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  • 3 of the Best Places to Buy Used Outdoor Gear

    3 of the Best Places to Buy Used Outdoor Gear

    Buying new gear can be the downfall of any hiker. There’s always something to upgrade, replace, or try out when you’re spending copious amounts of time outside. If you’re looking for some fresh gear, but don’t want to break the bank, you might want to consider buying used! You can get great deals on quality gear, and help save the planet at the same time. Read on for my top three places to find secondhand items for your next outdoor adventure!

    Benefits of Buying Used Outdoor Gear

    If you’re considering buying second hand outdoor gear, you’ve likely thought about the cost savings of getting a used item vs buying new. Buying a new backpack for your upcoming backpacking trip can cost you hundreds of dollars. Buying used allows you to save a significant portion of the cost – often you’ll find deals over 50% off retail.

    Another major benefit of buying used is that its more sustainable. By buying used outdoor gear you’re likely saving a piece of gear that would otherwise be destined for a landfill. You’re also contributing to a reduction in newly produced goods. Buying items second hand (even beyond outdoor gear) is one of the best and easiest ways you can be more sustainable.

    Now, lets jump into my top picks for places to buy used outdoor gear.

    Option 1: REI Used Gear

    First up we have REI’s Used Gear page. What could be better than getting top of the line gear from a trusted retailer? This website has a wide selection of apparel, equipment, and more – all at a fraction of the cost of what it would normally be. REI has a used gear section in stores called their Re-supply program. However, if you don’t live in an area with an REI or want a larger selection, try shopping online to find what you’re looking for.

    Its easy to search on REI’s page for specific items or browse by category if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Additionally, you can set alerts to notify you when something comes in stock that you’ve been hunting for.

    Plus, if you’re not happy with your purchase for any reason, you can always return it within 30 days with no questions asked. With other marketplaces you’re often not given a flexible return policy like this, making it a huge benefit to buying from REI. If you’re a co op member you can often get further discounts or exclusive deals through their used gear website as well.

    Option 2: Facebook Marketplace

    Next we have Facebook Marketplace. Here you’ll find user-generated content with prices that are usually much cheaper than retail price. The downside here is that there is less regulation – so you’ll need to do a bit more research when shopping around and make sure that sellers are asking fair prices. But if you’re willing to put in a bit of extra effort, this can be a great way to score some incredible deals!

    Option 3: Poshmark and Thred-Up

    Finally, let me introduce you to online marketplaces like Poshmark or Thred-up. Not only are they easy to use, but they also offer shoppers tailored recommendations based on their interests and needs so that users can easily find exactly what they’re looking for (or something completely unexpected!). With their helpful search filters and personalization features, these sites make finding unique pieces fun and easy – perfect for those who love digging through vintage shops for hidden treasures!

    Shopping Second Hand for Used Outdoor Gear

    Shopping used can be an incredibly rewarding experience – both financially and environmentally! Whether you’re new to buying pre-loved pieces or just want to broaden your horizons beyond traditional retailers, these three websites are sure to provide plenty of options so that everyone can find something special. So before spending lots of money on brand new goods (especially if it’s just something you’re trying out), why not take a look at our list and see if anything catches your eye? Happy hunting!

  • Jetboil Flash Review: The Backpacker’s Dream Stove

    Jetboil Flash Review: The Backpacker’s Dream Stove

    If you’re an avid backpacker, camper, or hiker, you know the importance of efficiency and convenience when it comes to cooking. After all, when you’re out on the trail or in the wilderness, you don’t want to be lugging around a bulky stove that takes forever to boil water. Fortunately, there’s many options at varying price points for lightweight backpacking stoves. My personal favorite is the Jetboil Flash Backpacking Stove Cook System.

    Let’s take a look at what makes this stove so great and why it’s become a favorite among hikers everywhere.

     

    Jetboil Flash Review: An Overview

    The Jetboil Flash is designed for maximum efficiency and convenience. It’s incredibly lightweight—only 14 ounces—so it won’t slow you down on your next adventure. The integrated heat exchanger also ensures that it uses less fuel than other backpacking stoves.

    The most noteable feature of the Jetboil stoves is that it boils water in just over two minutes. No more waiting around for hot food after a long day of hiking – you’ll have your meals ready to go in approximately 100 seconds.  So if you need hot coffee or tea right away, no problem—the Jetboil Flash has got your back (or should I say front?).

