Mother’s Day: Being a Mom During a Pandemic

By Sherri Goodman

( Sherri joined Alabama Outdoors in January 2020. She is a communications and content strategist and a former journalist who wrote for the Birmingham News, Mobile Register, Albuquerque Journal, and Salt Lake Tribune. She and her husband have two wonderful teen daughters and love traveling, music festivals, and their pets.)

Being a mom has never been easy, but it’s been particularly challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To be fair, parenting, in general, during a pandemic is really hard. All good parents worry about their children in difficult times. Will they stay healthy, do OK in school when they can’t go to school, remain hopeful when the rest of the world seems so discouraging … The list of concerns that could keep moms and dads up at night seems endless.

With Mother’s Day approaching, however, it’s a good time to consider how moms are holding up in this crisis. I think of a mother’s job as being like the sweeper in curling. For those unfamiliar with the bizarre yet fascinating winter sport of curling, here’s a quick explanation: One player slides a granite stone on a sheet of ice toward a target area to score. Meanwhile, another player creates a “path” for the stone by methodically sweeping the ice in front of the stone to decrease friction.

Just like the sweeper, moms are out there every day determinedly trying to help clear the path for their families. In a normal world, that may mean basics like making lunches, helping out with schoolwork, checking to make sure the kids really did brush their teeth, taking them to the doctor, and shuttling them all over town. It would also include soothing them when they are sad, angry, hurt, or sick; encouraging them when they doubt themselves and correcting them when they get off track. And many moms are also balancing the demands of full-time jobs.

Now moms and dads are wiping down groceries, cooking and cleaning the kitchen constantly, dealing with justifiable meltdowns, seeking fun new distractions and joys, and trying to keep our kids from knowing that parents don’t really know what will happen next, either.

So, we try to make home life as full and fun as possible. But the loss is real, even for the luckiest ones. We can’t sweep away the missed proms, canceled graduations, and lost memories. I asked several moms to share their experiences during these extraordinary times. Here are their responses:

Tara, mom of two, kindergarten teacher

“The words that come to mind are fear, worry, perseverance, and grace. My first thought was fear: what if I get sick, what if my husband and kids get sick? How will I handle it? What if I die or worse, they die? I worried about my elderly parents and still do. Dad goes out more than he should despite being told to stay home. Should they move in with us?

I persevered as my job drastically changed. Teaching online school to kindergarten is a mix of hilarity and stress. Learning new technologies on the fly … well, let’s just say that I’m a better teacher in person than online. Again, fear comes back as I wonder what August will look like. 

Grace — my favorite word of all — is something I have to remind me to give often to myself. Right now, good enough is really good. Grace has been given to me. I believe God has allowed us this time to just be.

 We’ve had more laughter in our house. The kids, 15 & 12, are nice to each other. They also have become more helpful. We’ve snuggled and talked. We’ve baked, grilled and cooked. I’m not so tired that I can’t function. I don’t miss the rushing around, carpools, and heavy schedules. I like that we have slowed down —  maybe that’s the message.”

Marilyn, mom of 2, SEO strategist

“My 4-year-old son asks me every night before bed and every morning he wakes up if tomorrow/today is a work day.  And he’s crushed when five out of seven times, my answer is yes. I feel a lot of pressure to keep our kids’ minds and bodies busy, and that becomes more challenging and fatiguing each week.”

Blair, mom of three, graphic designer

“I would have never predicted being a mother living through a pandemic… and I certainly would have never dreamed that it would provide the amazing gift of time together that my family will never, ever be able to achieve again. For that, I am extremely thankful. To be honest, I’m scared for it to end. I fear I will wish I had made more of the time … and will long for it later when we’re back to our normal, crazy schedules. As a mom of three children who are 14, 11, and 8, this pandemic has provided me a glimpse of a simpler life. We’re seriously considering scaling back the kids’ activities for the future.”

Beth, mom of two, college professor

Early in the quarantine, it was difficult. It felt like my workload had doubled, and online school hadn’t started yet for my teenagers. I felt like there wasn’t enough time with them, even though we were together all the time. 

Now we’ve figured out a routine, more or less, and we’re seeing unexpected blessings in this. We’re able to linger around the dinner table and work on projects together. My daughter is learning to skateboard, and I’ve been hanging out with her while she practices. Having this kind of connection helps me a lot, and it also helps to exercise frequently and spend as much time outside as I can.”

Ann, mom of two, instructional technology sales

ann-two-daughters-outside“Because I normally travel during the week for my job, I may be one of the few moms who is happily soaking up every moment of my so-called sentence to work from home/quarantine. Call it making up for lost time.

