First Look: Wenzel's Shenanigan Teepee

I’ve never been much of a big tent kind of person. The idea of having some extra space is really nice, but big tents are usually heavy, bulky and complicated. Plus, who goes camping to hang out inside, anyway?

Enter Wenzel’s upcoming Shenanigan Teepee, available in both five-person and eight-person version models, in two hipster-friendly geometric patterns. I have been converted.

The Shenanigan isn’t an all-season tent, so it’s not a replacement for a waterproof option that will keep you dry and shield you from the wind in a rough storm. But on clear – and mostly-clear nights – it’s a great shelter regardless of how many people you’re putting into it.

Read my full review at Gear Institute.

The Next Outdoor Heirloom

I was commissioned to write this sponsored piece for Backpacker.com and Climbing.com.

Think about the most important object you own. How old is this thing? Who gave it to you?

It might be a pocketknife with a worn leather sheath, well-loved over years of DIY tent fixes and whittling sticks for marshmallow toasting. It might be a pair of your mom’s old hiking boots that you adopted and resoled after she hiked the AT. Or it might be a wallet your dad passed down to you when you were old enough to start adventuring on your own.

Whatever it is, it’s been durable enough to withstand years of memories. It might even be older than you.

Outdoor heirlooms like that are harder to come by now, in an age of mass production where “more” often beats “better.”

“Products are made to fail these days,” says Mark King, founder of Trayvax, which makes wallets, belts, and lanyards. “Products today are made of plastic, and they’re made to break. They never last long enough to take on meaning.”

Read the full story here.

Ibex Outdoor Clothing Could Get Second Chance

Ibex Outdoor Clothing, which plans to close its doors in February, might be revived under the leadership of Terry Bicycles CEO Liz Robert. She confirmed Thursday that Vermont Works, a private equity firm of which she is a director, is exploring a bid on the Vermont-based apparel brand.

Robert says she sees potential in Ibex, which has a strong, loyal customer base and a good product. There’s synergy between Terry Bicycles and Ibex that she hopes to be able to leverage to keep the brand—and its jobs—within the state of Vermont. Robert formerly ran Vermont Teddy Bear Co. and purchased Terry Bicycles in 2009, moving it from Rochester, New York.

“People thought I was kind of crazy to do that,” she said Thursday. “People talk about the high cost of doing business in Vermont. But I’m a big believer that we need to try to support economic development in the state. I have a particular passion for Vermont, and a particular passion for keeping jobs in Vermont.”

Read the full story at SNEWS.

Why Tuscany is More Than Just Wine And Cheese

When you think "adventure travel," Tuscany, Italy is probably not the first place that comes to mind. It might not even be the last place that comes to mind. Even though it's one of the world's premier destinations for food, wine, art and history, somehow the secret isn't yet out that it's a great place for outdoor adventure, too.

Here's why Tuscany should be your next adventure travel destination.

Read the full story at Travel Channel.

Gifts for Hikers & Campers

Whether you’re shopping for a seasoned backpacker or a high schooler who’s just starting to venture outdoors and get into camping, we’ve got gift ideas to make everyone on your list psyched to head out on the trail before they’ve even finished opening the box.

Read my full guide, of 40 products for men and women, at gearinstitute.com.

Photo courtesy of Glerups.

Cotopaxi's Libre Sweater Doesn't Stink

You’ve no doubt heard of all the benefits merino wool has to offer, and you can likely recite them from memory. You’ve probably even have merino socks or baselayers in your closet. But llama wool? That’s not something you see every day.

Cotopaxi’s Libre Sweater has three key features that set it apart from other wool midlayers: First, it’s made entirely of llama wool. Second, it has wide perforations on the back, which open enough that whatever you are (or aren’t) wearing underneath shows through. And third, Cotopaxi actively discourages washing it.

Read the full story at Gear Institute.

Innovative Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable

At this year’s Solar Decathlon, 11 teams of students from the United States and Europe competed to build the most efficient and best-designed solar-powered homes. They built their homes in their own communities, then took them apart, shipped them to Denver, and reassembled them on the site of the competition, run by the Department of Energy. Here are just a few of the innovative touches that make these homes unique. Pictured here is the University of Maryland's reACT home, which took second place in this year's competition.

Read the full story at DIY Network.

How to Eat at Trader Joe's for $50 a Week (Or Less)

For someone like me who often lets speed get in the way of planning, easy food options eat up my budget, fast. Sometimes, I end up spending $40 or more on lunch and snacks in a single week. I always feel guilty for it.

So when my editor here at Earnest challenged me to eat for a whole week at Trader Joe’s with $50, I was up for it. It seemed like a good way to keep from spending too much money, and a good way to force me to plan ahead a little better and eat much healthier.

Read more at the Earnest Blog.

First Timer's Guide: Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico, is a vibrant community about an hour and a half from Santa Fe. At the heart of the town, you’ll find more art galleries and chile dishes than you’d think possible for a population of just over 5,700. And beyond the city limits, you’ll be thrilled to find ample opportunities for adventure.