Last Call For Fall Fun: 10 Autumn Activities

Posted by Taylor Orebaugh on Oct 21, 2020 10:10:49 AM

Last Call For Fall: 10 Autumn Activities

The leaves are changing, the days are shortening, and there’s a chill in the air. It’s fall time, and before you know it, winter will make its icy appearance. But before we head into months of snow, slush, and shivers, let’s get out there and soak in the fall fun.

Keep reading for 10 fresh ways to make the most of our Autumn days and "nites."

 

1. Leaf through town

Leaf Peeping Drive

What’s fall without a leaf-peeping drive? If you live in a state with changing seasons, you might be able catch the vibrant Autumn colors come to life in person. Research the best leaf-peeping spots in your state (and make sure to check you haven’t missed the color change) and set off on your journey with your Steelie® Phone Mount to give directions along the route.

If you prefer to get out of the car and see the changing colors up close, nothing beats an Autumn hike or bike ride. Just make sure to bundle up and gear up your bike with one of our tool-free bike lights! Especially adventurous folks can take their leaf-peeping trip to the next level on a four wheel or ATV too — check out local rentals if you’re craving a little adrenaline rush.

 

2. Carve Out Some Fun

SpotLit XL Pumpkin

Carving pumpkins is a universal way to embrace the spooky season, unleash some creativity, and step up your decorating game while you’re at it. Grab a gourd of your choosing from your local pumpkin patch or grocery store and make sure to get durable carving tools that can get the job done (or kid-safe tools for little ones). Once your masterpiece is complete, throw in a SpotLit® XL or NiteGem for color-changing, fire-free illumination that will shine for nights to come.

Not up for a pulpy mess? Painting pumpkins might be a safer bet.

 

3. Drink It All In

Pumpking Beer

Get in the Autumn spirit with some spirits. Check out local cideries to sample sweet and spicy hard cider varieties, or pick up your favorite 6 pack of pumpkin ale for an at-home happy hour, complete with an Ahhh… Bottle Opener. If you prefer the winer things in life, visit your local vineyard or winery to sip on some fall blends.

 

4. Plan A Picnic

Fall Picnic

If you live in a state with harsh winters, you know you’re in for months of being buried under a heavy winter coat, scarf, boots, and gloves get-up. Soak in the sun while you can on a peaceful picnic at the park or even in your backyard.

 

5. Train for The Long Run

SlapLit Rechargeable LED Slap Wrap

Local Fall 5ks and Fun Runs are a popular way to get your blood pumping and raise money for a great cause. Sign up and start training — you can even get the whole family involved to get some fresh air away from screens.  If you're training in the morning or after work hours, be sure you’re staying safe and visible. The Rechargeable SlapLit LED Slap Wrap and TagLit Magnetic Marker are great ways to stay visible in the dark mornings and evenings, and a headlamp will help light your path.

 

6. Bake Up a Storm

Apple Pie

After watching a few seasons of the Great British Baking Show, you’ve probably learned a thing or two. Put your skills to the test and try out a homemade pie, pumpkin bread, candy apple, or other Autumn recipe everyone in the house can enjoy. Free fall aromas included!

Keep the recipe on your phone visible and flour-free with a Steelie Bendable Arm + Ratcheting Clamp or Steelie Pedestal Mount to make your baking adventure a breeze.

 

7. Game On

Flashflight Light Up Flying Disc

Make the most of the warm days we have left with an outdoor family game everyone can play. Pick up a Flashflight Light Up Flying Disc to keep the games going after-dark, or even a GlowStreak LED Ball so your pup doesn’t miss out on the nighttime fun.

 

8. Paddle Your Own Canoe (Or Kayak)

RunOff Waterproof Phone Case

While the chilly temperatures might make swimming out of the question, an Autumn kayak or canoe trip might be just the thing to appease water lovers already missing summer days at the lake. Research around for leaf-peeping spots and their nearby streams to find an especially gorgeous Autumn route.

