This weekend was another one of those “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” kind of weekends. Alison and I were originally going climbing with some friends at LRC for the long weekend. When we saw pictures of snowy boulders, we started looking towards Rocktown as our fallback plan. When we heard reports of rain at 10:00 p.m., we just started second guessing the plan of a rock climbing weekend. We woke up on Saturday morning with the intention of going to Rocktown, but a previous shoulder injury flared up earlier in the week and still hadn’t subsided and we heard the rock was wet. With all that info, we decided it was going to be a beach weekend.
As we were on our way over to my parents’ beach condo, we got a quick batch of texts coming in from friends saying the road to Rocktown had been shut down. Guess we made the right choice!
Saturday was just chilly and didn’t give much surf, so we had a relaxing day just hanging out. That night we took a stroll down Flagler Avenue with Adam and some of the guys from the UCF Surf Team, all while hitting up some of the local watering holes, of course. Sunday was just cold and windy. Naturally the wind just completely blew out any chance for some good waves. Instead of heading to the beach to freeze and be miserable, Alison and I tried our luck at the New Smryna Beach Brewing Co. A brewery, local to New Smyrna that opened their doors to the public about three weeks ago.
Sunday brought favorable waves and was warm enough out for Alison to go on a beach run while I caught some waves. Crazy that one day the waves are choppy and the weather’s terrible, the next day they’re two to four feet, glassy, and lots of sunshine. Made for the perfect longboard day and I was even able to catch a couple nose rides. Hadn’t done that since, shoot, the summer.
Even though the weather and my shoulder shut us down for a weekend of sends, we were stoked to get back to the beach, try out a new local place, and enjoy the beach again.
What did your weekend look like?
Any sweet plans for this weekend?Pin It
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 notedPin It
This past weekend was supposed to be a send fest for the ages at Rocktown. That plan quickly dissipated when I started showing common cold like symptoms while at work on Friday. According to my co-workers, I sounded terrible and was told to get the heck out of the office before I got everyone else sick. With a box of Cold-Eeze in hand, a stuffy nose, and a headache, Alison and I knew Rocktown wasn’t going to happen.
Accepting defeat, I started looking to salvage my weekend in other ways. Sitting at home in bed just didn’t sound like a fun way to get better. At that moment, I remembered what I had read when I was in middle school, 10 years ago.
We had to do the dreaded book reports and I somehow convinced my teacher to let me do a book report on Kelly Slater’s new (at the time )autobiography, Pipe Dreams: A Surfer’s Journey. Slater was talking about his childhood and how when he or his brother would get sick, they’d stay home from school and their mom would make them go surfing. The thought process was that the saltwater would clear everything up and make them feel better. That sounded like fun and I figured I had nothing to lose.
My parents were already at our beach condo, Adam and I headed over after he got off work on Saturday night. It’s crazy what the thought of the beach can do for someone. On the way over, I started feeling better and the smell of the salty air just opened me right up, that night.
Sunday morning was a cold morning for New Smyrna Beach. It was in the 40′s and we had to be on the beach early in the morning to get a parking spot, since there was a surf contest going on, that Adam was competing in. Feeling better, I threw my board and wet suit in the car and took off with the family.
The day went on, the air warmed up, and I finally put on my wet suit and took a plunge into the chilly 55 degree water. Between the salt air, wind, and saltwater, I felt so much better. Sure I got tossed a bit, but it was nice to get some saltwater in my head to clear everything out.
I even saw dolphins! Sure I see them all the time at the beach, but this time was even more insane because they were close to everyone surfing and were jumping and playing in the waves. Not going to lie, you kind of start thinking twice about what to do when you see a whole pod of dolphins jumping in the wave coming right at you.
After about an hour, I was frozen and headed off to warm up. Once all was said and done, a day at the beach was the best medicine I could have taken.
Getting over this stupid cold was a relief, since I’ve got a big trip planned for this weekend. Wednesday night after work, I’ll be headed up to spend four days in the mountain of North Carolina for some skiing and climbing. If you want actual proof of a Floridian successfully making it down a black diamond run without falling or serious injury, make sure you’re following me on Instagram and Twitter for all the updates. For the full update, subscribe here and I’ll send you an email once I get that entire update posted.
How was your weekend?
Do you have any cold remedies?
