Here at Terradrift, we love to head into the great outdoors and spend some time enjoying nature. We love to load up the car, fill up the backpacks, and get out and explore. And while campsite rental and backpacking permits are certainly much cheaper than spending a few nights in a hotel, ensuring you have all necessary gear and equipment to survive the trip can definitely add up. So we recently interviewed Steve Caldwell at Campmor to find out the best way to go about acquiring all the gear you need (and none you don't) in preparation for a camping or backpacking trip on a budget.

Terradrift: Steve, you've been working for Campmor, the recreational equipment retailer, for almost 30 years! What's so great about the company?

Steve: Campmor employees use the gear and clothing they sell. Because of this a shopper has the opportunity to consult with a seller with over 35 years of experience which lends context to the amazing content an outdoor consumer would want to tap into.

Terradrift: Oh, yeah! Real-world experience and advice is so much better than a page full of reviews on Amazon. How much camping/backpacking do you do throughout the year?

Steve: I would say that I probably go camping and/or backpacking about 30 times a year. Living on a property in the Catskills, NY there is always somewhere new to explore.

Terradrift: Sounds amazing! Where have your outdoor adventures taken you and what has been your favorite trip?

Steve:  Since 1974 I have been exploring. In that time I have:
• Climbed all of the high peaks of the Adirondacks. An all-night hike along the Adirondack Range Trail by moonlight with my dog was a very memorable trip. Mountains have another personality by moon light.
• Sea kayaking the Maine Island trail was also an awesome experience. Kayaking up the coast of Maine, island hopping and eating lobster boiled over a single burner stove and harvesting mussels and rose hips as you go.
• Chasing Aoudads over a mesa in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas pan handle. Stalking up as close as I could and running after these sheep until they came to the edge of the mesa and they go right over the edge. Running up to the edge and watching these amazing animals bounce down 700 feet to the bottom of the canyon and up to the mesa across the canyon in 5 minutes.
• Hiking from Lake of the Clouds hut just below Mount Washington to Crawford’s Notch on a clear morning in July. Love a stroll in the sky.

Terradrift: So fun! But let's get right down to it. How can those gearing up save money when buying lots of equipment at once?

Steve: First, what do you have in your closet, clothing wise? There may be a lot of stuff in there that may work for your trip.

Terradrift: Sure. Like synthetic workout gear, wool socks, baseball hats. That kinda stuff. Go on.

Steve: Second, always be careful of the need to have the newest, lightest stuff. The newest, lightest stuff can be less durable and more expensive than things you have already been using for previous trips. If you are gearing up from scratch: For tents get one that has aluminum poles, have good coatings over 800 mm with a full coverage fly. This will leave a lot of choices at a reasonable price with good durability. Sleeping bags: You can spend a lot of money on sleeping bags. Look for the style of sleeping bag you will be comfortable in and determine the carry size and weight. If you keep to these requirements when you look for a bag you can bypass the hype and get the bag you want for the price you want. Campmor will price the gear you need to get the most out of your hard earned dollar.

Marmot Trestles 15˚ Mummy Sleeping Bag

Terradrift: So definitely use the things you already have, but for the stuff you don't, what are some items that you consider absolutely necessary when going camping or backpacking?

Steve: Necessities break down like this:

Where will you sleep to stay dry?
a. Tent
b. Tarp
c. Bivy
d. Shelter

How will you get water to drink?
a. Treat your water with a chemical
b. Filter your water
c. Boil your water

How will you nourish yourself
a. Prepackaged foods
b. Store bought foods
c. Food you put up

How will you navigate?
a. GPS
b. Compass

Will you be warm when you sleep?
a. A good sleeping bag
b. A good sleeping pad
Appropriate clothing for the trip
First Aid
Repair kit

Gregary Wander 50 Internal Frame Backpack

Terradrift: So at least one item from each category. Makes sense. What items do you think beginners can do without?

Steve: People generally over-pack food and clothing. A Camping trip is different than a backpacking trip. Camping trips you can take a lot more luxuries. Survival kits would be an example of a thing that is purchased so as to be prepared, however, a properly packed backpack negates the need for a survival kit, so it becomes redundant. Fixed blade knives are also unneeded. They are heavy and look cool but they do not provide the utility for the weight. A small knife that is very light may not look as fearsome, but is a lot lighter and does the same work. The last would be camp furniture that is very packable. Though there are some well-engineered concepts, generally a foam or air pad will suffice and be lighter and more compact.

