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Cairn Blog: Discussing Outdoor Gear

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Beginners Guide to Camping like a Pro

July 24, 2017

Hallelujah, it’s camping season! Nothing beats falling asleep under the stars and waking up to the sounds of nature. Whether you already have a few camping trips under your belt this season, or you’re planning your first one, we are here to remind you of a few camping tips for newbies to help you camp like a pro👊🏻. From gear you might not have thought about to the goodies you need to fuel your fun--we've got you covered😎. Here are just a few of our favorite things for summer camping trips, all of which were recently featured in our summer collections.

Gear Lowdown

For all the little things that you pack and then can’t seem to find, the Gobi Gear SegSac included in a selection of our July collections is an ingenious solution created by an avid backpacker. The SegSac is a segmented stuff sack that makes it easy to organize (and therefore, find) everything you need when you need it - even the little things like your Elemental Herbs - All Good Lips lip balm. Never underestimate the impact that sunshine, elevation, and full days outside can have on the delicate skin on your lips (and how brutal the effects can be)!

Prepare for every situation

As much as you can hope and pray for good weather while camping, you don’t always get to choose what Mother Nature will dish out. It never hurts to keep your essentials, whether you consider that to be your smartphone (no judgment) or your good old fashioned paper map, in a safe place like the SealLine BlockerLite Dry Sack--just the thing to help keep your gear dry when that unexpected rain storm rolls in☔️. And it's always helpful to keep a super compact, super absorbent towel like the PackTowl Nano on hand for drying off after that rainstorm, or dip in the lake, or washing the marshmallow off your hands!👍🏻

When the rain clouds disappear and the sun comes back out, don’t forget to slather on the SPF!  The Zealios Sun Barrier SPF 45 is oil-free and dries clear on your skin (no 80s lifeguard look for you)! Again, elevation and long days outdoors can do an unexpected number on your skin. There's nothing worse than sitting by a campfire with a scorching sunburn.  

Food for thought

Cooking over a campfire makes everything taste better, right?! But those easy to grab snacks are essential, too, especially if you're prone to getting a nasty case of the hangries while trying to start said campfire. The Cairn Crew is currently obsessed with Buddy’s Nut Butter. The single-serve Little Buddy's packets are perfect for utensils required! Squeeze it on a banana, a cracker, or directly in your mouth (that's how we roll). If you normally start your day with a smoothie (or are not a fan of cooking in the mornings), Noka’s Mango Coconut Organic Smoothie Packs are a refreshing, healthy, easy to pack option to get your day going.

Bring lots of H2O

We saved the most important item for last: WATER. Once again, good old elevation, sunshine, and all day outdoor activity can excelerate the potential for you to become dehydrated. Be prepared and prevent it from happening! Products like the Mazama 2L Reservoir are the perfect storage solution for hikes or just hanging around camp. With its twin locking layers, PVC/BPA-free bladder film and high flow bite valve, you'll stay hydrated without spillage.

If you get into a bind and run out of clean drinking water while you're in the wild, try out the Purinize Purifier Drops. These little drops will naturally disinfect and clarify water from any freshwater source without harmful disinfectants or harsh chemicals. 

Now do a little camping deep dive with Cairn Product Guru, Conor:

Q: What are 5 essentials for every camping trip?

A: Shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, water or a water filtration device, stove.

Q: What is your favorite spot to camp in the summer?

A: Any lake or river in the high country (above 6,000 feet). There's nothing like enjoying the crisp night air under starry skies without any noise but the sounds of the natural surroundings. I typically camp to get away from people, hence why most of my excursions are backpacking trips. I'm also an avid fly fisherman and therefore love to camp near fishable water whenever possible.

Q: How often should you clean your camp gear?

A: I typically do a large clean in the late Fall when most of my camp gear is stored away and swapped out for my snowboard gear. In addition to my all out annual clean, I always make sure to clean my cookware and tent after every trip.

Q: Is there one piece of gear you cannot leave without when you go camping?

A: That really depends on the kind of camping trip it is. In most circumstances, it's my fly rod. Fishing is by far and away my favorite way to wrap up an evening at or near camp, if I'm near water of course.

Q: For someone who is just getting into camping, what are the first few things they should invest in?  

A: A quality sleeping bag. The importance of a good night's sleep is extremely crucial when spending long days outside. For someone who is not used to sleeping outside, the sounds of nighttime wilderness can be a tough adjustment, but a quality sleeping bag can give you the comfort you need to fall asleep in no time.

Q: Where are you planning to take your next camping trip?

A: I'll be heading into the Central Oregon Cascade Mountains this weekend to soak up the last bit of snow on my splitboard. I'll be camping between Broken Top and South Sister for a quick overnight.


