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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.

A Review of the Buckshot Pro Ultra

Review by Harold Whitford from Bikes Haven.

I’m quite meticulous when it comes to picking cycling accessories. So, when I heard about the Buckshot Pro Ultra wireless speaker, I was thrilled and skeptical about it at the same time. But after taking it for a test ride, the only thing I regret is not buying it sooner. 

For me, being able to bring a charger, flashlight, and a portable speaker all embedded in one small and lightweight gadget is fascinating and impressive. And in a way, the Buckshot Pro has saved me a lot of money that I would have otherwise spent if I bought each accessory separately. 

What is the Buckshot Pro Ultra? 

The Buckshot Pro is a combination of a Bluetooth speaker, a flashlight, and a portable charger. The speaker delivers hi-fi sound and an excellent amount of bass. Its flashlight includes a number of lighting modes for different levels of visibility, and the integrated charging system lets you juice up small electronics as you ride your bike.  

How to Use the Buckshot Pro Ultra When Cycling 

I’ve tested dozens of bike accessories in the last 6 months, and I can tell you that none of them come close to what the Buckshot Pro is. In my twenty-something hours of testing, I noticed how easy the device was to set up and how well it performed.

Setup  

The outer design features mounting straps to fix the device on a bike’s handlebar. To get started, place the Buckshot Pro on either side and adjust the strap to fit. 

mountain biking speaker

Putting the Buckshot Pro Ultra to Work 

1. The Bluetooth Speaker 

This one has been good company for me, especially on the loneliest trails that I’ve found myself on. The built-in Bluetooth speaker allows me to play music as I bike and dance to my favorite jams to get the most out of my rides. 

This gadget’s Bluetooth technology even lets you stream music from a wireless device like a smartphone or a Bluetooth enabled MP3 player. There’s even an integrated microphone that lets you make and receive calls on the spot. 

From my firsthand experience, the sound quality is undeniably up to standards. The highs are clean, the lows are deep, and the bass is spot on. With a 10-hour playtime on a single charge, you can go on long distance bike rides while listening to your favorite music. 

2. Power Bank 

The Buckshot Pro’s built-in power bank has been quite handy in juicing up two of my USB-rechargeable GPS-enabled cycling computers. For what it’s worth, the energy allows me the grace period to keep tracking my biking performance when it would have been impossible otherwise. 

Frankly, I don’t often bring a smartphone with me to a bike ride. But when I do, I like to use Buckshot Pro to charge it up. Quite a good power bank if you ask me. 

3. Bike Light 

The Buckshot Pro Ultra lets me cruise through dark trails without worrying about hitting anyone or hurting myself. The brightness level stands at 100 lumens, which is allows other road users to spot you. The strobe, torch, bright, and dim lantern light modes all work together to make you easily visible. At 100 lumens, you won’t be visible at a long distance, but other people will still notice you even in the deep dark.

What I Think About the Buckshot Pro Ultra 

I love the Buckshot Pro because it’s lightweight. At only 0.42 pounds, this device is so super light that it doesn’t add weight to my bike. 

It’s even IPX5 rated, so it can stand up to elements like dust and resist water in drizzles. I wish it were waterproof, though. 

My Final Thoughts on the Buckshot Pro Ultra

I don’t know about you, but I think Buckshot Pro is an innovative gadget that’s changing the way we perceive bike tech. Not to mention, it takes the bike riding experience to the next level. It’s the ideal combination of a bike light, a bike stereo, and a charger for a small electronic all-in-one. 

Top Gifts to Give Your Best Friend this Holiday Season

It’s no secret that this year has been a difficult one. Many of us are tired, overwhelmed, and craving connection with the people we love — which is why this holiday season will be more important than ever. Even if you can’t physically gather with your friends or extended family, you can still show them how much you care with a beautiful personalized gift.

You can find a personalized gift for everyone on your list, from your parents, nieces, and nephews, to your best friend in the world. But what, exactly, should you get your best friend this year? The answer depends on their interests… but we’ve got a few ideas that we think you’ll love!

