Sunday, June 09, 2013

Giving camping gear a Kickstart





Photo: Windcatcher on Kickstarter

A little while ago, I received an email from the makers of the Windcatcher inflatable mattress, asking me to feature the product here on my blog. If you've had a browse through the blog, you'll see that I do talk about products here and there. Whatever has caught my eye, or something new in my own gear collection. I made a decision early on not to commercialize my blog, so I don't promote products in exchange for money, nor do I ask around for free gear to review.

Having said all that, these guys told me they are using Kickstarter to fund their new mattress design, and I went to the listing to check it out. I couldn't decide whether this is a groundreaking design or not - since I have never seen or tried one in person. It looks a wee bit bulky for backpacking, so I guess it's a matter of whether paddlers or car campers would find it more convenient to not carry a pump around to blow up their thicker mattresses. I'd like to try it for myself, just to see if it's as easy as they say. Clearly they have a lot of people convinced, as they have already raised over $125,000 and exceeded their funding goal. You can check out the listing here if you want to get in on it: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1484284472/windcatcher-inflates-in-seconds-with-no-power-or-p or go to their website http://www.windcatchergear.com/.

Then I got curious. What other kinds of innovative camping products are getting the Kickstarter treatment? The answer turned out to be fewer than I expected. Although an awful lot of people seem to be trying to get strangers to fund their through-hike of the Appalachian Trail (and sure-to-be-riveting documentary about their walk). Seriously folks, I'm not going to pay you to take 5 months off and go hiking. Save up for it yourself!

I did find a couple of actual gear projects. The first is a camping hammock called KAMMOK. I'm not sure that it looks significantly different in design from other camping hammoks on the market, but they far surpassed their fundraising goals. Initially trying to raise $15,000 in 2011, they eventually racked up more than $200,000. You can now find their products on http://www.kammok.com/.
Photo: Kammok on Kickstarter

The last product I found was the SnowXu - a folding snowshoe design. This seems like a reasonably good idea if you're going on a multiday trip that will involve snowshoeing only some of the time. Again, I haven't seen the product in person or tried it, so I can't vouch for it - but in theory I can see a purpose for it. So could a lot of other people. They surpassed their $7,000 goal by over $1,400. Their fundraising on Kickstarter is wrapped up, but you can find info on their products on http://www.snowxu.com/.

Photo: snowxu.com


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lovely Links

OK, the arrow points the wrong way. Links are actually on the right >>>

I've taken a long overdue look at the links on this blog, and done away with the ones that are no longer active while adding a couple of new sites worth browsing. So once you're done exploring the wonderful posts here at Love in a Tent, have a glace down the right hand side of your screen for some other good outdoorsy reading, sharing and shopping.

But remember to eventually turn off your computer and go outside!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Retro camping fan?


 I recently got an email from the folks at On The Mountain, who wanted to show me their collection of 70s camping and hiking photos available as greeting cards. I don't know what it is about the 70s, but everyone in pictures from that era just seems to be having such a good time!

It was an era before Gore-Tex and hydration bladders - when you were happy plunging your water bottle into the nearest stream and you didn't check the UV index before you left home. But those external frame backpacks don't make me nostalgic - they look uncomfortable.

They have both summer and winter scenes, reproduced from pictures taken in America's national forests. Not only are these fun, but part of the proceeds goes to support charities that protect these forests for future generations.

Other items on the website include camping pillows and forest-inspired notebooks.

So if you're the sort of retro-loving person who still writes notes on actual cards (we're a dying breed these days) have a look. It will remind you of the days when your camping trip pictures were a mystery to be discovered about a week after you got back from your trip and had them developed at some shack in the mall parking lot. Remeber that? No? Well, that's what people used to do in the 70s kids! Unless you had a Polaroid...


Saturday, March 09, 2013

Tent designs that make a statement


Get a room!

I recently discovered the website for Field Candy, a company more concerned with the outside of the tent than the weight or functionaltiy - but if you're looking to make a statement when you camp this may be for you.

The tent pictured above is called "get a room". Perfect for those couples putting Sex in a Tent to use, and wanting to give fair warning to anyone in the vicinity!

But these tents aren't just for lovers, they're also for book lovers, animal lovers, circus lovers and many more. One of my favourites is this quilt inspired version:

Prices range from just over $600 to around $760 and they seem to have only one model available - a 2 person tent. Total weight is 16.3 pounds, so this is just for car camping!

You can check out their other creative designs on their website HERE.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

No such thing as bad publicity


The Huffington Post is one of those online neighbourhoods where it's very fashionable to be spotted. So when I was told that Sex in a Tent had been featured in a post there, I was feeling very smug indeed.

The fact that it's on a list of "18 Sex Books with Unusual Covers" works for me. After all, Valentine's Day is just around the corner and nothing says "I love you" like a sex book with an unusual cover.

Read the post here.