Where do you plan to go camping this summer? And how are you using your Cairn collection gear? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Not a subscriber yet? Don’t miss out on next month. Sign up now!


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Changing the Rock Climbing Game

July 20, 2017

One thing every climber knows--even those who just dabble in the sport from time to time--is that chalk is your best friend. You won’t get too far up a route with slippery, sweaty hands, which is why climbers have those handy dandy chalk bags attached to their hips.

Our friends at FrictionLabs know climbing. It’s in their DNA, which is why it comes as no surprise to us that they are changing the chalk game with their Secret Stuff chalk cream, included in this month’s climbing collection. Whether you’re an avid climber, or just like to take on an occasional route and call it a day, you’re gonna wanna get your hands on this stuff--literally!🙌🏽  Secret Stuff is no joke--  it will have you climbing longer distances with less chalking up along the way. It is the future for climbing chalk, and what climber doesn’t want to be able to hang out a little longer, with a little more grip and a lot less worry!

We had the chance to catch up with Keah, co-founder, of FrictionLabs, and learn more about the secret behind the best chalk in climbing.

The Idea Was Born

Most ideas tend to first start with a problem, and the need for a solution. For Keah and FrictionLabs, that problem was generic climbing chalk--it just wasn’t doing the job anymore.

“As climbers ourselves, we were disappointed by the quality and consistency of generic chalk. It didn’t seem like anyone out there had really tried to find a better way, which was crazy since grip-strength and skin health are so critical to a climber’s success. After collaborating with a few scientists to learn more about chalk and how it works, we were convinced that there was an opportunity to make a high purity product, manufactured responsibly in the USA, that climbers would actually love! Fast forward 3 years and our chalk is now the choice of most professional climbers and is on the shelves in climbing gyms and leading retailers all over the world.”

Launching the Business

Starting any business is always going to be nerve racking/slightly terrifying.

After putting hours of time and effort into an idea that you poured your blood, sweat and tears into, you never know if your business idea will actually take off--risk taking at an all time high! Luckily for Keah and FrictionLabs, their idea was solid and started making waves in the climbing industry. Today they are leaders in climbing innovation and show so sign of slowing down.👊🏻

“The first order is obviously always memorable. Getting a message that someone, somewhere, actually bought something you created is surreal and thrilling. Ours was a stranger in Ohio buying a bag of our chalk after somehow stumbling on our website that was still in development!

Really though, the first BIG moment was when a Japanese distributor emailed us after testing our chalk to say “Good feeling we have!” and placed an order. At the time, we both still had full-time jobs and we were doing everything FrictionLabs out of Kevin’s(FrictionLabs Co-founder) basement at night. That was probably the moment we knew it could be a real business. And we’re thrilled that we still work with that distributor today to make our chalk available to climbers in Japan.”

Big Wins

Any little success as a small company trying to get off the ground is a HUGE win.🙌🏽 For FrictionLabs, one of their biggest wins was learning to collaborate with the big dogs of their target market--professional climbers.

“Pro climbers are these incredible athletes who have committed themselves to developing our sport. They are the source of so much inspiration and growth in the climbing community. One of our biggest wins has been learning how to support these pros in a way that helps grow their individual brands, and our brand, as well as psych up the climbing community. Some recent examples of this are Rooftown Volume 1 and Volume 2, where we follow Matt Gentile as he roams the badlands of Arizona developing these unbelievable boulders he discovers inside caves, along canyons, and on remote rivers..

Not JUST For Climbers

What may have started out as a product for climbers quickly developed into a product for any athlete (climbers are good at sharing, too!). After all, climbers aren’t the only ones who need a little extra grip on what they do.

“ We think of our users as High-Care Athletes. Whether they are brand new climbers or seasoned pros, they care about performing at their best. They demand a lot from themselves and they expect their gear to live up to that standard, too. It’s such an honor to be part of their success.

An unexpected surprise has been seeing the adoption of our chalk by High-Care Athletes outside of climbing. We get great emails and reviews from gymnasts, weightlifters, high intensity athletes, basketball players, track and field athletes, and even golfers and tennis players telling us how our chalk has helped them succeed. Climbing is our core and it’s awesome to see that chalk designed for the needs and demands of rock climbers can give the best grip to all High-Care Athletes.”

