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

Pure Hunting's Willi Schmidt Reveals His Favorite Gear

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Aug 20, 2020 2:59:55 PM

Pure Hunting's Willi Schmidt Reveals His Favorite Gear

If you're familiar with the world of hunting, you might recognize our friend (and Field Team member) Willi Schmidt from his show Pure Hunting on The Sportsman Channel. Willi has been bow hunting for nearly 30 years, and enjoys sharing his expertise with the world. When Willi isn't hunting or filming his series, he loves to play golf, work out in his home gym, spend time with his family and dogs, and explore the great outdoors around where he resides in Bozeman, Montana. We asked Willi to share his go-to gear he uses for hunting, as well as his favorite products for other areas of his active lifestyle.


Favorite Products For Hunting

Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp

"It is very important to use products I can trust while on my hunting adventures. A few of my favorite items are my weapons, whether it’s my Hoyt bow or Browning firearm. They are high quality and I am confident when I use them. I am also sure to take a few lighting products from Nite Ize. The Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp is my “go to” headlamp. 300 lumens gives me plenty of light, and it has 5 settings, including a red LED option that allows me to get where I’m going without becoming night blind or spooking game. The INOVA T8R Flashlight is always in my pack as well. It also offers five lighting modes and is rechargeable, but can also run on CR123 batteries."

 

Favorite Products For Fishing

RunOff Waterproof Bags

"Fly fishing is a hobby I have that I haven’t spent as much time doing over the last two years until recently. Since I organized my gear recently, I made sure I have a few products with me at all times. Obviously my fishing rod, waders, boots and Umpqua fishing sling need to go on each trip, or I guess I’m not fishing. A couple of items I make sure to have in my Umpqua sling are by Nite Ize. I always need a couple of S-Biners, and at least one of their Runoff Waterproof Bags. I connect the S-Biners to my sling so I can quickly and securely attach items like hats, sunglass cases or bug repellant. The RunOff Waterproof 3-1-1 Pouch holds my license, car keys and phone, and I have total confidence in these items staying dry, even if I slip and fall in the river. The RunOff series of bags are truly waterproof with their TRU Zip waterproof zipper and RF welded seams."

 

Favorite Products For Camping

SlapLit LED Drink Wrap

"When my wife and I moved to Montana, we starting camping much more often. We love enjoying the outdoors and rely on several products to make our time there more enjoyable. Our Rise flyrods are always with us as well as our Vortex binoculars. We don’t always get to use them, but when a bear makes a surprise appearance, it’s great to have good optics to enjoy the wildlife. We keep a Radiant 314 Rechargeable Lantern from Nite Ize in our camper. It has 3 modes for brightness, is rechargeable and can also charge other items with its USB port. We also love the Slap Lit LED Drink Wraps – they keep our drinks cold, and the LED strip gives a cool light around the campfire, plus the US Flag design allows us to show our patriotic side."

 

Favorite Products For Road Trips

Steelie Vent Mount Kit Plus

"I typically go on a couple of road trips a year. I might be traveling for a hunt, golf trip or visiting family back in Colorado. Whether it’s for safety or convenience, I make sure to always have the following products in my car at all times. For safety, I make sure I have a tow rope, jumper cables and battery charger/tire inflator under my seat. I also have a package of Nite Ize Gear Ties in various sizes. On one road trip for hunting, my wheel well cover came loose and I was in the middle of nowhere. I used a Gear Tie to reattach it until I could get back to civilization for some auto clips. For convenience I also rely on the Steelie Vent Kit to keep our phones handy for music, accepting phone calls, and charging, plus it keeps them out of cup holders or from sliding off the dash or console."

 

Favorite Products For Dogs

RadDog Collar + Leash SpotLit XL

"My wife and I have two dogs, which need frequent walks and other entertainment. Most of our favorite pet products are made by Nite Ize. We use everything from the locking S-Biner for attaching their tags to their collars and the Huck ‘N Tuck GlowStreak ball and thrower to exercise our Lab, who seems to go non-stop. Two of our favorites are the RadDog All-in-One Collar + Leash. This short leash is integrated into the collar so you always have a leash at the ready and when you can take them off leash, you just release it and it retracts into the collar. No one likes to talk about poo, but the Pack-A-Poo dispenser and refill bags are great. The dispenser can be clipped to a leash or a belt loop to keep it accessible, and the bags are easy to tear off, durable and compostable. Nite Ize has so many products you need for your pet."

