Outdoor Festival Essentials

Hi Guys!

Dawn here and I’ll be sharing with you some of my top picks of the essentials you’ll need for any music festival. I myself am an avid festival goer and think of the months of April-October as “Festival Season,” attending several of my favorites each year. With that being said, I’ve learned along the way what is absolutely necessary for the best festival experience, and everything you will need (and want) can be found at Alabama Outdoors. Just think of it as a “one-stop-shop” as you prepare for your next festival, including all the gear needed for a camping festival.

The first thing that should be had on-hand at all times is WATER! Seriously guys! Annnnnd you’ll need a container for it. As lovers of Nature, I think we can all agree that we should be using alternatives to plastic water bottles. I’ll be bringing my 40 oz. HYDRO FLASK and utilizing the water-fill up stations. The HYDRO FLASK is made of stainless steel, BPA Free and will keep your water cold and refreshing for way longer than any plastic bottle. Just SAY NO to plastic water bottles! And bring your HYDRO FLASK!

Of course, you gotta have SHADES! These Smith shades are stylish and have a groovy blue mirrored lens, which make selfie shots a lot of fun… just sayin’.

Portable shade is crucial for any outdoor event and AO has plenty of hat styles to choose from; including caps, wide brims and my fave, the Tilley Airflo Hat. The Airflo Hat protects against sun and rain, ties on in the wind, and is super breathable. This hat is an investment piece with a timeless shape that never goes out of style.

Psst… It also has a secret pocket in the lid… and who doesn’t love a good secret pocket, especially at a music festival. 😉

I personally have a love/hate relationship with sunscreen, and often opt for none. However, an outdoor festival is one of the times it just can’t be skipped. I prefer to avoid sunscreens that are chemical based, which is why the baby Bum line from Sun Bum is perfect. The mineral based sunscreen stick is water resistant and its compact size fits easily into any bag. You’ll want to pick-up the banana scented SPF 30 lip balm too.

For the record, Sun Bum’s regular sunscreen line is Paraben and Oxybenzone free and offers a wide range of products which you’ll also love.

Lastly, but certainly not least is a comfortable pair of sandals! Unless it is an all-out Mud Fest (Hunter Boots will do the trick in that case), adventure sandals are your best bet! I am currently loving the Teva Leather Original Universal Premier. Not only are they comfortable and stylish, the neutral color elongates your legs and goes with literally everything! Don’t worry, they’re available for guys too!

The Teva Original Universal Premier with polyester webbing is better for trekking through puddles, so in the event of inclement weather, I’ll be opting for those!

Ok, so now that you have my top FIVE MUST-HAVES for festival season, come by AO to check them out and decide what you’ll be needing for Sloss Fest. If you forget something, that’s okay, we’ll be there along with Teva, Hydroflask, Eno, and Smith to help you out! I’ll see you there!

How to Clean Your Chaco Sandals

It's common knowledge that people who love their Chacos _really _love their Chacos. They'll wear them anywhere while doing just about anything—from rock hopping, to running errands, to participating in life events as traditionally 'non-Chaco' as they come (like getting married, for instance). The original Chaco sandals were designed for river guides, and to this day they still perform exceptionally well in water. But true “Chaconians” love to wear them across all disciplines (hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, to name a few) and in all seasons.

Yes, Chaco now makes closed-toe shoes and hiking boots constructed of high-quality leather and suede that offer additional protection for adventures you’re not willing to risk losing a toe for… but let’s talk about the sandals.

See, Chaco sandals have earned a reputation for exceptional durability, and it’s not uncommon that a pair can go 10 years without the footbeds or straps needing to be replaced. But as any Chaco fan can tell you, all that relentless use over a long period of time can leave them with a pretty distinct and funky smell. Don’t act surprised—we know you know what we’re talking about, and we’re trying to keep your friends from having to host an intervention.

Here are some insider tips for cleaning your Chacos. Your feet will be happier for it, and your tent-mates will be happier too.

Jake Wheeler

Don't be afraid to throw them in the laundry (but not the dishwasher).