You can rest assured that your phone, gear and snacks will stay safe and dry in one of our RunOff Waterproof Bags while you paddle the waters.

 

9. Gather 'Round The Fire Pit

Campfire SlapLit LED Drink Wrap

Nothing screams fall like scary ghost stories told around the fire. Crack open an Autumn ale (wrapped in a SlapLit to keep it lit and chilly), and come prepared with your favorite spooky stories to set the mood. After everyone is scared silly, lift their spirits with a toasty S’more cooked over the fire.

 

10. See Stars

FallFun-Stargazing

Grab a blanket, snacks, and a Radiant® 300 Headlamp set to red mode for a cozy night under the stars. Whether in your backyard or off the grid, you’ll be in for a night of out-of-this-world views, nonetheless. Three meteor showers are due when the moon is in crescent this Autumn, giving you the best view possible. Look out the Orionids shower on the night of October 20th through the 21st, the Northern Taurids on the night of November 11-12, and the Leonids on November 16-17.

And don’t miss the especially rare (and especially spooky) full moon on Halloween night!

Topics: Visibility and Safety, Games & Toys, outdoors, Fun & Games, Flying Disc, Bike, Fitness, LED Products, runoff, waterproof bags, Holidays, headlamp, kids, daylight savings

5 Ways To Embrace “Fall Back” Time

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Oct 8, 2020 5:14:46 PM

5 Ways To Embrace “Fall Back” TimeVery soon we’ll all be setting our clocks back an hour on a Saturday evening, relishing an excuse to get an extra hour of sleep, yet dreading everything else that comes with the end of Daylight Savings Time. Most of us don’t tend to look forward to shorter days, and have trouble adjusting to the change. It’s amazing how just an hour of time can make that much difference, right? Along with that extra hour of z’s, there might be a few things to actually look forward to when we fall back, as well as several ways to help breeze through the adjustment better than ever.

 

1. Enjoy That Extra Sleep (Responsibly)
Steelie Pedestal Mount

Most Americans are already sleep deprived, so it’s likely you could use a little extra shut eye when you can get it. Although it may sound like a good idea to stay up late the night before while enjoying an adult beverage or two, resist the temptation. Get the most out of that extra hour by not shifting your bedtime schedule too drastically, and for a more restful night, limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Practicing good sleep hygiene is important for a good night’s sleep, and better sleep leads to better health. Check out these tips for better sleep from Healthline.

 

2. Savor the Sunlight
Ways to adjust to fall back

Seasonal depression is real, and it tends to make an appearance as the days get shorter, with less sunshine to soak in. Not only will getting out in the sunlight before and after we fall back help you sleep better, it can also improve your mood. Knowing that it will get dark earlier, plan to get outside in the morning or mid-day. Consider taking a walk, run, or bike ride at lunchtime. Getting out in the sunshine will also help your body absorb vitamin D, and align your circadian rhythm with the solar clock, which will aid in better sleep.

 

3. Brighten Your Nights
Pet lights

Just because it’s dark, doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun outside. With the right accessories, you can still get out for your evening activities. For bike commuters, check out our Radiant Rechargeable Bike Lights and Rechargeable SpokeLits, so you can see and be seen from all sides on your ride home. If you prefer to run after work hours, be sure you’re staying safe and visible. Our Rechargeable SlapLit LED Slap Wrap and TagLit Magnetic Marker are both great for staying visible after dark, and a headlamp will help light your path. Heading out for your nightly dog walk? A Rechargeable NiteDog Collar and Leash will make sure you and your pup are seen by oncoming traffic. Check out all our other ways to illuminate your pup here.

