Running Wild In China

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Oct 2, 2019 10:24:32 AM
Fastest Known Time on the TransQilian
By Nite Ize Field Team Member Sunny Stroeer
 
Tears of gratitude are welling in my eyes. I slow down my steps, switch off my Radiant 300 Headlamp, and take a deep breath as I look up into the sea of brilliant stars. Even without a moon the night sky is on fire; the starlight is strong enough to faintly illuminate the boardwalk path that snakes out in front of me, leading farther into a beautiful Chinese mountain scape. 
 
It is 3:15am and I am by myself, deep in the Qilian mountains of remote Western China. A shooting star traces a bright arch in the sky above me. I shake my head in wonder, take another deep breath, and switch my light back on.  “Onwards - let’s do this!” I mumble to myself as I break into a light jog on the boardwalk.
 
Sunny Strooer Fastest Known Time
 
“This” is a speed record: I am in China to try and break the fastest known time (abbreviated as ‘FKT’ among trail runners) on a 65 mile loop course high up in the Qilian mountain range.
 
As an adventure athlete and ultra runner, long distance trails are my speciality. I am actually not a particularly fast runner, but thanks to years of training I can keep going for hours or even days without stopping. The higher up and harder the terrain, the better I tend to do.  That’s why this course, the TransQilian, is a compelling objective for me: it starts at 9,600ft above sea level and climbs as high as 14,600ft where it crosses a remote and technical mountain pass, nestled below towering glaciated peaks. 
 
Sunny Stroeer Ultra Runner
 
Right now I am only about a mile into the record attempt – I started running barely fifteen minutes ago, at 3am, after waking up in the middle of the night. I know that the boardwalk that I am following right now will give way to high alpine tundra and talus in just a few short miles, and I will no longer be alone: there are a handful of strong local Chinese ultra runners waiting to accompany me for sections of the course as pacers, to help with navigation and ensure my safety. 
 
This is what drives my deep sense of gratitude as I move through this starry mountain night: not only do I get to run here and experience a side of China that I didn’t know existed; I get to do it with the support of the budding local adventure community, feeling welcomed and embraced by a group of mountain athletes who are on the verge of changing the landscape of the global running world
 
In a matter of minutes I reach the end of the boardwalk and my first two Chinese pacers. Together we continue through the night, now on rough mountain trails that lead higher and higher up.  It is dark and cold and the altitude makes breathing more difficult with each step we take. We are near 13,000ft when dawn finally breaks; a warm glowing red and orange line on the horizon announces the arrival of the morning.  
 
Sunny Stroeer TransQilian
The difficulty of the terrain increases the higher we go.  We approach the course high point in a steep, talus filled bowl.  The line that I have chosen is different - steeper and more direct - than that of my companions; I can hear the worry in their voices as they shout at me in Chinese, presumably beckoning me to abandon my route choice and come join them in lower angle terrain.  I shout back in English, knowing they won’t be able to understand: “It’s fine! I’ll see you at the top…”
 
From here on out, the course blends into a flurry of trails and climbs and rocks and miles. Beautiful single track trail alternates with dirt roads through deep and narrow gorges; creek crossings lead to steep alpine tundra with wide open views. The first aid station goes by in a blur, together with a change of pacers; then another, and another - before I know it I am at the last aid station before the finish, fifty miles and almost eighteen hours into my record run. One last fuel break surrounded by a dozen pacers, crew and fans (I’m very glad for my SlapLit drink wrap here to keep tabs on which beverage is mine!) and I am on my way again.  
 
At this point my feet are tired and my legs are sore from a full night and day of racing - but my feeling of gratitude is as fresh as it was back on that boardwalk at the beginning of my run. I now know that I am about to break the TransQilian speed record by a good four hours… but that is not the point; because records are never the point: they are just a reason for others to care about the feat. At the end of the day, it’s the experience that counts - and what an adventure this one has been, start to finish! 
 
Sunny Stroeer FKT on the TransQilian
 
#LifesAdventureKit
 
—— 
Nite Ize Field Team member Sunny Stroeer completed the TransQilian course in 20 hours and 59 minutes, breaking the previous (men’s!) course record by over four hours. You can read more about the speed record and its genesis over on Sunny’s blog here and here, or follow Sunny’s adventures on Instagram
 
Sunny Stroeer
 
Sunny used the following Nite Ize Gear in China: 

Topics: Field Team

Life’s Adventure Kit: Vanlife Edition

Posted by Sunny Stroeer on Jul 18, 2019 10:27:24 AM

By Nite Ize Field Team Member Sunny Stroeer

I am many things: I am an adventurer, a record breaker, a wife; a Harvard MBA, a recovering strategy consultant, and – as of the last four years - I am also somewhat of a serial #vanlifer. 