    The Flash system also comes with a stabilizer for the fuel cannister, and the pot fits into the stove mount as well. Both of these factors greatly improve the stability of the stove and decrease the likelihood of your dinner getting spilled (speaking from experience, this is one way to ruin your night).

    What Size to Get

    But wait, there’s more! This convenient cooking system also comes with room for two dehydrated meals at once — perfect for solo adventuring or couples who are looking to save time (and money) while they explore nature together. Plus, its compact size makes it easy to store in your pack, so you don’t have to worry about taking up too much space.

    Jetboil offers other options in terms of size, so if you’re frequently travelling with larger groups you can size up to cook for the whole camp. For the average person cooking for themselves and maybe one other person, the Flash system is the perfect size.

    Price

    Speaking of price…yes, the Jetboil Flash isn’t cheap. But if you do your research and shop around online (e.g., Amazon), you may be able to find a good deal on one of these awesome stoves. When it comes to backpacking stoves, there really isn’t anything else quite like this model on the market today — especially when it comes to fuel efficiency and boiling times. Not only does this model outperform any other competitor’s product in terms of fuel efficiency and boiling times but it often also weighs less as well! If you’re looking for the premium backpacking stove option, this is your best bet.

    Competitors

    If you’re on a budget while shopping for backpacking gear, there are cheaper options available as well. A compact stove like this one are definitely an option. THey’re not as flashy and will use more fuel to boil water (along with an extra 10 minutes of your time waiting for it to heat up). However they will definitely get the job done if you prefer the more affordable option. I myself used a cheap stove for years before upgrading to the Jetboil Flash cooking system.

    In conclusion, if you’re an avid backpacker or camper who wants something lightweight yet powerful enough to get your meal cooked quickly and efficiently then look no further than the Jetboil Flash Backpacking Stove Cook System! With its fast boiling times and efficient use of fuel combined with its light weight design make this product an absolute must-have item for anyone who loves spending time outdoors! Plus with some research and careful shopping online, you may even be able to find a good deal on one of these awesome stoves so don’t wait any longer – get yours today! Happy camping everyone!

  • Backpacking Grayson Highlands State Park: A Complete Guide

    Backpacking Grayson Highlands State Park: A Complete Guide

    If you’re looking for a beautiful, thrilling outdoor adventure, look no further than Grayson Highlands State Park. Located in the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia, this park is home to stunning views, plenty of hiking trails, and of course the well known wild ponies that have made the park their home.

    Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or just getting your feet wet, this guide will help you feel prepared and excited for your trip. Let’s get into it!

    Before You Go: Planning Your Backpacking Trip

    Before you embark on your backpacking adventure through Grayson Highlands State Park, there are a few key things to know.

    For starters, there are many trails that run through the park which make it easy to create loop trails for your trip. Alltrails.com provides a number of trails that run through the area of various lengths. However, in general, you’ll want to keep in mind that some of these trails can be strenuous with lots of hills – so make sure you come prepared!

    Also keep in mind that the Appalachian Trail runs through here as well; if you visit during certain times of year, you may encounter “through hikers” along the way. If you’re up for a workout you can hike up to Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia, while you’re there as well.

    The Ponies: What to Know

    The main attraction at Grayson Highlands State Park is the wild ponies. These friendly creatures are not afraid of people and often approach visitors for treats – but remember not to feed them human food! Before you set off on your backpacking journey through Grayson Highlands State Park, make sure to get an overnight permit via the state park’s website.

    When to Visit

    When planning out what time of year to visit this magical state park, keep in mind that while the views throughout the park are absolutely gorgeous all year round (especially during fall when the leaves change colors). While you can hike this area year-round, it can get cold during winter months. So plan accordingly and bring lots of warm layers!

    There’s no doubt about it – Grayson Highlands State Park is one of those places that needs to be seen and explored first-hand in order to truly appreciate its beauty and uniqueness. With its stunning views and friendly wild ponies, this park serves as an ideal backdrop for any backpacking journey. So why not start planning yours today? With this guide in hand, you’ll have everything you need to make your trip one to remember. Happy exploring!

