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5 Tips to Keep Your Earbuds and Headphones Sounding Their Best

When you’re out shredding the slopes, hiking, biking, at the gym or just working, you want your tunes as crisp as hearing a live show (that conference call maybe not so much, but you still need to catch the high points). That’s why you drop some major coin on high-res earbuds or headphones, and they’re worth every penny. 

But are you getting the most performance out of your audio gear while protecting your investment? Many adventurers don’t give their sound technology the care it deserves. Here are five quick tips to get the maximum sound and life out of your equipment.

1. Keep ‘Em Clean

Even the cleanest ears are eventually going to gunk up earbuds and headphones. And with enough gunk, that dampens the clarity of your audio and can damage the driver and electronics. Nobody wants that.

The go-to checklist for maintaining earbud and headphone cleanliness is:

  • Wipe down your equipment after each use with the items covered in tip #2.
  • Don’t let anyone else use your audio gear, because you don’t know what’s in their ears!
  • Routinely inspect the driver unit. If there’s earwax or debris present, whisk it away with a gentle brush.
  • Never put earbuds in your pockets – the lint and dust in there is bad news.
  • Make sure all audio components are dry before use or storage.

2. Use the Right Stuff

The cleaning supplies needed for proper earbud and headphone care are pretty simple.

  • Water with a little dish soap mixed in is the perfect cleaning solution.
  • A microfiber cloth is ideal to prevent any scratching. 
  • Q-tips come in handy for getting inside contours.
  • Spend a few bucks on a cleaning tool designed especially for the task. It has a small wire loop on one end for extracting earwax; and a soft brush on the other end for flicking away debris.
  • Some folks use mounting putty to get earwax out of their AirPods.

3. Stay in Charge

Whether your sound preference comes from wired or wireless earbuds or plug-in headphones, they all rely on sound connections in wiring. So take good care of your cords with these tips.

  • Alcohol wipes work great for keeping your wire connectors clean.
  • Use canned, compressed air to blast debris out of charging ports and headphone jack contact points.
  • Plug and unplug all wiring by grasping the jack or prong base. Never pull on the cable.
  • Unplug headphones when not in use to keep the jack’s internal springs stronger longer.
  • Coil your cables in soft loops to avoid kinks that can damage internal wiring.
  • Avoid cable tangles and never put cables in your pocket to prevent damage at the wire-plug joint.

4. Pack Smart

A great tip for packing and traveling comes from Andy Parry, one of our Outdoor Tech Athletes. He recommends, “Always have a pocket in a suitcase, bag or backpack that’s dedicated to audio and power while traveling. Keeping everything in one spot ensures that you won’t constantly rip apart your bags to find what you need.”

ODT Athlete Will Wesson adds, “I’m definitely guilty of not always taking time to properly store my earbuds. In the past, I’ve learned the hard way that taking the extra second to put them back in the case is well worth it, because it’s easy to lose the foam or rubber piece that forms to your ear if it’s rattling around in a bag or suitcase during activity or travel.”

5. Safe Storage

Even if your earbuds or headphones are not in use, it doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods in terms of damage.

  • First things first, store your gear in the protective cases that they came in, or in a suitable aftermarket case. 
  • Never store your audio equipment in overly hot, cold or humid environments. A scorching car under a summer sun is no place to risk damage.
  • Always put your earbuds or headphones to bed clean and 100% dry.
  • To protect against moisture damage, throw one of those silica gel packets into each one of your cases to absorb moisture.

Here’s the End Game

Whether you own a set of our PEARLS, MANTAS or RAVENS earbuds or a pair of KOMODOS or SEQUOIA headphones, we want them to last and sound their best for you. Plus, all of these tips work great for our in-helmet audio gear as well! So take care.

What are Quick Charge and Power Delivery (PD) Chargers and Cables, and Why Do You Need Them?

Technology seems to move at the speed of electricity these days. New innovations flow like current to make your life easier and your tasks quicker. Chargers and cables for your smartphone, tablet, laptop and other wireless devices keep getting better, faster and safer too.

But with so many charging acronyms floating about – USB, USB-C, QC, PD – well, it can get downright confusing. So let’s break it down for you, so you know which charger and cable is right for your gizmos and your lifestyle.

