5 Summer Safety Tips for Dogs

Three dogs on a hike

We love spending time with our canine companions, but we have to look out for them in the summer heat, especially if they are active outdoors. Check out our summer safety tips for your active dog: 

Keep your pet hydrated

Pets get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water, especially in the summer. Make sure your dog has a shady place to get out of the sun, don’t over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.  Pro tip: Keep plenty of water and a packable water bowl for your dog with you when you go on trips, hiking, or on walks.  Then, your pup can have a drink of water no matter where you are.

Know the symptoms of overheating

Overheated pets may pant excessively, have difficulty breathing, drool, seem weak, or confused, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Other symptoms include seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. If your dog suffers from any of these symptoms, move your dog to a cooler location, place a cool, wet cloth, or a chilly neckband on your dog’s neck. Offer your dog cool water, and call your veterinarian. If your dog collapses, take him immediately to your vet.

Never leave your dog in a hot car

Even if you think you will only be “gone for a minute,” don’t do it. For example, on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes.



Adjust activity intensity on hot days

Adjust the intensity and duration of exercise on particularly hot or humid days. Try to schedule hikes and walks during the early morning or evening hours. Also, remember that asphalt can burn the bottoms of your dog’s paws. Stick to dirt and grass trails during the summer.

Keep cool treats in the freezer

Treat-dispensing rubber throw toys have long been one of the best ways to keep dogs entertained and happy. For a cool treat, try filling your pup’s toy with peanut butter and freezing it.  Not only are these treats that’ll entertain for hours, but you can also prepare them ahead of time. The American Kennel Club has some suggestions for DIY frozen dog treats.

The most important thing to do as a pet owner is to be aware of your dog. Make sure your pet is comfortable, isn’t showing signs of distress or discomfort, and adjust your outdoor activities accordingly. Take care of your best friend, so he or she will be able to share your love of the outdoors for a long time!

Trying to keep cool this summer? We can help. 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



Introducing the all-new Owala FreeSip Water Bottle

Say hello to the all-new Awala, er Owolo, Awolo? Ah, the all-new Owala (Oh-wall-ah) FreeSip Water Bottle! The Owala FreeSip Water Bottle is an insulated, stainless steel bottle with the FreeSip lid. The fantastic FreeSip lid combines an open sip spout with an integrated straw lid for convenient swigging however you prefer! Thanks to this design, you can choose how to sip without changing lids.

The Owala FreeSip 24oz Water Bottle, and the larger Owala FreeSip 32oz Water Bottle.

This revolutionary new bottle combines awesome features with colors you won’t want to miss, to make it the best bottle ever. So dive in below where we break down what the Owala FreeSip Water Bottle is, and why you’ll love it!


The FreeSip lid has brilliant features, like a leakproof cap-lock. The cap covers the sip spout and integrated straw so you can secure both with ease. With the flip-top lid, you simply press the button and this bottle springs open ready for action. It’s also the perfect spot to throw a carabiner on your bottle to keep it strapped to a backpack or duffel bag!



Finally, the FreeSip lid has a soft rubberized Latex coating on the outside that makes it easy to hold. Thanks to the thick rubber, you get a strong grip that won’t slip when it’s wet. And the whole bottle is super easy to clean due to its scrubbable design. The lid features simple parts without any hard-to-reach crevices. And while the bottle isn’t dishwasher-safe, it is super easy to clean with a normal dish brush!



And the FreeSip lid doesn’t hog all the fun. This stainless steel design keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours so you don’t have to drink lukewarm water. Plus the outer shell is super durable and the stainless steel won’t break from just a few drops.


And if you’re looking for a clear water bottle for school, check out the Owala FreeSip Tritan 25oz Water Bottle! This see-through plastic water bottle has all the same awesome features thanks to the FreeSip lid but is lightweight and perfect for school, events, and lightweight hiking.




So take all those awesome features and combine them with incredible colors, and you get the amazing new Owala Water Bottles!

