Meghan Carney

From market farming to wilderness survival guide to forestry technician and climbing instructor, Meg has an eclectic work history. But the common factor across all her pursuits is the outdoors. With a formal education in writing, Meg can translate her outdoor experiences into accessible and relatable content for any reader. Meg is based in Phoenix, AZ where she splits her time between writing and new desert adventures

Setting Goals and Intentions to Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet

It is no secret that 2020 has looked different than any year we have known in our modern lives. The stresses and necessary lifestyle changes that happened during this ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic have altered our lives and perspectives in many ways.  

If 2020 taught us anything, it is that we need to prioritize our health and wellness – both mental and physical. Our mental health was pushed to its limit, but that doesn’t mean 2021 can’t be better. With every new year, many of us begin to focus on the things that we should give up or lose… lose that quarantine weight, stop using social media so much, or even cutting out entire food groups. 

To make this year different, try focusing on everything you want to gain and all the ways you want to grow. 

2021: The Year of Intentional Growth

To help you get on the right track and frame some new goals for 2021, we came up with a few intentions and mindset shifts to consider. 

1. Start with Goal Setting

Setting goals can happen at any time of year, but for some reason, once January 1st comes around, setting goals seems more natural and necessary. For many reasons, goals can help you realign and give you something to work towards. Not only that, but goals help us stay focused, triggering new positive behaviors as we work towards achievement. 

There has been a lot of research over the years looking into the relevance of goal setting, especially concerning motivation across all aspects of life. This motivation surrounding goal theory has been seen as a way to manifest self-efficiency, general ability, and performance. 

While that is all great, setting goals can be challenging, especially if you are unsure of the direction you want to move in your life. If you are struggling to set goals this year, consider which aspects of life you want to prioritize. 

Do you want to become healthier?

Do you want to learn a new skill?

Do you want to advance in your career?

Are you trying to rebuild personal relationships?

Do you want to grow your savings or your income?

2. Identify Limiting Thoughts and Patterns

For many of us, the biggest hurdle to overcome is within ourselves. That little voice inside our heads is feeding us toxic thoughts and creating limiting patterns. Finding ways to address these internal thoughts and patterns can be challenging, especially if you try to go it alone. 

A few ways that you can start identifying these thoughts and patterns is by sitting down and answering these questions:

  • What is the most limiting belief I have about myself?
  • What is one habit that if I broke, I could be healthier mentally or physically?

Now, these are only two simple questions and not intended to solve your deepest worries, fears, or sorrows. Still, by opening up a conversation within yourself about thoughts and patterns, you can begin to see where some positive changes may fit. 

3. Consider a New Routine

One of the most powerful ways to achieve goals and change limiting beliefs is to create a new routine that prioritizes mental and physical health. After all, the better we feel, the more motivated we become. It is often the little things that stack up to become those significant, life-changing achievements. 

Some of us may fear routine. That’s because being “stuck” in a routine sounds boring! It doesn’t have to be, though. It can become the way you manifest your dreams into reality, by pursuing personal growth and development intentionally in everyday actions. 

A few ways that building a routine can be beneficial for mental and physical health include: 

  • Sleep: Getting more sleep is easy with the right routine, because consistency will put your body into a rhythm. Performance and quality of sleep go hand in hand, and a consistent time for waking up and going to bed can help build that balance. 
  • Manage Stress: Integrating stress management and self-care into your routine is a great way to manage the stresses of life. Plus, once you get into a good routine, your time management often improves.
  • General Health: Building a routine can take some extra planning and some trial and error, but it is well worth it. Give yourself spare time in the morning to meditate, exercise, or read while you drink your coffee. Avoid just rushing off to work. Prioritize what you eat, how you rest, and when/how you move your body each day.

Tip for Starting Your Day: Start a gratitude journal or write a positive intention each morning. Either one of these is an excellent alternative to looking at your social media first thing in the morning. They can help you feel centered and give you positive energy to bring forward into your day. 

4. Get Outside More

Many of us spend the majority of our time indoors, usually looking at screens. While we may have normalized these behaviors, they often contribute to poor mental health and lack of movement. We can attempt to reconnect with ourselves and the world by spending a little time outside each day. It doesn’t have to be crazy. It could be a simple walk in the woods or taking the dog on a hike a few times a week.

If you can, find an outdoor activity that makes you excited to spend time out in nature. This could be anything from skiing to hiking or biking. Whatever the activity, get your body moving outside a few times a week, and you’ll be surprised how much your mood will shift. To excite yourself for the outdoors, it’s even a good idea to buy some new gear that’ll hype you up for a hike or camping trip.

Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet

Positive change doesn’t happen overnight, but it starts within yourself. It occurs when you begin to take small but conscious steps to achieve your goals. It also requires near-constant reminders that no one is perfect and that we should celebrate small victories along the way. 

Now, this doesn’t mean ignoring the bigger picture or long-term goals. It merely puts your goals into smaller, digestible chunks to make every new day a new opportunity for growth and progress. It takes your intentions and truly makes them a guiding principle for you to follow and show up to each and every morning. 

Make 2021 a year of valuing how you think, behave, and feel. 

Adventure Meets Luxury Sweepstakes

Outdoor Tech is happy to announce participation in the FindKeep.Love Adventure Meets Luxury Sweepstakes! We aren’t the only ones that have something to offer in this fantastic sweepstakes, though. 

When you enter the sweepstakes, you enter to win $2100+ in prizes!

Because we know you already want to know more about this amazing opportunity, we detailed all of the prizes below. Read and enter for a chance to win everything you’d want for your next luxury adventure vacation. 

Enter to Win Stuff You Probably Want® and More

The Adventure Meets Luxury Sweepstakes includes a hotel stay, plus gift cards and prizes for Key West inspired clothing, shaving accessories, expert travel deals, outdoor tech essentials, and more! 

1. Stay at the Beach Club at Charleston Harbor & Marina

Located in the heart of Charleston, SC downtown, the Beach Club is a waterfront resort with endless Southern charm. Expect wrap-around porches and various room choices from family suites to a cozy room for two on a romantic getaway. 

The Adventure Meets Luxury Sweepstakes winner will receive a $450 gift certificate to stay at The Beach Club Resort. That’s enough for 2+ nights depending on your room choice and the time of year you choose to stay. 

This waterfront resort overlooks the largest marina in the Carolinas and is rated the #1 resort in South Carolina. The Beach Front Resort has stunning views of downtown Charleston, the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, boats cruising in the marina, and the USS Yorktown. 

Unwind with a weekend getaway in Charleston, SC this year. 

2. $500 Madda Fella Key West Clothing Gift Card

To keep the ocean feel going, Madda Fella Key West inspired clothing has joined the Adventure Meets Luxury Sweepstakes to offer a $500 gift card to the winner. 

Bring the island to you with numerous accessories, shirts, bottoms, swimwear, and more, all designed with functional island comfort and fashion in mind. 

Use your gift card to choose a new resort-worthy outfit from Madda Fella clothing. 

3. $200 Gift Card + 1 Year Subscription to Matt’s Flights

If you’re an avid traveler, we are glad you’re reading this because you need to know about Matt’s Flights. Matt’s Flights is a 1-on-1 flight and travel planning support service featured in the New York Times, Thrillist, the Hustle, and more. 

With over 1,000,000 satisfied subscribers from the US and Canada, Matt’s Flights is the only company that offers unlimited flight support. They’ve saved their customers up to 90% off domestic and international flights without the headache of endless searching and signing up for price alerts. Matt’s team does it all for you. All you have to do is send an email outlining your dream destination, sit back, and let Matt’s Flights do all the searching for you. 

To help one lucky traveler this year, Matt’s Flights is offering the winner of the Adventure Meets Luxury Sweepstakes a $200 Visa gift card PLUS a one-year subscription to their services. 

4. $500 Art of Shaving Gift Card

The Art of Shaving is a New York-based company that helps you bring that barbershop shave home. To bring a bit more luxury to your shave this year, The Art of Shaving offers the Adventure Meets Luxury Sweepstakes winner a $500 gift card. That’s essentially them giving you a brand new, personalized shaving kit! 

The Art of Shaving specializes in head to toe shaving products for men. They’ll help you achieve your perfect shave with beard care, fragrances, and more. Their products are crafted with care using botanical ingredients and essential oils for a fresh, natural shaving experience. 

5. $400 Outdoor Tech Gift Card

Last but not least, here at Outdoor Tech, we have always brought a luxury experience into the outdoors. So, it is no surprise that we have a stellar prize for the Adventure Meets Luxury Sweepstakes. The winner will get a $400 gift card to use at Outdoor Tech. That’s enough to buy multiple accessories from us and plenty of other Stuff You Probably Want®.

Our goal has always been to help blend the luxuries of modern technology with the rugged nature of outdoor exploration. After all, our gear is tried and tested to ensure it holds up to whatever kind of adventure you happen to be experiencing. 

Check out our collection of Stuff You Probably Want® to learn more.

