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Hit the Trail with the Right Gear
Hiking can be an incredibly joyful and rewarding pastime and is made even more enjoyable when you have the proper gear. Hiking gear can be a big investment to make but is well worth it in the end. If you are just starting out and are on a budget, try buying one or two pieces of gear at a time to spread out the cost. So what exactly do you need to go hiking? In this article, we'll cover all the essentials and link to some of our favorites.
A hiking pack is one of the most important pieces of gear you will buy as an outdoor adventurer. With so many different types of packs to choose from, it may be difficult to know what kind you need. If you are mostly doing day hikes (hikes that can be completed in one day) you will want to go with a small to medium-sized pack. This may be anything from 15 Liters-40 Liters, depending on your preferences. If you intend to do longer multi-day hikes or backpacking trips, you may want a larger pack, ranging from 45-70 Liters. Features to look for when shopping for a backpack include extra pockets for easy organizing, a compartment for your hydration reservoir, and loops for your trekking poles. Hiking packs come in different sizes, so it is important to try them on with at least 10 pounds of weight to ensure a correct fit. Here are a few of the best hiking backpacks:
Osprey Sportlite 15
Osprey Sportlite 15
This 15 Liter pack is great for shorter day hikes. It is super lightweight and comfortable to carry.
Gregory Nano Waistpack
Gregory Nano Waistpack
Perfect for quick hikes, you can stash your wallet, keys, and a bottle of water in this waist pack. Bonus: it comes in an array of fun colors.
Osprey Talon 44
Osprey Talon 44 Backpack
A versatile bag that can be used for day hikes and backpacking trips, the Talon has a sleek and functional design and is super comfy during long days in the backcountry.
Trekking poles are not essential for everyone who hikes, but they sure are nice to have. Trekking poles will save your knees on steep terrain, loose rocky trails, and long days logging miles. Look for a pair that are lightweight and easily collapsible. Lightweight, collapsible, and easy to store, these Leki trekking poles are a must for anyone who wants or needs a little extra support when hiking. These aluminum poles are a great all-around option for hikers and backpackers alike.
One of the most essential pieces of your hiking kit is your footwear. Whether you decide on a sturdy hiking boot or a light and breezy trail running shoe, make sure you feel comfortable and supported for all of your outdoor adventures. Here are a couple of the best hiking shoes available:
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid WS
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid WS hiking boot
The Lowa Renegades have been setting the standard for hiking boots for the last 25 years. With durable and waterproof GORE-TEX construction, these boots will withstand many years and many miles on the trail.
Salomon Alphacross 3
Salomon Alphacross hiking shoe
If you are looking to go fast and light on your next adventure, these Salomon trail runners might be the perfect shoe for you. With an all-terrain grip and a comfortable fit, these shoes were made for long days of hiking, casual walks in the park, and morning runs from the pavement to the forest.
Rain Jacket or Shell
Whenever you hit the trail it is vital to be prepared for changes in weather. There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard by an afternoon storm without any rain gear. Be sure to pack a rain jacket or shell on your next hike. Here are a few that really stand out:
REI Co-op Groundbreaker Rain jacket 2.0
Co-op Groundbreaker Rain Jacket
This light, fully weatherproof rain jacket is an excellent choice for many reasons. It has an all-around design that makes it perfect for hiking and other sports, as well as casual use. It also doesn’t break the bank and comes in an assortment of colors. As an added bonus, the jacket is made using Bluesign-approved materials, making it an eco-friendly choice.
Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell
Black Diamond Stormline Rain Shell
From icy rain in the alpine to sudden downpours in the city, this outer shell can handle anything. Completely waterproof with a helmet-compatible hood, this jacket is ideal for hiking, climbing, mountaineering, running, and more. Find the men’s version here.
Time to Gear Up
Now that you have an idea of what you need to hit the trail, it’s time to gear up and get outside. With so many fantastic options for hiking gear out there, you are sure to find pieces that suit your needs and your style. Happy hiking everyone!
