How to Build a Functional Wardrobe Without Ever Paying Full Price

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The changing of the seasons brings warmer temperatures, rain and end of season sales.

Outdoor retailers, no matter their specialty, still abide by the same principles as every other retailer.  As the seasons change, so does their inventory.  They need to turnover their excess stock and they do this by reducing prices on perfectly wonderful products.

A great example is REI’s sale and clearance page, which is a treasure trove of highly rated winter gear.  Choosing to sort the page by customer rating lets the cream rise to the top.  The wool buff is here for $20North Face insulated pants, perfect for skiing and snowboarding, are 50% off at just under $80.

How to Build a Functional Wardrobe Without Ever Paying Full Price


Ibex’s outlet is also prime for the picking.  100% merino wool turtle neck, an ideal layering piece is half off at $42.50  A highly rated 21 micron wool hoodie is half off, at $77.50.

How To Build a Functional Wardrobe Without Ever Paying Full Price

Check out your favorite retailers now to stock up.  Frequenting end of season sales is exactly how I’ve been able to acquire a wardrobe of wool, and other high performance pieces without ever paying full price.

If You Build It, You Can Ride

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In Austin, TX there are several great pump track and mountain bike trails throughout the city.  We were lucky enough to live close to the Walnut Creek Park.  Walnut Creek is a city park.  Though, the trails are built and maintained by local riders.

Building Pump Tracks

There were regular, organized days where average everyday people who wanted to have a cool new trail to ride on would help make it happen.  What started out as hiking trails, were built in to mountain bike trails by the people who wanted to have mountain bike trails.  When there was a desire for more jumps, a pump track was built.  There was no fundraising effort, no large piles of bureaucratic paper work to be filed.  There was a bit of coordinating to be done to ensure that everything was on the up and up, but no pleading or finagling of any sort.

Walnut Creek Pump Track

I think it’s amazing when a community can come together like this.  I spent many many hours out at Walnut Creek while living in Austin. We rode the trails and helped to maintain them.

Maintain a bike park

It’s this type of experience that makes me leery of stories like that of the Marin County Bike Park.  First off let me say that I believe that everyone involved believes that they are doing the right thing.  It’s wonderful that the parks department and government are even considering allowing a bike park to be built.  On that note, lets look at the situation.

According to a story in the Marin Independent Journal, a grand sum of $850,000 is needed to build this park.  A park design and planning company, Hilride, has been hired to design the park.  Also, a fundraising consultant by the name of Tjiska Van Wykt is on board.  The MIJ article implies that the $850,000 is needed on top of the already funded $142,000 for design development and construction drawing work by Hilride.

While having a professionally built and groomed bike park is something worthwhile, I seriously questions wether a government organization should be placing their money in the coffers of the “park designers” and “fundraising consultants”.  If a community can’t come together to build their own trails with their own hands on their own time, the need isn’t strong enough.

Pump Track Community

If the county wants to do the right thing, and encourage the building of a bike park, they should save the professional trail designers for the private parks, and lower the bar of red tape that must be crossed before a group of riders can dig their own trails.  Without a sense of ownership from a community, a county bike park’s future is just a budget cut away from being shut down.

Pump Track Community

It is, and always should be, about the ride and about the community.

 

 

 

Simple Trail Etiquette

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I often ride my mountain bike down a local mountain trail.  This trail is multi-use, in that it is open to all: hikers, dog walkers, sometimes even horseback riders.

Mountain Bike Trail Etiquette

I see a lot of bad trail etiquette, and a lot of people who seem oblivious that there even is such a thing as trail etiquette.

The number one thing to remember is just common sense: those moving fastest yield to those moving slower.  Just as its true on the street: cars yield to bikes, bikes yield to pedestrians, runners yield to walkers, and so on.

When in doubt, communicate with your fellow trail user.  Say “Hi!”, let them know you’re approaching and when you are passing.

If you are hiking, and being passed by a mountain biker you may hear the term “one back” or “two back” from a biker which indicates that there are more riders in the group coming up behind the first rider.

Trail Etiquette

If you’re the one being passed, maintain your line and allow the other trail user to move along.

Good trail etiquette allows everyone to share the trail together with minimal drama and hassle.

Trail Etiquette

How To Avoid Turning on the Heat When It’s Cold Outside

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Some days are worth spending inside.  When you’ve got time to spend in your home, but want to avoid turning on the heat here are a few ways to avoid turning on the heat:

– Put on a sweater, socks, hat and fingerless gloves.  Yep, if you run cold like I tend to, layer up while at home.  I used to peel off my extra layers as soon as I got home.  Off came my socks, sweater, jacket and hat.  Now, I just change my layers to more casual ones: wool hoodie instead of cashmere pullover, comfy socks instead of wool dress socks.