For the “Monica” of Your Group: A Recipe Cutting Board

Is your best friend the person who hosts Friendsgiving? Are they always ready with a freshly baked treat when you walk in the door? Give them something that’s truly special and embraces their love of the kitchen: a personalized cutting board etched with a family recipe. 

With both maple and cherry wood finishes, you can select a board to suit any decorating style. This beautiful paddle cutting board can be a lovely serving tray for special events, or it can simply be decor for the kitchen. Trust us, once they see this beauty they’ll be baking you lots of cookies to thank you!

For the Constant Jet-Setter: A Personalized Passport Holder

This friend has the most enviable Instagram page you’ve ever seen. They’re constantly flying off to some beautiful and exotic locale, and they usually bring you back a cute souvenir or two. Even if travel is on hold at the moment, this friend needs something to remind them that soon they can get back in the skies.

A personalized passport holder is a great way to indulge your friend’s love of travel while making them feel extra fancy. The soft, vegan leather feels ultra-luxe, and the laser engraving will last as long as your friend’s passport (maybe even longer).

For the Music Lover: A Bluetooth Speaker

We all have that one friend who’s always in charge of the party playlist. They love music, they know all the latest artists, and they will not rest until they’ve found the perfect song to suit the mood. If that person is your best friend, give them a new way to play their tunes this holiday season.

bluetooth speaker will allow your friend to play the latest songs anywhere they go — in the car, on a camping trip, even while lounging in the pool! With a durable and sleek design, this speaker will quickly become a constant companion for your friend, and that means you’ll be treated to their best playlists every time you’re together (bonus!).

For Your Partner-in-Crime: A Keepsake Box

Of all your friends, this one is like the friend you’ve known the longest. You two have shared countless memories, from special events like concerts and vacations to many nights in binge-watching Netflix. While you may not have spent as much time together this year (dang 2020), you can give them a gift that shows them how much you value your time together.

A personalized keepsake box is a perfect gift for anyone who wants to save precious memories with their friends and loved ones. Have it engraved with your names and fill it with ticket stubs, funny photos, souvenirs from trips, and so much more. This is one gift that will truly last a lifetime.

For the One Whose Phone is About to Die: A Power Bank

Now, we’re not trying to shame this friend, but we all know who it is. This is the friend whose phone is always at one percent, the one who takes hours to respond to your texts, the one who — as much as you love them — could use a little help getting it together this holiday season.

How can you help this friend keep their phone from shutting down mid-call? Get them a portable power bank. This small, rechargeable battery can fit nicely in their car, purse, or backpack so that they always have a little extra power handy.

Get Personalized Gifts For Everyone on Your List

Whether you’re shopping for your parents, best friends, or that someone special, you can’t go wrong if you put some thought into who they are. After all, it’s the thought that counts!

Best Hobbies to Pick Up During the Pandemic

These are challenging times for everyone. It helps to have a hobby to occupy your mind and your time. The situation going on around us is unprecedented, but it’s full of opportunities if you know where to look. Rather than sitting around the house feeling bored, lonely, and worried, why not pick up a hobby? You can enrich your mind and entertain yourself, as well as your family. All you have to do is select the right activity for you. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Binge-Watch Your Faves

You might be stuck inside, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do. During times like these, sometimes you need to do something soothing that will not only take your mind off of what’s happening, but will also numb you a bit and take you out of the situation. For that reason, binge-watching movies and TV shows might be your best bet. You can turn it into something fun, even something that has a purpose. For example, this is your opportunity to catch up on all the shows you always wanted to watch but never had time to enjoy. You could also sit down to watch an entire movie series, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy or all of the Marvel movies—in order. To make it more enjoyable, consider Facetiming or Zooming with a group of friends while you watch.

