Best Daypacks: Hiking Daypacks

For treks and adventures that require you to carry more gear than can easily be fit into your pockets, a daypack is great to have.  Daypacks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and prints and deciphering between the countless options can be quite daunting. What makes the best daypack?   To narrow down your decision, take a look at the key factors that should be considered when purchasing a new day pack.

Daypack Size

There are two measurements to be aware of when choosing a new daypack – torso length and capacity.  Daypack capacity is measured in liters and typically ranges from 10 liters to as much as 70 liters. Depending on where you plan to take your pack, the capacity needed will vary. For day hikes, 30 to 40 liters will be plenty.  This will comfortably pack the essentials – food, water, first-aid kit, rain jacket and a fleece. For climbing and ski touring, a minimum of 40 liters is recommended to carry your necessary gear plus any extra clothing.  If trail running or racing is your thing, staying light is key and you should try to find a pack under 20 liters to minimize bulk and weight.

The torso length of a daypack is extremely important to ensure that the pack fits you well. Almost all quality daypacks will have a hip belt to distribute the load evenly between your hips and shoulders. If the hip belt does not fit correctly, the weight distribution will be off. This can lead to discomfort and even pain on extended trips. Women should try to stick to a daypack designed specifically for a women’s frame to ensure a comfortable fit. Most vendors will report a range of torso lengths that a specific pack is designed to fit.

To find your torso length, have a friend measure the distance from the top of your shoulder to the highest part of your hip bone, known as the iliac crest.  Then make sure your torso length is within the given torso range for a daypack to make sure you get the proper fit.

Panel Loading vs Top Loading Daypacks

Top-loading packs have one large compartment that is typically secured by a drawstring opening and flap at the top of the pack. are typically much larger and simpler in design than panel loader.  They are easier to load to capacity and can even be stuffed beyond the stated capacity. Cinch straps on the sides and top allow for gear to be compressed when the pack is not filled to the brim. The downside is that everything is in one large compartment, so keeping your gear organized and easily accessible can be a chore.

Panel loaders are similar to a school backpack with a large top loading zippered compartment.  Multiple compartments inside and outside differentiate panel loaders. The contents can easily be organized and accessed, making top loaders the most popular style of daypacks.

Hands-Free Hydration

With the countless features in today’s daypacks, perhaps the most important one is support for a hydration system. If you will be using the daypack for climbing, trail running, skiing or any other activity where you’ll get thirsty, you should consider dropping in on a hydration pack. These packs are compatible with a bladder inserted into it’s own pocket against the interior back of the pack. There is also a hose which clips to the shoulder strap for hands-free hydration. This system is nice if you don’t want to fumble around with a water bottle while running, hiking, wearing gloves or hanging on to the side of a mountain. They also make it much easier to carry more water since the bladder compresses as the water is drank.  Hydration specific packs come with a bladder and hose, but many daypacks are hydration compatible (bladder and hose sold separately).

A Few of our Favorite Hiking Daypacks

Dakine Session Hydrator Day Pack 6.5L Dakine Session Hydrator Daypack
The best part about this daypack is the 2L reservoir with Quick Disconnect hose will keep you hydrated for 10-20 miles.  Great for few hours on your mountain bike or old school hike trip.  Breathable DriMesh® back panel and shoulder straps.  Armor carry straps. Padded MP3 pocket


Patagonia Refugio Day packPatagonia Refugio Backpack Lemon Lime
The Refugio is one of Patagonia’s best selling daypacks! We love the compression straps, the insulated-hydration reservoir and DWR finish.  Great as a school backpack or quick hiking daypack.  Air-flow mesh back panel and shoulder straps. Padded compartment good for a 17-inch laptop.  Microfleece-lined pocket for sunglasses and electronics.
Comes in Grecian Blue, Black, Forest Glen, Deep Mango

The North Face Recon
The North Face Recon Backpack
Most likely made for urban adventures, but it is equipped with enough technical features to let it double as a bona fide hiking daypack/backpack.
Large main compartment with padded laptop sleeve and hydration clip/port
Padded Airmesh back panel with Spine Channel

Stand Up Paddle Board Repair

SUP Repair

Stand Up Paddle Board Repair

Dings and cracks come with the paddle board territory for novices and experts alike. Stand up paddleboards (SUP) are pretty durable, but sometimes a deep ding is inevitable. While many dings are simply cosmetic, many are not. If you can see the foam core through the fiberglass, you should not get the board wet, as the damage will worsen.

