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I’m With the Band

Let me get one thing straight from the start—I’m not a groupie. I don’t want to be friends with, hug, kiss, or sleep with any member of any band.

I was a poor college student at a time when Napster was being blamed for killing the music industry and bands were limiting their free show schedules to hometowns only. I love music and get bored easily. That’s it. That’s how it all started.

That’s why, for years, my camera bag had a dozen or so All Access passes clipped to the strap and why, at first, they were all homemade at Kinkos for shows I never attended. The phrase “I’m with the band” wasn’t my typical go-to tool but it slipped out every once in a while. More often than not I’d drop the name of my college newspaper or the radio station I did overnights at as if the promoter should recognize the immense prestige those call letters held. They’d glance at my collection of passes and wave me in.

By the time I really belonged on any list, I’d worn my favorite pair of Chuck Taylors to well over three hundred shows. I’d interviewed dozens of bands and bought a lifetime total of zero concert tickets.

I ended up backstage with Ben Folds and Guster in Kansas City and in a hotel with The Strokes in Tulsa. I sat in an old van with The Aquabats and interviewed The Flaming Lips on a curb outside some bar in Stillwater.

It was a wild ride that led to some pretty jacked up stories—someday I’ll tell you about the bassist who did a backflip off his amp after downing a 40 and never missed a note—but the point of my telling you all this is to say that life is incredibly short. Don’t waste it. Don’t sneak into concerts either, even if it’s going to be a great show, because they take that a lot more seriously nowadays. But don’t waste the short time you have on this beautiful, twirling rock either. You shouldn’t be sitting inside with artificial experiences when you could be out living real ones and collecting stories of your own.

Those first few passes—the fake ones—looked pretty good but the real ones were even better. Use that implied metaphor how you will as long as you get out there and live a little. Be creative. Have fun. Work hard for what you want and avoid crappy music—especially live, crappy music.

There are only a few things in life that are worth what they cost—family, friends, adventures, a great pair of headphones, and an education—everything else can be taken or left along the road to the next show, the next experience, the next adventure.

We love you, just remember that.

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7 Essentials for Surviving a Music Festival

Did you hear that? It’s the sound of music festival lineups being released around the globe.

If you’re not too busy gathering your best pairs of high-waisted jorts or hand-weaving a daisy crown, take a moment to reflect on this list of true music festival must-haves. Only the strongest can survive a multi-day festival, so come equipped.

Walkie Talkies
Cell phones are okay, but they’re not always reliable in overcrowded fields with spotty reception—not to mention the risk you take in using up your whole battery filming Milky Chance’s set (more on that later).

Enter the walkie talkie: it’s truly shocking that more people haven’t figured out how awesome walkie talkies are at music festivals. Connect with your friends instantly, listen in on the backstage gossip by tuning into the right channel, and pretend that you’re a 4-year-old playing Spy. Trust us: walkie talkies are absolutely a festival must-have.

Cheap Shades
The most important accessory of all is six pairs of cheap sunglasses.

The cheap part is important: there is a 90% chance that you will not be returning home with these suckers. Since you’ll be watching shows from mid-day to sundown, you probably won’t have time to put them away responsibly in your tent. Instead, you’ll hook them onto your collar, forgetting that they’re there later on in the mosh pit. That’s why you bring six pairs.

A Water Bottle
If drinking water is not part of your festival regimen, then you’ve got yourself a one-way ticket to the first aid tent, where you’ll be mashed up with all the other dehydrated folks.

You could drop a month’s rent on the water sold on the grounds, or you could bring your own empty bottle and fill it up at the water stations that more and more festivals are incorporating. Check your festival of choice’s policies, but most are okay with empty bottles.

Portable Power
Remember when you used up your entire battery filming that Milky Chance set? Well, if you’d brought along some portable power, you wouldn’t be in such a pickle.

Outdoor Tech just so happens to make a few power banks, including one that’s waterproof (you never know). Don’t leave home without it.

Wet Wipes
Wet wipes are not just for post chicken wing hand cleaning.

No matter how hard festival organizers try, porta-potties are always going to be totally disgusting. You can probably contract 26 different diseases just by looking at one. Bring wet wipes. Use them often.

Sunscreen and/or a Hat
When you’re rolling into your campsite, that blazing sun will be the most beautiful thing you have ever seen—but you’ll be cursing its existence the next day when you’re a shade of red that’s somewhere between strawberry and fire hydrant. Your mom was right: wear sunscreen and bring a hat.