Has it been more challenging? Yes, I’m just as busy, if not more so, with work, but now I’m also cooking more, cleaning more, and generally trying to make sure my daughters are staying on top of their assignments. Because we are all three so busy, I guess it keeps us from getting on each other’s nerves during the day, reserving the evenings for catching up and binge-watching the latest, streamed shows. I will say I have a new found love of gardening. It gives me an outlet for my worries and a chance to get outside.”

Being a mom is hard. Being a mom today is really hard. So, be sure to thank the mom in your life. And fellow moms, take care of yourself. Look out for other moms who may feel overwhelmed.

Remember who you are and what replenishes you. If it’s music, make time for it. If it’s yoga, create your own Zen. If it’s nature, find a way to get outside.  And try to reflect on the best moments of each day, the small blessings that will get us through this time.


Find the perfect gift for your mom at Alabama Outdoors! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Take advantage of our shipping, curbside pickup, or home delivery services or make an appointment for a virtual shopping trip today! #BeOutdoors


Tips for Trail Running Shoes and Socks

By Cameron Sullivan

(Cameron Sullivan, a member of Alabama Outdoors’ eCommerce team, has been an avid trail runner since high school.)

I came to love Birmingham’s trails in college when I ran cross country at Birmingham-Southern College. I love it so much, in fact, that I want to share some tips and tricks for beginners.

trail-running-coupleNormally at this time of year, the weather warms up and our local walking trails get crowded. Most of the time it’s fine; a crowded trail really just means bikers get a little too close or you have to keep a closer eye on the kids. But, with social distancing requirements, many runners find themselves looking for off-the-beaten-path routes. Pavement pounders and casual runners alike know that a crowded run isn’t fun, so why not take this opportunity to try trail running?

This isn’t a comprehensive head-to-toe guide to trail running. It’s a complicated sport just like any type of running, but I hope this info will help beginners take to the trails and feel confident. So, let’s start with the toes, or, more specifically, the feet. 

My picks for trail running shoes

Trail running is a great way to mix up arduous runs and shake up your routine. Whether you’re training for a PR or just trying to run the whole 5K, getting on a local trail can make a huge difference in your running, both physically and mentally.  Just make sure to start with good shoes. 

The key difference between your average running sneakers and a good trail shoe is going to be the sole, specifically the outsole and midsole. Quality trail shoes have grippy outsoles that handle a variety of surfaces and keep your feet where they belong — under you. 

Really heavy-duty trail shoes can even have a rock plate in them to prevent rocks from puncturing the midsole and hurting your feet, but most have tougher EVA-foam in the midsole to provide similar protection in a lightweight package. The easiest way to tell if a shoe is built for the trail is to look at the tread, it’ll be a grippy, knobby tread with wide channels to prevent debris from getting caught in them. Some of my favorite shoes that we carry are:

Salomon Men’s XA Pro 3D V8 GTX

The Salomon is a personal favorite for its great trail design and phenomenal running features. Little things like full Gore-Tex waterproofing and the lock-tight quicklaces make these shoes functional and durable on the trail. The quicklaces anchor all the way down from the toebox to the top of the tongue for maximum control from the top of your foot, planting your foot exactly where it needs to go. 

The midsole’s 3-D chassis provides a bouncy energy return that springs you forward while controlling motions prevent excessive pronating. This is a great shoe for any trail runner, but it is best for those runners already comfortable with speed and distance who want to tackle new terrain.

Hoka Men’s Challenger ATR 5

The Hoka is another great option that’s perfect for beginners. Hoka’s chunky outsoles may look odd, but their lightweight and supportive design structure are unrivaled. Runners who prefer support and cushion will love the springy and responsive feel They still maintain impressive grip thanks to the podular outsole and 4mm lugs that grip for you. This shoe would be best for beginners looking for more comfort and support than aggressive racing features.

On RunningCloudventure Waterproof 

The Cloudventure is another unique trail option that puts speed and performance at the core of its design. The Cloudventure features the most aggressive tread of these three options, with heavy-duty, slip-resistant rubber maximizing grip in wet conditions and targeted lugs to provide evenly spread control. Try these if you’re looking to set a PR on a trail that’s more water than dirt.

Best socks for trail running

Next up is socks. Running socks have gotten pretty fancy in recent years. You can find lots of options with various compression, materials, padding, and heights. There’s never a perfect sock, only socks that fit you perfectly, so try several!

A lot of features can be complicated or confusing, but socks come down to a couple of key features on the trail; moisture-wicking, compression, and fit. Moisture-wicking is the most important because moisture buildup causes a lot of issues, from chafing to blisters to swelling and toenail damage. The best moisture-wicking can be subjective, as some runners prefer a certain feel. All-wool socks like Smartwool can be great, but don’t manage temperature as well as others.

Here are three of my favorite socks for trail running. All three are worth a try, as they provide different levels of compression, warmth, and moisture-wicking. 