Photo Credit: Adam Fricke PhotographyPin It
Alright I’ve never done this, so bare with me as I brag on one of my favorite places in the world which just so happens to be my second home (literally) New Smyrna Beach, FL. New Smyrna Beach is a quaint little surf town about an hour northeast of Orlando, FL and about 30 minutes south of iconic Daytona Beach, FL, home of the Daytona 500.
What about this little surf town makes me love it so much, let a lone entices me to write an entire blog post about it? Strap on your seat belts and let me take you on a virtual tour of New Smyrna Beach, FL.
It’s a tiny town that feels “homie.” Littered with local restaurants, coffee shops, and retail shops you start to get to know a lot of people when you’ve been there for a while. Before you know it, you’ll be walking into places and waving at people you know. Everyone gathers at the same places, so just be ready to feel at home and welcome.
The lifestyle and vibe is something that you just can’t compete with. One summer when I was living at my parents beach condo and was working as a surf instructor, I decided that I wanted to go barefoot as much as I could. I just stopped wearing shoes and sandals all together. There I was, walking the streets barefoot, went to the grocery store barefoot, picked up some stuff at the local surf shops barefoot, and no one said a word or gave me any weird stares. The only places that I’d wear shoes was into restaurants because they had the typical “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” signs plastered everywhere. Other than that, it was barefoot all the time and it was awesome!
New Smyrna Beach is filled with different outdoor adventures. You can take a quick hike through the woods. Paddle a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddle board through the mangroves. Play a round of golf or hit the beach for some fun. My favorite thing to do outside is surf. I’ve called New Smyrna Beach my home surf break for just over 15 years and evidently I made a good choice since Surfer Magazine ranked it number nine in the “best surf towns” poll in July 2009. New Smyrna Beach was also recognized as “one of the world’s top 20 surf town” by National Geographic Magazine. If you do decide to go to the beach, just keep an eye out for some curious little sharks that frequent the shores. They’re not vicious monsters like the news makes them out to be, just a little curious and I’ve yet to be bitten (knock on wood). One new outdoor activity that I’ve been trying to introduce to New Smyrna Beach is the slackline game. People have seen me set up at a few places around town and have been very intrigued. I’m hoping it’ll start to catch on in a couple years.
Believe it or not, New Smyrna Beach is actually rich in history. If you’re looking for museums, forget about it. Pick up a couple local magazines and you’ll usually find some interesting facts. For instance, years ago my mom was reading through a local magazine and came across an article about an interesting aspect to a residential road. Centuries ago when the area was being discovered, the land was a dense forest and wild game roamed the land. The son of a a rich land owner went hunting and was accidentally shot. His dad came looking for him, found his deceased son and then buried him on the spot. Fast forward a few centuries when developers were coming through, paving roads, and found this old burial spot. Instead of disrespecting the grave site and moving it, they built a road around it. Now you can see the grave site that’s been maintained in a nice subdivision as you go by looking at million dollar homes.
Let me know if you’re ever visiting New Smyrna Beach and I’d be happy to take you by there.
What really puts New Smyrna Beach at the top of my charts are the people. Super nice and always high on life kind of people. One day I was getting my Slyde handboard set up with my GoPro and a local surfer saw me and took a profound interest in what I was doing. Our conversation went a little something like this:
Local: Dude! Is that one of those handboards!?
Local: Sweet man, can I come check it out?
Me: Sure. (I mean I had no choice. He was already walking over.)
Local: Oh man that thing looks so rad. I bet you get shacked so hard in the tube every time.
Me: I’ll have to get back with you on that one. I just got it yesterday and this is going to be my first time taking out.
Local: No way! Dude that’s so sick. Bro you must be stokin’ so hard right now.
Me: I’m pretty excited.
Local: I bet! Thanks for showing me this bro. Have fun out there dude!
For those of you who don’t speak surfer, you might be thinking that he was trying to sell me drugs or could’ve been cussing me out. Quite the contrary. He was excited for me that I was trying something new out in the water. I honestly don’t know where else you can get that kind of enthusiasm in that form.
When you get tired of freezing your toosh off this winter or are looking for a great summer vacation spot, keep New Smyrna Beach at the top of your list. We’d love to show you around when you come and stay for a while.
P.S. No joke. If you do decide to make a trip to New Smyrna Beach, give me a heads up and I’d love to show you around.
