Thursday, December 1, 2016

10 Gifts to Blow Her Outdoorsy Mind - Holiday Gift Guide 2016 #humor #giveaway

10 Gifts to Blow Her Outdoorsy Mind. Holiday Gift Guide 2016
Hey Guys. It's December let's do this!

So, you probably think of yourself as this guy. You're a legend, an icon, a symbol of mankind's absolute potential: 
 The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Though, for real, your outdoorsy gal probably thinks of you as this guy:

You attacking the cheese puffs on your couch.

So you have probably figured out from your man-cave core that you just might have to ROCK IT with gifts this season. Here are a few excellent thoughts to help you out to blow her well-deserved, outdoorsy mind

Stocking Stuffers That You'll Want to Steal Back

1 - UST Pocket Sized Survival Tool
Mini-survival tool cutouts that come in cool, playful shapes like Sasquatch, hiker-dude and moose. Dangle one from her pack or her keychain, you'll want to steal these back immediately. 
Awesome shaped multi-tool: dog, hiker, mountain bike.
2 - Olomomo Nuts
Protein packed snack for the trail, all the flavors are delish but watch for the Cinnamon & Cayenne almond pack. You literally can't stop with just one or 700. Addictive trail food. 
Nuts, nuts about nutty trail food.
3 - Yeti
The Most Interesting Man probably has a Yeti. It's just that cool and we don't know why. The 30oz Tumbler is prime stocking stuffer real estate for her massive morning coffees and her chilled, evening, mama's-happy-juice sipping around the fire when the kids are in the tent and you're ignoring their endless call-backs. Done. 
Get ready for her Yeti.

4 - Garbage Picker Tool
Stay with me here. These are definitely awesome for sword-fighting however the "teaching our kids to be responsible human beings while doing our part to clean up Nature" is the real score here. Get one not just for your outdoorsy honey's stocking but also one for every single human in the house and then GET OUTSIDE. Adopt a street or a beach or a stream and start cleaning up. This is a feel good, win-win, yes-yes for your Outdoorsy Mama and the whole family including your disapproving mother-in-law who you've been trying to win over since day one.
Garbage picker-upper that even your mother-in-law will love.

Gifts Under the Tree For Her to Rip Open Like a Wild Person 

5 - Sherpani Bags
Sherpani means female sherpa, which is basically what the Outdoorsy Mama in your life does all day long: schlepping your gear, the kids, random things around all day. These bags are gorgeous and make me want to run through their flagship store in Boulder and throw each and every one on my back and squeal like a young tween. Sleek, hip, and extremely practical, this up and coming company should be on the "keep an eye on" list for new bags each season. 
Wearing the Camden Backpack yum.
6 - Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
You have no choice, legend Yvon Chouinard's almost cantankerous attitude about buying his gear makes us want to support him and his nature-forward corporate philosophies and thus buy his gear even more. I'm nuts about the Nano Puff jackets made from some recycled content which come in a plethora of colors and are lean, warm, layering pieces that I drag around with me everywhere. If your gal is into warm, windproof, water-resistant AND taking care of the planet, this may just be your A+.
Nano in the Tetons.
7 - Stio Environ Ski Pants
I love discovering young companies. Found these guys on a recent trip to Jackson Hole and, honestly, anything associated with Jackson or the Tetons makes me swoon so that's always a good starting point. Their gear is high quality and I love the feel of their Environ waterproof, breathable ski pants which I plan to give a true beating on the mountain and trails this winter. 
Goody, goody my Stio ski pants ready to go.
8 - Kick-Arse Cowboy Boots 
There's nothing that makes us Outdoorsy Mamas feel freer than when we slip on our cowboy boots and head out for the night. Every outdoorsy gal needs a pair to have as a go-to at any point in her life to remember the kick-arse, fun, wild side of herself. Yes.
Every gal needs to kick up her heels in a pair o' these.

For the Thunderclap All the Way Back to Home Base Win

Coordinate this 5-Star gift with your man-buddies. Send your Outdoorsy Mama off for this weekend getaway with a group of her gal-pals to sweat, get dirty, be happy. Put on by REI, this a bonding, learning, connecting through nature adventure that she'll remember for the rest of her life. And YOU and your kids and your dog made it happen. Set to sizzle!

On a paddle board. In Mexico. Or anywhere for that matter... Give her any yoga retreat in any location for a few days of R&R away from the kiddos for her way overtaxed mind and body and you'll not just be the garbage-taker-outer in the household any longer. You'll be "The Man". The wildly-thoughtful man.
Your unbelievably happy Outdoorsy Mama on a yoga or Outessa retreat.

Finally, Sierra Trading Post for Everything Else
I don't always give away gift certificates to Sierra Trading Post, but when I do, you better enter.  Enter over and over -- even once a day on Twitter, my friends!

In honor of my three seasons as a writer with the outdoor, gear supply gang at Sierra Trading Post, we're putting up $50 bucks for an e-gift certificate. This'll help you find that perfect something for that well deserved outdoorsy honey of yours. They've got a ton of good stuff. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
For more live conversation find me at twitterFacebookInstagram

-Annie @OutdoorsyMama

Disclaimer Giveaway: Giveaway is open to US Residents only and starts on December 1 12am and ends on December 8 12am. The winner of one $50 gift certificate will be announced and a response within 48 hours is required. 

Disclaimer Gear: Olomomo, UST, Sherpani provided gear for me to field test and review. The Sierra Trading Post people are rock stars and provided a gift certificate for giveaway. All opinions are formed, thought over, mulled, churned and are 100% my own. (In other words, I make zero money from the sale of any of these items, I just LOVE the products.)

More Holiday Gift Guides:
Wow so many great ideas, check out all of these other gift guides from fellow Outdoor Bloggers!
Go Adventure Mom - Holiday Gift Guide 2016 
Gift Guide to Help Get Outside 2016 + Giveaways! 
Rain or Shine Mama - The BEST Christmas Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy Kids + Giveaway  
Brave Ski Mom - The Brave Ski Mom Holiday Gift Guide 2016 
Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies - Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families (with Giveaways) 
Little Family Adventure - Gift Guide for Outdoor Families
Rockies Girl - Gifts to Last from Baby to Toddler 
Currently Wandering - 25 Gift Ideas for Adventurers, RVs & Families 
Play Outside Guide - Play Outside Gift Guide & Giveaways
We'll Eat You Up We Love You So - A Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families 
Mountain Mom and Tots - 2016 Holiday Gift Guide 
Born to be Adventurous - Gift Ideas for Babies and Toddlers - Companies that Give Back Gift Guide 2016 - The Outdoor Gear Lover's Gift Guide 2016 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Empowerment Through Nature and the Outdoors is a Path Forward for Us All

Sunset hike in Yosemite National Park with the kiddos feeling the power of Nature and awe.

Within the swirl of these last couple of days, various groups and friends and outdoorsy colleagues have reached out to me out to collaborate and brainstorm and connect over forward thinking non-profit and and for profit ideas with the one common theme that is so incredibly inspirational I figured there just must be something magical in the air. 

Their idea? Empowerment. 

I actually ran to Google with my fingers and looked up the definition of the word as I needed to see and feel and make sure I understood the thinking behind their passion. 

My favorite definition is from 
"...sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take the initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance."

“Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction.”

Switch out the word Employee with Human Being and we’re good to go, friends. This is where we are today, and This is what we are up to these days.

These fired-up visionaries came to me to discuss using my experience and skills and passion for the Outdoors as a tool for Empowerment. With their overall mission being: it’s time to pay attention, it’s TIME TO KICK ASS and to educate and inspire and bring together communities to grow and help develop healthy people.

We are all in this together. 

With nature, we can heal, empower, enlighten. Stay tuned, my friends. A lot of swirling magic going on bringing us into this next phase with equanimity and purpose. And kicking some patoot.

Let’s do this!

Find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @OutdoorsyMama to continue the fun conversation right now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

5 Reasons to Visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming NOW - Eat, Stay, Play in the Great Outdoors

The Tetons. Grand Teton National Park. Wyoming

I’m rubbing my eyes over and over, can these mountains be for real? Winter, spring, summer, fall, no matter the season, if there is anything I can do to get back to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I’m going to make it happen. Why?

1 - Tetons
Massive, jagged peaks burst out of flat, ranch land and rivers into the Wyoming sky as if formed by some wizard’s wand. Each turn on the road and trail creates a new, sawtoothed, alpine formation, now even more dramatic with the fresh snow covering the tops of the Tetons when I arrive. Put Grand Teton National Park on your list even if purely for the gasping, visual sense of magical mountain awe.

Jackson Hole Ski Resort getting ready for the season.
2 - Epic Ski Mountain 
I’ve skied my whole life and hitting the slopes on the infamous Jackson Hole ski mountain is still in the works. It’s all steeps and deeps, giant vertical, and, according to locals, loads of backcountry trails that are easily accessed from the resort. Located 12 miles north of the town of Jackson, be sure to bring your peeps and pump up those ski legs. 

Massive bull moose grazing in Jackson, Wyoming.
3 - Wild Animals 
I literally bumped into wild animals as I explored the valley, including a bull moose calmly grazing with the mountains springing up behind him. I was treated to an untamed, Wild West safari of buffalo, elk, moose, antelope, hawks, and high-alpine pika.

3 - Cool Ski Town People 
Let’s face it, these are my people. They have settled in remote Jackson Hole specifically to live and breathe the mountains and they’re passionate about the outdoors to the point of obsession, a quality can I certainly relate to. Instant connection about nature, outdoor lifestyle and surviving in the rugged West makes me salivate for more stories and information about the area and I just live to soak in their wilder spirits. They'll do anything they can to make it work to stay here.

4 - Outdoor Adventure
Between the hiking trails in the national park, the National Elk Refuge, the skiing, horseback riding, white water rafting, and fly fishing, this place is a mecca for outdoor activity year-round. High on my list is to return for an overnight horse packing trip or spend time at one of the many local, dude ranches, as the tradition of “cowboy” still rules here. 

Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Jackson, Wyoming.
5 - Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
Visions of Blazing Saddles dance through my head when I think of the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar located as if on an old-fashioned movie set on the central square of town. I pull on my boots and kick through the swinging doors - not really - for a few nights out on the town that always end with a visit to the Million Dollar bar. Ask a friend who’s been to Jackson; many, and most times there’s a story or three that has to do with shenanigans in, around and because of the bar. What happens there, definitely stays there, giddyup!

Lunch at Dornan's in Moose, Wyoming.

Where to eat out of the fray, chill, local style:
Breakfast - Persephone Bakery. Highly delicious French inspired treats and excellent coffee for morning kick-start. 
Lunch - Dornan's Pizza Pasta Company. One of the few places open north of Jackson during off season, enjoyed a solid quesadilla and soda water from the bar with the most extraordinary view of the Tetons. A locals place when the crowds are gone & where I got the best stories. 
Dinner - Pinky G's. Big slice of greasy, delicious pizza coupled with a Jenny Lake Lager. Friendly staff, you'll join locals lining up especially late night.

Where to stay:
Budget - The Ranch Inn. Basic hotel, centrally located in town near the action.
Middle - Snow King Resort. Located on the edge of town next to a small ski mountain but still walking distance to town. Full service resort.
Luxury - Amangani. Luxury destination resort set outside of Jackson towards Grand Teton National Park.

For live chatter about the outdoors follow me on twitter at @OutdoorsyMama or Instagram @OutdoorsyMama.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Top 10 Qualities to Look For in An Outdoor Adventure Partner

Summit of Mt Tamalpais, SF, California, with my kid and my "little" brother, two of my favorite adventure partners.
On any hike, adventure or exploration we head out on there’s always a need to make sure we’re doing it with someone who has the right mix of qualities that will make for a totally epic yet also safe adventure no matter the level of risk. 

Close your eyes — who pops into your head immediately as your favorite adventure partner? I feel so lucky to have a long list of people who I can call on to join me. Tops on my list are my son who has begun excelling in the outdoors and learning vital skills as he's grown into a teen. And also my brother, who is my original adventure buddy from when we were kiddos way before seat belts and helmets came on the scene. How did we ever survive those days??

So, given that, what are some of the attributes we look for in a partner for outdoor adventure? Here’s a top 10 list:

1 - Trust - Trust is the number one quality that makes for an ideal partner. How can we even take a step on the trail, or jump onto a backcountry ski slope in the deep powder, or clip in to a harness if we don’t trust our buddy. Trusting this person can literally be the difference between life and death when playing in the outdoors in the unpredictable terrain and elements that Ma Nature throws at us constantly. 

2 - Trust - again.

3 - Trust - and again and again.

4 - Camaraderie - Telling stories, laughing ‘till our sides split, hitting the crazy views at the summit together after a painful climb — the sense of camaraderie we have with the right person or group is a powerful, important force.

5 - Level Head - Panicking in the outdoors never gets anyone anywhere. A level head is key to stop, assess and move forward with a new strategy when the inevitable not-according-to-the-plan situation arises. It ALWAYS does.

6 - Emotional Resilience - When things get hard, we always want someone who can be honest with their emotions yet also be able to manage them and not get overwhelmed by them so they get distracted from making safe and smart decisions. 