SmartWool Men’s PhD Run Ultra light Print Crew Socks

The Smartwool is a great option for both the quarter crew height and the ultra-lightweight. The super-thin material gives you maximum control in the shoe and keeps moisture away while maintaining airflow. The ankle height helps compress the blood vessels around your hardest-working joint and makes recovery quicker while providing protection from stray sticks, grass, and barbs. I’m always partial to quarter crew height running socks as they provide the best balance of comfort, breathability, and compression with the additional protection and full range of motion. These are best for dedicated runners looking for quicker recovery and a more technical wool option. 

Fits Light Runner Low Socks

The Fits light runner lows are another great option. While they’re the least technical, their patented blend of wool and lycra provides superb cushioning in hot spots while wicking away moisture and maintaining temperatures. The ultra-soft hand feel is incredibly comfortable despite how durable it is, and while they feel heavy for their size, the breathability and moisture-wicking of this wool-blend is unrivaled. These are best for runners looking for a great everyday running sock that can handle the rigors of the trail or the street.

Swiftwick Aspire Four Quarter Crew Socks

The Swiftwick is the most technical option on this list, with an all-synthetic construction and a specialized compression. I personally run in these and love them, Swiftwick has been the choice of runners for years due to their incredible moisture-wicking and lightweight, almost threadbare design. The ultra-light material maximizes breathability and control throughout the shoe and makes runs more comfortable than ever.

These are just the first steps, there are plenty more to make sure you safely and comfortably enjoy your run. Don’t let the gear stop you, check out a local trail, find a running group (maybe wait on that though), and take the first step. It doesn’t matter if it’s a trail you know or one you’ve never seen before, a good run is a great way to break up your routine and get more out of your time outdoors!


Find all your trail-running gear at Alabama Outdoors! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit one of our stores or shop online and take advantage of curbside pickup and free shipping for orders over $69.99. #BeOutdoors


10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day Outside

By Leandra Beabout

(Leandra Beabout is an experienced freelance travel and lifestyle journalist who has written for Fodor’s Travel, The Everygirl, Dame Traveler, and more.)

There are plenty of fun ways to celebrate the mom in your life, make her feel special, and maybe spend some time outside as well!

These are some of our favorite ways to show your mom how much you care:

Pack a picnic for Mom

Plan a simple menu of your mom’s favorite foods. Then pick a place that she would love. Maybe it’s watching the sunset from a bluff or shoreline. Or maybe it’s hanging out in her own backyard with her favorite music playing. Put down a blanket, put up a hammock, and put out a spread.

Explore a new trail together

hiking-mom-kidsIf your mom likes hiking or nature walks, explore a new trail or new park together.

Arrange a garden brunch for Mom

A colorful garden sets the stage for photo memories and quality time together. Add some flowers to your backyard if needed and arrange a brunch. Use your best china, make some beignets and mimosas, dress up, put on some jazz, and have a proper Sunday brunch!

Plant some flowers together

toddler-mom-pushing-toy wheelbarrowBuying a bouquet of tulips or roses on Mother’s Day is a time-honored tradition. But what about giving her flowers to plant together in her own great outdoors? Blossoming flower beds last longer than any bouquet on the kitchen table.

Capture family memories outside

Most moms we know have walls covered with family photos. But moms are also often the one behind the camera. This Mother’s Day, what about arranging a family photo shoot outside?

Go camping

Does your mom love camping under the stars or making s’mores by the campfire? There are campsites for every camping style in Alabama. Or, you can just camp in your own backyard.

Offer her solitude

Moms with young kids always appreciate this one. Tell her she has the day off—no expectations whatsoever. Then entice her with an afternoon lounging inside on the sofa or outside in a hammock. Whatever she wants.

Try outdoor yoga

If your mom enjoys staying active, invite her to join you for an outdoor yoga session. You can adjust to her preferences with a relaxed flow or muscle-burning poses with tricky inversions.

Set up an outdoor painting studio

Unless you have a family where arts and crafts are common, you may have to plan ahead for this one. Buy some paints, some canvasses,  some cheap easels,  spend the afternoon painting landscapes or pets or whatever you want.

Catch a sunrise or sunset

Grab your cameras, drive to the nearest hilltop or peak, and toast the day with a cup of morning coffee or a sparkling nightcap.


Find the perfect gift for your mom at Alabama Outdoors! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Take advantage of our shipping, curbside pickup, or home delivery services or make an appointment for a virtual shopping trip today! #BeOutdoors

Making the Most of Neighborhood Walks

Many of us are spending more time around our homes these days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate nature. Every walk, whether it’s on a park trail or a neighborhood street, can be a nature walk.

We have five tips to help you explore the natural world in your neighborhood and help your children learn more about the outdoors.

