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Choosing the Best Travel Camera for Adventuring

This isn’t just a camera buying guide; it’s better. In this guide, we won’t be focusing on specific models as much as how to choose the best travel camera for you. It’s our goal to help you navigate the plethora of options by explaining common camera specs and their various applications in certain scenarios and aspects of adventuring. 

So, let’s dive straight in and look at the most common camera features.

Best Travel Camera Features and Specs

Manual Settings

If you want to hone your skills as a professional adventure/travel photographer, choose a camera with full manual settings. You’ll have a wide range of options when it comes to what you can photograph if you’re able to adjust all the camera’s settings.

Canon camera taking picture
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Having control over your camera’s ISO (light sensitivity), shutter speed, and aperture settings can truly separate a good shot from a great one. With a fully manual camera, you’ll be able to practice taking the same photo over and over again, each time with slightly different settings. This way, not only will you be able to grow as a photographer, but you’ll also be able to develop your personal style. Do you prefer photos that are dark and moody, or light and airy? Recognizing this and controlling it from the get-go with your camera’s settings will save you tons of editing time. 

Adventure Focus: This feature will benefit almost any type of adventure – from landscapes and hiking to colorful climbing and kayaking shots.

Zoom Range/ In-Camera Lens Capability

Non-traveling photographers have the luxury of being able to store and haul around a multitude of different lenses. However, we adventuring photographers don’t have space in our luggage to store anything other than the essentials!

Camera lens in mountains
Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

Adventure photographers already have enough gear to lug around; bulky, pricey zoom and macro lenses don’t easily jam into a backpack that’s already bursting at the seams. Therefore, having a camera with a built-in zoom will make it easier to photograph landscapes, wildlife, and people. But remember, the farther the zoom, the bulkier the lens. Choose your camera’s zoom distance based on what you think you’ll be photographing the most. For portraits and up-close shots, you may not need to zoom. Of course, choose a travel camera case that is large enough to accommodate the size of your camera body and lens (if detachable) to keep it safe from harm!

Adventure Focus: Fine-tuning your zoom capability will allow you to capture stellar shots from your favorite sports. Perhaps zooming in enough to catch a climbing buddy pulling off a tough, crimpy move 100ft away (just make sure you’re not supposed to be on belay!), or zooming in on a cool mountain feature during a hiking trip.

Megapixels & Sensors

We need a basic understanding of how megapixels and sensors work together and to be aware of the ‘megapixel myth’ to choose the best travel camera. Luckily for you, we’ve done the hard work and broken down the science of megapixels and how it relates to your personal photography style.

Basically, 1-megapixel cameras take photos that have one million pixels of information in them. 8 megapixels means eight million pixels of information. The myth is that the higher the megapixels are, the better the camera and image quality. This isn’t always the case. It won’t matter if your camera has 24 megapixels if the sensor on the camera is cropped (1-inch sensors are considered small) since the sensor is the piece that’s actually storing all those megapixels and transferring them onto your image. 

old school camera
Photo by Julius Drost on Unsplash

Sensors consist of millions of photosites that record what is being seen through the lens, so size matters. For context, an iPhone 11 sensor size is around ½ inch and 12 megapixels. The image looks clear on the screen but loses quality when cropped or blown up for printing purposes. So now we know that larger sensors with high megapixel counts produce the best quality of photographs.

There are two main situations where you absolutely shouldn’t compromise and opt for the full-frame sensor over the crop. The first is if you are looking to sell prints. The second is if you aren’t carrying around several lenses and will need to crop photos. 35mm full-frame sensors are the gold standard when it comes to camera sensors. 

Choose RAW over JPEG

Shooting in RAW format saves the image without any internal modifications, unlike JPEG. Cameras that shoot in JPEG apply sharpening modifications to the image before compressing them to save. On the other hand, with cameras that shoot in RAW mode, the image is saved without any processing. The result is that the RAW image file stores a ton of color data that you would otherwise lose.

ice cave
Photo by Sean Pierce on Unsplash

At first glance, the extra processing that JPEG images go through can trick you. In fact, the software enhances the image to look sharper before you even upload it to your computer! However, for JPEG files to remain a sustainable size, the true image quality will always be compromised. RAW images are stored without enhancements and can use all their storage availability on the features that matter to you. What’s more, they can be edited more precisely. Not all cameras shoot in RAW mode, so select this type of camera if you want some extra leeway when editing your photos later on. 

Adventure Focus: Colorful landscape shots benefit tremendously from RAW shooting. Backpacking, hiking, and picturesque water sports are, therefore, prime activities for this capability. But remember, investing in RAW and learning how to harness its benefits will never detract from your adventure shots for any sport.