Alright, so I didn’t make my return to climbing this week. I fully intended to go to the climbing gym on Wednesday, but I failed to remember that my climbing gym had already stripped all the routes for the boulder comp that’s going down on Saturday. Instead, I decided to stay home, track my new handboard (more on that in a minute), and keep doing my finger exercises.
While I was in Jacksonville last weekend, I ran by the local REI store and picked myself up a Gripmaster Hand Exerciser. It’s been pretty fun and helpful with strengthening my finger tendons. Still not able to full on crimp like I want to, but I throw down a half crimp, pinch, and open grip just fine. I guess that means that tendon of mine is healing up? Either way, I’ve been getting some strange looks around the office while I’m walking around gripping this thing, and those looks are just priceless.
This I will promise you, I will be going to the beach this weekend. That’s the great part about living in Florida, beach weather all year, even the week before Thanksgiving. While my friends out west and up north are spending time on the slopes, I’ll be spending time in the ocean. The waves have been a decent size this week, somewhere in the four foot and up range, but the wind has just turned the ocean into a complete washer machine. With the rain and winds dying out today and tomorrow, I’m hoping Saturday’s going to be a good day to bust out the surfboard for some long awaited surfing.
Something I can’t wait to try out is my new handboard from Slyde Handboards. Never heard of a handboardyou say? It’s basically a surfboard, but for your hand…handboard. Get it? Body surfers use a handboard to create less drag with their bodies by lifting more of their body out of the water. The added surface area and buoyancy from the handboard makes it easier to do that compared to just using your hand. A handboard also helps body surfers actually set a line down the wave so they’re riding along the face, getting barreled, rather than doing a short down-n-out ride.
My brother and I teamed up with one of our friends last year and had our go at trying to making a homemade handboard or two, but it didn’t work out too well. They were made from wood, so they were sort of heavy and we had a tough time keeping the strap secure. We had a ton of fun though.
Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to using a quality made handboard with an adjustable handstrap and bicep leash. Last week I ordered the Woody Cobra with a GoPro attachment and a bicep leash, which should be waiting at my front doorstep about right now, so I’m jonesin’ to get home and bust open that box.
Hope you all have an amazing weekend!
What are your weekend plans?
Have you ever tried using a handboard?
Earlier this week, I posted something about dating a surfer to help non-surfers realize what they’ll be in for if they choose to pursue a relationship with a surfer. Let’s face it, relationships with a surfer are definitely tough. By the same token, I believe that us surfers need to know what we’ll be in for if we decide to pursue a relationship with a non-surfer.
Here are a few things we surfers need to ask ourselves, before pursuing a relationship with someone who doesn’t surf.
Is your lady high maintenance?
If the answer to this is “yes” most surfers are immediately intrigued. It’s no secret that shiny things attract us, the glare on the water, pretty new surfer boards, and pretty ladies. However, we should be very cautious in a situation like this since our life could be forever changed. Forget about those days of not showering, when you’re dating someone that’s high maintenance, that’s bound to rub off on you.
Taking it a step further, I quote Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty “The more makeup a woman wears, the more she’s trying to hide. Makeup can hide a lot of evil.”
Does your lady actually love the beach?
As you probably saw in my post earlier this week, there’s numerous reasons and excuses why girls don’t love the beach. Yet they still say they love the beach when in all actuality, they love the idea of the beach. Make sure your lady actually loves the beach because if she doesn’t, your time at the beach will quickly diminish. For us surfers, trying to pull us away from the beach is like trying to take a Justin Beiber CD away from a middle school girl.
How does camping sound?
When the idea of sleeping under the stars or in your car at the beach tickles your fancy, it better sound like fun to your lady. We want to spend as much time with our lady as we can and we’re always inviting them to do stuff with us. That also includes camping (in a tent, the car, on the beach, etc.). If her idea of roughing it is sleeping at a three star hotel instead of a four or five star hotel, you better just end it earlier rather than later. While all of those camping scenarios sound great to you and I, some girls just aren’t into that stuff and not much is worse than going out surfing when your lady’s mad at you.
What about International travel?
