Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

Last Minute Stocking Gift Ideas

Need some last minute gift ideas for your athlete friends and family?  Veronica and I have some great ideas for you.  Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite gear for biking, running, and races, all way less than $50!

Detours Bike Bags: Particularly the Goodie Bags.  Retails for $30, they are easy to find at your local bike shop.  Veronica and I LOVE these bags and use them constantly.  They sit on the top tube of your bike for quick easy access to snacks, energy bites, camera, ect…


Nite Ize Lights:  Nite Ize makes a pile of PERFECT stocking stuffers.  From the brand new Bug Lights at $12.99 to the tiny two pack of spoke lights at $6.99,  there’s definitely a few products everyone would love to find in their stocking.

Hestra Bike Gloves:  Hestra has been making gloves for decades but just started making bike gloves.  these gloves are perhaps the warmest, nicest winter cycling gloves I’ve ever owned.  Well worth the $30-$40 for a pair of cold weather cycling gloves.

Energy Bars and Drinks:  Always a great Idea for the stocking.  Our favorites are Nuun hydration tablets, Hammer (huckleberry flavored) energy gel, Gu products, Honey Stinger bars and chews, and Odwalla Bars.

Socks!  Athletes can never have enough nice socks. Some of our favorite run and bike socks are Teko, and Pearl Izumi

Hydroflask water bottles:  Veronica and I got to sample one of these a year ago and have loved them so much we just bought a pile to give away this winter to friends and family.  These are the Mercedes Benz of water bottles.  Not too heavy, they are insulated stainless steel (like a thermos, but WAY better) and they keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks REALLY HOT.  They are awesome, and are very worth the $20.

First Aid Kits:  be creative and put together some first aid products (band-aids, sharpee marker, gauze rolls, ect…) Fun, and easy to put together a nice kit for around $20-$30.  If they travel a lot – don’t forget the imodium.

Travel Guide Books:  If your friends/family are planning a big adventure, guide books are always a good idea.  It can never hurt to have two or three good guides for an area.

Headlamps:  Just like water bottles, tape measures, and socks, you can never have too many headlamps.  Headlamps are getting cheaper and cheaper too.  You should be able to find a good Black Diamond Headlamp for around $20.





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Car Camping In Style

Post by:  Jake

Who doesn’t love the luxury of base camping, car camping, family camping, whatever you want to call it?  Lounging around the beach on an anti-gravity lawn chair, enjoying fresh brewed drip coffee in the morning, and sleeping in a cabin sized tent on a super thick air mattresses.  These creature comforts might sound a bit foreign if you haven’t experienced some of the latest innovations in car camping gear.  Drip coffee percolators safely fired by propane, recliners that are more comfortable than your lay-z-boy, and kitchen sinks complete with running water are just a few of the new products available to enhance your camping experience.  The following list is a collage of gear that would make even the most fussy family members enjoy the great outdoors.

The Kitchen – Because the key to happy campers is through their stomach.

Kelty Basecamp Kitchen: The focal point of any modern home is the kitchen.  This setup from Kelty replaces your home kitchen in style.  At a mere 17.75lbs. there’s enough shelves, hooks, counter space, and dodads to hold just about anything you could think of.  At $159.95 the organization and ease of use this setup provides is invaluable.

Coleman Pack-Away Outdoor Picnic Set:  Never worry about camping somewhere that doesn’t have a picnic table again.  The Coleman Pack-Away set is burly enough to seat a family of 4, yet packs away to the size of a large briefcase.  $103.99

Coleman All-in-One Portable Sink: This kit comes with 3 wash tubs and a rechargeable battery powered water reservoir.  That’s right, “powered”.  The reservoir dispenses water with the push of a button making washing your hands or washing dishes a breeze.  $46.99 includes the rechargeable battery.


Coleman 10-Cup Portable Propane Coffeemaker:  Fired by propane, this coffee pot delivers a full pot in 18 minutes.  Works just like your coffee maker at home, only without electricity.  $89.99 and so easy you’ll never go back to campfire cowboy coffee again.

Primus  Brewfire:  Similar to the Coleman propane fired drip coffee maker, at $210 the Brewfire is a bit spendy but it is approved for indoor and outdoor use so it’s perfect for use in your camper, cabin, or on your boat! 


Light My Fire Grandpa’s Fork:  A simple, yet cleaver design.  This fork easily attaches to the end of a stick to hold your marshmallows, hot dogs, or anything else you’d like to roast over the open fire.  At $5 this cleaver product is a no-brainer to enhance your campfire food.