USB = 5V

Once upon a time just about every rechargeable thing in your daily life got its energy from the standard USB charger and cable. Its 5-volt output was commonly referred to as “Fast Charge.” That old standby still has a place in our lives, particularly with older devices. Think of it as the Granddaddy of today’s more sophisticated chargers and cables.

Quick Charge Takes Charge

As the world changed and devices evolved with larger screens and higher battery capacities, the need for faster, more powerful recharging emerged. In 2015 an electronics innovator named Qualcomm unveiled some fresh technology aptly named Quick Charge.

They bumped the standard 5V/2A charging output up to 5, 9 and 12V. Suddenly, devices engineered to accept the Quick Charge power were recharging up to 4 times faster than 5V USB! In addition to that speed, the Quick Charge design incorporated a controller chip that regulates the flow of electricity to your battery. This prevents dangerous current spikes while temperature and voltage controls keep your charger running within safe parameters.

Accessory brands like Outdoor Tech immediately recognized the power of Quick Charge technology and earned Qualcomm’s certification. Today, Outdoor Tech chargers, power stations and QC-compatible charging cables prove that Quick Charge is here to stay.

USB-C PD… Even More Power For Your Apple® Devices

PD stands for Power Delivery, and it beats Quick Charge by 8 volts. Which means PD can support voltages as high as 20V at up to a 100W maximum. That’s a lot of juice!

The most famous brand to adopt PD is Apple® with a USB-C to Lightning adapter. Many Android, Google and Samsung devices support PD as well. Charging time with USB-C PD is up to 70% faster than with standard 5W USB charging. If you require a fast battery boost, a quick 10-minute charge with USB-C PD can be all you need.

As previously mentioned, USB-C PD outputs up to 100W. This makes it ideal for charging everything from your iPhone to larger devices like iPads and even your MacBook. All you need is the right wall charger and a USB-C PD charging cable like many bearing the Outdoor Tech brand.

Perhaps the coolest thing about PD, beyond its wicked-fast charging, is how intelligent the technology is. When two USB-C PD devices plug into each other, they enter into a sort of power agreement. Each knows the power level of the other, and they can each either source or receive the output.

For safety, USB-C PD circuitry is specially designed to carry this increased wattage without fear of damage or overheating. So rest easy knowing your expensive PD-supported devices are safe and sound.

There you have it, the latest charging acronyms broken down… until the next technological breakthrough in charges and cables comes rolling in. When that happens, trusted brands like Outdoor Tech will have your back.

6 Last-Minute Ideas For Outdoor Adventure On Memorial Day Weekend

As they say, time flies. And here we are again approaching another Memorial Day Weekend when we remember all the brave men and women who lost their lives while serving this great nation. For the patriots who toiled so honorably and for their families, Outdoor Tech takes this moment to express our deep-felt appreciation.

Go forth and play.

Perhaps you already have big, long-made plans for the holiday weekend. If so, be safe and enjoy your time with family and friends. If the weekend crept up on you and you’re looking for unique, easy, last-minute ideas for outdoor experiences, read on.

Take a hike and pay your respects

There are places in America with vast acreage on gorgeous ground where you can hike all day and never cover the entirety of the setting. Those places are our National and State Memorial Cemeteries, where our heroes are laid to rest. They are always open to everyone, and what better time to get out in nature and explore the vastness of such hallowed soil? Your only preparation for this outdoor activity is to lace up your best footwear and pack for hydration and nutrition. As you walk, solo or with loved ones, you’ll refresh your body and soul. To stroll the seemingly endless rows of white stone memorials is an outdoor experience you’ll never forget. It changes you in a good way. Find a National Cemetery.

Life, Cycle

Whether your two-wheeled machine is powered by legs or pistons, cycling on the trails or roads near you is an ideal way to enjoy the outdoor world. Just fill your pack with food and water, grab your Outdoor Tech earbuds and enjoy the passing scenery with the wind in your face. Find a trail near you.

Picture Perfect

Sure, you take pictures with your phone all the time when photo ops happen. But when was the last time you went outdoors with the sole intent of searching for and taking photographs of natural wonderment? It’s a fantastic pairing to a robust hike or mountain bike ride.

