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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!
Whether you enjoy working, playing, or getting married in your own backyard, a recent survey shows more Americans than ever say that precious outdoor space is vital of late.
More than three quarters of Americans who have a yard (76%) say the family yard space is one of the most important parts of their home, according to a new poll commissioned by the TurfMutt Foundation and conducted online by The Harris Poll.
Nearly three quarters of Americans overall (72%) say a spacious yard would be at the top of their wish list if they were looking for a new home. That desire reflects a cultural shift in how Americans view their yards. Even more so, they’re willing to invest in their yards, and are using them more for everyday activities, including as work-from-home office space.
“What we are seeing with Americans is greater reliance on the backyard as an extension of the home. It’s not just a place that looks pretty – it’s a place to live and do daily activities such as working, dining and relaxing,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation. “They’ve discovered that ‘backyarding’ is a better way to live and there’s no turning back. They are also willing to hire professionals and invest money into yard improvements.”
People are enjoying extra time outside, too. Nearly a quarter of Americans who have a yard (24%) are spending more time in their yards now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
And they are really enjoying the extra time outside. Over 3 in 5 Americans who have a yard (63%) say they have enjoyed doing more activities in their yard since the pandemic began. Younger adults (68% age 18-54 vs. 52% age 65+) and parents of kids under 18 (73% vs. 58% who are not parents of kids under 18) are more apt to feel this way.
Who’s spending all that time outside?
• Older millennials - 32% of adults ages 35-44 who have a yard are the spending more time in their yard now compared to pre-pandemic.
• Parents - 30% of those with a yard who are parents of kids under 18 are spending more time out in their yard now compared to pre-pandemic and are more likely than those without kids under 18 to say they are doing so (21%).
How Americans use their yard has likely changed. For one, the outdoor office trend is here to stay with many Americans using their yards as makeshift offices for their jobs.
• Nearly 2 in 5 Americans who have a yard (58%) say they have spent time doing work for their job in their yard during the pandemic.
• Men are more likely to use their yards while doing work for their jobs, with 63% of men compared to 53% of women with yards saying they worked outdoors in their yard during the pandemic.
• Among those with a yard, parents of kids under 18 are also more likely (71%) than their counterparts without kids under 18 (52%) to have used the yard to get work done during the pandemic.
The yard has also become a place to de-stress, with more than two thirds of Americans who have a yard (69%) saying doing yard work, such as mowing, trimming or planting, is one of the ways they like to de-stress these days. This is especially true among parents of kids under 18 as they are more likely than their counterparts without kids under 18 to cite this (76% vs. 65%).
A vast majority of Americans who have a yard (84%) plan to invest in their yard in 2022, including:
• 67% say they’ll purchase plants/trees/flowers/vegetables to plant themselves
• 39% report they will purchase items to maintain or improve their grassy areas
• 23 % say they will install or update hardscaping themselves.
And the outlook looks bright for the landscaping industry. About a third (33%) of those with a yard plan to hire a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping in 2022. Other yard improvements planned for 2022 include installing a fence (19%) or a shed (15%) and adding a swimming pool (10%). Among those with a yard:
• Adults ages 18-44 are more likely than those ages 45+ to say they plan to invest in their yard in 2022 by hiring a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping, 43% compared to 26% of those age 45+.
• Nearly a third of those ages 18-44 (31%) will install or update hardscaping themselves, 27% will install a fence, 21% will install a shed and 18% plan to put in a swimming pool.
• Parents of kids under 18 (73%) are more likely than their counterparts (63%) to say they plan to invest in their yard in 2022 by purchasing plants, trees, flowers, or vegetables to plant themselves. Parents of kids under 18 are also more likely than those without kids under 18 to purchase items to maintain or improve grassy areas on the lawn (44% vs. 36%), and more likely to hire a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping (47% vs. 26%).
Given the unprecedented return to the outdoors, the available outdoor power equipment also has kept in step with products for every need and individual scenario, says the TurfMutt Foundation, and powered in a variety of ways including battery/electric, gasoline, propane, solar and hybrids.
“What we are seeing with Americans is greater reliance on the backyard as an extension of the home. It’s not just a place that looks pretty – it’s a place to live and do daily activities such as working, dining and relaxing,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation.
