Looking Back at 2017 and Wishing Everyone Happy Trails for 2018!

Looking Back at 2017 and Wishing Everyone Happy Trails for 2018!

Another year is coming to a close, and all of us here at Gossamer Gear would like to express a heartfelt thanks for everyone who has been a part of our community. It is a great privilege for us to get to read the reviews so many of you have shared about our gear, to see the adventures you take your packs on through your photos, and to have the opportunity to continue to improve and design the gear that gets you out to your happy place. Before we ring in all the happy trails to come in 2018, let's look back at some of our shared journey through 2017.

So Many Gear Reviews

Gossamer Gear's Vagabond pack with the Grand Tetons in the background

This year, many of you took the time to try out our gear and share your experiences with the rest of the outdoor community. These are just a few of the great articles and resources you all shared with us:

From the Blog

two women stand with the long trails book at a signing

On the Gossamer Gear blog this year, thanks to our Brand Ambassadors and staff, we were able to share content ranging from gear lists to off-trailing in the Grand Canyon. Here are just a handful of blogs from the site this year worth giving another peek:

On Instagram, you all filled our feed with mountain peaks, adorable doggies in backpacks, desert trails, glacial lakes, and urban strolls to the grocery store.

Despite any bumps along the trail, 2017 has been a year worth hiking thanks to all of you and the support you've shown. So, we're closing out 2017 with a gigantic THANK YOU! Keep sharing your photos, sending us your comments, and inspiring us with the adventures you take.

From all of us at Gossamer Gear–happy trails for 2018!

The Reasonable Decision to Give Outdoorsy Loved Ones Gift Cards

The Reasonable Decision to Give Outdoorsy Loved Ones Gift Cards

With Chanukah well underway, Christmas and Kwanzaa just around the corner, and the general spirit of holiday giving floating through the air, those of us who procrastinate may just now be wondering what goodies to gift our loved ones this year. For those of us with outdoorsy friends and family, gear to help them on their 2018 adventures seems like a clear choice. But, with the plethora of options before us, how can we be sure we're picking out the right item for them? Gift cards are often given a bad rap as being too impersonal, but here are some thoughts on why they're actually a totally reasonable, perfect last-minute gift option - as well as some tips and tricks on how to give them in more meaningful ways.

Photo: Sirena Dufault

No Need to Worry about Sizing

ttps://www.gossamergear.com/collections/backpacks"> backpack size might be, and our brand ambassadors have some useful tips, as well. However, muddling through these notes and making that decision is usually best done by the person who will actually be using the pack. Take away the worry of getting sizing right by instead giving your friend a gift card that they can use to order their own pack. Give it to them with a nice handwritten note from you about the adventures you hope their new pack will bring them.

The Conundrum of the Gear Junkie Who Has It All

nd the guessing game by giving them a gift card. You can include some nice printed photos of your adventures together - and maybe toss a little joke into your card about their gear problem!

Adding to People's Eventual Garage Sales

The world is filled with stuff and things. Sometimes the holiday season can feel overwhelming taking on lots of well-intentioned gifts, but ones which you may not really want or need. Best way to keep your gift out of a garage sale? Give them a gift card with a note letting them know that you want them to pick out something they really want, need, and love.

Non-Impersonal Gift Cards

It's one thing to give a Visa gift card, and another to give one to a place you know your loved one will appreciate. Getting the outdoorsy person in your life a gift card to Gossamer Gear shows that you know their love of adventure, and that you want to support many more outings in 2018! Pair your gift card with a top 10 list of places you want to travel together.

Gift card

Sometimes it's best to let your loved one pick out what it is they most need or want. Gossamer Gear has you covered with gift cards starting at $10 and going up to your desired price.

Last minute shoppers - also make sure to take a peek at our Guide to Stocking Stuffers for Outdoorsy Folk for helpful ideas. Through December 20, 2017, we're offering 15% off select items with the promo codeWINTER15 . Happy holidays from our tent to yours!

Looking to Stand Up for Bears Ears National Monument? Here’s A Quick Guide on How You Can.

Looking to Stand Up for Bears Ears National Monument? Here’s A Quick Guide on How You Can.

Hints of the Trump Administration's plans to shrink Bears Ears National Monument have danced around for months. On December 4, the President made those plans explicit. Along with Grand Staircase-Escalante, President Trump announced that he'd be reducing these two Utah monuments by about two million acres–stripping away about 85% of Bears Ears and 50% of Grand Staircase-Escalante. According to The New York Times, this is "the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation's history."

As backpackers, outdoor enthusiasts, and allies of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, we need to stand up for our national monuments. Here's a quick guide to get you started.