Win $2100+ To Fuel Your Next Luxury Adventure

In conclusion, adventure and luxury don’t always need to be separate, and that’s why this sweepstake is perfect for the adventurous types that also appreciate quality vacations, advice, and gear. Take a step this year and enter to win $2100+ to go towards your next adventure in 2021. 

Enter today! The giveaway ends on January 26, 2021.

5 National Parks to Visit this Winter

National Parks are a wonder any time of the year, but some are even better suited during the winter months. We picked out 5 of our favorite National Parks to visit in the wintertime. Whether you’re an avid cross country skier or you want to find a place warm enough to hike and swim, there will be a National Park that fit your winter adventure needs. 

Are you looking for a few other parks to visit? Check out these five must-see State Parks.

5 National Parks to Visit This Winter

All parks are subject to closures and limited access due to winter weather conditions and COVID-19 precautions. Please check for updates on National Park websites before planning your visit. 

1.   Big Bend National Park 

Instagram: @bigbendnps

Location: Texas

Best Time to Visit: October – April

Winter Temperatures: 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit

Recommended Activity: Hiking or Camping

The winter is the best time of year to visit Big Bend National Park in Texas, making it the busiest time of year as well. Spring and Fall can also be great times to head into the park, but high Summer temperatures make it dangerous to hike and camp.

Big Bend is widely known for its camping, hiking, and backcountry backpacking. No matter your skill level or desire for adventure, there will be a trail that you and your family can enjoy. Most winter nights, even during the coldest months, will reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it perfect for gathering around a cozy campfire and using a bluetooth speaker to sing along to campfire tunes.

If hiking isn’t your favorite activity, Big Bend also offers a wide variety of educational Ranger programs, a few scenic drives, and a must-see Fossil Discovery Exhibit

Learn more on the Big Bend National Park website.

2. Dry Tortugas National Park 

Location: Florida

Best Time to Visit: November – April 

Winter Temperatures: 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit

Recommended Activity: Bird Watching or Scuba Diving

The Dry Tortugas are just off the coast of Key West Florida, and it is a stunning location for any water lover to visit. From snorkeling, diving, fishing, boating, kayaking, and swimming, there is much to be explored in Dry Tortugas National Park. 

While the park can be visited at any time of year, it is essential to note the activities you would most like to participate in will vary from winter to summer. The Dry Tortugas essentially has two seasons: winter and summer. The winter is known for sporadic cold fronts, high winds, and choppy waters. This makes it more challenging to view ocean wildlife when snorkeling and can be unsafe for inexperienced boaters. 

However, the wintertime is the best time of year for bird watchers and tourists looking for fewer crowds. High winds tend to be more consistent from October to January, so if you’re looking for fewer people and still want to enjoy some snorkeling, February may be the best option. 

Be sure to plan your trip to the Dry Tortugas well in advance, as it is only accessible by boat or seaplane. 

Learn more on the Dry Tortugas National Park website.

3. Saguaro National Park 

Location: Arizona

Best Time to Visit: October – April

Winter Temperatures: 40-70 degrees Fahrenheit

Recommended Activity: Hiking 

Located in southern Arizona near Tuscon, Saguaro National Park is a wonderland for nature and hiking enthusiasts to enjoy. Like much of southern Arizona, the winter is the best and busiest time to enjoy outdoor activities. Saguaro National Park is well known for its hiking, and of course, the density of Saguaro cacti spread around the park and surrounding areas. 

Beyond incredible desert vistas while hiking or backpacking and the diverse flora and fauna, visitors can also enjoy the natural history by visiting area petroglyphs. 

If you’d like to camp in the park, make reservations early as camping spots fill up fast. You can make reservations as early as two months in advance. Be advised that hours and accessibility may differ due to COVID-19. 

Finally, a must mention for any trip in the Arizona desert is to take some time to view the sunset. Although sunsets are spectacular in most outdoor spaces, the sunsets seem richer due to the landscape’s natural warm coloring.

Learn more on the Saguaro National Park website.

4. Bryce Canyon National Park 

Instagram: @brycecanyonnps_gov

Location: Utah

Best Time to Visit: May – September

Winter Temperatures: 10-40 degrees Fahrenheit

Recommended Activity: Snowshoeing or Cross-country Skiing 

Although the winter is not deemed the “best” time of year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, there is plenty to do for winter adventurers. If you are a lover of all things snowshoeing and cross country skiing, Bryce Canyon is a must-see park to put on your list. 

