A Practical Camping Guide for the Non-Outdoorsy

Posted by MJ Smoot on Apr 30, 2021 5:07:54 PM

Practical Camping Guide for the Non-Outdoorsy

Over the past year, the great outdoors has become a haven for people looking to escape the confines of the pandemic. Public spaces and lands are thriving as a result, with more people venturing to local trails, waterways, and campgrounds. For many, outdoor adventures are a new thing and a weekend trip to a local campground can be quite an intimidating experience. The good news is that there is plenty of space for everyone on public lands, and with a little research and preparation, a weekend camping trip to your local campground will not feel so daunting.  

As a seasoned outdoorsman, I too find trips to new places to be filled with uncertainty, often presenting more questions than answers. During my research of campgrounds, I’ve noticed that information for the first-time camper is often limited to what is referred to as “the 10 essentials”. What is missing are those practical insights that answer important questions like, “Where am I going to poo? Is there a place to shower? And more importantly, will there be coffee?”

Fear not my city slicker friends–I have put together a more practical list of camping tips for the non-outdoorsy. We’ll start with the basics, and by the end of this post you will have some great resources to help prepare you for your next, or first, camping trip.

 

Guide Tip #1: Don’t Trust Your Outdoorsy Friends

Camping Tips for First-Timers

(Pictured here: your outdoorsy friend MJ)

That’s right, I’m contradicting myself with tip #1. As your outdoorsy friend, I’m REALLY excited that you’re expressing an interest in camping and my brain is racing with images of all of the picturesque places I’ve been and that I’d love for you to experience. However, that enthusiasm could lead you down the wrong path. While I’m foaming at the mouth to tell you about my secret camping spot on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management), you may not be ready for that. Camping on public lands can be confusing. There are often no designated campgrounds nor facilities and can be miles down dirt roads far from the nearest cell phone signal.

Rather than take your friend’s word for the perfect camping spot, do your own research of the area. Search for places where you can make reservations ahead of time. This way you’ll be guaranteed a cozy place to camp for the night. Oh, and make your reservations as early as possible. Many campgrounds are fully reserved 3-6 months in advance.

Here are a few camping reservations sites that I have found to be helpful when looking for the perfect place to camp:

  • Recreation.gov – This site has information for campgrounds of all types and is likely where you’ll end up when looking for a campsite at a National Park or with the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
  • The Dyrt – The Dyrt’s user-generated database has lots of campground reviews and images from people just like you with information about all types of campsites, including some that are well off the beaten path.
  • HipCamp – Looking for something untraditional? HipCamp is the Airbnb of camping with sites available from private landowners.

 

Guide Tip #2: Choose Your Own Adventure

Camping for Beginners

Camping doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Whether you are looking to rough it in the woods for the weekend or a blissful glamping experience, choose a shelter that most closely matches the experience you are going for. Some shelter options to consider are as follows.

Tent Camping in UtahTent Camping – You’ll need the appropriate gear for this method. Other than a tent, you’ll need something to sleep in and on. Sleeping bags and sleeping pads come in a variety of styles and perhaps the most important factor for you to consider is what the weather will be like at night. Colder nights call for warmer sleeping bags and insulated pads. As a non-outdoorsy camper, this method can feel intimidating and the cost of all this gear can get expensive. Rather than buying everything you will need, check with your local outdoor store to see if they have a rental program or ask your outdoorsy friends to borrow gear. Chances are that they’ll be happy to outfit you with camping gear if they’re not already planning to use it. 


Popup Trailer CampingTrailer + RV Camping – For those of you that are not interested in sleeping in the dirt, or that like the privacy of your own bathroom, a trailer or RV rental may be what you are looking for. The website Outdoorsy has everything from small teardrop trailers to large Class A RVs for rent, outfitted with everything you will need for a night out of the city or a week on the road. This is also a great option to consider if you have a fear of unwelcome encounters with wildlife or the weather. Trailers and RVs provide a hard-sided shelter to help minimize those fears so that you can get a good night’s rest. 

 


Glamping TipsGlamping + Cabin Rentals – Glamping, or glamorous camping, and cabin rentals are a great way for the non-outdoorsy to have a unique experience. These options often have more of those creature comforts we are all used to like running water, electricity, and even WiFi. They can also be pretty swanky! While you can find many cabins on VRBO and Airbnb, the website Glamping.com is a great source for finding those unique, Instagram-worthy places that you see in your feed.

 

 

Guide Tip #3: Optimize Your Gear

Essential Camping Gear

Remember those ten essentials I mentioned earlier? They are a key part of being prepared for any adventure into the outdoors. You’ll find the standard list of the ten essentials below along with a few practical essentials from my personal packing list.