Bears Ears Photo source: Bureau of Land Managemen />

Learn

It's not effective to blindly retweet graphics about your Trump outrage and love of public lands. You need to truly know the issues for which you're advocating. Take some time, step away from the sound bites, and make sure to read and learn about the issue:

  • Know the different types of public land designations, and how they're formed.
  • Learn about the cultural significance of these lands to Native Americans, and make sure you're elevating those voices as much as you can. The Native American Rights Fund and Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition are excellent resources.
  • Read up on current reports about the issue from publications, such as Sierra Magazine. Understand what the impacts of this change could be should activities, such as mining or oil and gas extraction, begin on these lands.

Advocate

As you learn about the issue, share what you've learned with friends, family members, colleagues, that guy at the gym, the woman you see at the grocery store, and, yes, all the social media webs of the internet. Help others understand what's at stake so that they may raise their voice, too. In addition:

  • The Sierra Club has made contacting your representatives in Congress about this issue really easy. Get started HERE.
  • The Access Fund also has an active list of campaigns for our public lands. Learn more HERE.

Donate

If you can give, give. Many organizations are working very hard to fight these recent events, and they need our support. Here are just a few:

It has been a difficult week for public lands, but by taking the time to lend support to the cause, we all can help preserve these environmental and cultural treasures for many years to come.

Gossamer Gear’s Guide to Stocking Stuffers for Outdoorsy Folk

Gossamer Gear’s Guide to Stocking Stuffers for Outdoorsy Folk

Have some outdoorsy friends or family in your holiday circle? We've got you covered for all of the little stocking stuffers they'll be hoping to see this year! Below are ten of our suggestions for pulling together a hiker's dream stocking.

1.) Deuce Backpacking Trowel: Hey, everybody poops. And, at 0.6 ounces, this trowel weighs the same as 13 small blueberries. As we like to say, both are good for pooping in the woods! Compact enough to slip right into the side pocket of a backpack– or as a stocking stuffer.

Lightweight Trowel

2.) Long-Handle Bamboo Spoon: Our customers rave about this lightweight, naturally odor-, stain-, and water-resistant bamboo spoon! Made out of sustainable, natural material, this spoon will let your loved one enjoy their backcountry meal without that metallic taste of titanium. Make sure to let them know about our blog post about how to take care of the spoon, as well.

Spoon

3.) The Crotch Pot: This is in the genre of laugh out loud stocking stuffers. It will start as a joke, and end up their new favorite piece of gear. Trust us. Who needs a stove when there's already plenty of heat down below? Dinner is ready by the time you reach camp.

Crotch Pot

4.) Pack of 10 Aluminum V Peg Tent Stakes: A lightweight and economical option for those of us who seem to always be coming up short a tent stake. Forest gnomes, maybe? Just make sure they keep away from your stocking stuffers!

Tent Stakes

5.) Cuben Q-Storage Sacks: For everyone who likes to stay organized while on the trail, we offer our Cuben Q-Storage Sacks. Made out of dyneema reinforced laminate, they're ultralight and come in assorted sizes and models to stash everything from tent poles to glasses.

Cuben Q-Storage Sacks

6.) The Hipster: Fanny packs are alive and well. Wear this one as part of a backpack system, or alone as a highly fashionable statement piece. The Hipster Fanny Pack is the answer to all "I wish I had just one more easily accessible pocket on me" woes. Waist band is adjustable to fit all sizes.

Hipster

7.) Backpacking Pocket Knife: This Swiss Army Classic SD Knife has everything you need and nothing you don't. Slip it in your pocket. Hook it to your keys. With its seven implements, it can save the day!

Pocket Knife

8.) Photon Freedom LED Micro Light: The Photon Freedom has long been one of our favorite, essential pieces of gear. Single-button operation provides full range brightness control plus safety strobe beacons. Water-resistant. Easy to use. Great for the backcountry or everyday use!

Micro Light

9.) Sticker Pack: Have a Gossamer Gear fan on your gift list? Aw, shucks! We're blushing. Stuff their stocking with our new sticker pack! Five awesome sticker designs will let them rep their Gossamer Gear pride on a water bottle, laptop, or even on their forehead!

Sticker Pack

10.) Gift Card: Sometimes it's best to let your loved one pick out what it is they most need or want. We've got you covered with gift cards starting at $10 and going up to your desired price.

Gift card

Take advantage of our biggest sale ever to check stocking stuffers off your list! Almost everything is 10-40% off through 11/27/2017 at 11:59pm CST.

How To: Take Care of Your Awesome Bamboo Backpacking Spoon

How To: Take Care of Your Awesome Bamboo Backpacking Spoon

Gossamer Gear happens to sell the world's greatest bamboo backpacking spoon. If you haven't made the switch yet, it's time. However, we won't get too in-depth about that in this post, as it has already been well-documented. This post is going to focus on how to take care of your awesome bamboo backpacking spoon now that you have it.