7 - Physical Competence - We all don’t need to be Olympic athletes, however it’s best to make sure everyone’s ready and in shape for the level of risk we’re going to put ourselves into. This avoids susceptibility to injury or exhaustion and thus putting everyone else on the team in the role of caretaker.

8 - Sense of Humor - Sense of humor so required. I have never laughed so hard, had so much fun, looked at life with such huge smile on my face as when I’m out with a great partner or team in the outdoors. Sheet goes “wrong” and hits the fan constantly and being able to laugh while coping is a huge bonus.

9 - Sense of Adventure - The spirit and enthusiasm we can bring to an adventure is contagious. I love being with people who are as excited to the point of almost salivating at the build-up to the adventure. And then they maintain and exude that joy and good energy during the actual adventure itself. This is 100% one of my favorite qualities.

And, finally 10 - It t all circles back to: Trust. Of course.

This motley crew of trusted adventurers formed Hell Hike & Raft 2014
through Hells Canyon & The 7 Devils, Idaho.

Some other, cheeky things might be someone who: will carry the beer, play Journey songs on the ukulele around the campfire, cook up a mean bacon burrito in the backcountry. This list is endlessly fun. 

Any others to add? Definitely share. 

So now, when you close your eyes and think of your adventure partners, who do you come up with. Is it the same as before?

Always join the conversation on @OutdoorsyMama on twitter or Facebook.

See you in the mountains. - Annie @OutdoorsyMama 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Which Hiking Shoe Is Right For You? For Kids and Adults

Me and my kiddos testing out the latest Hi-Tec hiking boots in Yosemite, California.

As an outdoorsy person I confess I now own a number of different types of shoes to hike in, just as you may ‘cause we’re all spilling our secrets here, and they’re sort of like my babies. I think about them when i’m not with them. I wonder if i’ve left them out on the back steps by mistake after that last hike. I carefully contemplate which pair to wear the next day. I chose from my hard-core, waterproof, dinosaur-kicker Keens to my agile, 4WD-teeth-for-treads Saucony trail runners, to my hybrid-type, mountain-shoe by Ahnu, etc.

Just like my kids, each of these precious hiking shoes has their own personality and some things I adore about them and some things I don’t really adore and blame on the other genetic swirl in my life. And, just like my kids, I go through phases of which is my favorite. Don’t tell my kids.

Sunset hike in the Saucony trail runners I travel with in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Trail Runners:
For my California, coastal lifestyle, there’s no question that the trail runners are the way to go. It barely rains here. And the lightweight comfort and hard-core tread on these shoes win almost every day. Because the climate is so parched here, wet feet from precipitation is rarely an issue and if there’s a water crossing, the hot, California days will dry them out quickly. Sometimes when I wear these I feel like i can walk straight up walls or at least i know I can cling to rocks precariously when bouldering. They make me feel powerful and they don't take up tons of space so they're my go-to traveling hiker shoe.

My Merrell trail sandals have seen every side of a trail, river, boat and campsite.
Trail Sandals:
If I were living in the hot-zones of So Utah and Arizona and similar places, like the wise guides who run all the adventure trips I’d hike and adventure mostly in Trail Sandals and also get that funky, white-strapped, sun tan that is almost a badge of honor. They’re max in breathability and good for the well traveled trails and still provide good stability for the foot. You just need to watch the exposed toes. They're also a great extra pair of shoes to have at the campsite & can be strapped to the back of any backpack easily.

New lightweight technology makes hiking boots a great option like in these Hi-Tec boots.
Hiking Boots:
When I head back to the Northeast for some adventure, I note the value in the toe-protecting hiking boots with all of the roots and scrambling involved on those gnarly trails. I’m giddy that our family gets to test some Hi-Tec boots this season that are so surprisingly lightweight. Some peeps still love the old, leather hiking boots, but I’m happy to let the new technology wrap my hiking feet and provide excellent stability and protection with a nimble feel rather than the heavy clomp, clomp.

How to Chose the Right Pair for You?
When you go to places like REI or other outdoor or shoe specialty stores, talk to the experts there about your feet's quirks, your needs, and then try all the styles on. There seems to be a real mix on opinions of whether to buy a hiking boot - either high or low cut - versus trail runner even for backpacking these days. A veteran expert from a renown specialty store talked me into my first pair of trail runners years back as I was headed out on a backpacking trip and even despite the weight and mileage, he kept recommending the trail runner over all hiking boots. 