Here is an easy 8-step guide to getting your board fixed right:

  1. Remove Leash and/or Deck bag.
  2. Strap board onto car.
  3. Drive to your local surf shop.
  4. Hand the board over to the local SUP Doctor.
  5. Hangout in the shop for 30 min to an hour chatting it up.
  6. Wait for an email or phone call telling you that your SUP’s ready.
  7. head back to the shop, pay the nice man or women and thank him/her for the quality repair job.
  8. Dive to the nearest body of water and have some fun.

For those of you who are insistent on fixing it yourself, here are some options:

Your brand new car is bound to get a scratch or two as well. It’s all relative! Fortunately, the majority of SUP dings and cracks are easy to repair yourself. Depending on the damage size, we’ve outlined some tried-and-true DIY paddle board fixes and supplies to repair your board. It’s always a good idea to bring a small repair kit when you’re hitting the water. Small repairs can be made on shore, so you can get back to paddling in no time. Check it out…

UV Activated Epoxy

lf-dingrepair-kit-wkbrds-accessories-12-prodFor a quick and dirty way to repair cracks, you can us a UV activated epoxy in kits. SOLAREZ Epoxy repair putty is a mixture of clear, fiber reinforced epoxy resin with an amazing solar activated cataylst. It gels in 5 seconds and cures in about 5 minutes – but only when exposed to sunlight. Creating a great “quick fix” for when you are one the go.

Epoxy Repair Putty


Epoxy putties are great when you are in pinch and out on the water. It is a hand-kneadable epoxy compound that mixes in about one minute for permanent repairs to wet areas. It may also be applied underwater in both fresh and salt water. Ding All Epoxy Stick will bond to substrates such as Fiberglass, epoxy,Wood, Glass, and Metal. For best results, ensure the area is clean and roughened up. When applying to wet areas, it’s best to keep pressure on the putty until adhesion begins. (Side Note* Try to get the putty as smooth as possible before it hardens and it can be a pain to sand.)

Epoxy Repair Kits


For larger dings, Epoxy Repair Kits works wonders.  Normally they include: Fiberglass Cloth, Resin, Hardener, Mixing Sticks, Cup, and 2 Grades Sanding Sponge, Cover Sheet and Directions. These kits are designed for structural repairs on epoxy boards.


Q-cell-fillerQ-Cell is microscopic glass balls that works as a thinking agent for epoxy in Surfboard Repair. It works well with both Polyester and Epoxy boards. Basically, you just add some Q-cell to your epoxy/catalyst mixture creating a past the is about the consistency of mayo. Once mixed up, apply the paste to the void and let dry. Once hard, It drys white and can easily be sanded. Before mixing up the past, make sure the board is prepped and cleaned.

Clear Ding Tape

ding_tapeA clear adhesive tape specifically for board dings, clear ding tape is designed to seal up small dings, cracks and punctures. It’s easy to use and clean up is breeze. Just dry and clean the cracked area. Then, seal the tape over the crack ensuring there are no air bubbles. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes in the sun before heading back into the water.

Car Camping Tips

Tips for Camping

In order to enjoy your car camping trip, meticulous packing is a must. The packing and planning is a tad more involved than if you were flying to a city for a long weekend. It’s all worth it, though! Once you get the hang of packing for a camping, it will become easier and you’ll be more efficient. With each car camping trip, your back of tricks and tips to make the trip run smooth will grow. Spilling lemonade in your car or forgoing the camping chairs are lesson learned. In the meantime, check out our tips that will surly contribute to a fun, low stress and memorable car camping experience.