Camp Out

Campsites often book out long before Memorial Day Weekend arrives. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t go last-minute camping. By knocking on a few farmers’ doors to request permission to camp on their land for the night, you’ll be surprised by how accommodating they’ll be. If all else fails, a “Back Yard” campout is still as much fun as it was when you were a kid. Find a camp spot near you.

Get Board

Have a skateboard or roller blades? Then get thee to your nearest skatepark for fun, fresh air and exercise. Not a Carver, Casper Flipper or Crooked Grinder? Go there anyway and have a blast watching others tear it up under the summer sun. Search for skate parks near you.

Star Gaze

At the end of your unforgettable day of last-minute Memorial Day adventure, stay outside. Turn on your Outdoor Tech wireless speaker, pick out some relaxing tunes, kick back on your patio chair and let the heavens remind you that you are free.

May you have a splendid Memorial Day, and the best summer of your life!

RETRO SHRED-A-THON: A MOUNTAINOUS SUCCESS

The High Fives Foundation Raised More Than $56,000 at Their 7th Annual Skiing Event

Outdoor Tech was immensely proud to sponsor the High Fives Foundation at their epic fundraiser dubbed “Retro Shred-A-Thon.” Now in its seventh year, the 2022 downhill ski event took place at Winter Park, CO. 

Highest amount raised in seven years

67 individuals comprising 11 teams met on the mountain to participate and vie for setting the record of the highest number of laps. This year’s record was 31 laps up and down the mountain. Now that’s a full day of skiing! And when the sun set, Shred-A-Thon had raised $56,256 for High Fives’ mission. It was the highest amount achieved in the last seven years.

Supporting adaptive athletes and veterans

High Fives’ mission is to help individuals, athletes and veterans who have sustained life-changing injuries. Founder Roy Tuscany created the organization in 2009 as a way of “paying-it-forward” after he suffered a spinal cord injury, dashing his hopes of becoming a world-class professional skier.

Since 2009, High Fives has distributed more than $6,000,000 to adaptive athletes and veterans for things like adaptive sports and medical equipment, living and injury expenses, healing networks and other helpful programs. The total funds raised by Shred-A-Thon events since 2016 is now more than $635,000.

Who’s ready for 2023?

Outdoor Tech congratulates High Fives on another unforgettable Shred-A-Thon, and invites everyone to participate when they hold their next one. Along with a full day of spring skiing in rad costumes, you’ll enjoy live music, amazing food and the opportunity to win great prizes from brands like Outdoor Tech, YETI, Eddie Bauer, Smith, GoPro, Phunkshun Wear, Yakima and more. Best of all, you’ll help people who need it. Hope to see you there!

Retro Shred 2022: the recap

Hot edit: Skiing in Japan

Everyone has their favorite shot or edit of themselves doing what they love best. Here’s what Andy Parry shared when we asked for his favorite skiing video:

“I really like the international trips we did with Traveling Circus. I have never flown overseas for any reason other than to film that. It was never really in the cards for my family to fly to Europe or Asia for a vacation, so anytime I get to do it for skiing it’s that more special.

This video was made in Japan. It’s the best place in the world.”


Earth Day 2022: Investing in Our Planet

The theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet.” As a brand, Outdoor Technology lives at the intersection of technology and nature—the same place where our customers live, work, and play. We have a special responsibility to invest in our planet through education, celebration, and making a difference.

A commitment to plastic-free packaging

That’s why we’re taking this day to share the investment we’re making as a company:

Outdoor Technology is committed to being fully plastic-free in all of our product packaging by the end of 2023. We’re proud that we’ve already achieved this with the packaging for Chips 3.0, one of our new products. Katy Petroff, our General Manager, says, “Rolling out sustainable packaging across all of our products is one of the best, most immediate investments we can make in our planet today.”

The packaging for Chips 3.0 is the first in our commitment to plastic-free packaging.

This is ongoing work. We’re ready for it.

We’re also going to be transparent: the hangtags on our packaging are recyclable plastic due to the strength needed to hold the product’s weight. We’re still looking for a strong, sustainable solution to meet our goals—and if you have a lead, drop us a line.

