding to backcountry skiing to spend more time in the wilderness. Simultaneously, I pushed myself to move higher and further on my trail runs. I started snow climbing after recovering from a near-death accident in order to conquer my PTSD and fell in love with it. I realized that all of these activities could naturally blend together as interesting and fun mountaineering objectives. 

 

Q: Why did you apply for the AWE x Nite Ize Summit Scholarship and how did it feel to win?

The AWE x Nite Ize Summit Scholarship embodied my journey into outdoor independence. Although I found great outdoor communities, nearly all my foundational experiences in the outdoors relied on a male partner.  I often depended on a significant other to plan objectives and felt like I needed him there to feel secure in challenging environments. If I wasn’t invited on outings or my partner wasn’t available, I felt like I couldn’t do the things I wanted to. After being excluded from a series of trips that I felt prepared for because I was told I couldn’t handle them, I decided to take charge of the situation by training myself to execute trips independently. I started getting outside more on my own and took classes to educate myself. I realized that many other female friends felt a similar lack of empowerment and began pushing others to do more all-female trips. The AWE x Nite Ize Summit Scholarship emphasizes female empowerment in the outdoors to encourage more equality in high altitude mountaineering and break down some of the barriers women have historically faced in getting into the sport. While I had spent a lot of time building the essential skills for mountaineering, I still wasn’t sure how to put together a high altitude expedition. Sunny Stroeer and her partners have recognized that this is a huge factor in the lack of female mountaineers and this scholarship was a great opportunity to break into the sport in a more controlled environment led by a woman that encompassed all of these values.  I was incredibly honored to win this scholarship. From what I understand there were women from over 20 countries who applied for this opportunity, all of whom had incredible stories. This speaks to the importance of the work Sunny, Nite Ize, and Lowa are all promoting.

 

Q: How did you train for the expedition to Everest Base Camp and Island Peak?

 Living in Colorado, I am lucky to have access to many peaks in the 14,000 ft elevation range. We had a fairly long winter prior to the expedition, so I spent the spring climbing and skiing the taller mountains in the state using the technical gear (crampons and ice axe) I would use on Island Peak. Over the summer, I got up to 14,000 ft. one to two days a week by squeezing in trail runs and scrambles up high into the dark hours after work and doing longer (7-12 hour) pushes on ridges at altitude on the weekends. I had just transitioned from graduate school to a full time job so efficiency was essential. My main goal was to stay acclimated and prolong my endurance as much as possible. Speed was not as critical as the expedition would require long days carrying a heavy pack at altitude.

 

MelissaBlog-Rocks

 

Q: What surprised you the most while on your expedition?

 This was my first trip to the Himalayas, and I made a point not to look up photos of the hiking region prior to the expedition apart from the necessary technical aspects of the climb. I was blown away by the dramatic, lush canyons below treeline and the enormous rivers we crossed over precarious suspension bridges. Once we climbed into the alpine, the mountains were on a scale that dwarfed every previous experience I had. It is an incredible feeling, hiking on a plateau at 14,000 ft. and seeing mountains stretch more than 10,000 ft. above you. That said, I think the Sherpa people were just as impressive. They live at elevations up to 17,000 ft. and are the loveliest and most generous people I’ve encountered.

 

 

Q: What was it like to reach the summit?

 Reaching the summit was even more satisfying and fulfilling than I anticipated. I say that because I had tried not to put too much pressure on myself to reach the summit so that I could embrace the experience regardless of the outcome. However, at about 19,000 ft. I really began to struggle physically with the altitude and wasn’t sure if I could finish the route. I think I had become weaker from having issues with sleep apnea at altitude a few days before summit day in which I would stop breathing at night and wake myself up. The final push is a 1,000 ft., steep headwall on which you need to simultaneously ascend with a jumar in one hand while climbing with an ice axe with your other hand. My team noticed that I was starting to deteriorate and provided an enormous amount of emotional support to help boost me up the final part of the climb. Pushing through that mental barrier was huge for me in recognizing my potential. It was also wonderful to celebrate with the team on the summit with a 100% success rate. One of our Sherpas celebrated by taking his shirt off (at 6,000m!) and opening a can of beer to share with the team. And I suppose I should mention that the views were spectacular!

MelissaBlog-Resting

 

Q: What Nite Ize product came in most handy on the trip?

I enjoyed using a variety of Nite Ize products on the trip, but I really relied on the INOVA STS PowerSwitch headlamp. Throughout the trip we had minimal to no lighting at night in our teahouse rooms and on our summit day we spent the first many hours hiking in the dark through technical terrain. I have often been disappointed with the brightness and reach of headlamps I’ve used, but this one is incredibly bright on high power. It also has a dimming feature to conserve power, as well as a red light function to use in the evening at camp when you don’t want to blind your climbing team. The other feature that was really helpful was the ability to swipe the top of the headlamp to change the settings and toggle it on and off. On Island Peak I was wearing enormous mittens and usually trying to press a button on a headlamp is challenging, but this technology allows you to have full functionality without exposing your hands. The other great feature is that the headlamp is both rechargeable and uses AAA batteries so you have backup methods for charging. I should also mention that the Nite Ize team was incredible to work with and was very generous in its support of this scholarship.