Introducing the all-new On Cloud 5


Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the On Running craze, the new On Cloud 5 Shoes are a great choice! Simple, stylish, and supportive, they’re fully-cushioned running shoes. The perfect sneakers for business casual outfits and brewery outings, they go with anything and everything. As if new colors weren’t enough to love, the brand-new On Cloud 5 is the ultimate do-it-all shoe. So let’s break down what’s new and why you will love it! If you’re looking for our On Shoe Size Chart click here!



New, breathable antimicrobial mesh for odor-free style made from 98% recycled materials. Great for you, better for the planet.

The whole shoe is constructed of 44% recycled materials so you can feel as good as you look, while doing good. Plus, the no-sew taped reinforcements secure the sockliner without any abrasion. The closed-channel forefoot ensures a friction-free fit with a clean finish. What does that mean exactly? That means these shoes fit perfectly, breathe effortlessly, and eliminate rough elements that cause chafing. We’re sold already.


Updated Speedlace configuration ensures the perfect fit for easy-breezy comfort every time you wear them. Say it with us, “ahhhh”.

The bungee cord Speedlaces feature an updated configuration for a more customizable lacing. With a perfect slip-on style and adjustable fit, they’re as versatile as ever. The new upper keeps the clean lacing loops through the forefoot for a supportive structure. And if you need extra support, they still come with athletic laces in the box, so you can step to your own beat.


A redesigned midsole ensures your shoe stays in place and locks in at the heel. So you can step with confidence.

On Running redesigned the shoe’s interior to maximize your control. The updated heel hold locks the shoe into place directly under your center of gravity. Basically, that lets you control the shoe like a natural extension of your foot, without slipping or sliding. As a result, your forefoot strike hits exactly where it should, every time. It’s really all in the details.

Zero-Gravity Foam

The new outsole with specialized Zero-Gravity foam delivers top-notch shock absorption and energy return. So you get a light, powerful bounce that keeps you moving forward. So like…moon shoes?

Close, cloud shoes. The newly designed outsole provides max cushioning without extra weight, so you can step light. And they’re not kidding when they say light. Weighing in at only 250 grams (203 grams in the women’s style), these are one of the lightest fully-cushioned running shoes on the market. Hence…cloud shoes. 🙂


The iconic CloudTec cells on the outsole feature an updated Abrasion pad for next-level traction.

Don’t go away just yet, the fun doesn’t stop there! The iconic CloudTec cells on the outsole feature an updated Abrasion pad for next-level traction. The titular CloudTec cells incorporate a fluid and flexible structure directly underfoot that disperses impact while retaining your natural gait. This design keeps you propelling forward while supporting your feet without slowing you down.


The On Cloud 5 Shoes feature an updated Speedboard custom-designed for the Cloud with a full-coverage CloudTec sole.

Unlike previous styles that had dual-soles with a full-length channel and Speedboard, the Cloud 5 wraps under the forefoot and heel to capture the Speedboard energy return while minimizing space for hazards to get stuck. That may not make a ton of sense or it may sound too good to be true, but trust us, this update is stellar.

Other helpful links to help you find your new favorite pair:


Now that you know all about the new Cloud 5, pick your color and shop online now or come visit one of our locations and be one of the first to try them on! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. #BeOutdoors

Gear Gifts For ‘The Cool Climber’

Need a gift for the rock climber in your life but do not know where to start? We are here to help! We have picked the gifts for the elite climbers and climbers ready to expand their gear collection and climbing skills. When they open their gift, they will love it and be impressed with your pick, go ahead and take the credit.


Sterling Marathon Pro 10.1mm Single Dynamic Climbing Rope

Customer review, “superb series of ropes!” The thinnest Marathon rope, the Pro is no less a workhorse than its larger brethren. Drawing its design from the demands of professional guides, the Pro’s burly, long-lasting exterior is specifically designed to stand up to wear and tear of rigorous climbing. Well built but not overbuilt, it will put you at ease when working your demanding problem. The Pro exemplifies what a modern-day climbing rope should be: a work rope and redpoint rope.


