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Adventure Guide

Adventure Guide

Starting Out in Rock Climbing

November 23, 2014
Climbing Wall

Many rock climbers are serious hobbyists, and the intensity of their passion for the activity may intimidate newcomers. It may seem challenging to become well-versed in climbing’s apparently endless lingo and subtleties. However, the sport does not have to be as difficult as it seems.

There are a number of ways beginners can become comfortable in rock climbing. Here are some great tips:

-Start by practicing at an indoor climbing gym. While this form of climbing may seem less natural and rigorous, the act of climbing makes for a good workout so artificial climbing structures have every right to exist. Take advantage of these if you are wary about bouldering and climbing outdoors right away.

rockcliff

Rock climbing varies greatly in difficulty, depending on the location and the type of climbing being performed.

-Hiking and mountaineering are two activities with frequent crossover into climbing. If you are experienced in either of these disciplines, you will already have a good deal of the know-how needed to prepare for a climbing outing. Hiking in particular is a simple and accessible lead-in to the world of climbing.

-Find others who share your interest in climbing. Like many hobbies, climbing tends to draw a close-knit and friendly community of participants. For those new to the sport, the advice of experienced climbers will be invaluable.

azoreancliffs

High-reaching mountain cliffs can make great climbing trip destinations.

-Once you have decided you are ready to do some real, outdoor rock climbing, find someone qualified to teach you and guide you as you perform your first climbs. Climbing can be a dangerous activity, and there are plenty of well-qualified trainers ready to help you learn the ropes, so to speak. It would be advisable to specifically seek out a climbing mentor who has experience training new climbers, rather than one who simply is a veteran climber.

-If you are going to make a serious effort at climbing, you will want to invest in the necessary equipment. Though opinions on what rock climbers should carry with them varies, there are few things that are generally agreed to be must-haves. These include climbing shoes, a harness, chalk and a chalkbag, a belay device with a locking carabiner, and a helmet. The shoes should run a climber about $125, the harness $50, the chalk and bag $20, the belay device $25, and the helmet $75. Be sure to ask other climbers for opinions on the best brands and models of equipment to look for.

Fall is here, and outdoor season is in full swing. If you are climbing, hiking, or generally enjoying the outdoors this fall, get your apparel from Royal Robbins!

Adventure Guide

Wilderness Tips: Mushroom and Berry Picking and Eating

November 21, 2014
Garden Fungi

There are many attractions to spending time outdoors in the fall. The chance to pick fruit, vegetables, and other edible plant-based products is a fun activity which is easiest to enjoy during harvest season. Though orchards and pumpkin patches are common destinations for fruit and vegetable picking, a campsite can be just as fertile of ground! Indeed, part of the thrill of camping in the midst of nature can be reaping the harvests of the surrounding area.

However, caution must be exercised when picking in the wild—especially with mushrooms and berries. Here are some tips on how to pick and identify the right ones:

-Consider the context of a mushroom before anything. What is the mushroom you are looking at growing on? What types of trees are nearby? Fungi can often be identified by the trees which surround them. Note the surface and surroundings of the mushroom growth.

SONY DSC

Blackberries often are accompanied by gorgeous blossoms, such as this one.

 

-Observe the mushroom’s color. Though colors sometimes change as these age and eventually die, this is one indicator of which type of mushroom you are dealing with.

-Consult a detailed reference source in order to pinpoint the type of mushroom you have picked, taking into account all available data. Here are some other factors in a mushroom’s makeup to look for: ornamentation, the presence of cobweb-like tissue, spores on the surface, gills, the presence of a stalk, smell, ability to bruise when crushed, and more.

-Berries are a great fruit to pick in the wilderness (or anywhere)! Blackberries are usually a safe bet, as they are well known to be safe to eat and grow like weeds in many regions. However, there are still some subtleties to choosing the right ones.

wildberries

When picking berries, look for indicators of good or poor quality on the fruit.

 

-Look for blackberries that are fully ripe. Immature blackberries are often red in hue, but luscious black specimens are the ones you should be looking for.

-Avoid any blackberries with mold growing on them or unusual bruises and markings. Among other things, such berries may have already been nibbled at by other animals, damaged by the influence of some form of chemical, or simply spoiled by sitting on the plant for too long.