  • Bring Enough Water – For whatever reason, many car campers assume ample water will be available. Particularly in the mountains or arid Southwest, reliable water sources are not available. Remember that you’ll need to bring enough water for drinking, cooking, washing dishes and sometimes for bathing. Since you won’t have to carry your water to your campsite, there’s no need to hold back.
  • Pack Plenty of Food With Variety – Most campers will agree that food can be the highlight of the trip. While a dinner of peanut butter and jelly is perfect for a rainy night when busting out the camp kitchen is out of the question, it will get old every night. Don’t hold back with food either. Get creative. Bring some spices. Throw in a hot pepper. Whatever you do, bring enough food! Most people eat more than normal when camping. It’s like being on vacation!
  • Check Your First Aid Kit – This often gets overlooked since First Aid Kits aren’t used every trip. You may have used some pain killers, bandaids or ointment on the last trip and neglected to replenish it. It won’t take long to check your First Aid Kit before departing and it will be well worth the effort should an emergency arise!
  • Ditch the Tunes – The whole point of camping is to “get away from it all,” right? Having your car a few feet away from your campsite can make it quite tempting to stay plugged in with music, internet, phones, etc. Blasting some tunes is the most tempting and it will cancel out the sound of loons across the lake. Sound also travels much farther in open space like plains, lakes and land without buildings or concrete. Be mindful of your neighbors who might be camping half a mile away!
  • Plan for Rainy Days – A little rain doesn’t have to be a drag if you plan accordingly. If you’re camping in the spring or summer for more than a few days, you’re likely to encounter a little rain. A deck of cards, books, board games and instruments will occupy campers of all ages for hours while hunkering down in a tent during rain.
  • Bring Multiple Fire Starters – Stash your fire starters in various places – a butane lighter in your backpack, matches in a baggie with the food and lighter fluid in the car. It’s also not a bad idea to bring dry kindling in case it’s wet at your destination.
  • Make Use of Large Plastic Bins – Especially if you have a truck or SUV, put your sleeping bags, pillows and blankets in one bin, tent, bike helments, devil sticks, frisbee and slack line in another. Staying organized will alleviate a lot of frustration whether your setting up camp or getting a whiffle ball game together. It also makes it easy to store all of your camping gear together at home.
  • Set Up Your Tent Prior to the Trip – Tents can accumulate mildew if they sit, packed up tight for months. They can also stick together due to the waterproofing agents applied to the materials. It’s a wise idea to pitch your tent once a month or so to air it out. Check for holes, too!
  • Keep Your Food Safe – There are many parts of the United States where bears, raccoons and fox roam. They’re just waiting for naive campers to leave their food within reach. Many people assume that cars are a safe place to store food, but bears have been know to paw at windows, even breaking them. Yikes! Some campsites have bear proof cages to store your food. You can also purchase bear proof containers or hang your food from a tree. Whatever you do, don’t overlook your food storage!
  • A Duffel for Each Camper – Separate clothing and personal belongings for each camper, especially children. Sorting through one bag will crate a massive mess every time someone reaches for a hoodie.
  • Print out our Car Camping Checklist!


Choosing Sunglasses

Choosing the right Sunglasses for Men & Women

Who doesn’t love the sun? And who doesn’t love looking and feeling good with a fresh new pair of shades? Sunglasses should truly be on hand at all times – in your car, your backpack, and your purse. Not only will they reduce squinting (and wrinkles down the road!), sunglasses also protect our eyes from harmful UV rays, eye strain and flying debris. Don’t save them for a day of sipping margaritas on the pontoon either! Even overcast days, especially near water or snow, will feel a lot more comfortable on your eyes with an appropriate pair of sunglasses. The House has a massive selection of sunglasses for you to choose the perfect pair that blends fashion and function. There’s even a huge array of women’s sunglasses specifically designed for smaller facial features.

Protect Your Eyes with Sunglasses

We’re already sold on the idea slathering on some lotion for a day at the beach, but what about selecting the right pair sunglasses? Before investing in a new pair of shades, it’s important to know how and why your purchase could affect your eye health. First off, what’s the deal with harmful UV rays? They are actually a form of radiation made up of three types of rays – UV A, B and C. Sounds scary. Short term inflammation (red eyes) or permanent damage (cataract) can occur with prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun. The good news is that protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and reflections is an easy fix with sunglasses.

Sunglasses: Fashion vs. Function

You’re in luck. There’s no need to sacrifice fashion for function with dozens of brands, prices, and materials to choose from with The House’s selection of sunglasses. It wasn’t too long ago that polarized sunglasses meant looking like you dad’s dad. Brands today, like Electric, Oakley, Smith, and Spy are very conscious of keeping the styles fresh as the technology and materials evolve. But let’s be real, not everyone is in the market for a pair of $120 sunglasses. For those looking for that perfect pair of low priced shades to wear to your friend’s art opening, brands like Neff and Vans have you covered. Just don’t bring those babies on your seven day cruise in the Caribbean!

Lens Tints

While one may think that a darker lens tint will provide greater protection from UV rays, it’s actually the coating on the lens that is more important. The tint cuts down on overall brightness, while determining how well you see colors and contrasts. Tints can also compliment your skin and hair tone, so choose wisely!