Pick Up a Book

Speaking of immersing yourself in different worlds, all you need is a book to transport yourself to a faraway place. At the very least, you can get lost in a world where the pandemic isn’t happening. It’s hard for busy adults to find time to read even when they enjoy doing so. Right now, you have no excuses and no other commitments. You’re stuck at home, so there’s no reason not to pick up a book that you’ve been dying to read. Then again, why not reread your old favorites? Books and stories are comforting, and comfort is exactly what we all need right now.

Bust Out the Crayons

Soothing activities are unquestionably some of the best hobbies to start right now. Plenty of adults have embraced some of their childhood favorites because those activities give them a sense of calm and help them to believe that everything genuinely will be okay. Whether you want to color with crayons, colored pencils, or watercolors, take a look at some adult coloring books to see what strikes your fancy. In addition to funny adult coloring books with risqué pictures and naughty words, you can also pick out books with intricate designs and breathtaking scenes.

Get to the Kitchen

Throughout the course of the pandemic, people have understandably been cooking at home more often. Many restaurants are open for delivery, takeout, and social distanced seating, but with the economy the way it is and with growing numbers of furloughs and layoffs, cooking at home is often the more practical choice. Why not turn it into an adventure? Try your hand at gourmet meals that you’ve never attempted. Experiment with baking, chocolate, or pastries. You never know, your true talents may lie in the kitchen.

Stay Active

You may be wary of going to the gym, if they’re even open in your area. That’s entirely understandable. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy physical activities. Turn your home into a gym. There’s a wide world of videos and tutorials out there that can show you exactly what to do using basic equipment. You don’t need to spend a fortune to work out at home. Simply going for a local hike or doing yoga in the backyard is excellent for your mental and physical health. You can also opt to go for a run, but don’t forget your earbuds to entertain yourself while you’re on the go.

Choose a Craft

Are you into arts and crafts? Maybe it’s time to start crafting. There are all sorts of hobbies to learn. For instance, have you ever considered crocheting or knitting? You can order the supplies, have them sent to your home, and look up video tutorials to get started. The same goes for painting, felting, jewelry making, or woodworking. Just think about an artsy hobby that you’ve always wanted to try and jump right into it.

Turn Your Thumbs Green

Have you ever considered gardening? It’s a calming activity, it serves a practical purpose, and it gives you the chance to nurture something and watch it grow. It may not be the right season for gardening where you are, but that’s okay. You can set up an indoor garden, instead. Consider creating a container garden in your sunroom or treat yourself to an herb garden starter kit. You can grow herbs right in your kitchen. Not only are they beautiful and fragrant, but they can elevate all of your cooking endeavors, as well.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of hobbies. You may decide that it’s the perfect time for a few DIY home improvements. Learning a new language may be right up your alley. What hobby interests you the most?


5 Lesser-Traveled Spots to Check Out That Are COVID Friendly

The COVID-19 pandemic has been excellent for outdoors lovers. Bars are closed. Conventions and amusement parks are widely considered bad ideas. What’s left for simple recreation is getting outside to camp, hike, backpack, and otherwise enjoy nature and all its myriad attractions. 

However, many of our favorite outdoor locations have become crowded by groups who usually would have gone to Disneyland or stayed closer to home, sampling the local pubs and restaurants. This not only makes these destinations less enjoyable for a diehard outdoors lover, but it also makes them dangerous. A crowded campground can be just as hazardous as an overpopulated beach, from a disease vector standpoint.

Until there’s a vaccine, good sense and a spirit of adventure both dictate that we go to the lesser-known spots. Here are a few great ones from different parts of the country.

1. Pacific Northwest: Toad Lake Campground

This small patch of camping bliss is 12 miles west of I-5 near Mount Shasta. It’s one of the hike-in-only locations on the Pacific Crest Trail, a strong deterrent for casual campers. You can take your pick of developed sites with park benches and nearby toilets or hike the extra few miles for a back-country or primitive space. The farther you go, the more separated you’ll be from the crowds.

Its eponymous lake covers 23 acres surrounded by hilly forest. The shores vary from thick woods to rocky outcroppings to meadows. Boats are not permitted, making it great for fishing and swimming. There’s not much going on besides the beautiful, off-the-beaten-path nature, but that’s all we need. It might even be the perfect spot to bring out your Waterproof Speaker and lounge around for a bit.

Toad Lake Campground is open all year. Camping sites are first-come, first-served.

How to Get There

Turn onto exit 738 from I-5 near Mount Shasta, heading west. Follow Route 26/Barr Rd and turn off at the Toad Lake sign. Follow the winding road to the parking lot, then hike in following the marked trail.

2. Southwest: South Ruby Campground

A fishing and boating paradise located in the Ruby Valley National Wildlife Refuge, this campground is rarely close to as crowded as its location and amenities would suggest. It sits at 6,000 feet elevation around the coast of Ruby Lake in Nevada. Despite being a classic high desert location, its lake and marshlands attract stopover species from all around, making it one of the best bird and wildlife watching locations in the area.

The campground is located among pinyon pine and juniper, offering a shady place to pitch your tent in one of 35 sites, including one double spot and one wheelchair-accessible site. All sites have picnic tables and campfire rings, with vault toilets and running water available nearby. Besides being out of the way, the campground’s structure runs screens of trees between sites, making social distancing (and privacy) easy.

Unlike many of the out-of-the-way camping opportunities on this list, South Ruby allows boating, ATV riding, and off-road vehicles.

South Ruby Campground is open May through September, with exact dates announced one year ahead of time. You can book sites up to six months in advance.

How to Get There

Turn south off I-80 onto Route 227 near Elko. Turn right onto Route 228 and follow it past Jiggs. As the highway begins to turn north in a wide dogleg, turn right onto Ruby Valley Road and take it to the campground. If 228 turns into 767, you’ve gone too far.

3. Southeast: Linville Gorge

“The Grand Canyon of the East” is a rugged river valley in Burke County, North Carolina. The land is so steep and rough it was never harvested for timber, leaving much of it as pristine, old-growth forest rare on that side of the Mississippi River. The designated National Wilderness Area covers 12,000 acres deep forest, offering multiple rare plant species and excellent wildlife and bird viewing opportunities. The Linville River cuts a meandering path through granite walls, creating stunning falls, steep gorges, and multiple deep coves for swimming and fishing.

Trails here are not well-maintained or even clearly marked, but they offer unique, spectacular vistas to experienced hikers. Camping (with permits) is available both in established, primitive campsites and simple backwoods spaces. Motor travel is not permitted, and cellular reception is spotty. This is wilderness camping, so come prepared.

The Linville Gorge wilderness is open year-round.

How to Get There

You can access this large patch of wilderness from multiple locations, including simple roadside trailheads and a few logging roads kept open during the summer months. Aim your GPS for Spruce Pine, North Carolina. or Lenoir, North Carolina, and set off from there. Local guides can tell you what’s best and what’s least crowded at any particular time.

4. Great Plains: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Another sizable protected area, Wichita Mountain Wilderness contains Fawn Creek Campgrounds and Doris Campground. It covers more than 59,000 acres of scrubland containing rough hills, plains, and waterways. It’s one of the oldest national wildlife refuges in the United States and home to roaming herds of bison and longhorns. Locals and road trippers visit for camping near the Visitor’s Center, but the hiking trails and boating opportunities go deep into the Refuge.

Camping opportunities are more strictly regimented here than in many other areas. Doris Campground offers hookups for RVs and pop-up tent vehicles (tents are currently prohibited). Fawn Creek Campground is reserved for organized youth groups. Everybody else is invited to enjoy backcountry camping, which is likely what you wanted anyway if you’re reading this article. All three options are by permit only, available up to three months in advance.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is open all year, though some facilities shut down or curtail operations during winter.

How to Get There

Drive west out of Lawton on Highway 62. At Cache, turn right onto 115 and enter the area Refuge near Doris Campground. For faster access to the Visitor’s Center, continue on 62 and turn right on Route 54. Turn right onto Hwy 49, which leads you straight into the Refuge and to the Visitor’s Center.