Bamboo is a highly renewable resource that is odor-, stain-, and water-resistant. It is technically a grass, making it quite lightweight, but is also as strong and durable as wood. Also as with wood, if taken care of properly, it can last a long time.

Bamboo Spoon By River

Keeping Your Bamboo Spoon Seasoned

Think of your bamboo spoon as you would a good wooden cutting board. You need to periodically treat it to preserve its natural oils and prevent its fibers from drying out and becoming cracked or rough. For best results, we recommend doing this when you first get your spoon, and then before and after each trip you take it on. The process is simple:

  1. Get some food-grade mineral oil, bamboo conditioning oil, butcher block oil, walnut oil, or coconut oil. Avoid vegetable oils like olive oil or canola oil, as these can become rancid.
  2. Apply some of the oil to a clean, soft cloth.
  3. Rub all over your bamboo spoon, letting the oil soak into the material.
  4. Repeat, if necessary.
  5. Let the spoon cure 1-2 days before use.
Bamboo Spoon

Photo credit: Stephanie Baker

Cleaning Your Bamboo Spoon

There may come a point where giving your bamboo spoon its daily backcountry tongue bath isn't enough. While you should do your best on your trip to rinse the spoon thoroughly after each use, we recommend giving it a real cleaning once you get home.

You should never throw your bamboo spoon in the dishwasher, as the detergent and heat is too intense. You should also avoid soaking the spoon, as this will eventually breakdown the bamboo's natural water resistance.

Follow these steps to getting your spoon sparkling again:

  1. Rinse the bamboo spoon in warm water and use a dull edge, like the back of a butter knife, to scrape off stubborn food particles.
  2. Wash using mild soap and a soft cloth.
  3. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a clean rag.
  4. Stand upright to complete the drying process.
  5. Treat with oil, as described above.
  6. Store in a dry place away from extreme temperatures.

By caring for your spoon properly, you can have a friend to share all of those rehydrated meals with for many miles to come. Happy trails to you–and to your spoon!

Do We Need National Preserves? Yes. Here's Why.

Do We Need National Preserves? Yes. Here's Why.

Earlier this month, in light of the Trump administration's review of 27 national monuments, we took a look at the many different types of National Park Service (NPS) designations. Understanding these designations is an important step in being an effective advocate for public lands. In this post, we will take a closer look at one type of designation and answer the question: Do we need national preserves?

Spoiler alert: Yep.

As a reminder, national preserves are designated by Congress. These lands typically have similar characteristics to national parks, but resource extraction, such as mining or hunting, is allowed. The types of resource extraction that are allowed depends on the enabling legislation for the preserve.

To better understand the need for national preserves, let's look at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. That's right –i t's both a monument and a preserve.

Subalpine Meadow

President Taftestablished the actual cave as a 480-acre national monument in 1909 due to its historic and scientific interest. The cave is a rare marble solution cave formed when underground water and naturally occurring acids dissolved the rock as they passed through pores and fissures. Cave Creek runs through the cave for two-fifths of a mile. This stretch of water is named the River Styx, and in 2014, Congress designated it the first subterranean National Wild and Scenic River (NWSR).

As the saying goes, we all live downstream. In order to protect the cave's fragile ecosystem through which the creek flows, Congress needed to protect its surrounding watershed. So, at the same time that the River Styx received its NWSR designation, Oregon Caves National Monument grew a 4,070-acre National Preserve. This designation allows NPS to manage the land in a way that still allows locals to recreate and hunt in the area, but that also preserves its ecological integrity.

Bigelow Lakes from the Trail

Previously, the national preserve land fell under the Forest Service's jurisdiction. While the National Park Service is a part of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Forest Service falls under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These two departments have different missions, which carry over to their corresponding agencies:

National Park Service

"The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world."

Forest Service

"The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Motto: Caring for the land and serving people."

One is about unimpaired preservation, the other is about sustainable use. When the Oregon Caves National Preserve fell under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service, the land could be used for a variety of deleterious activities, such as cattle grazing. It was an activity that might have met the needs of the people, but didn't do much for protecting the resources.

Lake surrounded by trees

Cattle, it turns out, like to hang out by the water. Nestled in its wildflower-rich subalpine meadows, Oregon Caves National Preserve has two lovely pools of water called Bigelow Lakes. As a result of cows hanging out in these wetlands, a beautiful flowering plant aptly named "shooting stars" began to die off. Along with the flowers went a rare blue butterfly species that relied specifically on shooting stars for their survival.

With the national preserve designation came a new mission and approach to the land's management. In time, the cow-free lakeshore regained its historic vegetation, and once again natural resource specialists began to spot those blue butterflies.