For the love of the guy standing next to you as you wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, bring (and wear) deodorant.

We love you, just remember that.

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Orca Whales like Orca Earbuds

Yeah, sure anyone could hire Johnny Depp or Channing Tatum to stand on a boat and endorse their product, but why would you stoop that low when you can have the high and mighty Frank Harrington instead? At Outdoor Tech, we strive to make the best products you actually would want to buy, and this review is a testament of our efforts.

We love you, just remember that.

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6 Ways to Make Friends in a Ski Resort Town

In a ski resort town, your friends are your family.

Mom and Dad still aren’t sure why you quit real life to move to a ski resort town, but your buddies understand. They’re the ones you’ll share Thanksgiving dinner with, the ones who will deliver some Campbell’s soup when you’re not feeling so hot, and the ones who will pick you up from the medical clinic after a nasty spill in the park.

Needless to say, in a ski resort town, it’s important to choose your friends wisely.

Luckily, making friends in a ski resort town is incredibly easy (second only to making new friends the first week of your freshman year at college). Here are 6 handy ways to find your new brother-from-another-mother.

Buy a Pitcher
The number one easiest way to attract a crowd of potential friends is to offer to buy a pitcher for the table or to get the first round of drinks.

Nobody moves to a ski resort to make money. It goes without saying that funds are tight. You, on the other hand–new to the world of resort living–still have some savings saved up. Buy a pitcher, and the friendship thing will fall into place.

Engage in Chairlift Chatter
Lifelong friendships have been forged on slow chairlift rides. You’ve already got a love of skiing in common, so becoming BFFs with the guy or gal next to you on the lift shouldn’t be too tough.

Ask about his or her skis or inquire as to whether he or she has been over to (insert peak/glacier/bowl here). Assess his or her skill level, and if it matches up to yours, suggest doing a lap together. Let it be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Ask the Magic Question
Get to know your fellow ski bums with this one simple question:

“What’s your gypsy story?”

Nobody living in a ski resort town landed there by accident. Everybody is from somewhere else and gave up something important to live a ski-centric life. You can learn a lot about someone by his or her pilgrimage tale, and you’ll probably have plenty of follow up questions to ask based on their response.

Leave the House
Ski resort towns are typically pretty small. Maintaining a friendship is pretty easy because you’ll bump into the same people over and over. Having said that, you won’t make any friends if you stay holed up in your house. Put down the Xbox controller, pause your Netflix, and go outside. Look–there are people! Now go talk to them.

Know Your Value
The underground economy in a ski resort town is a beautiful thing. It’s important that friends take care of one another, so know what you have to offer in return.

Your contribution will often be related to your job. For instance, bartenders can swing free drinks for their friends, while tour guides can offer discounts when their pals’ parents are visiting. Hostesses can find you a table even when the best apres spot is packed, and retail workers can hook you up with pro deals. Tit for tat.

If your work skills aren’t shareable, valid contributions can also include baked goods, giving free rides, or being the person who lets people borrow his truck when they move. Get creative.

Branch Out
You’ll get to know your housemates and coworkers pretty quickly, but more friends lie beyond the horizons of your immediate circles. Find ins in other industries and take advantage of different kinds of friendships. Zip line guides will always be up for a hike. Servers will show you the best party in town. Yoga teachers will never say no to a shared cup of tea. Variety is the spice of life—find friends for every occasion, and you’ll be a very happy ski bum.

We love you, just remember that.

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End of Ski Season Parties

After about 6 months of gliding down glades, kicking it on moguls and powering through the powder, some of us are naturally melancholy. After 6 months of getting up at 5 am, fighting highway traffic, enduring agonizing fitted boots and suffering from worn out muscles, others of us are ecstatic. Whatever your condition, the end of the season approaches and it’s time to party.

Concerts Galore
Every major ski resort has some kind of party planned with music to go along with it. Vail, where I usually end the season has featured artists as diverse as Snoop Dog to Grace Potter and from Kid Rock to Chris Isaak? Yeah, I don’t know how Chris slipped in there but I saw him during a snow storm a few years back. It is spring time so the show goes on, even during spring blizzards. It may not be perfect for the artists but hey, not only are you already dressed for the weather, your beer never gets cold.