Go on themed nature walks

Choose a focus for your walks so you can study one aspect of nature more thoroughly. For instance, one day you could focus on trees. Take photos of different trees you see on your walk, let your child bring a small notebook and make notes about the trees.

Talk about the differences in their shape, bark, and leaves. When you get home, spend some time on the laptop or iPad and look up your favorites or the ones you saw the most. And learn more about them.

On your next walk, you can focus on flowers, birds, small animals, or insects.

Take walks at different times of the day

Walk at different times of the day and notice differences. Do certain flowers bloom in the morning? How are shadows different during the day? Use all five senses to notice how the environment changes throughout the day.

Look for fireflies at dusk or pay attention to nature sounds during the day. Can you hear more birds in the morning or evening? Go exploring at night armed with a flashlight.

These walks help sharpen observation skills and help raise your child’s awareness of the natural rhythms of nature.

Invest in nature walk gear

Chances are you have much of what you need already, but your tiny explorers will take their mission more seriously if they have the right tools. 

Make sure they have an affordable magnifying glass, a flashlight or headlamp, a sketch pad, a small notebook, colored pencils, and a starter compass.

You can use these tools to create maps of your neighborhood or other trails.

Expand your explorations

Take family field trips to nearby trails and learn about those areas too. You can compare observations, discuss differences. When you venture out, however, make sure to check for hours of operation and any restrictions associated with COVID-19 concerns and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Encourage good outdoor manners

Exploring your backyard and walking through your neighborhood provide plenty of opportunities to teach your kids about making smart decisions outdoors

For instance, don’t litter. Throw away or recycle your empty bottles, snack packaging, or juice boxes. And leave what you find. If you see a beautiful flower, appreciate it, don’t pluck it and take it with you. If you are planning a scavenger hunt, require your kids to take a photo of an item rather than take it. And finally, respect wildlife. Observing a roly-poly is different from terrorizing a roly-poly. Teach your children to respect all living creatures.

The most important tip for your next nature walk? Enjoy it! Use it as an opportunity to unplug, and get some fresh air and exercise. It will benefit you and your whole family.

We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit one of our stores or shop online and take advantage of curbside pickup and free shipping for orders over $69.99. #BeOutdoors

Mother’s Day: Celebrating Your Outdoorsy Mom

By Amy Wright

(Homewood-based writer Amy Wright has more than 20 years of experience writing about a broad range of topics from personal banking to camping gear to parenting a special-needs child. She enjoys gardening, reading, cycling, and generally being outdoors!)

woman-tending-flowersDoes the mom in your life prefer pitching a tent under the stars or camping out in front of the TV? Would she rather hang out in the backyard, fuss over the flowers or lounge on the couch, and scroll through social media? If your mom can’t get enough of the outdoors, whether she is hiking, gardening, or just looking at the stars, make the most of this Mother’s Day by planning an outdoor activity that she will love. Here are some suggestions.

Plan a family hike

If family time and the great outdoors are two of Mom’s favorites, pick a couple of picturesque hikes nearby, and let her choose a trail. Then pack up some of her favorite snacks, put away the phones, and hit the trail!  And, if you really want to make her day, gift her with a new pair of her favorite brand of trail shoes. Because even outdoorsy moms love new shoes.

Relax the day away

mom-lounging-hammockWhat could be a better way to spend Mother’s Day than lounging in a hammock with the ones you love? Whether you plant yourselves deep in the woods or in your own backyard, a day of doing a whole lot of nothing outside could be exactly what your mom needs.

Bring along some icy cold beverages, and you could stay hydrated and horizontal for hours.

Run in the sun

Spending time with the family while clocking miles would make mom’s day. If she loves hiking, too, consider going trail running so she can get the best of both activities. Or she may consider it a treat to go on a long run by herself.

couple-jogging-baby-strollerGive her a gift that will inspire her to take some time for herself and enjoy a Sunday run. Every serious runner knows it’s important to have the right kind of gear for the run.

Does she have shoes made for trail running? Or does she burn easily? Could she use a UPF 50+ fabric tunic or a new pair of polarized sunglasses? Look for items that will make it easier for her to completely focus on her run.

Practice poses

Since your mom can’t visit a yoga studio during social distancing, create a class in your own home. Download a yoga app and offer to practice some poses with her. And maybe order some new yoga gear for her.

Float her boat

Plan some family time on the water. Whether you opt for a leisurely canoe trip or a weekend at the lake, making memories is sure to make mom very happy. Make mom proud, too, by remembering to pack the sunscreen, and, just in case, some fast-drying travel towels.

While thinking of a gift is nice, it’s definitely not the most important thing. The most valuable gift you can give that special mom in your life is the luxury of free time to spend doing something she loves with the people who love her or on her own. Let her pick. It’s her day, after all.