The winter is the least traveled by humans in the park, making it optimal for wildlife viewing and stunning nature photography. If you plan a visit to the park, don’t fret that daylight hours are shorter either, because the night skies in Bryce are an unforgettable sight. Study up on your winter constellations before you come, and enjoy a snowy night hike amongst the stars. 

Learn more on the Bryce Canyon National Park website.

5. Acadia National Park 

Location: Maine

Best Time to Visit: August – October

Winter Temperatures: 10-35 degrees Fahrenheit

Recommended Activity: Cross-Country Skiing 

The last park on our list is a bit further north in Maine. Acadia National Park is well known for its Fall colors, making Autumn the most popular season to visit. Still, if cross country skiing is a favorite activity of yours, then this is one of the best places to go this winter. 

Acadia’s backcountry ski trails are hard to beat since there are around 45 miles of groomed trails. Beyond that, you are also allowed to ski on unplowed park roads. Be warned that snowmobiles can also use the roads for travel though. 

Acadia National Park is also a stunning place to go for a winter hike or an afternoon snowshoe. 

Learn more on the Acadia National Park website.

The Outdoor Tech Anyone On Your Holiday Shopping List Will Love

It’s not too late to get in some of your last-minute holiday gifts! Last minute shopping doesn’t have to be a last ditch effort either, it can be thoughtful and personalized. 

To help you narrow things down, we put together our top 5-holiday gift ideas to ensure everyone on your list gets something they’ll look forward to using all year round. We’re confident that anyone on your list will love one of these five fantastic Outdoor Tech gadgets. 

5 Outdoor Tech Holiday Gift Ideas

1.   Turtle Shell 3.0 – Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Turtle Shell Bluetooth speaker

The Turtle Shell 3.0 wireless speaker is the perfect gift for any outdoor lover that is also a music enthusiast. Whether it’s tailgating, for use on the construction site, or the weekend camping warrior on your shopping list, this waterproof Bluetooth speaker is durable enough to do it all. 

Unlike other Bluetooth speakers, the Turtle Shell 3.0 has 360-degree sound from the unique, polygonal housing. The design isn’t merely for sound quality or aesthetics, though. It is designed to be dustproof, waterproof, and shockproof. As some of our verified customers have proven, it is durable enough to withstand an entire Canadian winter and survives being run over by a 20-ton forklift. 

Although it is exceptionally rugged and intentionally designed to withstand the demands of outdoor use, other features give it capabilities as an office companion. You can easily take calls or use the speaker as a digital assistant with a built-in microphone. No matter where you take it, the Turtle Shell 3.0 will have your back, at least for the 20 hours of battery life it has anyway. 

2.   Chips Ultra – True Wireless Snow Helmet Audio 

Chips Ultra true wireless snow helmet speakers

The Chips Ultra wireless snow helmet audio system is the gift you’ve been looking for while shopping for the ski or snowboard bum on your list. 

There are no wires to worry about here and they work with any audio compatible helmet. Outdoor Tech designed the Chips Ultra to be easy to use, even while wearing gloves or mittens. That way, you don’t even need to take the control out of your pocket to use it, let alone take your helmet and gloves off. 

The Chips Ultra doesn’t only offer astounding audio quality though, there is also a built-in microphone that allows you to answer texts and phone calls without removing your helmet or gloves. 

Now that ski and snowboarding season are upon us, make your family ski bum smile with a pair of True Wireless Chips Ultra. 

3.   Mantas – True Wireless Earbuds

Mantas true wireless earbuds

Give the athlete in your life a way to level up their performance with the Mantas True Wireless Earbuds. The all-day comfort, secure fit, and 12-hour playtime will keep the music going, no matter how long or intense the workout may be. They’ll enjoy the sound quality pro-athletes do, but at an affordable price with the Mantas. 

One tap control makes it easy to use when running, lifting, biking, or doing any other type of physical activity without distracting from your performance. We know you’re working hard during your workout, so you shouldn’t have to worry about your sweat damaging your earbuds. The Mantas are IPX5 sweatproof to keep the music playing, no matter the intensity. 

4.   Buckshot Pro Ultra

Buckshot Pro Ultra bluetooth speaker

We all have that person that is impossible to buy for because they have everything. The multi-purpose Buckshot Pro Ultra wireless speaker is the perfect solution to that dilemma with three practical uses: a Bluetooth speaker, flashlight, and a portable charger. Even if they aren’t the most avid outdoor adventurer, this is a great item to keep in your car, purse, or weekend backpack when traveling. 