There’s a time and place for everything, I believe. A surf trip with your buds, is not the time to bring your lady along. That’s completely fine and she needs to know that upfront and be cool with it. Letting her know that you two will have your own travel time and sticking to your word, should help her be cool with that too. While we’re on this topic, cover all your bases and bring up travel updates as well. We all know how spotty wifi and how expensive data roaming charges can be. Might as well make sure she’s good with not hearing from you for a few days on end.
It’d be great if your lady’s camera savvy
Almost every surfer I know wants to see pictures of themselves. If your lady’s got a camera, knows how to use it well, and loves the beach, there might be the beginnings of a beautiful relationship.
Can she be self-sufficient?
Let’s face it, we surfers aren’t really the type to cater to someone and be at their every beckoning call. When we surf, we’re gone for three or more hours. It makes absolutely no sense for us to be checking the beach all the time, looking for our lady friend to wave us in to go get a water or a snack for her. That’s ridiculous. Instead, make sure she’s good with you being gone for a few hours at a time. It’s the perfect way for her to get in some relaxing time by reading a book, listening to some music, or even sleeping under the sun.
I know what you’re probably thinking by now, surfers and non-surfers should never have an intimate relationship. That’s actually quite the contrary my friend. This is just me trying to be helpful by getting folks to realize and understand what others wants and needs are, specifically between surfers and non-surfers.
Personally, I’m in a relationship with someone who doesn’t surf and it’s working out great. Alison enjoys reading a book on the beach (I double checked) while I’m out surfing and doesn’t expect me to be there for her every moment of the day (Again, I checked). She’s also cool with infrequent “hey I’m alive” messages while I’m on my surf trips. Not to mention that she’s also the one that always talks about going camping.
Can surfers and non-surfers have a meaningful and working relationship? You betcha. You just have to find each other, not force it on someone else.
Disclaimer: I’m speaking to girls because it’s the easiest vernacular for me to use. This information can also be reversed and spoken towards guys as well. I’m also not a therapist or an expert in relationships, just a guy that’s learned a lot through observation and trial & error.
Throughout my 15 year surfing career (I use the term “career” very loosely here), I’ve heard it time and time again. A girl saying “I want to date a surfer!” All she sees is the tan, muscles, and laid back lifestyle, but little does she know what actually goes into dating a surfer. Last week, The Clymb posted something on their blog that was informative to us surfer boys when it comes to keeping a relationship, in addition to our relationship with the waves. That’s great and all, but there isn’t much out there to give the ladies a quick taste of what’s to come in dating a surfer.
Ladies, do you have what it takes to date a surfer?.
Want to go to the beach?
When a surfer says this to you, you’re probably thinking that he wants to take you to the beach, pack a picnic lunch, and walk on the beach with you for miles picking up shells. Wrong! This is what he’s saying “the waves are supposed to be pumping and I want to go surfing. Do you want to come and watch me surf? It’d also be cool if you took some pictures of me too.” I’m sure he’d love to spend time with you at the beach between sessions, but when the swell picks up again, your “hopeless romantic” is going to be charging back into the water with his board to catch some more waves.
One last thing on this subject. If he ever mentions Dawn Patrol, be ready to wake up around 4:00 a.m. so he can be in the water before the sun comes up.
Do you actually “love” the beach?
“I love the beach!” Ha! I’ve heard that one too many times before to actually believe that statement. That’s usually followed up with “except for that icky sand, it just gets everywhere.” I don’t get what’s wrong with the sand, Laird Hamilton has some sort of imitation sand for a floor in his house and that sounds ideal to me and most surfers. After that’s the “I just wish the sun wasn’t so bright or hot.” So you don’t like the sun–how about you try living in Ohio where the sun never shines and it’s always cold. One of my favorites is “and it’d be so much better if there wasn’t any wind.” It’d be a freakin’ oven if there wasn’t any wind! Last and certainly not least “the salt water just sticks to my skin and is annoying on the ride home.” Have you never thought about bringing some gallon jugs of fresh water to rinse off before the drive home?
If you’ve found yourself saying this quite a bit when you go to the beach, maybe the idea of loving the beach sounds great to you. And dating a surfer probably isn’t the best idea, since surfers practically live at the beach.
Can you entertain yourself?