 

4. Winterize Your Attitude
Help adjust to fall back time

It’s time to get cozy! The annual time shift might be a good opportunity to officially change your wardrobe over to winter mode. Find those comfy sweaters at the back of your closet you forgot you owned and bring them back into rotation. A good way to think about the time change is how it symbolizes the start of the colder months and holiday season. While that might not sound exciting to everyone out there, we imagine there is something fun to look forward to for each of us – whether that be plush blankets and a roaring fire, cooking your favorite cold weather meals, decorating for the holidays, or indulging in an occasional pumpkin spice latte. Plus, you can start your movie nights earlier without having to employ the blackout shades.

 

5. Make An Annual Home Checklist
Annual home checklist

Okay, so maybe this one isn’t exciting in nature, but it is a good habit to form. Consider making the end of daylight savings a reminder to perform some annual maintenance around the home. Here are some tasks you might want to include in your yearly rounds:

    • Change the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Clean your gutters (or use a service to have them cleaned)
    • If you live in a region that freezes, winterize your sprinkler system if you haven’t already 
    • Change your air filter, and check your furnace and water heater
    • Check and restock your home emergency kit and/or go bag
    • Flip and/or rotate your mattress
    • Reverse ceiling fans for winter energy efficiency

Daylight savings time change

And finally, make sure you set your clocks back! Although most of our devices will set themselves on their own, check your wrist watches, and clocks around the house and turn them back on Saturday evening so you won’t be confused when you wake up refreshed from an extra-long night’s sleep.

Topics: Visibility and Safety, outdoors, LED Pet Products, Run Safety, Home, Pets, LED Products, daylight savings

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

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.

10_SunnyStroeer_NI_Vanlife-1

 

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

Miss Adventure: Move over Macgyver

Posted by Kristin Butcher on May 30, 2019 11:32:04 AM

The best adventures are half grand explorations. And half trying to keep it from going off the rails.

The plan was simple -- or as simple as it could be for a backcountry journey involving 100 miles of off-grid desert biking, 15 people, two support trucks, no cell service, four pounds of frozen meat, a blow piano, a few cases of beer, and a slightly soggy birthday cake.

As part of an annual birthday adventure, a friend of a friend organized a three-day trip mountain biking Utah's iconic White Rim trail.Since I only knew one person on the trip, I did what any newcomer to a high-consequence social situation would do.

I volunteered to bring all the tools, taking on the responsibility of fixing anything that could (and would) go wrong.Off-grid dessert biking in Moab

Here's the thing: I’m a tool junkie. MacGyver is my personal spirit animal. And I work for Nite Ize. By the time I finished packing, my tool bag weighed around 30 lbs and contained everything from kevlar tape to a full set of Allen wrenches.

It turns out that my bag of tricks would be put to the test before we even started pedaling. Over the next three days, as problem after problem arose, I was able to channel my inner Mary Poppins and pull just the right solution out of my ever-present tool bag. 

 

PROBLEM: Only having one key for a truck that will be driven by 15 different people. What could go wrong?

SOLUTION: Rig together a glow-in-the-dark, Bluetooth-enabled key tether using some Gear Ties, a super bright NextGlo marker kept, and the Tile from my key chain.

No one is losing these keys now.

 

PROBLEM: Accidentally launching your dry foods container out the unlatched rear hatch.

SOLUTION: Move aside duct tape, this is a job for the CamJam Tie Down Strap. After double wrapping and cinching the webbing around the structurally unsound container, we once again had a home for our chips, bread, and beans (so many beans).

CamJam Tie Down Strap

 

PROBLEM: Dropping your phone while taking the obligatory #liveunplugged Instagram selfie.

SOLUTION: Butterfingered friends, rejoice! The Hitch has a stretchy coil that I form into a wrist-strap to keep my phone secure during sketchy selfies. Combined with a Clip Case Rugged Holster, and I can have my selfie without my phone eating it too.

No more dropped phones due to precarious selfies

 

PROBLEM: Making hamburgers for 15 hungry people who just rode 30 miles using a four pound slab of frozen meat.