 

Favorite Products For Around The House

Gear Tie Foam

"Keeping up a house and the yard can be hard work, but my wife and I use a bunch of Nite Ize products to make things easier. Sometimes we’ve used their products to solve a problem we didn’t even know we had. I have used their S-Biners for years on my backpack and hunts, and have found a few uses for them around the house as well, including hanging bird feeders and wasp catchers. Nite Ize has a wide variety of Gear Ties in different styles and sizes, and we always have a supply around the house. We use the smaller sizes for managing all kinds of cords and cables, and their new Gear Tie Foam Reusable Twist Ties have come in handy for our trees and garden. We have a Nite Ize bin in our garage full of different sizes of S-Biners and Gear Ties – we never know when we’ll have a use for them."

 

Catch Willi and Pure Hunting in its 9th season on Monday nights on The Sportsman Channel. You might spot a few of these products mentioned here, and maybe pick up some new tips to boot.

Topics: Gear Ties, hunting, Home, gardening, fishing, Steelie, dogs, camping

10 Tips For The Perfect Road Trip

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jul 15, 2020 1:39:01 PM

10 Tips For The Perfect Road Trip

If you’re in need of a change in scenery but airline travel may be out of the question, a good old-fashioned American road trip could be just what you need to vacation responsibly and on a budget. Whether this is your first foray into multi-day road tripping, or you’re a seasoned traveler in need of a refresher, here are some basic tips to make sure your trip goes off without a hitch.

 

1. Check Your Vehicle

Most likely you’ll opt to take your own car (or a friend or family member’s) when you hit the road. Before you roll out, it’s a good idea to get your car checked out and serviced. Make sure you’ve had a fresh oil change and your tires are in good shape.

Another option you might consider is renting a car for the drive. Maybe you need something with a little extra space, or maybe you don’t want to add extra miles to your own car. You could also consider renting a camper van so you don’t have to use hotels or bring your own camping gear.

 

2. Plan Your Route

Steelie Magnetic Phone Mount

After deciding where you’re headed (National Parks make for great destinations), you’ll want to map directions. You might consider taking a scenic route and hitting some points of interest along the way. Check out the site roadtrippers.com to discover fun places to stop and see along the way – all you need to do is enter your start and end points. You can even edit your route accordingly on the site. When you’re ready to hit the road, load it up into your Google Maps.

You’ll also want to keep your phone handy for GPS and music without causing distractions while driving. Steelie magnetic phone mounts are perfect for the job, with several options to fit your needs. My personal favorite is the Steelie Orbiter Dash Kit because the metal plate lays flat on your phone case. If you’re renting a vehicle, you can use the Steelie Vent Kit, which just clips right onto the vent of any car.

 

3. Book Your Accommodations

Road Trip Tips

Whether you’re opting to camp along the way or take advantage of some local stays, planning your accommodations ahead is important. For camping (or van camping/RVing) you’ll have to research where you can stay, and make reservations. (Don’t count on walk-up sites being available, especially in the busy summer months.) If you’re relatively new to camping, we have a great guide to help you get started here.

You can also check vacation rental sites like Airbnb or Vrbo to check for any unique and budget-friendly stays along your way. There are a plethora of hotel deal websites out there these days, but when I don’t have a specific hotel in mind, my go-to is Hotwire. They don’t show you the name of the hotel until after you book – just the area it is located in and the review score – but the deals are worth it if you make sure you book one with great reviews.

 

4. Curate The Ultimate Playlist

No road trip is complete without an epic soundtrack. Take some time before your travels to curate your playlist on iTunes or Spotify. You can also ask your travel buddy (or buddies) to make their own as well so you can take turns and share your favorite songs (although generally speaking in my car, the driver gets to pick the music). You can also download some of your favorite podcasts, or an audio book for the ride to add some variety to your listening.

If you’re using Spotify, keep in mind that cell service could get spotty on the drive, so it’s best to download your playlist directly to your phone to keep the tunes rolling.

 

5. Prepare for the Unexpected

Car Emergency Kit

Although fingers crossed you won’t need it, it’s important to be prepared for things that could go wrong. Make sure to keep a first aid kit in your car (we have a handy guide on making your own here). You should also keep jumper cables, a backup phone battery, blanket, flashlight, knife, and a few other essentials you can read about in our Emergency Car Kit blog here.

