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

Plan Your Valentine’s Day Getaway

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Feb 3, 2020 9:28:17 AM

Plan Your Valentine's Day Getaway

The shelves are lined with pink cards, chocolate boxes, and teddy bears holding red hearts when you walk into any drugstore, which can only mean one thing: Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Fortunately, Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, and on a three-day holiday weekend for some. The stars might be aligning for a quick weekend getaway with your Valentine’s date – whether they be a significant other, friend, family member, pet, or yourself (flying solo is fun too)! Here are some ideas to kickstart your inspiration, and some tips that might be a help along the way.

 

Where are you headed?

Valentine's Day Getaway

You might be already a step ahead of us and have already booked something. But if you’re more of a spontaneous person, you might consider somewhere driving distance if flights are already too pricey and hard to find. Look for cool places to visit within a few-hour radius around you ­– maybe there’s somewhere you’ve been thinking of visiting but haven’t had a chance yet. This might be the perfect time to book it! Browse some hotel or vacation booking sites and see what you find. If you live in a warmer climate, you could even consider camping or renting a camper van.

 

How are you getting there?

Already have plane tickets? Brilliant! Hitting the road? Fantastic. We have tips for both.

To help make packing easier, our RunOff Waterproof Bags are a great solution. For flying, the 3-1-1 Bag is a big help for consolidating your liquids for TSA. Plus, because the bag is waterproof, you can rest assured your shampoo won’t leak all over your date night attire if it bursts open. Because this is likely a short trip, you’ll probably want to opt for carry-on luggage only. The Medium and Large packing cubes are compressible, so you can fit more clothes into smaller spaces.

RunOff Waterproof Bags

 

For the road trip set, you’ll want a solution to keep your phone handy for GPS and music without having to mess with it in your hands while driving. Check out our Steelie mobile phone mounts to help you out. Don’t forget to make a playlist!

Steelie Orbiter Dash Kit

 

Pics or it didn’t happen

Valentines-FlipOut

Don’t fall victim to the feeling of coming home from an amazing vacation that you forgot to document with plenty of photos. Thankfully, we all carry cameras in our pockets these days, so be sure to use them. Snap some cute selfies with the help of a trusty FlipOut Handle for your phone, or keep it securely on your person with the Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether.

 

Light up your “nite”

If you’re headed somewhere with a jacuzzi or soaking tub, pack some Disc-O Select NiteGems for some flashy fun. They’re waterproof AND they float!

NiteGems

Bringing along your favorite beverage? Keep it cool and colorful with a SlapLit Drink Wrap. You wouldn’t want to lose sight of your drink in the dark, would you?

SlapLit-HotTub

Cross your fingers for a clear night – stargazing is a thoroughly under-appreciated activity. Better pack your headlamps so you can find a good spot to take in the show.

 

Remember, your dog is always your #1 valentine

Valentines Day gifts for dogs

Whether you’re celebrating with a significant other or not, your pet should be a part of the fun too. Check out some gift ideas for your dog here! If your furry friend is joining you on your vacation, a NiteHowl or SpotLit Collar Light is a great way to keep track of them during evening activities or potty breaks.

Are you planning a getaway of your own? Comment with your own tips or suggestions!

Topics: "travel", Pets, LED Products, runoff, waterproof bags, Steelie, Holidays, headlamp

Travel Tips: Take the Headache Out of Holiday Travels

Posted by Katie S on Nov 19, 2019 1:32:18 PM

Take the headache out of holiday travel

Let’s be honest, the glamour of air travel has long faded and flying these days is mostly a logistical slog – dragging lots of bags around and waiting in line after line after line. But hey, then you get to sit in an overly small seat that makes you question if your lunch choice was a bad decision, all the while breathing in recycled air ripe with the aroma of your fellow passengers. Add in a couple kids and the most crowded airport days of the year, and you’ve literally created many people’s worst nightmare.  It’s not exactly a relaxing send-off into a holly jolly holiday, but more a necessary evil. Because it’s unavoidable for many of you, we’d like to at least help make it a little easier and more enjoyable for you this holiday season. I’d like to think you could also title this blog post “How To NOT Lose or Ruin Anything While Traveling” – it’s all about those little victories.