Do The Dishes

– Do the dishes by hand: Living in San Francisco comes with some compromises, including not having a dishwasher in our kitchen.  I used to loathe hand-washing all of my dishes, but now that the temperatures have dropped I look forward to running the warm water over my hands.

– Cover up: find a stylish and cozy blanket to keep on your couch.  Keeping it nearby and readily available will encourage you to use it.

Cozy Blanket

– Take a hot shower or bath.

– Watch a movie or browse photos of warm locales.  Read a book set in Mexico.

Drink Warm

– Eat warming or spicy foods.

– Knit something beautiful out of wool or cashmere: it will keep your hands busy and warm, and as your projects progresses it will cover your lap to keep you warm as well.

Head to Bed Early

– Head to bed early.  In the winter the sun sets early, daylight is short.  Heading to bed, often the warmest place in the house, is a great way to stay warm.

How to Plan a Last Minute Snowboard Trip on the Cheap

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Lake Tahoe on the Cheap

This past week a hole opened up in our schedule, and we realized that if we played our cards right we may be able to take off in the middle of the week.  This realization occurred only three days out. We quickly hashed together a plan to head toward Lake Tahoe, where I could finally learn to snowboard and Chris could get back to the sport he loves.

Mountainize in Tahoe

We’ve lived in San Francisco for over a year, and I’ve yet to learn how to ski or snowboard.  We didn’t have a ton of money to spend, but we knew we wanted it to happen.  In the past when similar opportunities presented themselves we would quickly become overwhelmed with all the details involved, and resign ourselves to staying home – but not this time.  If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, or just want to save a bit of money next time you head to the slopes read on.

Chris Binkley snowboarding

1.  Go doing the week, or any other off time.  We headed out Wednesday evening and practically had the mountain all to ourselves.  If week days are out of the question, look into other off-peak days such as during The Superbowl or when it hasn’t snowed in several weeks (they’ll still have snow on the mountains, even if it’s man-made).

2.  Don’t think you have to make a giant time commitment.  We would often put off such a trip due to the assumption that we’d need to take a long weekend or more off of work to make it worth it.  All-in our trip lasted about 36 hours, and it was still incredible.  Even if you don’t live within driving distance to a mountain you can head to the airport on a Friday afternoon, spend Saturday and Sunday on the slopes and fly back late Sunday.  Sure, it’s a whirlwind but sometimes those are the best kinds of vacations.Cloud Plane Photo

3.  Look around at the different resorts for deals, and don’t be afraid to check the so-called pricey resorts.  We thought we could only afford the bottom of the barrel of Tahoe resorts, until we did some price comparisons.  Sure, we still couldn’t afford Squaw’s $100 lift ticket, but we were able to find several great deals from many of the resorts.  If you do enough hunting around the resort’s website you’re bound to find a deal that applies to you, such as Squaw Valley’s “Fly & Ski Free”, if you fly in early that day they’ll hand you a free lift ticket for the rest of the afternoon.

Board on the cheap!4. Once we had it narrowed down to a few choice resorts, I did some googling.  I was able to find an even lower rate off the resort’s lift ticket on skiforfree.comLiftopia.com and skifreedeals.com are also worth looking into.

5. Lodging: You’ve got to sleep somewhere.  I’ve known folks who “camp” in their car outside the resort to avoid paying for a hotel.  While we weren’t going that extreme for this trip, we still didn’t want to pay out the nose for a place to sleep.  Though we had connections to a friends and family rate at Marriott, there were several other great options available.  Take 30 minutes to read the reviews and you’ll save yourself from a cheap room so dirty the floors turn your socks black.

Rent Your Gear

6.  Gear: Whatever you do, you’ll always save money getting your gear somewhere other than the resort.  If you don’t own your own, look into sports stores for rentals.  You can rent a board and boots from Sports Basement for $15 and save $30 off the resort price.

7.  Package Deals: Depending upon your needs there may be a package deal that works for you.  I found a beginner package that offered a 2.5 hour lesson, gear rental and lift ticket for around $50.  Sold!  Though, be leery of the package that seems to offer things you weren’t looking for in the first place.

Snowboard on the cheap

8.  What to wear?  If you know you want to go skiing or snowboarding, but you know you don’t have the pants or the jacket for it – start shopping for sales now.  I scored an end-of-season deal on insulated water-proof pants long before we began planning this specific trip.  Also, ask your friends if you can borrow their gear.  To the beginner: my advice would be to invest in the waterproof pants at first, as there isn’t much of a substitute there.  Whereas, you can get away with layering under almost any decent winter jacket.

