Category Archives: Reviews

Our favorite campgrounds in the Western US

Today I’m joining a a group of outdoor bloggers in listing our favorite campgrounds in the US and Canada (be sure to scroll to the bottom to see more lists of great campsites).

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a campground kind of girl, but every now-and-then I’ve found myself in a low key backwoods campground where I actually didn’t mind having a few neighbors and sometimes even a bathroom.  Here, in no particular order, are my favorites (in the West, where I’ve most often found myself pitching a tent).

1)  Kodachrome Basin State Park. Cannonville, Utah.

Kodachrome Basin is just outside of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and just down the road from Bryce Canyon National Park. This campground tends to be relatively quiet (as in not a lot of people). They have toilets, showers and picnic tables and quite a few trails (many of which are good for kids). It’s a small park, but very picturesque and it’s close to all sorts of amazing exploring opportunities.

2)  A Campsite near Lassen Volcanic National Park, California.

I have no clue what this the name of this campground is, but I can tell you that it’s between the Cinder Cone trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park and Highway 44. It’s a little Forest Service campground tucked away and apparently not advertised. It’s such a great little spot with big trees, a little stream running by and just a few miles outside of the park. I posted about this trip here.

3)  Coast Camp. Point Reyes National Seashore, California. (more…)

A Mother’s Day Wishlist… of the material kind

Starting very soon (as in any day now) I’ll join the league of females with their own special day to be appreciated each year:  Mothers.

Growing up, we celebrated Mother’s Day (and in August, my mother’s birthday) with a trip to the desert for some exploring of new roads and mountain tops, but with one slight change.  Mom got to pick where we were going all day long.  At every fork in the road we yielded to her whims.  I don’t know if it is how she wanted to be appreciated, but to us kids it seemed like a pretty big deal.  It seemed like a huge responsibility too… what if she chose wrong?  What if the adventure of a lifetime lay down the right fork, and she chose left?  I wondered if she might have appreciated a new sun hat more than the weight of Fate resting on her decisions.

Looking back I realize we never once regretted my mother’s choices–never once did we go home thinking “Man, that’s the last time we let her decide which way to go!”  And I also recall her enthusiasm about what we saw after each decision (“oooooh, look!  A Short-eared Owl is hiding in that Juniper!”,  “My goodness!  Have you ever seen such a view?” , “Those clouds remind me of a Maxwell Parish painting!”).  Adventure is in the eye of the beholder, and mom showed us how to recognize it, no matter which path you took. (more…)

The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book (and a giveaway!)

KidsOutAdv_CVRMech.inddSo Stacy Tornio sent a copy of her (and Ken Keffer’s) new book to me a few weeks ago.  I’ve been reading through it ever since.  So many ideas (448 to be exact)!  So well organized!  She’s giving away autographed copies of this book, as well as kids CLIF bars (Zbars) through the end of April.  Having read through much of this book, I highly recommend you sign yourself up for the giveaway.


Let me tell you.

These guys get it.  Their book tallies up the essence of outdoor parenting blogs everywhere.  This is from the introduction: “Nature is a destination, but you don’t have to travel anywhere to find it.  Just open the door and step outside.  The tiniest of porches can house a flower container.  A backyard can provide a lifetime of natural experiences.  Nature is everywhere….”  This book is perfect for first time moms, as a really awesome baby shower gift, and for those who wish they did more things outside but aren’t sure how to start. (more…)

Good book alert: Kids First Big Book of Space

Ari (my kindergartener) brought National Geographic’s Little Kids First Big Book of Space home from the library last week. Not sure what I’m more impressed with, his book selecting skills, or the actual book? I’ve read this book a few times now. My kids love it. I love it. We’re buying it.

My boys, especially my oldest, have always had an interest in all things space related; but I find that I have a hard time explaining all things space related.

The universe is so big and amazing and complex that it’s hard to put into 3-5 year old terms. This book takes a bunch of interesting factoids combined with beautiful illustrations and lays it out perfectly.

We learned about all the planets (including dwarf planets), the asteroid belt, comets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, the future of space exploration, etc. I was most excited to learn that we have space craft set to land on a few different planets in the next five years. 

I also learned that I want to take an astronomy class.

This book is well worth the trip to the library, or the book store, or…

National Geographic also makes a few other books in the ‘Little Kids First Book Of’ series. They have one about Animals, Why and Dinosaurs.

I’m also in the process of searching for more space related books for kids. If you know of any, leave a comment.

Is the Chariot Cougar worth the investment?

Claire sent me the following question (via ask outsidemom). I have a lot of thoughts on this, but would also love to hear from other Chariot owners who could offer some insight on her questions.

I’m thinking about buying a Chariot, primarily because I’d love to ski this winter and I’d like to be able to get some cycling in once my son is big enough. I’d love to hear some detailed reviews, tips, experiences from other women who use a Chariot too. I’d love to hear what skiing is like with it – hills, response to snow conditions, reaction of kiddos… And what using a bike trailer is like too – can you hear your kiddo, how does it handle with a road bike, tips for keeping kiddo safe and happy.