If you are a rock climber and received our climbing collection this month, then you’re probably pretty stoked on life right now--we know we are! From the Trango Cord Trapper Rope Tarp that dually functions as a tarp AND a bag to keep your ropes untangles and clean, to the  So Ill Finger Massager that will provide your hands with the attention they deserve after a long climb, and of course the delicious Buddy’s Nut Butter to give you a little extra fuel along the way! 😄

We love finding unique, new and emerging gear for our subscribers, and we’d love to hear how you are using yours! Where are you climbing this summer? And how are you using your Cairn collection gear? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Not a subscriber yet? Don’t miss out on next month. Sign up now!

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The running man: Tips for Running a 50+ Mile Race

July 13, 2017

Long distance runners know all too well the time commitment and the stamina it takes to train for and complete a distance race. But, if you’re just starting out with training for a full marathon or longer race, you may be wondering, “how will I ever get to the finish line?” Luckily, our Cairn Crew has the pleasure of working with one of our very own distance-running junkies! When he isn’t translating data for our team into plain English (no small feat), Ryan Manies is running. If you thought 26.2 miles was a lot, well try 50+ miles--that’s more Ryan’s style. This summer he’s gearing up for the Cuyamaca 100k held this October near San Diego, California.

Ryan let us dive into his world to find out just what it takes to accomplish these long distance runs, and how to get ready for a big race.

Diet Tips

Fueling up to run any distance is crucial, but when you're running distances as far as Ryan is, your diet is equally important as all of the training you did. Eating the right foods before, during and after a race supplies your body with enough energy to go the distance and also recover. Know what works best for your body, and stick with those foods before a big run 👊🏻.

“Gels, Bars and Salt!  Use your long training runs to figure out your own nutrition game plan.  Having this dialed will help you execute on race day.” -Ryan

Whatever your favorite carbs are, fill that plate up the night before your race and don’t be afraid to have seconds--your body will need it to take you to the finish line 😉  🙌🏽.

Training like a pro  

Training to run 50+ miles is almost like having a second job--a very sweaty, exhausting, and REWARDING second job. These long distance races are a HUGE commitment for anyone who decides to sign up, but will give you mad bragging rights once you cross that finish line! For Ryan, training is all about the quality vs quantity.

“ My preparation is usually centered on the quality of my miles versus quantity of miles.  When my schedule is tight during the week I try my best to simulate running on tired legs. This comes from a combination of things such as:

  • Trying to run twice in one day.  Even if the distance is short on both runs (3-4 miles) the second run is on tired legs which simulate how you feel towards the end of an Ultra run. 
  • Make the weekends count by doing two long runs (10+) back to back.   I can’t spend the entire weekend running on trails so this usually means starting at early hours, but the cooler morning temps and quiet trails make up for the lack of sleep.
  • There is more than one way to tire your legs!  I use a standing desk at work all day.  Build up by trying 20 min. increments if you use to sitting at your desk!” - Ryan

We can’t promise your friends won’t call you crazy, but at least you’ll be able to out run them in a foot race! 👊🏻 🎉

Pre-race regime

What you do the night before a race, or even two or three nights before a race can drastically impact your race day performance. As you know, getting adequate rest every night is important for overall health, and is even more so when preparing to push your body to it’s running limits. 👍🏻 😴

“Aim to get your best, uninterrupted, night of sleep 2 nights before a race.  There are too many variables the night before a race that can make it difficult to sleep well.” - Ryan

Take yourself back to middle school and set a strict curfew and bedtime and stick to it for the days leading up to your run--your race day mind and body will thank you 😊  🙌🏽.

Beating the burnout

With anything you do for hours upon hours, there is always going to be the challenge to beat the burnout. Running is no exception, but Ryan has figured out what needs to do to keep running fun!🏃🏼 🙌🏽 

“Mix it up! I always try to explore new trails to run at even if this means driving a little longer to the trailhead or by camping in new areas. I also try to mix up the race distances I do.  At the end of July 2017 I will be doing a 1 mile race that I think will go by very fast (no need for music on this one)” -Ryan

It also helps to have a favorite trail nearby to go to when you need a little extra motivation. 😄

“One of my favorite loops in Central Oregon is the Green Lakes to Soda Creek loop.  It has a nice climb on the way to Green Lakes that gets the heart rate up. However the views of the surrounding area and the combination of varied terrain you experience within the 12 mile loop (11.8 to be exact) make it worth the extra effort.” -Ryan

Whether Ryan has inspired you to go out and run 5 miles or 50 miles, we think you are ALL running rockstars! 🙌🏽

“You can do it! Sign up for races that will help you build up to that distance before you sign-up for the 50+ mile race.  Find local runners in your community to run with – having a running buddy depending on you to show up will motivate you to get out more often.  I also recommend volunteering at a longer race.  You get to see first hand what the racers have to endure and it will be easy to see the issues that are exposed by 50+ mile race – blisters, bonking and dehydration! -Ryan

Everyone is different, so before running any long distance race please consult your physician, trainer, health coach or whoever it may be to make sure your body is in good condition to start training. It’s also helpful to have a training buddy, so find a friend who likes to run and sign up for a race together! And for Ryan, well you just keep doing your thing and we will be cheering you on every step, or thousand of steps, of the way!