Black Diamond Men’s Momentum Climbing Shoes

The Black Diamond Men’s Momentum Climbing Shoes is designed for all-day comfort so you can handle cragging and long gym sessions. The Momentum has two-strap Velcro closures with a flat last design that creates an entry-level shoe with high performance. The Momentum Rock Climbing Shoe also features a micro-fiber liner in the front of the shoe to minimize stretch and maximize comfort. They also come in Women’s and Kids!


Black Diamond Super Chute Rope Bag

Do not let the outside of the bag fool you. A rope bag is not your ordinary duffel or tote. Taking a traditional rope bag design and adding an innovative funnel-shaped rope tarp for super-easy loading, the Black Diamond Super Chute combines simplicity with practicality. Barrel compression straps and a courier-style shoulder strap allow for compact, comfortable carrying to and from the crag with up to an 80 m rope, and two internal tie-in points expedite rope management. So gift a bag sturdy enough to hold the toughest gear.


Black Diamond Half-Finger Glove

Safety first, and to keep them climbing longer! The Black Diamond Half-Finger Glove protects your hands without having to compromise dexterity. Lightweight, breathable, and durable glove for belaying and aid climbing. The combo of the breathable stretch-mesh and tough synthetic leather provides a firm grip and comfortable fit.



Metolius Micro Holds Various 5 Pack

For when the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor climbing, build your own wall at home. The Micro is Metolius’s smallest bolt-on hold. These holds make great footholds on almost any angle wall and many Micro shapes make excellent handholds, especially on low-angle walls. Attach easily with low-profile, 3/8″ flat-head bolts. Includes mounting hardware.



Metolius Upshot Belay Glasses

These look like they are from outer space and they perform like it, too. The Metolius Upshot Belay Glasses help reduce neck strain and fatigue at the gym or crag. The glasses are built with a field of vision that aims higher on the wall and has sport-style temples with low profile nose pads that fit better than your typical glasses. With increased peripheral vision and a better view of what’s ahead, your climb will be more comfortable.


Friction Labs Secret Stuff Alcohol-Free Liquid Chalk – 75ml

How do you keep your hands well-chalked and dry for the whole climb? Well, it’s this Secret Stuff. But really, it is! For the climbers who hate chalking up all the time, try the new Secret Stuff before a climb to minimize chalking, climb more using less. Secret Stuff is FrictionLabs’ answer to liquid chalk. Rub a small amount on your hands, let dry, and a perfect layer of the highest purity Magnesium Carbonate magically appears. Some experienced climbers also recommend using it as a base under your chalk for even better performance.


Metolius FS Mini II Jet Set 6 Pack

These carabiners are a great size for all-around use! The ultimate small, light, full-strength carabiner has been redesigned with a larger gate-opening and a lower weight. The flared nose profile helps reduce the risk of accidental gate openings.



ClimbOn Mini Lotion Bar 0.5 oz

It’s a superhero of skincare. ClimbOn Mini Lotion Bar 0.5 oz is lotion that will keep you on the crags or the wall hour after hour of pain-free (or at least blister-free) climbing. Designed for rock climbers skin, the ClimbOn Mini Lotion Bar 0.5 oz is used to help the body repair from extreme use and environmental conditions. It also comes in a 1 oz lotion bar and .5 oz mini lotion tube.




‘Tis The Season Of Giving! Check out our other gift guides to help you find the perfect gifts for the ones on your list. 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

6 Must Have Gifts For The Trail Runner

For your friends running through the trails as you take your leisurely stroll.
We’ve curated a list of our favorite accessories and trail running shoes they are sure to love.


On-Running Cloudventure Trail Running Shoes

On Running has taken the world by storm with their well-known and loved On Cloud running show. Meet The On-Cloud Cloudventure. This shoe is the ultimate lightweight trail running shoe that features Grip-Rubber that performs in the most demanding conditions. The sole of the Cloudventure is specially designed to allow you to go from trail to street with no issues. Available in Men’s and Women’s as well as waterproof options for Men and Women to keep you dry no matter the weather and no matter where you step.