  • Amber/Orange– Amber and orange tints increase contrast and depth perception, but cause slight distortion of color. They excel on overcast days with moderate, low light conditions making them perfect for activities on snow, fishing, boating, flying or flat light situations.
  • Yellow – Yellow lenses also distort true colors like amber or orange, but they are fantastic at providing contrast and depth perception. They are extremely popular among bikers – both mountain and road.
  • Brown – Brown lenses are excellent at filtering out light and cutting down brightness. They increases contrast and distortion making them an ideal choice for driving, boating and on-snow activities. They excel on blue bird days.
  • Green/Gray – Green and gray are neutral tints that maintain true color characteristics and can be use for most outdoor activities with bright sunlight.
  • Rose/Vermillion – Like brown, rose and vermillion tints provide excellent contrast and filter light. They literally make the world a whole lot brighter and many people find that rose and vermillion tints are the most comfortable tint to wear all day. They’re perfect for driving or hiking in and out of sun or any other low light condition.

Are Expensive Sunglasses Worth It?

Buying the right pair of sunglasses for their intended use and conditions gives you maximum protection and performance. Higher priced sunglasses provide protection from UV rays, intense light and glare. They also eliminate certain frequencies of light, which is where various tints come into play. Like any sports equipment or gear, a higher price typically yields better quality, durability and materials. With low end sunglasses, UV exposure is increased. However, a fashionable pair of $15 sunglasses is sometimes that perfect accessory to spruce up your wardrobe, so don’t be shy!

Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized lenses are a prime example of a higher price being worth every penny. They drastically reduce the glare from water, snow and glass making them the prime choice for boating, skiing and driving. Polarized sunglasses provide better image clarity and increase comfort to the eyes. Those who venture into polarized lenses are typically sold for life.   We have a great article “What are polarized sunglasses?” for further information.

How Should Sunglasses Fit?

Of course sunglasses need to flatter your face, but they should also feel comfortable for hours of wearing. It’s important that they don’t pinch your temples. They should fit snuggly on your nose and ears, while not rubbing or touching your eyelashes. For each style, The House has broken the fits down into three categories of face sizes (small, regular and large) for accurate online shopping.

Choosing the Right Backpack, Bag and Luggage


Picking the right backpack

Durability, functionality and aesthetics are the top criteria when it comes to selecting a new back or luggage piece. Who wants to purchase a bag with a zipper that blows out after a couple uses? And who wants a backpack that looks like everyone else’s on the bus? The House has a huge, carefully chosen selection of bags that will deliver. There are even women’s specific bags with feminine prints, smaller shoulder straps and heights geared towards a woman’s smaller torso. We’ve broken down the ins and outs of all things bags…

Types of Backpacks

A backpack is probably the most universal piece of gear in every person’s closet. From a hop on the bus or plane to a hike on the trail, a backpack will make for a much more comfortable and practical trip. With so many styles, brands, sizes, colors and patterns to choose from these days, where do you begin?

Sizing can be confusing. The volume of the pack, or liters, is calculated by multiplying the length times width times height. Backpacks typically range in size from 10L (holds a packable rain jacket and water bottle) to over 300L (holds clothing and gear for multi day trip). We’ve broken down the most common type of backpacks, so you can determine which type would be best for your intended use.

School Backpacks

From grade school through college, school backpacks are designed to carry heavy books, computers and to last all semester long and beyond. They often have organization pockets to keep your pens, computer cords and other supplies easy to access. Many have a padded laptop sleeve and a fleece lined compartment for fragile electronics or sunglasses. Brands like Burton, Dakine and The North Face have nailed it when it comes to practical, durable and functional school backpacks.


Daypacks are a cross-over category, where the backpack is designed for multi-use purposes – school, commuting and day hiking. They may or may not have an interior lap sleeve, but daypacks usually have a chest and waist adjustor strap for a custom fit that evenly distributes the weight load. Daypacks often have more of a classic, outdoorsy look whereas school backpacks tend to be flashier with interesting prints and/or colors. For light travelers, a daypack can accommodate an overnight’s worth of clothing and toiletries.

Skate Backpacks

Two horizontal, adjustable straps line the outside front of a skate backpack. They are specifically designed, of Skate Backpackscourse, to strap a skateboard. Many people don’t use the straps for the intended purpose, however, since skate backpacks are just as practical as any other pack with two shoulder straps. For many, skate backpacks are purchased more on looks and durability rather than skateboard carrying ability. Iconic skateboard companies like Vans, Volcom and Etnies have a large backpack following and are the leaders when it comes to skate fashion.