So you made it past the first two criteria. You’re cool with waking up early and going to the beach to watch your cute little surfer boy “hang ten” and “shred the gnar.” You also actually love the beach. So let’s step it up a bit, watching your surfer boy do what he loves sounds like a great idea, right? Of course it does, but the real thing to ask yourself is “how does sitting alone for three or more hours sound to you?” That’s realistically what’s going to happen when you go to the beach to watch him surf. You’re surfer boy’s not going to catch a couple waves and then come in and see what you need. When the waves are pumping, he’ll be out there for at least three hours. It can get boring, so make sure you’re cool with the idea of sitting on the beach, reading, listening to music, sleeping, etc. for long periods of time.
How do frequent phone calls sound?
Frequent phone calls sound amazing, don’t they? Don’t be expecting that all the time from when you’re dating a surfer. When he’s home and that’s his style, that’s great. However, keep those frequent international surf trips in mind. International surf trips means no cell service and sometimes no internet. There’s been times when I couldn’t reach home for four days. When you need constant contact with a dude, start looking elsewhere.
You want to learn how to surf?
More than likely, your surfer boy’s going to be more than happy to teach you how to surf. Just keep in mind that you’re dating a surfer, not a miracle worker. Surfing’s a major learning process, so don’t expect to get up on your first time out on a board and don’t get mad at him when you don’t get it. Be ready to learn to surf whenever the swell allows you to learn. He won’t want to teach you in pounding shore break or a hurricane swell, those conditions might mess up that pretty face of yours. One of the most annoying things is when you get up for the first time and you act like you’re the Queen of Surfing. Be humble. If you had blast, tell him, but don’t go around telling everyone you turned left, then right, and shredded the wave, etc. etc. That just gets annoying.
Terrified of danger?
When you’re dating a surfer, you get to hear about all the stories. Typically, these stories involve some danger. You’re going to be the first to know about how we got wrecked on a huge wave and got beat up on the reef. Better yet, just wait until he tells you about the shark that surfaced three feet to his left. Just remember that when he tells you this stuff, he wants you to be concerned and make sure he’s OK, but it’s no point in trying to get him to stop surfing. That’s like asking a cow to stop eating grass.
Now ladies, don’t let these “rules” freak you out. If this all sounds like fun to you or at least doable, then you might be one of the few that can make a relationship work with a surfer boy. Know that it’s completely OK if none of this is you or sounds appealing to you, there’s plenty of other fish in the sea. Might I suggest setting your sights on a hipster, I hear coffee shops are a great place to meet those types of guys AND you might even be able to score yourselves one of those fancy drinks that I can’t pronounce.
Anything I should add to this list about dating a surfer?
Any rules apply to dating a (name your sport here)?
Disclaimer: This is meant to be some sort of a humorous manifesto of dating a surfer. These are only a few of the lessons learned and heard over the course of 15 years and should be taken with a grain of salt. I’m not singling women out either, these topics could easily be applied to men as well.
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.
- Arch sport
- Incorporates Therm-A-Rest
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.
- Off sizing
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.
If you’ve been keeping up with me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve probably seen that I got the opportunity to go to the Surf Expo here in Orlando, FL a couple weekends ago. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to get to meet some of the behind-the-scenes people from some of my favorite brands and I got to meet some nice folks from some stellar up-and-coming brands. To top it all off, I even got to test some new products that aren’t even out on the market yet and got to see the upcoming Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 product lines!
Here’s a little “Award List” I put together that highlights some of the different brands I met with and that every Weekend Warrior should get to know:
Up & Coming: Team Phun
Apparently we’ve been spelling the word “fun” wrong all this time (thanks for nothing Webster and Oxford!) because the new way to spell it is by dropping the “f” and adding a “ph.” Team Phun is a new California lifestyle apparel company and is the epitome of a family company, run by two brothers with their sister taking care of the PR aspect and their dad giving them some helpful pointers along the way.
When they reached out to me a couple weeks before the expo, what caught my attention was their good-humor clothing. When you go to their site, you’ll see what I’m talking about right when you see all the mustache apparel with the 3/4 length t-shirts, crazy hats, and new pencil drawn animal collections for the ladies. When I was chatting with Jamie, the President, he was telling me that they can customize almost anything so if you don’t see certain colors you’re looking for, give em a call and ask for it (they love getting these kinds of requests). You’ll also notice that they team up with all sorts of people like grom-level surfers, a go-kart racer, heck even a competitive eater! One of the coolest things I saw was their Astroboard, where they took some AstroTurf, got a patent, and introduced the Astroboard so your feet are oh so comfortable when you’re skating barefoot.
