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Snow What? Let’s Go Camping!

Just because summer is long over doesn’t mean camping season has to be. With the right gear and a little preparation, your winter camping excursions can be as much fun, if not more, than those summer nights under the stars.

Winter trips do have a few more challenges than summer camping and do require extra planning steps, but the payoff is amazing. Warm night skies have nothing on the quiet beauty that you can see now, where a whole different set of constellations are scattered like diamonds above us and the earth is soft and quiet under a blanket of snow.

 

 

 

 

One of the first things you’ll want to do while planning a winter escape is to make sure the area you want to camp at is open and accessible. I love the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but that access point closes on October 15 every year due to its normal 6 feet or more of snowfall. I also suggest that you go with someone who has experience winter camping, and share your travel plans with responsible friends who will call out the Search and Rescue team if you’re not back at a pre-designated time. If you stop for coffee and pie, just make to check in and tell them you’re OK, and so is the service.

Clothing wise, make sure to dress up in many layers, such as a base layer (also known as long underwear, preferably wool or synthetic — not cotton, or you’ll find yourself wet and miserable), followed by a mid-layer of fleece or down, and an outer layer of something that is waterproof, windproof and breathable. Don’t forget to pair with good gloves and a hat. Pro tip: Always pack an extra set of gloves because the one time you don’t, you’ll rip or lose one, or regrettably both.

 

 

 

 

When it comes to footwear, thick socks and reliable boots are a huge key to success — cold, wet feet make for dismal camping trips. GORE-TEX™ will be your best friend, and there are a variety of styles and brands available.

Moreover, you’re also going to need some specific gear. As a starting reference point, I have pulled together 10 essentials to help winterize you for cold-weather camping. These categories are: navigation, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first aid, fire, repair kit and tools, nutrition, hydration and emergency shelter.  

 

 

Atlas, black diamond, camping, kelty, marmot, MSR, osprey, outdoor, snow sports, snowshoeing, winter camping, winter sports, Zappos Outdoors

 

 

First things first — you’re going to need a good four-season tent. This tent, made by Marmot, has a removable vestibule and snow flaps, as well as adjustable guylines that can be tightened from the inside. A good sleeping bag is also a must, and this one by Kelty has 800 fill DriDown to keep you warm and dry. 

 

 

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If you’re going where there’s snow, why not plan on enjoying it with some snowshoeing? Remember that sizing is based on your weight, including the weight of the gear you’re carrying, so plan accordingly.  You’ll also want a larger and more adaptable pack for transporting bulkier gear, and this Osprey pack not only has the hip-pack conversion, it has lashing points for ice picks or snowshoes. 

 

 

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When you’ve made camp, a good chair and lighting can make it seem a little more like home as you hang out by a roaring campfire. Packability and durability pushes this gear to the head of the class. Black Diamond lights survive everything my Cub Scouts put them through; they won’t let you down, and a headlamp leaves both hands free when the sun goes down fast.  

 

 

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Not feeling up to making a roaring fire, but still need coffee and hot food to survive? The MSR Superfly with Autostart is an easy-to-use and compact gas canister camp stove that will have your water boiling in three minutes. And the Quick 2 pot set can be used for everything from scrambled eggs to spaghetti while still being extremely packable. 

 

So this year, instead of spending New Year’s Eve in another bar or uninspiring house party, how about counting down to midnight with the stars in the sky, not those who appear on television? 

 

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Climb & Move in Stonewear Designs

I’m an outdoor junkie. The fresh air feeds my soul and breaking a sweat by rock climbing, hiking or mountain biking just makes me feel good. The difficult part for me is finding clothing that moves well for all of those activities. Having a balance between warmth, freedom of movement and stay-put fit is really important, and Stonewear Designs has done a pretty nice job of capturing all three.  

 

 

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Stonewear Designs was founded by a female rock climber and athlete who wanted an activewear line that worked well for both sport and outdoor activities. The fabric needed to be super durable, highly breathable and fit her athletic shape. What she created encompasses all of these qualities, making it perfect for outdoor activity enthusiasts like myself.

 

 

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Their hoodies and long sleeve pullovers have really cool features like a drop tail hemline to keep my backside covered while I climb, a deep front zip opening so I can get a good amount of airflow when I sweat, and a looser fit to allow a more fluid range of motion.

 

 

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I’m also a fan of their tights and pants because each pair either has a thick waistband that doesn’t ride up when I move and that I can roll down when I get hot, or a V-shape band that keeps the pants in place and prevents sagging. Their capri pants fit a little loosely around the knees allowing for more freedom of movement too.

 

 

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The best part about their clothing is that it’s durable and made to last for years. Not only will it hold up to all the crazy outdoor activities I partake in, but I know I’m getting my money’s worth with every piece I purchase. 

 

 

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Take a Hike with Black Diamond and Carhartt

A change in the weather is finally upon us! Time for pumpkin spice lattes and weekends spent exploring tree-lined trails. There’s nothing better than getting out into the crisp autumn air for a scenic hike or camping trip, but you definitely need the right gear to do it. If you’re anything like me, you hold on to your outdoor clothing for a long time so quality pieces are important. My go-to brands for reliable apparel are Black Diamond and Carhartt.

Both brands make incredibly durable clothing that holds up to rigorous use. You’ll find everything from warm yet breathable jackets to comfortable, lightweight tees and flexible, functional pants. Carhartt has been making its goods for more than 100 years and their products are loved by individuals who work tough jobs in rough environments. Black Diamond’s designs are rooted in rock climbing and skiing, both extremely demanding sports that require dependable gear. Mix a few pieces from each of these brands together and you’ve got the perfect blend of adventure attire.  

 

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The best way to create a well-rounded hiking wardrobe is by stocking up on a variety of basics. A couple tank tops and T-shirts, a flannel or hoodie, pants, a weatherproof jacket, gloves and a hat are all you really need (other than good hiking boots, of course). Buy mostly neutral colors like gray, black, navy or tan so they mix and match easily, but make sure you buy at least one article of clothing in a bright color. This comes in handy for when you need to be visible on the trail. Trust me, things can happen, and you never know when you’ll need to be easily spotted in the wilderness.

 

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Another good rule of thumb is to purchase items in longer lengths or one size up. Larger sized clothing comes in handy for when you need to layer up on a cold night. Longer length clothing is perfect for when you need to tuck things in or pull them over your arms and legs for extra warmth. Remember, anything can be folded up, tied back or removed if you get too hot. A common error many people make is not preparing for unexpected cold weather when they’re out exploring. You definitely don’t want to be that guy.

 

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Both Carhartt and Black Diamond have a good selection of outdoor items to choose from. They also don’t go crazy on the color options, which shows me they’re less concerned about making a fashion statement and more focused on quality and craftsmanship. If you’ve never tried these brands out, I highly suggest you click the images below and check them out already! I could go on and on about why they’re so great, but I’d rather you discover it on your own. Happy hiking!

Zappos Sustainability Rockstar: Laura Schaffer of Mountain Hardwear

Greetings! Today, I am showcasing another sustainability rockstar from one of Zappos’ favorite brands. Below is my interview with Laura Schaffer from Mountain Hardwear. Please read, share, & enjoy!

LAURA SCHAFFER

Social & Environmental Responsibility Manager at Mountain Hardwear

 Zappos LEAF, Mountain Hardware, Sustainable workplaces, outdoor, outdoor brands, LEED Certified workplaces

 

What's your favorite thing about your job?

 

LS: I love the importance of collaboration and the huge opportunity for potential. How many positions really get to work across the business and multiple industries for that matter? To be successful in a sustainability role, collaboration is absolutely imperative. Knowing that the work that we’re doing will be far more powerful if we work as a team rather than individuals is a gift and a hugely important part of this job.

 

The other piece of this job I’m really driven by is potential – the potential for change, the potential for discovery, the potential to bring out the best in people and the business. It’s hard not to wake up charged when we have the opportunity to design the trail map and we’re the ones setting the route. I get to find challenges and then build solutions through a lens that brings a different dimension to the brand. By doing this, we’re moving the business forward by giving people the opportunity to do the work they want to do.