Chaco recommends occasionally throwing your sandals—provided they’re not the leather kind—in with a load of laundry for a gentle cycle in cold water with a mild detergent (read: nothing that contains chemicals that might eat at the straps). Do not bleach! After letting them air dry, they’ll be good to go on your next outdoor adventure.

Between washings, you can try wearing them in the shower now and then to keep skin cells from building up in the grooves of the footbed. Yeah, ew. This sounds like the lazy-man’s version of actually washing them, but it works surprisingly well.

Whatever you do, do not put your Chaco sandals in the dishwasher or in the dryer, as the heat can cause the adhesive in the outsoles to break down. You can’t un-melt glue, and your sandals won’t be as fun to wear if the soles fall off (or halfway off), so heed our warning on this one. Just let them sit in a nice, sunny spot for a while and they’ll dry off pretty fast.

"Floss" the straps.

Flossing isn't just for teeth: This handy technique can also remove dirt that gets stuck where the shoe's webbing and straps thread through the midsole, which can trap odor and cause the adjustable straps to stick. If that happens, the company suggests “flossing” the straps—squirting fabric softener into the strap slots and pulling the straps in and out to remove the offending grit. This is actually one of the primary reasons for smelly Chacos, and why some sandals still retain an unpleasant aroma even after washing.

If you’ve never done it, or if the sandals are old, it can be pretty tough to move the straps, but just be patient and make sure the straps are thoroughly wet first. The Z-series sandals feature one (or more) continuous straps that pass through the sole multiple times, which is what allowed you to adjust the fit of the straps to your feet when you first bought your sandals. All you’re doing here is moving the straps in and out of the sole so you can clean whatever is building up down there.

Flossing the sandals also keeps sand and grit trapped in the footbed from slowly sawing their way through your straps. Some people do this every time they wash a pair of Chacos, but if you keep them generally clean we’ve found that you’ll only need to do it periodically.

Make an easy at-home solution for cleaning.

Jonathan Morua

If your Chacos do come to elicit a persistent smell (because they’re comfortable enough to wear for 12-hour-stretches, which you do), don't fret. Instead, scrub the footbed with a firm brush and a mix of water and baking soda. Many Chacos are sold with an antimicrobial-treated footbeds, but there are special sandal washes that can be applied after purchase as necessary.

Treat the leather extra-special.

The leather in some Chaco models needs to be cleaned by hand. To get rid of any accumulated grime, use a damp cloth and a cleaning solution specially designed for leather goods.

That’s it! Like any other piece of essential outdoor gear, if you take care of your Chacos, they will take care of you as you hit the trail (or river or mountain) for countless miles full of adventure. That’s why you bought them in the first place, right?

This content was produced for your enjoyment, thanks to a partnership among OSM, Osprey Packs, Chaco, and RootsRated.

Originally written by RootsRated for Outdoor Sports Marketing.

Featured image provided by Cody Myers

How to Fit a Pack

Backpacks are one of those integral pieces of gear that can make or break an adventure. Whether you’re looking to spend a few hours on the trail or even a few months on an epic thru-hike, your pack needs to be comfortable. In order for it to be comfortable, it needs to fit right. That’s why taking the necessary time before your trip to ensure that you have the pack that is right for you is imperative. Otherwise your weekend backpacking trip might just turn into an experience you’ll remember for all the wrong reasons.

Whether you’re in the market for your first pack or just in need of a serious upgrade after 10 years, here are some things to think about next time you head towards the pack wall of your local Alabama Outdoors store.

Hen Wallow Falls is a fantastic 4.4-mile round-trip hike to a beautiful 90-foot waterfall in the Smokies.
Hen Wallow Falls is a fantastic 4.4-mile round-trip hike to a beautiful 90-foot waterfall in the Smokies.

Cody Myers

First things first, why do you need a pack? It’s important to identify what activities you’ll be using the pack for. Are you looking to hold water while training for your first half-marathon? Need something to carry your kiddos to help introduce them to the trails? Skiing? Climbing? Or are you looking to use this for some serious, long distance hiking?

Packs come in all shapes and sizes and range from less than 5-liter hydration systems to 105-liter heavy-duty mountaineering packs—so it really depends on how much you need to carry that will determine what size pack you should be searching for.