 

Q: What was your favorite part of the trip as a whole?

Everything! But if I have to choose something, I would say the relationships I formed along the way. I shared a room and tent with Kerry, one of my new role models and the other female participant on the trip. We bonded over our suffering, laughed at the deteriorating state of our cleanliness and ultimately pushed each other up the summit. I had wonderful talks with Sunny and her husband Paul, a climbing icon himself, about making goals happen and about general life wisdom. Alex, the only male participant kept the climb light-hearted with his humor. This team of strangers quickly became more like a family to me and I know these relationships will last the rest of my life. On top of that, our two Sherpas, MIngma and Phurba, introduced me to a completely new culture and became good friends. These two had climbed Everest multiple times as well as many more technically challenging peaks - coming from the land of super-athletes in Boulder, this was definitely a humbling experience.

Melissa-Blog-Climbing

 

Q: What’s the next adventure you hope to tackle?

This year I have a few smaller objectives including skiing a few more of the volcanoes in the Cascades  and completing the longest and steepest ultra running race I’ve done. However, next year I would like to try to ski Denali. It is almost exactly the same elevation as Island Peak, but has more relief and more objective hazards. I love Alaska and think skiing a high altitude peak would be incredible. Immediately after the trip I thought I wouldn’t be interested in more high altitude climbs because of the health challenges, but my memory seems to change over time...

 

We're excited to take the Summit Scholarship into year two by sponsoring one woman to join AWE on their expedition to climb Kilimanjaro this fall! If reading this has piqued your interest, applications are open on www.awexpeditions.org from March 16th - April 15th, 2020.

Topics: Adventure, Field Team, Mountaineering, AWE

5 Ways to Make The Most Out of Your Leap Day

Posted by Taylor Orebaugh on Feb 20, 2020 3:13:22 PM

4 Ways to Make The Most Out of Your Leap Day

Once every four years, we get an extra day in February as part of our Leap Year, called Leap Day. As a result, we have a 366-day calendar year in 2020. What will you do with your extra 24 hours?

 

1. Hit the road with an adventure in mind.

Steelie Windshield Mount

An extra day means an extra chance to check something off the bucket list, whether it’s an adventure to a small nearby town, a hike to a hidden lake, or a sledding trip with the kids. If you’re planning to be around water or snow, bring a RunOff Waterproof Pocket to keep your phone, ID, and cards dry and accessible. Don't forget your Steelie to help navigate your way to adventure!

 

2. Clear out that cluttered basement or garage.

How to Organize Your Garage

Leap Day is your opportunity to take on that cluttered part of your home without losing time. Grab 3 boxes and label them “keep”, “donate”, and “trash”, placing items into their respective boxes as you make your way through the space. Once you’ve cleared out the mess, use Gear Ties to organize tangled cords and bundles, and large S-Biners to hang up old backpacks, tools, and supplies. 

Tip: If you struggle letting go of things, use Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method. Hold each item in your hand and see if it “sparks joy” or makes you feel happy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, donate or toss it.

 

3. Get Moving.

SpokeLit LED Wheel Light

While it may already be the last day of February, there’s no time like the present to start working towards your health goals. Pull the bike out of the garage or take off on an evening run to get some fresh air and be active at the same time. You can even bring the whole family along to spend quality time together while working up a sweat. Clip a TagLit Rechargeable Magnetic LED Marker to your clothing or a SpokeLit Rechargeable Wheel Light to your bike so you remain visible to drivers when you're out after sundown.

 

4. Give Back.

LeapDay-GiveBack

One surefire way to make yourself feel proud is to volunteer for a cause you're passionate about. Volunteering opportunities are endless, but some ideas to get you started are helping out at a local food bank, animal shelter, or senior center, participating in a public spaces cleanup, or you can even opt to donate blood. Websites like VolunteerMatch and JustServe are helpful resources for finding projects and organizations in your area. You'll be amazed at how good you'll feel after giving back to your community.

 

5. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your extra day off.  

S-Biner Ahhh... Aluminum Bottle Opener

In the same way that Leap Day adds balance to our calendar year, this extra day can add balance to your life, too. If you’re always sticking to a schedule and on-the-go, this is your chance to recharge, guilt-free. Crack open a cold one (with an Ahhh... Aluminum Bottle Opener of course), recline that chair, and enjoy a free day of relaxation, binge watching, and maybe even a nap. And if you took our advice on #4, you definitely deserve it!

 

What are you planning to do with your Leap Day? Let us know in the comments and we wish you an adventurous, productive, or relaxing free day!

Topics: leap year, Garage Organization, Gear Ties, Leap Day, Adventure, Bike, DIY, Home, Organization, Fitness, runoff, waterproof bags, dry bags, Steelie

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