Have fun celebrating with your loved one, in whatever way you choose! (Even if it involves sock moneys.) If you don't yet have your copy of Sex in a Tent - they're ready for shipping at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hiking stilettos?


And in other (not so new) news... you've gotta be kidding me!

Teva stilettos? Was someone trying to make a statement or some kind, because I can't imagine what that might be. How about "hiking clothes have gone so mainstream that we can sell something that's actually unusable when actually hiking"?

And for the same $330 I could buy a mighty fine pair of hiking boots AND a decent pair of stilettos for city wear.

Read the full story on Treehugger.com. OK, there's not much more to the story, but there are more photos to giggle at.

Last minute Christmas Shopping

Don't panic if your shopping isn't done yet. Get your outdoorsy friends a cool, fun gift without forking out major bucks on gear.



http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Tent-Couples-Getting-Naughty/dp/0899974325/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355840527&sr=1-1&keywords=Michelle+Waitzman

The best $10 gift your friends and loved ones will get this year! (Way better than socks)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trail running with a purpose - read about Mal Law's amazing journey


If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will have seen my posts about Mal Law and his incredible "7 in 7" trail running fundraisers for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ.

Well Mal has put together a book documenting his idea for raising money as a tribute to the brother he lost to cancer, his training for a gruelling challenge of running New Zealand's seven Great Walks in seven consecutive days, and the event itself.

If you're unfamiliar with the Great Walks, most of them are normally hiked over 4 or 5 days, so running each one in a day (and doing this seven days in a row while travelling all over the country) is a phenominal accomplishment! My knees ache just thinking about it.

Mal is still running like crazy these days. If you're into trail running, check out his Running Wild website for inspiration! (Or maybe cautionary tales?) You can also put in advance orders for his book One Step Beyond via the website. It's available from March 1, 2013.

It's not available on Amazon yet, but hopefully Penguin will get it there soon!


Hike naked in NZ - it's getting more popular!


According to NZ Wilderness magazine, the back country of New Zealand is attracting quite a few naked hikers these days. Perhaps it's something to do with the largely secluded and unpopulated forests, or maybe Kiwis are just fans of letting it all hang out.

They recently published this article about the trend. I have to say though, I think it's a little unfair to comment on the size of a man's 'pack' in writing.

Nudity is not illegal in New Zealand (as I've noted in earlier posts you can go to clothing optional campgrounds or take it all of at the beach as long as you aren't doing anything inappropriate).  

Personally, I can't get on board with the naked hiking movement. The truth is, I'm far too clumsy for that. I would be completely covered in scratches and bruises in places I really don't want them. Not to mention the bug bites! But if you're off the beaten path and want to experience nature without barriers, then stripping off would certainly get you in touch with a simpler time.

Of course New Zealand isn't alone in the naked hiking world. Germany has had at least one 'clothing optional' trail since 2009. http://www.thelocal.de/national/20090923-22117.html

If you decide that naked hiking is for you, check out the local laws first. Then find a nice, quiet trail and bring plenty of sunscreen!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jasper National Park - Cavell Meadows/Path of the Glacier



We had been planning to do  the Cavell Meadows trail, a very popular (arrive early if you want a parking spot) 8.3 km trail in Jasper National Park, not far from the town of Jasper. To reach the trailhead you must go up the narrow, winding Mount Edith Cavell Rd, which is a bit of an adventure in itself.


The track is normally open from mid-June to mid-October, but for some reason the top area was still closed when we arrived in mid-July. I guess the thaw came late this year. That was a disappointment, but we still were able to do the first section of the track, and loop back around to our car on something called the Path of the Glacier track.



The trailhead is at a pretty high elevation, so expect the temperatures to be a few degrees cooler than in town. On the bright side, the cooler climate means fewer bugs.


Although we weren't able to hike to the meadows at the top of the climb, we still saw our share of wildflowers on the small section we were able to hike.


We also had a pretty good view of three different glaciers, two hanging glaciers and one that ended in a small lake. The glacier in the photo above is called Angel glacier.


Right around the spot where the track closure began we saw a hoary marmot hanging out on a rock. The marmot was in practically the same spot as one photographed in the hiking guide we had with us, which had me wondering whether he (or she, I couldn't tell) was a professional. You know, paid to sit out on a rock during set hours so the tourists can have an authentic wildlife encounter. Then I wondered if they took shifts, because most of us can't tell one marmot from the next. Anyway, he (or she) seemed completely unperturbed by the people walking around and taking pictures.

The accessible bit of the trail ended at the terminal moraine of a glacier, and despite the mid-summer weather there was still some snow on the ground.


We backtracked down the hill and rejoined the Path of the Glacier track, a tourist-friendly easy walk that takes you right to the shores of a small lake that acts as the glacial terminus. The lake is full of little icebergs.


While it was frustrating to be faced with a closed track and a shorter than expected hike, I can understand the need to keep a steep, wet path closed due to the damage that hundreds of pairs of boots per day can inflict in those conditions. Perhaps one day I'll make it back and get to see the meadow.