Outdoor Companies Go All Out With Pranks on April Fools Day

April Fools Day is always a fun day for me. Whether I’m pranking someone or am getting pranked myself, it’s all in good fun and games. This year was a little quiet for me, I didn’t plan a grand scheme like baking an Oreo Pie and use mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and dirt in the ingredients. No one got me by putting a fake rat or cockroach in my desk drawer either.

That wasn’t the case for some outdoor companies. Their pranks surfaced early in the day and they kept me entertained all day long. Here are some of my favorite April Fools Day pranks I saw on Tuesday, in no particular order.

ENO Hammocks Bacon Scented Doublenest Hammock

Eagles Nest Outfitter Bacon Scented Doublenest Hammock

Photo: Eagles Nest Outfitters

I’ve yet to meet an outdoor adventurer that doesn’t love the smell of bacon. I was jumping at the bit to get my hands on this hammock once I saw it surface on Twitter. Once I was thinking clearly again, I realized that bears, mountain lions, wolves, etc. probably really like the smell of bacon just as much as adventurers. A bacon scented hammock would be like a piece of meat dangling in the trees for a predator to come after. Although it’d be pretty awesome to lounge in something that smelled like bacon, it’d be a terrible idea.

Great prank ENO!

 Chaco Barefoot Z’s

Chacos Barefoot Z2 Sandals

Photo: Chaco

Chaco sold this new barefoot sandal, hard. Not only did they promote it on social media, but they also incorporated it into their 25 year anniversary campaign and promoted this on the front page of their website. At first glance this new design seems to be pretty cool and would appeal to the folks that are engulfed in the barefoot training fad, but it’s so simple when you look a little closer. All they did was wrap someone’s feet with Chaco webbing in the design of the Z2 sandal.

Wrap your foot up with some old webbing you’ve got lying around, take a picture, and send it to Chaco. I’m sure they’d get a kick out of it…don’t forget to give credit where credit’s due. 😉

 The Inertia University of Surfing

The Inertia University of Surfing College

Photo: The Inertia

I about pooped myself when I read the headline on The Inertia saying that there was going to be a University of Surfing opening its doors to students this fall in La Jolla, CA. Good thing I didn’t because this was a total hoax. All of it seemed legitimate until you get to the bottom and see that Kelly Slater’s going to be teaching a class. If you follow Slater on any form of social media, you’d know how he feels about higher education. And if you don’t know how he feels about higher education, let’s just say that there’s a better chance of finding surf in Kansas than seeing Slater in a college classroom, let along teaching a college course.

Thanks for getting my hopes up, The Inertia.

REI Gulliver Tiny Tent

REI Gulliver TIny Tent

Photo: REI

Outdoor adventurers are constantly looking for ways to cut weight out of their pack. A tiny tent is the perfect solution, until you realize that REI’s just messing with you and this tent to cover your head is just another April Fools Day prank. Check the suggested items section, my buddy Mike had to point it out to me before I noticed it and the add-ons are hilarious.

Good trickery REI.

Gear Junkie “Barefoot” Cycling Shoe

The Gear Junkie Vibram 5 Finger and Shimano Cycling Shoes

Photo: Gear Junkie

Playing to the hearts of the barefoot enthusiasts, Gear Junkie announced that Shimano and Vibram joined forces to create The PentiCleat. It’s supposed to adhere to the natural motion of your foot, but any cyclist knows that you want some stiff shoes. This was sheer buffoonery and the folks at gear Junkie did a great job at selling it.

Hat’s off to you, Gear Junkie

What April Fools Day pranks did you see?

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What’s in my beach pack?

Going to the beach is the forefront thought heading into summer, for most people. If you’re like me when I was in high school, you’ll just throw on your baggies and head out the door. Half way through the day I’d start wishing I brought some simple things like a towel, headphones, snacks & water. You know, simple things that aren’t always necessary, but can make a day at the beach more enjoyable.

I started throwing all the little things into my car and before I knew it, my car was a mess! As if coming home from the beach wasn’t a drag, now I had to actually unload my car; which usually took multiple trips because I’d end up doubling up on stuff. I finally started using a beach pack last summer and it completely changed my beach going experience. I’m not talking about one of those little foo foo Vera Bradley beach bags, mine’s a water proof pack that can hold all my stuff and I’m able to carry my surfboard at the same time.

What’s in my beach pack?Everything that Justin The Weekend Warrior takes with him in his beach pack