I also check that my AAA membership is up to date in case I run into any car trouble.

 

6. Hit the Grocery Store

I always stock up on my favorite Trader Joe’s snacks (and lots of water) before a road trip. I like a balance between healthier snacks like nuts and dried fruit and some indulgences (for me, cheese crackers and chocolate). We also like to pack some beers in a cooler so we have a cold refreshment at the ready when we make it to our destination. (Pro tip: how many times have you arrived at your hotel room equipped with brews only to find there’s no opener? Save yourself a failed party trick and clip an Ahhh… Bottle Opener onto your cooler.) I often prep some PB&Js and stick those in the cooler as well, in case we get hungry while driving through an extended stretch of nothingness.

 

7. Pack It Up Pack It In

Road Trip Tips

Without going into a lengthy list of items to pack (I found a great one here), I do want to talk about how to pack. It seems whenever it’s time to hit the road, I always have a hard time fitting everything in the car (add in a dog and a kiddo or two and it gets even harder). My RunOff Waterproof Packing Cubes are now a must-have when it comes to consolidating my clothes. As a notorious over-packer, these have saved me on numerous occasions. They keep my clothes organized, and I can compress them down to fit inside my suitcase or duffel bag.

Still running slim on car space? If you have a roof rack, you’re in luck. Strap some luggage on top and secure it with a Dual CamJam Tie Down System to be sure it doesn’t become roadkill.

 

8. Bring Your Furry Family Members

Road Trip With Dogs

When I’m traveling by car instead of plane, I try to take my dog along for the ride if possible. If we’re camping, I double check the campground’s website to make sure dogs on leash are allowed. If I’m booking a hotel or Airbnb, I look for places by checking the “pet friendly” filters. A handy site to bookmark if you’re traveling with dogs is bringfido.com. You can put in the city or town you’re visiting and it will give you restaurants, breweries, stores or parks you can visit with your pooch in tow. They also have an app that gives you on-the-spot results based on your location!

If this is our dog’s first road trip or you’re not sure how he or she will do on the ride, check with your vet beforehand and they might prescribe a sedative or something to settle an upset stomach. Make sure the drive is safe for them too, by investing in a dog seatbelt or car seat so they don’t go flying if you have to make an abrupt stop. When it’s time for a bathroom break, a Pack-A-Poo on your leash will make sure you’re ready to clean up the mess. Before you load back up into the car after a pit stop, offer them some water (they need to stay hydrated too). I keep two of the RadDog Collapsible Bowls in my dog’s travel kit – one for water and one for food. They pack down super small so you don’t have to worry about large dog bowls taking up space in the car. Last but not least, clip a SpotLit onto your dog’s collar before you set out so they can be visible after dark for nighttime walks and potty breaks.

 

9. Carry Cash

If you’re anything like me these days, your wallet carries a lot more plastic than paper. It’s always a good idea to have cash on hand while traveling in general, but especially when you’re on unfamiliar roads. Not all highways are free, and there’s a chance you could run into some tolls, so it’s best to arrive prepared. Not to mention that many National Parks and campgrounds accept cash only.

 

10. Document, Document, Document

Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether

Last but not least, make sure you take lots of photos along the way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve regretted not taking enough pictures on a trip, and when I do stumble upon photos from vacations 10-20 years ago, it’s always a welcome reminder. The FlipOut Phone Handle + Stand is great for snapping perfect selfies or scenic shots, and the stand comes in handy for catching up on your latest Netflix binge once you’re ready to relax at your destination. I’m also a big fan of the Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether, which acts like a “leash” for your phone. This helps me carry my phone around on my wrist when my hands are full, but also ensures that I don’t drop it off the side of a cliff while trying to capture the moment.

 

Now that your vehicle is in top shape, your route is planned, the car is packed, the tunes are cued up, and your snacks are in reach, it’s time to hit the open road. My final word of advice? Watch out for speed traps, especially in rural areas. Keep note of speed limit signs because if there’s one thing that will ruin your fancy-free vacation mood, it’s a speeding ticket. What are your road trip tips? Share with the community in the comments section below. Have fun and stay safe out there!