For Next Hiking Season
As we head into fall and winter it's fun to think about what's right for your feet for the next hiking season and boy do they make great holiday gifts instead of toasters and ties and vacuums. And I've found everything I've chatted about here works the same for my kids, too. 

See what works for you. Maybe a mix like me? And you’ll definitely start finding your favorites. Just don’t tell your kids…

For more live conversation find me on Twitter at @OutdoorsyMama

Disclaimer: Hi-Tec provided hiking boots for testing. All opinions are always and forever shall be my own. 

For more about gear read my Gear Reviews & Products I Love

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why We Flash Nature and More to Help Share the Importance of the Outdoors

Why we flash nature, perspective on the cover of National Geographic magazine.

The love for the outdoors and exploration and adventure comes from a deep place my family. It’s sort of like part of our family’s DNA, our blood, our history, our family lore, and when we’re lucky now, it’s part of our everyday lives.

The more I slow down to take the time to ask my wise uncles and aunties about my family history, the more I hear about a dashing and daring Great Uncle who climbed this and pioneered that and then there's that Great Auntie who drove ambulances and saved lives during a world war when it just wasn’t acceptable for women to do so.

Have you taken a moment to poke around in your own family history?

I do wonder what legacy I’ll leave someday in the exploration, adventure, outdoor department. I’ve been enjoying, conquering, and galavanting about on mountains and lakes and summits and ski trails my whole life. However, the pull towards advocacy beyond sharing adventures and small moments of giving-back is getting even stronger. Especially after reading headlines from articles such as National Geographic’s latest magazine hitting stands October 2016 about “the selfie generation” getting back outside. 

Although social media is exposing the younger generation to the epic gorgeousness of remote and far-flung parks and wilderness, there’s a concern and statistics show that this younger, more diverse population is just not getting outside in the same numbers as previous generations.

So while we worry that apps such as Instagram are creating a crush of over-used trails and campsites in certain popular parks, the truth is that we need to continue to spread the word about the power of the outdoors and and share other more diverse, special, outdoor places with other more diverse communities. This while also continuing to work on implementing careful management of the “over-loved” places like the headline trails in Yosemite, Zion and Yellowstone.

I’m deeply connected to a family who cares about the outdoors and I now have a passionate group of friends, and I suppose I can happily call them “outdoor colleagues”, I myself have made over social media over the last few years. And it is exciting to see the power we all have to share that passion on grassroots level within our own groups of friends and communities, but also as an effective, larger tribe when we put our heads together with the massive reach that social media can give us. We can influence change.

And finally, what would my grandparents, who ran an overnight, all-boys, summer camp in New England based around nature and the outdoors have thought of the photo of five women standing shirtless on the edge of a gorgeous alpine lake in Glacier National Park donning the cover of the iconic National Geographic magazine? 

Well, I bet they’d understand that to capture the energy and power that this younger generation brings to the table these days and to grab that gen’s interest in helping foster a love and a desire to protect these places, we do what we need to do. Flashing approved.

Follow me on twitter for live conversation @OutdoorsyMama

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Spending Time in The Outdoors One of the Secrets to the Happiest Places on Earth #outfam

What does one of the happiest places on Earth know that we don't? Getting outside in nature is vital. 

Denmark is known for being one of the happiest countries on our beautiful Earth. What strikes me as I watch a new film just launching now called NaturePlay isn’t what the educators from Denmark are saying. I’ve heard before that outdoor time and time playing in nature is good for us and especially for kids as they develop into healthy creatures. 

What stands out this time in this movie is the breadth of Denmark’s commitment to embracing, as a culture, this way of life and specifically developing adventure parks in cities and educational programs nationwide with this inclusion of nature into their children’s everyday lives. The people in Denmark know from a personal and public health level that for the wellbeing of not just that child, but of their society as a whole, it’s important to focus resources on the seemingly simple, but often overlooked, concept of Nature Play.

And this is the BOOM of this film.

At the end of the film, there is a cameo from Matt Damon, the Hollywood movie star, who speaks at a rally for Save Our Schools about too much testing and not enough Nature Play in the schools in America. His points are poignant: none of the qualities that got him to where he is today can be “tested” and every kid is an individual puzzle, not a robot to be fit into a standardized test.

If you are curious to learn more about “NaturePlay - Take Childhood Back” or would like to set up a screening of the film in your community or school, find more information here.

Healthy society. Healthy planet. Healthy children. Let’s play in nature.

Disclaimer: The NaturePlay film was sent to me without cost for screening. All opinions are always and forever shall be my own.