  • The beach pack I use is made by Dry Case and it’s their water proof back pack. It’s a simple design with a ton of room in the body of the pack with no frills. There’s a roll top enclosure to make sure everything stays cinched down tight to keep the water in or out. I can throw my drenched wetsuit in there with full confidence that salt water won’t leak onto my seats and it’ll keep the salt & sand from getting to my goods.
  • Sun protection is of utmost importance at the beach. Not only are you getting hammered with rays from the sky, but I’m convinced the water and white sand beaches of Florida just reflects the sunlight right back up to you. I wear my Boneyard sunglasses by Hobie Polarized to protect my eyes (more on these in a later post) and the SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen from ClimbOn! is my go-to for skin protection and I’m convinced that it’ll protect the fairest of skin pigment.
  • Hunger starts to set in after the euphoria of a fun surf session subsides. There’s usually a couple Clif Bars in my beach pack along with some crackers. I’ll throw in an almond butter (I’m allergic to peanuts) and banana sandwich if I’m feeling really fancy. Hydration is key and I’ll bring my trusty Nalgene and some Nuun All Day tablets. They not only help take the taste of saltwater out of my mouth, but also replenish my body with electrolytes. They’re really tasty, too!
  • Thoughts run through my head all the time while I’m on the beach. I’m not sure if it’s because the beach is my first true love, the ocean spray, bright sun, or what, but random stuff happens to pop into my noggin more when I’m at the beach. My pen and Moleskine journal are always with me to capture most of what runs through my head. The beach is also where I seek inspiration and a good book is a great stimulus. Right now it’s The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller.
  • Towels are always great to have (says my mom). I always bring one so my seats don’t get soaked, I can dry off, change out of my wetsuit and into my baggies, and it help keeps the sun off me from time-to-time.
  • Auxiliary weapons of anti-boredom is what really brings it all together. You might more commonly know this as a handboard. My handboard’s a ton of fun to take out when the surf goes to crap with a nasty shore pound. To accompany my handboard, I keep my fins with me and they’re great for helping me pull into the wave real quick and throw some barrel rolls. If it sounds lame, it’s not, every wave is overhead when you’re body surfing. 😉

What’s in YOUR beach pack?

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Dear frat bros. and sorority sisters–Leave the Patagonia logo alone

Dear frat bros. and sorority sisters,

I’m writing you this, to bring awareness to a certain issue that’s come about within the past few years. I see you all posting things on social media sites about your socials and wearing t-shirts that you get from these socials, bringing coolers, duffel bags, backpacks, etc. I think it’s great that you all are mingling around with other like minded folks in college, but one thing has started to irk me a bit.

The improper use of the Patagonia Clothing Co. logo.

Patagonia logo--Fratagonia

Taken from Pinterest

I completely understand that their logo is awesome. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wear a logo that had the west facing skyline of Cerro Fitzroy, in Patagonia? It’s a beautiful sight in pictures that almost any outdoor adventurer would want to be in the presence of, one day. Climbers would absolutely love to climb the The California Route on Cerro Fitzroy that was established by Yvon Chouinard in 1968, when he made the third overall ascent with three of his buddies.

You knew that skyline was a picture of Cerro Fitzroy, didn’t you?

Enough about the actual look of the logo, how about what the logo actually represents? When I see Cerro Fitzroy on a shirt, hoodie, hat, etc. I immediately think Patagonia. When I think Patagonia, I think of the quality of their clothing and their commitment to preserving the environment. Sure their stuff is expensive, but I know that the company produces the best product with the least amount of harm done to the environment.

After finding out that cotton causes the most harm to the environment, in the early 1990’s, Yvon Chouinard made the commitment that Patagonia would only use pesticide free cotton. Sure it’d cost a little more, but the impact on the environment is significantly less than standard cotton. This of course, would lead to what we all now know as the organic cotton industry in California.

Furthermore, Patagonia’s Certified B-corporation and are obliged to public-benefit concerns (environmental) next to its profit motive. Makes sense that they started donating 1% of their sales or 10% of their profit (whichever is more) to environmental groups. Since the company policy was adopted in 1985, they’ve donated over $46 million to grassroots environmental groups that are making a difference in local communities.

Being that you use the Patagonia logo all the time, I’m sure you already knew that. It’s kind of hard to believe you knew that since I see a lot of trash in the form of cigarette butts, cans, and bottles coming from your brothers and sisters on the beaches where I surf and in the woods where I hike and climb.

Please don’t take this as a letter of hate or condemnation towards fraternities/sororities, it’s far from that. I see the value in fraternities/sororities and I think it’s great that you’re part of one. They can be a great tool to make new connections and lots of my close friends are part of/have been part of a fraternity/sorority.

By all means, keep your letters, rock those Chubbies, J. Crew shorts, tank tops, and plastic sunglasses. That’s your “thing” and I think it’s great. I’m not asking you to not wear or stop wearing Patagonia clothing. In order to keep folks from associating the Patagonia logo with your fraternity/sorority, I’m just asking one favor of you.

Please leave the Patagonia logo alone

Sincerely,

Justin Fricke (The Weekend Warrior)

Weekend Warrior and Road Tripper Adventure Mobile

Travel and adventure is essential to any outdoorsman and weekend warrior. In order to travel properly, you need to have your own adventure mobile. I posed a question on Facebook and Twitter a couple weeks ago, wanting to see what adventure mobile people were driving.

This is what they drive:Weekend Warrior and Road Tripper Adventure Mobile

Adam: Outdoor Adventure Training

From the very first test drive, I knew that this was the vehicle I wanted! Power. Comfort. Design. Features. Price. It was all there.