Vanlife has long graduated from its renegade counter-culture beginnings to cover a broad spectrum: from folks living out of their barely converted hatchbacks all the way to the fully-tricked-out $80,000 Sprinter van with 4WD and a custom interior that would give the most luxurious RV a run for its money.

My personal vanlife experience falls closer to the humble end of the spectrum - I bought my first dream mobile in 2015, an old Chevy Astro van named Eddie, for less than $3k on Craigslist. Ripping out the seats and a bit of basic carpentry gave me just enough headroom and storage space to have a little mobile adventure basecamp for one.

Sunny and Eddie

Paul and MerlotThree years and one wedding later, it was time to upsize so my husband Paul and I could live on the road as a couple. Once again, we scoured Craigslist and finally settled on a 2003 Ford E350 XL - a spacious but rusty bargain for $7k - whom we named Merlot the Van.

If there’s one thing that I have learned in my years of living on the road, it’s the importance of space and functionality in a van.  That’s why I’ve come to use and love a ton of Nite Ize gear; here are five of my favorites that I work with on a daily basis:

 

Gear Ties. Everybody loves Gear Ties, but it’s hard to overstate their usefulness in the van. We use them to secure our curtains, as a handy paper towel holder, for bookends, to hang lanterns, to organize our door storage space, and as a sunglasses holder in the driver’s cab. We’ve even used Gear Ties to fix a loose mounting bracket on our exhaust system that was causing a rattle!

Vanlife Gear Ties

GearLine. The GearLine is one of my new favorite tools. With space at a premium it’s important for us to be able to use hanging space efficiently, and that’s exactly what the GearLine was designed for. Back in my old one-person van I actually used to (poorly) jerry-rig a homemade version of the same concept, stringing paracord and spiffing it up with knots for spacers… but that didn’t work very well for anything but the lightest loads.  You can imagine my joy when I got my hands on my first GearLine.

Vanlife GearLine

Steelie. The Steelie phone mount system is an obvious choice for any driver, but we get a lot more use out of it than handsfree navigation: many surfaces in Merlot The Van are metal, and that means that my phone sticks to just about anything!

Pro tip: even though I use the Steelie Phone Socket directly on the van’s walls, you may want to consider using a Steelie Dash Mount to keep painted surfaces scratch-free.

05_SunnyStroeer_NI_Vanlife

Vanlife RunOff BagsRunOff bags. The new line of RunOff bags has been getting tons of attention - and awards - since their introduction a few months ago. I love them in the van for three reasons:

    • Their revolutionary zipper seals gear and documents from the dust, dirt and spills that are all an inevitable part of living in a van.

    • They are hangable - remember what I said about the GearLine above!

    • The bags’ clear windows mean I know exactly what’s inside.

SlapLit LED Drink Wraps. Okay, these are just pure fun. One of the best parts of vanlife is getting to enjoy amazing views and a cold one at the end of a hot day of playing outdoors. Having different colored SlapLits to insulate, tell apart and light up our beverages is practical, yes, but mostly it’s simply just awesome.

07_SunnyStroeer_NI_VanLife

Now… these five items may be my favorites, but they are far from the full list of Nite Ize gear that Paul and I rely on to keep us organized and efficient in the van. We use a plethora of S-Biners, Nite Ize lanterns and headlamps - and the HideOut Magnetic Key Box has saved us more than once from getting locked out of the van.

08_SunnyStroeer_NI_Vanlife

In the end, vanlife is all about freedom and mobility - but in order to enjoy that freedom and mobility, you first have to learn to navigate minimal space in an organized and efficient way; that’s why Nite Ize is with us every mile of the road.

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Follow Sunny's adventures on Instagram at @sstroeer, visit her website and blog at www.sunnystroeer.com, and check out her organization Aurora Women’s Expeditions (AWE) at @awexpeditions and www.awexpeditions.org.