Weatherproofing

Some cameras are better than others at withstanding exposure to the elements. If you’re choosing a hiking camera or a camera for rock climbing, don’t compromise weatherproofing quality. The best adventure and travel camera is going to be able to hold up even through potentially years of random spells of dust and moisture. Look for the term “weather-sealed” when shopping for the best travel camera. 

water resistant minolta
Photo by Aditya Chinchure on Unsplash

Get a Tripod

Not necessarily a camera buying tip, but definitely something you won’t regret. Your camera will need to be as still as possible in low-light situations, for example, when photographing subjects with only the light of the moon or campfire. Even the best image stabilization technology can’t beat the sturdiness of a tripod. Tripods are easy to strap to a backpack, reasonably priced, and definitely the superior option over balancing your camera on a rock or between tree branches. This accessory will enhance the qualities of the best travel camera and help you get those jaw-dropping shots. 

camera taking landscape photo
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Go Big or Go Home?

I have a general rule when it comes to buying equipment. If I’m not making money with a piece of equipment, I don’t spend too much money buying it. This translates to: if you aren’t selling photos or striving to be known for your work as a professional photographer, go for a cheaper, decent option that’s fully manual and weatherproof. If this is you and you’re just seeking to capture the moment, then a basic, affordable camera will work just fine. After all, the saying, “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” became a cliche long before modern-day, super sharp cameras came out!

On the other hand, if you are looking to make money off your photos in any way (selling photos, building a social media following), take the camera-choosing process seriously and follow our tips. Once you have your camera, all you need to do is choose your next adventure destination and start snapping pictures!

*Written by BestDraft contributor Morgan Wilder.

Best Hiking Trails for Summer Backpackers

The United States is home to some of the world’s most diverse landscapes and best hiking trails. Every single region offers its own bounty of spectacular scenery, weather conditions, and unique challenges. But sometimes, the hardest challenge is just picking where to go! 

But we’ve got you covered; we’ve found the top hiking vacations around the country and put together your go-to guide for summer backpacking. Whether you’ve got wanderlust for snow-topped mountain views, desert heat, a tropical oasis, or wild Appalachian ponies, there’s a backpacking trip that’s perfect for you.

Glacier National Park – North Circle Loop

  • Where: Northwestern Montana
  • Length: 52 miles, strenuous
  • When to go: July-September 
  • Average Summer Temperatures: Lows: mid-30s Fahrenheit, Highs: mid-70s
Glacier National Park
Photo by Sam Solomon on Unsplash

Why Visit

This loop trail is one of the most scenic and best hiking trails in America. Expect breathtaking mountain scenes, lakes, waterfalls, active glaciers, and abundant wildlife. You’ll get to walk along 11 miles of the Highline Trail, famous both for being Glacier National Park’s most beautiful trail and for its views along the Garden Wall. The 0.25 mile stretch along the Garden Wall offers stunning views along a narrow 6-8 foot wide cliffside ledge; don’t worry, there’s a safety cable to hold onto.

Logistics

Be sure to review Glacier National Park’s trip planning resources. You’ll find maps, current trail conditions, permitting information, and park safety. Pay special attention to the permitting information; you’ll need to get your permit in person the day before your backpacking trip actually starts. 

Difficulty 

This is a strenuous hike with 12,000 feet in elevation gain. Therefore, we recommend you take 5-7 days to complete the loop. 

100 Mile Wilderness

  • Where: Monson, Maine
  • Length: 100 Miles, strenuous
  • When to Go: Late June- Early August (Early June is black fly season while August brings lots of traffic)
  • Average Summer Temperatures: Lows: mid-50s Fahrenheit, Highs: upper-70s
100 Mile wilderness
Photo by Joseph Holihan on Unsplash

Why Visit 

The 100 Mile Wilderness is the northernmost section of the Appalachian Trail (AT). This stretch of wilderness takes you through tunnels of tight pines where you may run into moose, berry bogs, craggy ridges, and jaw-dropping scenery. 

It runs from Monson, Maine, to the base of Mt. Katahdin, which is the finish line of the 2,179-mile-long AT for northbound thru-hikers. There are no places to resupply along the 100-mile long stretch, which means hikers must have enough food to last the entire 100 miles (we recommend 12 days’ worth to be on the safe side). For this reason, it’s often touted as the most challenging section of the AT and one of the best hiking vacations in the northeast. 

Logistics

This hiking vacation will take a lot of preparation as there is no trailhead or parking lot at the southern point of the trail. If you’re heading northbound, you’ll need to set up a private shuttle or hitchhike to the trail’s starting point. If you prefer to walk south, you’ll have to pay for parking and get a shuttle back up to your vehicle once you’re finished backpacking. Check out this local’s guide to a successful hiking vacation. 

Difficulty 

This is a strenuous backpacking trip. Therefore, make sure you’re comfortable with the distance and remoteness before embarking on your adventure. 

Paria Canyon – White House to Lee’s Ferry

  • Where: Utah/ Arizona border
  • Length: 38 miles, moderate
  • When to Go: April – June
  • Average Summer Temperatures:  Lows: low 40s-60s Fahrenheit, Highs: mid-60s-80s
Paria Canyon
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Why Visit

This is an incredibly unique and not overly difficult early summer hiking vacation – you’ll lose 1,130 feet in elevation total. Backpacking the Paria Canyon involves meandering along the Paria riverbed through two giant walls of breathtaking Navajo sandstone. Along the way, you’ll experience stunning rock formations and feel like a modern-day Indiana Jones as you explore the canyon’s twists and turns. 

