5 Stunning Sunset Hikes in Alabama

Sunset on Ruffner Mountain

Ruffner Mountain hosts some of the best sunsets in and around Birmingham. Photo by Rain0975.

Alabama is blessed with more than a few spots in the great outdoors with vistas that are perfect for watching a sunset. From an easy walk on the Gulf Coast to a challenging trek in North Alabama, we have five favorite sunset hikes around the state.

A quick heads-up before you head out: Take caution when hiking during the sunset hours. Prepare for low-light conditions with flashlights, headlamps, and other essentials like a compass. The hikes listed here are all well-maintained and popular, yet hikers should always arrive prepared and navigate cautiously when visiting after dark.

1. Ruffner sunset hikes

Ruffner Mountain at Sunset

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve is popular with Birmingham residents for many reasons. It’s accessible enough for a quick after-work hike; its 14 miles of interconnected trails give hikers and trail runners plenty of recreational opportunities, and the mountain’s abandoned mines recall an era of forgotten history.

The sunsets, though, are among the best around Birmingham. Ruffner Mountain offers numerous west-facing viewpoints for watching the sunset beyond the downtown skyline; a recommended favorite is the quick (yet moderately challenging) Overlook Trail. At less than a half-mile, the trail ends at a viewpoint above a quarry, where hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the sunset. The trail’s popularity and distance make it a safe bet for quickly returning to the car—even after dark.

2. Dauphin Island sunset stroll

Dauphin Island offers several beaches and viewpoints for watching the sunset. 

It’s almost impossible to talk about Alabama’s best sunset hikes without mentioning Dauphin Island, which bills itself as the “Sunset Capital of Alabama.”

Three miles south of Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island is the southernmost point in Alabama. The 14-mile-long island (population: 1,300) has become a popular, albeit low-key, tourist destination in recent years, thanks in part to its white, sandy beaches and numerous walking trails.

Hikers won’t have to go far—or work hard—for a breathtaking sunset. The island offers miles of mostly flat walking and cycling trails, with unobstructed viewpoints aplenty in East End Park, Magnolia Park, West End Beach, and Dauphin Island Public Beach.

3. Vulcan Trail at sunset

The mostly forested Vulcan Trail offers numerous clearings and viewpoints for enjoying the sunset. Photo by Lee Adlaf

The paved Vulcan Trail contains all the ingredients for an idyllic sunset hike. It gains less than 200 feet, so hikers won’t be too out of breath to enjoy the views; the path follows the ridge of Red Mountain, giving visitors a glimpse of the region’s natural beauty; and the short length (a mile each way) means that it’s a relatively easy jaunt to return to the trailhead after dark.

Trees line the vast majority of the Vulcan Trail, but the occasional viewpoint promises wide-open views of downtown Birmingham, nearby mountain ridges, and more. If you have time beforehand, head to nearby Vulcan Park to learn about the region’s rich mining history and enjoy other panoramic vistas.

4. McDill Point sunset trek

Ambitious hikers, this one’s for you: McDill Point offers an overnight trek near Cheaha State Park, so you can extend that sunset hike into a longer adventure. Hikers making the effort will be rewarded with gorgeous sunsets behind the tree line, not to mention starry night skies above.

Hikers start the 3.2-mile hike on the Pinhoti Trail, pass through the Cheaha Wilderness in the Talladega National Forest, take the McDill Point spur trail, and eventually arrive at their destination: a series of boulder cliffs at McDill Point. (Note: This area is protected from the wind and is an ideal spot to set up camp.)

A quick scramble up the boulders takes hikers to a west-facing outcrop with views of the surrounding forest and the wide-open night sky as the sun dips—quite a memorable way to end the day.

5. Gulf State Park sunset walk

Gulf State Park hosts two miles of sandy beaches for relaxing and watching the sunset. 

The Gulf Coast hosts dozens of viewpoints, parks, and trails for enjoying the sunset, but one that’s especially awesome is Gulf State Park. The picturesque park hosts two miles of white, sandy beaches and a fishing pier that extends more than 1,500 feet into the Gulf—both of which offer plenty of room and unfettered views as the sun descends behind the horizon.