While the diversity of the device is nice, it does have specific features that would appeal to cyclists in particular. The Buckshot Pro Ultra has mounting straps that fix the device onto the handlebars. This provides the rider with a built-in bike light, Bluetooth speaker, and a charger on the go. 

Although it is a small device, it packs full hi-fi sound with plenty of bass. The flashlight has multiple lighting modes, including low beam, high beam, lantern, and SOS (strobe). If your phone starts to run low on battery during a ride, the Buckshot Pro Ultra can also be used to charge up small devices with a 2600 mAh rechargeable battery. 

5.   Calamari Ultra – Lightning, USB C, & Micro USB Cable

Calamari Ultra 3 in 1 USB cable

Are you shopping for a minimalist techy in your life? All travel buffs can agree that they love techy gadgets, but they can get bulky after a while. That’s why the Calamari Ultra is a must-have space and time saver when on the road (or at home). This 3-in-1 USB cord puts all of your charging and connecting needs into one place.

The three cables that the Calamari Ultra includes are:

  • An Apple MFI Certified Lightning connector (goodbye error messages)
  • A USB C connector
  • A Micro USB connector (you’re welcome to Android users and GoPro chargers)

On top of the 3-in-1 capabilities, what makes this chord so useful is that it is about 3 feet long, and it can be used for either charging or data transfer. 

So, if you’re pulling epic footage off of your GoPro one minute and need to charge your iPhone the next, you don’t have to swap chords, just the input on the Calamari Ultra. Perhaps they don’t know they need it yet, but once they have it, they won’t know how they lived without it for so long. 

No matter who you have left to shop for, we are certain that some Outdoor Tech would light up their life this winter. From the top of the line Bluetooth speakers to a new pair of wireless earbuds, we have a gift for anyone on your list. 

5 Must-Visit State Parks to Add to Your Bucket List

Many of us have been postponing or rescheduling travels in 2020. If we didn’t outright cancel plans, we might have restructured our vacations to focus on closer to home or outdoor locations. 

I’m sure you’ve heard of some of the most popular National Parks like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, but did you know that there are over 6,600 state park sites in the United States? The vast array of outdoor spaces we have access to in the US is astounding and fortunate during a pandemic. That way, we can still get outside and avoid the crowds, but we have to be willing to look beyond the most well-known parks and places. 

To help you narrow it down, we put together some lesser-visited yet epically spectacular parks to add to your bucket list. 

5 Bucket List State Parks

1.   Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Instagram: @valley.of.fire

Location: Overton, Nevada

Best Time to Visit: October – April

Must-Do: Prospect Trail 

Camping: 72 sites (RV hookups available)

Drive through the Valley of Fire State Park, and it will make you think that perhaps you are on Mars. The unique red rock formations and indigenous history within the park have been a focal point for numerous Hollywood productions, festivals, and countless weddings. 

The stunning colors of the landscape come from the Aztec sandstone against the backdrop of limestone mountains. Beyond the geological history, this land is rich with other natural histories, including petroglyphs carved into the rocks by the Basketmaker culture, Early Pueblo, and the Paiutes. 

You can drive through the park and stop at overlooks and enjoy short walks from your car, or you can stay and camp in the first-come, first-serve campground. The campsites are spread out in rocky outcroppings giving you a sense of solitude. 

Learn more on the Valley of Fire State Park website.

2.   City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico 

Instagram: @wandering.america

Location: Deming, New Mexico

Best Time to Visit: Spring / Fall

Must-Do: Camping among the rocks

Camping: 41 sites (with showers / RV hookups)

City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico is located in the Southwest corner of the state. What makes this park unique is the volcanic rock formations. This is a great place to stop over for a relaxing overnight or weekend camping trip. 

All of the campsites are spread out among the volcanic rock formations. The park itself is relatively small, only about one square mile. So, there is some hiking available, but it is limited. If you do plan to hike, make sure to pack a bluetooth portable speaker that will fit right in the slot of your backpack.

The park’s name, City of Rocks, comes from the geological formations that make up a “city” of rock pinnacles that rise to 40 feet in height and are separated by paths. From a distance, the spread of pinnacles resembles a city in the barren Chihuahuan desert. 

Beyond camping and hiking, City of Rocks is a spectacular place for stargazing, birding, and mountain biking. Faywood Hot Springs are also within 5 miles of the park to add some relaxation and adventure to your visit. 

Learn more on the City of Rocks State Park website.

3.   Custer State Park, South Dakota

Instagram: @custerstateparksd

Location: Custer, South Dakota

Best Time to Visit: May-October

Must-Do: Kayaking on Sylvan Lake

Camping: 9 scenic campgrounds spread throughout the park

Located in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, Custer State Park offers various year-round adventures that anyone can enjoy. While they are open in the winter months, the warmer months tend to be a more popular time to visit the area. 