 

Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration? 

LS: I am so inspired by people who are 100% themselves. People who don’t bend because society tells them to, but instead introduce new ideas and concepts because they aren’t afraid to think differently. Family has embodied a lot of that for me – my parents introduced me to the joy of learning and that the idea that challenging the norm is the norm. My sister has taught me what real friendship is, and my husband’s sticky notes around the house that say, “limits are negotiable” are a constant reminder that there is no reason to be stuck.

And kids. There’s no group out there as honest and open as kids, right? Watching my nearly one-year-old daughter discover life is the coolest thing. It is a constant reminder of just how amazing and special this world is, and it really helps me appreciate the simple things in life like leaves fluttering in the wind.

 

What do you do to stay motivated and energized?

LS: Mountains, mountains, mountains. Run, climb, bike, ski, take deep breaths, scare myself, laugh out loud, discover new, share with others…the mountains are definitely my happy place. Mountains are the ultimate source of energy for me. It’s where my mind is the clearest and I can think in ways that are hard to when stuck in a bubble. There is also great value to seeing the way other people interact with the mountains. There is so much to learn from each other.

On that note, people keep me motivated and energized. Specifically, talking to people. We are in a world where it is very easy to put your head down and forget to look up. Progress won’t come from staring at your computer, instead the solutions will come from ideas that come out of real live conversations with other people, whether it’s someone you talk to every day or the random person on the street corner. That’s where the real power comes from.

Both mountains and people make me keep my eyes open and pay attention, and that’s what keeps me going for more.

 

 If you could be an animal, what would you be?

LS: Monkeys seem like they have a good deal of fun swinging through trees and throwing coconuts in beautiful places, I could be into that.

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A little bit more about social & environmental responsibility at Mountain Hardwear:

Since Mountain Hardwear was born in 1993, they have focused on building reliable, long-lasting products that people can build memories with. The gear they make is built to be the adventurer’s best friend. It’s reliable, it performs, and it lasts. With that foundation, four key values drive Mountain Hardwear’s sustainability strategy – Social & Environmental Consideration, Outdoor Conservation, Community and Empowerment.

 

They use the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index to help measure, track and improve the social and environmental performance of their products.  They work with suppliers that share their values of fair and ethical treatment of workers and sustainable manufacturing practices, and they have teams of local specialists who work with manufacturing partners toward continuous improvement.

Their employees are inspired by a 100% solar powered workplace on the San Francisco Bay, LEED certified retail stores, industry partnerships with groups like Conservation Alliance and OIWC, 40 volunteer hours and the GO Program that rewards people for being active in the community. These are only a few examples of the work Mountain Hardwear is currently engaged in, check out the full picture at http://www.mountainhardwear.com/sustainability.html. 

 

Check out more awesome news from LEAF at Zappos.com/LEED, Twitter: @ZapposLEAF and on Instagram: Zappos_LEAF

3 Reasons Why You Need Water Shoes

Ahhh, yes! The dog days of summer are finally here, and I for one couldn’t be more excited. It’s that sun scorching yet beautiful time of July when the fam and I load up the wood paneled station wagon (or midsize SUV, same diff.) and traverse deep into the wilderness for a weeklong excursion of camping, hiking and swimming.

Like any seasoned vacationer, top-of-mind items that I tend to pack first include the tent and all its accessories, an extra-large cooler, trekking poles, hydration packs and, of course, water shoes.

Water shoes, aka amphibious shoes, are often forgotten in the mix of necessary outdoor gear. Sure, you probably own cheap rubber sandals, and that’s great! They may do the trick when you’re taking out the trash, but not in the thick of the great outdoors. 