They’re a ton of phun and just want to spread the phun with as many people as they can.
Functionality: Topo Designs
Most would think that a bag/apparel company from Colorado would only find a market in the mountains, but not Topo Designs. With their extremely versatile and functional bags, combined with their new clothing line, they’re making a statement in the surf industry.
At first glance, you’ll see that their bags are pretty simple and classy looking, something that you could take to the mountains yet also be able to pack all your work essentials into and still look professional in the office. Once you look closer you’ll see all the hidden details like different hooks on the Mountain Briefcase to let you turn it into a satchel or backpack. The Travel Bag has multiple sleeves for electronics (for instance), plenty of space for four to five days worth of clothes, and a couple loops for the hooks on the Trip Pack to hook onto so you can be hands-free in the airport with both of your carry-on bags on your back. Not to mention that with their new clothing line, you’ll be sure to look great on the weekends and on Casual Fridays in the office. This is only a sample of some great features of a few of their products, you’ll have to go to their website to see everything else they have to offer.
Funnest Outdoor Game: Hit Mit
As I got older, I got sick and tired of outdoor games and frankly just wanted to surf while I was at the beach and simply explore the outdoors. Hit Mit has changed that mindset for me. Instead of getting bored and going home, all I have to do now is bust out my Hit Mit and start a game with a friend. Think of having a ping-pong paddle on your hand with two sides that gives you a lot more control resulting in less game stoppages to go get a runaway ball.
I got to play a quick round with the CEO of the company and had a blast. The space aisle ways between booths at the expo was a little constricting, but we still made it work. I know the award is for the Funnest Outdoor Game, but the squooshy paddles and balls, you can even play this game inside if it’s raining. Just make sure you play in an area where there’s the least amount of breakable objects, in case you decide to go for a huge save and end up running into something.
Lightest Supportive Footwear: Freewaters
We’re all accustomed to the flat sandals on the market and the only way to get a sandal with good support is to get a heavy sandal/shoe. That was before I heard about Freewaters who have an ergonomic foot-bed in their sandals and shoes.
You’re probably wondering the heck an ergonomic foot-bed is, simply put, cushion up on the arch of your foot. As you walk around in typical sandals and some shoes, you’ll probably notice that the arch of your foot practically goes untouched. I don’t know about you, but that puts a lot of stress on the rest of my foot, making long distance walks pretty uncomfortable. However, walking on soft sand is very comfortable to me because the sand pushes up against my arch and gives me that support that I love. The same concept goes along with the Freewaters sandals and shoes, without the sand getting stuck to your feet of course.
Adding to the foot support, Freewaters is also making strides to support people in Africa. When you buy a pair of shoes or sandals from Freewaters, a portion of the proceeds goes to building new wells in Kenya that provide clean drinking water. When you’re wearing a pair of Freewaters, your feet aren’t the only ones that are thanking you.
Best Booth Display: Dry Case
Like most Weekend Warrior’s I like to spend time on the water during the summer months and since I live in Florida, it usually ends up being year-round for me. There’s always the phone/electronic dilemma because I don’t want my stuff to get wet. Recently, I came across and ad for Dry Case and saw that they stuck a phone in one of their bags and submerged it underwater and I thought to myself that I had to see it to believe it.
They sure didn’t disappoint me at the expo because as I was walking by their booth, the goldfish tank with not only a phone, but a tablet submerged in water caught my eye. They had the phone set on stopwatch mode with the time running and the tablet was set on camera mode, so you could actually see yourself in the tablet that was swimming with the fishies.
Their goldfish tank display did a great job of showing how their products are vacuum sealed and really will keep your electronics dry when submerged in water.
Have you ever noticed that different clothes from different brands always feel, well, different. That’s because of the various type of materials that go into making different clothing items. In my opinion, Prana is one of the best companies at making sure that what goes into their clothing, does as little harm to the environment without sacrificing performance.
When I met with one of their reps Sunday morning, the first thing she went into was talking about their sustainability initiative and how they make sure they’re always improving in that aspect. I’ll tell you what, these folks sure do practice what they preach and are a very stand-up company.