Are you training for a race this summer? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Not a Cairn subscriber yet? Don’t miss out on next month. Sign up now!

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Car camping 101: tips for your next road trip

July 06, 2017

Are you planning to hit the road this summer for an outdoor adventure? No tent? No problem!

Car camping has become one of the top ways for us outdoor enthusiasts to pack up, take off and enjoy a nature-focused adventure. For anyone who loves to camp, anyone who loves a road trip and even for those of us who love the outdoors but want our excursions to be easy peasy, car camping is totally for you! Camping usually requires some hefty gear essentials, but car camping gives you the awesome gift of requiring one less thing to worry about packing-- a tent! Your car can double as your transportation AND your shelter, making it easy to set up camp wherever you want, whenever you want (where it’s legal of course😜).

So you’ve got a car and a plan, but before setting out on your next car camping adventure, there’s some essential gear you’ll want to bring along. Here’s the ultimate car camping 101 for your next road trip...and all other adventures to follow!

Kitchen and Cooking Supplies

Whether you are setting out to chase some waves on the coast or explore the nearest national park,  you can’t always count on accommodations that include a stove or proper cooking facility. If you’re anything like us, you actually seek out the secret outdoor spots that put you right into nature, and away from the hubbub of the city. Wonderful? Yes. Accommodating? No.

That’s why it’s handy to bring a camp stove with you. Roasting sticks are another essential item to have packed in your cooking gear bin, in case you feel like roasting some hot dogs or marshmallows over an open fire. Aside from these essential cooking items, a pot and pan, cutlery, and your new DrinkTank 16 oz. Vessel  for hot and cold beverages, will keep you and your crew fed and happy throughout the car camping expedition😊.

Gear Tip: Before using your DrinkTank for an an evening beer after previously using it for coffee, make sure you throw a Hydropak Bottle Bright Tablet in there to flush out that coffee flavor so it doesn’t taint the flavor of your IPA. The only thing worse than a warm beer, is a beer that tastes like leftover coffee👎🏼.

First Aid Kit

When is it not a good idea to have a first aid kit? Seriously! Car camping may get you off the grid (and we hope it does!), but we also want you to be prepared in case of emergency. Bee sting, poison ivy, cut hand, sprained ankle, etc...whatever the unexpected injury, you’ll be glad you have a first aid kit with you to hold you over until you can get more help.

Plenty of Food and Water

This goes without saying for some, but you’d be surprised how often bringing enough edible and drinkable supplies gets overlooked. Friends don’t let friends set out for exploration without the basics! If you're planning to be out exploring for two days or less, still pack enough food for four days--just in case your trip gets extended. With your dinner menu, make sure to bring some snack food that’s packed with good stuff and won’t go bad right away. We’re big fans of the ReGrained Sustainable Supergrain Bars that were included in our June collection! These delicious, sustainable snacks will be a lifesaver in a hunger pinch, and are chalked full of flavor and nutritious ingredients harvested from the grains of craft beer. For all you chocolate lovers out there, make sure to throw in some Treehouse Drinking Chocolate in for a delicious beverage at the end your day, or to start off your day--we’re not opposed to chocolate in the morning!😉

Water--bring lots of it, always! It’s the one thing you do NOT want to run out of on your trip. Plan to pack enough water to drink for the duration of the journey, because you can’t count on finding fresh drinking water wherever you go. You’ll need it to cook, drink, and bathe (that is if you’re into keeping good hygiene up while camping--just an option 😜).

Sleeping Bag, Pad and Pillows

Although you won’t need a tent if you’re car camping, you’ll still want a sleeping bag and pad. Your car is not insulated like a house, so when temperatures drop, it is is going to get cold. Check the weather before you go so you know just how cold it may be at night, that way you can pack the right sleeping bag and enough layers to avoid freezing your you-know-what off at night. Another item that will make a huge difference in your overall car camping experience is a sleeping pad and or pillow. Cars are normally comfortable to ride in, but when you fold down the seat cushions to sleep for the night, you’re going to be thankful to have a little extra padding. Everyone is more fun when they’ve gotten good night’s rest!

Of course, you can always bring more gear, but as long as you have these essentials, your weekend car camping trip will be a success. Now it’s time to pull out a map and start planning your next adventure!

Where are you planning to go car camping this summer? Share with us on Facebook and Instagram!

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