 

1. Pack Smarter

RunOff Waterproof Packing Cubes

Are you headed somewhere warm and sandy? Somewhere cold and snowy? Whatever the elements, you’ll want an easy way to keep your electronics, clothes, and gear protected and dry. The innovative RunOff Waterproof Bags do just that, while also helping to keep your luggage organized. While the larger packing cubes and smaller wallet and pouch protect your stuff from external elements, the RunOff Toiletry Bag will ensure that any exploded bottles inside stay contained. Another added bonus is that being air-tight, the RunOff Bags can be used to compress your clothes so you’re not only packing smarter, but also packing smaller.

 

2.  Secure Everything

Traveling With Kids

There isn’t much that feels worse than realizing you’ve left something important in security or on the plane. Your favorite water bottle rolled out of your bag. Your phone slipped out of a pocket. One of the kids dropped their favorite lovey without you noticing: game over. The good news is that with travel accessories like Gear Ties and S-Biners, you can essentially create a handle for just about anything and have a way to clip or strap it to you, to a bag, or to a stroller. For your phone, use a Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether to give you a convenient attachment system and prevent drops, loss and theft.

 

3. Gear Ties, Gear Ties, & More Gear Ties

Gear Ties and S-Biners For Travel

If you are an over-packer, or if you’re traveling with kids and all the car seats, Pack N Plays, bags, and bottles that come along with them, and especially if you are one of those saint-like people traveling with small children by yourself, Gear Ties will be your saving grace. Use Gear Ties to secure smaller bags on top of your bigger ones, use them to strap unwieldy car seats on top of wheelie bags to get them to bag drop, use them to strap toys to kid bags. Heck, use them to strap kids together – just kidding! …sort of.

 

4. Maximize Your Electronics

Steelie Pedestal Mount

One of the best parts of flying these days is getting to watch good movies to pass the time. (Unless of course, you’re a parent of small children, then there is no best part. At most you might get to watch the latest animated film that you’ve already seen a thousand times while your toddler splashes milk onto nearby passengers.) If you’re lucky though, you’ll be on a fancy plane with built in screens and easy viewing. But let’s be honest, most of us won’t be that lucky and we’ll be craning our necks and holding our phones at funny angles trying to get comfortable watching them for hours on end. Enter the Steelie Pedestal. Using Steelie magnetic mounting technology, this pedestal securely holds your phone for you all flight long. And, with the magnet on the back of your phone, you can then conveniently also use the Steelie Bar Mount on your stroller, and the Steelie Vent Mount on your rental car for easy hands-free use on the go.

 

5. Organize Your Electronics

CurvyMan Cord Supervisor and Gear Ties

As wireless charging and Bluetooth technologies are evolving, we may not be far from a cordless existence, but at the moment we all travel with whole mess of them. But don’t worry, there’s an answer for that too and I bet you can guess it – more Gear Ties! Between Gear Ties and our Curvyman Cord Supervisor, we can help you keep those unruly cords and headphones neat and organized on the go.

Topics: "travel", Holidays

Running Off with the RunOffs

Posted by Katie S on Jun 25, 2019 1:43:28 PM

Being an angler and seeing that it is in fact runoff time here in Colorado, it seemed appropriate that I put the new Nite Ize RunOff© Waterproof Bags to the test. They have been getting a lot of attention after all (see here and here).


For those of you unfamiliar with runoff season, it’s the term associated with springtime in mountain states when the seasonal snow melts up high and this “runoff” causes rivers and creeks to rise with muddy water. It’s not generally considered a great time of year for fly fishing (who doesn’t prefer stalking trout in crystal-clear, calm streams on warm days?) but I find it makes me more motivated to try new spots and to be more strategic in my planning. It’s all about timing.

RunOff-BlogImage1

So, my husband Drew and I packed up our new set of RunOff bags and made some plans. The bags hit the road with us on our springtime trips to visit the San Miguel River, the Uncompahgre River, the Green River through the Flaming Gorge, the Upper Colorado River, and to the good ole Evert Pierson Kids’ Fishing Pond in Boulder. I was stoked to see that these are truly badass waterproof bags that stood up to the tests of float fishing, wade fishing, toddler snack-tantrums, and all the variable weather that springtime in the Rockies has to offer. The super-tough toothless zipper is bomber and the bags are totally impenetrable – even to the raging rivers of runoff season. They lived up to their name perfectly.

RunOff-BlogImage2

After our memorable spring on the water, here are the best tips I can give you for fishing during runoff time – and then forget it all and let’s get excited for summer fishing!