Eureka Amari Pass 2 Tent

Terradrift: Multi-functional items are always a plus for money saving and cost cutting! If beginners need a ton of new gear at once, what items should they not skimp on?

Steve: Don’t skimp on your shelter, your sleeping gear, food, water, appropriate clothing, first aid and navigational gear.

Terradrift: Makes sense. Nobody wants to be exposed, freezing, starving, thirsty, naked, bleeding or lost in the wilderness. So what are things in outdoorsy folk’s gear arsenal that need replaced regularly?

Steve: Good question! Trekking poles bend and snap and need replacement. Water filters if used heavily will need replacement. Tents, tarps and packs need patching and repairing. Skill up on doing repairs and familiarize yourself with the proper maintenance of your gear to get the best life out of it.

Terradrift: Good tip for saving some cash: Repair instead of replace. What’s your favorite item in your gear closet?

Steve: The Sawyer Gravity Flow System. I use this to put up the water I will carry through the day. Very light and effective water filter.

Sawyer Gravity Flow System

Terradrift: We got ourselves a Sawyer last summer. Very handy. Is there a tool or piece of equipment in your gear closet that you bought and never use or that wasn't a good use of gear dollars?

Steve: I don’t tend to hold onto things I do not use. However, trekking poles are often necessary and I have broken many a pair. This is annoying. I have made a 6’ Red Oak walking staff. It never breaks and if I have the option I use it instead.

Terradrift: Ooh, classy. What are some general ways people shopping for gear can save?

Merrell Chameleon 5 Mid Ventilator Waterproof Hiking Boot

Steve: Seek functionality and durability over brand names. Also, Campmor has everyday low prices.

Terradrift: What are some of the best deals you’ve found on gear at Campmor?


Compass: (You can navigate with a map for a fraction of a GPS)
Silva Explorer Type 3 Compass

Eureka Amari Pass 2 Tent

Sleeping bag:
Marmot Trestles 15 Degree Mummy Sleeping Bag

Gregory Wander 50 Internal Frame Pack

Merrell Chameleon 5 Mid Ventilator Waterproof Hiking Boot -Men's
Merrell Moab Waterproof Low Hiking Shoes - Women's

Esbit Solid Fuel Stove and Cook set
Century 20,000 BTU Economy 2 Burner Stove

Terradrift: Awesome! Thanks for the tips, Steve. I know Campmor is always the first place we look for good prices on new gear. Now we'll know just what to look for the next time we're in the market!

*Sponsored Post
Austin has more than its fair share of street art. Seriously, everywhere you look there are murals on the sides of buildings and colorful tags on abandoned architecture. And get this: most of it was commissioned and/or completely legal! It's obvious that Austin loves its art scene and with street art at practically every turn that scene is thriving, but there are a few iconic sites in the city that shouldn't be missed. I've listed out some of my faves (and even mapped them out for you) so you're not driving and zigzagging all over creation and trying to find this stuff. So enjoy and check out the most famous street art in Austin!

1. Greetings from Austin. South 1st Street and Annie (Pictured Above)

Maybe the number one tourist photo op in the city, this over sized postcard on the side of a business on South Congress is iconic Austin. Just be aware that on weekends you might have to wait your turn to snap a pic. If you're checking out street art, this should be your first stop. While you're there, take a stroll up and down South Crongress for a peek at plenty of other works of art. Corner of South 1st Street and Annie St.

2. Don't Mess with Texas. 6th Street and SB I-35 Access Road.

Just don't. But do go check it out. Why? 'Cause it's fun, that's why. Near the I-35 on-ramp.

3. Love You so Much. 1300 South Congress.

Simple, but popular, sooo many couples and families snap a pic in front of this one. There's not much to it in the way of art, but sometimes a simple message is all you need.

4. Jeremiah the Innocent (Hi, How are You). 21st and Guadalupe.

This guy is just fun. Everybody loves him. Pay him a visit. Corner of 21st and Guadalupe.

5. Hope Gallery. 1012 Baylor Street.

We use the term "gallery" loosely here. It's really just have the walls of an old, abandoned three-story building downtown that is basically a free for all for artists and taggers near and far. Because it's one of the few places artists can spray legally, the artwork is always changing and the "gallery" will never look the same as the last time you visited. It's popular on the weekends, so be prepared. You might even witness and artist in action!

6. You're my Butter Half. 2000 E Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Isn't that sweet? And cheesy? It's farther removed from Downtown than many of the others, but still worth a visit. Snap a photo of you and your sweetie.

7. Austin, Tx. 3700 Guadalupe.

Located on the side of Planet K Gifts, this is a nice mural with colorful depictions of all Texas has to offer. It's good stuff. Plus you can go inside the gift store and buy yourself some black lights or a phone cover with a marijuana leaf on it and who doesn't need either of those things?

Your favorite spot not on the list? Add it in the comments below!
Have a friend or family member on your gift list that's constantly hopping across the pond and back? Maybe spends a lot of time on airplanes? Is always trying to learn a new language for their next adventure? These folks are hard to buy for, I know. You don't want to get them the latest cheesy gadget or (yet another) neck pillow, so what is a good gift for world travelers? Check out this list for a few creative ideas!

1. A scratch-off world map 

These are amazing. I want one even though I already have a huge world map (and no place to hang it, currently). But if your traveler likes to keep a visual record of where they've been they can simply scratch off a layer of paint (or something) over the country from which they just returned and a colorful new depiction of that place shows up! Or, if you'd rather go the DIY route, get a big 'ol antiquey-looking world map and a box of push pins.

2. Travel journals

If your wanderer tends to notate their ramblings, wrap up a slick travel journal or a whole set of them. I tend to like the smaller ones; they fit in s tightly packed backpack or suitcase better and having one trip chronicled in a notebook instead of many keeps things organized.

3. A good backpack

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if there's one item that every traveler needs (and need not skimp on) it's a quality backpack that will last for years and miles through planes, trains, luggage carousels, taxi rides, hikes across the countryside and day trips to family get-togethers. This one caught our eye because it's a brand we're pretty into (plus it comes in colors that aren't easily misplaced or mistaken for somebody else's pack) and promises to stick around as you hop from continent to continent for a very long time, but any quality pack will do.

4. Photo Books

Or rather, gift certificates for sites that sell photo books like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Mixbook or Mosaic. That way after they've spent all their money abroad they can still come home and have all their memories printed in a classy book.

5. Fun luggage tags

Why would anybody want to taint their luggage with those awful paper name tags the airlines give you at check-in to identify your bags when there are so many unique and exciting tags to chose from. There are tags for snarky travelers (No, this is not your bag), witty travelers (I just love being a broad), millennial travelers (I can LOL in 10 languages) and just about everyone in between (monograms, cute animals, vintage designs, etc.). Pick one that suits the recipient and gift away!

6. A towel

Douglas Adams said it best in his famous "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" when he stated, "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." Of course, that goes for those of us who aren't leaving planet Earth, as well. It has infinite uses and we, for one, never leave home without one.

7. Foreign Coin Jewelry

They might have spent all their foreign currency before the flight home (or maybe they didn't, but what are they really going to do with all that spare change?), but they can always hold the memories close to their heart, quite literally, with a necklace or pendent made out of a coin from the country they visited. Take a peak on to find pieces made out of coins from Greece, Germany, Brazil and everywhere in between. You could do the same with charms.

8. Shadow boxes

Do you know someone who just returned with half a suitcase full of memorabilia from their trip? Are they armed with ticket stubs, candy wrappers, programs, maps, and trinkets? If you're a do-it-yourselfer, pick up a shadow box, steal their stash, and organize it all in a creative display for them to hang on a wall or prop on a shelf. That way they'll be able to wax nostalgic about their excursion for years to come.

9. Map watch

Love. Love, love, love. And we're sure you will, too. If coin jewelry is a tad to feminine for the traveler you know, how about a watch instead? You should never be without one when traveling and this ones proves just how worldly you are. I can't think of anything that would make this watch cooler.

10. Language learning tools

If someone you know is in the beginning stages of planning for a trip to a country that doesn't speak English, consider the gift of language. Tools like Rosetta Stone, phrase books or audio learning tools could really come in handy when they're trying to find chopsticks in a market in China. Besides, the ability to speak another language far transcends the purposefulness of a single excursion outside the borders of the US.

Happy gifting!

Christmas is a magical time of year. With the lights, trees, gift giving, carolers (well, there aren't so many of those anymore, but they're still out there), and holiday cheer, what's not to love about December? Ok, Ok, there's plenty not to love about December (three inches of ice on your windshield, salt caked on your boots, rising credit card bills...), but we try to ignore all that until at least January 2nd. Most of us are even willing to ignore the irritating eccentricities of our families for a few extra hours just because there are Christmas cookies stacked in inordinately profound piles all over the kitchen. And there's nothing wrong with that. A little extra goodwill toward men (including interrogative mothers, annoying second cousins and overbearing in-laws) is something we could all use at any time of year.