Hikers and cyclists looking for added adventure can hit up the park’s 15-mile Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system. Gulf State Park’s seven, well-graded paths take hikers through a lush maritime forest, windswept sand dunes, and inland lakes. Along the way, hikers might spot a bobcat, white-tailed deer, or sunbathing alligator.

Written by Matt Wastradowski for RootsRated in partnership with BCBS of AL.

Need to upgrade your summer adventure gear? We can help! 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 convenient in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors



2023 Top Graduation Gifts


Graduation is an important milestone in one’s life, marking the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter. It’s a time to celebrate achievements and honor the hard work put into reaching this point.

When it comes to finding the perfect graduation gift, why not choose something that combines style, functionality, and a touch of adventure? Read below and explore the top graduation gifts that are sure to impress any graduate as they embark on their next journey.


Yeti Cooler

A Yeti Cooler is the epitome of durability and performance. Whether your graduate is heading off to college, planning a road trip, or simply enjoys outdoor adventures, this cooler will keep their food and drinks cold for hours. With its rugged construction and excellent insulation, a Yeti Cooler ensures that every outing is accompanied by refreshing treats and chilled beverages. If you’re graduate likes tailgating or car camping, we recommend a hard cooler like the Roadie 24. And, if they like to go to the beach or spend a day on the river, we recommend a soft-sided cooler like the Hopper Flip 12 or Hopper Flip 18.


A duffel bag for their adventures

A Patagonia duffel bag is not just a bag; it’s a symbol of wanderlust and exploration. Crafted with sustainability in mind, these duffel bags are made from recycled materials without compromising on quality. With spacious compartments and sturdy straps, they are perfect for weekend getaways, outdoor excursions, or even as a gym bag. Your graduate will appreciate both the style and the ethical choices behind this thoughtful gift. Shop duffel bags here.


A tent for a summer under the stars

For the adventure-seeking graduate, a high-quality tent is an essential gift. Whether they’re planning a camping trip, a music festival adventure, or simply love spending time in nature, this tent will provide them with a comfortable and reliable shelter. Brands like The North Face and Nemo are known for their durability, innovative designs, and attention to detail, ensuring that your graduate can enjoy their outdoor experiences to the fullest. Shop all tents and accessories here.


A hammock for ultimate relaxation

There’s nothing quite like relaxing in a hammock, swaying gently between two trees. The Eno Hammock is a must-have for any nature lover or outdoor enthusiast. Lightweight, compact, and easy to set up, it’s perfect for camping trips, beach outings, or lazy afternoons in the backyard. Give your graduate the gift of ultimate relaxation and a cozy spot to unwind after their achievements. While there are 1-person hammocks, we recommend the Eno Doublenest Hammock for maximum room. And don’t forget the Atlas Straps! Shop all ENO Hammocks and straps here.


New shoes for the grad on the move

Comfortable footwear is a necessity for any graduate embarking on new adventures. On Cloud Shoes combine style and performance, making them an ideal gift for someone always on the move. With their innovative design, these shoes provide cushioning and support while maintaining a lightweight feel. Whether it’s exploring new cities, going for a run, or simply strolling around campus, On Cloud Shoes will keep your graduate comfortable and fashionable. Check out the new On Cloudsurfer above and other new footwear arrivals here.


A pair of shades as cool as them

Shield your graduate’s eyes from the sun with a pair of stylish Goodr Sunglasses. These sunglasses are not only trendy but also offer exceptional UV protection and glare reduction. Available in a wide range of colors and designs, they are perfect for any outdoor activity, whether it’s hiking, biking, or simply enjoying a day at the beach. Help your graduate look cool and stay protected with these fashionable shades. Shop Goodr Sunglasses here.

Whatever gift you choose, remember that it’s not just an object but a symbol of your support and excitement for their future adventures.


Find the perfect graduation gift for your high school or college senior 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

Mother’s Day Glamping Getaway Giveaway!