The days of heavy, hard cases luggage are over. Savvy travelers of today demand lightweight, durable and functional travel pieces that won’t cause frustration on their travels. The House has a massive selection of incredible travel bags that won’t look or preform like your grandma’s luggage.

Rolling Luggage

Whether you travel for fun, work, or a bit of both, wheeled luggage has taken the main stage and for good Travel Bagsreason. It’s convenient, durable, easy to use and available in a plethora of sizes, colors and prints. It’s almost silly to not have wheels on your luggage these days. And who wants tiny wheels that will cause your luggage to tip if you roll over a tiny pebble? Burton is the pioneer when it comes to durable wheels for luggage. They use skateboard wheels, which are wider, grippy and have soft wheels to absorb shock. Before selecting rolling luggage, determine your traveling priorities. Are you a light packer? Will you be using your luggage primarily for weekend or overnight trips? Do you mind paying an extra weight fee so you can bring a different pair of shoes for every outfit? It’s really not a bad idea to invest in a an overnight and a mid-sized luggage piece to cover all of your traveling needs.

Duffel Bag

For the young and fit who don’t mind flexing their muscle a bit, a large duffel bag bursting with all your necessities is just part of the travel fun. Duffels are easy to store once you unpack. Just shove them under your bed or in the corner of a closet. They are easy to pack and cost less than rolling luggage.  From an overnight boy’s trip to a hockey weekend with the kids, duffels come in a range of sizes to suit various needs.

So, there you have it, choosing travel bags and packs is like choosing toothpaste. So many choices! Consider your destination, your packing habits, what gear you’ll need and your length of stay. Also, keep your mode of transportation and itinerary in mind. If you’re flying and not planning to check your bag, be sure your rolling luggage is carry-on size. For car camping, a duffel bag will be perfect since it won’t need to be lugged around and will take up less space than luggage. It’s always best to plan ahead and consider your needs!


Descente Ski Jackets


Descente Ski Jackets

Descenta has always had an strong commitment to innovation. They continually use cutting edge technology to design outerwear that not only look great but also perform exceptionally well. For example, In the late 1980’s Descenta incorporated Solar α technology in to there some of there high performance outerwear. Solar α technology helped converted light to heat, helping their athletes withstand the chilly Canadian conditions at Canadian Olympics in 1988. In 1998 Descenta took it a step farther and teamed up with Panasonic to created Mobile Thermo, the world’s first integrated heating system light was enough for everyday use. That same year they introduced Dimplex. Base on the same dimple technology that helps golf balls fly farther. Dimplex suits helped the Japanese ski jumping team win their first team gold medal in 26 years. In 2011 Descenta introduces the Passport! Allowing  you to ski free at resorts across North America! When you purchase any of our 2012 Desanta Jackets you will receive a Passport good for 36 free lift tickets to any one of these resorts. So if you planing a ski vacations this winter, why not ski free and in style.

The Passport works at the following resorts!
Alpine meadows – CAAlta – UT 

Angle Fire – NM

Appalachian Ski Mountain – NC

Big Bear Mountain – CA

Boyne – MT

Bretton Woods – NH

Canyons – UT

Hidden Valley resort -PA

HomeWood mountain Resort -CA

Hunter Mountain- NY

Indianhead- MI

Missions Ridge – WA

Mt Hood Medows – OR

Mt. La Crosse- WI

NashHoba  Valley – MA

Shanty Creek- MI

Sundance – UTSpirit Mt MN 

Sunday River- ME

Trollhaugen – WI

Wachusett mountian – MA

White Fish – MT

Whindaum – Ny

Winter Park – CO

Big White – BC

Blue Monutain –  Ontario Canada

Canada Olympic Park

Hockley – Ontario Canada

Silver Star BC

Baff Mount Norquay- Alberta Canada

Panorama Mountain village- BC Canada

Sun Peakes resort- BC Canada

Solitude mountain -UT







Choosing Best Tent for Family Camping

Best Tent for Family Camping

Family camping has long been a prized activity for families across the country. It’s cheap, convenient, fun and one of the best ways for families to “get away from it all.” For those haven’t ventured into camping, it’s usually due to lack of equipment and supplies. The most important piece of gear you’ll need is a tent. The rest will follow. Once you invest in a solid family tent, the fun will deliver for years and you won’t need to replace your tent anytime soon if you take good care of it. Before you dive too deep into The House’s wide selection of family tents, read on to learn about the most important features for you and your family…

What Size Tent Does My Family Need?

