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We scoured the massive show floor of last week’s Outdoor Retailer trade show in Denver in search of the most exciting pieces of backpacking gear hitting shelves—and trails—in the coming months. From stoves to sleeping pads to backpacks, the innovation of your favorite brands didn’t disappoint. Backpacking gear is getting lighter, more comfortable and more feature-rich. 

Primus Firestick Ti Stove

The tiny Firestick Ti has a place in our packs (or hipbelt pockets). (Photo Credit: Ryan Wichelns)

At just 3.1 ounces (with an included, external Piezo igniter), the titanium Primus Firestick weighs less than your headlamp but doesn’t sacrifice any camp-cooking performance. (It’s also available in a steel version that weighs 3.7 ounces.) Air intake holes, a recessed burner head and a fine-tunable pressure regulator (with a large, foldable control knob) give the stove top-notch fuel efficiency and cook times: This 8,530-BTU stove will bring 1 liter of water to a boil in a little more than three minutes, and an 8-ounce canister of fuel will burn on full for up to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Plus, the sturdy pot support arms click into place over the burner when it’s not in use, keeping it protected while eliminating the need for a separate case. It packs down to just over 4 inches long with a 1.4-inch diameter—about the same size as a candy bar. Pick up the Firestick online in spring 2020. ($120)

Black Diamond ReVolt 350 Headlamp

The dimmable ReVolt 350 boasts 350 lumens. (Photo Credit: Ryan Wichelns)

The headlamp power arms race is still in full swing. Black Diamond’s rechargeable ReVolt Headlamp is getting a boost from 175 lumens up to 350, the upper end available for headlamps this size. Of course, you likely won’t need all that power all the time, so the ReVolt is easily dimmable. (Nice touch: Like most Black Diamond headlamps, once you find a power you like, the light will remain set there until you manually change it, even after it’s turned off and on.) It also features Black Diamond’s new 1,800-mAh, removable lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged in a cradle and swapped in for a fresh one (or throw regular AAAs in there). This allows you to carry an extra or two for long trips, rather than needing to plug the light into a power bank while on the trail. Once you get home, a quick recharge ensures you always head out at 100 percent and don’t need to worry about disposable batteries. Buy the new ReVolt at select REI stores or online in spring 2020. ($65)

Goal Zero Nomad 5 Solar Panel

Juice your gadgets with the Nomad 5. (Photo Credit: Ryan Wichelns)

For backpackers who like to charge on the go, this featherlight solar panel may become your new standard. The single monocrystalline panel—protected behind a durable, rugged plastic enclosure—weighs 12.7 ounces, smaller and lighter than any Goal Zero panel before. (At $59.95, it’s cheaper, too.) It’s the perfect size for shoving into the brain of your pack. The 5-watt output might not keep your mirrorless camera alive in the backcountry, but for phones, headlamps and small power banks, it’s all you need. A single female USB port on the back makes charging phones and Goal Zero’s Flip chargers simple, and a kickstand on the back and lash points around the perimeter make setup easy. (You can prop it on a boulder or the ground at camp or affix it to the outside of your pack when you’re hiking.) Pre-order the Nomad 5 online now; it will be available at all REI stores in July 2019. ($60)

Gregory Paragon 58 / Maven 55 Packs

The Paragon and Maven now have dynamic carry. (Photo courtesy of John Sears)

The updated 58-liter Paragon and women-specific, 55-liter Maven have backpackers and weekend warriors drooling. Now made with Gregory’s patent-pending FreeFloat Hybrid suspension system, the load haulers boast dynamic fit and carry (so the packs move with you as you hike and high-step). The precurved hipbelt is designed to comfortably hug your body, and the back panel has airflow channels. Stretchy exterior mesh pockets, including a huge one on the back and narrower ones on each side, give you lots of options for stashing wet clothes, extra snacks and other items you might want to grab on the go. With all that, the Paragon 58 comes in at just 3 pounds, 5 ounces. REI will have the first-to-market exclusive beginning in November 2019, and the packs will be available in most stores and online. ($200)

Exped Outer Space II Tent

Unclear what we'll do with the 37 square feet of vestibule space in the Outer Space II, but we'll certainly enjoy it. (Photo Credit: Ryan Wichelns)

Weathering storms by lying on your back and staring at a mesh tent body are a thing of the past, thanks to the Exped Outer Space. Designed for maximum livability without losing its lightweight backpacking credentials, this two-person, three-season shelter weighs 5 pounds, 11 ounces with a staggering 37 square feet of vestibule space. With the inner tent body set up inside and the fly zipped down, there’s enough room for campers to eat, play cards or even sit in chairs. If the weather is nice, open it up in porch mode (pictured) for even more space—and a view. Find the Outer Space II in select REI stores and online in spring 2020; it will also be available in a three-person version. ($449)

NEMO Flyer Sleeping Pad

Foam and air, a backpacker's best friends. (Photo Credit: Ryan Wichelns)

The Flyer blurs the line between lightweight inflatable pad and luxe self-inflating pad. NEMO took a standard foam pad and cored out about 60 percent of the actual foam to create hollow air channels. The result is a $120, 1-pound-7-ounce sleeping pad that packs down to the size of a football—but still inflates on its own. On the show floor, it seemed to provide a generous amount of support, even for side sleepers. Added bonus: If you puncture it or bust an air chamber, the foam on the inside makes it still relatively comfortable when deflated. A durable-yet-supple, 20-denier fabric adds to the plush factor, and an R-value of 3 means you can push it into cooler temperatures if paired with a warm sleeping bag. The Flyer will be available in all REI stores and online in spring 2020. ($120)

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

The Copper Spur gets awnings. (Photo Credit: Ryan Wichelns)

Who knew a single zipper could make such a difference? By adding a second zipper to the fly of Big Agnes’s super-popular, lightweight backpacking tent, you can now prop both sides up with a trekking pole to create awnings. If you don’t need open porches (in the event that the weather is a little spicy), just close up that new zipper and use it as a traditional fly. Even with the new porch feature and an updated, more durable ripstop nylon throughout the fly, the revised Copper Spur still comes in at 2 pounds, 13 ounces. REI will have the first-to-market exclusive beginning in November 2019, and it will be available in all stores and online. ($500)

Looking for more new product picks scouted from the show floor at Outdoor Retailer? Find our favorite gear for the trail here.

The post The 7 Coolest New Products for Backpackers We Found at Outdoor Retailer appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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Rich, creamy, and totally filling, this pasta dish is the perfect meal to cap off a day on the trail.

Filled with meaty mushrooms, bright sun-dried tomatoes, and savory bacon bits, this recipe is a lightweight, calorie-dense version of pasta Alfredo. After a long day of hiking, we can think of no better way to refuel than with some hearty Italian-style comfort food!

To pack this recipe, we used a large reusable bag by Stasher (available for purchase here) which we were able to fit all the ingredients and spices into. We also packed along a store-bought Alfredo packet to create the delicious sauce that will coat the pasta.

At camp, we emptied our bag with all the ingredients into our pot, poured in two cups of water, and brought to a boil. Once the pasta is nearly done, we add in the contents of the Alfredo packet.

The final result is super rich and super creamy. This one definitely hits the spot at the end of the night!

Backpacking Pasta Alfredo

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
  • 4 oz noodles
  • 1/4 oz dehydrated mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup whole milk powder
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup bacon bits
  • 3 tablespoons butter powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1.5 oz Alfredo sauce packet
  • 2 cups water
Directions

At Home: Place the noodles, mushrooms, powdered milk, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon bits, butter powder, Italian seasoning, and powdered garlic in a sealable bag or container. Make a note of the noodles cook time. Pack along with the alfredo sauce packet.

At Camp: Place the contents of the noodle bag in a pot with 16 oz water. Simmer until the noodles are nearly done (will vary based on your noodles). Add the Alfredo packet and stir to combine. Cook an additional minute or so or until the noodles are tender and the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and enjoy!

The post Backpacking Recipe: Mushroom Pasta Alfredo appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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The desert creates a sense of awe with its gravity-defying rock formations, ancient cultural artifacts and endless expanse of life living on the edge. However, the desert can also be an unforgiving place.

Many uninitiated visitors find themselves in a hostile environment caked in dust and dirt, and filled with challenge. I sat down with three experts to get the inside scoop on how to have a successful desert adventure. Here’s a look at how to experience this environment like a pro.

Meet the Experts

Aaron Mike is a climbing guide and the owner of Pangea Mountain Guides, a Tuscon-based climbing guide company. As a Diné (Navajo) native, he holds the desert in the highest regard. When he’s not climbing, he’s working with Natives Outdoors, local agencies and conservation groups to help protect his desert home.

Sirena Rana Dufault is the founder of Trails Inspire, a consulting company in Tucson, Arizona, that specializes in writing, photography, public speaking and trail design specifically for the desert. She discovered desert hiking and trekking after being hit by a car and used the activity to heal mentally and physically.

Brian Jump is the director of multiday tour programs for Arizona Outback Adventures, which offers a wide variety of desert tours across the American Southwest. Jump has been in the desert guiding business for over 21 years and spends more than 250 days a year guiding backpackers, kayakers and bikers through the desert in Arizona.

Helpful Know-How for Every Desert Adventurer Before You Go: Plan to Beat the Heat

If you’re planning a desert trip in the summer, you’ll want to be prepared for scorching conditions. Opt to recreate in the evenings or early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. One popular trick is to wear cotton. Although cotton is often the sworn enemy of outdoor recreation, in the desert, cotton can help keep you cool.

Rana Dufault takes the cotton shirt one step further on long hikes. “Take a long-sleeve cotton shirt, get it wet before you head out, wring it out and stuff it in a zip-top baggie,” she advises. “When you’re at you’re hottest and most miserable, pull it out and put it on.” The water evaporates off the shirt, cooling you off as if you’re wearing an air conditioner. If you want to carry something lighter, a cotton bandana is also handy.

Pack Sun Protection and Dress in Layers

When packing, consider protecting yourself beyond just sunscreen. Bring a long-sleeved hooded shirt that breathes well and offers UV protection, take a wide-brimmed sun hat, wear sunglasses or even use a reflective hiking umbrella. Lightweight pants are another way to not only protect you from the sun but from the scratchy, needle-ridden plants that call the desert home.

One thing people don’t realize about the desert is that it can be cold. In fact, 30-degree swings are quite common. At higher desert altitudes, snowfall is normal, so make sure you are prepared for all kinds of conditions. Pack plenty of warm layers, a rain layer, and even a beanie and gloves, and check the weather before you head out.

While You’re There: Stick to the Trail

Regardless of your outdoor activity, stick to the trail and walk on durable surfaces.

Cryptobiotic soil, or small built-up spires of black soil, are an essential part of the desert ecosystem. These unassuming lumps are actually living organisms that play a vital role in erosion control. Cryptobiotic soil fields take years to develop, so be sure to stick to trails and avoid busting the crust.

Understand that the Desert is Ancient

The desert is packed full of beautiful artifacts such as arrowheads, ancient dwellings, petroglyphs, pot shards and more, reminding us that great civilizations once stood here. This landscape was once someone’s home.

“When moving through these areas, try to shift your perspective from going into it … visualizing your epic adventure and performing your best to giving back for everything you take,” explains Aaron. “Go into the desert with the utmost respect for the area. Don’t aim to conquer, but aim to be a steward.” Put simply, if you see trash, pick it up, and if people are disturbing ancient artifacts, tell them it’s not okay.

Watch the Weather

Hiking in rainy weather is dangerous in the desert, especially if you are in a canyon or wash (a ditch where water runs after the rains). Flash floods come out of nowhere and endanger hikers every year. Never hike in a slot canyon if the forecast calls for rain, and keep in mind that canyons can flood if a storm dumps moisture up-canyon, far from where you may be hiking. Be sure to check the weather where you plan to hike and give the local land manager or ranger a call to make sure conditions are safe prior to heading out.

Stay Hydrated

The desert is as dry as it is hot, making hydration vitally important. Be sure to drink more water than normal (doubling your intake is a great place to start), suggests Dufault. You also may find that your eyes and nose get irritated by the dry, dusty air. Consider packing saline solution for both your eyes and nose to prevent itchy eyes and dry nasal passages.

Don’t forget to replenish your salt intake too, as over-hydration can cause health issues such as hyponatremia, a salt deficiency that can cause further dehydration and in extreme cases, heart failure, warns Dufault. She suggests balancing your water intake with salty snacks. Dufault recommends eating a handful of salted nuts, salted trail mix, salty pub mix, or some beef jerky every hour, including lunch. Also, she mentions supplementing your electrolytes with powdered sports drinks, gels, tabs or chews. The amount depends on your exertion level and heat, but the harder you work, the more you will need.

Protect Your Hands and Feet

In the desert, almost everything has a defense mechanism. Animals are quick to bite or fight and plants often have spikes or use irritants to keep critters at bay. Always watch where you are walking and don’t stick your hands in holes. Keep an eye on kids and pets, as they may be more likely to run into unhappy critters. It’s a good idea to carry a pair of tweezers in your first-aid kit, in case of an unwanted encounter with a cactus. And if you need to use a rock to secure your tent, use your foot to kick the rock over first to avoid putting your hands in harm’s way.

Tips for Hikers Know How to Navigate

Understanding how to navigate with a map and compass, as well as a digital GPS, is an essential skill, but there are a few navigational pointers to keep in mind. Unlike forested trails with moist soils, desert trails are easily washed out by storms or may wander down sandy washes, so a GPS device or app that can track your location is helpful. Keep in mind that U.S. Geological Survey maps of the area may not be as detailed (smaller scales aren’t available) or contain as much up-to-date information about the landscape you’re traveling in, so take mental note of your position, by noting major geological features on the horizon (taking a photo looking both forward and backwards can help you recall a major junction), recommends Jump. A GPS device can be a lifeline in the desert; just keep in mind that GPS devices often struggle to find your signal if you are deep in a narrow slot canyon. Read up as much as you can about your route description before you go, and bring a paper backup with you just in case.

Seek Shade

Know your position in relation to the sun and plan your hike accordingly. “Know when to hike,” says Jump. “You can have shade on a trail during the later hours, especially in canyons, so understand your orientation to the sun.” For example, if you aim to hike through canyons, use a topographical map and the path of the sun to determine what time of day the canyon floor will have the most shade.

Tips for Mountain Bikers Bring on the Balance

Biking in the desert requires a recalibration of your balance techniques. “Bikers who are used to more moist soil where the tires can hook up with the ground better around corners, will initially struggle on singletrack in the desert,” explains Jump. Take the time and ride slower to get your “desert legs” and find your balance on the drier soils.

Keep Your Wheels Rollin’

A slime tire sealant is key to keeping flats at bay in the desert. It’s easy to get lots of little punctures from rocks, spiky plants and other nuisances. Jump recommends using a slime or sealant that self-heals as you ride to help keep you pedaling.

Tips for Climbers Remember that Sound Carries

There aren’t any trees or sound-absorbing surfaces in the desert. When you’re at the crag, the rock acts like a megaphone, carrying your voices and noise across the landscape. Keep things like speakers turned off. This not only helps other climbers with vital communication needs, but it avoids disturbing nearby areas.

Stay Away from Ancient Sites

People once thrived in the cliffs of many desert climbing areas. Never climb on private property without permission, and never disturb artifacts, buildings and artwork you find hidden in desert cliffs. In fact, if you find something, consider reporting it on sites like Mountain Project, so others looking to visit the area can know that something is there and that particular route shouldn’t be climbed.

Respect Closures

Many birds, particularly raptors, nest high in the sandstone cliffs along favorite climbing routes. Each year, certain climbing areas close so birds can nest in peace. Respect those closures. They are in place to protect the wildlife of the area. If you find a nest in an open area, let others know by posting it to Mountain Project so the birds can raise their young.

Don’t Climb After it Rains

Never climb wet sandstone, warns Mike. Sandstone is like a sponge, and when it’s wet holds and protection can pull, leading to fatal accidents. If the ground at the base of the climb is damp or the wall visibly has wet streaks, stay away. Remember, just because the sun is out doesn’t mean the climb is dry.

Tips for Campers Only Camp in Established Sites

One of the big draws of the desert, especially in the American Southwest, is the vast supply of free, dispersed camping. When selecting a site, first make sure you are on land that allows camping. Use a map to check the area you are traveling in. Keep in mind that in some areas ranchers own huge swaths of land, and others are Native American reservations. If you aren’t sure, call the nearest ranger station and ask about dispersed camping in your area.

Next, make sure that it has been previously established. Signs of established campsites may include a fire ring and an obvious pullout. Jump recommends pitching your tent on durable surfaces, such as slick rock or, if the weather is dry, in a wash to avoid damaging the landscape.

Where’s the Water?

In the desert, water is necessary, and what you see on a map may not be what is there in reality. Many of the streams and springs shown on maps are seasonal. When planning your trip, check with local rangers to see if a water source is running before relying on it in the wilderness. Lastly, understand the water regulations where you are traveling and plan accordingly (plan caches or water supply drops, don’t camp near isolated water sources, etc.). Check with local rangers and land managers for any special regulations in the area you plan to visit. You don’t want to take water from the animals that rely on an intermittent source for survival.

Is a Fire Necessary?

Campfires provide ambiance, but they also produce permanent scars on the landscape. If you’re backpacking, consider forgoing the fire unless you need it for survival, advises Dufault. At drive-up campsites, don’t have a fire if it’s windy. Embers quickly get carried away in harsh desert winds and cause wildfires. Source your wood from washes and ensure the wood is dead. Many desert plants only come to life with a big storm and can appear dead although they’re still living.

The post How to Travel Through the Desert Like a Pro appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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Recipe: Campfire Sweet Rolls
Submitted by: Jen
Hometown: Bay City, MI

What do you love about this recipe? I hate camping. Like, why would anyone voluntarily sleep on the ground and cook in the dirt? In my opinion, the only good thing about it is cooking these calorie-dense donuts over a fire and putting 4 or 5 of them in my face. Do yourself a favor and use *real* whipped cream, then properly eat yourself into a food coma. It’s a survival technique when my family insists we camp.

Ingredients
  • Butter or non-stick spray
  • 1 package refrigerated crescent rolls
  • Your choice of toppings: whipped cream, jam, hazelnut spread, frosting, pudding, anything goes!
Tools
  • Roasting stick
  • Aluminum foil
Instructions
  • Wrap the end of the roasting stick in foil and spray with non-stick spray (or rub with butter). This will create the hole for all of the good fillings that you’ll later add.
  • Wrap the dough of one crescent roll around your stick, making sure to close off the end. This is tricky. Kids might need some additional help.
  • Roast slowly so the dough evenly cooks on all sides. Coals closest to the ground are usually a good spot. It will take much longer to roast a crescent roll than it will a marshmallow.
  • When the roll is golden brown, fill the hole with anything you like!

_________

Submission Instructions

Do you have an extra unique camp recipe? What makes your camp recipe a stand out?  Have you found ways to take complicated recipes and simplify them for the outdoors?  Do you have a family favorite that has been passed down through generations? Challenge our hosts to reproduce it and get our community inspired to try it!  

First Name:
Hometown: 
Recipe name:
Ingredients and instructions:
Why you love this recipe: 
When you last made it and where: 

Submit your recipes to camprecipes@rei.com!

There are no prizes, but if we decide to use your recipe, you agree that we can use your name, hometown and any of the other information you provide without restriction to say more about you and your recipe, why you love it and when and where you last made it.

The post Campworthy: Campfire Sweet Rolls appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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My parents were the type of middle class people who wanted to give their one and only child the kind of childhood they couldn’t have dreamt of when they were growing up. So they sent me to summer camp. Every summer, they followed their personal training clients from Manhattan to Martha’s Vineyard, cheering them on as they did step aerobics. Meanwhile, I went to camps where I learned to scramble atop tiny capsized sailboats in the sound and watercolor pinkish-purple mountain ranges, fading into the distance.

At ten I graduated from day camps to overnight camps. I went to horse camp, gymnastics camp and even farm camp, where I “harvested” a chicken and adopted vegetarianism (a practice I stuck with for nearly a decade). But, other than plucking feathers out of flesh and, one day, discovering a single log of poop (not mine) in a pool where I was swimming, my experiences of sleepaway summer camp were overwhelmingly positive.

That’s why when a coworker invited me to A-Camp, Autostraddle’s camp for adult LGBTQ+ folks (sponsored in part by REI), I couldn’t believe my luck. Four days of fun in the sun with my people? Sign me up!

That’s how I found myself sitting on the crunchy carpet of a cramped, warm single-room building called the Library at the end of my time at A-Camp. I was performing my first tarot card reading, my leg falling asleep across from a tall woman with curly, mousy brown hair. As I flipped over the Ten of Cups, tears welled up in her gentle eyes. It signified family, the card’s advised anecdote for her current relationship troubles. It was a moment of vulnerability, the kind that doesn’t happen very often in the circles I run in outside of camp.

That same morning I had hiked to the crest of one of the hills overlooking the valley the camp was nestled into, and posed for a picture beneath the blue-and-white sky with a woman who had spent $800 in braces, countless doctor visits and a year of her life training to prepare for that very moment. When she returned to her wheelchair at the base of the climb, she told me her next goal was to backpack along the Appalachian Trail. Sign me up for that too.

The night before I had stood clutching a ginger-flavored kombucha and learning to solve a Rubik's cube from a woman who was very much still learning how herself. She sang a confusing song that was supposed to help her ascertain the ways in which to twist the plastic near a roaring campfire at the REI s’moresfest. The murmur of more than a hundred LGBTQ+ people played behind her words. A starlit sky felt nearly touchable above us, holding us close to the warm California ground.

Before that, on the night of my arrival, there had been an opening ceremony for camp. I arrived early, took a seat, and watched as people slowly made their way up the aisles. Shocks of brightly colored hair, rainbow paraphernalia and glitter adorned my fellows, a cliché of queerness ever so welcome in my heart. I settled deeply into the hard white plastic of my chair, and my body felt tightly packed with a foreign feeling—of a complete lack of worry about how I was being perceived.

We all have it: that terrible sinking feeling when someone’s interpretation of us is different than our own. It’s that gut-jump when you look in the mirror and realize there was spinach in your teeth for an entire day, a day when you’d been feeling yourself.

For me, that feeling comes up most often around gender. I’m nonbinary and often pegged as a man and then a woman and then a man again in the span of a single hour, without changing my clothes or mannerisms. It’s confusing, to say the least.

But at camp, that feeling simply wasn’t present. It was like an air-conditioner you hadn’t even noticed being on suddenly turned off: blissful quietude of the soul.

It’s interesting. I hear all the time that nature doesn’t discriminate, that the outdoors is for all and that no one cares about my sexual orientation or gender—and that it’s not worth mentioning. That’s why there was something magical about being surrounded by more than 400 LGBTQ+ people, people who understand in their bones that while nature doesn’t discriminate, people outside do; that the outdoors is open to all, but barriers exist for many people; and that I carry my sexual orientation and gender with me wherever I go, and every time I talk about who I am and who I am with, I have to come out of the closet again.

At camp, I was simply free to be me.

The post I Went to an LGBTQ+ Camp. Here’s What Happened appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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Just about everyone can get behind French Toast. But when stuffed with sweet mascarpone cheese and in-season strawberries, this classic breakfast transforms into a special occasion treat!

Making traditional French Toast is a fairly straightforward affair. All you need on hand are a few eggs, some milk, cinnamon, and of course, bread. For our French Toast we somewhat ironically like to use Texas-style toast. Or at least a loaf of bread we’ve cut ourselves. The key is to use thick slices. Regular sandwich bread is too thin and doesn’t soak up enough of the egg/milk mixture. So depending on what’s available, Texas-style toast or a loaf of bread is what we use.

Now there is nothing wrong with classic syrup and butter French Toast, but if you want to make it a little extra special we highly recommend this mascarpone cheese and macerated strawberries combination.

For those who haven’t had mascarpone cheese before, it spreads like cream cheese but tastes the inside of a cannoli. So think sweet and creamy, instead of sharp and tangy. Adding a bit of sugar to sliced strawberries will draw out their juices, transforming them into something similar to a compote. Sweet, soft, and bursting with summertime flavor. Layer these with your French Toast and you’ve got a lot to look forward to in the morning.

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Makes 4 servings (25 minutes of preparation)

Ingredients
  • 1 lb Strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 12 slices Texas toast
  • Butter
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Maple syrup
Directions

Quarter the strawberries and place in a bowl with 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir to coat. Let sit at least 10 minutes, until the berries begin to turn syrupy.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, a tablespoon of sugar, and cinnamon.

In a nonstick pan over medium heat, warm a tablespoon of butter.

Dip the bread into the egg/milk mixture, letting the bread absorb the liquid for a few seconds, then flipping and soaking the other side for a few seconds. Lift out of the mixture and let the excess drip off.

Place in the pan. Repeat with a second (and third, if your pan allows it) piece of bread.

Once the toast is golden on one side (about 3 minutes), flip and cook the other side for an additional 2 minutes or so. Remove and set aside.

Heat the second tablespoon of butter and repeat the process until all the toast is cooked.

To serve, spread mascarpone cheese over the top of a slice of toast, spoon some of the berries and their syrup on, then repeat with another slice to “stuff” the French toast.

Drizzle on some maple syrup and enjoy!

The post Camp Recipe: Strawberry Stuffed French Toast appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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Recipe 1: Grab Bag Bites

Submitted by: Brenda
Hometown: Anchorage, AK

What do you love about this recipe? Let’s be honest: plain trail mix gets so boring. I love this recipe because you can modify it to your likeness. Don’t like peanuts? Don’t add ‘em. Want a 9 to 10 ratio of chocolate? Do it. These snack bites are great for the trail, long road trips, or just trying to make it to lunchtime at work. They’re loaded with protein and free of gluten.

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup natural peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup honey (can sub maple syrup)
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup each: sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds), raisins, chopped walnuts, and chopped peanuts or almonds
  • 1/4 cup regular chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips!)
Instructions

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Form contents into palm sized balls and store. Take them out and enjoy them on the trail and if you have left over when you’re done camping, they freeze great!

Recipe 2: Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate

(Also featured in this episode)

Ingredients
  • 2 packets of your favorite instant hot cocoa mix
  • 2 cups of water or milk
  • 4 ounces of tequila
  • Cinnamon and cayenne
Instructions
  • Heat water or milk to a boil.
  • Pour a hot cocoa mix into each mug, and add in half of the hot water or milk into each and stir.
  • Add tequila (to taste ; )
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and cayenne on top (to taste ; )
  • Enjoy in your favorite insulated mug!

_________

Submission Instructions

Do you have an extra unique camp recipe? What makes your camp recipe a stand out?  Have you found ways to take complicated recipes and simplify them for the outdoors?  Do you have a family favorite that has been passed down through generations? Challenge our hosts to reproduce it and get our community inspired to try it!  

First Name:
Hometown: 
Recipe name:
Ingredients and instructions:
Why you love this recipe: 
When you last made it and where: 

Submit your recipes to camprecipes@rei.com!

There are no prizes, but if we decide to use your recipe, you agree that we can use your name, hometown and any of the other information you provide without restriction to say more about you and your recipe, why you love it and when and where you last made it.

The post Campworthy: Grab Bag Energy Bites appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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If you’ve grown to love hanging out in your hammock, perhaps you’ve contemplated sleeping overnight in your outdoor cocoon. Two obvious needs for overnight comfort are bug netting and a rain tarp, which you can buy separately or may come included as parts of a hammock tent system. One often overlooked issue, though, is how you can stay warm when cold night air wafts across your backside.

The answer is an underquilt, which is simply an insulated quilt designed to hang underneath your hammock to prevent heat loss.

An underquilt solves a similar problem to sleeping on the ground in a tent. Your sleeping bag, whether it features lofty down fill or a premium synthetic insulation, compresses under your body weight, allowing the cold ground to conduct warmth away from your body. Your bag also compresses under you in a hammock, leading to convective heat loss from the cold night air stealing away body warmth.

A sleeping pad solves the heat-loss problem on the ground by creating an insulated air space underneath you. A pad can perform the same function in a hammock, but underquilts are specifically designed to fit certain hammock models, or you can find ones that can be adjusted to fit a wide range of hammocks.

Shop Hammock Accessories

Underquilts vs. Sleeping Pads

If you’re trying to decide between an underquilt and a sleeping pad for staying warm in a hammock, consider the following points:

Underquilt pros

  • Won’t interfere with your naturally comfortable hammock sleeping position.
  • Models with high-loft fills can provide superior warmth.

Sleeping pad pros

  • Can be used in both a tent and a hammock, though the hammock fit can be less than ideal.
  • Available in models designed for use in hammocks for a better fit.
  • Air pads can be deflated slightly in a hammock for a better fit (too low, though, and you’ll have cold spots; too high and your setup can get a little tippy).

Warmth: Comparing the relative warmth between an underquilt and a sleeping pad is challenging. R-values (the system of measuring heat conductivity in a sleeping pad) can’t be calculated for underquilts, so that spec won’t help. An underquilt that fits well and has a premium, high-loft fill, though, will be hard to beat for warmth. Note, too, that unlike bags that have temperature ratings, no universally accepted warmth ratings are available for underquilts. If you’re looking to match the approximate warmth of your sleeping bag, a rough guideline is to get an underquilt of roughly the same thickness (loft) as your bag.

Weight: If you’re a backpacker, then weight will also be a concern. Pads and quilts are roughly comparable in weight, with the caveat that all the usual ounce-saving factors come into play: things like lighter fills and tapered designs, for example.

Cost: Comparing the relative expense between an underquilt and a sleeping pad depends entirely on the type of pad. A premium air pad can be comparable in price, while a closed-cell foam pad will be far less expensive. Most people already have a sleeping pad, too, so you can save cost initially by using that for overnight trips. If you then decide to fully embrace hammock camping, you can upgrade to an underquilt later.

How to Set Up a Hammock Underquilt

Each underquilt will come with instructions, so that’s your first source for fit recommendations. Below are some universal tips that will help you create the warmest possible setup for your underquilt:

  1. To prevent it from getting wet or dirty on the ground, lay the quilt inside the hammock to start; then attach the ends and remove enough slack so that it won’t touch the ground when you slide it out of and under the hammock.
  2. Minimize the air space between the hammock (with you in it) and the top of the quilt. Snug up the adjustments to ensure the quilt is super close, but not so close that your body compresses it.
  3. Snug each end tightly to prevent air from flowing through.
  4. Secure any attachments along the sides to prevent airflow gaps from forming there.
Budget Tips for Insulating Your Hammock
  • Sleeping pad wings: This hammock accessory fits onto your current rectangular sleeping pad and helps it resist shifting around in a hammock.
  • Buy and trim a closed-cell foam pad: You’ll have a custom-fit pad for your hammock; use two pads for added warmth.
  • DIY an underquilt from an old sleeping bag or quilt: This requires sewing skills and ingenuity.
  • An emergency blanket can serve as a summer-weight underquilt: Hang it below your hammock so its reflective material can radiate back some body heat. (Don’t place it inside the hammock, though, because you need a little space between you and the blanket.)

Learn More: How to Choose a Hammock

The post What Is a Hammock Underquilt and How Do You Use One? appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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Few things inspire as much passion as adventure snacks. They’re a great way to motivate and reward yourself, friends and kids during your outdoor adventures. We asked REI employees and members how they get creative with trail snacks and they delivered. Use these ideas to spice up your next outdoor excursion, or to come up with fun riffs of your own. Don’t forget to share your snack creations with your friends!

1. Mountain Mocha

Start your day off right with caffeine and chocolate. Premix instant coffee and hot chocolate powder at home for an easy morning mocha.

2. Powered-Up Oatmeal

Sondra Polonsky, senior customer analyst at REI, suggests stretching your morning oatmeal by adding protein powder to help keep you feeling full longer. Experiment with different flavor combinations to find your favorites, like peanut butter protein powder with chocolate oatmeal, or chocolate protein with banana oatmeal. Sondra’s favorite is maple brown sugar oatmeal with vanilla protein and freeze-dried raspberries.

3. Summit Banana Split

This banana split, courtesy of former thru-hiker and park ranger Helen Beelen, is the ultimate summit treat. Simply peel a banana, slice open the side like a hot dog bun and spread Justin’s chocolate hazelnut spread on both sides of the banana. Sprinkle your favorite crunchy chocolate candy on top and savor your well-deserved dessert.

4. Tortillas for Everything

Tortillas are a game changer on the trail, and my favorite way to build an on-the-go meal or snack. They pack flat and don’t get smashed like bread, and you can fill them with all kinds of ingredients. Try honey, peanut butter and a banana for a sweeter option, or some salami, avocado, cheese and hummus for a savory lunch.

5. Trail Frozen Yogurt

Thrill your kids (not to mention other adults) with trailside popsicles on day trips like REI domain architect Jim Weller does. Throw some tube-style yogurts in the freezer the night before you hit the trail. They won’t stay frozen forever, but even if you get to them after they melt, you’ll still have a nice, refreshing snack.