We have teamed up with our friends at The Land of Bohamia to make this Mother’s Day one she will never forget. See details below for a chance to win a cozy glamping getaway filled with nature and quality time, with our Mother’s Day Package Giveaway!


Enter for a chance to win by following these rules:

  • Follow @AlabamaOutdoorsOfficial and @Land_of_bohamia on Instagram
  • Like the post on our Instagram page (@alabamaoutdoorsofficial) that looks like the picture above.
  • Tag a mom in your life in the comments who deserves to win this sweet escape. One person per comment (more comments = more entries) 
  • Share this giveaway to your stories and tag us for 5 bonus entries! (You may have to message us as well with a screenshot if you have a private account).
  • Giveaway begins on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 and ends on May 14, 2023 at 11:59 CDT. Winner must follow entry guidelines listed above.
  • This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Instagram.

The PRIZE (over a $500 value):

The terms + conditions:

  • Giveaway begins on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 and ends on Sunday May 14, 2023 at 11:59 CDT. Winner must follow entry guidelines listed above.
  • The winner will be chosen by random drawing and notified by Alabama Outdoors via Instagram on Monday May 15, 2023.
  • The winner will be able to choose which 2-night glampsite stay they want based on date availability. The 2-night stay must take place by May 31, 2024. 
  • The winner must sign the waiver and follow all rules and policies set by The Land of Bohamia
  • Travel to/from the Land of Bohamia is not included in the giveaway nor is travel reimbursement included.
  • You must personally know the accounts you tag. Tagging celebrities and bot accounts do not count.

Looking for more gift ideas for Mom? Check out all of our Mother’s Day gift ideas here! 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

10 Ideas for a Fun Mother’s Day Weekend

We have listed 10 ways to celebrate the mom in your life, make her feel special, and maybe spend some time outdoors this Mother’s Day weekend!


Plan a weekend staycation or getaway

Plan a weekend staycation or getaway. We have put together ideas for a great Mother’s Day Weekend in Birmingham, Florence, and Mobile. Each city offers a wide array of activities for any interest, a needed change of pace from the day-to-day, and most definitely well-deserved relaxation and fun. Click each city for our full blogs on where to go and what to do! From urban outings to outdoor adventures to a relaxing beach getaway, and in between, we are sure to have something fun she will enjoy.


Have a picnic somewhere unique

Maybe the Mom in your life loves being outdoors without having to go far to enjoy nature. If so, find a local park or go somewhere close she hasn’t been and set up a picnic! Surprise her by doing the work and planning the menu with some of her favorite bites. Put down a blanket, put up a hammock, and put out the spread. Relax + enjoy. 

Visit the Gardens 

Don’t just give the Mom in your life flowers for Mother’s Day, take her to where all of the flowers bloom. She will enjoy the peaceful setting and beauty the gardens provide.

Here are a few of our favorites in Alabama:


Start a backyard garden together

May is the perfect time to start a garden. So while you are roaming the sidewalks at the local garden, discover plants and flowers Mom likes and help plan out her garden at home. Having a backyard garden will bring more of the outdoors to her when she doesn’t have time to be in the great outdoors but wants the serenity. Plus- she can grow vegetables which is even more fun!


Explore the trails 

If your mom likes hiking or even a nearby nature walk, explore a new trail or new park together. Whether you head out of town to check out a scenic view or wander through a local urban greenspace or trail, she will enjoy just being in nature. 


Go camping

You have been camping all year in your backyard preparing for this year. It’s time to take what you’ve learned in your trial runs and head outdoors! If you’re just starting, here are some tips for car camping and where to go that offer a more relaxing camping experience. Grab a new weekender bag or other travel gifts for mom here.


Start the day with yoga

If your mom enjoys staying active, invite her to join you for a local yoga class or a virtual outdoor yoga session with you. You can adjust to her preferences with a relaxed flow or muscle-burning poses with tricky inversions. Pair a fun yoga session with a new activewear set she will love! Shop activewear for mom here.