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 2022 ASANA Softball World Series will bring together nearly 70 of the most competitive adult softball teams in the country to Washington, D.C. August 16 – 20. The tournament, which welcomes LGBTQ cisgender women, transgender men, transgender women, and non-binary people and their allies, will bring together top teams from nearly 30 cities across the country. The event is being welcomed to the D.C. area by the Chesapeake & Potomac Softball League (CAPS), the DC area’s LGBTQ softball league, members of which are serving as the hosting committee for the tournament.
“We are very excited to be heading to the D.C. area this year for the 2022 ASANA Softball World Series,” said ASANA Commissioner Angela Smith. “The Host Committee has been fantastic to work with to make sure this event is one of our best ever. I know all of our teams are looking forward to experiencing all there is to do and see in the area and playing some incredible softball along the way.”
“Having the bid to host the ASANA World Series before the pandemic, the DC community was eagerly anticipating the event,” said Tony Mace, Co-Chair of the DC Host Committee. “Little did we know that the world would shut down for over a year, but our Host City committee never stopped working to bring the best player experience for ASANA athletes and families. After three years in the making, the Host City committee and I are looking forward to welcoming the first players who arrive.”
For the fourth consecutive year, a selection of the tournament games, including all championship games, will be live-streamed in partnership with the Cloud Sports Network (CSN) through the ASANA Facebook page and YouTube channel. But, for the first time ever, those games will also be available to stream for free on OutVoices.us through an exclusive partnership agreement.
“Typically the ASANA Softball World Series will get anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 unique viewers each year just from the ASANA social media channels,” said Roman Jimenez. “That’s an already large and highly targeted audience who want to watch LGBTQ cis women, trans men, trans women, and non-binary softball players compete at the highest level. To be able to increase that audience by a factor of 3 or 4 as a result of our partnership with OutVoices.us is an incredible opportunity for a much larger portion of our community to be exposed to competitive sports by and for our community and our allies.”
For those who haven’t seen their coverage before, Jimenez cautions against having low expectations. “We’re not just a lone cell camera jury-rigged to a backstop,” he said. “We have multiple cameras, on-field microphones, on-screen graphics, instant replay, and professional broadcasters describing the action as it’s unfolding. We are as close to the Queer version of ESPN as you can get.”
The Cloud Sports broadcast team includes as its analyst ASANA Hall of Famer Rosalyn Bugg, who in addition to having competed as both a coach and player at the ASANA Softball World Series, is also the Commissioner of the Women’s + division of the Greater Los Angeles Softball Association (GLASA) and runs that division’s tournament at the Sin City Classic, the largest annual LGBTQ sporting event in the world. In 2022, Bugg was also inducted into the GLASA Hall of Fame. Describing the action play-by-play will be Jimenez, a veteran broadcaster and softball player, and coach who has helmed various championship teams for over 25 years. In 2019 Jimenez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his hometown LGBTQ softball league in San Diego, America’s Finest City Softball League (AFCSL). In addition, both Bugg and Jimenez are championship-certified USA Softball umpires.
“Both Roman and I know the game,” said Bugg, “and we work great together as a team.”
As part of the 2021 ASANA Softball World Series broadcast, Bugg introduced player shout-outs to family members and friends who were watching the broadcast. This created an incredibly engaging atmosphere on the ASANA social platforms.
“I love highlighting not only the action on the field but also the players responsible for it,” Bugg said. “This tournament is all about the players and telling their stories is a privilege we take very seriously.”
The ASANA Softball World Series will consist of four divisions. The B Division is the highest level of skill and often includes players with a history of playing the fast-pitch version of the sport in high school or college level. The C Division includes players who, while highly skilled, aren’t quite at the same level as the B Division-caliber of players, or whose skills may have slowed with age. The D and E Divisions are for both newer players and for those who may have aged out of the higher divisions. Since many players have been playing in ASANA-affiliated associations for 20+ years, many will have experienced every division of play before settling into where their skills are currently best suited.
In total, nearly 3,000 athletes will be headed to D.C. for this year’s event and as you might guess, in addition to hundreds of volunteers, it takes a lot of money to make an event like the 2022 ASANA Softball World Series even possible. For that, both ASANA and the CAPS Host Committee have been engaging with sponsors to help offset costs.
“We want to thank our sponsors on both the national and local levels. Without them we couldn’t provide the experience we do for our players, their families, and for our fans,” said Smith. “We look forward to being able to share these experiences with them and with our live-streaming audience on our social channels and right here on OutVoices.us.”
Coverage begins Thursday, August 25th with early tournament play, continuing during “Elimination Friday” on August 26th all the way through to “Championship Saturday” on August 27th, when all four divisional championships will be broadcast. Stay tuned to this page for updates on game time and team announcements and to watch the games live.
ASANA — Amateur Sports Alliance of North America — was created in 2007 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of amateur athletics for all persons regardless of gender, age, race, creed, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation with a special emphasis on the participation of women, trans men, trans women, non-binary and agendered people.
The organization currently has 25 member cities across the United States and hosts the annual ASANA Softball World Series which brings together over 70 teams for a 4-day championship tournament. The World Series has four divisions to provide varying competitive levels of play, with "B" being the most skilled and the "E" supporting the most recreational.
To connect with stories involving gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer characters, you don't have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community yourself. These new lesbian romance novels are a must-read for everyone, whether you're hoping to improve your ally skills or are just seeking a really awesome book. Check out our book recommendations now since they are DEFINITELY worth your time.
The One Woman By Laura MayThe One WomanPhoto courtesy of Amazon
The One Woman, a New sapphic romance novel by Laura May. Julie's life and her relationship with her partner Mark are routine in every way. That is until she meets Ann. Web developer Ann is a kind and beautiful person. It is impossible to deny Julie's feelings for Ann. The spark is genuine as their present and past converge in Barcelona. Julie has to choose between her love for Ann and her devotion to Mark when tragedy strikes. Will true love last the distance? You’ll find out in The One Woman.
Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Count Your Lucky Stars
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Margot receives the spotlight in Bellefleur's third book Written in the Stars even though she has no intention of entering a committed relationship herself. Margot has been experiencing severe fifth wheel vibes lately. But everything gets mixed up when she runs with her first love, Olivia, who is starting over in Seattle after her divorce. This is especially true when Margot gives Olivia a much-needed place to crash. Can Margot trust the girl who once broke her heart again?
No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey
No Rings Attached
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Bookseller Lia only made up having a girlfriend to get her mother to stop berating her, but now that her brother's wedding is quickly approaching, she is forced to stick to her narrative. Her best friend introduces her to Grace, who recently relocated to London, the location of the wedding, and accepts Lia's invitation to go on a date with her. But a series of mishaps (just one bed! ), especially when it comes time to say goodbye and they discover they're not at all prepared to do that, make it a weekend full of unpleasantness.
In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae
In the Event of Love
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Morgan will have to take on an event in the small hometown she never wanted to see again in order to save her budding publicity career when an awful catastrophe threatens to destroy everything. The girl who crushed her heart after their first and only kiss, Rachel, is still in Fern Falls and has transformed into a seductive lumberjack, which only serves to worsen the situation. Morgan is the ideal candidate to help Rachel's family's tree farm since she can demonstrate that she is still at the top of her public relations game by organizing the world's greatest fundraiser.
Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner
Mistakes Were Made
Photo courtesy of Amazon
With a sophomore that mocks the slow-burning face of their debut by opening with a hookup that'll have you fanning your face for days, Wilsner displays their serious romance range. The said connection involves Cassie, a senior in college, and Erin, an attractive older woman she meets at a pub and who Cassie soon discovers is the mother of one of her best friends. The delicate balancing act of keeping that night a secret while giving in to the sexiest chemistry either of them has ever felt begins, which is made much more difficult by the fact that they are going on a full break together. Can they say goodbye when their vacation comes to an end, or is there something here that they simply cannot ignore, no matter the price?