 

The Ten Essentials

Camping Packing Checklist

  1. Navigation – If you plan to do any hiking or exploring, you’ll want to bring a map along with a compass, GPS device and/or your smartphone with a downloaded trail app like AllTrails or Gaia GPS.
  2. Sun Protection – There is nothing worse than trying to sleep with a sunburn or getting a headache from too much bright light. Be sure to pack your sunglasses, a hat, and some sunscreen. This is especially true at higher elevations where the UV rays are more intense than at lower elevations. Long sleeves and other UV shielding clothing can also be quite helpful while keeping you cool. As a plus, long sleeve shirts are also great for keeping bugs off of you.
  3. Illumination­ – A great headlamp and lantern are enough to keep the party going when the sun goes down. Whether you’re planning a game at the picnic table in your campsite or taking a midnight trip to the bathroom, you’re going to need a light. My favorites are the Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp and Radiant 314 Rechargeable Lantern. If you want to take your campsite from basic to badass, or add a little fun for the kids, then a rope light like the new ShineLine might be the perfect addition to your campsite.
  4. First Aid Kit – You can buy or build your own first aid kit easily with items you may already have around the house. Things like band aids, ointment, and over-the-counter pain relievers are cornerstones of a basic first aid kit, but also be sure to pack any prescription medications you may be taking as well as bug spray. Bugs can be quite unpredictable and very annoying. Most importantly, if you decide to make your own first aid kit, then be sure to put all of the contents in a waterproof bag like the RunOff Travel Pouch to protect these important items from the elements.
  5. Fire – Are you really camping if there’s no campfire or s’mores?! Be sure to bring something to start a campfire, or the grill, as well as a backup way to start a fire in case your primary method doesn’t work (I.E. matches, lighter, fire starter). However, bear in mind that many areas may have fire restrictions, so call your campground ahead of time to make sure, and pack a camp stove or propane fire pit instead if traditional fires are prohibited.
  6. Knife – Bring a sharp knife. You’ll need a knife to help with cooking in particular, but may also need one for unexpected gear repairs, or to whittle yourself the perfect marshmallow roasting stick.
  7. Shelter ­– You are going to want a place to sleep. Be sure you packed your tent before you leave the house and know how to set it up. A little practice setting up the tent at your home can save you loads of time and frustration at camp.
  8. Extra Food – It’s always a good idea to have an extra day’s worth of food in case your plans change, or you need a little snack while you’re on the way to/from camp.
  9. Extra Water – Other than drinking water to stay hydrated, you will likely be using your water to cook and clean. So, bring plenty and drink lots of water especially if you are going to be active during your camping trip.
  10. Extra Clothes – Layer up! One of the wild things about camping is the temperature swings that you might experience throughout the day. It’s not uncommon to be wearing a t-shirt and shorts during the day and a warm jacket and pants at night. Check the weather before you travel to see what to expect, but also be sure to pack for the unexpected. I like to pack clothes that can be easily layered to increase warmth, that dry quickly if wet, and to always have something waterproof like a raincoat. A warm hat, like a beanie, and a baseball cap are also on my packing list. Hats help to keep you warm and shaded, but are also great for hiding your messy hairdo in the morning.

MJ’s Essentials

What to bring camping

  1. Toilet Paper – Seriously though, don’t overlook this. While a campground may have restrooms, I have stayed in quite a few that didn’t have toilet paper when I needed it. Pack your own and you will never be caught with your pants down. 😉
  2. Hand Sanitizer + Soap – Before hand sanitizer was cool, it was an essential part of my packing list. A lot of the places I have camped had minimal facilities with vault toilet (I.E. a big hole in the ground with no sink). You’ll want a way to sanitize your hands after a visit to a place like this, or before making any meals at camp. In addition to the sanitizer, I also bring biodegradable soap with me that I use to wash my hands as well as the dirty dishes.
  3. Games – Have some fun with this one, there are no rules here! While camping I’ve played everything from bocce ball, to dominos, to cards against humanity, to two truths and a lie, and catch with the Flashflight Light-Up Flying Disc (a camp time favorite)! Games that are easy to play for a group of people work best.
  4. Coffee – It’s easy to overlook this morning staple and there are many ways to make coffee while at camp. Pack accordingly. Some brewing options that are also camp-friendly include a percolator, French press, and AeroPress. If all those options sound like too much work, then opt for some instant coffee. Believe it or not, there are some tasty instant coffee options available these days at your local grocery store. You’ll also need a way to boil water for said coffee. The easiest way is to bring a camp stove (or portable burner) and kettle.
  5. Trash Bag – While a campground may have a dumpster, individual campsites do not have trash bins. Bring a few trash bags with you so that you can throw all your trash away at once before you head home.
  6. Wireless Speaker – Not everyone will agree with this but whatever, I want you to have a great time at camp. Adding some music to happy hour while you are prepping dinner can be quite enjoyable at camp. Just be respectful of your neighbors and do not blast the music all night.
  7. Battery Backup – I like to have a way to recharge my headlamp and phone at camp. Like many people, I use my phone for lots of things such as looking up places to hike, for driving directions, and, most importantly, to take pictures.
  8. Crocs – Yup, I said it. Crocs. Slip-on shoes or sandals also work. The point is you are not going to want to wear your shoes or hiking boots all day and night. Having something comfortable and easy to slip on is perfect for lounging around camp, going in and out of the tent, or for a quick trip to the bathroom.