Do something on her list

Whether it is something on her to-do list or her bucket list, pick a couple of things out to help cross them off her list! We know she will love the help with chores. Once that is done, plan an adventure she has wanted to do and go with her! Maybe there is a hobby she has wanted to try, find a class and sign her up! Is there a trail to a waterfall she has been wanting to go to? Pack your water bottles, tell her to gear up, and hit the trails! Like the idea of chasing waterfalls? Check out our list of top waterfalls in Alabama, some that require zero hiking!


Treat her to a special brunch 

Does the Mom in your life cook for you and others a lot? If so, this Mother’s Day treat her to a special brunch out on the town where she can relax. If you will be spending the weekend under the stars, plan out a special fireside brunch to start the day off.


Catch a sunset

Pick out a sunset hike or find a local panoramic view to set up a picnic and enjoy the sunset. Who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of a sunset? Looking for the best spots? Here are 5 Stunning Sunset Hikes in Alabama.



Get Mom something she will love to go with your fun-filled weekend or to show her you care from far away! Click here for the Top Gifts this Mother’s Day. 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

Party on the Porch: May 12, 2023

Alabama Outdoors Party on the Porch at Homewood store.About Party on the Porch

Each Party on the Porch at our Homewood store focuses on giving back to our local community and raising environmental awareness for conservation, access, usage, and education. The event is held on the second* Friday (*new for 2023) evening of each month from April to October (with the exception of July, we will be skipping in 2023, it’s just so darn hot).

Party on the Porch brings together local musicians, breweries, food trucks, and artisans for an evening you do not want to miss. This is a family-friendly event, with activities for kids, a dog-friendly atmosphere, corn hole, giveaways, and loads of fun! Attendance is free, but we ask that of-age attendees donate (not required) $10 for a wristband and a souvenir cup with your donation going to a local non-profit organization at the event.

Net proceeds from your donations at our May event go to Red Mountain Park.

About Red Mountain Park: Red Mountain Park encompasses 1,500 acres of land along the Red Mountain Ridge in central Alabama. The Park is conveniently located minutes from downtown Birmingham and several surrounding communities. With 16 miles of multi-use trails winding through 1,500 forested acres, there’s a trail for everyone at Red Mountain Park.  Red Mountain Park is a public-private partnership that receives public support, but ultimately depends on donors to maintain the park as an accessible and beautiful place for all.


Friday, May 12th, 2023 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Future dates:
June 9
August 11
September 8
October 13


Alabama Outdoors Homewood Store


Who’s attending?

Our friends from:


Beer + Beverages:

  • Ghost Train Brewing Free craft beer for those with wristbands and our souvenir Party on the Porch cup (21 years and older)



Top Gifts for Mother’s Day


Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than by giving your mom a gift that reflects her love for the great outdoors? Whether she enjoys hiking, camping, or simply spending time in nature, there are plenty of thoughtful gift ideas perfect for her next adventure.

Below we have highlighted this year’s top gifts for any type of mom on your list. Mom, new moms, grand moms, active moms, beach moms, dog moms- any mom.


On Running Women’s Cloud 5.0

The best part of these shoes is all in the name. Mom will genuinely feel like she’s walking on a cloud with these incredible, lightweight shoes. Put Mom on Cloud 9 with the On-Running Cloud shoes. Shop here.


Goodr OG Running Sunglasses

Fly, fresh, and fun sunglasses are the perfect grab-and-go gift for any mom who loves to be outdoors. With UVA and UVB protection, a no-slip bounce grip, and a range of colors she will love, these sunnies are the Spring + Summer ‘it’ item and her “accessory necessity”. Shop here.

Hoka Clifton 9

Make this Mother’s Day a colorful one for mom with the Clifton 9! These vibrant running shoes not only offer a pop of color to her workout outfit, but also provide the support and extra cushioning needed for a comfortable run or all-day activities. Vibrant and supportive, just like her, these shoes are a real shoe-in this Mother’s Day. Shop here.

Free Fly Women’s Breeze Skort

As easy and breezy as her, she will love the Breeze Skort from Free Fly. Shop here. The Breeze for women also comes in the Breeze Pull On Short and the Breeze Lined Short.