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  1. Keen Clearwater CNX
  2. Columbia Megavent™
  3. adidas Outdoor CLIMACOOL® Jawpaw Slip-On
  4. Keen Uneek

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  1. Keen Clearwater CNX
  2. Chaco ZX/3® Yampa
  3. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve
  4. Keen Rose Slide

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Here’s a quick breakdown as to why you need to invest in a pair of water shoes for your next adventure: 

1) Variety
Are you particular in the way you dress, even miles away from civilization and cell phone reception? Well, you’re in luck. Athletic brands, such as Nike and adidas, are now inundating the marketplace alongside Keen, Columbia and Chaco, so your high-fashion footwear can remain on point. As a direct result, there are a plethora of bright colors and traditional styles for your viewing and wearing pleasure.

2) Safety
With specially designed outsoles, one can easily transition from wooded trails to sandy shorelines, and even atop pebbly riverbanks or damp rock formations, all without the fear of risking injury. For example, Merrell’s M Select GRIP™ technology delivers durable, slip-resistant traction that releases dirt and debris with its specialized lugs. Brands like Keen, SOLE and Teva have similarly patented protection that works just as great.

3) Comfort
Thinking twice about that “must-see” eight-mile hike upstream? Don’t! Most water shoes integrate compression-molded EVA midsoles for all-day comfort and support. Furthermore, depending on the style, most designs incorporate open or vented uppers that allow feet to breathe and dry off quicker.

There you have it, folks. Three sound reasons as to why water shoes should be your next purchase. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish packing.

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Top it Off with the Perfect Hat!

Whether it’s a pure fashion statement, a barrier from the winter chill, or a workout necessity, hats certainly have a permanent place in our wardrobes.

As temperatures continue to drop, hats become even more of an essential part in any wardrobe, especially on those days when you’d rather not deal with your hair. And with so many cool beanies, fedoras, baseball caps and more to choose from, it’s easy to make the hat a regular staple of any wardrobe—from nights out to working out!

Check out some of our picks below:

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Fashion:

1. Hat Attack Wool Felt Floppy Hat

2. San Diego Hat Co. Wool Cap

3.  Echo Design “Milk Made” Slouchy Beanie

 

Cold Weather:

1. UGG Slouchy Beret 2

2. Columbia “Winter Worn” Beanie

3. Patagonia Vanilla Beanie

 

Sport/Performance:

1. The North Face “Bones” Beanie

2. Under Armour UA Tech Beanie

3. Smartwool Microweight Beanie

 

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The Latest "It" Sandals: Teva Original

Trends come and go, but one thing remains unchanged—people love a true, authentic original.  That would explain the latest sandal du jour in the fashion world: the Teva Original Universal. 

The sporty sandal is certainly no stranger on the runway, with haute fashion houses like Prada, Marc Jacobs  & Lanvin getting in on this unlikely sartorial obsession inspired by classic outdoor/sport sandals like Teva.

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1. Teva Original Universal Women's in Aqua Green/Yellow

2. Teva Original Universal Men's in Lunar Rock/ Black

Although the Teva Original never really went away, this recent catapult into the “it” shoe of the season is a testament to its simple, tried-and-true design---going seamlessly from the streets to the great outdoors!

Check out their S/S 2014 video lookbook:

See for yourself why a pair of Teva Original sandals is destined to a favorite this season and beyond!

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ECCO with Gore-Tex®

We’ve all had those days, where you’re almost out the door in your favorite outfit and you realize that Mother Nature had other plans. Those shoes that go so well with your ensemble just won’t stand up to the sudden downpours and soggy conditions! Back to the closet you go to figure out what works with your old rain boots…

Well, thanks to ECCO and their GTX line, there’s no need to compromise great style during inclement weather. Whether you’re dressed for the office, a night out, traveling the globe or just a casual weekend around town, ECCO has you covered in their collection of waterproof shoes with Gore-Tex® construction.

Despite being weather-proof, they’re all super breathable, making them truly perfect for all-day wear. All this comes in a sleek, Scandinavian-designed aesthetic that proves style and function can happily coexist!

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Women's

1. ECCO Sculptured GTX Slip On

2. ECCO Saunter GTX Zip Bootie

3. ECCO Voyage Buckle Boot

Men's

1. ECCO Turn GTX Tie

2. ECCO Dublin Plain Toe Tie GTX

3. ECCO Track II GTX High

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