Choices for smaller packs (under 50 liters) are usually based more on the features you are looking for—lightweight material, pockets, hydration, etc. While features are still an important part of narrowing down your choice of a larger pack, larger packs also require more technical fitting to ensure comfort.

Summer, winter, rain, or shine, make getting outside a priority. Having the right gear can make all the difference!
Summer, winter, rain, or shine, make getting outside a priority. Having the right gear can make all the difference!

Cody Myers

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to less than a handful, it’s now time to try on pack after pack until you find the one that feels most comfortable. One thing to remember when doing so is that it’s important to try the pack on with weight in it. An empty pack feels very different on your hips, shoulders, and back than a full pack, and you need to have an idea as what it will feel like with all of your gear stuffed inside. Most gear shops will have weights or bean bags for you to add before you try it on.

Once your pack is loaded up, it’s time to get it on your back. When putting a new pack on for the first time, remember, there is a whole order as to how you should tighten the straps for a better fit (just another reason why having an expert show you the ropes, er, straps can be very helpful). After all, adjusting the straps out of order can completely change the way the pack sits on your hips, shoulders, and back.

First, you want to find the right spot on your hip to rest the hip belt. A good starting point is drawing a line from your belly button over to your hip bone. You’ll want to put the hip belt right over this part of your hip. Tighten for comfort. The majority of the pack weight should be carried by your hips. Next, tighten the shoulder straps. While you don’t want to carry much of the weight here, these help keep the pack close to your body. Then, adjust the load lifters (which help pull the weight off of your shoulders), and finally adjust the chest strap. There are a lot of different tips, tricks, and measurements that are used for each strap, so be sure you have a knowledgeable staff member there to help identify what these might be.

Having a well-fitted pack makes heading off trail, climbing, scrambling and jumping much less cumbersome.
Having a well-fitted pack makes heading off trail, climbing, scrambling and jumping much less cumbersome.

Cody Myers

Once you are fully strapped in, take a walk. Walk around the store, bend up and down, do some squats and see how it feels. Take a few minutes with the pack and tweak the straps where necessary. If it doesn’t feel right in the store, it’s not going to feel right on the trail. Be honest with yourself, and try something else on if even the smallest thing feels wrong.

And remember, the staff at specialty outdoor stores is trained and most likely has a ton of personal experience on the trail, so they can normally help answer all of your questions about anything pack-related. So don’t feel intimidated, just head in and start trying packs on until you find the right one!

This content was produced for your enjoyment, thanks to a partnership among OSM, Osprey Packs, Chaco, and RootsRated.

Originally written by RootsRated for Outdoor Sports Marketing.

Featured image provided by Jonathan Morua

13 Reliable Gifts Dad Will Love

As a father myself, each year Father’s Day takes on a deeper meaning. Prior to having children, I thought Father’s Day was about the men who are our fathers. As I am now on the other side of this holiday, I realize that Father’s day is more about our families and the time we have shared together in the preceding year.

I have spent quite a few years myself searching for that special Father’s Day gift that would explain my appreciation for my Dad. Some of those years, I succeeded and some of those years I clearly did not (looking back on some of the gifts).

Working with our chivalrous team of dads (and children of dads) here at Alabama Outdoors, we have put together a list of surefire gifts your father will love. These are officially “Dad Approved”.

Tilley AirFlo Hat

Nothing says, “I am prepared for whatever the outdoors throws at me” better than a nice breathable brim hat.

The AirFlo hat from Tilley is extremely lightweight and carries a lifetime warranty.

My favorite feature – it floats! I’m a dad. I drop things.

View Details

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

As a dad, we put ourselves in a lot of tough situations, some of them on purpose and some of them as a byproduct of juggling too many things at once. It seems like I am always needing another hand to help.

At night, having a good high quality headlamp frees up your hands from holding a flashlight. This is one of the most versatile tools I have.

The Storm headlamp from Black Diamond is 350 lumens, waterproof, and has red, green, and blue LED’s as well as a pair of high output white LED’s. This light can do it all.

View Details

ENO DoubleNest Hammock

Finding time to slow down and relax is key to making a happy dad, and we all know napping is a trait that is drastically improved by fatherhood.