All of us—individuals and companies alike—share accountability to protect the planet. Join us in taking a closer look at what we can do today, so we can preserve the spaces where we love to go forth and play.  

Read more about Earth Day 2022 and the call for businesses to enable a sustainable future.

On Earth Day 2022, go forth and play.

5 Things to Love About Our New Bluetooth Speaker, Earbuds, and Headphones

There are a lot of new Bluetooth products from Outdoor Tech this year. So far, we’ve launched five new audio products (one speaker, two earbuds, and two headphones). That is quite a big feat for us (or any company) and I am proud of the Outdoor Tech team for getting it done. Here are some of my favorite features for each product, which might help you find the best one for yourself or someone else.

Adjustable Pivot Points on the Twin Peaks Speaker

What would happen if a Rubik’s Cube and a Turtle Shell speaker had a love child? The Twin Peaks Bluetooth speaker would happen, that’s what. We’ve never made a speaker like this: you can twist each speaker to direct the audio while changing the shape and form of the speaker itself. This makes the speaker fun and just plain cool. If you’re looking for something unique, the Twin Peaks Bluetooth speaker is for you.

Twin Peaks Bluetooth Speaker
The Twin Peaks Bluetooth Speaker

Minimal Style of the Pearls Bluetooth Earbuds

I love the Pearls Bluetooth earbuds because of their minimal aesthetic. The way the Pearls pop into your ear and stay put makes them ideal for when I’m watching YouTube on my phone. I’ve been on a pretty serious tool restoration watching binge for a while now. The kids know that when I’m in my chair with my Pearls in, I’m probably watching some guys make a rusted corn sheller from the 1890s look like new. (The YouTube account is Lost and Restored, by the way.)

Pearls Bluetooth Earbuds
Pearls Bluetooth Earbuds
Komodos Bluetooth Headphones

Easy to Use Controls on the Komodos Bluetooth Headphones

The large button surface area on the Komodos headphones makes them amazingly easy to control. What I like is that after using them a few times, I intuitively know where to push when I want to raise the volume or skip to the next song. It’s all about making things simple, intuitive, and not complicated with a clunky interface.

8 Hour Playtime on the Ravens

Have you ever had one of those workdays where it is just Zoom Meeting to Teams Meeting to a conference call and then back to Zoom? Yeah, I’ve been there too. The 8-hour playtime on the Ravens Bluetooth earbuds makes sure I can hear every word and chime in when I need to (they have a built-in microphone too). When I’m grinding through a heavy day of virtual meetings, the Ravens grind with me.

Ravens Bluetooth Earbuds

Active Noise Cancelling on the Sequoia Bluetooth Headphones

When it’s time to shut everything else out, The Sequoia headphones are my go-to whether I’m writing blog posts (like the Mothership Classic recap) or I need to crank through some emails. I switch on the Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) feature, play instrumental music, and get stuff done. I haven’t traveled recently with them yet but I know they will be on me when I do.

Sequoia Active Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

Of course, there are other features that I find useful and think you would too. Check out the individual product pages for more details about our new speaker, earbuds, and headphones.

The 11th Annual Fat Ski-A-Thon is Here!

Where: Sugarbush Resort
When: March 6th, 2022

The High Fives Foundation regularly organizes a Ski-a-Thon event where participants, either as a team or an individual, raise funds for the non-profit and get rewarded with prizes depending on the number of completed laps and by how much you raise.

Outdoor Tech is happy to help sponsor this year’s event. It’s no secret that we are big fans of the High Fives Foundation and the amazing service they provide.

The 11th Annual FAT Ski-a-Thon takes place March 6, 2022, at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont sponsored by Vermont North Ski Shops. The FAT Ski-a-Thon was launched in 2012 with 38 participants, the first-ever in the series. Since then, it has become the highest-grossing event raising a total of $272,532 by 144 participants in 2021.

“Combining philanthropy with outdoor activity is the best way to get people in the fun component of FUNdraising.”

Roy Tuscany CEO of The High Fives Foundaton

Check out the 2020 Fat Ski-A-Thon Video

Similar to the 2021 Ski-a-Thons, this year’s series will be designed as hybrid-virtual events. The High Fives Foundation will follow CDC guidelines regarding COVID and adjust its event protocol accordingly.