-When you have picked the berries, you will want to either eat them right away, cook them into a recipe quickly, or else store them. If you are storing them, place them in a storage container in a refrigerator or freezer, with the container uncovered to avoid trapping moisture inside.

Fall is prime outdoor season—get your outdoor apparel at Royal Robbins!

Adventure Guide

Outdoor Activities to Enjoy before Winter

November 11, 2014
SONY DSC

Winter brings with it a variety of seasonal activities. Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and even snowman construction are never easier and more enjoyable than in the coldest months of the year.

But fall weather has its benefits, and comfortable outdoor temperatures are among them. Before the snow comes, here are some activities to enjoy outdoors:

orchard

Fall is the best time of year to pick many fruits at orchards.

-Camping. Winter signals a lull in camping season in many parts of the United States, so this activity is best enjoyed before it gets too chilly.

-Picking Fruits and Vegetables. Orchards and pumpkin patches are fun activities uniquely suited for autumn. As harvest season reaches its peak and Halloween and Thanksgiving approach, the time is ripe to go pick apples, pumpkins, and more

-Sports. Though winter is a fine time for hockey or ice dancing, it is less ideal for some other games. Basketball, football, and soccer are much less pleasant to play when snow and sub-freezing temperatures have set in. So why not partake in them now? A backyard game of flag football is a great way to take advantage of the fall weather.

-Cycling. Without the scorching-hot temperatures and oppressive humidity of summer to deal with, cyclists can relax a bit more when riding in the fall. Of course, city streets are less crowded with cyclists in the fall, which makes the ride a bit smoother for those who do keep riding when the season turns. Forest and mountain bicycle trails never look better to riders than when the foliage is on display, of course. And as cycling becomes a bit more difficult when the snow and ice comes in the winter, it’s a great time of year to go for a ride, whether on the city streets or on a well-hidden trail!

fishing

In many parts of the country, fall is peak fishing season.

-Mountain Biking. So we may have cheated a little, as this can be done year-round and is similar to cycling. But the game changes in mountain biking when temperatures drop, so enthusiasts would do well to take advantage of mild fall temperatures to get in a few more sessions.

-Fishing. Fall is a peak season for fishing in many parts of the country. Such popular fish as sturgeon, salmon, and more are often easiest to catch in October and November. Fishing tends to take a bit of a lull in December and January, so now is the time to take a trip.

For any of these outdoor activities, you’ll need the right apparel to stay strong in all types of weather. Visit Royal Robbins online today to find deals on outdoor apparel.

Adventure Guide

Camping Trip Tips

November 7, 2014
campfire

We all love to go camping—especially in the days of portable electronic devices, it can be relaxing to unplug and simply enjoy nature and life! At any time of year, a few days camping in the woods can be a much-needed getaway.

squirrel

A typical example of wildlife encountered on camping trips.

It is wise to take precautions when camping, though. Here are some important tips on how to have a fun and safe camping trip:

-Set up shelter before it gets dark outside. Trust us, you don’t want to set up a campsite after it’s pitch black! Plan to arrive at your camping destination with at least a few hours of daylight to spare, so that you will be ready to set up your tent or other shelter in time for dusk. Then you’ll be ready to go in time to enjoy some campfire-roasted dinner!

-Be sure to have a proper sleeping bag. The right variety of sleeping bag will vary based on the season and local weather—what may be an excellent warm sleeping bag on a frigid night in the Great Plains may be ruined by a rainy night of camping in the Pacific Northwest! Be aware of the demands of your chosen camping time and location.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The natural scenery found at campsites provides a tranquil break from everyday life.

-Know your enemies. Specifically, it pays to be aware of what things in the wilderness can and can’t kill you. If you plan to eat or cook with plants and mushrooms found in the wild, be very diligent in educating yourself on which types are safe to consume. The same is true for the animals in the wild, although beyond which are safe to eat (not many, unless it’s also hunting season in an approved area), it is important to know which are dangerous. This includes not just wolves and bears, but insects and spiders as well.