Topics: Gear Ties, outdoors, Adventure, Field Team, Organization, runoff, waterproof bags

Field Team Spotlight: Adam Goldberg, AGoldPhoto Pet Photography

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Apr 18, 2019 12:03:39 PM

Adam Goldberg

We caught up with Tampa-based all-star pet photographer Adam Goldberg, who is on a mission to raise $7,000 for local animal rescue charities in the next couple months. We chat about his journey as a pet photographer and how fundraising is playing a big role.

Q: Thanks for speaking with us, Adam! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into pet photography?

A: I worked at Humane Society of Broward County 2013-2015. I was originally hired to manage the website and social media. At the time, I didn’t know anything about photography, let alone how to take photos of animals. I trained myself by watching tutorials online and practicing every single day for 3-4 hours. I found taking photos of pets to be much easier than taking photos of people. Pets never ask to see the photo or to do a retake because their fur is out of place or their make up is bad!


Q: What are your go-to treats and toys to keep your photo subjects engaged?

A: Our go-to treats are Zukes. They are small in size and they have large bags that I can easily fit my hand into it while taking photos at the same time. We also like to use Justin’s Peanut Butter. Their squeeze packs are perfect for being on the go and the dogs love it! I always have a plastic squeaker on hand too.


Q: What is your secret to snapping the ultimate doggie portrait?

A: I try and keep a very calm demeanor. If I am calm, the dog will stay calm too. I also make TONS of noises to get their attention. The treats and peanut butter help a lot too! 

AGoldPhoto
Q: What has been the most surprising part of your journey as a pet photographer?

A: I actually met my now wife, Mary, through pet photography. She was working for an ad agency who had the Humane Society of Tampa Bay as a client. We met on the day of a shoot for a fundraising campaign and have been inseparable ever since. We got married on 3/1/19.


Q: How did you become involved in raising funds and awareness for animal rescue?

A: After leaving my job at the Humane Society of Broward County, I moved to Tampa to take a corporate job in marketing. I missed working with dogs every day, so I went to volunteer at Humane Society Tampa Bay on the weekends. They loved the photos and asked me to host a Pet Photo Shoot Fundraiser in their conference room. The first one was in July 2016. We have hosted over 250 events now and just surpassed $100,000 in donations. 


Q: Nite Ize is a sponsor of your 2019 Pet Photo Shoot Fundraiser Road Trip. What does this trip entail and why is it important to you?

A: We’re traveling from Tampa, Florida to Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary in Utah May 4 - June 4, 2019. We’ll be hosting Pet Photo Shoot Fundraisers in multiple cities along the way. Pet owners can bring their pup to one of our events to help raise money for local animal charities. Spots must be booked in advance. Our goal is to take photos of 200 pets and raise $7,000. 
 
At the Sanctuary, we’ll be taking adoption photos in the Utah mountains and spreading awareness about pet adoption and responsible pet ownership.  


Q: What is your favorite Nite Ize product and why?

A: We love the Nite Ize Pack-A-Poo. When we travel with our dogs, we don’t always know if poop bags will be available. The Pack-A-Poo easily attaches to the dogs' leashes and even lets you roll up excess bags! Ours used to unravel constantly. Not anymore though! 

Pack-A-Poo
Q: If you were a breed of dog, which one would you be and why?

A: I have never been asked this question, but I like it! I would just have to pick a mutt though. When a dog is a mix of a few different breeds, they’re so distinct looking and are really fun to photograph. The more unique, the better! 


Q: How do people find you online to follow you on your road trip and beyond?

A: You can find out more about our 2019 Pet Photo Shoot Fundraiser Road Trip at agoldphoto.com/roadtrip. We also post lots of photos on our agoldphoto Instagram

Topics: Field Team, Pets

Field Team Spotlight: Sunny Stroeer, Aurora Women's Expeditions

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Apr 4, 2019 9:40:40 AM

We are excited to welcome Suzanne (Sunny) Stroeer to the Nite Ize Field Team! Sunny is a nomadic high-altitude endurance athlete and mountain adventurer with a penchant for pushing the limits of human endurance in unconventional terrain. She recently founded an organization built upon her passion for mountaineering and female empowerment, and she has some big news to share.

Sunny Stoeer

Q: Hello Sunny! First off, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into adventuring and mountaineering.

