Top Five: Things to Have in Your Pack

1: Map/Compass
               We realize with today’s technology that a map and compass may seem like a rudimentary form of navigation, however, it’s the most reliable form.  GPS, Strava, Google Maps, Suunto etc., are all great navigation tools, but leading scientists nationwide have confirmed that electrical outlets do not grow on trees.  Thus, our technology is useless when the batteries die.  The map and compass combo is sure fire, reliable, and will never run out of battery.  Granted, you must learn how to use these tools to use them accurately, but we’re operating off the assumption that people who can figure out an iPhone can grasp the nuances of old school triangulation.  By all means pack your phones, grab your GPS, and wear your watches proudly.  Just remember to bring a map and compass for back up.

2: SOL Tinder-Quick
               Weather is unpredictable.  As a rule of thumb, no matter the forecast, always plan for rain.  Unless of course you’re camping in the Serengeti.  We don’t know why you would but it’s probably possible.  One of the most basic but awesome innovations are waterproof fire starters.  The SOL Tinder-Quick is an extremely light, waterproof tinder option.  Unravel the rope-like sections of fiber and put a spark to it.  Tinder-Quick burns hot and slow for up to two minutes, even when wet.  So if the weather gets foul, you still have fire. 

3: Adventure Medical Kits
               These handy kits have the potential to be a life saver; we just hope you don’t have to use one in a serious situation.  From simple hand wipes to medicated gauze, our Adventure Medical Kits have the necessary tools when the going gets rough.  Even the slightest of cuts can get infected, effectively lowering the level of stoke.  Pick one up for your next trip, you’ll be glad you did.

4: Accessory Cord
               It’s like string, but manlier; it’s super thin but super tough.  Our 550 type parachute cord should be in everyone’s pack.  Something so simple is so versatile.  You can tie up your bear bags, sling up your rain tarp, make a prusik, or if you’re really out in the backcountry, you could make a snare.  No matter where you’re going or how long you’ll be out there, having some tough cord on you is important.

5: Dry socks
               Trench foot is real, people.  If you’re rocking Gore-Tex in your boots, that’s awesome.  It keeps water out, but it also keeps water in.  If you sink your shoes, it’s imperative that you dry out your feet.  Nothing is more uncomfortable than hiking with soggy feet.  Prevent blisters, stop trench foot, and be a happy hiker.  Keep a dry pair of socks in stow for when it rains, when you’re crossing a river, or if you come across a puddle that’s too fun to pass up.  Whatever the case may be, your feet will thank you.

Disclaimer: Socks perform best when worn; not thrown. 

Disclaimer: Socks perform best when worn; not thrown. 

Top 5: Food for Fuel

1.       Honey Stinger: Honey Stinger has been in the nutrition game since 1954.  They’ve got all the bases covered when it comes to energy on the go.  Honey Stinger offers gels, waffles, chews, and granola bars.  So if you’re picky about food texture, Honey Stinger has something for you.

 Best for: Quick energy before or during your race without slowing you down.

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2.       Clif Bar:  Clif Bar is synonymous with fuel.  Packed with carbs and protein, Clif Bars keep you going full speed ahead while curbing your midday munchies.  They’ve just added stuffed granola bars to their lineup of trail snacks.  So if you liked the classics, definitely check out our new favorites like the hazelnut and coconut almond butter filled bars.

 Best for: Keeping up your carbs when you’re putting in a lot of miles in between meals.

 

3.       Peanut Butter and Honey: A plain old peanut butter and honey sandwich is cheap and easy.  If you need a filling breakfast, eat a PB&H.  If you need to pack a few days’ worth of food that won’t spoil, bring PB&H.  If you need protein after a tough ride, slap some creamy JIF between some wheat and you have yourself a meal of champions.  Why honey and not jelly? I’m glad you asked.  It’s personal preference really.  Although, local honey (made by local bees that pollinate local flowers) can improve your immunity towards pollen; whereas processed honey from the grocery store doesn’t offer the same health benefits.