Siskiyou Mountains

The Forest Service is an important and necessary agency, but sometimes unique biota can be better protected in other ways. National preserves provide this option.

To recap: A National Monument led to a National Wild and Scenic River, which led to a National Preserve, which ultimately leads to the protection of an incredible cave system and a pretty blue butterfly to boot. Yes, we need national preserves.

The Outdoor Enthusiast’s Quick Guide to Park Designations

The Outdoor Enthusiast’s Quick Guide to Park Designations

Five months ago, the Trump administration began a review of 27 national monuments to determine potential changes to their designations. As of September 17, reports indicate that Interior Secretary Zinke recommended changes to at least ten –including shrinking Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Gold Butte, and Cascades-Siskiyou. The exact details of those changes have yet to be disclosed.

Most people have a concept of what a national park is. If places like Yosemite or Yellowstone were suddenly up for review, it would be easy for the public to grasp the implications of that, to feel the urgency behind what a change in protections could do to those iconic granite peaks or majestic geyser basins.

But, "national park" is just one of several designations the National Park Service (NPS) uses to set aside land. The locations that fall under this designation are special, but the lands outside of them hold important magic, too. To be good stewards for our public lands, we need to be able to understand the other designations: Why are they important? How are they designated? Where are they located?

Below is a quick reference list on NPS land designations to help guide your advocacy efforts. Backpackers' voices are critical to the future of these places we love.

National Park: Must be created by an act of Congress. Generally areas with extraordinary natural beauty, geology, and ecosystems. Activities such as mining or hunting are prohibited. Example: Glacier National Park (below; photo: Korrin Bishop)

Photo of Glacier National Park

National Monument: Designated by the President through a public proclamation, as authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906. Typically includes landmarks or other objects of historic or scientific interest. Example: Oregon Caves National Monument (below; photo: Jamie Furlan)

Photo of cave formations

National Preserve: Designated by Congress. These lands typically have similar characteristics to national parks, but resource extraction, such as mining or hunting, is allowed. Which types are allowed depends on the enabling legislation for the preserve. Example: Mojave National Preserve (below; photo: Korrin Bishop)

Photo of Mojave Desert

National Historic Site / National Historical Park: A national historic site is a single historical feature, such as the Liberty Bell. Designations began with the Historic Sites Act of 1935. Congress authorizes most, but secretaries of the Interior established several. A national historical park is a historic area encompassing more than a single item. Example: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (below; photo: Korrin Bishop)

Photo of bike path along C&O Canal

National Memorial: Commemorates a historic moment. Site where it's located doesn't have to be historically connected. Designated by Congress. Example: Mount Rushmore National Memorial (below; photo: Korrin Bishop)

Photo of Mount Rushmore

National Battlefield / National Cemetery: National battlefield is a general title covering national battlefield parks, national battlefield sites, and national military parks. American Battlefield Protection Act of 1996 clarifies they must be "sites where historic battles were fought on American soil during the armed conflicts that shaped the growth and development of the United States." Park service also manages 14 national cemeteries associated with historic sites and national battlefields. Example: Gettysburg National Military Park (below; photo: Korrin Bishop)

Photo of Gettsyburg Battlefield

National Recreation Area: Typically located on a large reservoir with a focus on water sports or in an urban area to preserve scarce open spaces. The President's Recreation Advisory Committee established criteria for designation in 1963 and required an act of Congress. Example: Golden Gate National Recreation Area (below; photo: Kristen Grace)

Coastal photo at Golden Gate Rec Area

National Seashore / National Lake / National River: Congress designates national seashores and national lakes as preserved coastal areas with natural or recreational significance. Level of development varies by location, and hunting is allowed at many. National rivers have several sub-categories, such as scenic rivers, wild rivers, and recreational rivers. Congress authorized the first in 1964. Remainder established with passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, which aimed to curb development that would harm the wild and scenic nature of these waterways. Example: Merced River (below; photo: Kris Laurie)

Photo of the Merced River in Yosemite

National Parkway: Intended for scenic driving along roadways paralleling parklands. Often connect cultural sites. Example: Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (below; photo: Korrin Bishop)

View of Shenandoah National Park

National Trail: Scenic or historic long distance trails authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968. Example: Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (below; photo: Kris Laurie)

Photo of trail marker on Continental Divide

Affiliated Areas / Other Designations: "Affiliated areas" utilize technical or financial aid from the NPS, but are outside of the NPS system. "Other designations" represent NPS units with unique titles, all eleven of which reside in the Washington, D.C. metro region, such as Rock Creek Park (below; photo: Korrin Bishop).

Photo of Rock Creek Park

A detailed list of all 400+ NPS-designated and affiliated sites can be found here.