A few weeks ago I had a Chaco shoe giveaway on my blog and asked people to enter by telling me: “What is the one outdoor baby/child item you wouldn’t want to live without.” The item that claimed the first prize? The Chariot.

First of all I just have to say that we own the Cougar 2, and own the bike trailer kit, the jogging kit, the infant sling, baby supporter and we made our own skis. We currently have 3 kids ages 6, 3, and 7 months. Here are my thoughts on the Chariot: (more…)

Gifts to encourage your budding scientist

Last year I posted gift ideas for the outdoor family, this year I’m recommending giving the gift of scientific inquiry. So, here are few items we have had (or hope to have) success with:


Don’t tell Ari, but this is actually our big family gift this year. It came in the mail last week, Joe and I tore it open after the kids went to bed just to be sure it was all we hoped it would be. It was. Every day now I think of something I wish we could look at under the microscope. It’s going to be great.

We got an AmScope 10x-60x Stero Microscope. We got a stereo microscope (aka dissecting microscope) so we could look at everything from rocks to plants at a variety of magnifications rather than simply looking at microscope slides of unrecognizable cells (which can also be fun).


Review and GIVEAWAY of kids Chacos

Giveaway is closed, thanks to all who entered. Congratulations to the winner MAURA LANSFORD!

My son has two pairs of Chacos now. The Zanda and the Z/1 EcoTread. I reviewed the Z/1 this summer, and after running around the desert and sloshing through slot canyons I’ve deemed the Z/1 the greatest kid shoe ever. And why shouldn’t they be? Chaco sandalas are the greatest adult shoe ever too, in my opinion.

This time around Chaco has provided me with a pair of Zandas to review, which have been my sons primary footwear since summer (pictured below assisting him on a rope swing).

A few words I would use to describe this shoe: (more…)

Patagonia shoe GIVEAWAY!

Giveaway is closed!

I’m a sucker for all things Patagonia. If I had to choose one clothing brand to be stranded on a desert island with, I’d probably choose Patagonia.

But we’re not talking about their clothes today. We’re talking about Patagonias shoes. I’ve never tried any of their shoes, but they sure have some good looking styles.  And if they’re as awesome as their clothes?  Well… I would willingly be stranded on a desert island with those too.

So, in celebration of Patagonia Advocate Weeks, we’re going to give a pair of shoes away!

What is Patagonia Advocates Week?

It’s an event that starts today. For every pair of Patagonia shoes purchased at from 10/9-10/22, Patagonia will donate $10 to the Conservation Alliance.

What is the Conservation Alliance? 

Their mission is “to engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values.” They direct their funding to community-based campaigns to protect threatened wild habitat, preferably where outdoor enthusiasts recreate.

How can you win some shoes? 

Leave a comment telling us What is your favorite fall outdoor activity?

Winner get’s to choose a pair of Patagonia shoes from Choose from their women’s, men’s or boot collections.

..and I will be completely jealous of the winner.

Good luck! (more…)

Review: The ERGO Performance Carrier for hiking

It’s no secret how much I love my Ergobaby carrier. In fact the post BJORN vs Ergo remains one of our most popular. So when Ergobaby gave me the chance to review their new Performance Carrier along with some assorted ‘accessories’, I was much obliged.

In general the Ergo baby carrier is great for every day wear, walking around the block, cruising around a farmer’s market, or the county fair. But how does it perform once you leave the pavement and start to gain elevation?

Here’s why the Ergo design (any of their carriers, old or new) works great for hiking: (more…)

A lighter weight Chaco! A review of the new Updraft.

There are two kinds of people in this world:  the toe-loopers and the non-toe-loopers.  Those who enjoy (and apparently even become addicted too) the security of a piece of webbing between their big toe and, and those who can’t stand to be violated in such a manner.  Lindsey is a toe-looper.  I am not.  Somehow we are still friends.

Recently, Chaco sent Lindsey a pair of snazzy new Updraft sandals, rigged with vibrant red webbing.  They were a sight to behold.  They also were missing the ever-loved toe loop. Lindsey’s feet couldn’t adjust. She’s more of an Updraft 2 kind of girl. Lucky me.

I’ve been wearing them for two months now–hiking in the Sierras, tubing the Rio Grande, shopping for souvenirs at the Spanish market.  I even danced in them at a Hank III concert, where my husband had to spend most of the evening protecting me and my poor feet from a horrific and spontaneous occurrence that apparently happens at rowdy concerts:  a mosh pit.

I love these sandals.  I love that they felt good on my feet the moment I slipped them on.  I love how adjustable they are.  I love that I can slip them on and be stylishly ready to go at a moment’s notice (yes, I am one of those people who thinks their Chacos go with every outfit).  I love that I don’t have to tighten the straps for them to stay on my feet.  I love that they have such solid arch support and the cushion-y feel.  I have already hiked several miles in a day in these things without ever regretting my choice of foot wear.  And I love that they aren’t shoes. (more…)


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia