Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cheap Quality Rain Gear

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"Well done is better than well said.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

So this past week I was on a family vacation, part of which included a few days in Ocean City, MD at the beach. The first full day there we wake up to pouring rain.  I think my wife may have been secretly happy about this as it created an excuse to go to the factory outlet stores.  Having left anything that resembled rain gear at home, I agreed and off we went.

After looking around in various outlets and not finding anything reasonable I decided to opt for an umbrella and spotted the “Totes” outlet.  I knew I could find a good quality small micro umbrella in there.  But what surprised me was top quality light weight rain jackets for the entire family.marmot

Normally when I backpack I bring my Marmot PreCip Jacket which is a great piece of rain gear.  It weighs about 12 ounces (336g), has a “breathable” coating, big zipper pockets and pit zips. It sells for about $99 (REI link on photo).

I know lighter rain jackets are available, some as light as 7 or 8 ounces made of Gore Tex Paclite or Event.  But so far I have not been able to bring myself to spend the additional hundreds of dollars to save 4 or 5 ounces. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find such high quality rain jackets at the totes outlet.  I purchased one that felt ‘light’ – turned out to be 11.5 ounces (medium).  It has a nylon shell and polyester lining, netting on the inside top half, vented back. Velcro wrist and rain pocket closures, a nice hood and a waist tightening cinch pull.  Unfortunately no pit zips. But guess the price? $14.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bug Hunting With Kids

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"Be who you are & say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. - Dr. Seuss

This is a guest post by Debi Huang; Check out her blog at:
Go Explore Nature

Bug Hunting With Kids

While it’s true not all kids like bugs, going on a bug hunt is still fun – especially if you take along some friends. After all, the more eyes looking out for critters, the better! Here’s how to make your next adventure a success, even for the most squeamish among you.

Bug hunt container

1. Bring the right tools.

A bug container, bug tweezers and a magnifying glass are pretty much essential. The kid-sized tweezers make grabbing fairly simple, even for little ones. Store your catch in a bug container long enough to examine it close up without fear of it crawling or flying away. Just be sure to release it before heading inside!

Bug hunt worms[1]

2. Know where to look.

Backyard bugs can usually be found under things, like potted plants or other heavy items. If you’re on the trail, look for bugs in flowers and trees or near water.

3. Take your time.

Bugs are easy to miss if you’re walking too fast. Most are small and many have the gift of camouflage, making them tough to spot at first glance. Take it slow and let your eyes roam the area for anything that moves. You might even want to pick one place and hang out for a while.

4. Search for signs of bugs, too.

Finding bugs is thrilling, but so are signs of bugs or bug homes. Spider webs and vacated cocoons are good examples. My kids are also enthralled with dead bugs, so don’t be too quick to discourage curiosity in whatever form it comes.Bug hunt damselfly

5. Try to stay quiet.

I know what you’re thinking – how is staying quiet possible with kids? But you’d be surprised how willing kids are to listen and be still when looking for bugs and other wild critters. And once you’ve spotted one – and you will, trust me – even the littlest of kids seems instinctively to know to be still and enjoy their new toy. At least for a little while!

Debi Huang is a Los Angeles-based wife, mom and adventure guide for two young boys. Her blog at Go Explore Nature is all about getting kids and families outdoors and connected to nature.