Depending on the activity, you will have access to several different camping experiences. All camping areas, even dry camping, will have access to a bathroom of some kind, even if they are just pit toilets. There are also cabins available for rent and a resort within the park if you are looking for a more luxurious getaway. 

Hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, paddleboarding, and horseback riding are just a few of the most popular things to do within the park. During the winter months, many visitors enjoy snowshoeing and cross country skiing. 

Learn more on the Custer State Park website.

4.   Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan 

Instagram: @porcupinemountainscvb

Location: Ontonagon, Michigan

Best Time to Visit: September – November

Must-Do: Backpacking

Camping: Backcountry sites, campgrounds, Yurt rentals, and cabins 

Michigan’s largest state park is located on the scenic Upper Peninsula and includes the Porcupine Mountains. This park is home to over 90 miles of hiking trails and 60,000 acres of land, some of which stretch along the shoreline of Lake Superior. That isn’t the only lake on the horizon, though. 

One of the most famous portions of the park is Lake of the Clouds. This lake is tucked in a valley accessible when backpacking but is visible from a few different overlooks. One of the overlooks is ADA accessible as well. Be warned that the hiking trails are notorious for being muddy, flooded, and buggy so bring proper gear. 

Other popular activities beyond backpacking and camping include fishing, boating, and biking. During the winter months, both cross country and downhill skiing are available in the area. 

Learn more on the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park website.

5.   Merchants Millpond State Park, North Carolina

Instagram: @curtsuneson

Location: Gatesville, North Carolina 

Best Time to Visit: Year-Round

Must-Do: Paddling

Camping: Hike-in, paddle-in, and 20 drive-up sites

Located in the Northeast corner of North Carolina is a hidden gem of a swamp. Now, a swamp park doesn’t sound all that fun, but if you are a fan of paddling, this Southern swamp and hardwood forest is a wonderland. 

There are no entrance fees to enter the park, but you have to set up reservations for overnight stays. While you can reserve drive-up campsites, some of the most coveted spots are the ones you have to backpack or paddle to. Although there are alligators and other swamp critters around, they generally avoid visitors paddling through the waters. Be sure to respect their boundaries as well. 

Besides paddling, you can also enjoy some biking/hiking trails, fishing, and picnic areas.

Learn more on the Merchants Millpond State Park website.

Best Workouts for Rock Climbing

Climbing is a sport full of diversity of muscle use, critical thinking, and experience. Whether you are just starting, an avid gym climber, or you enjoy weekend adventure outside, you may be looking for ways to improve your climbing. 

Finding workouts that not only strengthen critical muscles to push past grades is essential. Overuse is a common occurrence, especially amongst climbers just starting in the sport. We are going to take a look at a few workouts that will build up the necessary strength to improve your climbing, but that will prevent injury as well. Also, always bring along a Buckshot Pro to strap to your climbing gear for some motivational music.

Personalize Your Climbing Specific Exercise Plan

One of the best ways to improve your climbing is to climb more. Now, this should be done with some caution. If you are a beginner that is lacking in fitness overall, you will benefit most from integrating a workout routine that is not climbing based. Sticking to a base program of strength training, stretching, and cardio/aerobic exercise is the best way to prevent injury as you prepare your body for more climbing when it is ready.

A common misconception is that to be a better climber, you need to be stronger. That is not true at all. Climbing is a combination of strength and technique. Your overall strength and flexibility will only get you so far as you need to have the appropriate technique and mental stamina to push you further.

Jumping straight into hard physical training is a sure-fire way to get an injury. You have to give your tendons time to catch up to your muscles. You may be physically strong on a muscular level, but your tendons take much longer to build proper strength. If you already have a good base of strength in climbing-specific muscle groups and have built up connective tissues over time, then you will be ready to start a workout regime that is climbing-specific. 

Once you’ve begun to move past a base-level of fitness, you should then start to look at your climbing goals. Decide for yourself how much time you can devote each week to training and climbing. After that, think about the reasons behind wanting to improve your climbing ability. Are you trying to move from gym climbing to outdoor climbing? Are you planning a trip to a certain climbing destination? Will you be bouldering, trad climbing, sport climbing, alpine, etc.? These are a few questions that can help you determine the type of workouts you should focus on. For example, a boulderer will work more on power, while a multi-pitch crack climber may want to focus on technique and endurance. 