I actually didn’t find my way to the mountains until I was in my late twenties.  I was mostly a couch potato as a kid, studied politics and business at Harvard University, and eventually worked long hours in finance and strategy consulting.  I started to dabble in climbing and mountain running while getting my MBA but it wasn’t until a seven-month backpacking trip after grad school that I learned about and fell in love with mountaineering and ultra-running. 

Q: What has been your favorite place you’ve visited? Is there one place you would like to revisit the most?

That’s a tough question - there are so many amazing places! I really love Nepal which is why I keep returning year after year - but I’m equally in love with the deserts of the American Southwest, and the Alps, and the Rockies, and… 


Q:You recently founded an organization called AWE (Aurora Women’s Expeditions). Tell us a little bit about the program and why you started it.

I started AWE because I didn’t like the gender dynamics that I encountered on many of my personal expeditions.  Just like the professional domains that I got to know in my twenties, mountaineering (and particularly high-altitude mountaineering) is heavily male-dominated and not always a welcoming environment for women - which is a shame, because there is something incredibly empowering about testing your limits in the mountain environment that carries over into everyday life.

I had already spent a lot of time in my education and my business career grappling with questions of gender bias and women empowerment, and finally decided that I shouldn’t just gripe about mountaineering not being inclusive to women but instead do my part to change things up. That’s how AWE was born. 
 
AWE Nepal


Q: Tell us about your next expedition with AWE.

I just wrapped up an AWE expedition to 22,838ft Aconcagua in Argentina a little while ago, and am now preparing to take a team to Nepal where we’ll first trek to Everest Basecamp and then climb 20,305ft Island Peak.  It’s going to be an amazing trip with a full 14 days on trail, as well as a bit of time to explore Kathmandu on either end. 

Q: Nite Ize is sponsoring one women to be a part of your next AWE expedition and you are currently taking applications for that spot. What do women who are interested in applying need to know?

I am so excited that we’ve been able to create this opportunity in the form of the AWE x Nite Ize Summit Scholarship!  I think the most important thing for prospective applicants to know is that you don’t need to be a seasoned high altitude mountaineer or pro athlete to apply. On the contrary, we created the scholarship to try and reach women who wouldn’t typically think they could participate in an expedition like this. That said, you do need to be in great cardio shape and/or willing to put in the work to get there prior to the expedition (to put that in more concrete terms, completing a 10k should not sound daunting to you). 

Applications are open until May 1st, 2019; the scholarship recipient will be announced during the second week of May. You can find the link to the scholarship page at the bottom of this blog post.

Q: What has been your most surprising experience from your adventure travels?

What’s been most surprising to me is how easy it generally is to get around on a budget and figure things out.  I specifically remember a time when I was backpacking in Fiji and needed to get from where I was staying to the airport that was two hours away, but I couldn’t afford a private car and there was no regular public transport.  I ended up putting my thumb out by the side of the road and got picked up by a school bus that was stuffed to the brim with Fijian second graders in school uniform, who were all very excited to give a Westerner with a massive backpack a ride to the airport before having to report to class. 

SunnyStoeer-2019-002

Q: What’s your favorite trail food or snack to bring along?

I always have an assortment of freeze dried meals from Backpacker’s Pantry - they’re easy, nutritious and taste great - and I also like to bring Wasabi peas for snacks as they’re quite high in calories and a fun treat. 

Q: What Nite Ize products do you bring on these types of expeditions and why?

I always carry the INOVA STS PowerSwitch Headlamp - I love that it’s powerful, adjustable, and USB rechargeable.  I also bring with me an assortment of Gear Ties and S-Biners as they’re handy for so many things, and I love the new RunOff bags to keep my passport, money and climbing permits safe from snow, water and tearing; and when I’m in particularly wet environments I use them to protect my phone, too. 

Q: How do people find you online to follow your adventures?

I am quite active on Instagram and also write regular blog posts - find me at @sstroeerwww.sunnystroeer.com, and of course also check out Aurora Women’s Expeditions at @awexpeditions and www.awexpeditions.org! AWE is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AWEClimbing

Topics: Field Team

Nite Ize 2018 Field Team Gift Guide

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Dec 7, 2018 2:16:58 PM

For this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, we asked our Field Team to send us their top two to four Nite Ize products they are giving this season. As expected, Gear Ties came in as a very popular stocking stuffer. Check out the full list from our team and get into the spirit!

 

Anthony Johnson: Action Adventurer & Outdoor Photographer

“The Steelie car mount is our go-to for gifting. It is something that everyone can use, and a great stocking stuffer.”