-Don’t get lost. But if you do, be sure to have a contingency plan. If you are camping with a group, be sure to have a buddy system if possible, and an agreed-upon procedure for what to do if anyone becomes lost. Although it’s nice to leave electronic devices at home, some sort of communication device—a cell phone works if you get a signal—should be on hand.

-Safety is always the first priority when camping, but this is especially so if you take kids or pets along! Never let a pet or a child outside of your supervision on a camping trip. Even if your dog or cat is accustomed to roaming the outdoors, the game changes on campsites. Many local animals may pose considerably more danger to your pets and children than those found near your home, so be cautious!

For all camping and other outdoor apparel, visit the online selection here at Royal Robbins!

Adventure Guide

6 Style Tips For Travelers

September 12, 2014
6 style tips for travelers

As Atlas & Boots embark on their trip of a lifetime, Royal Robbins travel ambassador Kia Abdullah shares her top style tips for travelers dressing from a backpack.

Atlas and Boots Style Tips 1

Twelve kilograms. That’s the upper limit of how much I can carry. A mere twelve kilograms. And, so, I was faced with some tough decisions when it came to packing for Atlas & Boots’ yearlong trip across the Pacific and South America. It would have been fine if it we were planning 12 months of frolicking on a beach (a bikini doesn’t weigh very much!), but the breadth of activities we have planned meant I had to pack so much more.

Even our first month in the tropical Pacific islands of Vanuatu has been more active than one might expect. We’ve kayaked to the tiny desert island of Erakor, learned to dive at Aore Island, explored the depths of Millennium Cave on Espiritu Santo and trekked Mount Yasur, an active volcano on Tanna Island. And that’s not to mention what Peter has planned for South America: trekking the Inca Trail in Peru, rafting the Iguassu Falls in Brazil and hiking the mountains of Patagonia, all of which require slightly more gear than lazing on a beach.

Atlas and Boots Style Tips for Travelers

Peter shopping at Port Vila market

With this in mind, I had to be very careful in choosing what to pack, how to pack it and how to use it when on the road. Here are the tricks I used to get to 12 kilograms without compromising on style, comfort or practicality.

1. Buy your clothes from a travel specialist

Preparing for travel is expensive business. Flights, accommodation, insurance and vaccinations can add up to a huge amount – and that’s not even considering the holiday wardrobe. It’s little wonder then that so many of us opt for cheap high-street stores where a whole new wardrobe costs less than a milkshake. This might be fine for a two-week break to Magaluf, but those on longer-term travels need much better quality. This is where travel specialists are particularly useful. These retailers specialize in clothes that are comfortable, breathable and durable. Designed specifically with the traveller in mind, their clothes are usually lightweight, crease resistant and high quality enough to survive a round-the-world trek or two. Avoid the false economy of buying super cheap and go for high-quality items that offer long-term value instead.

2. Keep your wardrobe organized

Backpackers aren’t exactly renowned for their sense of style but they should be forgiven for this – living out of a bag isn’t easy. The temptation to throw on the first thing you can grab is just too strong. This is why it’s important to keep your ‘wardrobe’ organized. I gathered my clothes into separate piles based on type (e.g. underwear, shorts and trousers, t-shirts and shirts, skirts and dresses) and stored them in separate stuff sacs, making sure to roll the clothes instead of folding to minimize creasing and to save space. Organizing your clothes in this way will help you wear what you had in mind, not in hand, and thus avoid the dubious ensembles we see on the road. In addition to this, I bought a backpack that has a zip across the length to help me quickly locate a specific item – it’s much better than taking everything out from top to bottom.

Atlas and Boots Style Tips 1

Kia by the Pacific Ocean

3. Pack a capsule closet

The perfect capsule closet comprises items that you can wear with everything else in your collection. I refuse to pack anything that can’t be used as part of at least three different outfits. In fact, the five bottoms I packed can all be worn with the seven tops, giving me a total of 35 different outfits to mix and match.

Atlas and Boots Style Tips 4

Kia on the balcony of their bungalow on Aore island, Vanuatu

 

Throw in my favorite cardigan, the Mary Jane from Royal Robbins, and I have even more permutations to play with, not to mention a precious extra layer. Every experienced traveller knows that layers are the key to traversing territories in style and comfort. Even in the sweltering heat of the Pacific summer, you’ll find a cardi in my bag. One hit of the evening trade winds and you’ll understand why!