Tents are typically categorized by how many people it sleeps. Family tents sleep four or more campers. If you’re a heavy packer, plan on storing a lot of extra gear in your tent or will have a dog or two in your tent, you’ll want to consider opting for a larger tent. Don’t worry about the weight of the tent either.  Family camping tents are typically carried only from the car to the site, which is often no more than 50 feet! Read our article on types of tents here.

What Should I Look for in a Long Lasting Tent?

  • Warranty – The first thing you should look for in a long lasting tent in a warranty. If the company is confident in their product and workmanship they should have no problem providing one. When it comes to any type of gear, you often get what you you pay for. Especially for family campers with active kids and parents constantly in and our of the tent, consider purchasing a high-quality tent with a warranty from a brand that has proven itself to customers.
  • Poles – Aluminum poles are stronger than fiberglass or steel, which can bend or corrode.
  • Zippers – YKK zippers resists snagging, breaking and glide smoothly.
  • Materials – Most tents are made with nylon, but each manufacturer has different standards of quality regarding fabrics and level of water-repellency. Higher-denier fabric canopies and rainflies are more durable than lower-denier ones.
  • Flooring – An Oxford nylon floor is crucial for tents that you can stand up in because it will withstand foot traffic. Construction – Look for reinforced and/or taped seams in the tent construction. This will reduce chance of leakage in water prone places like corners.
  • Rainfly – A rainy is like ilk an umbrella for your tent. A full-coverage fly offers better weather protection than roof-only styles and also serves to block harmful UV rays from damaging your tent.
  • Footprint – While sold separately from any tent, the footprint is essential for extending the life of your tent. It’s like a big tarp that fits perfectly under the tent floor, protecting it from rocks, twigs and other abrasive objects that could damage your tent.

Key Features of a Family Tent

  • Ventilation – Since most camping is done in the summer, window and proper cross ventilation guarantee maximum air-flow. A screen on the door is also a big advantage as it doubles as a large window. A sleeping camper can emit up to a pint of water in one night! If all that moisture can’t escape, it condenses inside the tent making everything wet and campers clammy.
  • Usability – You’ll want a tent that is easy to set up. Look for tent poles that attach to clips rather than feeding through a long, continuous nylon tunnel. A combination of the two works fine, too. Some cabin style tents offer two doors, which can be nice for families with small children who go in and out of a gear packed tent frequently.
  • Freestanding – Most family tents these days are freestanding which means you do not have to stake the tent before setting it up. Once it’s set up, you can easily move it to a new location, then stake it down. It’s also convenient for shaking the tent out before packing up!
  • Inner Pockets and Loops – A tent with a lot of pockets and loops is ideal for family camping since families tend to have a lot of gear. They serve as a great place to store things like headlamps, baby wipes, snacks, and water bottles to keep them organized and off the tent floor. Gear loft loops allow for additional tent pockets (sold separately) to be attached.  A loop at the top of the tent can hold your lantern.
  • Headroom – Some tents stand tall enough for adults to stand upright. If this is important to you for chaining clothes or for added airiness, then look for a tent with the highest “peak height.”

If you plan to use your tent more than once a year, we highly recommend investing in a good quality family tent from the start. It will last far longer, create less frustration during set up/take down, will keep your family dry if it rains and will likely come with a lifetime warranty. As mentioned earlier, once you make the initial camping gear investment, you’ll be set for years of outdoor fun with the whole family!


First Aid Guide: The Checklist

It’s common knowledge to always prepare yourself with a first aid kit when hiking, camping or backpacking in the wilderness. But, what about other potentially dangerous sports like skateboarding, wake boarding or biking? It’s not a bad idea to stash a basic first aid kit in your pack, bike pouch or glove box of the boat or car. The provided First-Aid Checklists include various levels of treatment needed, from basic to more extensive.

Basic First-Aid Kit – Packaged first-aid kits typically contain most or all of the items below. The kits can be personalized with supplemental items to meet each person’s needs.

  • Bandage strips in varying sizes
  • Antiseptic/antibacterial ointment
  • Antiseptic or rubbing alcohol wipes
  • Gauze pads in varying sizes
  • Waterproof medical tape
  • Fine point tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Blister treatment: Moleskin & blister gel
  • Pain medication like ibeprofen
  • Insect after-bite relief treatment

All-Inclusive First-Aid Kit – A larger, more extensive kit includes items for more serious illnesses and/or injuries. These, too, can be purchased as a pre-pack or individual items can be purchased to supplement a basic first aid kit.
Rolls of gauze

  • Gauze pads & hemostatic gauze pads
  • Ace type bandages
  • Hydrogel pads & liquid bandages
  • Pre-packaged slings (triangular cravat) or fabric for slings
  • Splints – finger and SAM
  • Oval eye pads

Medicine Chest – The items below won’t take up much space and shouldn’t be overlooked as additions to your basic first-aid kit.