Find an awesome gift for your outdoorsy mom at Alabama Outdoors! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit our online store today! #BeOutdoors


How to Start Your Backyard Garden

By Natalie Ferguson

(With a background in retail and a love for wellness, travel, and the outdoors, Natalie Ferguson joined Alabama Outdoors in 2016. The Denver, Colo., native helped out with her mom’s garden growing up, and now loves growing basil and red chili peppers. Her next challenge? Growing edible flowers.)

raised-box-garden-lettuceSpring has sprung in the South, as we are all staying at home, backyard gardening is just the hobby to pick up if you have not already! Growing a garden is rewarding in a variety of ways. Not only are they beautiful, but they also can help cut down on grocery bills, and can be a fun, satisfying outdoor activity for the whole family!

More people are turning to home gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic for both therapeutic and practical reasons, so the National Gardening Association has launched a page full of pandemic “victory garden” resources.  

But here are some tips that I have picked up over the years as a backyard gardener that may help you plant the seed for years of gardening success!

Where will you plant your garden?

Begin by taking a look at the space you are working with. When planting a garden, you want to focus on the three main essentials: water, soil, and sun. If you have several options for your garden location, start by assessing the amount of sun each spot receives. Ideally, you want to pick an area that gets six to eight hours of sun each, although it is good to have some partial sun areas as well.

Another key consideration for garden location is proximity to a water source. You want to make sure it will be easy and convenient for you to water and care for it. After all, you did all the prep work to make it great!

Note: The amount of sun your garden gets determines what you can grow. There are plenty of vegetables and flowers that need full sun, plenty that only require partial sun, and some that even prefer shade. Watch your area throughout the day to see how much sun it gets and where so you can design your garden that will thrive.

Which garden method is best for you?

Depending on the space you have, there are many different methods of gardening to choose from. However, these are the three most common methods. 

  • Raised-bed garden. These are great because you control the soil. That means you can ensure you are buying the best soil for what you are trying to grow. Raised beds also drain well and help reduce the likelihood of damage caused by animals and pests. This method is more pricey upfront and may take a little more time if you build them yourself, but it’s worth it in the end for the plants and vegetables!
  • Container garden. This space-saving option offers a lot of versatility. Depending on the size and material of the container, you can easily move these around your yard to catch the sunlight as needed.
  • In-ground garden. This old-school method is the most cost-effective as you won’t have to buy as many supplies. You do not have to build anything and you already have soil. However, you have less control over soil and sunlight coverage. 

What should you grow?

green-tomatoes-on-vineGrow what you want to eat! You will care more about the success of your garden if you are craving cucumbers and tomatoes this summer! You can buy plants that have already been started, called set plants or transplants; or, you can buy seeds to plant and grow on your own. While buying seeds is inexpensive, pay attention to the growing season of each plant as they do take time to mature and grow. 

If you are a beginner or want a vegetable garden for the summer, I recommend buying set plants to start. Here are some common and easy to manage options along with the sun requirements. 


  • Full sun (6-8 hours): tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash
  • Partial sun: beans, carrots, cabbage, onions
  • Light shade (2-3 hours of sun): kale, lettuce, spinach, brussels sprouts


Basil, chives, rosemary, mint, parsley, and sage are all common choices and easy to maintain.


Annuals are fun to buy because you can change your garden every year.  Perennials cost more upfront but come back year after year. There are some flowers that you can add to your vegetable garden to add beauty or even deter pests.

Create your shopping list

Make a list of everything you need before you go. Overspending at the nursery is so easy to do if you don’t have a plan. When you are making your list, be sure to keep in mind soil preparation items, topsoil (if need be), any fertilizers you may need, and tools to do the job. And, since you will be outside tending your garden, make sure to protect your skin from too much sun and pests

Plan your shopping trip and your gardening day  

Dedicate a half-day so you have time to wander through the nursery. They are fun to browse and you can take your time to make sure you get everything you need. 

garden-boxes-varietyAlso, give yourself a whole day to build your garden. This could be a great Mother’s Day activity, hint hint! 

Whenever you take your plants home (if you didn’t buy seeds), it is best to place them in your garden area and space where you intend to plant them. This way you can see if you like how it is designed, and they can acclimate to their new outside environment. Let them adjust for a day or two in their pots they came in before planting, but remember to water them. 

No space outside for a garden? 

Bring the outdoors indoors! For those who do not have an outdoor garden, there are plenty of herbs, plants, and succulents that thrive indoors as well! Check out these tips for a beginner’s guide to indoor gardening!

Helpful tip: Did you know that you can get your soil tested for free? You can submit a routine soil analysis that will tell you what you need to add to your soil for your plants to thrive. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is one of our go-to resources for anything gardening. Check out this helpful calendar to help you plan!