 

Atlas and Boots Style Tips for Travelers

Peter exploring Port Resolution Village

4. Stash your cash

When stocking up on your holiday wardrobe, aim to buy items that have plenty of pockets. This makes it easy to split up your cash; meaning that if you ever run into trouble, you’ll likely still have some stashed somewhere. Peter and I tend to divide our cash between us, storing some in our backpacks and some in our pockets. If we’re visiting a particularly sketchy area, I’ll also stash some in my bra just in case we need emergency funds. We’re heading off to Fiji next and have been warned that the capital, Suva, can be dangerous after dark, so all our extra pockets will definitely come in use.

5. Wrap your shoes in a shower cap

I tried and I tried to cut down on footwear but still ended up bringing four pairs: ballet flats, flip flops, trainers and hiking boots. Based on the variety of activities I have planned, it was simply unavoidable. In fact, I’ve already used them all in our first few weeks in Vanuatu: ballet flats for a smart dinner at L’Houstalet, flip flops for the beach at Pango, trainers for the Millennium Cave Tour and hiking boots for Mount Yasur. Wrapping and unwrapping (and wrapping and unwrapping) shoes in plastic bags can become tedious after a while so, instead, I packed a few shower caps to go over the soles of my shoes. They protect my clothes from dirt, are quick and easy to deal with, and weigh a little bit less than bags. Yes, the difference is marginal, but when you’re struggling with a 12kg bag, trust me – every little bit helps.

6. Cover up

I’ve already mentioned the importance of layers. If you’re convinced you won’t need a cardigan or scarf or a long pair of trousers, bear in mind that I’ve needed to cover my arms and knees in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Dubai, not to mention less conservative countries like Italy and Cambodia. I always pack a trusty pair of capris and my aforementioned cardigan, which have me covered wherever I go.

It’s worth noting that this doesn’t just apply to women: Peter wore long trousers for much of our visit to Jordan as locals pay more respect to men dressed modestly. So many travel experiences are related to cultural or religious attractions, so you never know when you’ll need to cover up.

Adventure Guide

The Best Cell Phone Apps for Traveling

July 7, 2014
tech-traveler- phone- apps

No matter what corner of the world you find yourself in this summer, you’ll need to pack all the essentials. The good news is the essentials pack light and right in your pocket. These cell phone apps for traveling will enhance your experience so significantly that the locals will think you’re a native.

JetLag Genie

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 6.01.18 PM

The downsides of traveling are few and far between, but one of the biggest drawbacks is jet lag. Download the JetLag Genie app before your trip to ensure you are able to immerse yourself completely in your travels and not in the covers of your bed at the hotel. Gradually altering your sleep patterns before you lift-off is ideal. This app will coordinate a sleeping plan customized to your destination to help you gradually transition to the new time zone. By the time your trip rolls around, you’ll be ready to maximize your precious days of travel.

Available for iOS: (App Store, $2.99)

Wikitude (Augmented Reality)

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According to Augmented Planet and CNN, Wikitude is one of the best Augmented Reality browsers available. The camera on your smartphone will make any city come alive on your screen with information from TripAdvisor, Yelp, Wikipedia, photos and tweets from friends in your social network. If that’s not enough to get you to press the download button, the app doubles as a currency converter. Just scan your bank note and it will be converted into a currency of your choosing. This app is like a tour guide and bank all in one.

Available for iOS: (App Store, free), Android: (Google Play, free), Blackberry: (Blackberry World, free), and Windows Phone: (Store, free)

Wi-Fi Finder

Wi-Fi Finder App

A word to the wise – don’t forget to purchase an international phone plan before jetting off abroad, or prepare to be very cautious that you’re using your apps in a Wi-Fi zone. Some of the apps mentioned in this article work without Wi-Fi and won’t run up your bill, but in general, most apps will use data if Wi-Fi is not available. Save yourself from astronomical phone bills and plan ahead.

One way to avoid paying obscene data fees is the Wi-Fi Finder app. This app will guide you to the nearest hotspot so you can tweet, upload photos, and browse to your hearts content while abroad. The app operates offline, meaning you can just download the map before you leave and you’re all set to find Wi-Fi in your new city.