The tried and true, constantly-tweaked 327 c.i. V-8 is a perfect blend of raw power,  but efficiency, too. When I need to haul a load of trail repair supplies off-road into a muddy forest, the shift-on-the-fly 4WD options sync perfectly with the locking rear differential. Throw in the immediate paddle shifter option AND the Tow Haul feature, and I can’t envision there being many realistic outdoor adventure load that my truck isn’t capable of carrying and delivering on the stylish 18-inch bright aluminum wheels.

The comfort features of the SLE model are just what I would’ve added as options. Power Driver’s Seat. Fantastic Sound System, with the added XM Sirius Radio AND OnStar. USB outlet. Dual Climate Control. Rear Under-seat Storage. Room for 5, comfortably, and 6 in a pinch. Every feature combines to create a comfy Office On Wheels, from which I spread the mantra of #GetOutdoorsMoreIn2014.

I added a unique Thule Roof Rack to set my adventure vehicle apart, and just recently had my professionally-designed logo and contact info applied to the sides and tailgate of the Sierra. There isn’t another GMC on the planet exactly like mine, just like there’s not another outdoor adventure company like The O.A.T.

Since you asked what I don’t like about my truck, I felt compelled to list at least one thing: gas mileage. However, I knew in advance that I wasn’t going to get 20-plus mpg, so that’s really a non-issue for me. All the recent hoopla about the Dodge Ram’s back-to-back Motor Trend “Truck of the Year” is hilarious to me. Listen closely and you’ll hear them rush through their disclaimer about their vaunted 20-plus mpg coming on their regular cab 4×2 with a V-6. I’ll take my 16 mpg in my powerful crew cab with the tried and true Z71 4×4 package ANY DAY!

Susan: Wilderness, Found

Truckie is a 1998 Nissan Frontieer, extended cab. He has a whole page of FAQs page with info about him on my website here: http://wildernessfound.com/truckies-frontier/

He has a Facebook fan page started by a girl who borrowed him once to help her move. It’s not as awesome as it could be, but dude, still awesome.

He’s my only car, so I commute and work out of him almost every day of the week. When I’m working he is my chaplain-mobile (think pope mobile, but with less bullet-proof glass and more Country music blasting). We drive an average of 120 miles a day when working, including up and down the mountain at least once (about a 4,000′ elevation change).

On the weekends, I load up Watson (my dog) and we head to the hills if I can. I’ve recently gotten more confident at driving him on the dirt roads in the San Bernardino National Forest (where we live) because I’ve found them all to be better maintained than the dirt road to my father’s house which I drive at least once a week (and get stuck on at least once a year due to wash-outs. Don’t tell my parents that though or they’ll make me start taking the paved route! Where’s the fun in that?).

I have some renovations planned for him in the near future, as money allows. He’s due for another transmission rebuild/replacement (it’s been over 100,000 miles since the last) and I’d like to put a camper shell on the back of him and build it out for overnight camping fun.

Currently, when car camping I just throw everything in really big Tupperware tubs in the bed, throw the tarp over everything, and lash the hell out of it to keep it all secure.

Basically, he’s like a mullet: business in the front, party in the back!

What I don’t like: he’s getting older, so more things are starting to need repair and his engine is loosing efficiency. I probably wouldn’t notice this if I didn’t drive the mountainy 5-6 times a week, but I really notice that his ‘get up and go’ isn’t as strong as it once was. My next car will be a V6, or Truckie’s next engine will be a V6 – whichever comes first – but currently my crazy commute means I put up with the lack of power in favor of the great gas mileage (at least 24mpg).

I don’t like that he’s only a 2wd. Because I’m lazy, not because I go off-roading. Frankly, if I”m going to go far enough into the back country that I’d really need a 4wd, I’d rather hike in/out and be closer to nature. HOWEVER the rules are such that, if he were 4wd and I had snow tires on him, I could avoid most chain-required conditions. It would be nice in the snow.

I’ve only just started outdoor climbing, so I’m not a true ‘dirtbag’ yet, but Truckie and I have some climbing adventures planned for the near future. After all, I live within a few hours of some amazing places to climb (Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Red Rocks, etc…) and there are plenty of beginner routes in those places, no reason I can’t start to have fun sooner rather than later.

PS!!!! I forgot. We go to the beach too, whenever we can. Because California’s cool like that and there’s nothing like surfing. 😉

Armando

I have a 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 with a camper topper.

The sleeping platform on the truck bed took about 40 hours of work to build, assemble, and lay down carpeting. I built it in two sections with the support system having the possibility of disassembling completely in case I need to take it out.

The passenger’s side has a cabinet system that is also completely removable to store things that need to be accessible while the bed is unfolded. It also has two hatches to access the boxes under the platform. The driver’s side has a drawer that pulls out with the food box and can become a table. I have curtains on every window of the truck that block light coming in and out but are also easily removed.

I built a battery box with a power inverter giving me about 10 hours of continuous power when using the computer and a rope light and fully rechargeable through a 50 watt solar panel in about 2 hours in the sun.

For cold weather I have an electric radiator which can also become a fan for hot weather.

The bed is a Tempur-Pedic foam pad that can be rolled up to keep it clean and out of the way while traveling. The platform fits Jess (my girlfriend) and me plus my 60lb dog. I’ve only taken it to a few places in Georgia and dealt with some below freezing temperatures and the sleeping arrangement worked like a charm.