Family activity: My Mom says, “There is nothing better than getting a packet of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds and planting them with your children. It is such a fun activity for the kids and it is just magical to watch them grow together.”

We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit one of our stores or shop online and take advantage of curbside pickup and free shipping for orders over $69.99. #BeOutdoors


Earth Week: Area Organizations Working to Protect the Outdoors

At Alabama Outdoors, we want to help people get outside and enjoy outdoor activities in Alabama and beyond. During Earth Week, we want to recognize and thank those local organizations working for the conservation of outdoor spaces and toward providing usage and access to the community. 

Oak-Mountain-State-ParkOur commitment has been to invest in and support local organizations doing good in the communities we all share. Here are some of the organizations that we have partnered with over the years that are working to preserve our beautiful, valued outdoors spaces. We encourage you to learn more about these groups and their missions.

Alabama State Parks

Alabama State Parks operates and maintains 21 state parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water in Alabama. The parks range from Gulf Coast beaches to the Appalachian Mountains and include Oak Mountain State Park, Gulf State Park, and Cheaha State Park.

Black Warrior Riverkeeper

Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River and its tributaries. It’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting clean water for the sake of public health, recreation, and wildlife habitat throughout the Black Warrior River watershed. 

Cahaba River Society

Cahaba River Society’s mission is to restore and protect the Cahaba River watershed and its diversity of life. Cahaba River Society works to strengthen water resource protection policies at the state level, benefiting the people of Alabama.

Freshwater Land Trust

Freshwater Land Trust conserves, connects, and cares for land and water in Central Alabama and works to create “dynamic green spaces for future generations.” The nonprofit is one of the largest own­ers of pri­vate nature pre­serves in Alabama.

Mobile-Bay-shoreMobile Baykeeper

Mobile Baykeeper is a community-driven group that advocates for the health of the Mobile Bay Watershed and coastal communities in Alabama. Mobile Baykeeper has served the Mobile Bay area for more than 20 years.

Southern Environmental Center

The Southern Environmental Center is an educational facility dedicated to showing how people can protect and improve their local environments. Its projects include partnerships to improve water and air quality; the EcoScape urban revitalization program; and management of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.


Ready to be outdoors this Spring? We have the Spring outdoor gear you need to get you back on the trails! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors


Socially Responsible Brands: Shop with your Conscience

Eco-friendly fashion and socially responsible brands are becoming more prevalent, especially at outdoor retailers like Alabama Outdoors. It stands to reason that if you appreciate spending time in the outdoors, you care about sustainability and the environment. And if you care about the environment, you want the brands who make the clothing and gear you purchase to care as well.

At Alabama Outdoors, we support companies and organizations working toward the conservation of outdoor places and providing usage and access to the community. We are proud to include eco-conscious brands governed by ethics and driven to make the world better.

Here are a few of the brands that balance fashion with Earth-friendly ethics.


Cotopaxi says it believes in the power to  “do good” while producing sustainable goods. Cotopaxi’s designs focus on minimizing waste and increasing yields of materials. One percent of the company’s annual revenues go toward the reduction of global poverty.

Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective’s packaging is 100 percent recycled and recyclable and its clothing is made out of a creative assortment of recycled goods, including recycled polyester, bottles, and fishing nets. It also uses eco-friendly dyes.


The company not only makes high-performance insulated products, its charitable giving program, Parks For All, also supports the development, maintenance, and accessibility of public green spaces.

The North Face

The North Face’s mission since 1966 has remained the same: provide the best gear for modern-day explorers and athletes, support the preservation of the outdoors and inspire a global movement of exploration. Through the Explore Fund, the company supports land conservation, access, education, and adaptive climbing.


Patagonia says it’s using the resources it has —its business, investments, and voice—to help save the planet. It pledges 1 percent of all sales toward the preservations and restoration of the environment.

Toad & Co

The apparel brand focuses on minimizing our environmental impact and helping clean up the apparel industry. It makes its clothing with a minimum of 80 percent sustainable fiber, and/or fabrics that are third-party-certified for responsible manufacturing. 

United By Blue

United By Blue doesn’t just make stylish clothes and durable canvas goods for the outdoors enthusiast. The company also removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company-organized cleanups for every item purchased. The brand made this promise when the company launched in 2010.
Find your favorite eco friendly gear and apparel at Alabama Outdoors. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit our online store today! #BeOutdoors

Earth Week: Mind Your Outdoor Manners

By Carl Stanfield

(Carl Stanfield, manager of our Inverness store, graduated from Brevard College with a degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education. He has accumulated about 5,000 miles of backpacking experience, thru-hiking the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. he is also a certified Leave No Trace educator.)