Swiftwick Aspire One Compression Socks

If we can give you any takeaway, invest in, and gift quality socks. Who knew they are a huge factor in comfort and function for your runs? These are our favorites for running, either trail or urban. The ASPIRE Line is thin and light for serious runners and cyclists, yet still perfect for athletes of any sport. Swiftwick’s Managed Compression prevents bunching and hot spots by supporting all 3 arches in the foot. The Linked-Toe technology prevents blisters by eliminating bunching in the toe-box.

Black Diamond Astro 175 Headlamp

Kind of like shoes, we can’t have enough headlamps. The Black Diamond Astro 175 Headlamp features a small, compact body that can withstand rain and snow from all angles. We love this one for early morning or nighttime runs due to its smaller body style as well as 3 different light modes for what you need. The runner on your list will thank you.


Goodr OG Running Sunglasses

Fly, fresh, fun, and style names as clever as nail polish, the Goodr OG Running Sunglasses are the sunglasses we have been waiting for. Affordably priced just in case you lose them in the lake, a wide range of colors to go with every outfit, and functional. While we do love them for the look, they were designed with runners in mind. With a special finish on the frame to eliminate slip, even when you’re sweaty, and a snug but lightweight frame to minimize bouncing, these glasses are great for any activity, especially running. They also have polarized lenses and UVA and UVB protection. These are fun and trendy and an easy gift for the last-minute shopper!


CamelBak Octane XCT Running Pack – 5L

Have you ever went on a run and having to hold a water bottle the whole time? It’s not ideal. This is a great gift for someone who still carries a water bottle or who is just getting into trail running. Weighing in at 350 grams, the Octane XCT is perfect for moving fast and light. The waist belt provides extra stability and includes zippered pockets for easy access to essentials. The new design features extra storage on the waistbelt and harness, so you can keep keys, gels and maps in easy reach. Most importantly? They will stay hydrated.


AfterShokz Aeropex Headhpones

These headphones are next level. Engineered with comfort, style and performance for an active lifestyle. With an 8-hour battery life and IP67 waterproofing, the Aeropex Headphones go anywhere and everywhere. Lightweight with an open-ear design, these are the most comfortable barely-there headphones on the market with unmatched sound quality. We love them on our runs as they allow us to be aware of our surroundings while still enjoying our trail tunes.


‘Tis The Season Of Giving! Check out our other gift guides to help you find the perfect gifts for the ones on your list. 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

Gear Review: AFTCO Shorts are Durable and Versatile

Matt Stone is an Alabama Outdoors employee and an outdoor enthusiast in the Birmingham area.

Look, I’ll always tell it to you honestly. First impressions are usually not the right impressions. And that little life lesson plays right along with my product review of the AFTCO Fishing Shorts.

aftco-shortsIt was a few years back, and a new short had arrived at our store by a brand called AFTCO. I had personally never heard of this brand. But I saw them in our company warehouse being unboxed and prepped to send out to our stores. Some of the colors were a little brighter than I typically went for (everything in my closet is blue), but I walked over, glanced at them, and decided “not for me.”

Another factor in my ambivalence toward these shorts: they are called “fishing shorts,” and all of their marketing revolved around giant deep-sea fishing boats and the people who wore them while they caught 500-pound marlin. I live in Birmingham, Alabama.

Five-star reviews for AFTCO shorts

About three months went by, and I kept hearing coworkers talk about their AFTCO shorts. I kept seeing them on more people around town, which made me keep digging around at product reviews to see if I could find the real dirt on these shorts. Most customer reviews were five stars, and yes, even to this day, do a quick Google search on AFTCO Original Fishing Shorts, and more than likely, you see five stars.

