9 Outdoor Dates for Valentine’s Day

We all want to have a special date with our partner on Valentine’s Day, but we’re all bored of the same fancy dinner year after year. How about trying something different? Like heading outside for a special adventure and sharing the memorable experience with the one who stole your heart.

Campout for Two – Pick-out your favorite tent for two, sleeping bag for two, and even a chair for two and head to a perfect campsite where you can relax in the company of your significant other. Grab your S’mores to eat by the campfire, and you can even set-up camp with extra lights and flowers to create a romantic ambiance. Don’t forget lots of blankets to snuggle-up in during the sunset.

Brunch + Driving Range – Have a brunch date at your local golf course then hit the driving range!

Snowmobile Tour – Reserve a Private Snowmobile tour for you and your sidekick in the back country. You will be challenged as well as going new places neither of you have seen. Just be sure to dress appropriately. Normally, dressing like your headed out snow skiing will suffice. Need Gloves? Snow Pants? Winter Jackets?

Food Truck Hopping – Trek around the city looking for the best food trucks around. Find an appetizer truck, move to the main course truck, then find a dessert truck! If you’re lucky enough to be in the big city over Valentine’s day, you will probably find all three and be pleasantly surprised with how full you are at the end of the date. Plus, you get exercise between each course! If it’s raining or snowing, you might want to be prepared with a trench coat or parka like one of these!

Your Very Own Drive-In Movie – Head to a romantic location with spectacular views and you and your significant other will have your very own romantic movie night getaway. Download a movie of your choice on your laptop or tablet, fold down the seats in your car, pile in the blankets and pillows (the more the merrier), open the tailgate and enjoy the movie with a fantastic backdrop. Don’t forget to bring the chocolate and make the popcorn before you head out!

Batting Cages – Pack a lunch and head to the local batting cages. End the date with fresh smoothies from your local smoothie bar or head home to make your own!

Disc Golf – It’s not your normal game of Disc Golf. At each hole, you will answer a certain question before tossing the Frisbee. Then there are consequences whether you win or lose each hole. This idea comes from The Dating Divas:

Hole 1: Name the top 5 most attractive physical things/features about your spouse

Hole 2: Name the 5 most attractive things about your spouse’s personality or character

Hole 3: Name 5 things you did today that your spouse didn’t know about

Hole 4: Name 5 places you wouldn’t mind moving to

Hole 5: Name 5 desserts you could eat right now

Hole 6: Name 5 favorite ways your spouse makes you feel special

If you lose (a hole), you get to choose one from the list:

  • 5 push-ups
  • 5 sit-ups
  • 5 leg squats

If you win (a hole), you get to choose one from the list:

  • 5 kisses
  • 5 hugs
  • 5 kisses & hugs intermixed
  • 5 of whatever you want

Day Hike – Head to AllTrails.com to find local hikes in your area. Pack your lunch, water, and camera to document your hiking date. Don’t post any of the photos online. Later you can gift a scrapbook of the day for your partner! This element of surprise is the best part! You guys might even like to try one of our new Daypacks for the date!

Date Night on the Ranch – Head out of the city and unplug in the solitude of a quiet ranch high-up in the mountains or deep in the hills. There are many ranches located on acres of land offering unique settings and an “Old West” type feel when you stay in their cabins. One family ranch that comes to mind is the Schmid Family Ranch located outside of Telluride, Colo. Make reservations fast though! (You might even recognize this setting from a recent movie.)

There are so many different Outdoor dating ideas to experience! This Valentine’s Day, maybe one of these will catch your eye. If you have other unique outdoor dates that you have been on, we’d love to here from you!


Dangers of Snow Shoveling

If you’re anywhere East of the Mississippi, you’ve got snow, and lots of it! You’re also probably snowed-in and will stay snowed-in until you do something about it (or until the snow melts in the spring). Enter the snow shovel.

Most of us know shoveling can cause excessive strain on your heart, so before getting in a workout moving large amounts of snow, be sure to consult your doctor in advance.

In addition to the strain on your heart, be mindful of your spine. Read these 10 Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling.

When you’re out shoveling, wear proper gloves and be aware of frost bite and know the symptoms before you end up turning black and blue. We recommend winter work gloves. Made with a leather shell, they have the durability of a work glove plus the extra warmth. Pick a pair up here.

dirt bag glove
The Black Diamond Dirt Bag Glove is a favorite among fellow snow shovelers with a leather shell and fleece lining at only $44.95.

Avalanche Safety Week

red-crossAs skiers and snowboarders, we’re always looking for new places to ski, the deepest pow, or new challenges. These all come with inherent risks though. When we venture off of the resort and into the backcountry, the risk of avalanche is exponentially greater. Hence, Avalanche Safety Week.

Outdoor Research has collaborated, once again, with their long time partners from American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) to create an 8 Part Video Series featuring backcountry skiing safety and techniques to raise awareness and reduce the risks associated with traveling in the backcountry. The videos are being released weekly on AMGA’s website, beginning today. Watch Part 1 out of 8 below:

Not only do we as skiers and snowboarders want to push our limits skiing off the resorts in the states, we also dream of cream puff skiing abroad. Many of these remote destinations do not have Avalanche Forecasting Centers, so you will have to learn to build your own avalanche forecast. Teton Gravity Research discussed snowpack with AIARE Program Director, Ben Pritchett. Read his tips and suggestions here.