Available on iOS (App Store, free) and Android (Google Play, free)

Photosynth

by mokojo100 on photosynth

Photosynth practically lets you bring landmarks home in your suitcase. This app not only allows you take 3D images, it also features 360-degree photo options. It’s perfect for the traveler who doesn’t want to forget a thing from their excursions. After capturing the moment, impress all your friends and share your photo masterpieces on social media accounts. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but Photosynth is worth the whole story.

Available on iOS:(App Store, free) and Windows Phone: (Windows Store, free)

Time Out City Guides

Time Out City Guide App

Time Out City Guides offer extensively researched travel apps for more than 20 of the world’s largest cities. The app includes insights into the best dining, bars, exhibitions, and attractions available. With these insights you’ll be living like a local and always getting the finest experiences the city has to offer.

Available on iOS (App Store, free) 

Word Lens (Augmented Reality)

Word Lens Translator

This app is an absolute must if you’re a little shaky on the language in a foreign country. Word Lens lets you translate a variety of different languages simply by holding your phone’s camera up to the foreign words. The translation in your native tongue will appear on your phone’s screen. While the app itself is completely free, language packages must be acquired via an in-app purchase. The current rate for an English or French package is slightly under $12.00. While the packages are on the expensive side, they will undoubtedly pay for themselves by saving you the hassle of poor communication and confusion while abroad.

Available on iOS (App Store, free) and Android (Google Play, free)

Download these apps today and transform from the tourist into the tour guide. Technology like this will allow you to immerse yourself in the culture and beauty of the world we live in, while creating unique mementos to hold onto for years to come.

 

 

Adventure Guide

Introduction to EcoTourism

May 30, 2014
Eco-Tourism

One of the greatest things we can do in this life is make the world a better place. That sounds like a massive undertaking and sometimes it is; people dedicate their entire lives to this cause. But positive changes can be small and still have an impact. Everyone is capable of improving the world they live in. That’s why our Royal Robbins team has carved out a section of our blog and dedicated it to making change (for the better).

To begin our Making Change series, we thought we would share something that we’ve been interested in and want to help spread the word about. It’s called EcoTourism: part vacation, part volunteerism, with a heaping dash of personal growth and cultural enrichment.

EcoTurism Longhouse photo: from www.campsinternational.com

EcoTurism Longhouse photo: from www.campsinternational.com

Officially, The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” But what does that mean?

  • Minimal Impact: exploration should be done carefully and with consideration to the surrounding environment, reducing if not eliminating one’s footprint.

  • Enriching the Community: it could just be economically, but ideally it’s making a positive, long-term impact for the local people.

  • Cultural Exchange: both the traveler and the traveled-to should have a positive experience, and each person should have a better understanding of one another’s cultural and societal differences.

At the heart of EcoTourism is improving the world, expanding your experiences and enriching the lives of others, all in one swoop.

EcoTourism enthusiasts have a distinct attraction to developing regions of the world such as Central America, the Caribbean, South America and Africa. And deservedly so. However, EcoTourism isn’t limited to those areas. There are places even within the United States or other developed countries such as Sweden and Australia that have regions where an EcoTour could make a significant positive impact.

Here at Royal Robbins, we walk the talk.  Our owner, Stephen Sherrill has been doing some ecotouring himself, building a lodge in the Kingdom of Bhutan, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. The idea is not to alter or westernize Bhutan, but highlight their culture and way of life. Take a look:

In our next EcoTourism post we will discuss the best ways and places to get started, so be sure to stay tuned to our Go Everywhere blog. If you just can’t wait, there are some great resources to get you going, such as www.ecotourism.org  (the International Ecotourism Society) and www.nature.org (The Nature Conservancy).

EcoTurism Costa Rica photo: from www.ecotourism.org

EcoTurism Costa Rica photo: from www.ecotourism.org

We hope you find the notion of EcoTourism at least a little inspiring. Even if it’s not for you, you can do good by simply sharing this post and helping us spread the word of EcoTourism.

Or perhaps you’ve already participated in an EcoTourism experience? If so, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below to get the conversation started.