Runoff fishing

 

1. Fish Tailwaters

Tailwaters are sections of rivers below dams. The dams help control the influx of runoff and maintain lower flows while typically also leading to better clarity. Float fishing the Green River below the Flaming Gorge Dam was near perfect conditions for catching browns from the boat all day long.

RunOff-BlogImage3

 
2. Fish mornings

The early bird really does get the worm, or the fish in this case. For the first few weeks of runoff season the nights are still freezing and the actual snow melt doesn’t happen until later in the day, so mornings on the river are often still clear. As we typically had two toddlers fishing with us, the early morning option wasn’t a problem. On closing day at Telluride Ski Resort with skiers stopping by to watch, we spent a nice cool morning fishing dry flies to little rainbows on the San Miguel, but by 10 or 11 a.m. the sun was warm overhead, and the river had turned to chocolate milk without a fish rising in sight.

fish

 
3. Be flexible and watch for temperature swings

Runoff season isn’t finite, it can start and stop with the weather. We “lucked out” with snow storms in the mountains just before memorial weekend and saw that with the colder temps, flows had dropped on the Upper Colorado River for the weekend. We called up our good friends and got out for an epic day of float fishing. This time of year, fishing streamers can be really productive and always fun, so that’s just what we did.

RunOff-BlogImage4


4. Hit the local lakes and ponds

If you’re at a low elevation, your lakes and ponds will be largely unaffected by runoff. So, take a turn at fly fishing for bass, pike, or carp (yes, carp – you don’t need to be ashamed). Or just rig up some kid rods and make it a fun family day. Never trust the weather though – our fishing day could have been ruined by this deluge, but fortunately we had the snacks packed in the RunOff 3-1-1 Pouch, so the day was saved!

Spring storm

RunOff 3-1-1 Pouch

I’d love to hear your best tips for runoff season in the comment section below.

Topics: "travel", fishing, runoff, waterproof bags, dry 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

Road Team Tested: The Fun Doesn't Stop When the Sun Goes Down

Posted by Live Outside & Play Road Team on Jul 12, 2018 9:54:41 AM

When you live in a van in Colorado and the sun dips below the horizon, you have two options: Get in and enjoy that claustrophobic feeling of being in the same small space for far too many hours, or grab some Nite Ize products and keep the fun going. With the fire ban stretching across the state, it’s easy to get discouraged after sunset in the backcountry. Without a fire to base evening debauchery around, what’s an outdoor enthusiast to do? Luckily, Nite Ize has plenty of products to help keep you entertained. Check out some fun post-sunset products perfect for both humans and furry friends alike.

Fun for Humans

SPOKELIT® LED WHEEL LIGHT – DISC-O SELECT™

 

Nothing says “I’m keeping myself safe, but I’m here to party” quite like the SpokeLit LED Wheel Light from Nite Ize. The SpokeLit is an LED lighting accessory for all occasions. And we mean ALL OCCASIONS. You can select between six colors or leave it on the color changing Disc-O mode to keep you seen and safe with perfect side visibility while riding your bike. Biking home from work? SpokeLit. Biking to the bar on a Saturday night? SpokeLit. Biking across the desert at Burning Man? Definitely SpokeLit. This shock and weather-resistant light is super efficient and has a battery life of 20 hours (roughly the length of one REALLY GOOD party). In all honesty, it just makes riding your bike more fun. We’ve even used ours along with a headlamp while mountain biking at night. We usually select our color based on our mood… Which is almost always Disc-O mode.

FLASHFLIGHT® LED LIGHT-UP FLYING DISC

When we’re backpacking we choose food with a high nutrition-to-weight ratio. When we’re in the van, we choose our toys with a high fun-to-size ratio. The Flashflight LED LightUp Flying Disc always makes the cut. The Flashflight is a LED Light Up flying disc designed by an Ultimate player to perform as beautifully as it looks. Weighing in at 185 grams, the Flashflight is our go-to for fun, whether we’re in the van or spending a night in the backcountry. The Flashflight is not only water-resistant but it floats, too! Nite Ize incorporated fiber optics as well as long-life LED lights into the Flashflight to make sure you can see it from every angle.  Obviously, it’s great at night, but it was designed to fly like a high-quality flying disc and you’ll be reaching for it even during the day.