Interested sponsoring brands, donors, and participants can register on the event website: fatski.highfivesfoundation.org

  • Adaptive Skiing
  • Fat Ski-A-Thon Group
  • Ski-a-thon girl
  • splits on skis
  • High Fives Foundation Fat Ski-A-Thon

You can help out the High Fives Foundation by sponsoring one of the teams or an individual.

Now go share this post everywhere to spread the word. Let’s help the High Fives Foundation have the best Fat Ski-A-Thon ever!

The High Fives Foundation and Outdoor Tech Continue Their Partnership

What is The High Fives Foundation?

The High Fives Foundation is a non-profit adaptive sports organization on a mission to provide hope and resources for athletes. This nonprofit organization serves athletes living with life-altering injuries, such as spinal cord or traumatic brain injury.

How is Outdoor Tech Involved

Outdoor Tech is happy to announce that we are continuing our long-standing relationship with the High Fives Foundation. We are overjoyed to help Roy and his team raise funds via product raffles, donations, and spreading the work. We won’t get into all the details yet but let’s just say you will see a lot more collaboration between us.

One Athlete at a Time

Life-altering accidents that cause physical and or cognitive disabilities potentially resulting from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more than challenging but the High Fives team is there to help.

Many High Fives Athletes have returned to active lives with some going on to participate in the Paralympic Games and Special Olympics.

High Five Foundation Events

It seems like the High Fives crew is always holding fundraising events so that they can help more athletes. The Fat-Ski-A-Thon, Mothership Classic, and Retro Shred-A-Thon are just a few of the events throughout the year. Check out all their events here.

  • adaptive skiing
  • adaptive mountain biking
  • Roy Tuscany adaptive surfing

The Next Chapter

There is so much more to say about this rad organization but we will keep it short and sweet. Outdoor Tech is committed to growing our relationship with the High Fives Foundation. Be on the lookout for upcoming events, activations, and collaborations. You can learn more about the High Fives Foundation at https://highfivesfoundation.org/. Make sure to connect with us on Facebook or Instagram to get all the latest updates.

Tips for Camping in Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier is an icon, not just for Washingtonians but for all outdoors enthusiasts. At 14,410 feet of elevation, Mount Rainier is one of the tallest peaks in the contiguous United States. It is also the most glaciated U.S. peak (outside of Alaska, of course): it’s the starting point for five major rivers! So it’s no wonder that camping in Mount Rainier National Park is a very popular and worthwhile adventure.

The park covers a massive 235,625 acres with over 260 miles of maintained hiking trails. Mount Rainier itself is an active volcano, and the surrounding area has wildflower meadows, forests with thousand-year-old trees, and tons of amazing wildlife. Ready to start planning your trip? Let’s dive into our top camping tips to get you started!

Plan Your Trip Thoroughly

The first thing to know about the park is that it is huge. There are five entrances, three drive-in campgrounds, two inns, and so much more. It’s essential that you know where you plan to spend your days and nights, so you don’t waste time driving around. Luckily, the National Park Service has loads of maps to help you plan, as well as information about road closures and other alerts.

Where to Camp

There are plenty of options for staying overnight in Mount Rainier National Park, but be sure to book early, as sites fill up fast during the summer months. For drive-in camping in Mount Rainier, two excellent options are the Ohanapecosh and Cougar Rock Campgrounds.

Ohanapecosh Campground

  • Number of sites: 188
  • Fee per night: $20
  • Attractions: Surrounded by old-growth forest and close to popular hikes
  • Amenities: water, flush toilets, fire pits, grills, picnic tables
  • Other information: Groups larger than 12 people must stay at Cougar Rock Group Campground.

Book at Recreation.gov

Cougar Rock Campground

  • Number of sites: 173
  • Fee per night: $20
  • Attractions: Lookout point of Mount Rainier, close to a wildflower meadow, access to the Wonderland Trail
  • Amenities: water, flush toilets, fire pits, grills, picnic tables

Book at Recreation.gov

Mount Rainier
Photo by Dan Purdy

Backcountry Camping in Mount Rainier NP

For backcountry camping, there are also many fantastic options. Very little of the park is accessible by car, meaning that the rest is just for wilderness camping. To get an idea of where you might want to camp, you can check out all of the trails of Mount Rainier. Once you know where you want to camp, you can refer to the Trails and Backcountry Camping Conditions to double-check that your desired site is open.