I ended up purchasing my first pair of AFTCO Fishing Shorts in 2015, and I still wear them in 2023 simply because they are some of the most durable and well-built shorts I have ever owned. They make them with a DuPont™ SUPPLEX® 3-ply nylon (say that three times fast) that is pretty much tear-proof (so far) but is also very soft and comfortable.

I realized that I did not need to be near the ocean or a bay to appreciate AFTCO Fishing Shorts. I began wearing them around the house or out-and-about running errands in town. I also wore them on my hiking trips because they are so lightweight, comfortable, and well put together.

Plus, with seven pockets, there are plenty of places to store gear. AFTCOs also have a pocket for pliers, and since I do like to bass fish, this works out perfectly. But, this pocket also has come in handy for holding a multi-tool knife when I need it close by on a camping trip.

On some of these camping trips, I am usually taking a break sitting on abrasive rocks or logs or moving through the thicker brush. The DuPont Nylon and the double-reinforced seat panel come in handy during those times. I can’t tell you how often I have worn a pair of shorts out on an adventure only to get back home with small catches in the fabric from briars, etc. Not with the AFTCO shorts.

Good for fishing, hiking, and lounging

At the peak of summer, my AFTCO shorts do a great job of reflecting harmful UPF rays away from me, and since they wick moisture away from my skin, they keep me pretty cool. I have even jumped in the water in these shorts when I did not have swim trunks with me. They dry reasonably quickly once out of the water, and since they are stain-resistant, I never worry about mud or dirt.

Overall, I love these shorts when I am adventuring outside, but what truly makes me love them is that I am currently wearing them in my office while writing this review. They have made great lounging shorts and around-the-house attire. The versatility alone, and the fact they have lasted me five years, says it all when someone asks me if I like my AFTCO shorts. Plus, they are blue!

Find your favorite back-to-school apparel and 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 take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors

5 Best Backpacks For Hitting the Books or the Trails

Man and women on college campus with backpacks

For the adventurous student on a budget, finding an affordable, reliable, and versatile backpack can be tough. You want something that comfortably fits all your books but can also be the perfect daypack for a long hike or weekend trip. We’ve rounded up the five best backpacks that offer great, stylish support for hitting both the books and the trails!

north-face-borealisThe North Face Women’s Borealis Daypack 27L

This 27-liter pack is big enough to fit all of the essentials without weighing you down. The pack, made of lightweight but durable material, is easy to carry. Plus, there’s a 15-inch fleece-lined pocket for your laptop or tablet. This pack features straps specially designed to fit smaller-framed shoulders. It also has excellent lumbar support with added ventilation. The women’s pack has all of the same technical features of the top-rated Borealis pack, just with a slimmer design and slightly smaller capacity.

The North Face Recon Daypack 30L

This 30-liter pack is a fan favorite for commuters and day hikers alike. With a recent redesign, this pack is filled with even more ways to stay organized. While our favorite feature is the protective laptop compartment, the extra stash front pocket is what is setting this pack apart from the others. With a 30-liter capacity, stash front pocket, 360 degrees of reflectivity, and not to mention the FlexVent suspension system, you will be organized, safe, and comfortable while you are on the go.

chacabuco-backpackThe Patagonia Chacabuco Pack 30L

This backpack comes in a variety of colors and is perfect for all of your needs. This pack offers two main large compartments for all of your gear, from your school materials to your hammock for some after school hanging. Our favorite feature? It is equipped with a tube port, so the laptop sleeve doubles as a hydration reservoir when you leave your laptop at home. And it’s made from a durable, water-repellent material to protect your most precious belongings.

Patagonia Paxat Backpack 32L

The Patagonia Paxat 32 liter is the largest capacity pack on our top five versatile daypacks. Depending on what your day holds and where your travels take you, you may need a 32 liter. If you do, this is our pick due to its overflow of options and gear-holding possibilities. This pack has your standard large main compartment for any gear or a change of clothes and a smaller compartment with sleeves to hold a tablet and other items.