Fun for Dogs

HUCK ‘N TUCK™ GLOWSTREAK® COLLAPSIBLE THROWER + LED BALL

We often play fetch with our van pooch after dark, and before the Huck ‘N Tuck Glowstreak Collapsible Thrower and LED Ball, we lost count of all of the tennis balls that were lost to the night. With the LED ball, and easy to store thrower, we can tire our puppy out every night after finding camp. The Huck ‘N Tuck thrower extends to two-feet long for long arching throws, and collapses down to 12 inches so it’s easy to store in the van. The motion-activated LED ball comes to life with a bounce against the ground or the first throw, and keeps glowing until it’s stationary for five minutes. You get five more minutes of the LED’s blinking before it turns off. This ensures you can find the ball even when your pup is done running. That strong little LED has 35 hours of glow time so you can play throughout the entire summer. The LED ball is molded, shockproof AND waterproof (and it floats!). This means if you have a pup that likes to swim, you can keep the water games going all night. The ball has ridges so it won’t slip as he makes his way back for another throw. It is also the same size as a tennis ball so it’s compatible with all throwers! Our dog has put this ball to the test, and it’s stood up to his slobber, chewing and his incredible ability to hide the ball from us when we’re done playing.

NITEHOWL® LED SAFETY NECKLACE

We have an adventure dog. He sprints along as we bike down singletrack, secures the perimeter every time we arrive at a new campsite, and scrambles up rock fields as we make our way to summits. This dog knows freedom and yearns to roam like the rest of us. When we arrive at camp, we instantly reach for the NiteHowl LED Safety Necklace. The collar is made up of flexible polymer which you trim down to fit your pup’s neck exactly. It comes in three different colors so you can easily distinguish between other dogs wearing the same collar. The button on the weather-resistant battery pack cycles you through solid lights, flashing and off. We use the flashing mode when walking through crowds at festivals to make sure our pup is seen, and so everyone else knows he’s ready to party. At campsites, we use the solid option so we can always spot him (and he’s still ready to party). Sometimes it’s catching glimpses of him sprinting through the trees around us, or as a glow reminder he’s curled up next to our camp chair snoozing once he’s partied out.

Topics: Adventure, "travel", DIY, Organization

Cycling Croatia With the Field Team

Posted by Field Team Member Heidi Kumm on Apr 11, 2018 1:24:03 PM

I am a trail runner, not a cyclist or mountain biker. The one time I did own a bike it was a mountain bike + it lived on the trails with me. Riding a bicycle in traffic is terrifying to me -- I don’t trust that the people behind the wheels of all the cars will be paying enough attention to guarantee my safety. Not to mention the fact I don’t necessarily trust myself atop a bike. I’m far more comfortable in my running shoes with only thin rubber between me + the ground.

All of these fun facts were ignored when I decided to cycle the coast of Croatia...in July...for nearly a month...on a cobbled together bike...with my life strapped to the frame.

My game plan was to cycle from northern Croatia to southern Croatia over the course of about four weeks. I needed to venture out of the Schengen Region of Europe to stay within the regulations of my visitor visa + I wasn’t about to just hang out on a beach. I wanted something more, something exciting + something hard. So when it was suggested I cycle the coast of Croatia I jumped all over the chance to take on adventure.

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Instead of thinking about how much was stacked against me I focused on how much fun it was going to be. Not to mention how miserable it was going to be. I was looking at about 400 miles of cycling in the heat of a coastal country’s humid summer sunshine. Needless to say, I’ve had better ideas.

 

Nite Ize to the Rescue!

I mentioned this idea to the crew at Nite Ize about two months before I took off + they were even more stoked about it than I was! They asked how they could support my crazy. Nite Ize specializes in outdoor gear gadgets + some pretty spiffy bicycle accessories. Of course I wanted their help + support! It was a perfect fit! They supplied me with some awesome gear that came in incredibly handy when I was packing up my gear + decking out my new-to-me bike.

The bike lights were amazing + made my bike incredibly visible, which alleviated a lot of my stress about being visible on the highways. I strapped the INOVA STS Reachargable Headlamp to the front of the bike + the LED TwistLit to my back fender. This covered the basic requirements for bike safety, but I wanted more. I love color + what’s more colorful than multi-colored SpokeLits to spice things up?! Yea, no one was going to miss me on the road! But for good measure I packed along bright colors + reflective gear, because safety first!