Happy Earth Day from all of us at Alabama Outdoors! In the spirit of this mindful time of year and the beautiful weather that is beginning to take hold, it seems like an excellent time to take a look at our “outdoor manners.”

The most widely accepted and practiced standard of ethics in the great outdoors is presented to us by an organization called “Leave No Trace.” The Leave No Trace (LNT) Center for Outdoor Ethics suggests seven basic principles to practice in the outdoors to minimize our environmental impact. Notably, these are outdoor ethics, not outdoor rules. That means that these are the ideal and suggested behaviors one would take into the backcountry, but their distinction from rules means that they aren’t technically enforced.

 All the same, it is important that we learn and practice these principles in order to keep the open areas we love to visit protected and undisturbed. In this article, we’ll run through a quick overview of each principle and how to practice them, but for a more thorough understanding of Leave No Trace Ethics, check out the website at

Plan ahead and prepare

Appalachian-Trail-overlook-North-CarolinaWhether going out for a week-long backpacking trip or just heading to a local trail for an afternoon hike, it is always important to adequately prepare and have a plan. No matter what duration one plans on going out for, it is important to tell somebody else what the plan is before going.

If disaster strikes, one of the most important components of a potential rescue is knowing what a person’s plans are. Another part of preparation is researching an area before even going. Is a permit needed for camping? If so, do they take cash or do you have to buy one online before getting there? Is there a fee to get into the park? Is the area dog-friendly? All state and national parks have excellent resources available online to help you learn what you need to know before you even step out of your car in their parking lot.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces

tent-campingThis principle helps limit erosion that can severely damage ecosystems we love spending time in.

Any time a hiker takes a shortcut down a hill off-trail or even skirts around a mud puddle, the hiker leaves a mark. When the next hiker comes up and sees that somebody else has already done that, they’re more likely to do the same.

Eventually, this can widen a trail or even create a new trail completely, unnecessarily disrupting the natural environment. So stay on the trail and stomp on through those mud puddles!

Dispose of waste properly

Different outdoor areas can have different rules, but it is NEVER okay to leave trash behind in the outdoors. Some places may provide trash cans or some may even ask guests to pack out all of their own trash. leave-no-trace-food-waste A common misconception is that it is okay to leave behind trash in a fire pit, but even that can disrupt the natural environment. It may attract animals and desensitize them to people, emboldening them to get dangerously close.

In many areas, it is best practice to hang our food in a tree or even keep it in a bear canister overnight so animals can’t get to it while you’re sleeping. It’s also good to know how to properly dispose of the waste that your body creates.

Make sure that your liquid waste is expelled off-trail away from a water source, and if you have to leave behind solid waste, the LNT guidelines suggest walking 200 feet from the trail and water source, then digging a cathole 6-8 inches deep. If you plan on doing this, make sure you bring a trowel and toilet paper!

Leave what you find

In order to preserve our natural environments, it is always best to leave them as we find them, no matter how tempting it can be to do otherwise. It may not seem like much harm to pick a single flower from a wilderness area, and if that were really all that was happening, it wouldn’t be. But when everybody that comes through has that thought and every visitor takes one flower, eventually there are none left for other visitors to enjoy, nor any for the insects to pollinate, and the entire ecosystem can be affected.

All of the ecosystems that we encounter on this planet are extremely intricate, perfect in their own ways. When humans come in and gradually disrupt them, no matter how small the disruptions may seem, the entire systems can completely fall apart. A good rule of thumb for our time in nature: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

Minimize campfire impacts

Campfires can be one of the most fun and ambiance-creating elements of a great night of camping. campfire-carl-LNTPoorly managed, they can also be one of the most destructive and hazardous activities we can do in the outdoors, so it is crucial we know what we’re doing if we’re going to make a fire at all. (Sometimes it’s best not to!) 

When deciding to build a fire, it is ideal to use an already established campfire ring. Creating a new one leaves a significant and unnecessary mark on the land. When collecting wood, only use wood that is already dead and ideally fallen. Even when stripping limbs off of dead trees, be mindful that a dead tree could be a wildlife habitat. Wood that you’re going to burn should be no larger in diameter than an adult wrist and can be broken with the hands.

Finally, it is crucial to be extremely thorough when putting out the fire. Burn all firewood used to ashes, then soak with water until cool to the touch. Finally, scatter the remains over a large area away from camp.

Respect wildlife

For our own safety and the safety of animals, it’s important to keep a respectful space between ourselves and wildlife. wildlife-on-trailAnimals should have a natural and healthy fear of humans to keep them from getting too curious and as a result too close to people. We should never pet or chase wildlife.