Workouts to do While Climbing 

The workout options listed below are most effective when you can stick to a routine and follow it. They can be completed in a climbing gym or outdoors, but they are most often done in a gym. Throw in some Mantas True Wireless Earbuds and get to it.

Warm-Up

It doesn’t matter the type of workout you are doing, spend a few minutes getting warmed up. Warm-ups become increasingly effective in preventing injury as you climb higher grades or pursue harder workouts. 

Some activities to include in your climbing warm-up include: 

  • 10 minutes of cardio to get the blood circulating. Biking, jump rope, jumping jacks, jogging, etc.
  • Choose dynamic stretching with plenty of rotational movement. Head rolls, windmills, walking lunges, side twists, shoulder, and hip circles, etc.
  • Pyramid Climbing. Starting with a few climbs below your grade limit and build your way up to that. For example, if you’re pushing 5.11 at your highest climbing grade, start with 5.9 or lower. Climb two of those routes, then move onto a low grade 10, then onto a higher grade 10. The key is to increase the difficulty without struggling. You shouldn’t be getting pumped or falling off of any of these routes. This progression will give your climbing-specific muscles a warm-up without making them tired. 

Endurance

Pushing your boundaries of endurance in climbing is among the best ways to improve your technique as well. As you begin to get tired while climbing, you should start to depend on your technique versus your physical strength. Do this by choosing a route of moderate difficulty to you and staying on the wall for specific periods (no hanging or one hand rests either). There should be a few technical movements on the route. 

You can choose the time period based on your current ability level. For some climbers, this may only be 10 minutes. Other climbers may push 30-minute stints. The goal here is not to do as many repetitions as possible, but to keep moving and be on the wall the entire time. Slow, precise movements and placements of hands/feet will help you hone in on technique. This focus on placement can be amplified by combining downclimbing into this time.

You can do this on the top rope, auto-belay, or traverse a bouldering wall. Be sure that you are doing these exercises within the restrictions of your gym rules and are respectful of other climbers around you. It is not recommended to do this during peak gym hours. 

As you progress in this endurance exercise, you should begin to notice that your focus on technique becomes natural, your body movement should flow more easily, and your body weight will be over your feet more often. 

Power

Power workouts can easily be done while bouldering. This is great because if you don’t have a rope partner one day, you can focus on a power movement exercise. These types of exercises will be short bursts of activity at your climbing limit, not above. Pushing power moves above your threshold over and over is an excellent way to get hurt. 

Usually, a 10-foot boulder problem will suffice here. You will want problems that vary in style. So, look for a problem or multiple problems with variations in movements like big reaches, small crimps, overhanging movements, pinches, etc. You don’t want to be making the same power move over and over in this workout. The more variation in your movement gives you more diversity in muscles worked. 

Also, keep in mind that you will need more recovery time in between sets here than during endurance. You should also give yourself more recovery time between workouts. Limit power specific workouts to once or twice a week. 

Power-Endurance Combo

A combination workout of power and endurance will come with time and as you progress in your climbing. This can be done by climbing challenging sport routes back to back or linking boulder problems at your limit. While this stage of training will take time to get to, it is easy to plateau here. It most closely simulates redpointing or an onsite on real rock. Don’t be afraid to take breaks from this workout and focus on just one or the other. Too much focus here can lead to injury. 

Cool Down

Just as you warm-up before your workout, cool down is essential as well. Most cooldowns will help to lower your heart rate and give your muscles time to stretch. Many warm-up exercises can be used to cool down as well. 

Cross-Training Exercises

Doing exercises outside of the act of climbing is often overlooked. However, it is the key to staving off injury and keeping overall health in check. Cross-training for climbing will help you isolate muscles that oppose the ones your use often while climbing. It will also improve your flexibility and endurance. 

Some great cross-training exercises include:

  • Yoga
  • Swimming, running, biking, basically any cardio 
  • Push-Ups (of all varieties)
  • Dips
  • Core exercises like planks, Russian twists, leg raises, etc
  • Wrist Curls
  • Thereaband Exercises

This is not an all-inclusive list. The main take away from these examples is that you should focus on variation and antagonistic exercises. Antagonistic exercises are the ones that focus on muscles opposite of those used when climbing to prevent injury and to correct and muscular imbalances. Primary areas to focus on include your shoulders, fingers, and knees as these get used intensely when climbing. 

Finger strength workouts are just as important. However, we did not cover these here as this article is best for beginners and intermediate climbers. As you become more advanced and your tendons are stronger, you can start to isolate exercises to your fingers.