  • Conquering the Mount Mitchell Trail

    Conquering the Mount Mitchell Trail

    Are you looking for an intense and rewarding challenge? Look no further than Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi. The Mount Mitchell trail is an11.9-mile out and back hike that starts at Black Mountain Campground and takes you all the way to the summit of Mount Mitchell (and back again). While it’s not a hike for the meek, with stunning views, an elevation gain of 3,694 feet, and a sense of accomplishment that comes from conquering a 6,684-foot peak, it’s well worth your time and energy! Let’s take a closer look at this amazing adventure.

    The Trailhead at Black Mountain Campground

    The trail begins in Black Mountain Campground – one of many trails that can be found in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. This campground is open all year round and offers plenty of campsites should you choose to start your journey with a night of camping (which we highly recommend!). If camping isn’t your style, there are plenty of other lodging options nearby.

    You also have the option of making this hike an overnight trip and backpacking your way up and down the mountain. While this will of course increase the level of difficulty since you’ll be carrying extra gear, it can be helpful to break up the miles on trail over two days.

    On The Way Up

    As soon as you start hiking you will feel like Dorothy entering Oz—only instead of yellow brick roads leading you along, it’s a steady climb up! You will take in some incredible views along the way as you snake through dense forest interspersed with wildflowers. As is typical in North Carolina, prepare for the likelihood of some rain showers during your hike, especially in the summer months. Pause for breathless moments as you witness nature’s beauty around every corner. Stop for lunch on Commissary Hill before finishing your trek to the peak!

    View From The Peak

    When you reach the peak after almost 12 miles and nearly 4,000 feet in elevation gain, reward yourself with 360 degrees of stunning mountain scenery! On clear days you can see into four different states – Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia! Mount Mitchell is also known for its rich history; including being named after Elisha Mitchel who first hiked up in 1835 and died shortly thereafter. If you’re looking for great views and challenging hikes on the east coast, this is one peak you don’t want to miss.

    Mount Mitchell: Worth the trek?

    Hiking Mount Mitchell is no easy feat but it sure is worth it! The views alone are worth the trek, but if you’re not up for the elevation gain you can also drive up to the peak as well. Along your journey expect incredible views that will keep your motivation high during the tougher sections of the hike. When you reach the summit reward yourself by taking in 360 degrees of mountain beauty before heading back down. With its rich history and jaw-dropping views any hiker would be proud to conquer Mount Mitchell!

  • A Guide to Budget Trekking Poles

    A Guide to Budget Trekking Poles

    When it comes to finding the best budget trekking pole options, you don’t have to break the bank to find quality products. Let’s take a look at some of the best budget trekking poles on the market today.

    Why Use Trekking Poles?

    While many beginner hikers don’t need or use trekking poles, they can provide a number of benefits for all types of hikes. They provide stability and support on uneven surfaces, help reduce strain on the body, and even aid in keeping balance when walking downhill. If joint pain, particularly in your knees, is something that you experience while hiking, then trekking poles might be a great option to reduce strain on your joints.

    Do you need one, or two?

    A common question to those considering trekking poles is should you purchase one, or two?

    The answer is really just personal preference. I find that one pole does just about the same job as two. However, many poles come in sets and I do own two poles, and carry both with me when I hike. That way I can use both for myself if I’m hiking solo and if my hiking buddy wants a pole I’ve got an extra one to spare!

    Best Budget Trekking Poles

    Lets dive into the best options for trekking poles that won’t break the bank.

    Leki Micro Trail Pro Trail Running Poles

    The first option is the Leki Micro Trail Pro Trail poles. Leki is one of the most well known trekking pole brands out there, and for good reason. This trekking pole is lightweight—at just 6 ounces per pole—yet strong enough to handle any terrain. It also has an adjustable length that extends all the way up to 57 inches so it can accommodate any hiker’s height. The downside is that it has plastic components which can be less durable than other materials like aluminum or carbon fiber, but they’re still a good bargain for the price.

    Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles

    The second option is Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles which are made with 7075 aluminum alloy and feature carbide tips for superior grip and stability. They come with EVA foam handles for extra comfort and adjustable wrist straps for added support when you need it most. These poles are under $100 and one of the best options for budget trekking poles on the market today.