“We also tend to gift the Nite Ize Radiant 300 Rechargeable Lantern. We've given these to our family and friends who enjoy the outdoors, whether through backpacking or camping or just enjoying grilling on their back porch. It is also fantastic that you can charge other USB devices off the lantern, making this particularly valuable gift for friends and family who spend time in the backwoods.”

“ Finally, for our cycling friends, we have given the Nite Ize Rechargeable Bike Light. You can never have too many bike lights, and these are so bright and rechargeable. The beam is great and makes it easy to see for early morning and evening rides. The multiple settings also allow you to use the lights to alert cars you're on the road. It's a ready safety feature.”

Radiant Rechargeable Bike Light 

Joe Allen: Outdoor Sportsman, HuntCo on The Pursuit Channel

“I always have 3 or 4 attached to my pack in the field. The uses are infinite. On a particular occasion I used one Gear Tie to secure all four legs before loaded this deer into the bed of a truck.”

Gear Tie Reusable Rubber Twist Tie

“This is another staple of my field pack to have handy in a pinch. I pulled out my lantern during this alligator hunt for extra light while securing the jaws and tagging the gator.”

“Our lamps are with us on every hunt to get us in and out in the dark. The red light option provides great light that isn’t as offensive to wild animals.”

INOVA STS Headlamp

“The S-Biner stays on every pack to help attach the extras.”

 

Jason Epperson: Family Travel & Adventure Blogger

“We love the SlapLit LED Bracelets for the kids. They're a great way to keep track of the kids when they’re running around outside at night, at home or in a campground.”

SlapLit LED Slap Wraps

“Gear Ties are great for any handyperson to wrap up extension cords and hoses, but they're also great for kids to play with to make 3D shapes.”


Willi Schmidt: Outdoor Sportsman

“S-Biners are a must for me in the field. I keep a couple attached to my backpack at all times, making it very convenient to attach items to the outside of my pack, quickly and easily. Whether they are plastic or metal, they don't add any meaningful weight and they get a lot of use.”

S-Biner Dual Carabiner

“I keep Gear Ties in my pack and in my truck. Many times they have come in handy, most notably when my truck's wheel lining was coming loose. They were the only thing that would work and they kept the truck together for the remainder of the hunt and the return drive home.”

Gear Tie Reusable Twist Tie

“This is a go-to lantern on my hunting adventures. With 300 lumens, it gives off plenty of light in a cabin, tent or even in the back of a truck. The ability to re-charge the battery and charge other electronic devices from the lantern make it very practical.”

“The Inova STS headlamp by Nite Ize is an absolute must for me when hunting.  It gives me hands free light for going into my hunting area. The Swipe-To-Shine, 265 lumens is easy to use and plenty bright. The ability use the red light and not spook game as an added bonus.”

 

Heidi Kumm: Fitness Buff & Dog Lover

“We love the dog stuff, especially the light up toys now that it's dark out before we get home from work! The GlowStreak ball + Flashflight Dog Discuit are a daily go-to!”

Flashflight Dog Discuit LED Flying Disc

 

Jose Flores: Outdoor Sportsman

“I love the Steelies. Whether I’m in my boat, truck, UTV, or wherever, I find something I can stick it to!”

Steelie Vent Mount Kit

“We love the dog stuff also! The light-up ball and flying disc are easy favorites for our dogs, as it’s all they can play with outside after 4 PM here in Alaska!”

“This season I started to use the lanterns and headlamps much more. I really like the new design on the headlamps. The rechargeable option for the lanterns was a hit this fall.”

Radiant 300 Rechargeable Lantern

 

Tara Schatz: Action Adventurer & Dog Trainer

"In the winter, we have no choice but to walk our pups in the dark. We use the Spotlit clip-on LED lights to keep our dark dogs visible to others, whether we're on the trail or walking through town."

SpotLit LED Carabiner Light

"Gear ties are indispensable for hikers, campers, and outdoor adventurers. We use them to pack our backpacks, keep our gear inside of our canoe, and organizing for road trips."

"I take a lot of solo road trips, and the Steelie Dash Mount is the best smartphone mount I've ever used. It provides easy access to my maps and my music."