But have you ever stopped to think about where all those traditions came from or how the rest of the world celebrates the holiday? Check out some of the interesting origins of some popular (and not so popular) holiday traditions.


Photo by Christbaumschmuck | CC BY-SA 3.0
First of all, you can thank the Germans for gingerbread houses, nutcrackers (yes, those creepy wooden dolls that your weird Aunt Wilma collects) and the holiday centerpiece, the Christmas tree. These guys did all that first. But maybe the most interesting Christmas tradition to come out of Germany involves a glass pickle. Yes, you read that right. A glass pickle ornament is hung by mom or dad somewhere on the tree after the kids go to bed. On Christmas morning the first one to find it gets to open the first present (and as we all know, this opportunity is prized above all else on Christmas morning) and maybe a special treat, too. Strange, but you better believe this is happening at my house this year.


Photo by Jordiferrer | CC BY-SA 3.0
Religion is the basis for Christmas celebrations in Spain more than many other countries. In fact, you're likely to see prominently displayed nativities just about everywhere. However, we do have Italy to thank for the origin of 3-D nativity scenes, not Spain. And yeah, you've seen a nativity, but I bet you haven't seen one with Catalan's Caganer. Maybe it's sacrilegious, maybe it's just a fun gag, but in a lot of nativity scenes in this region you're likely to find a small gnome-like figure with his pants down (um, defecating) hidden somewhere around the manger. It must be a Spanish thing because some families also have a log that children "feed" and then hope will, um, pass candy and presents instead. Don't ask. I don't know.


Photo by Sandstein | CC BY-SA 3.0
If you ask any child who lives in Finland where Santa lives, they will gladly tell you it's right here on Mount Korvatunturi. Where else would he live with all those reindeer roaming around the country? But one tradition that I personally think we should start in the US is that of the Christmas Eve rice pudding breakfast and afternoon visit to the sauna. Delicious and refreshing!


Christmas, much like just about every other celebration in the country is yet another excuse to shower children with candy. Literally. Any excuse to break out the piƱata, right? But really, who doesn't love beating a paper donkey until it's guts break open and scatter candy and cash? But really, this sounds like a great Christmas tradition to implement. Also, Poinsettias originated in Mexico before being brought to the US and made pretty much the official flower of Christmas.


"A Pot of Wassail" by Jeremy Tarling | CC BY-SA 2.0
Strange food is at the heart of many English Christmas traditions. Plum pudding (which has no plums in it, btw), mince pies and wassail are a few, and often enjoyed at tea time (except the wassail...that's a beverage that stands alone). Of course, you can also wassail as a verb, which is also a tradition that started in England. That's caroling, for those of you not well-versed in olde English. We can also thank the English for the first Christmas cards. Mistletoe also became popular in Victorian England, and while I love hanging the stuff in doorways around the holidays, I'm not sure how its place as a holiday staple got cemented since it's basically a plant parasite that latches onto trees and sucks the nutrient right out of the bark.


Photo by ABPend | CC BY-SA 2.5
The French know how to do dessert and Christmas is no exception. While the tradition of the yule log that families used to burn from Christmas Eve to New Year's day has pretty much gone out of style, a cake that looks just like it is still in vogue (and way more delicious). The kids also forgo hanging stockings and instead leave their shoes to be filled with treats and such.


So we're used to hanging glass bulbs, sparkly reindeer and multicolored lights on our Christmas trees, but in the Ukraine you'll also see decorative spiders and spider webs hanging from the branches. It stems from a classic Ukrainian legend, but who really needs an excuse to keep the Halloween decorations pumping?

Oh, there are definitely more, but these are our favorite. Know of some great ones we missed? Add them in the comments below!

Yeah, you can buy somebody another helmet or safety lights for their bicycle, but why not step outside the box and give them something really unique. Here's a list of the things we love as cyclists!

1. Bike tube jewelry

I realize this is shameful self promotion since this link is to my personal Etsy shop, but I can live with that. What cyclist, man or woman, wouldn't want a bracelet or pair of earrings make out of recycled bike tube? It's awesome, right? Plus it allows them to display their love of two-wheeled travel everywhere they go (even if it isn't on a bike).

2. Indoor Bike Rack

If you know a cyclist who lives in an apartment (or even a house with no garage) where it is difficult to store their ride, offer them a space saving and attractive way to stash their gear: an indoor bike rack for hanging their cycle on the wall. There are some for vertical and horizontal hanging, made of all different materials at all different price points and, heck, you could even make one yourself out of some steel pipe and a few screws, but we like this one because it offers and andy shelf for storing accessories and it folds up when not in use.