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Being named valedictorian of her high school has been Chloe Green's main motivation since she relocated from Southern California to a rural Alabama town. But when Shara Wheeler, her competitor for valedictorian, kisses her a month before graduation, Chloe is left looking for explanations—and Shara herself. Chloe will have to work with Shara's quarterback boyfriend and her bad-boy neighbor to decipher the cryptic notes they have each received in order to find out where she has gone. Can Shara be located and brought back in time for graduation?
Diane Hayes is an online writer and editor.
Finding suitable healthcare can be difficult for everyone, but those in the LGBTQ+ community have an extra hurdle to contend with: finding a healthcare practitioner who is not only supportive of LGBTQ+ folk but also experienced in treatments that are more likely to be required by members of the community.
Everyone deserves to be able to access healthcare that suits them, so why is this often so hard for LGBTQ+ people to find?
Seven out of ten LGBTQ patients report having negative experiences while accessing healthcare, and this is completely unsurprising when you consider the shortage of healthcare practitioners who are well-versed in issues that are overrepresented in, or even exclusive to, the LGBTQ+ community.
Hormone replacement therapy, experience treating intersex patients, gender affirmation surgery, and HIV treatment and prevention are only a handful of things that a professional working closely with members of the LGBTQ+community should be experienced in and comfortable with, but how many are?
Unless your healthcare practitioner takes a particular interest in these areas or has significant experience in dealing with them, it’s likely that they have only spent a measly five hours studying LGBTQ+ issues as part of their medical training. This can create an unfortunate catch-22 situation where doctors do not feel comfortable treating these conditions, leading to avoidance and lack of opportunity to build up their knowledge and real-world experience.
Under-representation Of LGBTQ People In The Medical Community
While more comprehensive training would go some way to increasing access to high-quality healthcare for LGBTQ people, studying can only go so far; those with lived experience of the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community can offer insights and empathy that those outside the community cannot, despite their best efforts.
Stanford University conducted a study that found that 30 percent of medical students who were part of the LGBTQ+ community hid their sexual or gender identity. In addition, around 40 percent of medical students who self-identified as “not heterosexual” said that they were wary of facing discrimination. If we extrapolate this to healthcare professionals in the workplace, it’s not surprising that it can be hard for LGBTQ patients to find a practitioner who is also openly part of the community.
Encouraging more LGBTQ people to enter healthcare professions, and ensuring that those who are already working in healthcare feel able to embrace their sexuality or gender identity, are key to helping LGBTQ patients find healthcare that meets their needs.
Bias And Stereotypes
Whether intentional or subconscious, bias and harmful stereotypes are endemic throughout the medical community. “For example, from the moment you enter the waiting room and are handed paperwork asking your gender, with only male and female boxes available to tick, you can be made to feel unwelcome, misunderstood, and alienated,” explains Benita Martines, a journalist at OXEssays and Paperfellows.
Due to previous negative experiences, LGBTQ people can feel reluctant to offer information about their sexual orientation or gender to a healthcare provider. Equally, professionals can be wary of asking for this information in case it offends the patient. As this information can have a very real impact on medical decisions, it’s crucial that the medical community get comfortable with discussing these issues in a way that includes and empowers LGBTQ folk.
Lack of Transgender Care
“The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force recently conducted a survey which revealed that a shocking 19 percent of trans and gender non-conforming people have been refused medical care,” explains Mark Dobbins, writer at Boomessays and UKWritings.
In addition, transphobic terminology is rife in the medical community and is often used without consideration of how unwelcome it can make trans patients feel. Worryingly, the same survey found that half of the respondents have had to explain some transgender-specific medical terms to healthcare professionals.
Although the healthcare industry has a long way to go in becoming inclusive, accessible, and supportive to members of the LGBTQ+ community, progress is being made. For example, John Hopkins University School of Medicine has updated its curriculum to help its graduates care for a more diverse range of patients.
In the meantime, finding a healthcare provider who is understanding and supportive of your needs can feel like an impossible task, but don’t give up; everyone deserves good healthcare, and there are some excellent LGBTQ+-friendly practitioners out there.
- How to Find a Queer-Friendly Therapist that Works - OutVoices ›
- Top 5 Mental Health Apps for the LGBTQ+ Community - OutVoices ›