SOLUTION: Create a double boiler out of a pot and a baking sheet, then use a foil topper to channel steam upward to speed up the process. Pro tip: A cold beer wrapped in a SlapLit Drink Wrap makes it easier to forget about your stomach pangs as you wait for dinner to thaw.

Camp Life

 

PROBLEM: Lubes, grease, ThreadLoc, oh my! To keep the bikes running, I needed to pack several liquids in my tool bag that were almost guaranteed to leak.

SOLUTION: By packing my liquids in the RunOff Waterproof Toiletry Bag, I was able to keep my liquids organized, and more importantly, contained.

RunOff Waterproof Toiletry Bag

 

PROBLEM: We needed our two way radios to be accessible, but not in the way.

SOLUTION: S-Biners to the rescue! You can never have too many S-Biner dual carabiners in your tool bag.

S-Biners to the rescue!

 

PROBLEM: After sweating for three days under the Utah sun, it's now time to pack up those stinky clothes and drive several hours back home.

SOLUTION: Packing all my odiferous gear in a RunOff bag, which is waterproof, compressible, and does a fine job of sealing in the stink.

RunOff Packing Cube

 

Whether adventure takes you off the grid or down the street, Nite Ize products have a knack for solving all the little unexpected moments that make adventures memorable.

Solve those little unexpected problems with Nite Ize

 

Topics: Gear Ties, outdoors, Adventure, "travel", Fitness

10 Beginner Tips for a Successful Vegetable Garden

Posted by Katie S on May 16, 2019 11:11:55 AM

10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden

If you’ve never grown a vegetable garden before or if you’ve only dabbled with the occasional potted veggie plants, fully committing can be an intimidating prospect. So, let me put your mind at ease. Everything will be OK. If you plan a little and set aside a bit of time for regular maintenance, you will succeed in your garden. You’ll probably hit a few speed bumps the first year, but you’ll learn a lot, and you will have the satisfaction of eating your own vegetables.

The three essential factors for a successful vegetable garden are sun, water, and protection, but here are a few other helpful tips for getting started:

1. Like all good things, it starts with a healthy foundation. 

Nutrient-rich soil is key for growing healthy vegetables. If you’re filling empty raised beds, it’s worth buying good planting soil from your local garden shop so you have a weed-free starting point. (Plus, it’s great to make friends and support your local shop – they will have expert tips for growing in your area.) If you are turning an existing bed into a vegetable garden, you may want to work-in a bag or two of soil conditioner. Or, to save money a great way to renew nutrients is by burying your leaves. In the fall, mow over your fallen leaves, then bury them 6-8” down in your bed, or layer them over the top then work them down by doing multiple passes with a tiller before the ground freezes. 

 

2. In the battle against pests, take the high ground and fortify your borders. 

Do you think bunnies are adorable fuzzy neighbors? When you see a deer in the yard do Disney-esque memories start playing in your head to a cheerful tune? Just wait till you start your vegetable garden, you may develop a new perspective on these agile, hungry nemeses. Raised beds/boxes are a great option for beginner and seasoned gardeners – fewer opportunities for weeds, natural protective border (though I still recommend chicken wire above this if you have bunnies or deer), less back pain, and control over possible soil contaminants.

 

3. Know your bugs.

When it comes to vegetables, there are good bugs, and there are bad bugs. For some of the best bugs see tip #7 – because we need BEES. For the bad bugs, enter aphids, AKA “gardeners arch nemesis #1” and slugs, or “Ugs” as my toddler calls them. Unfortunately, both these bugs are common just about everywhere in the U.S. Let’s begin with slugs. The way my mom taught me to deal with these pests is to put a small saucer or tuna can in the garden and fill it with beer. The slugs climb in and drown themselves in a drunken stupor. It might sound crazy, but I swear it works – and it doesn’t need to be the good stuff, you can use your cheap beer. Also see tip #4 for another way to deal with slugs – *hint* it’s snakes. Getting rid of aphids can be fun too. When I moved to Colorado, I learned it’s common practice to buy ladybugs and release them into your garden in late spring and they will take care of the aphids for you. You can order small buckets of these beneficial beetles online or pick them up at your local garden shop, then store them in your fridge until you’re ready to release them (try not to think too hard about a couple thousand bugs escaping in your fridge…they basically don’t move in the cold). Then just before nightfall, water your garden well and sprinkle the ladybugs throughout. With a nice damp environment and local aphids to feast on, the ladybugs will settle in and make your garden their home.