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aspirin
  • Antacid tablets
  • Throat lozenges
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Treatment and preventative ointment for poison ivy/ poison oak
  • Lubricating eye drops & a sterile saline solution
  • EpiPen to treat severe allergic reactions
  • Aloe vera gel for sun burn relief

Advanced Medical Kit – For backcountry trips longer than a few days, a more advanced medical kit should be prepared and brought on the trip.

  • Cotton tipped swabs and cotton balls
  • Hypothermia thermometer (reads low temperatures)
  • Standard thermometer
  • Small mirror and magnifying glass
  • Irrigation syringe with 18 gauge catheter
  • Latex-free medical gloves
  • Strong, steel needle and heavy duty thread
  • Medical waste bag
  • Duct tape
  • Metal whistle
  • Notepad and waterproof pencil/pen
  • Mylar emergency blanket

First-Aid Tool Kit – To supplement the advanced kit, you’ll need some medical tools to assist with the emergency.

  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Safety razor blades and/or a scalpel
  • Strong, blunt-tipped scissors
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Needle nosed pliers
  • Emergency tool (e.g. 4-in-1 for use as a hammer, pry-bar, etc.)


The Best Insect Repellent

Best Insect Repellent is DEET

Mosquito bites can be quite annoying for days or weeks. Lyme disease and West Nile virus, on the other hand, are real ailments that can be prevented with proper use of insect repellent. Our love for the outdoors can still be enjoyed with a little preparation and knowledge on how to keep ourselves safe from biting insects. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ repellent for every part of the country or situation, so read on to learn more about which Best Insect repellent will be best for you and your family.


DEET, or N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, is hands down the most effective active ingredient in bug repellent at warding of biting insects. It’s effectiveness and length of effectiveness depends on the concentration. Concentrations of 5-10% will provide protection for one to two hours. It will need to be reapplied for longer treks in the woods. 20% concentrations will work for four to five hours. Protection time rises marginally up to concentrations of 50%. Levels higher than 50% are not proven to improve protection. Outdoor miracle right? Not so fast. Although the EPA found that proper use of DEET poses no risk to your health, some believe that has potential health risks. When using an insect repellent with DEET, base concentration level on how long you plan to be outdoors. Rather than lathering or spraying your body with replant as you would with sunblock, it is recommended to first put the repellent in your hand and lightly rub on your body and hair. Hands should be washed immediately. Most health experts recommend using a DEET-free alternative for young children since their skin is much more permeable than that of adults.

DEET-Free Alternatives

The best alternative to DEET is a chemical known as picaridin, which is much more common overseas than in America. Picaridin works better against flies, does not smell bad, and will not cause the irritation that some may experience with DEET. In addition, the World Health Organization says this compound may even be superior to DEET. Other alternatives are derived directly from nature like as eucalyptus oil, citronella and soybean oil. However, these products vary in their effectiveness and will not last very long compared to DEET and Picaridin. They can be suitable for shorter durations and can be reapplied several times for longer hours outside in the deep woods.

Where Will You Be Using Insect Repellent?

Keep in mind that the type of outdoor activity for which you’ll need insect protection will also determine which type to purchase. The main reason for this is because DEET is a solvent, meaning it may dissolve some plastics, spandex, synthetic fabrics and leather. Depending on what you need it for and where it will be applied, you may want to try picaridin to protect your gear rather than spraying your gear with DEET. Some DEET and picaridin repellents can protect against both mosquitos and ticks, but not all. Cutter Maximum Strength Insect Repellent, for example, will protect against both, while the popular OFF! Active Insect Repellent will not protect against ticks. If you’re heading to a heavily wooded area, like the Upper Midwest or Northeast, you’ll want protection for both mosquitos and ticks.

How Long Will You Need Protection?

If protection is only needed for an hour or two, then a natural insect repellent will do the trick. You can also go with a low concentration of DEET, around 5-10%. When protection is needed for five hours or more, you will be better off with a concentration of DEET or picaridin above 20%. DEET can be found in concentrations as high as 98% or higher which is great for 10+ hours of protection. Keep in mind that a higher concentration of DEET or picardin does not provide better protection, but instead increase the duration of the protection.