Beginner’s Guide to Backcountry Hiking

Going out for a hike can span the time of a few hours, an entire day, or even days, weeks, and months. While hiking and backpacking are two different disciplines to prepare for, they do have many similarities. Getting off crowded metropolitan hikes and popular AllTrails picks can be both scary and extremely rewarding. Venturing into the backcountry should be built up to and takes a bit more planning than hikes you may be used to. 

As a beginner’s guide to backcountry hiking, we will be focusing specifically on hikes that can be completed in one day and require no overnights on the trail. Our goal is to give you the knowledge and reference points you need to feel confident, safe, and prepared on your upcoming backcountry hike. 

Take a Hike

Have Proper Hiking Equipment

Since you are only planning for a day hike, you will not need too much in the way of gear. While it may not seem like you need all of these things, keep in mind that you will be miles away from any roads and even further from any cities. You may not even have cell phone service for the majority of the day. So, you will need to be prepared and bring the necessary supplies. 

The most important things to bring with you when you are hiking in the backcountry include: 

  • Lightweight Daypack → If you don’t already have one, you will want to invest in a daypack that is intended for hiking. These packs are designed to be comfortable and have easy access compartments for organization of supplies. Many daypacks also come equipped with a hydration system. 
  • Hydration System and Snacks → Water is of the most essential things you will need in the backcountry. Water will also be the heaviest thing you carry, but that doesn’t mean to skimp out. Bring more than you think you need the first time you head into the backcountry. Don’t forget to pack a few trail snacks and maybe lunch if it is a long hike. 
  • Reliable Hiking Boots → The style of hiking shoes you wear will be up to you. Some hikers prefer to wear trail running shoes, while others like to have the classic ankle support high tops. Just be sure that your hiking shoes are broken in properly and have little chance of giving you blisters. Comfortable footwear is the key to an enjoyable hike! 
  • Map of Area, Guidebook, or GPS → Most hiking areas will have hard copies of maps and guidebooks, but you can also opt to download maps onto your phone. Better yet, you can take a backcountry GPS with you. If you go the digital route, keep in mind that your battery will not last forever. So, if you download maps on your phone, consider bringing a portable power bank as well. 
  • First Aid Kit → You may think that this is an unnecessary weight to carry, but better safe than sorry in the backcountry. This kit doesn’t need to be extreme, but it is good to have a few standard first aid supplies in case of an emergency on the trail. 

It can be tempting to kind of skimp on your first round of hiking gear and buy the cheapest options. While a limited budget may be a factor here, consider purchasing higher quality gear second hand or scoping out some discounts at retailers like REI to get higher quality, longer-lasting gear at a lower cost. 

Do Area Trail Research

Make sure you take time to get to know the area before you wander into the woods to get lost! This can be done in a variety of ways. You can go to old school techniques and talk to people from the area that may know the trail systems well. This can also include consulting park rangers and BLM land managers. Oftentimes, this is the most reliable way to go about things, because they will have access to the most recent trail conditions. 

Another common way of researching backcountry trails is to check out websites like All Trails, Hiking Project, and Summit Post. AllTrails can be especially helpful as you can download the app on your phone to have access to downloaded area maps when you’re hiking. 

If those maps aren’t detailed enough, you should invest in a digital or hard copy topographic map of the area. You can find these online and at many outdoor retail stores. 

Beyond knowing where you are going, you should be researching the area’s climate, wildlife, and plants. Look into the weather ahead of time to be sure that you pack accordingly. If you are hiking in a mountainous area, check for afternoon storms. Being aware of area wildlife and plant life will let you know if there are any dangerous animals or poisonous plants to avoid.

Prepare Physically for the Hike

If you are an avid hiker on familiar city trails or low key hiking trails close to town, then you are likely already in relatively good physical condition. Part of researching the area you will be hiking will include knowing the terrain to expect. 

If you are going to be hiking in a notoriously hilly area or a drastically different altitude than you are accustomed to, then you should prepare before attempting the hike. While you may be mentally ready, not being physically fit in the backcountry can be a serious danger. 

As you ramp up to your first backcountry hike, try to fit extra cardio and hiking time into your schedule. Get your legs ready at the gym by utilizing the stair stepper and doing squats. Building up your stamina and strength, will make a difference in safety, as well as how much you enjoy the hike overall. 

Leave No Trace

As you go out into the wilderness to enjoy the solitude and beauty, remember that we are sharing this Earth with other living plants and animals as well. One of the most important things you can take away from this article is to learn the Leave No Trace principles. Keep our wild places wild as we protect our outdoor spaces together!