Top of the Mountain to You
A lot of mountains have a party up top on the last day but none rivals Vail’s “4 at 4.” At the top of the mountain where chairlifts 4, 5 and 11 (Northwood’s) meet is a large flat area that accommodates thousands of partiers on the last day. The revelry starts around noon with most partiers timing their arrival to as close as 4 o-clock as possible. You have to get there in time because the lifts stop at 4 and that’s when the party really kicks off. When that last chair on lift 4 stops, champagne bottles pop, cheers go up and the real drinking starts. The run down the mountain, which commences anytime between 4:15 and hours later, is a spectacle to behold. Be careful though, if you’re not too drunk to ski, the guy next to you probably is.

Everybody is There
Especially on the last day but usually for the whole weekend, the slopes are packed. This time you don’t mind as they are full of celebrities. By celebrities I mean, Spider Man, Captain America and any other super-hero you can imagine. It’s as if every comic-con attendee in the nation is a skier. I’ve also skied with Elvis and Marilyn. Elvis was much skinnier than I remember and Marilyn wasn’t nearly as attractive as her posters but they were there.

The Price is Right
Not only are rooms and condos discounted at the end of the season, drinking becomes way more affordable. The bars would just as soon clear out their inventory as a lot of them are closing for a month or two anyway. Three dollar “you-call-ems” are popular as you get anything you want for 3 bucks. Naturally the Maker’s Mark Whisky and Patron Tequilas go first but anytime you can get top-shelf drinks for 3 bucks is fine with me. The kegs also need to be emptied and you can bet I’ll be there to help as much as I can.

The Weather is Delightful
It’s April; what more should I say? Okay, I’ll say more. While there’s no guarantee of bluebird days, chances are the weather will be nice. I have skied in whiteout blizzards on the last day but luckily that was after a 4 at 4 party so we had plenty of anti-freeze flowing through our bodies.

It’s Your Last Chance
It’s your last chance to ski that cliff you’ve been fudging on. It’s your last chance to go out with a bang and it’s your last chance to try to break those skis so you can justify buying new ones next year. Speaking of next year, season passes are already on sale, usually with discounts if you buy early. Lots of them include buddy passes so you can get a deal on a lift ticket for your new friends: Elvis and Marilyn.

We love you, just remember that.

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Don’t Drink and Skate…

If having your skateboard run over by a car isn’t bad enough, there’s always the fact that tomorrow morning he’ll wake up thinking, “Dude where’s my board?”

So don’t skate when your drunk…especially in flip flops. You might get a SWI (Skating while Intoxicated).

We love you, just remember that.

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Make Your Gear Go Green!

We’ve all heard about this new “green” craze—it’s catching on with a lot of people. So, if you want to hop aboard the green train, follow these simple steps. You’ll be as green as they come in no time!

Step 1: Buy green paint.

Step 2: Apply green paint liberally.*

Step 3: Repeat as necessary.

travel equipment

*Not recommended if you actually want to keep using your stuff, as applying paint could hinder effectiveness.

We love you, just remember that.

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6 Holidays You’ll Discover in a Ski Resort Town

In a ski resort town, the usual holidays don’t matter.

Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter all mean the same thing: bigger crowds, extra shifts, more check-ins, and longer line-ups. Time off? Visiting family? Presents? Ha. That doesn’t happen.

But don’t feel too bad for ski resort residents—they still manage to find ways to celebrate (just never on a long weekend). Here are 6 unusual holidays that you’ll encounter in a ski resort town.

The First Snowfall of the Year
When that first white flake floats down through the late autumn sky, it is truly a religious experience for ski resort town folk. After a grey and dreary shoulder season spent watching ski flicks and doing squats, the first snowfall is a sign that winter is coming once again.

Don’t be surprised if you see a local or two shedding a tear, or possibly dropping to their knees, praying to Ullr for a prosperous, snowy season. And then there’s the newly arrived seasonnaires, many of who have never seen snow in real life. Yes, the first snowfall of the year is a special time indeed, for it means that Opening Day is just around the corner.

Opening Day
Christmas Eve at age seven—remember how that felt? That same feeling sweeps over ski resort towns the night before Opening Day.

In preparation for the first turns of the season, skiers and snowboarders will obsessively tune their gear so that it’s ready to go when the chairs start spinning. Opening Day ritual includes laying out your outerwear the night before, setting your alarm clock obscenely early for first(ish) chair, and assembling the perfect crew to celebrate with.