Recycling Initiative: Surf Bandz
Not many companies can say that what makes their products look cool is a piece of recycled material. Surf Bandz can make that claim since the center point of these bracelets are recycled soda can tabs.
Think about how many soda cans go into the ocean every year with those tabs attached to them, ready for any creature of the sea to come and eat and potentially get hurt. These guys at Surf Bandz are campaigning against that by turning an ordinary piece of aluminum into a cool looking accessory for ladies and guys. All of these bracelets are handmade in the good ‘ol US of A, helping provide more jobs for our neighbors.
Next time you’re looking for a cool new accessory, be sure to look at the over 450 different color combinations they have to offer. Oh and did I mention that if they don’t have your favorite color combo, you can get one customized too?
Favorite Marketing Campaign: Sanuk
Who would’ve thought to use a PB&J sandwich as the forefront in their new marketing campaign? Just look at Sanuk’s creative and diverse bunch of athletes and you won’t be surprised to see a PB&J sandwich plastered everywhere.
So you’re probably wondering what this brilliant marketing campaign is all about. Sanuk’s calling it Thinovation by cutting the crust off that sandwich and leaving you what you want and not having a bulky crust get in the way of your sandwich eating enjoyment. Just like what they’re doing with their new line of sidewalk surfers coming out in Spring 2014, they’re introducing the “No-Ledge” construction where the sole is a little bit thinner and still features that mind-blowing comfort that Sanuk sidewalk surfers are known for. Don’t fret it you like the crust on your sandwich, Sanuk isn’t cutting off the ledge on their classic sidewalk surfers, they’re just giving you a new option.
In addition to Thinovation, Sanuk is also introducing Instaplay into their sandals. They have some great relaxing sandals, but in 2014 Sanuk wants to put a little spring in your step with their new waterproof sandals. Ever get your sandals wet and decide to wait for them to dry so you don’t have to listen to that annoying squeaking under your feet? The new Instaplays are waterproof, making them virtually squeak proof. Feel free to get your feet wet with the peace of mind, knowing that you won’t be that annoying person squeaking down the sidewalk.
Sunshine Utilization: Goal Zero
Living in the 21st Century, we hear a lot about new energy sources. One of the biggest and most underutilized energy source is the sun. Let me introduce to you, Goal Zero, the company that makes it easy for you to power almost anything with the sun.
No matter what you’re into, they’ve got a solar panel and battery setup that’s made perfect for you. The backpacker can easily pack a solar panel and battery pack to power a cell phone to call loved ones at cache point on a thru hike. A family could even keep their refrigerator powered for up to 20 hours if their power gets knocked out from a natural disaster. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have something to power major household appliances using the energy from the sun, rather than dropping a ton of valuable cash and time at the gas station
Crazy Customizing Concept: Chaco
Being a guy, I care more about how my shoes and sandals feel compared to how they look. However, I tend to eat those words when it comes to my Chaco’s because there are so many different wacky and out there designs to choose from.
A big challenge is figuring out which webbing design would be the best. Typically I choose a neutral color that’ll look halfway decent with almost anything I wear. I do however know some people who have shoes that match with different outfits and that can get expensive. That dilemma is solved with the ReversiFlip. It’s a pretty cool concept where the ladies can get a flip flop with and different packs of interchangeable webbing to keep the webbing designs on your flips fresh and able to match with any outfit.
I got to mess with the ReversiFlip sandals for a bit and they’re so easy to change in and out. Since us guys typically stick with neutral colors, these are only going to be available to the ladies and kids starting in February 2013.
*I did receive some promotional/sample products from some of these brands, but as always, the views expressed are my own.
P.S. A lot of pictures of these new products I mentioned can be found on my Instagram account. If you don’t find what you’re looking for or want to hear some more of my thoughts about these different brands, shoot me an email!
I grabbed an early lunch after some surfing at Sunzal on Friday because some of us were heading out that afternoon to go hangout at a waterfall our surf guide told us about. He said it was only a 20 minute drive and we could jump from the top of the falls into the basin of water below. Seven of us piled into his van and headed off. He was right, it was only about a 20 minute drive, but forgot to tell us that we’d have to walk through a small mountain town in the middle of nowhere. We were a little sketched out, but it was awesome to see the different lifestyle that people lead in a foreign country.