Camping Tips For Non-Outdoorsy People

Thank you for reading this not so tongue-in-cheek practical camping list. I am sure there are some things that I’ve forgotten or that you are still wondering about. Please post your questions or additions to this list in the comments section below to keep the conversation going. If there’s one thing the outdoorsy like to do, it's talking about our gear and sharing our knowledge. Also, be sure to check out the Nite Ize OptimIZE collection for some other fun and practical camping gear.

The adventure  photos in this post were provided by Ali and Garret Photography

Topics: outdoors, Adventure, "travel", camping

MobilIZE: Phone Accessories For Every Lifestyle

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Apr 13, 2021 2:11:38 PM

Phone Accessories For Every Lifestyle

Let’s face the grim reality: we’re all hopelessly reliant on our smartphones. Whether we’re having GPS guide our way to our next destination or taking ‘gram-worthy photos on a hike, it’s likely that wherever we go, our phones go with us. While we’ll spare you the sociological examination of our society’s relationship with our devices, we will give you a breakdown of our favorite mobile accessories to help simplify your life and keep you connected around the house, on the road, and beyond.

 

For The Outdoor Adventurer

Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether

Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether

Do your adventures in nature put your phone in some pretty precarious situations? You know you need that perfect photo off the side of a cliff, but you do risk losing a grip and having your phone tumble down hundreds of feet to it’s ultimate demise. The Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether is the perfect companion for mountain hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and more. Clip one end of the coiled tether to your belt loop or jacket and snap away worry-free. For city adventures, it also makes a great defense against pick-pocketers. You can also clip the tether onto it’s other end to form a loop, and conveniently carry your phone around your wrist when your hands are full (attention, busy parents).

 

For The Cycling Fanatic

Squeeze Rotating Smartphone Bar Mount

Squeeze Rotating Smartphone Bar Mount

Whether you’re a regular bike commuter, a casual joy-rider, or a weekend warrior mountain biker, keep your phone secured to your handlebars with the Squeeze Bar Mount. Universally fit for virtually any phone, the Squeeze is easy to install tool-free, and intuitive to use. Just pinch the levers to open the arms, place your device, and release for a super strong hold that can withstand bumps, twists, and turns. It also can rotate between portrait or landscape modes, so you can track your maps and apps as you ride.

 

For The Road Warrior

Steelie Magnetic Phone Mounts

Steelie Magnetic Phone Mounts

If you’re an avid road tripper, daily grind commuter, or business traveler, you need a place in your car to dock your phone for hands-free calls, GPS navigation, or music selection. The Steelie family of magnetic mobile phone mounts are reliable, secure, and easy to use – but with so many options, where do you even start? We’ve made it easier than ever with this flowchart to help you find the right Steelie for your lifestyle:

Find Your Steelie

 

For The Angler

RunOff Waterproof Phone Case

RunOff Waterproof Phone Case

Dreaming of catching the big one? Whether you’re heading out for a deep sea fishing excursion, a day of fly fishing on the river, or hitting the lake by motor boat, you know you’ll want your phone close to document your catch. Keep your device dry, protected, and in reach with a RunOff Waterproof Phone Case. With a clear, touch-screen friendly front and back window, you won’t need to remove your phone from the case to use it, and the included lanyard allows you to wear it around your neck for accessibility. Tested to IP67, the RunOff Phone Case is completely submersible in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, so if it does decide to take a dip in the water, it will stay completely dry!

 

For The Jet Setter

QuikStand Mobile Device Stand

QuikStand Mobile Device Stand

Planning to hit the friendly skies this year? You can keep up with your latest Netflix binge while in the air with the QuikStand Mobile Device Stand. At just about the size of a credit card, this stand is ultra packable, and folds out to hold your phone or small tablet right on your tray table so you can give your arms a break.

 

For The Minimalist

Ca$hBack Phone Wallet

Ca$hBack Phone Wallet

If you’re not one for toting around an assortment of belongings everywhere you go, choose the simple route. With the Ca$hBack Phone Wallet, you can carry your phone, cards and cash all in one!