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt is an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat is featured in the 2017-2020Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information is available at www.TurfMutt.com.
When it comes to camping, the options for accommodations are as diverse as the members of the LGBTQ community. Whether you like roughing it in the woods or prefer the luxuries of “glamping,” summer is the perfect time to pack up the car, hit the road and spend some time in the great outdoors.
We’ve rounded up the top nine gay-owned, and -accepting, campgrounds, resorts and retreats across the country (for both men and women). Here they are, in no particular order:
Lizard Landing Campground.
Lizard Landing Campground | Columbia, Ala.
Primarily catering to the LGBTQ community, but welcoming of allies, Lizard Landing offers 11.5 secluded acres of primitive tent sites, no-frills sleeping cabins and deluxe cabins featuring in-unit hygiene facilities. Heated saltwater pool (your skin will thank you!), fishing, canoeing and kayaking activities are available for adventurers, plus access to a boat ramp if you bring along your vessel. lizardlanding.com
Magnetic Valley Resort.
Magnetic Valley Resort | Eureka Springs, Ark.
Considering that Carroll County, Ark., is one of the gayest places in the south-central United States – approximately one-third of its population is “family,” according to the New York Times – it’s no surprise that this exclusive, private men’s resort is a popular destination. Catering to gents ages 21 and older, Magnetic Valley facilitates a vibrant social scene that transitions to an intimate atmosphere with such amenities as a heated pool, hot tub, dry sauna, outdoor showers, fire pit and the Carrie Nation Bar. magneticvalleyresort.com
Campit Outdoor Resort.
Campit Outdoor Resort | Saugatuck, Mich.
Spread across 25 private acres at this adult- and members-only campground, which accommodates tents and RVs, caters to the LGBTQ community. Located just 10 minutes from Saugatuck – the most popular vacation destination in the Midwest – Campit offers an immersive outdoor experience, from sprawling meadows and wooded trails to Lake Michigan beaches. Other amenities include a swimming pool, clothing-optional areas and a gang shower for men. campitresort.com
Southern Comfort Campground.
Rancho Cicada Retreat | Plymouth, Calif.
Nestled on 44 acres within the Sierra Foothills, this mostly male retreat along the Cosumnes River provides platform camping near the water’s edge, a swimming hole, gorge tubing, sunbathing, volleyball and fishing. When you’re all tuckered out, enjoy a homemade meal before slipping into the bubbling Jacuzzi-style tub. ranchocicadaretreat.com
Southern Comfort Campground | Cross City, Fla.
If you prefer a more private, members-only (for ages 18 and older) ambience, check into the clothing-optional and aptly named Southern Comfort Campground in northwest Florida. Pick from your preference of camp arrangement – tent, RV or cabin – before letting loose in the Southern Nights clubhouse, playing horseshoes or volleyball, visiting the beer garden or dressing up for one of the destination’s theme weekends. southerncomfortcampground.net
Roy’s Hideaway | Collins, Ga.
LGBTQ anglers will delight at the abundance of fishing opportunity at Roy’s Hideaway – a private, members-only campground in rural Georgia – offering six lakes filled with a wide assortment of daily catches. Landlubbers can stay occupied at the pool and spa area, hiking several tree-covered trails that wind through the property, canoeing, kayaking, duck watching or enjoying a snack from the café. royshideaway.com
Stag Run Club.
Stag Run Club at Overlook Farm | Mauckport, Ind.
Gunning to get dirty? Don your boots and overalls for a weekend of camping among farm animals, including horses, cows, chickens, ducks and other wildlife with which you’re invited to interact. Tents, log cabins, bunkhouses and suites are available on this private, all-male property where, after you’ve put in an honest day’s work (like gathering your own freshly laid eggs for breakfast), you can bask on the clothing-optional sun deck; dive into the heated pool; engage in games in the lodge; or ride your own stallion if you brought one. stagrunclub.com
Twin Ponds Lodge.