9.  Food!  We packed along some cliff bars as backup fuel, but we knew we wanted to enjoy at least one meal out.  The night we got into town, we hit up a local brewery for pizza.  Our hotel room came equipped with a fridge which we were able to stash our leftovers in, allowing us to stretch the one meal into breakfast as well.  Look for rooms with fridges, bring along a cooler or stick the food outside if it’s cold enough, to pull this off for yourself.

Snowboard Cheap

10.  Gas.  If you’re driving to get to and fro, it’s definitely worth it to use an app like GasBuddy to track down the cheaper fuel along your route.  Nothing stings more than fueling up, getting back on the highway and passing a station offering gas for 15cents cheaper than what you just paid.

Those are our tips, based on our most recent experience.  What are you’re favorite ways to shave off a buck or two while still having a great time on a ski or snowboard trip?

I Would Move There: Profile of a Mountain Town Silverton, Colorado

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I Would Move There Silverton, Colorado

Silverton, Colorado is a very small (population: 638) mountain town in the San Juan mountains of southwest Colorado.  Located at 9,308ft its one of the highest mountain towns in the country.

I Would Move There Siverton, CO

We first heard of Silverton from the Outdoor Research Sidecountry Sessions video:

While summers can be mild, winters are extreme with average highs below 20.  Summer brings the outdoor tourists looking for camping, hiking and other recreation.  Winters are reserved for the most extreme of souls.  Temperatures regularly dip below zero, with winter highs averaging near 10 degrees.  With one highway into and out of town, when road closures occur they can bring the whole town to a halt.

I Would Move There Silverton Co

An old mining town founded in the late 1800s, Silverton has evolved into the hardcore mountain sport-oriented town it is today.  The Silverton Mountain Ski Area is open only to advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders (beginners need not show).  They market to the experienced adventurer, who wants an escape from the crowds and lines found at most mountain resorts.   They cap the number of people allowed up on the mountain per day, and offer extreme options such as heli-skiing.  Shaun White even chose Silverton as his secret Olympic snowboard training location.

Silverton, CO I Would Move There

For more laid back, beginner friendly mountain there is Kendall Mountain with their weekend only hours and $15 lift tickets.

The county is also littered with ghost towns, the remnants of mining towns from long ago.

Avoid the drive and take the train up to Silverton from Durango.

Silverton Co Train

While in town, pick up a board from Venture Snowboards.  They’re a boutique snowboard manufacturer designing, and manufacturing boards in Silverton, Co.

There’s beer available from local brewery, aptly named, Silverton Brewery.

Silverton is a breathtakingly gorgeous mountain town with unending recreational activities.  Long winters and small populations keep the town close-knit while the influx of tourists looking for an authentic adventure keep it fresh.

 

This is the second in an ongoing series: I Would Move There, which features profiles of mountain towns.  Sign up here to receive updates from Mountainze via email and be sure not to miss out.

 

The Secret of Hiking

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I’ve got a secret to share with you:

Hiking is really just walking.

Sure, sometimes hiking is a strenuous off-road activity over large rocks and harsh terrain.

Hiking Chris Binkley

 

And sometimes hiking is walking on a calm smooth path.

 

Map it Chris Binkley

 

Either way, in my opinion, hiking should always include majestic views.

 

Mountains Chris Binlkley

 

There are hikes in every part of the country for every experience level.

 

Mountainize.com

 

Whether you plan to jump over boulders, or walk down a heavily populated packed dirt trail a stone’s throw from a vibrant downtown, hiking is a simple activity.

 

Jump Chris Binkley

 

Go for a walk (call it a hike if you must), keep it simple, and have fun.

 

Fireside Food: Make the Best of What You’ve Got

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We went camping this weekend on a spur of the moment decision.

We didn’t take too much time to decide where to go. (Mt. Tam State Park, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Complete with breathtaking views and a 20 minute drive away from home.)  We didn’t want to spend too much money to make the trip happen.

Camping at Mt. Tam

While camping I usually prefer to plan a fun and exciting menu full of all kinds of treats.

Camping at Mt. Tam

This time around we went the easy and cheap route.  We hadn’t been grocery shopping in two weeks, yet we were still able to find plenty of shelf-stable and camp-ready food on our shelves: ramen, dehydrated vegetarian curry, a chocolate bar and instant oatmeal comprised our lunch, dinner and breakfast.

It was rather refreshing to head out without needing to plan anything or make a special trip to the store.

I enjoyed getting out there, without the big production that camping can all too often turn into.

Farallon Islands from Mt. Tam

All told, our little get away cost less than $50 including firewood, campsite fees and gas.

Camping at Mt. Tam

What kind of fun did you find this weekend?

 

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