Bogg Bags – Original Bag

The gift of all gifts.  This versatile tote bag is perfect for moms who love the beach, picnics, or any outdoor adventure. Large enough to hold all of the essentials and made from durable EVA material so it is easy to clean. Plus, its stylish design and colors make it a great accessory for any outfit. Give mom the gift of convenience and gift her a Bogg Bag! Shop here for all Bogg Bags.


Coolibar Women’s Catona Funnel Neck Tunic Top

The best gifts are fashionable and functional, like the Catona Funnel Neck Tunic Top from Coolibar. This tunic is lightweight and breathable and features UPF 50+, so this is the perfect gift for the active mom who loves to be outdoors while taking care of her skin.  Shop here.


Owala FreeSip Bottle

The key to flawless skin is to stay hydrated. The Owala Free Sip water bottle is our new go-to bottle for staying hydrated all day. The Owala Free Sip bottle comes with a built-in straw for easy sippin’, or a wide mouth option. With an array of color combinations, there is something she will love. Shop here.



Nettie Pickleball Set

Mom will be the star of the court with her new vibrant and fun Nettie Pickleball Set. This set has everything she needs to get started if she is new to the game- or a nice upgrade from the one she’s been using from day one. The paddles are lightweight and so are the pickleballs, making this a great way to exercise and try something new! Shop double and family sets here.


Birkenstock Boston Suede Soft Footbed Clogs

Give mom what she deserves this Mother’s Day, comfort and timeless style. The Birkenstock Boston Clogs feature a soft contoured footbed that will mold to her foot and give her that extra support and all-day comfort. Not to mention, the clog style is versatile and back in style! Shop here.



Yeti Roadie 24 Cooler

This cooler is the perfect accessory for Mom and a gift everyone can use all summer long. Keeping contents cool all day, you won’t have to leave the beach or dock.  Did we mention the cooler can accommodate wine bottles or large soda bottles standing up for a spill-proof design? Thank you, Yeti. Shop here.



Looking for more gift ideas for the mom in your life? Shop here for all gifts! 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


Alabama Outdoors Gear Swap

Give a piece, take a piece.

This Earth Day, Alabama Outdoors wants to encourage you to share your lightly used gear and find other lightly used gear you can use to help reduce waste and breathe new life into well-loved gear.

How it works: Come see us at the Celebrate Trails Day/Earth Day celebration at the Farmers Market at Pepper Place on Saturday April 22 from 8am-12pm.

We will have a tent dedicated to our rental gear program and our give a piece, take a piece gear swap where you can bring your lightly used gear and swap it out for other donated gear. To ensure everyone gets a chance at finding something they’d like to exchange, Alabama Outdoors has included some used gear pieces that will be available at the tent at the start of the event, so feel free to come by early. Any one piece of gear you donate can be exchanged for one complete piece of gear of like-value, so long as the donated gear is still in usable condition.


Please ensure anything you bring meets the following conditions.

  • Lightly used and still intact and functional
  • No significant or impossible to repair tears, broken parts, missing or worn-out components
  • No climbing gear or any other type of safety gear
  • No dirty, moldy, or otherwise unclean gear
  • No footwear

Please bring camping, backpacking, and other general-use outdoor gear that you would otherwise donate. Suggestions include:

  • Tents
  • Sleeping pads
  • Camping hammocks
  • Backpacks
  • Duffels or travel cubes
  • Trekking poles
  • Sleeping bags, backpacking pillows
  • Camp chairs or tables
  • Hiking stoves, utensils, and other cookware
  • Camping accessories
  • Headlamps and other lighting
  • Insulated bottles or hydration packs
  • Disc golf

For full information and details about the event please click here.

5 Perfect Hiking Picnic Spots in Alabama

Springtime in Alabama means the beauty of blooming flora and the breathtaking chirp of songbirds around you. It also means it’s time to get outdoors and explore all Alabama the beautiful has to offer, while the humidity is low, of course.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, these beautiful hikes have the perfect picnic spots for you to rest, relax and fuel up for a day on the trails.  Here are 5 relaxing and scenic spots to have a picnic and experience nature at its finest!


1. Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park is a 1,500-acre day-use park located in Birmingham, AL just 5 miles southwest from downtown. This park is not only a local favorite for its proximity to the city, it also is packed with unique features and historical ore-mining sites that make it great for families and visitors alike. Red Mountain Park features 16 miles of trails ranging from easy to moderately challenging, two breathtaking city overlooks, three fun treehouses, a relaxing hammock area, and a dog park! The park also has multiple picnic areas along the trails, making this one of our favorite spots for a picnic in nature.

For a quick and serene picnic spot, park at the Frankfurt Drive entrance of the park and follow trail #1 Eureka Mines Trail about a 1/2 mile to the Regions Quarry Picnic Area. Just up from the picnic area, you will also find the hammock area if you need a little extra hang time. You can find the full trail (and picnic) map here.



2. Tannehill State Park

Tannehill State Park is one of Alabama’s most unique state parks due to its historical features, camping sites, and events throughout the year, including the popular Tannehill Trade Days. Tannehill has more than 1,500 acres of hiking trails, camping sites, and outdoor recreation. While the winding roads through the park will take you back in time, the scenery and landscape will make you feel like you’re in a fairyland.

While there are many unique spots to roll out your Nomadix Festival Blanket and relax, one of our favorites is just off the creek by the bridge. Or take a seat at the picnic table, your choice. This spot does not require any hiking to access but there are over 17 miles of trails to explore in the park either by foot or bike. If you have the time, we recommend renting out one of the cabins for a weekend away and take in all the park has to offer! Check out Tannehill State Park and their map here.


3. DeSoto Falls

With a spectacular waterfall as your backdrop, a picnic at DeSoto Falls is hard to beat. DeSoto Falls is great as there are multiple options for taking in the stunning view of the 104-ft waterfall. DeSoto Falls is located on Lookout Mountain, just under 10 minutes from the quaint town of Mentone, and the waterfall is only a few hundred yards from the parking lot.

So, if you’re short on time or just looking for an easy picnic without the hike- you’ve come to the right spot. There is an established picnic area near the river and the waterfall, just steps from the parking lot. The upper falls are accessible to all abilities while the lower fall does require a 50-step walk down to the overlook. With many viewing options at the picnic area, the pick is yours.

If you’re looking to get a little closer and get some more steps and time in nature in, head back down the road to the trailhead and take the 1.4 mile out and back River Trail down to the base of the falls. The hike is considered generally easy with a couple steep spots at the beginning and some rocky areas heading towards the falls. Depending on the water level, you will notice many flat rock areas perfect for a picnic with a view. While on the trail, be sure to stop at the Ice Box Cave! You can access the trail map here. Note that the DeSoto Falls Picnic Area does have a $4 fee per day, per vehicle (cash not required).

DeSoto Falls Picnic Area coordinates: 34.55°N 85.59°W


4. Wildwood Park

Located in Florence, Alabama, Wildwood Park is more than a local park- it is a sweet escape just 3 minutes from the UNA campus. Wildwood Park has a little bit of everything for the outdoor enthusiasts including hiking trails, fishing, and even 3 to 5 miles of beginner to advanced mountain bike trails! From the parking lot it won’t take you long to get into the park and feel secluded from the town.

For a great picnic spot, we recommend taking a left at the fork at the beginning of the trail and head alongside the turquoise water of Cypress Creek. Along this trail there are multiple alcoves to access the creek as well as gravel and sandy spots to set up a peaceful picnic. If you’re in the Florence area do not miss out on this beautiful park! Be sure to help support the park and grab a Wildwood Park Short-Sleeve T-Shirt. You can buy one online or head to our store located in downtown Florence! A portion of the proceeds of each t-shirt benefits Wildwood Park and the maintenance of the beautiful trails. 