 

For The Super Scroller

FlipOut Phone Handle + Stand

FlipOut Phone Handle + Stand

Are you a social media aficionado with a penchant for selfie-snapping? Keep a better grip on your cherished device with a FlipOut Phone Handle + Stand. The low-profile design slides into pockets without snagging, but flips out to create a convenient handle – or use it as a kickstand so you can sit back and catch up on your favorite YouTube channels.

 

For The Home Chef

Steelie Pedestal Mount

Steelie Pedestal Mount

If you love to cook or bake, you know the struggle of looking up recipes on your phone and then fumbling to read it at the right angle with your flour-caked hands. Enter the Steelie Pedestal Mount, and the answer to your digital recipe woes. If you’re already a Steelie user, this mount is a perfect addition to your arsenal. If you have the original or plus-sized magnet, you can snap it right onto the pedestal. If you’re a Steelie Orbiter user, just purchase an additional Orbiter Socket that lives on your Pedestal to use it the same way. You can also put a Steelie Plus magnet onto the back of your tablet if you prefer a larger screen.

 

Do you have a hobby or lifestyle we didn't cover? Let us know in the comments and we'll give our best recommendation for an accessory to fit your needs. Curious for more mobile product recommendations? View our specially-curated April MobilIZE Collection here.

Topics: Mobile Device Accessories, outdoors, Adventure, "travel", Home, Steelie

MobilIZE For Spring Adventures: Favorite Accessories For Life On-The-Go

Posted by Katie S on Mar 31, 2021 4:49:22 PM

Mobilize For Spring Adventures

Spring has sprung and the smell of summer barbeques is so close we can almost taste them. Meanwhile, thoughts of springtime adventures stir in our minds. Whether your spirit of adventure leads you to explore new local parks or faraway destinations, we have a few tips and tricks for adventuring safer and smarter with your smartphone. For better or worse, smartphones and technology have generally changed the way we explore and experience the world around us. Rather than packing up maps, a camera, a video camera, a GPS, and relying on the kindness of strangers to lend directions, we bring along one trusty, compact smartphone.  So, here are a few ways we recommend keeping your device protected and accessible on your next adventure, as well as a few ways your phone can keep you safe and enhance the experience.

 

Make It Snug with a Little Steelie Hug

Steelie Squeeze Windshield Kit

If your next adventure starts with hitting the road, make sure you’ve got Steelie as your co-pilot. Steelie is a strong magnetic device holder that secures your phone at easy viewing angles in the car so you can view what’s really important: the road. I personally like the Steelie Squeeze Windshield Kit because it seriously suctions to your windshield, and the Squeeze bracket can hold your phone or anyone else’s who may be riding shotgun on your adventure. (And, it kind of looks like it’s giving your phone a snug little hug, and that makes me smile!)

Squeeze Smartphone Bar Mount

If your road trip happens to end at an amazing biking destination, you can move your phone from the Steelie Squeeze Mount in your car, to the Squeeze Smartphone Bar Mount on your bike and hit the trail without missing a beat (or dropping a phone).

 

Protect from the Big Three: Water, Sand, and Drops

RunOff Waterproof Medium Travel Pouch

Every generation of smartphone seems to get a little more durable and water-resistant, but they haven’t reached perfection yet. There is very little that drops your stomach as quickly as watching your favorite device dropping to the bottom of a river, and nothing more frustrating than trying to pick granules of sand out of the charging port. Pack your phone and other small essentials in a RunOff Waterproof Travel Pouch, and clip on an S-Biner to instantly make it waterproof, dirt-proof, and drop-proof.

 

Apps To Help You Adventure Smarter

Apps To Help Adventure Smarter

You know that tagline, “there’s an app for that”? Well, it really does apply to just about everything these days. Research what will be most helpful to your specific activities before you leave, since you may not have service for downloads where you’re headed. Here are a few of my favorites for outdoor exploration and travel:

FEMA – In general, I recommend that everyone have the FEMA app downloaded and set to send notifications for your area. If you plan to travel outside your hometown, update your notifications so you will be pinged if any major storms or other emergencies occur in the area so you can prepare/react appropriately.

Red Cross First Aid App – If your adventures take you more than an hour away from medical facilities, it’s a good idea to have some medical knowhow yourself. This app provides step by step instructions on how to identify and treat many common injuries and ailments. And always be sure to bring along a first aid kit too.

The Dyrt – This site is amazing for finding and getting in depth info on camp sites all over the U.S.

SEEK iNaturalist – Identify and keep track of plants, animals, and insects as you go. It’s fun to learn more about the world around you, and it could be useful if you find yourself in a survival situation (but hopefully just for fun!).