Logistics

Riverbed hiking comes with two crucial considerations:

  • First, you’ll have to cross the river dozens of times, so plan accordingly.
  • Second, Flash flooding in the canyon is dangerous and most likely to happen between July and September. 

Make sure you check Paria Canyon weather before your trip. If there is a chance of rain, call the Ranger Station to make sure they think it’s safe to hike. Additionally, check all permitting and camping information as soon as you start planning this backpacking trip. Carve out 4-5 days for backpacking, depending on your fitness level. 

Difficulty

This hiking vacation is moderate. You’ll experience minimal elevation changes. However, warm and dry weather should play a role in your planning, especially if you’re unaccustomed to hiking in these conditions.  

Grayson Highlands State Park

  • Where: Blue Ridge Highlands, Virginia
  • Length: 22.5 miles, strenuous
  • When to Go: Spring through Autumn
  • Average Summer Temperature: Lows: low 60s Fahrenheit, Highs: upper 70s
Grayson Highlands State Park
Image by Eric Dobson from Pixabay

Why Visit

Roaming along the Appalachian Trail over balds resembling the Scottish Highlands while passing by wild ponies calmly eating their fill: does it get any more magical? 

Although there are plenty of options for hiking the Grayson Highlands, we recommend exploring the 3-day, 2-night route we call the Massie Gap Loop. This loop will take you up and over Mount Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak. Moderate temperatures make this hiking vacation feasible anytime from the spring to fall. 

Logistics

Be prepared to pay the parking fee at Massie Gap trailhead and file a camping plan at the park office. As the directions for this particular adventure are a little more complicated, we suggest the following itinerary, and remember that the best hiking trails often take a little more planning! 

  • Park in the Backpacker’s lot
  • Begin the hike on the Appalachian Blue Spur Trail until you reach the Appalachian Trail, where you’ll head south. 
  • Two miles past Virginia’s highest peak, Mount Rogers, take a right onto Mount Rogers Trail, down to Virginia State Route 603. 
  • Cross the road to take Fairwood Valley Trail; you should come to Old Orchard Trail in a mile – follow this until you reach the AT again, where you’ll go South. 
  • You’ll come back to the Appalachian Blue Spur Trail two miles past Wise Shelter, which will take you back to the parking lot! 

Keep in mind, this is a suggested itinerary and is no replacement for your own good preparation. You still need to utilize the park map and read up on general park information to plan your trip, prepare your route, and decide where to camp. 

One final note, don’t let the blue skies fool you! The Southeast is notorious for its daily summertime thunderstorms that seem to come from nowhere. Also, bring a few layers of moisture-wicking clothing as the Grayson Highland winds can be quite chilly, even in the summer! 

Difficulty

This portion of the Appalachian Trail is considered strenuous. Therefore, plan for rugged terrain and steep elevation changes. 

Kalalau Trail

  • Where: Kauai, Hawaii
  • Length: 22 miles, moderate
  • When to Go: May – September
  • Average Summer Temperature: Lows: low-60s Fahrenheit, Highs: mid-70s
Kalalau Trail
Photo by malte on Unsplash

Why Visit

The rugged out-and-back Kalalau Trail is the only way hikers can access the world-renowned Na Pali Coast and “one of the world’s most beautiful beaches,” Kalalau Beach. The trail to get there is lush, dense, strenuous, and by far one of the best hiking trails in the country. It starts (and ends) at sea level, but a 5,000-foot elevation gain over the 22 miles makes this a formidable hike. This is undoubtedly a hiking vacation to put on the bucket list! 

Logistics

Most hikers, from average to expert experience, can make it all the way to the beach (11 miles) in a day. The length of the trip just depends on how many nights you want to camp on the beach. 

Camping on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches does not come easy. Permits are available 30 days in advance but can sell out in minutes, so be prepared to be flexible about the dates of your backpacking trip since it might take a few tries to snag a permit. If you are parking a vehicle, you’ll need a permit for that too. 

The weather in the summertime is essentially perfect, but always check the forecast to be on the safe side. If there’s rain in the forecast, there could be a chance of flash flooding at one of the river crossings. 

Difficulty

This hike’s difficulty is generally considered to be moderate. However, proper preparation and safe hiking practices are just as important as physical fitness to ensure a successful and fun adventure. 

Wrapping Up

Now that you know some of the best hiking trails in the country, all you have to do is choose where you’ll adventure next! 

As always, remember to prepare and be as safe as possible by checking the weather, wearing appropriate clothing, and knowing how to hike safely at your destination. Use our beginner’s guide to backcountry hiking as a resource when you decide which one of these awesome summer backpacking destinations is perfect for you. Have fun out there! 

*This article was written by BestDraft contributor Morgan Wilder.

Tips for camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a world-renowned spot for rock climbing and one of the best places to go camping and hiking in Southern California. From the unique geological formations to the iconic Joshua Trees scattered throughout the park, there’s something for everyone in this park, no matter your interests. 

Camping in Joshua Tree may look slightly different from other National Parks, though, and the first thing you need to know is to plan ahead. Joshua Tree camping may take a bit of planning, but with a bit of extra effort, your trip with be stress-free as you experience the natural wonders of Southern California. 

To help guide you through planning a camping trip to Joshua Tree, we put together four of the top tips we have for camping in the park. 

Plan to supply water and for a lack of amenities 

Joshua Tree National Park is located in the Mojave Desert. That means water is limited. Not all campgrounds have water. The two camping areas that do have water are Black Rock and Cottonwood. Potable water is available at the Twentynine Palms visitor center, the Indian Cove ranger station, and the southern entrance station. You can also get water in the surrounding towns. 

All of the camping within the park has access to a toilet, but not all of them having flush toilets. Do not plan for full access to a bathroom with full amenities. You should bring in all food, firewood, and water (1-2 gallons per person, per day) that you need. 

Please also note that not all camping areas have cell phone reception. 

Choose a camping location based on the activities you have planned

Joshua Tree offers a wide variety of different activities to enjoy. You can plan on doing short day hikes, rock climbing, taking geological tours, wildlife viewing, and more. With so many options, it is a good idea to plan regarding the activities you want to do while you’re visiting. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, try to pick camping near those hikes or climbs. This may enable you to walk to the trailheads or at least shorten the drive to the parking area closest. 

If you plan on equestrian camping, this is especially important because not all Joshua Tree campsites have horse stalls. Black Rock Campground and Ryan Campground are the only areas that allow visitors to keep their horses overnight. 

Joshua Tree Dirt Road

Reservations required September-May for some areas

While there are several campsites within the park, depending on the time of year you visit, you may not be able to get a spot. That’s because much of Joshua Tree camping is first-come-first-serve. However, during the busy season (September-May), some of the campsites are reservation only. Five campsites require reservations part of the year: 

Black Rock Campground
Number of sites: 99
Fee per night: $25
Attractions: High concentration of Joshua Trees
Amenities: water, flush toilets, fire grates, dump station, phone reception
Other information: 20 horse-stall sites

Cottonwood Campground
Number of sites: 62 (3 group sites)
Fee per night: $25
Attractions: ideal for stargazing, hiking the Lost Palms Oasis and Cottonwood Springs
Amenities: dump station, water, flush toilets, fire grates
Other information: remote and usually the last campground to be filled

Indian Cove Campground
Number of sites: 101 (13 group sites)
Fee per night: $25
Attractions: climbing and Wonderland of Rocks
Amenities: vault toilets, trash/recycling, fire grates
Other information: water available 3 miles away at small ranger station

Jumbo Rocks Campground
Number of sites: 124
Fee per night: $20
Attractions: Skull Rock and other popular rock outcroppings
Amenities: dump station, vault toilets, trash/recycling
Other information: central park location

Ryan Campground 
Number of sites: 31
Fee per night: $20 ($5 for bicycles)
Attractions: hiking and climbing options nearby
Amenities: vault toilets, trash/recycling
Other information: 4 horse stall campsites, 5 bicycle campsites 

First-come-first-serve camping areas

The three camping areas that are strictly first-come-first-serve tend to have fewer sites, are less expensive, but they fill up much faster, especially on holiday weekends. 

Belle Campground
Number of sites: 18
Fee per night: $15
Attractions: closet to climbing routes at Castle Rock
Amenities: vault toilets, trash/recycling
Other information: great area for stargazing 

Hidden Valley Campground 
Number of sites: 44
Fee per night: $15
Attractions: hiking including Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Boy Scout Trail, and Keys View
Amenities: vault toilets, trash/recycling
Other information: campsites dispersed among rock outcroppings, near visitor center

White Tank Campground 
Number of sites: 15
Fee per night: $15
Attractions: Arch Rock interpretive trail (good area for kids)
Amenities: vault toilets, trash/recycling 
Other information: One of the last areas filled, good for stargazing 

Other camping options in Joshua Tree

If you are traveling with a group, some of the main campgrounds do have a few group sites, but they may fill up fast. There is one campground just for groups. Additionally, if you would like a more remote experience in the park, you can check out some of the backcountry camping. 

Sheep Pass Group Campground
Number of sites: 6
Fee per night: $50
Attractions: near Saddle Rocks and climbing crags
Amenities: vault toilets, trash/recycling 
Other information: tent only, reservations required 

Twin Tanks Backcountry Camping
Number of sites: 25
Fee per night: no fee, but backcountry permit required 
Attractions: solitude, wildlife viewing, and coyote melons
Amenities: none 
Other information: Register your vehicle when you get your permit

Joshua Tree National Park black and white photo

Frequently asked questions about Joshua Tree camping

What’s the best time of year to visit Joshua Tree?
September through May is the best time to visit the park, but it is also the busiest time of year, which is why reservations are required for some camping areas. Summer months can be upwards of 100 degrees, making it dangerous for outdoor activities. 

Are there any free or boondocking campsites near Joshua Tree?
Yes, there is some BLM land located outside the park. 

Can I bring my dog to Joshua Tree?
Yes, but they are not allowed in all hiking areas. 

Wrapping things up

We hope that this info helps you plan a safe and fun adventure in Joshua Tree National Park. Now check out this video of 17 things to do in Joshua Tree.

Outdoor Tech’s Guide to Electronic Recycling

Many of us are familiar with recycling. You likely do it daily with plastic bottles, cans, or boxes. But how often do you recycle your electronics? 

When an electronic item of ours dies, the natural response is to replace it. If and when you choose to replace your worn out electronic item, what do you do with the old one? It can be tempting to simply throw it in the trash bin or set it out on the curb — out of sight, out of mind, right?

As a part of the outdoor industry, we are responsible for protecting and preserving the outdoor spaces we love. When producing electronic products, having ethical and sustainable sourcing of materials is part of the process. The product afterlife is also a big part of waste mitigation and sustainable product production. 

Everything we produce and buy has an impact on our planet. So, if we can lessen that impact by turning our waste into something new, we are moving in the right direction. 

Without proper recycling and disposal practices, electronic components like batteries, plastics, and other mechanisms can heavily burden the environment.

Basics on how to recycle electronics

First things first, never throw your electronics in the trash. 

Most people don’t realize that if electronic waste makes it to the right place, almost 100% of it is recyclable. The materials in electronics – plastics, glass, copper, silver, metal, and other resources – can be recovered, repurposed, and reused. 

The EPA estimates that only about 12% of electronic items are recycled properly, although most e-waste is recyclable. Why aren’t we reusing electronics if companies built them using so many reusable materials?

The simple answer is that electronic recycling is not always easily accessible. Also, e-waste recycling isn’t often done properly, and it isn’t always affordable for companies to use recycled materials. 

As a consumer, we urge you to get to know your local recycling programs so you can be a part of the solution. The more you know about where to recycle e-waste, the more likely those electronic items will be reused. The first step is getting them to the right place. 

3 ways to recycle electronics 

Before we jump right into how to recycle electronics, remember that sometimes broken things are fixable. If an electronic device stops working and there is no visible damage, there could be something wrong that you’re unaware of. Take a moment to look up electronic repair shops in your area before you decide to get rid of a device. 

Try one of the following three ways to recycle electronics if your device cannot be repaired.

1.   Find a tech company that recycles e-waste

While pop up recycling programs are becoming more common, most of them are only located in major cities. However, most tech companies will accept e-waste and recycle it for you. 

You can go to most chain locations of these tech companies and have them recycle many e-waste items: 

  • Apple
  • Best Buy 
  • Dell
  • HP
  • Gateway 
  • LG
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Staples
  • Verizon
  • VIZIO

This list is not all-inclusive for tech companies that recycle items. In fact, most tech companies offer product recycling programs as long as it is one of their electronics. For example, companies that produce a specific product, like Verizon, will only accept e-waste related to cell phones. If you have an HP computer, you should bring it to HP for recycling. 

General locations like Best Buy or Staples offer a wide range of tech trade-ins, general electronic recycling, and haul-away e-waste recycling. 

2. Locate an e-steward or e-recycling program near you 

Most e-waste recycling is either municipal, private, or national. 

Suppose you live in an area that has a general municipal e-recycling program. Find out if they recycle electronics in the United States or if they export to developing countries where e-waste is put into landfills. 

To ensure that the recycling program does not export electronics to other countries, use an e-steward program. All e-steward programs have strict standards for electronic recycling and will accept most items.  

When using a generalized e-waste recycling program, it is important to look into how they actually are processing these items. If they are only taking parts of the electronic and throwing the rest away, it may not be the best option available. 

3. Donate old electronics that still work 

Sometimes when we replace an electronic item, it isn’t broken; we just need an upgrade. If that is the case, then consider donating them to charities. There are various charities that collect and distribute electronics to underprivileged communities to help individuals and families that cannot afford them. 

You may be able to find some local charities or a local school that is in need of electronics. If you can’t find one locally, then look to national or global organizations. 

Even if your device isn’t entirely functional, if it can be repaired, many programs will still accept the donation. Plus, when donating an electronic to a charity, you can most often add that as a tax write off for that year. 

Invest in electronics that are built to last

One of the best ways to help out the planet is to reduce consumption. While we can’t eliminate everything we buy, we can choose to buy high-quality products that are built to last. That’s why we design durable and long-lasting electronics that can be used in outdoor settings at Outdoor Tech.

Not everything will last forever, but we were able to create products like the Turtle Shell 3.0 Speaker that is waterproof and shockproof. As with most outdoor equipment, when investing in electronics, quality should always be the top priority. Even if you spend a little more money upfront, you will be saving time and money in the long-run because they last longer. 

When shopping for electronics and outdoor gear, look into whether a company provides a warranty for repairs or returns. Some companies also have specific programs to ensure consumers are taking responsibility for the afterlife of their products.

Tips for Becoming a More Eco-Friendly Traveler

Traveling is something that many of us took for granted prior to the pandemic. But with hope on the horizon as new developments are clearing the path for a greater sense of normalcy, many are eager to get back to the world around them. In the meantime, this break can serve as the perfect opportunity to learn how you can become a better traveler in the future. One of the major focuses for travelers now is becoming more eco-friendly and responsible during their excursions. 

If this is a goal of yours, here are a few helpful tips for becoming a more eco-friendly traveler once you’re ready to set off again!

1. Seek Out Responsible Options for Luggage 

What you carry with you as you travel may not seem like it plays a major role in the environment. However, if you choose to invest in products that leave a hefty carbon footprint, you’re already starting to contribute to a larger issue long before you set foot out the door. 

The good news? Whether you’re in the market for a new set of rolling suitcases or need new carry-on items like secure laptop bags, there are plenty of options. There are many companies producing high-quality products that save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and use recycled materials.

2. Don’t Forget That a Local Trip Can Be Just As Exciting

The most exciting travel destinations are often advertised as being far away from home. While you can still be eco-friendly in another country, traveling shorter distances can reduct your carbon footprint. That being said, there are ways to offset your carbon footprint and still enjoy yourself. 

Rather than planning every trip to a faraway destination, consider alternating trips between places closer to home. Chances are you don’t need to board a plane to find somewhere to go hiking. If you look hard enough, you’ll discover plenty of opportunities and rare finds while staying close to home. Who knows? You may even fall more in love with where you currently reside.

3. Pack Your Bags Mindfully

It can be tempting to pack a bunch of items that you simply won’t need during your travels. In order to avoid this, it’s best to pack your gear mindfully and with intention. This means:

  • Bring reusable items that minimize the amount of waste you’re producing during travel (such as a reusable water bottle)
  • Use sustainable packing tools that help create more space, rather than putting items in plastic bags
  • Pack as light as possible (surprisingly, weight does make a difference on how hard your plane will have to work to get you to your destination)
  • Buy eco-friendly travel goods (clothing, toiletries, batteries, etc.)

Learn how to pack by prioritizing the environment. Once you make the adjustment, it’s just a matter of sticking to those habits and making them work. 

4. Use Eco-Friendly Booking Resources to Find Sustainable Shelter

Unfortunately, eco-friendly travel isn’t the norm quite yet, which means sustainable shelter can be hard to find. Booking sites like bookdifferent.com or lokal can help you find eco-friendly hotels or organize trips that center on sustainability. Companies like FlyGRN help offset carbon emissions by using commissions from ticket sales to plant trees or set up solar panels.

If you’re really looking to get the most out of your travels, there are plenty of resources designed to make you and the environment happy. Set aside some time to do research and seek out the tools that will make sustainable travel more achievable for you. 

Becoming an eco-friendly traveler may sound difficult, but there are actually many resources out there to help you make smarter decisions. When you get ready to venture out into the world, seek advice from established travelers that can help you work around common issues. If you’re ready to do better for the environment, use the tips listed in the guide above!

Outdoor Tech’s 2021 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Are you still searching for the perfect gift for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? It’s easy to want to go for the “classic” romantic gifts like chocolates or a nice dinner, but as most outdoor enthusiasts know, a practical gift can mean a lot more. 

Show your outdoorsy Valentine that you really support their passions with one of these five Outdoor Tech gifts. 

5 gifts to get your outdoorsy sweetheart for Valentine’s Day

Yowie Neck Gaiters

A fun and affordable gift is a Yowie neck gaiter. These come in a multitude of colors and patterns, so they’re easy to personalize and work well for any gender.

The Arctic Yowie is a breathable, yet effective way to keep your neck and face warm. Our Yowie varieties allow for versatility, and some include Coolmax fabric to keep the material dry all day long. 

Chips 2.0

The Chips 2.0 is the perfect gift for any snowboard or ski enthusiast in your life. These Bluetooth snow helmet speakers are specially designed to fit inside your helmet. They make it easy to listen to your favorite music, podcasts, or answer phone calls without having to remove your helmet. Each earpiece has an oversized control button, so no need to remove gloves to control any features.

With universal capabilities, the Chips 2.0 will work with almost any audio compatible snow helmet. They utilize a rechargeable battery with 10 hours of playtime, so they will keep up with you on the slopes!

Tags 2.0

Having a reliable pair of Bluetooth headphones is the dream of anyone that enjoys athletic pursuits. These affordable headphones have a range of up to 32 feet and a battery life of 5 hours. That’s perfect for anyone who frequents the skate park or the gym and doesn’t want to sacrifice their headphone connection. 

Even when they’re not in use, the Tags 2.0 are designed to be tangle-free and easy to access. When taking them off, the earbuds can snap together to make them easy to store. Plus, there’s a built-in microphone, so there is no worry about them ever missing an important call from you. 

Turtle Shell Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

For the outdoorsy music lover in your life, the Turtle Shell 3.0 is a dream. This waterproof speaker has a huge battery, impressive volume, and is nearly indestructible. From yard work, a camping trip, or even a day on the water, the Turtle Shell 3.0 is a portable and reliable music buddy. 

If you and your partner enjoy weekend adventures, you’ll both enjoy bringing the Turtle Shell 3.0 along for the ride. With 20-hour battery life, you can enjoy music each night while cooking or enjoying time together around the campfire. 

While all electronics should try to avoid moisture if possible, of the impressive features that the Turtle Shell 3.0 speaker has, the one all outdoor enthusiasts need to know about is the waterproof capabilities. With the new and improved design, the Turtle Shell 3.0 can even be submerged in water with no worries of malfunction.

Buckshot Pro Ultra

If you’re looking for a gift that is a bit more portable but equally as awesome as the Turtle Shell speaker, then look no further than the Buckshot Pro Ultra. This tiny but mighty portable speaker packs quite the punch when it comes to audio quality and has the added benefit of being a multipurpose device. 

Get this for any partner that travels often or spends a lot of time outdoors. The Buckshot Pro Ultra features a flashlight, and the battery can also be used to charge a cell phone if they’re in a pinch. 

The Buckshot Pro Ultra is also water and dirt/sand resistant, making it anyone’s new favorite gadget to bring with on any adventure. 

Still not sure what to get your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day?

Although the five Outdoor Tech products we chose for the list above are all pretty rad, we understand that maybe they aren’t the “perfect” fit for your partner. If you’re still on the hunt for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, and your partner loves spending time outdoors, check out the rest of our Outdoor Tech Collection

After a little bit of time sifting and sorting through all of our gear, we are optimistic you’ll be able to find the perfect gift for your partner! 

Flying During COVID-19

Packing your bags and hopping on an airplane are less than ideal during today’s times. In a pre-Covid era, travelers never thought twice about air travel. With vaccinations ramping up and glimpses of a normal, post-Covid reality in sight, the thought of flying is becoming more and more talked about. So what’s the flying experience really like? I recently returned to NYC from SoCal after a 3-week stay, and I’m here to share my personal experience. 

Getting Prepared

When planning a trip by plane, it’s important to understand the journey is from door-to-door, not airport-to-airport. How are you getting to the airport? Do you need a Lyft or Uber? If that’s the case, make sure you and the driver keep a mask on and roll windows down if possible. Upon arriving to the airport, make sure to have the key disinfecting essentials:

  1. Hand Sanitizer: For travelling, you will need a 3-ounce bottle with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol. 
  2. Disinfecting Wipes: Although most airlines have a sanitization crew after each flight deboards, you’ll still want to wipe down your seat, tray table, window area, seat belt, and any other frequently touched surface.
  3. Face Mask: Make sure your mask has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. You also must keep your mask on throughout the duration of the flight. Here is the ultimate face mask guide. 
  4. Face Shield (Optional): If you are high risk, you should consider a face shield to protect against large droplets directly getting into your eyes. If you opt for a face shield, you’ll still need to wear a mask. Be cautious though – face shields are more prone to a face full of fog!

Airport Arrival

Once you’ve got the sanitation essentials and arrive at the airport, it’ll be time to go through TSA security and head to your gate. This process stays relatively the same – remove your shoes and jackets, place your belongings on the belt, and head through the scanner. If possible, utilize PreCheck or Clear to avoid the longer security lines. 

The airports themselves are the most intimidating factor of the flying experience. Yes, everyone is supposed to keep their mask on inside, however, some people have to get a snack in before flights. I recommend eating prior to your flight and bringing your own snacks if necessary. It’s also best to find an empty spot in the airport, away from travelers, while you wait to board the plane. 

The Boarding Process

The process of boarding the plane might be a bit different than you’re used to. Instead of boarding by groups, most airlines will now board from the back of the plane to the front. This minimizes the amount of times people walk by you, ultimately creating less exposure. I flew JetBlue, and they fortunately block out middle seats. This is nice, because not only do you have more space in your row, but you also don’t have to worry about sitting inches away from a stranger. Let’s be real – airplane seats are already too close to begin with. 

Ready For Take-off!

Now that you’re settled in your seat, it’s time to enjoy the flight like usual. Not much is different about the flight itself. Watch a movie, read a book, or play that annoyingly addictive game on your phone. Pull out your earbuds and check out that new podcast episode you’ve struggled to find time for, or that new rock album you’ve been wanting to hear. Try to fill your flight time with mindless activities rather than focus too much on the pandemic. It’s comforting to know that airplanes have HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters that provide efficient circulation on aircrafts. This means “the air you breathe in flight is much cleaner than the air in restaurants, bars, stores, or your best friend’s living room” (National Geographic). 