Even feeding wildlife can be harmful to them, as it ultimately habituates them to relying on people for food and opting to approach humans for food rather than foraging or hunting for it naturally. When larger animals like bears get to this level of comfort with humans, they, unfortunately, are usually put down as they are too great of a threat to human lives.

Keeping a healthy distance between ourselves and wildlife allows them to continue their way of life and gives us the opportunity to continue to observe and marvel at them for years to come.

Be considerate of other visitors 

Most people are looking for an escape to the natural world when they head to an outdoor environment. It is our job as good stewards and LNT practitioners to provide that by minimizing disruptive activities.

LNT-respect-othersWe can do this by wearing headphones instead of blasting music through a speaker, keeping pets on leashes, and keeping voices at an appropriate level. It is also important to know good hiker etiquette. Hikers are to yield to mountain bikers and horseback riders. Downhill hikers are to yield to uphill hikers so the hikers working the hardest (uphill) don’t lose their momentum.

The LNT website reports that as many as nine out of 10 people that spend time outdoors are unaware of the impacts they have. By learning these principles and teaching others by example, we can help change the world for the better by keeping nature wild. This Earth Week, if you do go outside, make sure to practice these ethics and become a better steward of this beautiful and wild planet we are all a part of.


Ready to be outdoors this Spring? We have the Spring outdoor gear you need to get you back on the trails! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors



Checklist for First-Time Campers

Checklist for First-Time Campers

By Amy Wright

(Homewood-based writer Amy Wright has more than 20 years of experience writing about a broad range of topics from personal banking to camping gear to parenting a special-needs child. She enjoys gardening, reading, cycling, and her favorite outdoor spot, Red Mountain Park.)

Millions of Americans overnight in the great outdoors each year, taking full advantage of our beautiful national and state parks as well as other camping and recreational areas.

If you want to join their ranks but are not sure how to get started, here’s a checklist of basic gear and supplies you’ll need to sleep under the stars safely and comfortably.

What do I need to go camping?

Camping pros know how to get loads of gear packed into tiny spaces. Since you’re new at this, you don’t have to go micro-mini when it comes to gear. But keeping it simple will help make your first camping trip easier and more rewarding.

  • For most campers, a tent is a must. Newbies should opt for easy-to-set-up outdoor accommodations. If you are buying a tent, be sure to ask for tips on setting it up and make it clear you haven’t done this before.
  • Your sleeping bag depends on where you’re going. There are bags designed for super-cold temps, but you won’t need that for spring and summer camping in the Southeast. There are plenty of affordable, comfy options that will keep you cozy even in moderately chilly weather. Since you’re new to dozing in the great outdoors, you might want to consider a sleeping pad, which provides additional cushioning and comfort.
  • Taking along a few collapsible camp chairs also is a good idea and you might pack a hammock or two as well. Sound like too much to carry? An Eno Single Nest Hammock weighs only 17 ounces and folds down to 3.5 inches x 4.5 inches!

What should I wear?

Plan to stay warm at night and dry during the day.  Always plan for rain even if you don’t expect it. And you may you’ll explore some waterfalls or other areas where you might get muddy or wet. Cotton clothing isn’t ideal because when it gets wet, you get cold. Opt for higher-tech, water-wicking fabrics instead.

  • Always take along a rain jacket and make sure you have several changes of clothes and dry sacks for bringing dirty duds home. Sea to Summit Dry Sacks come in a wide range of sizes.
  • Having the right footwear is key. Again, what you choose will depend on the weather, terrain and activities you’re planning. If you’re going to hike, investing in shoes that fit well and offer the right kind of protection — waterproof, sweat-wicking, extra support — will make all the difference in the world. For downtime, a pair of weather-appropriate slip-ons will make tooling around the campsite safe and comfortable.

What will we eat?

You might think taking along the food and drink will be a challenge, but you may be surprised by the camping-friendly tricks and tools for dining in the great outdoors.

  • As far as food goes, think trail mix, oatmeal, instant coffee, sandwich stuff, eggs, bread, fruit, pasta, soup, and cheese. If you want to go the dehydrated food route, Mountain House offers everything from pasta primavera to granola with blueberries.
  • Whatever you do, pack plenty of snacks and water. Most campsites provide water, but you should bring your own just to be safe.

What about showers?

Most campsites offer shower and bathroom facilities, but it’s smart to bring along soap, toilet paper, a towel, toothbrush and other travel-sized toiletries. A first-aid kit, sunscreen, and insect repellant also are must-haves, and don’t forget your prescription meds.

Do I need to reserve a spot?

In most cases, you’ll need to make a reservation at the campsite you want to visit. You can typically do this through the park or campground’s website. Some charge fees, but they are nominal. If you aren’t able to make a reservation, that means the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Find all the camping gear you need for your next getaway at Alabama Outdoors! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit our online store today! #BeOutdoors