Hot Chocolate Making A Comeback

Hot chocolate with marshmallows in mug, on tray, on color wooden background

If you’ve ever gone on a cold-weather adventure, winter camping, watched a football game in the snow, or hunkered down during a Nor’easter, what’s in your thermos? My guess is some sort of hot coco concoction that seems good while in the moment, but maybe it’s time you spice up your life a little with some Sipping Chocolate instead.

Believe it or not, hot chocolate didn’t always come in pre-packaged pouches containing precise amounts of sugary powder for the perfect cup of coco. Mesoamericans started fermenting, roasting, grounding, and blending bitter cacao and mixing it with water and spices thousands of years ago, calling it “Sipping Chocolate.”

Be on the look-out for more and more coffee shops around the country offering up sweet and bitter variations of sipping chocolates – the frothy European-style mixed with milk, or the smooth Aztec-style mixed with water, each containing their own unique blend of spices.

The main reason (other than the fantastic flavor) for the chocolate comeback is a particular health benefit researched over the last few years. Chocolate contains more flavonoids than red wine or green tea, helping to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

If you’re in the New York City, Portland, or LA area, then you’re lucky enough to have shops currently offering-up glasses of Sipping Chocolate. Otherwise, for the rest of us, we can either wait for the next local coffee shop to start serving-up the goods, or you can create your very own Sipping Chocolate at home using this recipe. Don’t be afraid to add in your own spices like chili, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, vanilla, a dash of allspice, fresh ground black pepper, or even ginger! These cold, winter nights need a little extra spice!


Hiking Shoes or Running Shoes?

Hiking Shoes or Running Shoes?

That is the question.

Last weekend (before it turned cold and snowy), a friend and I set out on a 14 mile hike around Buffalo Mountain in Summit County, Colorado. Not sure what shoes would be best, I decided lightweight, trail running shoes instead of my bulky hiking boots that I’m sure would cause blisters all around my ankles.

I was out hiking in another pair of trail running shoes about a month ago at Ice Lake near Durango, and these two men, who were both in their 80s, laughed at my shoes. They thought I needed what they call “real hiking shoes.” They might be right in some cases (still not 100% sure which cases those would be),  but I still stuck with the trail running shoes for Buffalo Mountain.

Normally, I would never suggest getting a new pair of shoes and heading straight for the trail before breaking them in a bit, but I went against my own judgement and set-out on our hike in a brand new pair of Salomon XR Missions.

My first surprise was the unique lacing systems. If you are a cyclist like me, you can compare the lacing to the BOA system, except they stay tighter, for longer (which was always my complaint for my cycling shoes), and the Salomon’s do not use a dial, just a simple cinch.

Next on my list of surprises was the amount of grip on the rocks. I was so used to trail running in my old shoes, and never new any other soles could be more grippy than those! My new soles use Salomon’s Contagrip HA, which uses a combination of different rubber to work best on any surface.

The last and most crazy surprise of them all?! After a 14 mile hike (traversing steep sides of the mountain for many of the miles because we may or may not have gotten lost), I had no blisters! Now, obviously to each his own. I’m sure that all depends on the shape of your foot, but for me, the women’s fit of the Salomon XR Missions are definitely a go-to from now on.

One iconic Salomon shoe to check-out for sure are the Salomon Speedcross Series. Those are some serious trail running monsters. I did not get a chance to test these out, but my hiking friend has just got her first pair and plans to test and review them for me!

What are your favorite trail running shoes? Have you tried Salomon? Thoughts…?


Plaid vs. Flannel – It’s on this Fall


Fall is upon us. It’s already peaking through here in the Rockies. Last weekend I started spying drops of gold among the aspens, and before we know it, Fall will be in full swing. I’m ready for the crisp, cool evenings by the fire pit, but I just realized my wardrobe is not.

What am I missing? Flannel. I have the sheets, I have the pajamas, but what about my every day/evening wear? Plaid button-ups fill my closet, so I should be good with flannel button-ups, right? Wrong. Even though plaid takes up every square inch of my hanger space, that doesn’t mean it’s flannel.

So what makes “plaid” plaid and “flannel” flannel?

It’s simple. P is for plaid and P is for pattern. F is for flannel and F is for functional material.

Flannel was originally made purely of wool, but gradually became a mixture of great materials like silk, cotton, and other synthetics. Flannel shirts can come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Plaid and flannel are commonly used interchangeably causing the belief that both are patterns. Typically, we see plaid used in button-up shirts, and to make a shirt softer, warmer, and more durable for use in the outdoors, the plaid button-ups are made with flannel material.

I’ve picked-out my favorite flannel shirts and listed them below. You can also browse all of our flannel here:


The Men’s Marmot Hobson Flannel Button-up is an example of solid flannel. Soft, warm, cozy, and just perfect. SHOP NOW >
womens fjord
The Women’s Patagonia Fjord is seriously soft, seriously. I love the fit and comfort it gives me all day, whether at work, camping, or on the slopes. SHOP NOW >
MH Trekkin
Mountain Hardwear is hard to beat when they created a high-tech flannel with quick-drying and moisture-wicking properties that you find in most technical baselayers! SHOP NOW >