The Paxat is also perfect for traveling as the back-padded laptop compartment fully zips down and lays flat, making it TSAapproved and easy to breeze through security. There is also a stretch stash front pocket for quick access items and not to mention the side pockets are zippered making them versatile for cords or water bottles. 

Osprey Arcane Large Daypack 20L

osprey-arcane-toteThe smallest capacity pack on our list is the Osprey Arcane Large Daypack. Coming in at 20 liters, this pack embodies minimalism with its low profile design and simple lines. While it is only a 20 liter, this pack still is packed full of features and space for the essentials. The J-shaped zipper of the main compartment makes accessing your items easier with the wider opening. The main compartment comes with an internal padded laptop sleeve and other small sleeve and zip pockets for tablets, documents, and cords. We absolutely love the colorways, clean lines, and how comfortable and easy it is to trek around town with. This one is so sleek, it’s a head-turner. 

Find your favorite back-to-school apparel and 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 take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors

Gear Review: Osprey Arcane 20L Tote Pack

By Natalie Ferguson

(With a background in retail and a love for wellness, travel, and the outdoors, Natalie Ferguson joined Alabama Outdoors in 2016.)

We have found our new favorite, every day, cross-functional pack. Osprey did it again — they created another pack loaded with features and sleek design details with unmatched comfort and durability. 

Features and specs

Pack Size: 20L 

Weight: 1.76 lbs

  • Top zip access to the main compartment with integrated fold-and-hook closureosprey-arcane-tote
  • Over-the-shoulder tote bag easily converts to backpack-style
  • Front panel shove-it pocket for stashing small items or tuckaway tote straps
  • Quick-release aluminum security hook to keep your belongings safe
  • Stretch power mesh shoulder strap sleeve for transportation cards or small items
  • Large zippered front panel scratch-free pocket
  • 15″ padded laptop sleeve
  • Internal organization, small zip pocket and key clip

Why we love it

The size: Coming in at 20L, this is a great size for everyday use. For reference, 20L is ideal if you are going on a quick day trip or hike. It is compact and lightweight, but it has the capacity for daily essentials.

Versatility and value: Not only is this pack a great size, but you get two bags in one. That’s right, this bag easily converts from a backpack to a tote bag, with tuckaway straps. I know what you are thinking — tuckaway straps are bulky and annoying. Not the case with the Osprey! The pack features two stowaway pockets on the outside to easily store the straps. One is on the back with a padded sleeve for the backpack straps (which easily fold over and down into the pocket) and the back tote strap; and one on the front is a quick “shove-it panel” to tuck in the front tote strap. With the padded component on the back, you can’t even tell backpack straps are in there!

Storage and organization: This bag has (almost) all-of-the-pockets.

osprey-interior-storageMy favorite feature is the padded laptop sleeve. My laptop fits easily, and the foam lining keeps it protected. There is also a document sleeve, multiple small pockets, and a zippered pocket. If that isn’t enough, the outside has three pockets for quick-access items. Two are the pouches for the straps but offer plenty of extra space, and one is a zip pocket for items that need to be kept safe. The one pocket I (sometimes) wish it had was a water bottle pocket; but, the front shove-it pocket serves the need for the intended use!

Quality: Being an Osprey, quality is a key component and a known characteristic, and part of why we love them. The durable canvas exterior, the extra padding, and interior lining give this pack strength and stability. So, load it up! It can handle it. The waxed canvas exterior is excellent as it resists moisture if you get caught in the rain. If your pack has been through it all and needs repair, Osprey has the best lifetime guarantee. “Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday.”

Feature highlights: The fold-over top is a double win. It is a very convenient option if you do not want to zip the top closed. (The bag has a strap and security hook to keep your items secure and the flap in place.) Just fold the flap, hook and tighten the strap, and go. Need extra storage? No problem. The top has a zipper so you can use the extra space while keeping your items secure. The coolest feature? This pack is made from plastic water bottles!