    Komperdell C3 Carbon PowerLock Trekking Poles

    The third option we’ll cover is the Komperdell C3 Carbon PowerLock Trekking Poles which are also made with lightweight carbon fiber material and feature ergonomic foam handles with adjustable wrist strap locks for extra comfort and grip control. Unlike other trekking poles on our list, these ones have three different locking mechanisms instead of just two so they stay locked in place no matter how hard you push against them while walking or climbing up hills or mountainsides. The only downside here is that they cost slightly more than other options on our list but they still come at an affordable price point compared to many other trekking poles on the market today.

    Budget Trekking Pole Options

    Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, finding an affordable yet quality trekking pole doesn’t have to be difficult! With all of these budget-friendly options available, you can leave your worries behind as you explore nature’s beauty without breaking your wallet! So grab your gear and hit the trails knowing that your trusty trekking pole will be there every step of the way! Happy hiking!

  • 4 Must-Visit Hiking Areas in Central North Carolina

    4 Must-Visit Hiking Areas in Central North Carolina

    North Carolina is a nature-lovers paradise, and central North Carolina is no exception. From the dense forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the rolling hills of the Piedmont region, there are plenty of stunning spots to explore. In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at four must-visit hiking areas in central North Carolina. So grab your hiking boots, pack your lunch, and let’s go!

    Mount Mitchell Trail

    This trail takes you up to the highest peak east of the Mississippi River—Mount Mitchell. It’s an 11.7 mile loop trail with a moderate difficulty level that starts from the Mount Mitchell State Park office. The hike takes you through dense forests and past breathtaking mountain views. The best time to hike this trail is during spring or summer when wildflowers are in bloom and temperatures are milder.

    Grandfather Mountain

    Grandfather Mountain is one of North Carolina’s most iconic peaks, standing at 5,964 feet tall above sea level. There are several trails on Grandfather Mountain that cater to different levels of difficulty—so whether you’re an experienced hiker or just getting started with outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone here! Be sure to bring plenty of water and watch out for the wildlife while you explore this picturesque area of central NC.

    Linville Gorge Wilderness Area

    This 19,000 acre wilderness area offers some amazing views of Linville River Valley as well as plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities! The difficulty level varies based on which trail you choose—there are beginner-level hikes as well as more advanced ones that require more experience and skill (e.g., rock climbing). Don’t forget your camera because this place has some incredible vistas!

    Uwharrie National Forest

    Uwharrie National Forest is located in Montgomery County and offers 50 miles worth of hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult levels. It’s a great spot for camping too; it has everything from primitive campsites to RV hookups available for rent!. No matter what level hiker you are, Uwharrie National Forest has something for everyone; so don’t miss out on all this natural beauty!

    Central North Carolina is full of wonderful nature spots perfect for hiking and camping trips alike! Whether you’re looking for an easy day hike or a challenging multi-day trek into the wilderness, these four trails can provide it all! With their varied terrain and varying degrees of difficulty they offer something for everyone—so get out there and let nature show off its beauty! Just remember to take plenty of photos along the way so that you can share your adventures with friends back home!

  • Gear Recommendations: Women’s Hiking Boots under $100

    Gear Recommendations: Women’s Hiking Boots under $100

    Hiking gear can get expensive, and for those just starting out it can be difficult to determine where you want to spend a little extra for quality gear or where you can save a bit and go for the cheaper option.

    Hiking boots are an area you don’t want to sacrifice quality, but if you’re just starting out you likely don’t want to spend $400 on new boots before you’ve even set foot on a trail. In this post, I’m going to cover the top options for women’s hiking boots under $100, as well as some alternatives on how to save some money when boot shopping.

    Purchasing New Boots

    There are two main options for hiking boots under $100 that, in my opinion, are far superior to most others.

    Option 1: Columbia Newton Ridge Boots

    The Columbia Newton Ridge boots are some of the top selling hiking boots on amazon, and with good reason. They’re made of high quality materials with a leather upper and rubber sole. They’re waterproof, making them the perfect all-weather boot for newbies just getting into hiking.

    Option 2: Merrell Moab 2 Boots

    The Merrell Moab boots have an almost cult-like following in the hiking community. At one of the most affordable price points, you’d be surprised at the quality that you get with these boots.

    These boots have a leather/mesh upper with a rubber sole by Vibram, making it a high traction shoe that will keep you secure on the trail. The Merrell Moab 2’s are also waterproof, and will keep your feet dry no matter the terrain you’re on.