3. The Bike Owner's Handbook

Give the gift of DIY repair this year. Things go wrong with bikes as much as things go wrong with cars, but with bikes, those things are much easier to fix. Don't let your cyclist overpay when they need their chain replaced or new brake lines installed. They can do it themselves with a complete guide to everything from cleaning their bike to replacing a tube and it's small enough to take with them in their paniers. Want more? Pair it with a care kit and multi-tool from your local bike shop.

4. Solar Charger

If you know a cyclist who prefers long distance routes, hook them up with a solar charger so they never loose juice in their favorite devices. Just clip it onto the handlebars or a bag and it'll charge their phone, MP3 player, or any small device with a battery. Then they'll have no excuse to check in when they stop for lunch.

5. Fun Socks

Socks don't just come in boring ol' white and black anymore. If your athlete isn't afraid of a little color around their ankles, buy them some fun moisture wicking socks that are pretty much guaranteed to attract attention. Monster, unicorn or sriracha socks anyone?

6. Bicycle Computer

For those who don't already have one, a cycling computer that mounts to your handlebars and measures things like speed, cadence and distance, a bike computer is a must have. Not only is it helpful for those training for races or long-distance rides, it's also super fun to keep track of stats and compete with yourself every time you straddle the saddle.

7. Cell Phone Mount

Need directions? Want to keep an eye on the time? Gotta have music for the ride? A waterproof cell phone mount offers a visible place to stash your phone while you're getting where you need to go.

8. Unique Bike Bags

Stylish, casual cyclists might enjoy a twist on the traditional bike bag. Though the price tag is higher than most other gifts on this list, those with an appreciation for the quality and style of Brooks products will be duly impressed by your taste in gifts. Made out of leather, this bike bag slides over the saddle and has a little pocket on the bottom to store small necessities. When the rider dismounts at their destination, they can just slide the cover off, throw it over their shoulder, and take their phone, keys, etc. along.

9. Gear Clock

There are plenty of cycling gifts for the home, but I'm partial to clocks. How can a cyclist not want a clock made out of bike gears hanging on the wall in their living room or office?

10. A Better Water Bottle Holder

Sure a regular ol' water bottle holder works fine, but who wouldn't want one as cool as this? It's a bird for crying out loud! Seriously, this better be in my stocking this year.

Bonus: All-Natural Hydration Mix. I'm all about nice, round numbers, so instead of 11 we'll just call this one a bonus. We've all had re-hydration and recovery drinks that taste like crap. Plus they have all those unpronounceable ingredients. Instead, try this one with real sugar and natural, normal ingredients. Besides, I don't know where else you're going to get apple-cider flavored mix that you can drink hot after cool weather workouts. Yum.

Happy gifting!

People who are constantly on the move can be tough to buy for. I know because my mother tells me so every birthday and Christmas. So instead of getting them more stuff they don't need or can't fit in their car, offer a gift that promises to make their travels that much more pleasant.

1. 42 Utility Towel

It's perfect for so many occasions that a traveler might encounter on the road. Because as every Douglas Adams fan knows, when hitchhiking the galaxy you should always know where your towel is.

2. Road Trip USA Books

Maps and apps are great, but sometimes you want to plot your course on paper and browse all the fantastic sites you'll come across along the way all in one place. These road trip books from Moon are just the thing and with colorful photos and descriptions, you just can't go wrong.

3. Atlas

GPS technology has come a long way and most wanderers wouldn't head out the door without one, but there's just nothing that can replace a good ol' road atlas. We like this one with the spiral binding so you can easily leave it open to the map you want and stash it in the door or glove box when you don't need it.

4. Travelin' USA Towel

Yeah, I know, another towel. But this one is so cool! It's so very utilitarian (important when deciding what to make room for in the back seat) and creative, too! It comes with only the outline of the US which the recipients can then personalize by doodling, coloring in, painting, etc. to show off all the states they've visited. See, I told you it was cool.


Audio books are a must have for those really logging the miles from the drivers seat. There are so many titles available they are sure to find one they'll love if you include a subscription in their stocking.

6. National Parks Pass

If you know someone who can't get enough of the beauty of nature, nab them an annual pass to the National Parks. For $80 ($10 for seniors) they can get in free to any and all of them for a whole year! (For perspective it costs about $25 to get into one.) Yellowstone, here we come!