The look While this bag has great technical features for an everyday bag, this bag is also sleek. From the colorways, simple design lines, and matte look, it is all-around beautifully crafted and the bag I bring everywhere. 

Where I go with it

This bag is my gear pick (and perfect) for the on-the-go lifestyle. I bought this bag while at a tradeshow and it immediately replaced the bag I was using.

On the first day of the show, I used a shoulder bag, which was for travel and work purposes. However, by the end of the day, with my bag full of catalogs and a laptop, my shoulder was killing me.

The next day I bought the Arcane Tote from Osprey and everything changed. It held my laptop, pens, notebooks, catalogs galore, and I was able to convert it to a backpack for more comfort. Throughout the trip, I easily switched it from backpack to tote depending on the time of day and what I was doing. It was perfect. I like using the tote style in a more casual setting and when it is not loaded down with work items.

It is now my go-to travel pack whenever I fly. I can bring my laptop without it being a hassle, keep my boarding pass in the front zip pocket, and I can access everything swiftly. Plus, it is so comfortable for all-day travel.

With the small size and two style options, this is a perfect commuter sidekick. From the office or school to the gym, to patio lounging and anything in between; it will hold up to your lifestyle!

Looking for a bag, tote, or pack? We have plenty to choose from! Alabama Outdoors wants 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



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


Gear Review: ENO Hammock

Matt S. is an Alabama Outdoors employee and an outdoor enthusiast in the Birmingham area.

When I first joined the outdoor retail industry more than six years ago, parachute hammocks were all the craze. A hammock company called ENO (Eagle Nest Outfitters) helped fuel the popularity by creating the very first knotless anchoring system, which allows anyone to hang a hammock easily. Hanging an ENO hammock only requires two perfectly spaced out trees or sturdy anchors.

Not the classic rope hammock

I had always pictured hammocks as the traditional rectangular design made from uncomfortable rope that would brand my skin with diamond-shaped red marks if I laid on it too long. These classic rope hammocks lived in two scenes in my mind.  One, hanging between two palm trees with some beautiful sunset sinking into the ocean’s horizon or, two, at my grandmother’s house hanging for the last 30 years where it had become a small safety hazard.

Parachute hammocks, however, feel sturdy. Constructed from durable nylon fabric that is lightweight and breathable, they can hold up to 400 pounds!  So I decided to purchase a new ENO hammock and take it along with me on some of my camping trips and casual day hikes.

Love for my hammock

My new hammock compacted down small enough that it easily fits into my larger Osprey Atmos pack for extended adventures, but more importantly, it fits into my Osprey Manta daypack, enabling me to hike to quick scenic places like King’s Chair at Oak Mountain State Park. I could enjoy beautiful, relaxing views while swinging in the breeze. But something happened. Eventually, my hammock ended up in a storage box after moving into a new apartment, and I forgot about it.

I continued my day hikes and overnight camping trips, where I typically opted to bring my Helinox Chair Zero, which gave me a place to sit and relax and ponder the meanings of life or maybe drink too much camp coffee and watch fireflies.

And then something happened again. Within the last month, COVID-19 began affecting the way I and others live our day-to-day lives. As this virus sweeps across the world, governments are currently asking citizens to self-isolate and to spend more time away from others.

A newfound appreciation

Like everyone else, I am devoting more thought to how I spend my time outdoors. I’m also tackling a lot of spring cleaning tasks a little earlier. On one of these spring cleaning adventures, I opened a brown cardboard box (that I should have unpacked a long time ago) and discovered that familiar oval ball of nylon.

Suddenly, in a world of uncertainty and stress, my colorful hammock made more sense than ever.  I now have it hanging on my balcony where I can lounge and watch the birds, listen to my music, or catch up on reading.

I used to look at my hammock as just a tool to use on the hiking trail, but now, for me, it symbolizes “slowing down and relaxing.” Being intentional to find a brief moment whenever you can to breathe and realign yourself has never been more critical.

And the new appreciation for my hammock helps me to do just that.

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