5. New England: Cutler Coast

This area is also known as the Bold Coast, and it offers some of the most extended tracts of undeveloped coastline along the East Coast. Activity here is centered on trail hiking, including the famed Caribou Loop and Black Point Brook Loop. You can access most camping by car, but some of the best views, hiking, and wildlife viewing are only available to those willing to reach them on foot (or by paddling).

The entire area is dotted with primitive camping opportunities, all first-come, first-served. The main areas include Fairy Beach, Machias River Corridor, Donnell Pond, and Stave Island. Bear in mind that hiking is often strenuous and consists of some hazardous conditions. This getaway is not recommended for families with small children or novice hikers, making it an excellent choice for experienced outdoors lovers looking to avoid crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cutler Coast is open year-round, but the hazards increase and the foliage decreases as soon as the snow starts to fall.

How to Get There

Follow 191 northeast out of Cutler (accessible via 191 by driving south, then east out of East Machias). You’ll find multiple turn-offs and opportunities on your right as you go.

Final Thoughts

Visiting these out-of-the-way spaces is no guarantee you’ll be alone or at no risk of COVID-19 exposure. Be sure to include hand sanitizer, face masks, medical gloves, and similar items in your packing kit. For the time being, they’re as important as your cooking supplies and first aid gear.

John Bradley lives with his family of six in Oregon. They hiked and completed a big trip across the country in an RV during COVID-19.

Hiking Or Camping? Here’s How to Spot Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Spending time outdoors is one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health — especially right now. And if you’re looking for something invigorating to distract you from the pandemic, hiking or camping should probably be on your list.

Of course, you do need to take precautions when you participate in these outdoor activities. Although going outside can be one of the safest options right now, that doesn’t mean there won’t be hazards waiting for you. Many of those hazards occur naturally, so you’ll want to be mindful whenever you’re walking through wildlife. If you keep an eye out, you might even find a Mossy Oak Buckshot Pro hiding in the bushes.

As we move from summer to fall, you’ll still need to be aware of the animals and plants that can cause harm. Poison ivy and poison oak are among these dangers. It’ll behoove you to learn exactly what these plants look like so you can avoid them on the trail. That way, nothing can ruin your trip.

Poison Ivy Vs. Poison Oak: How to Tell the Difference

Both poison ivy and poison oak can cause allergic reactions (which typically show up in the form of a bodily rash) due to the urushiol they contain. In fact, 85% of Americans are allergic to poison ivy. Both plants are characterized by their lack of thorns and their three-leaf clusters. (If you’ve ever heard the expression, “leaves of three, let them be,” you’ll already be familiar with this aspect of their physical appearance). They also grow as either a vine or a bush, have red berries and white flowers, and come in a variety of sizes. They also tend to turn red in color during the fall.

However, poison ivy and poison oak also have some key differences that can help you know which plants to avoid. Poison ivy often grows close to the ground and has vines or stems that are fuzzy in appearance. Its leaves are almond-shaped and may look shiny. Poison oak has leaves that are a bit more rounded and “hairy.” They really do look similar to oak leaves. 

Avoiding and Treating Poison Ivy or Poison Oak

Knowing how to differentiate between poison ivy and poison oak can allow you to avoid making contact with these hazardous plants. But you may not always be able to rely on your quick reactions to keep you safe. When hiking, camping, or spending time in nature, you should consider wearing protective clothing to cover your skin. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts should be worn to provide a barrier between your bare skin and any plants you might brush up against.

But since reactions to poison ivy and poison oak aren’t immediate, you might realize too late that you’ve unknowingly touched them. You should first wash all exposed areas of your skin (or the affected area, if a rash has started to form) with soap and cool water. You can use cool compresses, calamine lotion, or antihistamines to treat the symptoms. Be sure to seek medical care if the rash becomes increasingly uncomfortable or if it’s accompanied by blisters, swelling, fever, or difficulty breathing. In most cases, however, the rash will eventually dissipate on its own within a couple of weeks.

Now that you know all about poison ivy and poison oak, you can hike or camp with confidence.