The Deboarding Process

Once you land and the flight is officially over, you will go through the basic deboarding process from front-to-back. Be patient, wait in your seat until it’s your turn to leave – it’s hard not to stand immediately, I know – and make your way down the aisle to exit the cabin. Plan to have your ride from the airport to your destination scheduled in advance, whether it’s through a car service or a family member/friend. 

And that’s it! You’ve successfully made it through the flying experience. Remember though, it is best to stay home or travel by car as much as possible. If you must fly, then follow the tips above and make sure to check-in with CDC guidelines for the state you are visiting. Each city/state has varying guidelines, so you must be informed on quarantine rules prior to your trip.

Safe travels!

Are We There Yet? Preparing for Your First Family Hike

Going on a family hike is a great way to pull your kids away from their screens and enjoy time together in nature. Whether you visit a local park with a trail system or you travel to a faraway destination to find new places to explore, there are plenty of places to hike and there are locations that are perfect for every family. 

Preparing for your first family hike can seem a bit tricky, especially if you are bringing small children along. Hiking with your kids is a great way to help them connect with nature at an early age, but it can be a bit scary. Rest assured, though, that with a little bit of careful planning, your first family hiking adventure will go off without a hitch. Keep reading for some helpful advice on preparing for your first family hike. 

Keep It Simple

Your first hike together as a family does not need to be anything elaborate. In fact, you should try to keep it as simple and enjoyable as possible. For kids, hiking is all about the experience. If that first experience isn’t a fun one, you’re going to have a hard time getting them to go out again. Choose a trail that is relatively simple and not too long. A loop that is relatively flat is a good choice. Try to find a destination with interesting features like a waterfall, lake or stream. Point out various animals and species of birds or try to identify the trees you encounter. Maintain a leisurely pace and make it all about having fun. 

Don’t be afraid to go slow. When you are hiking with your family, it should be all about the journey rather than the destination. If you don’t make it all the way to the end of your planned hike, it’s no big deal. Exploring is just as rewarding and letting your kids do it will help build their love of nature. 

Make Sure Everyone is Dressed Appropriately

There is no need to go out and buy a bunch of fancy hiking gear for your first trek, but it is important to make sure everyone is dressed appropriately. Check the weather before you head out and choose clothing that is suitable. On a mild spring or summer day, a lightweight t-shirt and a pair of comfy pants work well for laid-back hikes. If the temperature is cooler or you are going on a more strenuous hike, it is best to dress in layers

Expect to get dirty. A family hike is not the right time to wear that brand-new shirt or outfit your kids in their Sunday best. Basic t-shirts that you don’t mind getting dirty are a much better choice. Choose appropriate footwear for everyone. Even on a simple hike, flip-flops are not appropriate. Everyone should wear a pair of sneakers or boots that is comfortable and provides adequate support. Your kids may protest about wearing sneakers instead of flip-flops or sandals, but trust us, they will complain more if they wear the wrong shoes and end up with aching feet halfway through the hike! 

Pack the Right Gear

It is important to load up a backpack with some essentials. Anytime you are going on a hike, it’s smart to bring a basic first aid kit and a few emergency supplies, including a lighter/matches/fire starter, emergency shelter and water filter or chemical purification tablets.

You should apply sunscreen before you head out, but it’s also a good idea to bring some with you for touchups. Lip balm that provides SPF protection is a must, too. Bug spray should also be applied before you start your hike but bring the can with you to reapply. Look for a high-quality spray that is formulated to combat mosquitos as well as ticks. If your kids are young, look for a product that is safe for them. 

Bring enough water for everyone in the family. If you are going on a short hike, a bottle or two per person should be sufficient. It never hurts to bring extra, though, just in case you end up being out longer than anticipated.  Pack some high-protein snacks like jerky or energy bars. Of course, make sure you have snacks that your kids will actually eat, too. Stop for snacks frequently. Having frequent snacks instead of waiting for larger meals helps keep kids energized and can prevent them from getting tired and cranky. 

Don’t forget the fun items! We suggest a bluetooth speaker that is waterproof and can keep up with your kids energetic nature. Binoculars and a magnifying glass serve as the perfect tools for helping your kids make amazing discoveries along the trail. Don’t forget a camera to capture all those memories! 

Have Fun!

When it comes to getting your kids interested in hiking, making it fun is extremely important. Keep your kids motivated and make sure they are enjoying themselves by creating games they can enjoy on the trail. Come up with a scavenger hunt, identify different types of wildflowers or look for birds that are native to the area in which you are hiking. Engage with your kids and let them explore. Tell your kids how proud you are of them and how well they are hiking. Tell them they’re strong, fast and all around amazing. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that will help make your first hike an enjoyable one and make kids want to go out again. 

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.