We followed a road to a dirt path off the side and started heading down into the rain forest (I think I can accurately call it a rain forest). After a steep five minute downhill section we came to a small man-made bridge. I thought it was the waterfall and almost went flying in, but our guide said we had to keep walking.
About 20 minutes later, we were still walking and came across a guy with a machete who was offering Adam a plastic bag to protect his camera from the rain. Where else can you come across a guy in the middle of the rain forest with a machete and your guide feel comfortable with it? Come to find out, that was the owner of the land checking to make sure no one was messing with his corn fields. He came with us and helped some stragglers in our group navigate some “sketchy” sections of the trail. I was at the front trying to keep up with our guide. My Z1 Chaco’s were a tremendous help to me navigating the steep muddy trails, but this guy was just in flip flops and was flying down the mountain. He would literally take a step and let gravity take him down the mountain, letting his feet hit the loose rocks only because they had to.
We finally came to solid stone ground with a river flowing and we could hear the sound of a waterfall behind. As I was walking up to the waterfall I saw our guide run and jump right off the edge, dude was fearless. He told us it was really deep where we would be landing (and right he was) and then showed us an even bigger waterfall. He told us not to jump off that one since it was a 30+ foot drop and he’s seen people break their backs before. We jumped off the waterfall so many times and were eventually run out by the thunderstorm that was about to roll through.
We got back to the hotel just in time for Bocantia (the beach break in front of our hotel) to start forming up and get really fast. Adam, John, and our new friend Drake ran up to grab their boards. I hung out and took some pictures of the and some locals. I’ve never seen a wave double up so fast in my life, so fast that when people were on a wave I’d see then get launched into the air without even trying.
The next morning, Saturday, we woke up and took a gamble on going just over an hour away to a break called Mizata on our last day. It turned out to be a bust for surfing, but we found a new secluded break for when we come back and a nice place to stay. Remember in my first recap post I mentioned that I was getting cut off by all these Brazilians. Well the owner of the hotel had a sign made, just for that. It showed what priority looked like, why you shouldn’t drop in, that it’s common courtesy to paddle to where the wave has already broke when someone’s on the wave, etc. I really wanted to take it home with me. We hung out for a while, grabbed some breakfast and headed back to Sunzal. We wanted waves so bad that after we did the tourist thing in La Libertad, we walked through the smelliest fish market I’ve ever smelled, just to get to the end of the pier to look at Punta Roca. It wasn’t surfable.
Later that day was a major life changing experience though. One of the guys that met up with us on Wednesday found out before we left that there was an orphanage nearby. A bunch of the guys brought some extra bags with shoes, clothes, and toys and arranged some time for us on Saturday evening to go by the orphanage. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was a little nervous about going, but it ended up being the time of my life. The orphanage director and I were able to communicate some and she gave us a tour of the entire facility. She showed us where the 60+ kids slept, played, she even showed us where they grew vegetables to eat and sell, where they raised their chickens, and fish. She even showed us their “little” pig, apparently the other one was over 700lbs and this one was a mere 500lbs.
While we were given the tour, a bunch of kids were there and hanging out with us. Some of the younger ones wanted some of us to pick them up and carry them, others just wanted to hold hands when we walked, nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. Once our “tour” was over we just hung out with all the kids: played basketball, threw water balloons, played soccer, etc. It was all so humbling and so much fun to see all their faces light up. It started to get dark, so we said our see-ya laters and were off to our hotel.
We got back to the hotel and went right out to dinner. We heard that it was supposed to be busy that night since it was a Saturday night. Some of us wanted to check out the El Salvadorian bar scene, so when dinner was over we went to a bar next to our hotel and that place was popular. I found out that El Salvadorian bars are the exact same style and concept as the one’s in America; however there were a few notable differences: $60 VIP tables, $2 beers all night, and obviously a language barrier. We all hungout for a while, had a great time, and then crashed hard.
We woke up Sunday morning and unfortunately had to catch a plane home. Travel day wasn’t so bad because we got emergency exit row on both of our flights and before we knew it, we were back in Florida with a lot of memories.
Any suggestions where in Central America we should go surfing next year?
P.S. If you’re a guy and are interested in going on a trip like this with us next year, let me know and I’ll send you our application.
P.P.S. There isn’t really an application, but let me know and I’ll get you some details when I get them.