Topics: "travel", Steelie, camping, vanlife

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

Build Your Own Backyard Camping Adventure

Posted by Katie S on May 6, 2020 10:18:33 AM

Backyard Camping

The days may feel like they are dragging, but look on the bright side, they are actually getting longer – as in more daylight and warmer! So, if you’re running out of ways to keep your family entertained indoors, then it’s a great time to move outside. A backyard campout kills a lot of birds with one stone. You get the kids out of the house and entertained (and no screens!), you can test out your camping gear and make sure it’s ready for the season, and you can test your skills and teach your kids new ones in the privacy of your backyard – judgment free from other campers if you don’t quite remember how to set up that tent. 

Here in Colorado we’ve had a nice sustained temperature spike, so it seemed like the perfect time to dust off the tent and spend a night of “practice camping” outside with our one and three-year-old. Here are a few tips based on how our adventure went.

 

1. Set up the tent in the morning.

GearLine Organization SystemThe novelty of having a tent set up in the backyard was exceptional entertainment. The kids played in it ALL day. Get your bedding and camp gear set up and organized from the start – the kids enjoyed clipping items to the Gear Line throughout the day, and we used it to hang up our wet clothes after a run through the sprinkler. We had snacks in the tent, we read books, we set up our air mattresses, we jumped around on the air mattresses (yes, that’s plural…see tip #2).

 

 

2. There are no limits on comfort.

Have a family backyard campout

With backpacking, you’re limited by weight, with car camping, you’re limited by trunk space, but with backyard camping it’s no holds barred – load that tent up with all the good cushy stuff. Especially if your kids are new to camping or haven’t done much, you want to give them the best shot at a good/warm/fun night’s sleep. We have a behemoth car camping tent, so I loaded in two large air mattresses, a Pack N Play, and let the kids drag out all their favorite blankets and big stuffed animals to make it cozy. I was also hoping for a half-decent night’s sleep. 

 

3. Take this opportunity to show them the ropes.

Baby bunnyHave your kids help set up and take down the tent and teach them how to properly and safely build a fire (I grew up building fires log-cabin style, but now more often go for the teepee – to each their own). Also, include some of the basic camp rules like washing dishes right away and no shoes or food in the tent (the latter rule we broke of course, but that’s the nice thing about backyard camping – it’s a lot less likely a bear is going to come sniffing for snacks). You can plan a little “nature walk” around the house too. We managed to find two garter snakes and a baby bunny. You never know what you’ll find when you slow down and look a little closer!

 

 

4. Light up the night for added fun.

SlapLit LED Drink Wrap

If your kids are younger, sleeping in new places can be unsettling, even if it’s just the backyard. Having lots of lights can make it feel safer and more fun. In true Nite Ize style, each of the kids had their own BugLit  Micro Flashlights, and everyone’s drinks had SlapLit LED Drink Wraps (which turned out to be the perfect night light and an easy way to track down water bottles in the middle of the night too)!

We kept a Radiant 100 Lantern hanging in the tent, and just after dark, the kids were mesmerized by the color-changing Flashflight.

Flashflight LED Flying Disc

Just before bed, we loaded them up with chocolate and marshmallows by the fire (because it’s not really camping if there aren’t s’mores), climbed into the tent, and read books by headlamp, hoping that everyone would go right to sleep.

Backyard Camping with Kids

 

5. Don’t set your expectations too high.

Maybe don’t go into this expecting beautiful Instagram-worthy family camping photos and the greatest night of sleep ever. If your kids are anything like mine, by the end of the night it may resemble something more like Lord of the Flies, and it could be that no one actually sleeps the whole night outside. I knew that the chance of all four of us waking up in the tent the next morning were slim. I was pleasantly surprised however, when I woke up around 7AM to my three-year-old grinning ear-to-ear and so proud of himself for sleeping outside the whole night. That was easily the best morning news I’ve gotten in months.

Camping With Kids

The last few months have left us all adapting to new norms. We hope you are all staying safe and healthy and are finding your silver linings in the current situation. If you have tips for our community on staying sane at home, please leave them in the comments section below – added bonus if they include Nite Ize products!

Topics: Flashflight, Home, camping, slaplit, gearline, kids

Favorite Vanlife Products From a Full-Time Vanlifer

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jan 22, 2020 9:27:04 AM

By Guest Blogger Colin Boyd of Afuera Vida

Favorite VanLife Products From a Full-Time VanLifer

While every van dwellers’ home is unique, we all suffer the same challenges found in a nomadic lifestyle. A few that come to mind are - illumination, keeping our home strapped/tied down for bumpy drives, and keeping our kit organized. When planning to write a guest blog for Nite Ize I simply began looking around our 1978 Mercedes 508D converted fire truck for inspiration and realized that Nite Ize was quietly sitting in the background, providing us with greater ease with smart and effective solutions for the van dweller. So for those of you looking to increase your satisfaction with van life or wondering what application one of these nifty products may be used for, here is a list of our top six products in no specific order.