 

Rob “Reker” Kretsch: Outdoor Sportsman

“As stocking stuffers, I’m giving out the See’em Spoke Lights for the little one’s new bike and Gear Ties and CamJam Tie Down straps for all the adults. The Gear Ties are by far the most used piece of gear I own.”

CamJam Tie Down Straps

 

Whether you’re shopping for outdoor enthusiasts, tech and gadget gurus, DIY masters, kids or dogs, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list!

Topics: Visibility and Safety, hunting, outdoors, LED Dog Products, Adventure, Field Team

Field Team Spotlight: Extinct or Alive Host Forrest Galante

Posted by Dave Taylor on Nov 6, 2018 12:06:12 PM

From catching venomous snakes as a child to searching the wild for animals thought to be extinct, Animal Planet  star Forrest Galante has a story (or ten) to tell.

Q: Hi Forrest! Tell us about yourself and how you got into wildlife adventuring?

I grew up in the Southern African Bush of Zimbabwe Africa. When I wasn't on safari with my family, which is what they did, I was living on a farm so I’ve been surrounded by wildlife my entire life. In fact, I’ve been involved with wildlife from a very young age when I used to catch and sneak venomous snakes into the house without my parents knowing. Now I do it professionally!

Q: What is wildlife adventuring? How does it differ from people just encountering wild animals?

I don't know that there is a specific difference for wildlife adventuring. I'm a scientist, a wildlife biologist by trade, and I've taken that biology to an extreme level where it's an adventure to do the type of surveys and studies that I do on an ongoing basis. A biologist may conduct a survey in one location for a short amount of time, but as a wildlife adventurer, I conduct lots of surveys in extremely remote places throughout the world. Oftentimes no other people have ever been there, let alone a western academic.

Q: Your Animal Planet TV show Extinct or Alive is fun and crazy. How did you come up with the show idea and what's the craziest experience you've had while filming the show?

You’re right, Extinct or Alive is fun and it’s crazy. The idea came when a producer approached me and said, "Hey, you're a crazy wildlife biologist and I love the stuff you do, I have this idea for tracking down supposedly extinct animals, do you think any of them could still be alive?" I turned to him and said, "As a matter of fact I know that some of these ostensibly extinct animals are still alive because my grandfather discovered a coelacanth that had been thought to have been extinct for 66 million years. If he can find that, I'm certain that we can find some of these other not-really-extinct animals." That's how the show came about.

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The craziest experience I've had, well, it’s a long list, from climbing treetops in the Madagascan jungle canopy to chasing giant lemurs to repelling down thousand foot cliffs to seeing the grind at Wale Slaughter in the Faroe Islands. There have been a lot of ups and downs, high and low moments! If have to pick just one, though, the craziest experience was actually uncovering evidence of the Zanzibar leopard, a large 100 pound cat believed to be extinct for over a century. That was the pinnacle of my career, and was by far the craziest and best experience.

Q: You are known as the perfect combination of Steve Irwin, Bear Grylls and Jacques Cousteau. Can you tell us what inspires you about each of these three adventurers?

I think the names speak for themselves. Steve Irwin is my original hero, the king of wildlife media, the man who entertained us all by showing how incredible wildlife can be. He is just a legend.

Bear Grylls and his survival knowledge, his showmanship, his expertise in the outdoors and getting through tough situations is unparalleled and he's just the most entertaining guy that's been on television in a long time.

Jacques Cousteau, what a hero of underwater adventure. His discoveries beneath the surface are unparalleled, he is an incredible adventurer, incredible seaman, ocean explorer, a six-time world record holding freediver, spear fisherman, hundred-ton ship captain, and dive master.

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I feel like all of my accomplishments just pale in comparison to anything Jacques Cousteau ever did. These are three truly inspirational men, and to be considered a combination of those three is tremendously flattering.

Q: What pets do you have? We expect that they're probably quite exotic and possibly numerous too.

Hang on to your hat! My wife calculated that I have 91 pets, though that includes our pond which has over 20 turtles. We also have a miniature horse, a miniature donkey, a miniature pig who is a rescue from Hurricane Katrina, a giant cicada, various tortoises, peacocks, guinea fowl, turkeys, chickens, giant Flemish rabbits, dogs and snakes. I have two snakes that I'm looking at right now on my computer desk. Oh! And a bunch of hermit crabs too.

It's a long list and they're almost all rescues, something that we love to do. We also love taking care of them too.

screenshot-4Q: If you could travel anywhere on the planet for your next adventure, where would you head?