Coleman Quad Lantern: Welcome to the new generation in lanterns.  This thing is awesome and is guaranteed to accompany you on all your car camping trips.  4 detachable light pods clip into a central charging unit to make a somewhat normal lantern.  While the pods are connected they are charging their own internal batteries.  Disconnected, they each become an individual lantern.  At $79.99 it’s a bit spendy, but very cool and very handy.

The Tent

Coleman Insta Tents: If setting up a tent in the dark isn’t your strong suite, this is the tent for you.  The Insta Tents are a no-brainer and setup is simple and can easily be done in under 1-minute.  That’s right, under a minute!  The tent is fully taped and seam sealed so a separate fly isn’t necessary.  At $136.99 the 4-person model fits a queen air mattress!

Kelty Sleep Eazy Air Mattress:  Although not the MOST luxurious air bed I’ve ever slept on, this mattress is super easy to inflate with the included rechargeable air pump.  It’s PVC free and relatively light weight and compact when deflated.  At $119, one of the best features is that it’s super easy to get it back into its storage bag when not in use.

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Sierra Designs Ultra Light Sleeping Bags

Post by:  Jake

Looking to trim some weight off your gear for your next backpacking trip?  Look no further.  The Sierra Designs Vapor 15 is the perfect sleeping bag for spring, summer, and early fall in the Rockies.  At 1lb. 15oz. the 850-down fill bag is super cozy, and packs down to nearly nothing.  Sierra Designs has been making sleeping bags, tents, clothing, and packs for over 45 years and their experience is perfected in the Vapor 15 bag. 

Pros: Crazy light weight; Super comfortable; Extremely packable.

Cons:  1/2 length zipper to save weight makes regulating temperature on hot nights a bit difficult; fairly expensive at $420 but if you’re getting 1 nice and expensive piece of gear, this is worth considering;  It’s down so keep it dry or else.

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Moon Guide Books — UTAH

Post by:  Guest Author Pete S.

From time to time we like to have friends and local experts contribute their writings and experiences.  This piece is from our friend and local Utah expert Pete Stoughton.  If you are interested in contributing a guest article please let us know here.

Guest Contributor Background:
A transplant to Utah, Pete Stoughton has forever dreamed of being a modern day Indiana Jones.  Due to circumstances beyond his control, he has been relegated to exploring the riches within a more reasonable proximity of his regular day job. Whether it be running Ultra distances on God Forsaken trails, finding urban treasures or delving into the landscapes of the mind, Pete is an adventurer through and through. Pete currently lives in Salt Lake City, UT with his beautiful wife and little girl. During the few hours he is not at work as a school administrator or at home with his family, he can be found trail running, mtn. biking, skiing, or vacationing to find the next jewel. Each year, rather then investing in savings, retirement or other productive financial strategies, he and his family travel throughout Utah and the rest of the West, almost monthly.

Authors: Mike Matson
Cost: $17.95
Rating: GREAT!
Purchase it Here!

Mike Matson, along with Moon Travel Guides, have created a must own guide for any outdoor enthusiast living, or visiting Utah. Utah Camping provides exquisite details and information for anyone planning on traveling in an economical way and in planning and finding your camping locations. The book will adequately prepare you for the necessary challenges and opportunities at your site. The book is divided into practical geographic sections, which will assist you in making a reasonable approximation of campsite locations. Each site is thoroughly described including facilities, number of campsites, pertinent fees or required reservations, directions and contact information. It should be noted that Matt, as a writer, gives the reader a vibrant picture through his writing of each campsite and its notable features. In addition, each site is rated and a brief ‘at-a-glance’ icon bar is provided to determine quick assessing for needs. I especially appreciate this quick handy tool when scanning for options within a close proximity, such as the many campsites in the Moab area.
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who regularly travels in Utah and plans on camping.

Pros: Almost everything about it!
Cons: The rating system is not perfect; Does not include primitive camping

Authors: W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell
Cost: $19.95
Rating: Good!
Purchase it Here!

How do you begin deciphering what to do on a vacation? On numerous occasions, we have seen, and been, in a Barnes and Nobles watching people of all ages perusing guidebook after guidebook from the travel sections just trying to find the perfect itinerary for their vacations.  Starry eyed and somewhat perplexing, these can be more exhausting then the vacation itself.  Moon Travel Guides provides a concise, and yet thorough, guidebook for anyone planning on traveling to the state of Utah.

As a resident of Utah, I tend to be very critical and cautious of guidebooks for the state. Many often do not venture beyond the top five or ten geographic hotspots in the state. Rarely, if ever do they deliver, as the book by Moon does, a helpful resource for those willing to venture beyond the typical destinations. While not certainly an off the beaten path resource, the book provides adequate information for those interested in going to places such as Boulder, Fremont Indian State Park or the Henry Mountains. On the other hand, the book is helpful in making travel itineraries quick and easy for those who want to hit the ‘main’ attractions, whether it be Salt Lake City, Arches NP, Moab or Zion NP.

One aspect you will especially appreciate about this guidebook is the excellent and personal writing of the authors. As you peruse the sections and places of interest, you begin to ask yourself if the authors actually visited every location in the book. Whether this is accurate or not, the guide book is an excellent resource for anyone planning a first, or maybe even second, trip to Utah.
I would certainly recommend this handbook for anyone needing an introductory synopsis of what Utah has to offer and how to experience it all.

Pros: Concise on the larger areas, yet thorough on the small towns and hidden gems; Excellently written; Great Introduction and itineraries; Wonderful Resources
Cons: Not Exhaustive; Lacking colorful and inviting pictures


More Car Camping Food Recipes

A little while ago I posted about our favorite car camping recipe, Hobo’s.  Well, as promised here’s a couple more of our favorites! 

1.)  Tacos in a bag.  This one comes from Veronicas family, and has quickly become one of Jake’s favorites as well.  It’s SUPER easy with very little prep and almost no cleanup, key features for good camping food in our mind.  The end product is basically taco salad in a bag. 

Start with a lunch size bag of Dorritos (whatever flavor you like, and you can experiment with other kinds of chips as well) and add to that some taco meat, cheese, chopped up tomatoes, a little lettuce, onion, sour cream, salsa, ect… Dump it all into the bag on top of the chips, stir, and eat with a fork.

2.)  Churro on a Stick.  Perfect for a creative campfire dessert.  Similar to roasting a hotdog on a stick, for this one you bake a churro on a stick.  Ok, ok, by definition if it’s baked instead of fried it’s not a churro, but these are pretty darn good and easy to make anyways.  Jake learned about these on his first backpacking trip as a teenager.  As most things do, these certainly taste better after a long hard day of hiking.

Take some Bisquick biscuit mix (the stuff that you “just add water”) and mix in a bit of water till it’s a thick doughy consistency (add just a little water at a time because you don’t want it too runny).  Take a golf ball sized chunk of dough from the mix and roll it out and wrap it around the end of a stick, hotdog style.  You want the dough to end up pretty thin, but not so thin you burn right through it.  Next, hold it near some coals, out of the flames and out of the smoke as you want the heat of the fire to bake the bread.  Rotate as needed till the entire circumference of the dough is a golden brown.  With the proper heat, this should take more than a couple minutes, but less than 10 minutes.  Add some butter, cinnamon and sugar, or honey, and enjoy! 

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July Contest

In honor of all the nice weather we’re finally getting in Montana, this month’s give-away contest will be for some great gear to keep you cool.  It’s super easy to enter and everyone’s welcome.  To enter, we’re asking you to do 2 things. 1.)  Subscribe to our blog (and confirm) by entering your e-mail address in the little green box at the top left corner of this page.  You’ll be sent a confirmation e-mail (from Feedburner) as soon as you subscribe.  If you’re already a subscriber, great, your 1/2 way there.  2.)  Post a comment at the bottom of this notice telling us where your favorite camping spot is?  That’s it.  Super easy.  Winners will be chosen using Random.org.

And the prizes are:

#1.  A $50 REI gift card.

#2. A pair of Ryders Sunglasses of your choice (we’ll try to accommodate between a few of your choices).

#3. Hydrapak Gel-Bot

This contest ends 11:59 p.m. Mountain time July 31st and winners will be announced shortly thereafter.   And as always, we reserve the right to give more stuff away at random so keep your eyes peeled.


Great American Backyard Campout

The snow is just barely starting to melt here in Montana, and we’ve all been dying of cabin fever!  Time to go camping!  Join us and the rest of the nation for the Great American Backyard Campout on Saturday June 25th, 2011.  The National Wildlife Federation is sponsoring the event as a way to get kids outside and connected with nature.  So bust out the marshmallows, chocolate bars, and flashlights and take a kid camping!  Visit the official site and get signed up for prizes here.

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My Favorite Family Camping Food #1

Post by:  Jake

Over the next few weeks I’ll share a few of my favorite recipes for car camping.  #1 on my list is a childhood favorite.  Something my family has always referred to as “Hobo’s”.  Hobo’s consist of a meat patty (ground turkey, beef, pork sausage, ect.) topped with assorted veggies of your choice. Wrap it all up in a double thick layer of tin foil and plop the oversized Hershey’s kiss onto a bed of coals on the edge of a fire.  Wait about 10-15 minutes, unwrap and eat.  The best part is there’s VERY little clean up and everyone gets to customize their own Hobo to suit their taste buds.