 

1. RadDog All-In-One Collar + Leash

RadDog All-In-One Collar + Leash

This smart and user-friendly collar constantly saves our butts. When we pull over in any new spot, we are comfortable letting our dog Lola hop out and do her business knowing if there’s leash laws or other dogs passing by, we’ve got her covered. I can’t tell you the number of times we couldn’t find a leash, but the collar was already on - letting us go ahead without searching every corner for it. Hands down, if you own a dog that behaves just as well on or off leash, you need this product.

 

2. RadDog Collapsible Bowl

RadDog Collapsible Bowl

Over the past year we’ve covered over 18,000 miles in every corner of the states and we  love to take our young family out on adventures when and wherever we can. With two toddlers - both of which who typically need a lift on any walk over an hour - we have little space for extras and Lola (our dog) is usually left to finding her own water or slurping out of a water bottle and my hand with most landing on the ground. The packable dog bowl is lighter than a toothbrush and literally takes up less space than one. It has kept Lola charging longer and makes it way easier to keep her happy on the trail.

 

3. Radiant 314 Rechargeable Lantern

Radiant 314 Rechargeable Lantern

When your family of four lives in less than 120 square feet, any light can affect bedtime routines and early mornings. With three dim settings, a handy clip, and a USB charge port out, the lantern is a swiss army knife for the van and mobile charging. I’ve found myself packing this during the day if we need extra cell phone juice and also having enough light to read bedtime stories at night. Since it’s lightweight and super durable, we often use it out of the van to light up our camp for the night and give it to the kids to play with.

 

4. Gear Ties

AfueraVida-4

The Nite Ize Gear Tie is quite possibly the most useful item in our gear kit. I have this holding bananas and books in place, my shower nozzle on, organizing my electric cords, and strapping our backpack guitar to the ceiling. In some of these instances rope may work, but with the simple twist and the guaranteed hold up over time, I’d find myself reaching for a Gear Tie over rope in many low consequence circumstances.

 

5. Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp

AfueraVida-5

Light is so critical and I never know when I will need it most. It could be a break down at night, taking our oldest out for a pee in the middle of the night or heading out on a backpacking or biking adventure. In any case, a Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp is always close by and since I have USB ports all over the van, recharging is easy ensuring I’m all set for the next night.

 

6. INOVA T8R PowerSwitch Rechargeable Flashlight

AfueraVida-6

I retired my Maglite after firing up the INOVA T8R PowerSwitch Rechargeable Flashlight. Bringing 762 lumens to the dark sky in a pocket sized light, this beast is my new best friend. Just the other night, we found ourselves (typically) arriving at our planned destination well after dark. The dirt road deteriorated quickly and we were entering what appeared like rock crawling terrain in the desert. With the high beams on, there still wasn’t enough light to assess if we’d be able to get out if we drop any further along the single lane track. With the INOVA T8R  in hand, I tripled my vision out the window and on further inspection by foot scouted the rest of the track and the campsite from over 300 yards away. In the past, I would have likely opted for the safe route and just shut it down before getting myself too deep up the creek without a paddle. With the INOVA T8R I feel so much more confident showing up to difficult boondocking sites at night. 

AfueraVida-7

As a practicing minimalist, I am very picky about what makes it into my space, and all of these truly have saved me time and energy over the course of the past few months. Literally from the moment I received a grip of Gear Ties, they went to use and the Steelie is literally my steadfast driving companion in any driving situation. If you are a van lifer or are looking to buy something for one close to you, consider any of our top choices as none will sit idly in a cabinet as the utility for the van life application is the perfect fit.

Topics: LED Flashlights, Gear Ties, Pets, dogs, camping, headlamp, vanlife

INVENTOR-DRIVEN SOLUTIONS SINCE ’89

Over the past 30 years, Nite Ize has grown from a cabin-based startup to distributing 500+ products worldwide. We pride ourselves in being fun and functional, trusted and innovative, and obsessively dedicated to making products that are not only guaranteed for life, but guaranteed to improve your life.

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts