REI and the #OptOutside Campaign

REI – #OptOutside Campaign

As the holiday season quickly approaches and we are inundated by ads and commercials pushing us to hit stores on Black Friday there is one company that is taking a different approach. Here enters REI and their campaign to Fight For The Outdoors. REI once again will be closing their doors on Black Friday and instead will be pushing their message of #OptOutside.

As they state in a recent article, REI is asking everyone to take a break from their devices and take a series of steps to leave the world we love a little better. “We are embracing our collective potential to leave a positive mark that will pay off in the decades ahead, for future generations.”

Since 2015 REI has closed their doors on Black Friday and once again they are closing shop, and on November 29th they want you to join in a nationwide day of action and will be kicking off a year of change.

So… what can you do to be a part of this amazing campaign?

1. Spread The Word – Start by sharing why you Opt to Act to get others on board.

2. Get Out, Clean Up – Leading up to Black Friday join one of the many cleanup events nationwide. There are currently 11 cleanup events scheduled. If there isn’t one around you, hold a DIY event. Make a plan and get your friends involved. Make sure to take lots of pics and share them on social media with the hashtag #OptOutside.

3. Act All Year – The #OptOutside campaign is only the beginning to a lifestyle change for the next year and then beyond. After the initial clean up day keep it going… continue for the next 52 weeks. Work to leave the world better than you found it. The plan can come to you however you want.

Below are three links to some great information about the #OptOutside campaign.

The REI Opt to Act Plan taken from the REI Co-op Journal…

A message from REI CEO Eric Artz – We Must Opt To Act…/stewardsh…/opt-outside-2019-eric-artz…

The 52 Week Opt To Act Plan – 52 Simple Weekly Challenges For A Year Of Action…

What are you going to do? If you have read this far you are obviously someone that is interested and wanting to possibly make a difference. So… get outside and take some time away from the craziness around us and make an impact that will be felt for generations to come. Read the information above and do your part by removing yourself from the insanity of Black Friday and getting outside but also for the 52 weeks that follow. It starts with a 52 week commitment but it is actually a lifelong lifestyle change. Get involved…..

The Cotopaxi Taal Del Dia Convertible Tote

Cotopaxi – Taal Del Dia – Convertible Tote – $50 – 100% Repurposed Nylon Construction

So I’ve been following Cotopaxi for a little while now primarily from seeing their products around periodically. Today I saw some bags in a store in Santa Fe and decided to go ahead and pick one up.. I say I saw them because Cotopaxi gear isn’t hard to spot. Their products are bright colored with mix and matched colored panels, zippers, pulls, etc which make them easy to spot and very unique. I haven’t seen anything like it before which makes them really cool in my opinion.

After spending a few minutes looking at the bag I can tell you they are built well. Good solid construction with quality components make this bag and the rest of their gear a good choice for the person that wants to stand out a little. These bags scream – I Love Color !! The bag I picked up is a basic small carry around type of bag called the Taal Convertible Tote. The size on the Cotopaxi site says it’s 14x12x4.5 inches or 16L weighing in at a whopping 9.4 oz. Yes these things are light.

Bag highlights.. Front zippered pocket, shoulder strap, large internal compartment, smaller internal compartment, internal water bottle holder, small internal zippered compartment. For a small bag this thing has a lot of space and individual compartments. It’s awesome.

Below is the information that was gently borrowed from the Cotopaxi website.

Whether you’re looking for an easy around-town bag or a lightweight, convenient travel carry-on, the Taal Convertible Tote fits the bill. Carry it like a messenger bag, or convert its shoulder strap into backpack straps on the fly. The Taal’s main pocket features a large envelope pocket, plus a zippered stash pocket large enough to hold a smartphone, a wallet, or other valuables. Its main pocket also features a water bottle pouch to protect your other belongings from condensation. Finally, as part of our Del Día Collection, every Taal Convertible Tote is one-of-a-kind—made by employees who are given creative control to determine every bag’s color scheme. Receive one at random, or take your pick from an assortment of unique color combos.

Each pack in the Del Día Collection is made with remnant materials by employees who have creative control over its final look. This means that no two packs are alike. From fabric to thread, your Del Día is one of a kind.

EMPOWERING EMPLOYEES – Bold colors, small details, and personality. The Del Día Collection is all of these, but the bigger story is about enabling the people who make our products. When you pick up one of these packs, what you’re seeing is the “signature” of the employees who made it.

THE PROCESS – Our Del Día products take material repurposing to the next level, using smaller batches of excess material than our Repurposed Collection.

Employees at our factory in the Philippines select rolls of excess fabric. Using these remnant materials, expert designers and sewers mix and match fabrics and components (e.g., zippers, zipper pulls, buckles, and thread) to their liking. The result? Waste-saving, one-of-a-kind products, with a built-in connection between our team of designers, sewers, and you.

Check our Cotopaxi’s website where you will see the vast array of products they offer – bags, backpacks, men’s and women’s clothing, tents, sleeping bags, blankets, head lamps, hats, towels, water bottles and socks. I think I covered just about everything. Very cool and unique products for the active outdoors folk out there. Give ‘em a shot if you are bold enough and can handle all the colors!

A company with a give back mentality. After you check out their products I challenge you to spend some time on their site looking over the Questival, Impact, Our Story and More tabs at the top of the page. Cotopaxi is truly an amazing company !!

Cotopaxi website –

The Sleeping Review – Tent/Sleeping Bag/Sleep Pad and Pillow..

The Sleeping Review Post

The four products pictured were used this past week and all were part of camping/sleeping.

1. Sierra Designs Bedouin 4 Tent. The tent is a 3-season tent that is in my opinion made with high quality materials and component. The tent has a tall ceiling in the center and good height on the sides as well. Tons of interior pockets for whatever you need to stow away and the biggest plus is it’s easy to set up and one person can get it done on their own pretty quick. The tent utilizes a standard cross pole design and there are two smaller poles for the front and back when attaching the rain fly. One morning we had incredibly strong winds and the tent held its ground and we never had an issue at all. This is a huge plus. The only negative if you can call it one would be that the rain fly does come down to nearly the ground so the ventilation isn’t great which adds to the condensation but you can keep part of the rain fly unzipped for added airflow.

2. Marmot Never Winter 30 Degree Sleeping Bag. Not much to say here outside of it works and maybe a little too good. Temps dropped down to the mid 30s one night and I was overly warm in this bag. Good quality as you would expect from a Marmot product. Nothing bad to say here at all.

3. ALPS Mountaineering Rapid Sleeping Pad X-Large. Because I wasn’t hiking in anywhere I opted for the larger sleeping pad and was extremely happy. Unscrew the two valves and it self inflated to a certain point and then close off one valve and finish inflating to whatever firmness you want by blowing into the valve and then closing it off. The pad is incredibly comfortable and really takes the edge off from sleeping in a bag on the floor of the tent. The thing that really sold me was one morning I woke up and was perfectly warm and moved to the side slightly and my leg must have been slightly off the pad because I Could feel the temperature difference once it wasn’t on the pad. GAME CHANGER in my books. Awesome pad at an awesome price at REI.

4. Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow – Large 16×23. Once again I opted for a larger pillow since I wouldn’t be hiking it in some remote place. The pillow was amazing to say the least. It packs down small and then expands fairly quickly when you unroll it. I slept really well using it but if you want to fully experience this pillow do what the tag says and wash it and then dry it.. thats when it really expands and it much softer and much larger. At under $30 this pillow will make your time sleeping much more enjoyable. No more neck pain in the morning.

So.. Bravo to Sierra Designs, Marmot, ALPS Mountaineering and Therm-a-Rest for making my time sleeping much better than usual.

Let There Be Light – The Goal Zero Crush Light – Tell Us The Lumens……

Goal Zero Crush Light

This is a basic little camp light but it seems it does all it needs to do. In all actuality a light is a very basic item if you ask me – It either works or it doesn’t. This little camp light puts out 60 lumens of light on high but I can’t seem to find what the lumen output is on medium or low.

Goal Zero site information:
High Power – 3 Hour Run Time – 60 Lumens
Medium Power – 6 Hour Run Time – No Lumen Info
Low Power – 35 Hour Run Time – No Lumen Info
Candle Light – 3.5 Hour Run Time – No Lumen Info

Seems like fairly basic information you should have on a website on your Tech Specs tab. I guess the candlelight is for romantic camping or ambiance as they state on their site. Not my thing but to each their own.