Help your dad step up his napping game to the next level with the DoubleNest hammock from ENO. The DoubleNest provides enough room for two people, and ample room for one person.

The DoubleNest is lightweight, easily packable, and can hold up to 400lbs.

View Details

YETI Colored Rambler Tumbler

At this point, YETI’s cups have become a true staple in the utensil arsenal for most men. These new colored Ramblers take that to the next level.

With four colors to chose from, you can help your dad’s cup stand out in the crowd of stainless cups.

Nothing would be more awkward than putting someone else’s drink to your mouth. Help dad be unique.

View Details

Bertucci A-2T Original Classic Field Watch

As I get older, I have more and more appreciation for products that are built to a high standard and can serve multiple purposes. Bertucci watches fit both of those needs very well.

I wear one of these watches almost every day. They work well for the office environment as well as out on the trail. I especially like the ability to easily swap out the bands without having to get out those stupid little screwdrivers.

View Details

Costa Del Mar Harpoon 400G Polarized Sunglasses

Stylish, durable, and RX-able, all the things dads strive to be. No, wait, those are some of the features of the Harpoon 400G sunglasses from Costa Del Mar.

Whether you are out on the water reeling in the big catch, driving the family on the next adventure, or just walking around downtown, Costa Del Mar has styles that transcend outdoors and perform well in any situation.

View Details

Original B’ham Coffee Mug

Nothing says "dad gift" better than a coffee mug with a little humor and local flavor.

This 10oz mug from Original B’ham is made out of ceramic for that classic coffee mug feel dad will be sure to appreciate.

View Details

Swiss Army Huntsman Knife

I doubt even your dad was around in 1884 when Victorinox first started making knives. For over 130 years, they have been perfecting their iconic design and have evolved it into a true multi-use tool every handy dad needs in his pocket.

Dad will surely appreciate a shiny new Swiss Army Knife to add to his knife collection.

View Details

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 90L

This is another one of my go-to daily items. The high quality of the Black Hole duffel is much needed as I wag it to the gym and on outdoor trips.

The 90L is about the perfect size for day usage. It’s the typical gym-bag size.

The Black Hole comes with shoulder straps as well as traditional carry handles for versatility. It is also available in nine colors.

View Details

Filson Men’s Cash & Card Case

With more and more things going digital like insurance cards, mobile payments, etc., it’s more possible than ever to urge your dad to get his wallet situation straightened out. We have all seen him pull that big wad of a wallet out of his pocket just so he can sit down without leaning to one side.

The Cash and Card Case by Filson is an extremely well-made wallet with enough room for dad’s daily essentials.

Help dad sit level.

View Details

Classic Vacuum Bottle – 1.1 Quart

Stanley is another classic dad brand. That’s because men truly appreciate the high quality, durability, and functionality of the Stanley product line.

The 1.1 Quart Classic Vacuum Bottle is a true multi-purpose insulated container. It can keep liquids hot or cold for up to 24 hours and stay iced for up to 120 hours.

It is made out of 18/8 stainless steel (that’s the good stuff) and the insulated lid serves as a cup when removed. Can’t beat that.

View Details

Filson Travel Kit

Dads are always on the move, whether traveling for work, for vacation, or travelling to see kids/grandkids. It’s essential for him to stay organized. If you’re looking to give your dad something that will become one of his most used travel items, this could be it.

The Filson Travel Kit is super durable, water repelant, well sewn, and has a high end brass zipper – all the things that make a travel kit bag worthy to be given to a dad. It’s also has Bridle leather accents to keep the style factor high.

View Details

YETI Hopper Flip 12 Cooler

This is another top-level travel product that will surely become one of your dad’s most used items. I actually gave my dad one of these last year and I have been thrilled to see it used so often.

The Hopper Flip 12 is a great size. It’s small enough to throw in the back seat of the car and large enough to hold lunch for two. It’s a super-versatile cooler and soft enough to not beat up your vehicle or get cracked when he puts it into a compromising situation, which is surely to happen.

This is the Cadillac of soft coolers – that’s a dad phrase if I have ever heard one. My kids will never say, "That’s the Cadillac of.."

View Details