The number one place on my bucket list right now is the Pantanal. It's in the Brazilian Amazon and is the largest wetland in South America. Clear water, giant caimans, fresh water turtles and huge anacondas, not to mention jaguars and all the crazy South American fauna. I've been to South America before but I've never made it to the Pantanal, so that is top of my list at the moment.

Q: When you're not wrestling dangerous and exotic creatures, what's your day job?

This is it! My day job is planning for the wrestling of dangerous and exotic creatures. I spent tons of time doing research, investigating stories of extinct creatures, looking at these critically endangered animals, and time-sensitive situations, and then I work towards funding, financing, filming and exploring them all. My day job when I'm not in the bush is planning how to get back into the bush.

Q: What’s your favorite Nite Ize product and why?

Oh man, this is such an easy one for me. It's the INOVA® T10R™. It is the greatest flashlight on earth. I mean it’s unbelievable how bright it is and how well it works. Mine's been underwater, through torrential downpours, dropped in the mud, dropped off cliffs, and it keeps going. It's absolutely bulletproof and that intense spotlight beam is the most essential tool that I have for spotting wildlife at night. If I walked through the jungle at night looking for things up in the canopy without that INOVA T10R, I would be unable to spot half the animals that I’ve identified in the last year.

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People love the flashlight, too. Thanks to your team at Nite Ize, I've been able to share it with three or four different crew members and they all say it's now one of their most valued possessions. I cannot recommend that flashlight enough!

After the T10R,  Gear Ties® are a huge win too. Heck, Gear Ties hold my life together. From the cable that is currently attached to my iPhone with a microphone on it, to cords all around my house, to keeping spear guns together on my boat, to strapping things to the struts of helicopters, I use Gear Ties for everything. They are in every corner of my life!

Q: What else is happening in your world, Forrest?

My passions are deep and intense. I'm an avid rugby player, love the game and coach youth rugby. I do a lot of freediving and spearfishing. I harvest all of my own edible proteins sustainably from the ocean and do a ton of mushroom foraging too.

And I use Nite Ize products for all of it! Whether it is the INOVA flashlight or the headlamps or the Gear Ties to hold my dive gear together or the GearLine®, all of it is super valuable to me and I'm so grateful to have your support and innovations. Thank you guys!

Q: Great stuff, really fun to talk with you. How can people keep up with your adventures and find you on social media?

You can find me as @Forrest.Galante on Instagram, @ForrestGalante on Facebook and @ForrestGalante on Twitter. I do have a YouTube channel. It's mostly diving and spearfishing related, but I’m much more active on the other three channels.

And then there’s the TV show. Check out Extinct or Alive on Animal Planet. It's available on Animal Planet Go or Amazon at any time. It's a great show, it's family friendly, it's fun, it's an adventure show and it inspires hope and conservation. Kids love it, adults love it. If you're into wildlife, if you're into adventure, please check it out!

Topics: Adventure, Field Team

One Man, One Row Boat, and 2,485 Miles of Ocean: The Colin Sanders Interview

Posted by Dave Taylor on Oct 19, 2018 1:32:04 PM

Nite Ize Field Team member Colin Sanders accomplished a feat most would consider impossible when he rowed for 83 days straight to cross the Atlantic, alone, in a rowboat. We were able to talk to him about his adventures, struggles, and triumphs -- and about how this massive goal was fueled by wanting to help others.

 

Q: Hi Colin! First off, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into ultra long distance rowing?

About four years ago I decided I needed a grand adventure, something that would challenge me physically, mentally, emotionally and even financially. I spent a lot of time skiing in the mountains when I was younger and always suffered from the altitude. Climbing Everest was out. To be honest, climbing Everest seemed mundane in some ways anyway, since thousands of people have summited at this point.


Solo rowing the Atlantic was different and definitely more unusual. Few have done it and it fit my personality better. When people ask me why I rowed across the Atlantic Ocean my answer is typically “ego and self-gratification”. Sometimes I wish there was a more profound motivation but at age 64 I think I had something to prove to myself, that I could take on something incredibly tough and succeed.

Q: How does a multi-week rowing journey work? Do you row for 8+ hours a day and rest the other 16? Heck, don’t you drift while you're not rowing? 