 Best for: Getting your day started right or just filling up the tank.

 

4.       Kenyan Ugali: Let’s shift gears.  I’ve never heard of ugali until I started running, and then it became a frequent meal.  This traditional Kenyan dish comprised of kale, red onion, and a starchy dough ball is packed with carbs.  It’s relatively easy to make, and your body will thank you come race day.

How to Make It:  Boil four cups of water and two teaspoons of salt in a large saucepan.  Gradually stir in two cups of white cornmeal.  Reduce the heat and stir continuously, smoothing out any lumps.  Cook it until it forms an even mush.  At this point, the dough is like napalm; it sticks to your skin and burns… a lot.  Following this next step is imperative.  Let it cool before you start to roll the dough into balls.  Just trust me on this one.  In a separate pan sauté red onions, and your choice of dark leafy greens in a little olive oil.  Serve, and enjoy.

Best for: Carb loading the night before.

The Cook: Reed Mattison I pulled this gem from Outside Magazine and it instantly became a favorite. 

The Cook: Reed Mattison
I pulled this gem from Outside Magazine and it instantly became a favorite. 

 

5.       Chicken and Rice with Salad: Salad is healthy blah blah- what really makes this a good recovery meal is the dressing.  Don’t waste your time with sugar filled sweet stuff.  Try balsamic vinegar and a couple spoons of cider vinegar.  The vinegar makes the insulin receptors more sensitive.  What does that mean?  Well, it enables your body to metabolize the rice and spinach easily. 

How to Make It: Mix your favorite greens and salad ingredients with about four ounces of grilled chicken or salmon.  Top it with a vinegar dressing of choice.  Cook a cup of brown sushi rice and mix with sliced cucumber, and avocado.  Add a low sodium soy sauce to taste.

Best for: replenishing after a grueling workout.

Top 5: Back to School Essentials

1.       Backpack: Okay, duh.  Of course a backpack is an essential for school, but how important is a good backpack?  The North Face and Patagonia redesigned their already killer backpacks for 2016. The Patagonia Chacabuco and The North Face Borealis are personal favorites of the Nat’s Crew.  TNF offers a 28L backpack with plush shoulder straps and an ergonomic design to make even the heaviest loads feel like feathers.  Likewise, Patagonia made this do-it-all pack with the student in mind.  There is a ton of organizational space for all of your snacks- uh, we mean books.

2.       Rain Jacket: Umbrellas suck.  Sorry, but they do.  Instead, look for a bomber rain shell.  Nobody wants to put a soaking wet umbrella in their backpack.  You can shake the water off of your jacket and stow it away with no problem.  This fall, look for the best rain gear from Arc’teryx, The North Face, and Patagonia.  We specialize in keeping you high and dry.

 

3.       Goal Zero Venture 30: What is a Venture 30 and why do I need one?  Good question.  It’s your supercharged, weatherproof, power packed best friend.  Goal Zero made this recharger like no other.  It works with Apple, Android, and Windows devices. It features a built in micro USB, and two USB ports.  The best part is that it’s weatherproof.  You’re protected from the beach to the dorm with an IPx6 weatherproof rating.  Keep your life fully charged with the Venture 30.

 

4.       Goal Zero Rockout 2 Wireless: If you’re like us, you can’t go anywhere without music.  The Rock Out 2 is a Bluetooth speaker ready for any adventure (or the usual walk to class).  It’s rugged build and zipper compartment keeps your phone safe and your music banging.  With a 10-hour battery life, it's good to go all day.  Plus, you can recharge it with your new Venture 30.

 

5.       Chaco Sandals:  Just because summer is over doesn’t mean the ridiculously hot weather is over.  You need a shoe that keeps you cool and comfortable as you hike to class.  It’s been four years since Nat’s Manager, Mike Bunch, has taken off his Chacos.  Seriously, they’re great shoes.  If you’re looking for a pair you can go anywhere in (including dorm showers) and wear anything with, check out a pair of Chacos.