 

Where will your next adventure take you? We’d love to hear about your explorations with any Nite Ize products you bring along. Drop us a line in the comments section below, or share your photos on social media with the tag #NiteIze – you just might win a SurprIZE gift! For more products that keep you mobile, check out our April MobilIZE collection, full of top-rated gear for your phone and beyond.

Happy Adventuring!

Topics: Mobile Device Accessories, Bike, "travel", runoff, waterproof bags, Steelie, Surprize

VisualIZE: the first women’s run of the Grand Canyon R3.alt

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jan 22, 2021 1:18:07 PM

The first women’s run of the Grand Canyon R3.alt

By Nite Ize Field Team Member Sunny Stroeer

What’s the hardest part of any adventure? To me, the answer is clear: it’s that moment where you turn a wish into a goal and start to plan.   Many adventures, big and small, never get off the ground… and often for a reason that we don’t like to talk about: for a lack of trying. I should know - big adventures are my jam, like the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim ALT (or, for short, “R3.alt”) route that I completed with two girlfriends of mine this past October.  

RunOff Waterproof Large Packing CubeThe R3.alt is adventure running at its finest. It entails a double crossing of the Grand Canyon, which means 42 miles and over 10,000ft of vertical gain on rugged trails far, far off the pavement.  If that wasn’t enough, here’s an added challenge: there is no bridge across the Colorado River connecting the trails of this particular route at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, so you have to swim across the mighty Colorado in order to complete the adventure; you can imagine how thankful I was for Nite Ize’s awesome RunOff Waterproof Bags which helped bombproof my essential non-waterproof gear to ensure it would stay dry while we swam across the river. Through the hours of darkness, I was grateful for my Nite Ize Headlamp.  After a botched first attempt, and despite a few minor epics on the second attempt, my friends and I managed to pull off the R3.alt in 22 hours and 27 minutes and established the first women’s speed record on this backcountry route. 

As you consider what the R3.alt requires, you might argue that the hardest part of this adventure should be running 42 miles, or swimming across the Colorado River.  But here’s the kicker: running long distances is what I do, and the swim across the Colorado turned out to be less difficult than we had imagined (in large part thanks to a dry season which meant warm and slow-flowing water). 

Christin Healy Grand Canyon R3 Alt

So for this adventure, as for so many others, the true crux of the R3.alt was formulating the concrete goal of making it happen: the moment where I moved my internal dialogue from a hypothetical "wow what a cool route - I wish I could try that someday!" to the concrete "I am going to attempt the R3.alt." That simple change in words is often all it takes to turn a wish into a goal, and to start making a plan for how to accomplish said goal.

If it’s that simple, what keeps us from bridging the gap between ‘wishing’ and ‘planning’? Let me go back to my Grand Canyon R3.alt adventure for a moment.  When I first heard about the R3.alt route in 2018, it immediately captured my attention - as a wild “someday” idea, not as a goal. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get to the trailhead, or if I’d have the chops to jump into the mighty Colorado and swim across it; my internal dialogue was all about reasons why I wouldn’t ever be able to do the R3.alt, rather than about ways I could attempt the route. 

First women's run of Grand Canyon R3.alt

The reason for that is part an old habit of negative self-talk, and part mental laziness. I firmly believe that most of us, myself included, use the phrase "I wish" far more frequently than we should.  That’s why I differentiate between three different categories of "I wish" statements; hear me out. 

  1. Figure of speech without true intent: “I wish I could stay to chat but I gotta go.”  
  2. An honest wish related to something that we cannot influence: “I wish I was taller” or “I wish you felt better.” 
  3. Deliberate distancing from a desirable outcome: “I wish I could quit my job” or “I wish I was a better writer” or “I wish I could go travel.” 

I personally spend most of my time in categories one and three, but I constantly try to remind myself that the first category serves no purpose outside of social interactions.  The third category, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like: it is a way for us to deliberately distance ourselves from a challenging goal that we think we want but that is scary, difficult and/or time-intensive to pursue.  That third category is the category that I like to invest in, and  where I put work into converting my ‘I-wish-I-could’ wild dreams into ‘I-want-to-and-I-am-going-to-figure-out-how’ game plans.

First women's run of Grand Canyon R3.alt

That’s the reason that my friends Lexi, Christin and I were able to pull off the R3.alt in the Grand Canyon this past October: not because we are the strongest athletes, but because we turned a wish into a goal and made a plan for how to get there. My wish for you in 2021 is that you may do the same in the areas of your life that matter to you.