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Another great product that Nite Ize has created for cyclists is the HandleBand mount for your GPS/phone. It straps to your handlebars + keeps your phone right in your view. I quite literally depended upon this gadget! Since my route was created as I went it was integral to have my phone with Google Maps in front of me at all times. I even rigged up some Gear Ties to hold a battery pack to my bike frame so I’d always be able to check my route.

The Gear Ties also came in handy to strap my tent poles to my bike frame + keep all of my cords intact [yup, I took along electronics -- that’s the life of a digital nomad!]. I also found nearly a million uses for the CamJam XT Cord Tightener, which could be paired up with paracord to become a bungee or clothesline or...whatever else you could possibly need with adjustable paracord. We washed our clothes in campground sinks, so we put the CamJam clothesline to good use!

They were also kind enough to send along a cycling jersey to make me feel legit! I am not a cycling short convert, but the jerseys are rather incredible with their back pockets! It’s the little things in life I tell ya.

Adventure Bound // Cycling Coastal Croatia

I arrived in Rovinj, Croatia via bus after more than 24 hours of travel. I drug my bagged up bike over to a tiny park near the bus station, unpacked it + put it all together. Within about 30 minutes of getting off the bus I was on the road, following my phone’s GPS toward a campsite about 10km away. The sense of accomplishment I felt when I arrived at the campground + managed to set up camp without incident was glorious. I did it! I rode a touring bike + didn’t fall over [at least not entirely!]. I had remembered enough of my gear to at least set up my tent. Boom...I had this! I was going to do this!

This all changed the next day when I spent the entire afternoon sprawled out in the shade, willing myself not to vomit everywhere. In my excitement to ride I had forgotten to eat or drink for the entirety of a very hot, very sunny 20km/13mi jaunt. By the time I arrived at camp I was trashed. My ego was crushed...I am an ultra trail runner, I was supposed to be smarter than this!

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Later that day my friend, Sophie, arrived via plane with her touring bike in tow. We were planning to spend the next few weeks cycling together. She knew cycling, I knew suffering. It seemed fool proof.

It definitely wasn’t a fool proof plan. It was a plan made by fools. We knew we were pushing our limits, but we were optimistic. Over the next few days we learned exactly what our limits are + how unprepared we were. Phew. Did you know Croatia is crazy hot + insanely humid in mid-July?! Well, it is. Heat + humidity are brutal, especially for a mountain girl [me!] + a girl from the United Kingdom [Sophie!]. The conditions ate us alive + eventually we gave in. Or, in my mind at the time, we gave up. We rented a car.

 

The car was barely large enough to fit our tire-less bikes into it, but it came with air conditioning + a motor. That’s exactly what we needed in that moment. It took some time for me to accept the feeling of failure that came with this tiny European car, but in the end it was definitely a worthy decision. The car took us inland where we were able to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park + Krka National Park. Both were incredible + would not have been possible with our bikes + schedule.

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We spent a week in the car, then returned it for a few more days of cycling once we arrived in southern Croatia. It actually felt good to get back on my bike as I rode along a nearly empty road leading from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Hercig Novi, Montenegro. It was freeing + calming. I loved it more with every pedal turn. After a few too many days of wishing my bike tires would just fall off I was now plotting how I would take it back home with me.

 

I will always identify as a trail runner first...but at my core I am happy to get outside, however I can. Even atop a bicycle that I learned how to put together in the days before a four week adventure.

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Between the bikes + the rental car we were able to visit Pula, Zadar, Split, Makarska, Plitvice Lake NP, Krka NP + Dubrovnik in Croatia. From Dubrovnik I head to Herceg Novi + Kotor, Montenegro while Sophie ventured north to Munich, Germany. I closed out my Croatian adventure with a stop in Zagreb, then met up with Sophie before we both returned to the mountains of Switzerland.

You can read up on more of the adventure over on my website: Heidi Kumm // Oversharing Life. You’ll find the full story, a run down of the logistics + the details of how I packed my life into a few pannier bags. I learned a lot while roaming + exploring on a bike...so much so that I’m fairly certain I will be acquiring a new bike this summer. While the bike I used in Croatia did come back to Colorado with me there’s a very high chance I’ll be popping my colorful SpokeLits on another new-to-me bike. One created for trails, to mesh a bit more with my trail running ways.

Topics: Visibility and Safety, Commuting, Adventure, Bike, Field Team, "travel"

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