There are only two things I don’t like about the setup:

1) I haven’t found a way to lock the gate from the inside.

2) The cost of gas, even with the 6 cylinder model I need to refuel the 25 gallon tank every 320 miles or so meaning I spend a lot of money on gas, but it’s worth every penny.

Armando Road Tripper Adventure Mobile

Photo: Armando

I love the set-up, it’s the perfect hybrid between a tent and an RV, I can park it anywhere, lock it up, and know my gear will be relatively safe. I would complain about the storage space but half of the driver’s side storage is taken up by dog food and I’m bringing gear for 4 months of rock climbing, mountaineering, and backpacking, not to mention living, for 2 people, and it all fits.

What’s your adventure mobile?

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Don’t Forget to Wear a Helmet

This post was inspired by a couple previous posts about helmets from some friends. To see the inspiration from Heidi, click here, and to see the inspiration from Dave, click here.

Have you all been watching the Olympics, in particular the Women’s Slopestyle event? I’m asking because a Czech snowboarder, Sarka Pancochova, took a nasty spill in the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Finals. She’s a hardcore chick, in my book. After taking a huge spill and cracking her helmet open, she got up and rode down the hill to the end of the course.

Did you catch the part where I said she cracked her helmet open?

Just checking because I think it’s imperative that every one, not just professional athletes, wear a helmet. I get that the typical weekend warrior isn’t throwing massive spin moves, flips, corks, or huge airs for that matter, on the ski slopes. So why do most weekend warriors feel that they’re better than a professional athlete, in their discipline. When I see someone riding a bike, skiing, snowboarding, skating, etc. without a helmet, in my head I’m hearing Hey (insert professional athlete name) I get that you do huge tricks and you can fall and get hurt real easily, but I can do some tricks and won’t ever fall or potentially crack my head.

That might sound like I’m comparing apples and oranges, so let’s compare apples to apples. What if you’re skiing and someone comes and cuts you off? Chances are you’re going to fall, same can be said for road biking. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to dodge someone’s dog, and almost wrecked hard, on the bike trail by my house. Not to mention the cars that have almost hit me on the road–don’t tell my mom!

I’m careful and people shouldn’t be idiots. Ha! Tell that to like 90% of people that are allowed to drive a car.

When you drive a car, you wear a seat belt–at least you should!  Think of a helmet as your seat belt, sure you’re a great driver that obeys all the laws and when someone hits you it wasn’t your fault, ever.

Rant: I bet police officers wish they had a dollar for every time they heard that phrase–end rant.

Even though you’re great at your favorite sport, someone next to you very well may not be as good and could potentially take you out. Wearing a helmet can help you mitigate that risk and prevent you from having a crappy day in the ER.

I used to be the polar opposite in my thinking, until my friend Heidi and Dave posted some great stuff about the importance of wearing a helmet. I used to think helmets were stupid, only for newbs, and should/could only be worn when doing something new or “extreme.” Quickly I came to realize, that thinking isn’t only childish, but very selfish as well. When you don’t wear a helmet, that’s like telling your family and friends that you only care about yourself.

How would your loved ones feel if you got seriously injured or were taken from them, all because of a freak accident where you weren’t wearing a helmet?

Aside from the safety aspect, I’ve found a couple pros to wearing a helmet. Lots of camera companies sell helmet attachments for their cameras and with a helmet, you can get some sweet to new angles. Some look pretty cool and have some insane designs and colors to brighten up your gear. I personally feel an added sense of security when I wear one. Case-in-point: when we were skiing in January, my brother, a snowboarder, looked at me after a session on the slopes and told me he noticed I was riding with a lot more confidence this year. To be honest, he was right. I wasn’t afraid to fly down the mountain, take different routes, and do less turns because I wasn’t worried about sustaining a head injury if I fell.Justin the weekend warrior decides to wear a helmet on the slopes

No matter what you do or who’s doing it, just a wear a helmet. It very well may give you a peace of mind and more importantly, your loved ones a peace of mind.

How often do you wear a helmet?

Any time in particular you were glad or wished you decided to wear a helmet?

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Footwear and Lifestyle Recap of the Surf Expo

A couple of my favorite sections at the Surf Expo are the Footwear and Lifestyle sections. Since they go hand-in-hand, they’re in the same general area, making it real easy for me to meet with a lot of people in a short period of time. Here’s a little recap of some of my favorite Footwear and Lifestyle brands and what they’re introducing in the weeks and months to come.Surf Expo Footwear and Lifestyle Collage

Footwear

Chaco

When you’re in the outdoors, you’re bound to run across someone wearing a crazy pair of woven sandals. Those, my friends, would be Chacos and don’t hate, they’re comfy. I met with the folks at Chaco in September and they welcomed me again with open arms to show me of their new sandal styles they’re unveiling this spring. First off is the ReversiFlip that gives women and kids a bunch of different sandal options. Rather than having a bunch of flip flops with different colored straps, you can have one flip flop and change out the different colored straps. Unfortunately us guys are left out on this one, but let’s be real. We’d only want straps in black or brown!