Topics: outdoors, Adventure, Field Team, "travel", runoff

"Skoolie Living" Travel Days Made Easier With Nite Ize

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Jan 8, 2021 11:14:34 AM

Skoolie Living Travel Days Made Easier With Nite Ize

Written and Photographed by Guest Bloggers Chris & Tina Wann of @weliveonabus

When you first move into a tiny home on wheels, there is so much to learn. Figuring out how to secure everything while your home is going down the road is an artform and takes time to perfect. When we first moved into the school bus, it wasn’t uncommon for items to fly across the bus once we took off toward our next destination, but we had a head start on finding great solutions thanks to Nite Ize. We have used Nite Ize products for years and during the downsizing process, we kept every single item that had their logo on it. We didn’t know how we would use all of it, but we knew we would need it. 

When looking for methods of organizing and securing belongings in our skoolie, Nite Ize has so much to offer, both in our home and in the great outdoors. When we recently reached out and shared our love of their brand and amazing products, they sent us a box of gear to replace some of the older products we are using. We’re happy to share all of the ways you can use Nite Ize to make travel day as easy as possible!

We Tie Down Everything with Nite Ize Gear Ties

We use Nite Ize Gear Ties for many different things around the skoolie. Gear Ties are a reusable twist tie found in many colors and sizes. Gear Ties are made from strong metal that is wrapped in a soft rubber shell that is durable and helps to prevent scratching. The rubber shell also provides grip to keep it from sliding. Even though they are made from heavy-duty metal, Gear Ties are easy to use with minimal effort.

The Plant Cart

Gear Tie Uses

It is no secret that plants can be found in abundance inside our skoolie. If we are being honest, they are also one of the most time consuming items to pack up on travel day. They have to be placed in their travel locations with care so the leaves don’t get damaged and one of those travel homes just happens to be on wheels. One of the best uses for Gear Ties is securing our plant cart to the wall in our bedroom. Before we started using Gear Ties, I am almost ashamed to tell you how many times it came loose while driving, bumping the door open and rolling down the hallway. It was such a simple fix, too! Nite Ize Gear Ties to the rescue, and now we no longer have to worry about the plant cart surprising us as it rolls down the hallway.

Cable Management

Gear Tie Reusable Rubber Twist Ties

One of the best uses for Gear Ties is cord organization. We have lots of cords in a small tote and using Gear Ties helps us get the one we need and not all of them at the same time in a giant knot. We have cords for chargers, phones, hot spots, the printer, cameras, and laptops. When it’s time to pack up and travel, we love using these to store the cords. They are available from three inches all the way to up to 64 inches and in multiple colors.

Hoses and Power Cords

Gear Tie Loopable

One new style of Gear Tie we started using is the Gear Tie Loopable. These are a fantastic addition to Gear Tie line up. I love using these for organizing hoses and power cords. One cool feature of using a longer Gear Tie Loopable is that you can make a handle to hold bulky items like 50 feet of water hose. Anyone who has tried to coil up 50 feet of water hose knows that it can be hard to manage, especially in cooler weather. We also love Nite Ize Gear Ties for our extension cords. I love how they help prevent the cords from getting tangled up while we’re on the move.

 

Transporting Our Kayaks

CamJam Tie Down Strap

Our family loves being around the water and we travel with two kayaks on the roof of our Jeep. On travel days, a part of my routine is making sure the kayaks are secured. Thanks to the Nite Ize CamJam Tie Down Straps, I can drive down the road knowing they are secure. Like everything else, these straps are very well made and have the end user in mind. A key feature that I love is the no slip buckle which helps to prevent the buckle from scratching the kayaks when tightened. It helps to protect the vehicle when throwing the strap over the kayak, too. I have had many different brands of straps and this is the first one with this feature.

 

Securing the Basket Shelf

One of the newest additions to the bus is the basket shelf above the driver’s seat. Many people have seen photos of this and ask “how do they not fall while driving?” More people have questioned our decision to place baskets above the driver than anything else we have done. I get it. When you see the photos, it looks like an accident waiting to happen, but we haven’t had to worry about it thanks to Nite Ize.

We tie the baskets in using the Nite Ize CamJam Cord Tightener. Prior to using this, I was using paracord, which works okay, but you have to tie decent knots while cinching the cord down to hold the baskets. The CamJam Cord Tightener eliminates the need for all of the knots because it clips to the hook in the wall. This speeds up the process of securing and unsecuring the baskets. This chore was one of my least favorite because it took extra time and had to be done just right to work. Now, I can secure them super fast and move on to the next task. To help ensure the baskets don’t move, we use Gear Ties on the handles to secure them together.

 

Keeping Doors Closed

S-Biner Dual Carabiner

One of the key features in our bus build is the lockers that hold our toiletries and towels next to the bathroom sink. On our first drive down the road, we heard the banging noise of all six locker doors opening and slamming shut. We stopped at a local hardware store and found the perfect solution – the Nite Ize S-Biner Stainless Steel Dual Carabiner. They are small, light-weight, and the stainless finish looks great on the lockers. A triple win! A lot of times, my solutions to fix problems are more functional than pleasing to the eye. Like many of the Nite Ize products, these carabiners are functional and look great.