10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden 

4. Embrace the slithery.

Unless snakes are truly the things your nightmares are made of, there is no downside to good ole garters in your garden. Yes, the beady eyes and slithering startle me every time, but these effective little hunters will decimate many of those problematic bugs listed above. And despite encouraging my husband to pick the little guy in this photo up to show our son, I don’t recommend picking them up in general – they emit a horrendous odor on your hands, and frankly you want them to continue living unbothered in your garden.

 10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden

5. Mother knows best.

For the Middle and Northern U.S., Mother’s Day marks the time when you are generally safe from snow and frost to plant your garden.

 

6. Set yourself up for success with hardy growers.

For your first go, I highly recommend choosing vegetables that are easier to grow and maybe throw in one of the more difficult ones to play around with while you get your feet wet. These are the ones I suggest before you move on to the more finicky species: tomatoes, zucchini and squash, cucumbers, peas, and potatoes.

 

7. There’s no shame in starting with starts. 

Sure, growing plants from seed is a great feeling of accomplishment, but it also requires more advanced planning and patience than picking up healthy starts from a local shop. If patience and pre-planning aren’t your thing, or if you feel more confident in picking up starts, go for it! This is often the most popular route anyways, especially for tomatoes.

 

8. Expect big things. 

Remember that your little seedlings or starts have months more growing to do. Place your stakes and tomato cages at the same time you plant so as not to damage roots or branches later when the plants are larger. Support heavy branches with Gear Tie Reusable Foam Twist Ties and prune off over abundant growth if needed. Zucchini plants will be enormous and cucumbers and other vine vegetables will take up most of your garden space if you let them, so I recommend placing a trellis for them to grow up rather than out – this also helps keep the slugs off them.

10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden 

9. Don’t forget the flowers.

A common problem in vegetable gardens is poor pollination – if your plant doesn’t have cross pollination, it won’t fruit. Bees are the answer (wind can help too). One of the best ways to attract them throughout the growing season is by having flowers near your vegetable garden to bring them round. Most flowers will attract bees, but if you want specific suggestions for the best, check out this article by the Honeybee Conservancy: “21 Flowers That Attract Bees”.

 10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden

10. Herbs for the win. 

I love having a kitchen garden on our back deck where I can easily pick fresh herbs for our meals. Mine is separate from the vegetables, but there are many benefits to planting herbs in with your veggies, a practice called companion planting. For detailed info on companion planting with herbs, check out this article by the Gardening Channel: “Herbs that Pair Perfectly as Growing Partners”. Many herbs help to repel unwanted insects and even rodents, while the flowering ones tend to be great bee-attractors. You don’t want the ones you cook with to flower though (pick off they buds when they start) as it negatively affects the taste. So, if you have the space, plant twice as many as needed and let half go to seed for the bees while keeping the others pruned for eating. If you are looking forward to fresh mint for your mojitos, plant it in a pot – it’s invasive and while it smells delightful, it will take over everything if planted in the garden! And, if you’re not much of a cook, you can plant a cocktail garden instead, because of course that’s a thing now: “Grow a Cocktail Garden”.

Those are my tips for getting your vegetable garden started. I hope you’ve learned something new and are feeling excited and confident about planting. Please feel free to leave your own tips in the comments below for the community.

Topics: outdoors, DIY, Home, gardening

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