First, decide whether DEET is essential for your needs or if you prefer a DEET-free alternative. This might depend on where you will be and for how long. Lyme disease and West Nile virus are very serious conditions that are potentially more dangerous than possible side effects of DEET. Figure out how long you need protection, and what you need it for. It’s likely that you’ll need more than one type of repellent for different situations. Now, get outside and enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty!

Choosing the Best Snowboard or Ski Bag


Toting your new powder skis across the country these days is a breeze. With new padded designs to protect your freshly waxed skis or snowboard and perfectly placed pockets for your helmet, boots, bindings and accessories, you can check your baggage worry-free. If your heading to the mountains on the weekends via car, there are plenty of styles that will keep your jackets, fleece and other accessories organized and away from dirty boots. The House is fully stocked with countless ski bags and snowboard bags in a range of sizes, features, prints and colors. Bag material, zippers, padding, straps and handles, stitching, durability and wheels all come into play. Before we get into more detail about bag specifics, consider the questions below…

  1. Will you be using the bag every weekend?
  2. Will your skis and boots get thrown into the car or on top of the car?
  3. Will you be carrying one pair of skis/snowboard or two?
  4. Do you plan on taking your skis or snowboard on an airplane?

Padded vs. Unpadded
A padded bag typically has 5mm to 10mm of closed cell polypropylene foam in certain areas of the bag to add durability and protection. They run just beyond the entire length of the skis or snowboard. In some ski or snowboard bags there is only light padding added to make sure that the ski/snowboard bindings don’t puncture the fabric should they drop on the pavement by the airline baggage crew. Many ski bags designed to carry two pairs, there is a padded divider in the middle that prevents the two pairs from clanking together. Price does matter. A higher price usually does yield more padding, pocketing, features and better zippers. Although it is a personal choice, padded bags aren’t essential for weekend car trips. For airline travel, however, padding is definitely recommended. Keep in mind that many padded ski and snowboard bags will not fit in a rooftop carrier.  Read Snowbard Bag Review: Burton Wheelie Gig Snowboard Bag

Unpadded bags also have their cons. They cost less than padding and for some people, it’s all that is necessary to protect their skis or snowboard. You can certainly check an unpadded bag on an airplane, but it is highly recommended to generously ‘pad’ your gear with your jacket, snow pants, fleece and other gear. Unpadded bags are also great for weekend car trips, whether your skis or snowboard are going in the back of your SUV or in a roof system. Some people like to store their gear in the off-months in an unpadded bag to keep it from getting dusty or exposed to moisture.

Cargo Bags
Cargo bags are pretty awesome for keeping your ski and snowboard gear organized and separated from each member of your crew or family’s gear. Sure, you can just toss your jacket, fleece, neck gaiter and hat in the trunk, but it’s going to take away from precious time on the slopes when your digging around for your other glove. Put your goggles in a fleece lined pocket, your hat and gloves in their own compartment and fold your extra clothes for easy access in the main compartment. Some cargo bags even have a separate, lined bottom compartment for dirty boots. Cargo bags can be checked onto an airplane, but be sure to remove any detachable straps before doing so.

Sleeves are the simplest measure of protection for your skis or snowboard. They are usually constructed with a lightweight material, sometimes neoprene. They will not accommodate multiple pairs of skis or snowboards. Sleeves can cost as low as $20, making them great for car transport only. Sleeves are very popular for youth involved in a ski or snowboard club where their equipment will be tossed under a bus. For roof racks, sleeves also work great.snowboard bag with wheels

Ski and Snowboard Bags With Wheels
If you’re planning to fly with your gear, wheels are a must! They are easy to steer, safer for the back to carry and incredibly efficient. You’ll be glad you threw down a few extra bucks for the wheels! One thing to keep in mind – the wheels are not designed to roll in snow, so don’t plan on rolling your luggage from your car to the lodge. The wheels are designed for pavement and airplane travel.

Many people assume that a larger bag will just allow them to pack it full of more gear. This is true to some extent, but if the bag is not fully packed there will be a lot of extra play in the bag allowing your gear to slide around. The sizing on ski and snowboard bags actually allows for more room for your gear that the length states. For instance, if you have a 146cm snowboard and purchase a 146 cm board bag, there will still be some room at the end (5-8cm) for some gear and easy loading/unloading. We don’t recommend a bag longer than 10cm beyond your skis or snowboard unless you are certain you’ll be packing it to the brim with every use.