 

Organizing Keys and Small Tools with Nite Ize

Nite Ize Key Accessories

As we mentioned in our ebook, Making the Most of 234 Square Feet, we are a huge fan of installing hooks throughout the bus to hold small items, towels, and plants. What we didn’t mention is that every set of keys has a Nite Ize Slidelock S-Biner attached as a key chain. With all the keys for the bus and the Jeep, the locking S-Biner helps me to keep them organized and close at hand. We got into the habit of clipping the keys to a belt loop so we wouldn’t put them down and then forget where we put them. Super handy and a great way to keep your pockets free, too.

 

More Ways We Use Nite Ize

Favorite Nite Ize Products

The Nite Ize logo can be found scattered throughout our bus. Here is a quick look at all of the different products we use:

Travel days can be hectic. When you travel full time and are constantly packing and unpacking, solutions from Nite Ize can make your life easier. Let us know if you find a solution from Nite Ize that we didn’t think of! We would love to hear your ideas!

To learn more about what travel day looks like for our family, check out our Skoolie Travel Day Routines post. To find out where we are today and get the most current updates, follow us on Instagram.

Topics: Gear Ties, "travel", vanlife, Tie Downs

Big Ideas For The Year Ahead: VisualIZE Your 2021 Goals

Posted by Cassie Ryan on Dec 30, 2020 9:50:18 AM

New Year's Resolutions 2021 – Visualize Your Goals

If we’ve learned anything from this heck of a year, it’s that making plans doesn’t always work out, well, as planned. There may have been certain holiday traditions you had to forgo this year, but one that you should still make an effort to uphold is making your New Year’s resolutions for 2021. Even those might look a little different this year after taking time to reflect on all that was 2020. After a year nearly stuck on pause, there’s no time like the present to tackle your goals and focus on self-improvement, one resolution at a time.

Each month of 2021, we will reveal a Big Idea word designed to help you get motivated and make the most out of your year. This month’s Big Idea is VisualIZE – our way to help you dream up your aspirations for the coming year, and rise to meet them. If this year has you feeling a little less inspired to set some exciting goals for the next year, we’re here to help with some suggestions.

 

Get Fit + Don’t Quit

Fitness New Year's Resolutions

Likely the most basic and fundamental resolution is health and fitness related. Perhaps this past year has you thinking about making healthier life choices, or maybe you need to get back into the swing of an exercise routine after spending too much time in comfy pants. Whatever your reason may be, set your sights on a goal that is personally attainable. If you’re new to a fitness routine of any kind, an Ironman triathlon might be a bit too ambitious. Maybe aim for a 10K or half marathon instead this year, and work up from there. 

If you’re training for running or cycling, you might have to spend some early mornings or evening hours in the dark. Some new light-up gear to help you stay seen and safe at night might actually help motivate you to get out there too! Try a SlapLit LED Slap Wrap or a rechargeable TagLit Magnetic Marker to keep yourself seen and safe while you run, and a headlamp to light your path. If you’re getting into cycling, make sure your bike is outfitted with front and rear lights (for both day and night safety), and a rechargeable SpokeLit for side visibility.

Utilizing a fitness tracker or smart watch can be a big help in keeping you motivated and meeting your goals. If you’re currently missing classroom-style workouts, try a virtual one! If joining a membership-based program is out of your price range, there are great workouts you can find for free on YouTube. Even a half hour of yoga three times a week is a simple enough resolution that is fairly easy to keep, but can make a big difference in how you feel.

 

Tackle the To-Do List

Home Project New Year's Resolutions

Do you have a home project you’d like to accomplish but have been putting off? This might be the year to make it happen. Again, make your goals realistic. If you’re looking at a busy year already with work and/or family commitments, now might not be the right time for a complete remodel, but maybe you can start small with a bathroom, or a simple room repaint. Check out this list of 50 DIY projects that you could even complete in a weekend. This could also be a good year to finally plant a vegetable garden. Check out our tips for how to get started on one here

However big or small your aspirations are, get yourself the right gear to tackle the task. Once you’re fully invested, taking the next steps to complete your project will come easier.

 

Clean Space, Clear Mind

Organizing New Year's Resolutions

Do you feel slightly more anxious or stressed when your space is a mess? You’re not alone. Living with clutter can sometimes take a mental toll. Make a plan to organize your home (or even just a part of your home) in 2021. Kick the year off on the right foot by organizing your holiday decorations before storing them away. Buy some plastic tubs or drawers if you don’t already have some, and label them so you know exactly what’s in each. Use Gear Ties to wrangle your strings of lights – you’ll thank yourself next year!