5. Sipsey River Picnic Area

In our opinion, the Sipsey is great for anything but especially picnics and secluded camping in some of the most beautiful places in Alabama. The Sipsey River Picnic Area is located on Bunyan Hill Rd in Moulton, AL, also near the popular Mize Mills Falls Trailhead. The parking area has a $5 fee for the day, but this area is well worth it, and you will find plenty of places to explore along the trail. While there are picnic areas and a boat launch at the parking area, we recommend taking the trails along the Sipsey River as you will quickly come across several picnic areas just above the river that will make you feel like you’re far away from civilization.

Latitude: 34.2854754
Longitude: -87.3983867


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

3 Easy Tips for Packing Smarter

When you’re heading out on your first big trip, whether it’s backpacking, car camping, or going for a day hike, it’s important to pack smart. Packing smart doesn’t just mean packing light, it means ensuring the best layout of your gear to keep you safe, comfortable, and feeling good on the trail. So, we’ve broken down some top tips to help you pack smarter. 

1. Organize, organize, organize!

The first step to packing smarter is to organize. It sounds simple, but it’s often easy to underestimate how organized you need to be. A quick weekend trip can go from fun to dangerous if your pack isn’t organized correctly. You can forget essential gear, stow gear incorrectly so it gets wet or warped in the sun, and even hurt yourself by packing your gear wrong in your backpack.

Some people like using packing cubes or dry bags, while others prefer keeping things in simple gallon freezer bags. Anything that keeps your gear sorted, organized, and accessible in your pack is helpful. Not only does it make your stuff easier to find and put back, but it prevents messes, keeps essentials like sunscreen and snacks close on hand, and makes it way easier to unpack when you get home. 

2. Plan your trip in your bag 

First, you need to lay out all your gear by day, activity, or whatever makes the most sense to you. Think through the timeline of your trip, and ask yourself questions like where will you be when you need fresh socks or a flashlight? It’s going to save you a lot of effort to put essentials like socks and underwear up at the top of the pack, rather than shoving them in a spare pair of boots that are buried with heavy tents and sleeping pads at the bottom of your pack.

Once you’ve answered those questions, you can map out your pack access to ensure things are laid out in the most efficient way possible. This means doing things counterintuitively sometimes. Maybe it’s better to pick out each days outfit in advance and have each outfit in its own bag, rather than bundling all your socks, shirts, and pants. That way, each bag can hold your dirty clothes in the same spot it was in before, rather than needing to add a second bag of dirty clothes while you’re on the trail.

It’s also helpful to write down a pack itinerary that lists what you’ll need and where your necessary gear is in the pack, that way you can find it fast and put things back where they belong. Now that’s a lot of planning, but the key is that the best packing system is the one you use. Try a couple of different ideas and see what works best for you.


3. Shakedown and pack out 

The last and most important step, do a shakedown and figure out what and how you’ll need to pack out. A shakedown is where you pack and then unpack your backpack anticipating exactly what you’ll need. If it’s your first time going out on any type of hike, you can come by your local Alabama Outdoors for a free pack shakedown and get some expert advice on what you need!

When you shakedown your pack, you want to ensure everything you have is necessary for the trip, in good working condition, and sized down to fit in your backpack. You should pack your backpack just like you would for the trail, so with the heaviest stuff at the bottom. Then, weigh the pack and check that it isn’t too heavy. Usually, your pack shouldn’t weigh more than 20% of your body weight for an overnight trip and only 10% for a day trip.

Now that you’ve done your shakedown, put on your pack and walk with it on for a bit to ensure it is adjusted correctly and comfortable for you. Finally, go through and plan out where you will put trash, dirty clothes, and other refuse that you want to keep separate from your clean items. Leave space for it in your pack and make sure it’ll all fit on the trip out. 



Well, those are the basics to packing smarter! To learn more about backpacking, check out our other blogs and shop for top backpacking gear here.  


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


Sorry to fool you but the Alabama Outdoors Pollenclava is not real (though we wish it was). Happy April Fools Day, hope you stay safe from all the pollen this year!

You can shop for other top picks for spring here and get ready for warm-weather adventures here in Alabama!

Alabama Outdoors Pollenclava Mask

The Alabama Outdoors Pollenclava Mask

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