The most popular backcountry camping options, and for good reason, are along the Wonderland Trail. This 93-mile long trail encircles Mount Rainier and covers a lot of elevation gain and loss along the way. The National Parks Service recommends reserving your wilderness permit for this trail since the permits go fast. (More on that below.) 

Wonderland Trail
Photo by Danielle Plouffe

The Wonderland Trail has eighteen wilderness campsites and three non-wilderness campsites, one of which is the Cougar Rock Campground mentioned above. The best way to plan your trip is to use the Wilderness Trip Planner that shows all the campsites along the Wonderland Trail. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to camp within a quarter-mile of any trail or road. There are also three developed areas that are designated for day-use only: Longmire, Paradise, and Sunrise.

Finally, a few trails branch off from the Wonderland Trail to head higher up the mountain. The best of these is the Camp Muir Route, which ends at the Muir Public Shelter. This strenuous 9-mile round-trip trail has an elevation gain of 4,680 feet. Please note that this route is unmarked and only for experienced hikers and climbers. Before you go, be sure to check trail conditions and know your route!

Camp Muir View
View from Camp Muir: Photo by Dan Purdy

When to Go Camping in Mount Rainier NP

If you plan on camping in Mount Rainier National Park, the optimal season to visit is late spring through early fall. Average temperatures in these months hover in the 40s to 60s degrees Fahrenheit, with the best weather coming in August. Most important, though, is the average rainfall. The Pacific Northwest is notoriously drizzly, but the summer tends to be a bit drier, keeping hiking trails and campsites comfortable and safe.

That being said, if you choose to go during their peak visit times, know that you won’t be alone. Reservations book quickly, parking spots get taken, and entrance roads become congested and slow-moving. Be sure to reserve your sites and permits early. You can get up-to-date information on congestion updates via NPS Mount Rainier’s Twitter account, and be sure to check out their other summer congestion tips.

Mount Rainier Trail
Beautiful fall colors near Paradise on Mount Rainier: Photo by Danielle Plouffe

Know the (Permit) Rules

There are many different permits and reservations you could need in Mount Rainier National Park, including ones for weddings and military activities. I’ll stick to the basics and just cover what you’ll need to know to go camping in Mount Rainier. First, the single-vehicle park entrance fee is $30 unless you have a Mount Rainier Annual Park pass ($55/year) or an America the Beautiful NPS Park pass ($80/year).

Second, camping sites are $20 per night and can be reserved on Recreation.gov. Backcountry camping requires a wilderness permit, and NPS has an Early Access lottery for permits as the Wonderland Trail is so popular. 

Lastly, if you plan to hike/camp above 10,000 feet, climb, or walk on a glacier, you’ll also need to pay a Climbing Cost Recovery Fee ($52) and get a climbing permit. 

Mount Rainier Spring
Don’t forget your backcountry permits: Photo by Danielle Plouffe

Prepare for Unpredictable Weather!

Finally, one more very important tip for Mount Rainier camping is that the weather is extremely unpredictable. Even if you go in the summer, you should be prepared for it to start raining at any time. That means packing a waterproof shell and extra socks in your day bag. You should also check the weather every morning before heading out to make sure you don’t get caught in a storm.

If you plan to hike up the mountain, you’ll need to be extra prepared, as there will be different weather conditions than at lower elevations. For example, the snow around the 5,000-foot elevation mark on Mount Rainier doesn’t fully melt until July. Keep this in mind as you pack and plan your trip, as you might need heavier gear and better boots the higher up you hike on the mountain.

Final Thoughts

No matter where you stay in Mount Rainier National Park, you are sure to have an amazing time. You’ll see beautiful wildflowers, interesting wildlife, and of course, the awe-inspiring Mount Rainier. Plan ahead of time and pack well, and you’ll undoubtedly set yourself up for a memorable adventure!

Once you’ve picked out your camping spots, don’t forget to review our top camping tips to make your trip as fun as possible.

*Written by BestDraft LLC. contributor Benjamin Panico.