Charge Time:
USB – 2.5 Hours (cord included)
Built In Solar Panel – 20 Hours

As you can see from the pics there is a small solar panel built in to the top of the light. The 20 hour charge time seems a little long but oh well. There is no way you can possibly keep it charged at a 20 hour charge time and a 3 hour run time while outdoors and away from a wall outlet.

So to wrap it up… decent little light that puts out a decent amount of light with a long charge time and a short run time. But…. at a $19.95 price point you really can’t expect something amazing.

Oh… it does crush down flat which takes up hardly any space so it does have that going for it.

I Love This Pad – The ALPS Mountaineering Rapid Air Pad XL – Truly Fantastic!

ALPS Mountaineering Rapid Air Pad XL

As I get older and older my ability to lay and sleep on a hard surface, like the ground, slowly goes away. With the upcoming gear review trip coming up a week from Monday I finally broke down and picked up a pad to sleep on while camping. After a decent amount of research I landed on the ALPS Mountaineering Rapid Air Pad XL.. yes I got the XL.. I’m not having to worry about backpacking with it or having to pack it into a small space. Nope.. it’s strictly from the truck to the tent so I went with the XL.

When end the box arrived I brought it inside and thought, seriously this box is huge. Then I reminded myself – Comfort.. We are going for comfort! Unwrapped it and quickly read over the instructions. If you have ever used a pad you know they are pretty darn basic. This pad is self inflating and has two brass valves – On the corners on one end. So it’s unscrew, inflate and screw the caps closed. The first inflation takes a few minutes and you do have to help with the inflation process by blowing into the valve and then sealing it. Leave inflated overnight and boom the next morning all is well in the sleep pad world. Deflate, roll up and secure with the two bands and shove it into the provided sack.

Like I said it‘s amazingly easy to use and I have to tell you it’s really comfortable. Not only does it inflate to get you up and off the ground but the core of the pad is a hexagon-shaped foam. Tell me that doesn’t sound fancy. Right, it does. So, overall I’m pleased with my experience with it so far and will obviously have more thoughts once I use it in a little over a week. So far, great job ALPS Mountaineering on a solid pad.

I have now slept on this awesome pad. All I can say is it was hands down the best nights of sleep I have ever had inside of a tent. Now let’s be clear… This is a good size pad and probably not something a backpacker is going to haul around for days but if you are driving up to your campsite or a short hike in this is a good option as it is incredibly comfortable.

A Light Inside A Hydration Bladder? – The Hydrolight 2L Back Country Lantern.

Hydrolight Outdoor Gear – 2L Backcountry Lantern – $45

Over the weekend I tested out the newly released 2L Backcountry Lantern by Hydrolight Outdoor Gear and I have to say I was overly impressed. You might be thinking… oh it’s just another hydration bladder but it really isn’t. The premise behind it is a hydration bladder with a small zippered waterproof pocket in the back so you can insert a headlamp, small flashlight or anything that lights up. When filled with water and the light turned on it diffuses the light and will really light up a small space like a tent.

After using multiple hydration packs in the past the Hydrolight holds its own in build quality. They are produced with great components and you can tell the minute you open the packaging. Highly impressed and at $45 it seems like a pretty good deal.

Round one I used water and it worked perfectly.

Round two I could probably be considered an idiot and put 7 cans of carbonated drink into the pack. Fast forward 10 minutes bouncing around in a boat and it expanded like a balloon. But… it held it’s own and never had a problem. Released the air and back to normal.

Overall it’s a great hydration pack and doubles as a lantern. Well worth the $45 in my opinion. All the people I was with thought it was a really cool product and asked where to pick one up. If I had one piece of advice for the people at Hydrolight Outdoor Gear it would be to offer some type of backpack type holder for the bladder like other manufacturers. I say this because I used it during the day as well when a light wasn’t needed and to be able to throw it on your back would be great. I’m sure this is in the works but that is honestly the only thing I would add or change.

Like I said this is a fairly new company so check them out and know if you pick one up you are getting a high quality product.