If setting a goal of organizing your entire home is too daunting, maybe resolve to organize your garage, home office, closet, or even just the junk drawer. Just knocking out one of these tasks can help you clear your mind, and feel more accomplished. To get the ball rolling, check out these seven unique products to help organize your life here.

In this technological modern world we live in, we have to deal with all sorts of digital clutter in addition to the physical. Consider making a tech goal for yourself, such as regular hard drive backups, organizing and storing your files, or upping your online password game. If you have older but important files laying around on outdated external hard drives, consider investing in a brand new drive and migrating your files. Nowadays, solid state hard drives are more reliable, durable and have longer life expectancy than the older versions. For the more physical tech clutter, commit to keeping your charging cables tangle-free and fray-free. Preserve your cord ends with CordCollars and wrangle your cables with Gear Tie Cordables.

Does it seem like doing anything on the internet these days has you in a constant state of password hell? Either you fall into the trap of using the same password over and over (not recommended), or you are constantly clicking that “forgot password” button. Make a goal to organize your passwords – you can even consider a password management system. There are many out there, so read some reviews before you commit to one. It might take a day to set everything up, but it will save you time and headaches in the long run.

 

Dream Up a Getaway

Travel New Year's Resolutions

It might be finally safe to travel later on this year (hooray!), so now is a good time to start thinking about where you would like to go. Research has shown that even thinking about an upcoming trip can boost your mood. Give yourself something to look forward to by planning a getaway for when you think you will be safe and comfortable to venture out. You can certainly plan a camping trip now, and the sooner the better. Campgrounds have been booking up faster than ever before, so make your reservations as early as possible. If you’re planning to visit a National Park, you will also need a reservation these days, so don’t put that off either. If you’d prefer to use wheels than wings to travel, check out our 10 tips for planning the perfect road trip.

 

Try Something New

New Hobby New Year's Resolutions

Research has shown that people who regularly learn new things are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Keep your brain synapses firing full throttle by teaching yourself something new in 2021. This could be anything from taking a painting course, learning a new language, or cooking your way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If you’ve been meaning to get into journaling for a while, make this your year. If you’ve never held knitting needles in your life, maybe set a goal to learn and craft yourself a piece of clothing by the end of the year (or give some as gifts next holiday season). You could even go big and treat yourself to a Masterclass subscription and learn loads of new skills this year! These virtual classes allow you to learn directly from the experts you trust in a wide variety of categories. For instance, you can learn photography from Annie Leibovitz, cooking from Gordon Ramsay, basketball from Steph Curry, or dog training from Lucky Dog’s Brandon McMillan.

 

Include Rover

New Year's Resolutions For Pets

Speaking of dog training, maybe make a New Year’s resolution that includes your best four-legged friend, too! If you feel like you’ve been slacking in the walk department, shoot for daily walks, which will benefit both of you. It’s easy to blow them off during the winter months when it’s always dark and cold (do we really have to get out?), so help motivate yourself with a NiteDog light-up collar and leash! Not only will this make you visible to oncoming cars or bikes, you’ll be surprised how many compliments you receive for looking so cool. Check out our other ideas for New Year’s resolutions you can share with your dog here!

 

So what do you visualIZE for 2021? Once you’ve landed on a resolution (or maybe a few, if you’re ambitious), take a moment to write it down. You might start a new journal for the new year and put your resolution(s) on the first page, write them on a notecard and stick it to your fridge, or even a sticky note on your computer screen to help remind you throughout the year what you are working toward. And don’t forget to check out our VisualIZE collection of curated products to help you reach your 2021 goals, and check back next month for February’s Big Idea! We’ll be here to help you realIZE your goals all year long.

Topics: Visibility and Safety, Run Safety, "travel", DIY, Home, Fitness, Pets, dogs, Surprize

10 Tips For The Perfect Road Trip

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

10 Tips For The Perfect Road Trip

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

 

1. Check Your Vehicle

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

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

 

2. Plan Your Route

Steelie Magnetic Phone Mount

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

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

 

3. Book Your Accommodations

Road Trip Tips

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

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

 

4. Curate The Ultimate Playlist

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

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

 

5. Prepare for the Unexpected

Car Emergency Kit

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

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

 

6. Hit the Grocery Store

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

 

7. Pack It Up Pack It In

Road Trip Tips

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

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

 

8. Bring Your Furry Family Members

Road Trip With Dogs

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

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

 

9. Carry Cash

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

 

10. Document, Document, Document

Hitch Phone Anchor + Tether

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

 

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

Topics: "travel", Steelie, camping, vanlife

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