I rowed for 10-14 hours each day. At the beginning of the trip I had a routine where I rowed for three hours then took 15 minutes off. Again and again. As I got further across the ocean and started to wear down physically I had to shorten the shifts and take more frequent breaks.

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I would usually start just as the sun was rising because rowing in the dark just isn’t fun, particularly when the seas are rough.

When I stowed the oars at night I just drifted. Depending on how big and steep the waves were that evening, I had to decide whether to drift free, put a warp off the stern or para anchor.

Note: A “warp” is a thick line that provides drag and some directional stability downwind and a para anchor, also called a drogue, is about the size of a bushel basket and gives the boat enough drag to produce excellent downwind stability.

It was always a fine line because I always wanted to pick up as much free distance as possible by drifting and the MRE drag I had, the less I would drift. Insufficient directional stability downwind could end up turning the boat sideways to the wind and waves and even end up with the boat capsizing.

And capsize it did. New Year’s Eve while the boat was on the warp. She got hit by a large wave as it broke and ended up rolling over and over several times. Anything not locked down flew everywhere, including a liter of olive oil!

The boat righted itself but after composing myself I had to go on deck in the pitch dark - in a really choppy sea with big waves - to pull the warp in and set the drogue. Setting the drogue isn’t easy even in the smoothest of waters because it uses a bridle attached to each side of the stern, but in big waves, high wind and darkness? It was very tough.

Q: How do you train for a rowing marathon like you did? You just rowed across the Atlantic Ocean! How on Earth did you prep for that?

I had a really great trainer. It was a partly strength in the upper body, but a lot more about core strength and flexibility. We spent a lot of time on stretching to ensure that my back and core were the strongest possible. I actually spent very little time with an indoor rowing machine because it has little in common with ocean rowing when you often only have one oar in the water at any given time. 

Q: Your Trans-Atlantic journey was from Puerto de Mogan in the Canary Islands to English Harbour in Antigua. How did you choose that route and did you ever run afoul of whales, sharks or enormous cargo ships en route?

Actually, that particular route is the classic course to get across the Atlantic Ocean. Originally, I was going to head for Barbados, but I just couldn’t get far enough south to make that a viable destination. Halfway across Stokey my UK-based navigator said, “You’re going to Antigua, mate!”.

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I did see the odd cargo ship but really not that many ships at all. Part of that is the vastness of the ocean: They could have been passing within five miles and I would have never known. In terms of wildlife, I remember seeing one pilot whale, lots of dolphins and several swordfish but no sharks at all.

Q: What’s one aspect of the row that was the toughest?

The emotional and mental side of the journey was the most difficult. Being completely alone for 83 days was hard, especially in tough sea conditions. The loss of my music 28 days out was a real blow to my emotional state too: I had spent a year curating downloads on Spotify, never realizing that you have to sign in every 30 days to keep the downloads active. I didn’t know that and one month into the trip suddenly had no music at all. I ended up giving monologues and speeches on a wide variety of subjects that I knew something about, singing songs, coming up with thought experiments, and trying not to go crazy out there in the middle of the ocean. It wasn’t easy, but I made it! 

Q: What's your favorite Nite Ize product and why?

I started out with a lot of Nite Ize gear, but to be honest, it wasn’t until I was doing the actual row that I realized the excellent quality of all the products. The Gear Ties I used every single day. It was typically so rough at sea that it was critical that they quickly and easily secured equipment on the deck. I also used the S-Biner Marine to secure equipment that I viewed as “mission critical”, including my multitools and water bottles. They were on deck every single day and at the end of the journey none of them had a single spot of rust. I could hardly believe it, because so many other tools or pieces of my kit rusted or corroded with the constant salt water exposure. The Nite Ize equipment never, ever corroded!

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Q: Are you ready to circumnavigate the entire Earth in your boat now? What is your next grand adventure?

Ummmm no. The Atlantic was enough at 4000 km (2485 miles). Not sure what my next adventure will be, but it’ll be something. I have lots of living to do yet!

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your charity A Million Possibilities?

I raised about $150K for Community Living Ontario. Community Living supports people like my son Jeff, who has intellectual disabilities. We came up with the name “A Million Possibilities” hoping to raise $1 for each stroke I took crossing the Atlantic. Ultimately, we didn’t raise a million dollars but we were still very happy with the results. 

Congrats on your remarkable achievement, Colin. We look forward to hearing about your next adventure!

 

Topics: outdoors, Adventure, Field Team

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