Twin Ponds Lodge | Albion, Maine
It’s a bare-all free-for-all for naturists at Twin Ponds Lodge in Maine, a gated campground and resort for men ages 18 and older. Strip down and hang out – literally – anywhere on the property, from the large heated pool and 14-man hot tub to the recreation hall outfitted with billiards, ping-pong and satellite TV. Day passes are available if you prefer a shorter stint fishing or hiking, releasing toxins in the wood-fired sauna, scrubbing down in the communal shower room or catching rays in open sunning areas. twinpondslodge.com
Windover Women’s Resort.
Windover Women’s Resort | Owendale, Mich.
Lady-loving ladies can find camaraderie, and perhaps companionship, at Windover – a private, membership-only resort on the Pigeon River of Michigan’s farm country. Open to women ages 18 and older, this tent- and RV-friendly ground offers a pool, nature trails, clubhouse and scheduled events with other exciting activities nearby, including golf, boating, and recreational water sports. windoverwomensresort.com
Campgrounds for LGBTQ men aren’t a new concept—Middle Tennesseans have, in recent years, had two nearby options, the clothing-optional Timberfell Lodge and Whispering Oaks. These have enjoyed popularity over the years, and in fact, the Conductors recently held their annual run at Whispering Oaks. On June 15–16, 2018, Sugar Creek Campground, located in Only, Tennessee, held its soft launch, and its grand opening is slated for July 6–7, 2018.
With its beautiful location and brand-new amenities, the new camp is sure to be a hit with those whose idea of a nice weekend away involves a tent and a drag show! Plus, located just an hour west of Nashville, Sugar Creek brings gay camping even closer to town.
Sugar Creek Campground, Middle Tennessee’s men-only camp outvoices.us
“It's just a beautiful piece of property,” said proprietor, Bill Johnson. “It has a cave with a spring on it, it's right on a creek that's crystal clear with blue holes, where you can swim... As far as amenities, we start work on the pools on July 1, and they should be finished by August 1. We are going to have a hot sauna, dry sauna, we have the creek, we have volleyball and horseshoes, cornhole boards. We have a diamond for kickball and baseball.”
“We don't have cabins yet,” Johnson said, “but we are going to build cabins this winter. We do have a building with five studio units in it, and we have 37 campsites with RV hookups, and then we have about 20 tent sites with electric.”
“And we have a club—an old restaurant we turned into a nightclub,” Johnson added. “We have a stage and we can probably seat about 100 people. We will have drag shows on Saturday nights; Friday nights will be game nights with a bingo drag queen.”
Sugar Creek’s drag will be—pardon the pun—campy. “We've got Chyna, I know, a little bit,” Johnson said, “and Marlene-Twitty-Fargo and others like that. We don't want to do a lot of serious drag, we want it to be kind of fun and camp-style drag.”
“The campground will be men only and membership-based,” Johnson explained, “but the night club on the weekends we do plan on letting people in for that, because everyone wants to see the drag show. We'll let the visitors in at the beginning of the night, but after a certain point it'll again be closed to members only. Access to the show will have a fee, but anyone who buys a day pass will also get access to the club.”
“The nightclub will mostly serve bar food, and we have a beer license,” he added. “We don't have a liquor license, but you can bring your own bottle.” The nightclub will be open Friday, Saturday, and during the day Sunday. The camp will be open all week.
Why another campground, though? The owners visited other campsites and wanted to do something updated. “We went to all the other camps, and this is going to be top-of-the-line. Our shower house is beautiful, it's clean. Everything's nice and all the electrical, plumbing, and septic is brand new. The creek is so beautifully clean, and we have this cave that has about 5,000 gallons a minute feeding into the creek.”
“It's very private. We aren't advertising it as clothing optional,” Johnson added, “but we aren't really saying anything, as long as people aren't bothering anybody else.
And, again, they wanted to build something convenient. “It's right off the interstate and centrally located for people between Nashville and Memphis,” he added. “And there's a lot of gay people that live west of Nashville as well, so it’s very convenient.
So far, Johnson says, the local response has been mostly positive. “Most of the neighbors that are close are gay or, if not, they are related to gay,” he explained. “I've owned Mirandas for 22 years there at that exit and we've never had any problems with the county whatever...”
So if you want to pack up your tent and head out to Sugar Creek, follow them at Facebook.com/sugarcreekcamp, and look for their website, coming soon. For more on gay campgrounds in Tennessee, see Gay campgrounds in Tennessee offer freedom … from clothes!