These are going to make for a perfect beach sandal.ReversiFlip for women in footwear and lifestyle

I don’t know about you, but when I wear my Chaco’s, I tend to get debris lodged in them and making it a little uncomfortable. Chaconians voiced their opinions on this issue and Chaco listened and is responding with the Outcross Web and Outcross Lace for both men and women. The base is the infamous LUVSEAT. that Chaco is know for. On top is a rubber toe cap and a rubber heel cap in the back, providing extra protection on the trail or in the river. The added deconstructed mesh that wraps around your foot allows the sandal to breathe and lets water drain, all while keeping unwanted debris out. The Outcross Web features webbing that wraps around the foot giving it the classic “Z” look and the Outcross Lace gives a tethered lace look with the zigzag polyester straps that conform to your feet.

Chaco nailed it again, providing folks with a functional sandal to be used on the river (where Chaco was born) or on the trail.

The ReversiFlip will to be available for purchase on February 1st along with the Outcross Web and Outcross Lace. Click here to see more pictures of these sandals.

Sanuk

With catchy phrases and nutty looking sandals, Sanuk has been catching my eye since I was in high school. In September, I was blown away by their booth and they didn’t disappoint this time around. The folks at Sanuk put together fantastic displays to show off their new sandals (they’re not shoes, they’re sandals). I already have a pair of Beer Cozy sandals from Sanuk and wear them all the time and was able to get a sneak peak at the new Beer Cozy Lite, that’s going to be available for purchase on March 15th. They’re the same exact look, feel, and design, but with a lighter sole. When you look at Sanuk sandals, you generally think they’re “out there” and are meant to be worn on the weekend. To bring the weekends to the workplace, Sanuk’s introducing the Yacht Baio, Casa Deluxe, and Schooner Dean to their collection on July 1st. These styles are going to be perfect for any weekend warrior that wants to bring a new sense of casual and relaxation in the workplace, while still keeping it classy. Who knows, maybe there’ll be a little more of “Smile…Pass It On” happening in the workplace with these styles.Sanuk sandals footwear and lifestyle

I’ve noticed that lots of ladies like doing yoga. I’m an avid yogi myself and enjoy the feeling of my yoga mat under my feet. Fortunately, Sanuk has their own line of yoga mat sandals for the ladies. Come March 15h, Sanuk’s going to be debuting their Yoga Slingshot with a thinner footbed and strap. Animal prints are pretty hip, so the ladies are going to have their choice of animal prints in the Yoga Slingshot and Yoga Slinger, a new style from Sanuk. Rather than having webbing wrapping around their entire foot, the ladies can opt for this style which enhances the standard “sandal look.” Again, you can expect to see these on shelves on March 15th.

One last style that Sanuk’s revamping is their popular Pick-Pocket sandal. If you didn’t know, you can stash your belongings in the tiny pocket ontop of the tongue of the sandal. For guys, we get the choice to get them in camo and ladies can get these in fleece. You know what’s great about these? They’re in stores right now! Go grab a pair before your next concert!

If you want to see more pictures of the styles and the Sanuk booth, click here.

Lifestyle

Team Phun

These guys are always nuts and have created a new twist on the word “phun.” Their collections of wild life and universal language collections have been doing fantastic and now they’re expanding their line, creating collections for guys. What really caught my eye is their new Phlaming Bo Hawaiian Collection, inspired by Team Phun Athlete, Bo Mitchell. It’s a vibrant Hawaiian button down shirt WITH a double flamingo pocket, to add a little extra phun. To go along with the Phlamingo Bo Hawaiian shirt, be on the look out for the Phlaming Bo hat, both coming out in April.Team Phun Phlaming Bo Hawaiian shirt in footwear and lifetsyle at the surf expo

Another couple collections that have been doing well and that you need to check out are their Aloha Pocket Collection and Sunday Phunday. Think of a tank top with a pocket and Hawaiian print on it and wham-o! You’ve got yourself the Aloha Pocket collection. My eye’s been caught on their 3/4 lenght sleeve Sunday Phunday collection all football season, but now that football’s ending, it’s going be a little sad…Until you see their baseball Sunday Phunday collection. Think of the seams on a baseball, but handlebar mustache’s. Stay tuned and check back come April for all these new styles and check out their always phun, current styles right now.

Click here to see more from Team Phun.

Duvin Designs

This surf-lifestyle is actually right in my backyard. OK, not literally in my backyard…that’d be weird. You get the picture. Duvin Design simply nails the kick back, chill culture of Florida with their crazy print button downs. My personal favorite is their tank tops. Sure they throw a snazzy pocket on there, but sunglass holders?

Duvin Design footwear and lifestyle

Photo Credit: Chris Glenn

That’s right folks, pocket on the right, sunglass holders on your left. Now you can keep a little pen and notebook in your pocket to get the ladies numbers and still have a place for your sunglasses.  Make sure you click here to see more of their styles and designs.

Surf Expo certainly didn’t disappoint this winter and I can’t wait to go back in September.