The hardcores take things to the next level: these kids (few over 19 can stomach this ritual) set up tents in the lift line up and spend the night (or nights) before Opening Day camped out. Don’t forget to bring snacks.

Gaper Day
All good things must come to an end, even a glorious season of skiing. Gaper Day is something like New Year’s Eve–skiers and snowboarders say farewell to the mountain, reminiscing on the many good times shared atop those snowy peaks.

Snow lovers pay their respects by adorning retro ski regalia and partaking in Gaper Day activities like skiing on stairs, skiing on grass, and skiing on rocks–because that’s pretty much all that’s left by the time Gaper Day rolls around.

Australia Day
Unlike the other holidays listed thus far, Australia Day is a proper holiday celebrated on the 26th of January. Few people outside of Australia partake in Australia Day–with the exception, of course, of ski resort towns.

For reasons unbeknownst to most, Australians flock to ski resort towns en masse, and thus Australia Day is a big deal in these small towns.

The beauty of Australia Day in a ski resort town is that it is often celebrated on both January 25 (which is January 26 in Australia itself) and on January 26. Ever heard of Triple J’s Hottest 100? You will.

The best part about Christmas in a ski resort town is that you’ll likely earn holiday pay while you’re attending to a rich family’s wants and needs. The other best part is when the Christmas holidays adjourn, offering a brief respite from the crowds, chaos, and madness. Gather your buddies and celebrate with a seasonal cocktail and some discounted Christmas chocolate–you’ve survived another year.

20 Centimetre Day
I’m not sure what the imperial version of the 20 cm day would be, but here in the Great White North, 20 cm is a big deal. If you wake up from a deep sleep and realize that 20 (or more) cm of snow has fallen over night, grab your gear and head to the mountain–it’s officially okay to be late for work.

Don’t worry, your boss will understand—you’ll probably bump into her in the lift line. Lifties, you’re an exception. We need you to make the magic happen.

We love you, just remember that.

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The Humblebrag in a Digital Age

Thanks to social media, we see it at least daily—a friend who has truly awesome stuff happening but they’re complaining about the little things—the hardships of adjusting to their new Subi (the cup holders are in weird places) or less-than-epic swell at Seven Sisters (while we’re stuck at the office).
Regardless of how close the friendship may be, something deep down inside tells you it would be okay to punch them and take their place. That something’s probably right because the humblebrag kills stoke and it’s not okay.
I retract that—don’t punch your friends. Just set a better example. Here’s how:

Embrace the Stoke
If something epic happens, it’s okay to get stoked. Some people might say you have to play it cool but they’ve got it wrong. You biffed it when Lynsey Dyer passed you on the slope? No worries.
Finish your run, compliment hers at the bottom, and grab a pic. It’s better than the humblebrag—“Double blacks are so crowded these days.”

Find the Humor
Say you’re really enjoying a Nicaraguan beach and a crab somehow finds its way into your trunks and grabs a little bit of manhood (Disclaimer: It’s a hypothetical situation and I deny any allegations that this happened to me in the mid-90s, regardless of what Ed says).
It would be a really hilarious story once the swelling goes down. I wouldn’t suggest posting pictures but a tastefully comedic telling is much better than the humblebrag—“Nothing like crabs to ruin a day at the beach.”

Fix the Problem
I know it’s easier to just complain but you could fix whatever’s wrong with your experience. Finding a resolution lets you enjoy the moment rather than having it “ruined’ by something relatively minor.
Your Western Thick Burger came out sans onion rings? Ask for a replacement instead of dropping the hamburger humblebrag—“Hardees—I would have liked it but you didn’t put a ring on it.”

Tell the Truth
In reality, you’re driving an old Subi and you ate snow this weekend when some girl who looked like Lynsey (because she was blonde and wearing skis) passed you on a green. In all reality, you’re probably sitting somewhere, perhaps in an office just like mine, eating that burger and reading articles instead of working. Be honest.
If you’re at work right now, go get something done and post a picture of that finished TPS report instead of the humblebrag—“Outdoor Tech articles keep distracting me from my paperwork.”

Hopefully, your friends will see your good example and the world, maybe even the whole Twitterverse, will become a better place. But, if nothing changes and your friends absolutely have to know about those cup holders, tell them in person so the rest of us don’t have to see it in our feeds.

We love you, just remember that.

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