    Other Ways to Save

    Aside from looking for hiking boots under $100, there are a couple of other ways to save money when shopping for boots.

    Wear What You Have

    While many think that hiking boots are essential, you really can do a lot of hiking in the tennis shoes you already have. If you’re just starting out, this is likely your best option for the first few hikes.

    If you’re a total beginner you’re also likely hiking relatively short and easy hikes that don’t require much traction, support, or protection from the elements.  The sneakers you already own will work just fine until you have hiked enough to decide you want to upgrade.

    Buy Second Hand Boots

    The first option is to explore buying boots second hand. Since most second hand marketplaces don’t have a lenient return policy, I’d recommend trying on boots in a store that you’re considering before making the purchase. This gives you a chance to try the shoe on and make sure it’s comfortable before committing to anything.

    REI Used Gear is a great second hand marketplace that does offer a 30-day return policy. While their prices might be a little higher than what you’d find on say, Poshmark, you get the security of purchasing with the potential to return what you don’t love.

    Wait for Sales

    REI, Amazon, and other retailers often offer steep discounts around holidays such as Labor Day, Christmas, etc. If you’re able to wait for one of these time periods you can shop for hiking boots and get a typically higher priced boot at a discount.

    Finding Hiking Boots under $100

    As mentioned, there’s two great options for hiking boots under $100 for those just starting out. However, if neither of these seem like good options for you, you can also explore second hand marketplaces or use the tennis shoes you already own to start hiking.

    The most important lesson here is whatever route you choose, don’t let the roadblock of feeling like you need expensive gear stop you from getting out on the trail.

     

  • Hiking 101: Hiking Packing List

    Hiking 101: Hiking Packing List

    One of the most intimidating factors for those new to hiking is not knowing what to bring on your first hike. There’s a lot of resources out there that go over comprehensive lists of what to bring on a hike, but in truth it varies based on how far you’re going, how remote the trail is, and if you’re familiar with the area.

    Let’s break down exactly how to decide what to bring on your next hike.

    The Minimums

    Let’s start first with what you’re going to need on EVERY hike, no matter the distance or where it is.

    Means of Navigation

    At a bare minimum, you need a method of navigating your way through your trail. This could be a physical map, a GPS, etc.

    My personal favorite is downloading the map for offline use via All Trails (you need a premium subscription to utilize this feature). This allows me to view the trail and continue to track my location through my iPhone’s GPS, even when out of cell phone service.

    Water

    This might seem like a given, but I always, always, always take water with me. The amount will vary based on the length of the hike, the weather, how exposed a trail is, etc. But at minimum I carry a 32oz bottle with me.

    Snacks

    Another item that I always have in my bag, more for comfort than anything else, is a snack (or two or three, I’m a hungry hiker sometimes!).

    But in all seriousness, an extra granola bar is easy to throw in your bag and is always a good option to have on the trail.

    Bear Spray

    This is not relevant in all areas, but as I’m normally hiking in North Carolina, I usually bring bear mace along with me for protection. Thankfully any bear I’ve encountered has been more afraid of me than I am of them, but the extra security never hurts!

    The Extras

    After those three to four items, everything else that I pack varies based on where I’m going. If it’s a short trail near my house, likely I won’t take anything additional.

    If the trail is a little longer or more remote, the first thing I’ll add to my pack is a first aid kit. The kit can be as extensive as you want. At a minimum I usually bring band aids, moleskin, etc. to take care of any pesky blisters that develop on trail. If you have any allergies, or conditions that could be dangerous while hiking (example: asthma), definitely bring along the necessary equipment for those situations as well.

    The 10 Essentials

    If you’re going into completely unfamiliar territory, or a long distance hike, or even if you just want to feel ultra-prepared on the trail, there’s a list of 10 essentials that is recommended to keep you safe outdoors. This list includes everything from a fire starter to shelter for the night.

    The Bottom Line

    When deciding what to bring in your pack, think about this: how far away are you going to be from help? The further you are, the more items you’ll want to add to your pack in case something goes wrong. If it’s a quick hike in an area you’ve been before, you likely don’t need to consider bringing all 10 essential items. However, if you’re planning a technical hike in an unfamiliar area, its better to play it safe and bring some back up items in case something unanticipated happens.