For Black Friday, rather than hustle and bustle through the stores, we made a few online purchases in the morning and then got outside. We did our longest loop hike to date and got to see a lot more of the mountain in our backyard.
South Mountain is a city park, the largest in the nation in fact. I was proud we made it through Fat Man’s Pass on the day after gorging ourselves at Thanksgiving.
One of the things we love most about Arizona is the opportunity to be outdoors. Although we received a tent and two sleeping bags as wedding gifts, the tent still had its packaging intact when we arrived in the Valley of the Sun. It’s been three years now (holy cow, is time moving fast!) and we’ve taken that tent all over the state and try to get outside and hike every weekend that it is less than 100 degrees out (that rules out a few months in the summer …) so I thought I might round up a few items that we use all the time and would recommend to anyone looking to get outdoors some more themselves.
REI Daypacks (similar here)
When we first moved to Phoenix, land of glorious weather and amazing hiking trails, we high-tailed it to REI to buy CamelBaks or some other sort of water bladder carrying system. Luckily for us, a very smart REI employee advised us against the bladders. Since we’re not running an endurance race or biking, there’s really no need for the hands-free water delivery systems, not to mention all the care, cleaning and maintenance those require so they don’t get moldy or musty. I know they wouldn’t have lasted long with us. Instead he steered us towards an affordable daypack (the cost for two was less than buying one CamelBak) and we have been so happy with our decision. We get a ton of use out of our packs, whether for hiking or carrying around souvenirs at Desert Trip or packing clothes for an overnight trip. Our packs have an inside tall pocket/divider so we set our water bottles in there during hiking and they nestle in place and don’t jostle around too much. Speaking of water bottles …
At first I thought these were kind of bulky and the lid can be hard to get open when you’re driving but the reality these are great for your daypack where you don’t want water dripping down your back. We tend to keep these in the fridge ready to go all the time and I find myself even just grabbing it in the evening to hydrate as we sit on the couch.
When it is really hot, we add in these Sugar Free Electrolyte Tablets by Camelbak. It helps stave off a little bit of heat exhaustion or heat stroke by replenishing you with electrolytes while out on the trail. They mostly taste like some kind of sport drink (Gatorade or the like) but have no sugar and can go into your reusable (eco-friendly) bottles.
This is great for quick breakfasts at camp when you don’t want to start up a fire but would rather get some coffee and some food in quick and then head out for your day’s adventure. We also used the heck out of it at Desert Trip – JT was our camp chef, working from the back of the truck.
We have two of these, both in blue. Cheesy picture from the website aside, they’ve been great for JT and I because they are much more streamlined than some of the larger, bulkier coolers. The lids come totally off for cleaning (each unit is two pieces, there’s no hinge or latch) and they stack together really compactly. The great thing is this allows you to head out with two (or more) full coolers and consolidate down into one as you eat through the food. That means you’ll need less ice. Having multiple cooler compartments means you can also keep one for just beverages and the other for food. If we’re only going camping for one night, sometimes we only take one of the coolers. All around this has been a great space saver and I tell everyone I can about these things.
Sofa Camping Chair (looks like our original is discontinued but similar here)
My sister gifted this to us for Christmas last year and it has been a hit around the campfire. Now we don’t have to pack individual chairs and it’s much easier to lounge (the seat is lower) and snuggle up to keep warm once the sun goes down. It also has two attached bottle openers in case of an alcohol emergency …
We don’t use these as much for hiking unless we are going for a night hike but they come in very handy while camping. We also use them on the dog sometimes as a collar with the light shining down so we can see what he’s up to on night walks. Shenanigan isn’t quite “desert savvy” and we’ve had some close calls with cacti. There’s also a Sonoran frog that can be poisonous to dogs so we want to be sure he’s not grabbing anything under the bushes.
So here’s to happy outdoorsing! If you have any gear you really like and would recommend, we’re still super new to this whole thing and would love to hear your thoughts. Cheers – CT