Outdoor Families Magazine: Helping families across the globe fall in love with the Great Outdoors

It is no secret that I have been pretty absent from you all, my beloved Mommy and Daddy Hikers! I certainly didn't expect it to happen, but about 11 months ago life took off on a completely different trajectory and I, being the heart-follower that I am, went for it! 

Not only have I been busy developing and executive producing a pretty awesome new television series, but more importantly to you guys, I have been busting my butt working on a project that probably would have never entered into my life had I not started this blog. So it is with the greatest pride and excitement that I  announce to you, my loyal readers, the launch of my newest baby! 

Outdoor Families Magazine! OFM launches in t-minus four days (January 15, 2015) and it will be a free digital magazine that encourages families toward lifelong appreciation of outside spaces. The magazine, available at http://www.outdoorfamiliesonline.com will strive to enrich the lives of multi-generational families worldwide by providing unparalleled outdoor and adventure related content meant to inspire a connection to, participation in, and stewardship of the natural world.

January Issue's Cover
To commemorate our inaugural issue January 15, 2015, Outdoor Families Magazine will also launch the “Great Family Adventure” Photo Contest, inviting families from around the world to show off their awesome family adventures pictures! At the end of the two week contest, we'll be presenting one lucky family with a two-night stay and three adventure-packed days on southern California’s Central Coast in the city of Oxnard, gateway to the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary. In addition, our finalists will receive cool prizes from ten other awesome outdoor retailers including Hi-Tec footwear and Sierra Trading Post.

The magazine’s advisory board is comprised of more than 30 business and thought leaders in the outdoor family and adventure market, including my partners, our managing editor, Erin Kirkland, author of Alaska on the Go: Exploring the 49th state with children and our operations manager, Traci Lehman who will also be leading the magazine's team of research and development experts who are passionate about supporting our magazine's mission by documenting the benefits of outdoor time and identifying the barriers families face with regards to getting outside, so we can face these issues head on and find real world solutions.

Outdoor Families Magazine will be the go-to resource hub, supporting our already robust, engaged #OutdoorFamilies community and connecting with others who are interested in obtaining information related to family outdoor sports, activities and play, environmental stewardship, volunteering, adventure travel, mind and body nourishment and green living resources, ideas and tips. 

When I got into this crazy blogging world I never, in a million years, would have expected it to lead me where I am today; a member of The North American Travel Journalists Association, founder of a magazine, part of an absolutely incredible community of people. Throughout my wee three years, the one thing I noticed blatantly missing was a lack of relatable content available to families who simply want motivation and inspiration to get outdoors with their kids. I was dumbfounded by it actually and it is our hope that this magazine will fill that void. There are a lot of us out there, families who choose to go off-the-beaten-path, with our kids right beside us, along for the adventure. In the rapidly-growing market of outdoor family adventure we intend to thoughtfully lead the movement. I hope you'll join us for the ride!

Join the Outdoor Families community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube!

How to Camp with Kids and Not Lose Your Mind

Picture this, a warm cup of cocoa next to a babbling brook, smore-covered, smiling faces glowing in the light of a campfire, adventure-packed days exploring every type of flora and fauna Mother Nature has to offer. At least that’s how euphoric camping with kids sounds, in your mind.  

Now let’s bring it back to reality. Even for the most seasoned adult campers, throwing kids in to the mix takes camping to an entirely different level. As nature-loving parents, we know how important it is to get our kids out and in to the great outdoors as much as possible, so here are a few camping tips and tricks to keep organized and, most importantly have fun, so no one has to lose their mind.  

Create a Kid’s Toy Bin

This one little tip just might change your life forever. In our family, we are big on bins to organize camping gear. There is one for kitchen supplies, one for pantry items and one smashed full of our kid’s favorite toys. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, given you’re out in the middle nature with so much to explore and discover, but kids still get bored. Consider, also keeping this bin off limits when you’re not sleeping under the stars. It will make it all the more appealing when your little one finally gets to unpack it from the crammed car.

Don’t know what to put in your bin? Here are some ideas:  
Glow Sticks  
Markers, Colors & Paper  
Magnifying Glass  
Travel Checkers  

Camp with Awesome Friends  

The best gift you can give your kid (and yourself), on a camping adventure is an adventure buddy their own age, leaving you and YOUR friends a bit more time for rest and relaxation. Camping with friends also offers some pretty great perks like splitting up campsite chores and on the off chance you forgot the wine bottle opener, your awesome camping friends have your back. There’s also something pretty special that occurs when you make camping communal. Together, through a shared experience of Mother Nature, an amazing tribe can form, and in turn a beautiful group of kids emerge, growing up together with shared experiences and discoveries.  

Get the Kids Involved  

Camping trips offer a whole host of ways to engage your kids. Let them pack their camping bag, allow them to help set up the tent, delegate a few campsite chores and you’ll watch your generally uninvolved kid get energized by the adventure. Hand over a bit of the control and you will see them adopt a new-found sense of ownership of their own experience. Letting kids lead the way is an incredible confidence builder and helps to shape their decision-making skills.  

[Gear Review] The LifeStraw® by Vestergaard + Giveaway

Next year, our family's number one bucket list item is a family backpacking trip. We had a backpacking trip planned this past May, but for various reasons, we had to put it off. I think it was for the best considering we are still doing research and budgeting to buy the essentials that we'll need like a smaller backpacking tent and more compact sleeping bags and mats.

One must-have on any backpacking trip is water. You can never have enough of it, especially with little ones embarking on long hikes, but water is heavy! Water bladders can contribute to over half of the weight you have to carry for a family of three to stay hydrated and let's face it, the more you can lighten your load, the better! That's why when Vestergaard contacted me requesting a review of their product, The LifeStraw® I jumped at it!

We have researched tons of filtration systems. We took into consideration that we almost always prefer treks, hikes and camps that are on some sort of waterway and that is why The LifeStraw® seemed like the best choice for our needs!

But, there's another, more important reason why I love this product so much, it's Vestergaard's global humanitarian efforts. Each consumer purchase of LifeStraw® products provides one school child in Africa with clean water for an entire school year. Let me repeat that: EACH consumer purchase of LifeStraw® products provides one school child in Africa with clean water for an ENTIRE school YEAR. WOW! If there were more companies out there doing what Vestergaard is doing, the world would indeed be a better place!

LifeStraw® is an award-winning point-of-use portable water filter that transforms microbiologically contaminated water into safe, clean drinking water. It is ideal for a variety of users outside of the home, from hikers and campers to people displaced by natural disasters.  

Features and Specs
  • Retail Price $19.95
  • Lightweight--only 56 grams (or 2 ounces) 
  • Uses hollow fibre microfiltration technology 
  • Purifies a minimum of 1000 litres (264 gallons) of water 
  • Removes virtually all bacteria (99.9999 percent) and protozoan parasites (99.9 percent) that can contaminate water, including giardia 
  • Reduces turbidity (muddiness) by filtering particulate matter larger than 0.2 microns 
  • Made of durable plastic  
  • Chemical-free 
  • Doesn’t require electrical power, batteries or replacement parts–it’s powered by user-generated suction
How It Works

LifeStraw® uses advanced hollow fiber technology. This is a highly efficient method of filtration. Hollow fiber membrane requires no chemicals like chlorine or iodine.  

  1. Water enters and is forced through narrow fibers under high pressure. 
  2. Hollow fibers trap bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants which are flushed out by backwashing. 
  3. Clean water exits through tiny pores in the walls of the hollow fibers. 
  4. Filtered water is safe to drink. 
Easy to Use  

Anyone who can use a drinking straw can use a LifeStraw®. Simply draw the unfiltered water through the LifeStraw®, blow air back through the straw to flush and clear it after drinking.

The LifeStraw® product and information have been provided by Vestergaard.

And now *drum roll* without further ado, here's the giveaway! Enter below to win your very own LifeStraw®! Contiguous US Residents only please! Good luck!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Gear Review] Dorcy 160 Lumen 4D Twin Globe LED Lantern & 230 Lumen Focusing Flashlight

We just got back from our EPIC Family Camping Adventure in Yosemite National Park (more on that soon!). Knowing that we would be spending five glorious nights sleeping under the stars and six marvelous days exploring Mother Nature, we took this opportunity to take a closer look at a few really cool products. 

Dorcy have marketed Flashlight products for over 55 years. All Dorcy products are manufactured to strict quality controlled specifications and are produced from proprietary tooling. They use their own bulbs and Dorcy Mastercell batteries to ensure freshness and product quality consistency, so as you can imagine, we were pretty excited to get our hands on these!

Dorcy 160 Lumen 4D Twin Globe LED Lantern Quick Specs

Dorcy 160 Lumen 4D Twin Globe LED Lantern Review
Photo by Kerem Hanci Photography
Retail Price: $49.99
Lumens: 160 
Run Time: 
                 One Globe      
350 Hours
                 Two Globes    
175 Hours
                 Night Light     
700 Hours
Beam Distance: 20 Feet Bulb 

Bulb Type: LED 360° 
Batteries: 4 D cell Product 
Dimensions: Base 5" wide, Globe area 3 3/4" wide 10 1/2" Height , 12 1/2"  height handle extended 
Product Weight: 1.8 lbs
Switch: Turn button Turn button, Low setting, High setting, Night light 
Additional Features: Night light, 1 or 2 globe operation run times

The 160 Lumen 4D Twin Globe LED Lantern is the first battery operated lantern to approximate the illumination characteristics of traditional gas / mantel lanterns. This lantern’s design allows it to radiate 360° of light with 160 Lumens of light output. The durable body construction allows this lantern to float and makes it completely waterproof with an IPX7 rating. The Twin Globe Lantern contains two brightness settings, for high and low settings, and an amber night light. The highest LED settings allows for 175 hours of continuous use, the lowest giving 350 hours, and the amber LED allows for 700 hour of continuous use. The lantern is topped off with a sturdy handle featuring a pop-out hanger hook allowing for hands free use. The 160 Lumen 4D Twin Globe LED Lantern requires 4 D cell batteries to operate (not included).

Our Thoughts: Our old lantern is an actual double mantel lantern and I must say the Dorcy was just as good in the lighting arena without the hassle of having to deal with delicate mantels and propane tanks. The nightlight feature was the perfect amount of light for late night campfire card games and the hook that is nestled in its handle is a simple, thoughtful, genius design element!

Dorcy 230 Lumen Focusing Flashlight Review
Retail Price: $44.99

                 230 High
                 120  low

Run Time: 
                 3 Hours High
                 8 Hour 30 Minutes Low
Beam Distance: 210 Meters Bulb 
Type: LED - Cree XPE R3
Batteries: 3 AA (not included) 
Product Dimensions: 6" L x 1.5" W
Head / Bezel Dimensions: 1.85" Product Weight: .50 / 8 oz - .65/ 10.5 oz with batteries 
Switch: Tactical multi function High/Low/Strobe/SOS 
Additional Features:  O'rings , Lanyard, Strobe, SOS, sturdy battery holder, Gold Tip connectors

The Dorcy International’s new Zoom Focus flashlights are state of the art. Zoom Focus technology enables the user to adjust the beam/focus of the light from a tightly focused spot with maximum reach all the way out to an extremely wide area flood light with perfectly even edge to edge light distribution. All this is made possible by Dorcy’s Patented TIR optical technology. The Total Internal Reflectance optical system uses a patented acrylic lens that is so efficient almost 100% of the light produced is projected onto your target with incredible precision.   

The patented TIR focusing lens is made from optical grade acrylic that is nearly 100% transparent and gives the light a clean and precise beam projection unlike any flashlight you have seen before. All Zoom Focus lights are sealed with rubber o-rings to protect against dust and moisture and are rated IPX6 for water resistance.  

The focusing system is operated on a sealed gasket mechanism that is smooth and precise. Moving the bezel forward or back to adjust the beam will feel like the operating a precision machine which is what it is. The patented TIR optical lens provides maximum beam concentration when focused in the spot mode. With a reach of over 400 feet this incredible flashlight will satisfy the most demanding user. When focused to the wide flood mode the Dorcy Zoom Focus flashlight will create an incredible circle of light more than 30 feet in diameter at 15 feet from the target. In addition the patented TIR optical system ensures even light dispersion providing edge to edge illumination with no dark spots or glare. Made from premium anodized Aluminum they are incredibly tough. Zoom Focus lights use patented TIR optics to provide industry leading optical efficiency. This means nearly 100% of all the light produced gets out onto your target. Outfitted with the very latest LED technology from CREE these amazing flashlights produce more light output than the competition.

Our Thoughts: This was one of our daughter's favorite toys on the the trip! She used it incessantly! She dropped it repeatedly, left it on continuously, zoomed the beam in, then out, then in again and out, over and over and over again. She used it to catch bugs, inspect spiders and explore the peaceful dusk-time campground roads. This flashlight's powerful beam of light is shocking given its compact size, easily fitting into those handy interior tent gear pockets and small dirt-covered hands alike.
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