P.S. Let me know if you want more details about any of the companies listed above. I’d be happy to help or put you in touch with the right people.

All photos are courtesy of Adam Fricke Photography, unless otherwise noted

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Gear Review: Sly Fox Nutrition Snack Bars

Being allergic to peanuts can make it really tough when it comes to choosing foods. Luckily, my peanut allergy isn’t too bad and I can still eat foods that are manufactured in the same facility and on the same equipment that manufactures food with peanuts, without keeling over or stabbing myself with an EpiPen. However; I try to stay away from those foods as much as I can. I’ve found it helps me reduce my sniffles and the amount of sinus infections I get each year (my record is 5, so far).

When I heard that Sly Fox Nutrition made snack bars for outdoor enthusiasts without peanuts and made their snack bars in a peanut-free environment, I thought it was to good to be true.

Sly Fox Nutrition Cocoa Berry Snack Bar

Vanilla Bean Snack Bar from Sly Fox Nutrition

Sly Fox Nutrition Pumpkin Pecan Snack Bar

Peppermint Chip Snack Bar from Sly Fox Nutrition

I got to try and incorporate four different flavors of their snack bars into my training: Vanilla Bean, Peppermint Chip, Pumpkin Pecan, and Cocoa Berry. The flavors were quite tasty and no sniffles on my end after eating them.  Below is a little more in-depth view of what I thought about these snack bars and when I used them.

Pros:

  • REAL food
  • “Light”
  • Peanut-free
  • Tasty

You’ve probably tasted TONS of snack bars that say they’ll make you “perform better.” I’m not sure about you, but I’ve found that to actually be far from the truth. A lot of these companies will use organic ingredients, but then load them up with sugar and other processed ingredients. To me, this makes them overly sweet, slows me down, and they just “sit” in my stomach after crash landing inside me like a meteorite hitting the earth. The snack bars that I tried from Sly Fox Nutrition were completely opposite of everything I just described to you.

Made with real ingredients, it didn’t feel like a massive rock from outer space was making a crash landing inside the mid-section of my body. It just made my hunger, disappear. They never slowed me down and frankly, gave me that quick push to get me going before my work out (more on that in a minute).

These peanut-free snack bars were quite tasty as well. The first flavor I tried was Cocoa Berry and was expecting to be overwhelmed by the taste. I was completely caught off guard when I took my first bite and it tasted like a fairy lightly dusted the snack bar with Cocoa Berry dust. At first I did taste the Cocoa Berry, but then the taste wore off and I actually tasted all the different ingredients. It took a little getting used to, but once I knew what to expect I actually enjoyed that more than being overwhelmed with artificial flavors.

Con:

  • Lack of distribution

The biggest complaint I have is that I have to order these snack bars online. Having only been in business since December 2012, they’re only sold in the Phoenix, AZ area and online. Personally, I prefer to have the convenience of being able to go to my local grocery store and pick some off the shelf when I get home from work.

Best use:

  • Pre-workout
  • During workout

The snack bars have been a great pre-workout snack. I’ve been training for my Century Ride coming up on November 9th and these have been the perfect snack bar to much on before I go out on my rides. It’s just enough to ease that after-work hunger, without making me feel like I have to give it back 20 miles into my ride. I’ve also been munching on them at the climbing gym when I start hearing that growling noise in the pit of my stomach. It keeps my stomach full without turning my low gravity climbing day into a high gravity day.

Remember that this is a snack bar and that’s what I think it should be used for, to make your hunger subside between meals. I’m no dietitian, but I wouldn’t recommend these snack bars as a meal substitute.

The big question is: would I eat these snack bars again? You betcha I would! Where else can you get real food packed into a snack bar, that’s manufactured in a peanut-free environment? The only company I know about would be Sly Fox Nutrition. These snack bars get 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book!

You can get more information about the company, their story, snack bars, and other products on the Sly Fox Nutrition website: www.slyfoxnutrition.com. Sly Fox Nutrition is also great at keeping in touch on Twitter and Facebook.

I was provided with snack bar samples, but the views expressed are solely mine.

Gear Review: Freewaters GPS Sandal giving you ample arch support without bulk

A pair of sandals can easily be found in most anyone’s shoe collection. They’re comfy, easy to slide on, and are perfect for when it’s hot outside. Something a typical sandal lacks though is the arch support. Over the past couple of years, I’ve fallen in love with my more “rugged” sandals because they’re stylish and comfortable with their added arch support, but they’re just so dang bulky and heavy. I’ve constantly been sacrificing weight or comfort, until I found out about Freewaters at the Surf Expo.