Here’s how I prepare it for my family… Start by cutting a bunch of tin foil pieces about 14-inches long, take 2 for each Hobo and lay them perpendicular to eachother (so they form a plus sign “+”).  Pre-shape several meat patty’s about the size of a hamburger, and place one on the center of the pair of tin foil pieces.  Chop up whatever mixed veggies you can find: zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, onions, celery, cilantro, parsley, bell peppers, ect… into coin size pieces, except the potatoes, I usually slice those into potato chip size flakes.  I usually have a bowl for each different veggie so that when people are ready for dinner they can take a little of each type of veggie they want.  Have people take their foil and hamburger patty and start loading veggies on top of the hamburger patty.  Once completed, top off your pile with whatever spices you want.  I like a dash of ”season all” salt, or just salt and pepper and garlic powder.  When your pile is complete, take the sides of the foil and wrap the whole thing up like an oversized Hershey’s Kiss, and set it directly onto a bed of coals.  The steam from the meat and veggies will cook everything pretty fast.  The tighter you wrap your foil the better the steam will cook everything.  Your end product will be steamed veggies, and a unique burger that is fairly caramelized on the bottom from all the veggie moisture and direct heat.

That’s it.  My favorite camping recipe.  It’s so simple anyone can be successful and I’ve never met anyone that didn’t like the outcome since they created it themselves.

What are your favorite camping meals?


GSI Outdoors

Post by:  Jake

GSI makes some of the nicest backcountry hard goods available.  Perhaps best known for their extensive lineup of kitchen items (everything from compact sporks to pots and pans), their sister company, Outside Inside make some of the most creative outdoor themed gifts.  Including Christmas ornaments, pint glasses, even wedding cake toppers.

Recently I had the opportunity to test out the GSI Pinnacle Dualist cookset.  If your into 1-pot meals, this set is perfect for 2 people.  It comes with a surprisingly large 1.8-liter anodized aluminum cook pot, 2 20-oz insulated mugs, 2 20-oz bowls, 2-bowl lids, 2-telescoping lexan sporks, and the best part… a pot lid that has pasta strainer holes integrated into it.  Very common sense solution and they work amazingly well.  The night before my last adventure race, we “camped” in a very rustic cabin.  I broke out the cook set and a tiny Primus stove and cooked up almost a full pound of pasta in the 1.8-liter pot. After the pasta cooked, we used the strainer lid, and dumped the pasta into our bowls so I could heat up the meatballs and sauce. The whole meal took less than 1/2-hour, and cleanup was a breeze.  At $62.95 the value is very good for what you get.

Outside Inside products hold a special place in Veronica’s and my heart as we used one of their wedding toppers (they make several varieties) for our wedding cake about 4 years ago.  From carabineer shaped picture frames, to ornaments shaped like snowshoes, tents, and hiking boots covering our Christmas tree, Outside Inside products can literally be seen all over our house.  The frosty pint glasses in the freezer probably see the most use.  If you’re not familiar with their products, go check em out and I guarantee you’ll be impressed.

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Glacier Backpacking

Post By: Jake

Veronica and I have really been trying to make it a point this year to balance our free time between getting outdoors as much as possible and working on our little fixer upper home. In mid July we were able to get up to Glacier National Park (a quick 3 hour drive from where we live) to do our first real backpacking trip together. It was to be a 4 day trip starting at Essex, Montana and ending at Two Medicine in Glacier Park, about 31+ miles down the trail.

We spent our first 2 days hiking a little over 20 miles up the Park Creek drainage, another day hiking over the continental divide–Two Medicine pass, and another day hiking the final soggy miles out to the car at Two Medicine Lake. Typically while hiking it was 90+ degrees, sunny and VERY humid, and generally after we got camp setup a thunderstorm would roll in and soak everything thoroughly. The trail was completely overgrown with ferns and thimbleberry plants for miles making it very difficult to stay on the trail much less make any forward progress. The overgrown plants held all the rain water from the previous nights storm—that is until we hiked by. Needless to say, we were completely soaked for days despite all the Gore-Tex boots, pants and jackets. It’s amazing how well water can find its way into every corner of your body.

Despite the inclimate weather while hiking and at camp, we had an amazing time! It was my wife’s first real backpacking trip, and she was loving every minute of it! We saw some amazing scenery, ate some unbelievably good huckleberries, and most of all enjoyed eachothers company, life and nature. Despite the long grueling miles, our internal batteries were only recharged by the trail. The first 3 of 4 days we didn’t see ANYONE else on the trail. It felt like we were alone in the wild. If ever anyone has the opportunity to make a trip to Glacier Park, We’d both highly recommend this seldom visited southern area of the park.


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