6. PB&J Wafflewich

For an easy, quick take on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, take REI content producer Dustin Kingman’s advice and spread a stroop-style waffle with some Justin’s nut butter and single-serving preserves. Voila, on-the-go PB&J.

7. Backcountry Charcuterie

A charcuterie spread is so simple, yet so satisfying. Enjoy a savory feast by packing portable snacks like salami or jerky, Oloves olives, your favorite cheese (REI product copy manager Heather Young suggests a hunk of Parmesan or aged Gouda) or Moon cheese, fancy nuts and even smoked salmon.

8. Put a Fish On It

According to Jim Weller, smoked salmon goes great with almost anything: with cream cheese on a cracker, added to ramen or a dehydrated dinner, in a wrap (see #6). It’s a welcome hit of salt and protein and can make an otherwise average meal something to look forward to at the end of the day. An REI staff favorite is Patagonia Provisons.

9. Backcountry Pickleback

UX designer Mary Simpson knows the secret to refreshment when you have access to snow on a hot day: pickle juice. Known for its ability to prevent muscle cramps and boost your electrolyte levels, she pours pickle juice over snow for a refreshing slushie. Mary says, “I know it sounds nuts, but it's so refreshing when it's hot and the sun is reflecting back on you in the snow and you need to make a final summit push.”

10. Avocado Saver

No matter how you slice it, avocados are a superfood off- and on-trail. Copywriter Logan Jenott protects ripe avos by carrying them in an empty chip tube or large plastic Easter eggs. He enjoys them simply cut in half and eaten with a spoon, but if you want to get fancy, make your own trail avocado toast with a bagel or crackers and whatever toppings you prefer, like everything bagel seasoning and a sprinkle of salt.

11. Sweet Potato “Crackers”

Perfect for gluten-free grazing, sweet potatoes are a surprisingly tasty and nutritious snack. Slice a raw one up thin to make crackers for savory toppings like avocado or sardines. REI Experiences program manager Daniel Grillo says, “I was on a bike tour last summer when a friend pulled a sweet potato, knife and tin of sardines out of her pannier. I thought they'd be starchy or unpalatable, but sliced up thin with something savory and fatty they changed my world.”

12. Homemade Energy Balls

Make adventure-worthy energy snacks that are both easy and delicious with this recipe from Jen Skjerven, trip and training coordinator for REI Adventures. Fill a bowl with 1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats, 3/4 cup peanut or almond butter, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 cup chia or flax seeds, and any desired mix-ins like nuts, coconut, and/or cinnamon. Mix well and roll into 1-inch balls (wet your hands so they don't stick). Place in the fridge until firm, typically eight hours or overnight.

13. Apple Donuts

Sometimes you just need to indulge. Christina Miller, social media program specialist, makes what she calls "apple donuts" on-trail by smearing apple slices with cream cheese and topping them with dried cranberries. Eat around the core or cut it out for a true donut look.

Bonus pro tip: Halley Knigge, REI communications and public affairs manager, has a brilliant hack for packing chips into the backcountry: Make a chip sling to prevent them from getting crushed. There are two methods. 1) (pictured above): Use shipping or duct tape to attach a gallon freezer zip-top bag to a carabiner by attaching the tape on either side of the bag and through the carabiner, similar to tote bag handles. 2) Cut a small hole in the upper corner of a gallon freezer zip-top bag, reinforce the edges with duct tape and hook a carabiner through the hole. Clip the carabiner to the outside of your backpack and you’re good to go.

Of course, you don’t have to do anything to some snacks; they’re perfect just as they are. REI staff favorites include sour gummy anything, wasabi peas, cookie butter and Baobites Superfruit Snacks. And Just Veggies are great to throw into any meal you already have for a little extra flavor and nutrition. For a quick pick-me-up when you need to keep going, energy chews are perfect. According to the REI product information team, Skratch Labs Energy Chews won their taste test of all the chews we carry. Bonus: They don't stick to your teeth.

If you want to get creative with your meals as well as snacks, check out our guide on dehydrating your own food and our collection of camp recipes that will take your camp cooking skills to the next level. Happy snacking!

The post The Best Snack Hacks for Any Outdoor Adventure appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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According to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of American adults identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender rose to 4.5 percent in 2017, up from 3.5 percent in 2012, when Gallup began tracking the measure. Although the outdoors plays an important role in their lives, many LGBTQ+ adults don't see themselves represented in the outdoor industry.

We talked to more than 30 LGBTQ+ adventurers to get a sense of their lives in the great outdoors. We asked each to describe, in their own words, their identity, what the outdoors means to them, and how their identity and outdoor recreation overlaps or clashes. Here’s what they had to say.

The post LGBTQ+ Adventurers, In Their Own Words appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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