I met up with these guys and got to see their entire line of shoes and sandals that are currently on the market and ones that are coming out in January 2014. The styles and designs looked sweet as can be, something any surfer, hiker, climber…heck, something anyone who loves to spend time outside would want to wear. They even have a cool boot design for the ladies that resembles an Uggs boot, but is more visually appealing. The guys hooked me up with my own pair of Freewaters, the GPS, and I’ve been wearing them around town quite a bit, and this is what I’ve found.Green Freewaters GPS Salndal with a Therm-A-Rest foot-bed

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Arch sport
  • Incorporates Therm-A-Rest
  • Philanthropy
  • Comfortable
  • Stylin’

The GPS is a great all-around sandal. Perfect for wearing to the beach, around town, out to lunch, to the gym, etc. It may feel flimsy, but I can assure you that it’s made with quality material and is going to last for a long time. I love the fact that it’s lightweight and has the arch support. Other sandals I have with arch support feel like they weigh a pound or two, but these babies feel like they weigh a couple ounces! If you’ve ever slept on a Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad, you know how comfortable they are, and if you haven’t, all you need to know is that they’re one of the most comfortable and lightest sleeping pads on the market for backpackers and campers. That being said, it makes sense that Freewaters is incorporating the Therm-A-Rest feel into their footwear, including the GPS. When I’m walking around in these sandals with the Therm-A-Rest foot-bed, it practically feels like my feet are getting a free massage just from walking. When you buy a pair of shoes or sandals from Freewaters, you’ll also know you’re giving back to those in need because 1% of all sales goes towards building clean wells in Africa, so folks can have access to clean water.

Cons:

  • Off sizing
  • Squeaking

Luckily I was able to try on a pair of sandals at the Surf Expo and I was able to get the right size that fit my feet. Normally, I’m a size 11.5-12 in shoes and sandals. I ended up needing a size 13 and proper sizing is everything with this kind of footwear. Getting the right size is a necessity since there’s the arch support in these. If you’re off a size, that arch support is going to be pushing up near the ball of your feet or behind your arch, close to your heel. If that happens, you’re going to be in a lot of discomfort when you’re walking. My suggestion, try a pair on at a retailer near you and then order them online if that retailer doesn’t have the size you want. The biggest flaw I’ve found with this sandal in particular is the annoying squeaking sound it makes when I walk. It seems like it only happens when my foot or the foot-bed gets wet. Whatever it is, it’s hard to make it stop once it starts and I’ve found myself altering the way I walk at times to reduce the loudness of the squeaking. I’ve been trying to wear down the foot-bed, thinking that might be the problem, but no cigar so far. Maybe mine are a defective pair?

The sandals are great (aside from the squeaking) and the company has great values that will resonate with most anyone. I wish I could give them a better rating, but a 3.8 out of 5 is the best I can do solely because of the squeaking. If my sandals didn’t squeak, I’d give them a 4.7 hands down because they’re so cool looking and are so comfortable. Looks I’ll be trying a different pair of Freewaters sandals and let you know how those compare.

I was supplied with these sandals from Freewaters, but the views expressed in this review are strictly my own.

Gear Review: Dry Case waterproof backpack keeping everything dry

We were heading through the five foot surf into the Pacific Ocean in a little panga boat and Adam was cringing. He wasn’t afraid of the waves, he was afraid of his super duper nice DSLR Cannon camera getting wet. Our buddy also brought his really nice telephoto lens that has a set 400 zoom so we could get some pictures of each other from the boat surfing at Punta Mango in El Salvador. We had the picture taking rotation down, but keeping the camera dry was proving to be a pain. We ended up wrapping his camera in a towel and putting it in our buddy’s backpack and just hoped it would be A-OK, but it would’ve been so much easier if we had a waterproof backpack from DryCASE.Dry Case Waterproof Backpack

I finally got my hands on one after the Surf Expo in September and you know I’ve been putting it to good use. The best performance I’ve seen from it was onJustin Fricke The Weekend Warrior watching his Dry Case Waterproof Backpack float down the river to Wekva Springs the last day of summer, when Alison and I did some canoeing down the Wekiva River in Central Florida. It was great knowing that I could pack some towels, electronics, snacks, etc. into one bag without them getting wet. Let’s face it, when you’re in almost any boat, you’re bound to get wet. I took the back of the canoe and threw the pack in the middle and even with all the water drippage from my paddle, the water just beaded down the backpack’s marine grade waterproof vinyl.

There’s no way I was going to intentionally flip the canoe to see how the backpack would do in the water, so we beached the canoe and I waded out into some knee deep water for my last bit of testing. I just dropped the backpack in the water and it started to float downstream. After I went an retrieved it, I had to see how waterproof this thing was. I fully submerged the backpack in the brownish/red river water and didn’t see any bubbles come up.

That’s always a good sign!

I did this a couple more times and it was finally time to see how everything panned out. I unrolled the top of the backpack and everything was dry. I did notice that some water was trying to seep in through some spaces in the roll-top, but that’s to be expected.

After all was said in done, here are my thoughts:

Pros

  • Padded shoulder straps and hip belt
  • Air valve
  • Marine grade waterproof vinyl
  • Huge compartment
  • D-rings

Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior submerging his waterproof backpack from Dry CaseHave you ever noticed that most backpack companies seem to incorporate comfort into their designs? I always hate wearing a backpack with nice shoulder straps, but just a strap for a hip belt. Everything on this backpack is padded, providing you with all the comfort you need for a long day on the trail, at the beach, or on the water. To help push air out of the backpack, the folks at Dry Case use an air valve at the bottom of the backpack. I found it really tough to roll down the top of the backpack when the valve was closed, but when opened, the air easily escaped. Once I secure the top, I even like to squeeze out a little air, so the backpack isn’t so bulky. The main compartment is enormous, I mean I fit two beach towels, water bottles, electronics, and snacks in there with about another 15 litters of space. You can rest assured that you’ll get everything in there that you want. Say you want to go kayaking and need to strap this baby down. You’ll find that it’s easy to secure with the D-rings that are on the hip belt and top handle.

Cons

  • One size fits all
  • Roll top closure

This backpack has so much padding on it, making it very comfy to wear. However, one size doesn’t fit all, in my opinion. For those that have a longer than normal torso, like myself, are going to find that the backpack kind of rides up. When I put it on, the weight pulls it back and makes the bottom of the backpack push into my back because it sat on my back at an angle. When I tightened the strap to get it fitted the right way, the backpack rode up so when I had it in a good place to secure the hip belt, the hip belt was just above my belly button. In addition, the roll top closure could potentially let water in. If the backpack’s completely submerged for a long period of time or if the top isn’t rolled tight, then water could definitely seep through the cracks.

All this being said, I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons and would say that this is definitely a solid backpack that any weekend warrior should have. I’d give the backpack a solid 4 out of 5 stars, mainly because of the one size fits all aspect. Aside from that, this backpack does what it’s made to do, keep your tech dry when you get wet.

This wasn’t sent to me as a complimentary product to review. This was bought by me and the reviews expressed are my own…as always.

Hit Mit: My New Favorite Beach Game

“How come all you do is surf?”

That’s a phrase I hear from my mom at least a couple times every summer at the beach. She asks me that because around 11:00 a.m. at the beach, I’m bored and ready to go to the pool or do something else. Usually by 11:00 a.m. the wind’s picked up and has completely blown out the waves, making them not much fun to surf. I feel like I’ve played almost every beach game known to man: boccie ball, Frisbee, paddle games, soccer, football, etc. There’s too many reasons to name why I’m not a fan of any of these beach games and only stick to surfing, but I may have found something solve this dilemma.6_color_Pyramid_1024x1024

I met with the designer of the Hit Mit and a few of the executives while I was at the Surf Expo and got the chance to play a quick game with them. They even hooked me up with a sample to take home and use with my friends and family, it’s been awesome!

Pros:

  • Soft
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Different colors
  • Great for kids

One of the things I always look for in a product is the weight. I always want something to be super lightweight (I guess that’s the backpacker in me). Being that it’s made of a soft foamy material, it easily meets that requirement. Since it’s really soft, when you go for a hard return hit and end up whacking your leg, it won’t hurt or cut you open like other paddle games might. You know, the ones that make you play with a heavy and rigid wooden, plastic, or some form of metal paddle/racquet .

1300_204542a_1212The double-sided paddle fits over your hand like a glove (literally), so it’s just like you’re hitting a ball with your hand. I found it to be a lot easier than trying to return the ball with some sort of paddle. Not having to worry about how you hold it and knowing that your reach extends as far as your hand, gives you a surefire return every time. With 6 colors to choose from, there’s surely a color that you’re going to like and the pastel colors are an eye catcher for kids. Speaking of kids, I entertained my 2 little cousins (ages 3 and 4) for hours a couple weeks ago. When they come over, they love playing with board games, but the games are usually a little too complex for a 3 and 4 year old. They get bored of playing with the pieces after a about 10 minutes, so I grabbed my Hit Mit set and they absolutely loved it.

I gave each of them a paddle and tossed a foam ball over to them and they would hit it right back to me. They were jumping up and down, having a blast and I jumped the ranks and became their favorite cousin all in one evening 🙂 Did I mention we were playing inside? Since the whole set is made of a soft foam material, it was perfectly fine and I didn’t worry about them hitting the ball and breaking something. You can’t play tennis or racquetball inside.

Cons:

  • Bulky
  • One size fits all

Just like my preference for products that are lightweight, I always like them to be packable. That’s unfortunately not the case with the Hit Mit. It’s very durable and wide so most any hand can fit inside it to play, but it doesn’t collapse. My fear with that is it’d be the first thing to get left behind if there wasn’t any room left in the backpack, bag, car, etc. Also, the once size fits all thing is good, but only if you have big hands. I’m able to hold onto the Hit Mit just fine, but my little cousins had a bit of a hard time holding them. Eventually they found a way around it that worked for them by just holding onto the top part of it. It’d be awesome if there was a version small enough to fit a hand in the 3-10 year old age range.

In the end, the Hit Mit gets 4.5 stars out of 5 since it’s so much dang fun. It’s great for parents to give to kids since it works on their hand-eye coordination and they can use it in the house if they’re stuck inside for long periods of time like during a hurricane, snowstorm, etc. It’s also fun for teens and adults alike to play a new game outside at the beach, lake, pool, etc. It’d also be a great thing to have for a BBQ in the backyard.

The possibilities are endless for different people, places, and scenarios, where the Hit Mit can be used. Get a set of your own and see for yourself.

*I was supplied with a complimentary Hit Mit of my own by the inventor, but the views expressed in this review are my own.