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Ranger Review: Rom Pack at Langwood Education Center

Campground Review:

Surrounded by hardwood forests and native prairie, Langwood Education Center, located in rural Wapello, Iowa is the perfect spot for nature retreats, family gatherings, outdoor education classes, and more.

With rates starting as low as $99 per day/$194 per overnight for up to 100 people, Langwood provides a quiet and serene setting for camping, hiking, canoeing, and reconnecting with nature.

There is plenty of space for individual tents, as well as 5 electrical hookups for RVs for $10 per night per RV. An A-frame bunkhouse is also available. The bunkhouse is a split level with a total of 21 single beds on the first and second level. Campers will need to bring their own bedding. While Langwood is open through the winter months, water is shut off, so campers will need to bring their own water supply. Check in time is after 1:00pm and check out time is 11:00am.

Campfire rings and outdoor picnic tables are available. Langwood’s 92 acres houses a lodge with a full kitchen, and ample seating including tables and chairs. There is a separate, modern restroom within short walking distance of the bunkhouse and lodge.

For an additional fee, campers can use the ropes course located by a large pond on the property. Six canoes are also on site for use. There is no additional fee for the canoes, but a waiver must be signed in order to use them.

For the women's outdoor retreat weekend I attended, I chose to bring my tent and camp out rather than utilize the bunk house. The area for tent camping is quite large with a variety of shade trees, and offers a fair amount of privacy.

With hiking trails throughout the property, the woods offer prime area to see migratory birds such as kingfishers, herons, and a multitude of warblers. At night, great horned and barred owls can be heard calling back and forth.

Langwood provides quiet walks through Iowa prairies and clear, star-gazing nights. This spot is perfect for larger gatherings, offering privacy and a quiet space away from the busyness of everyday life.

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This time around I had the opportunity to test out the three-in-one RōM Pack from RōM Outdoors. https://romoutdoors.com/product/rom-pack/

I’m always up for giving a new backpack a try. I was really interested to see how the RoM Pack compared to my other daypacks and backpack. The RoM Pack is unique as it offers a twist on the traditional pack; a three-in-one pack, blanket, rain poncho combo.

I took the RoM pack with me on the recent women’s outdoor retreat at Langwood Education Center. It seemed like the perfect weekend to test out the versatility of this pack. From prairie seed collection, to orienteering, to night hikes, the pack offered something useful throughout the retreat. The pack includes two detachable, smaller saddlebags; great for throwing a water bottle and snacks in for the prairie seed collection hike.

Between sessions, we had the opportunity to wander the grounds and take time to relax. This presented the perfect opportunity to break the pack down and try out the blanket. It was a cool autumn day, and lounging in the sun was a nice reprieve from the busy morning activities.

While it didn’t rain during my stay, I did decide to try on the poncho to see how it fit. It was a little bulky, but would definitely help repel rain. It was easy enough to take off and flip back over to blanket mode.The outer material is meant to resist water, so whether you’re wearing it at as a poncho or using it as a blanket, you’ll stay dry. Another plus is the removable stuff sack located inside the pack. I used it specifically to store my dirty clothes from the first day of the retreat.

The pack itself is made of a durable, water resistant material, and includes two mesh side pockets good for stowing water bottles, and bug spray. While the pack is slightly heavier than my other daypacks, 4.6 lbs, I would consider using it for shorter day hikes, but will get the most use out of it to store and carry clothes and gear on camping and fishing trips. I’m also a shorter individual, so the pack was a little big on me. I was able to adjust the straps enough to get a fairly secure fit.

The RoM Pack also comes with a small booklet with step by step directions on how to put the pack back together after breaking it down. The booklet also includes information on identifying poison ivy, oak, and sumac as well as different ways to build a campfire; a nice addition to the pack itself.

Nice location

nice Campground in the middle of town, close to stores and has nice walking trails. Has a pond to fish as well and across the street from the city park!

First to Review
Super nice owner!

Just looking for a layover spot after a long day of driving. Couldn't figure out where to register so we walked into the bar/restaurant, Bobber's Grill. The owner was at the bar. Was going to charge us $35 because he thought we needed hook ups. Explained we were self sufficient and really just needed a place to park…very willing to pay for a tent site. After confirming we needed nothing else, he said "Well if that's all you want, you can park in my lot here and buy a beer." Deal!! The tent sites were really muddy that day so we were thrilled to have a lot. Place is right on the lake. Lots of boating. Quiet at night. Really a fun place to be.

First to Review
Spacious campsite, well maintained, clean shower houses.

Located on Coralville reservoir, has nice beaches.

Nice County Campground on east shore Lake George

Primitive campsites (non-electric) surrounded by natural area with access to a boat ramp and docks on Lake George, flush toilets, water access, playground, picnic area, and pavilion.

First to Review
Beautiful campground surrounded by trees.

This campground has many beautiful spots to camp. There were also a few playgrounds that my grandkids loved. We were there on a lovely night and had a great campfire. Close to amenities if you forget something.

Nice campground along Mississippi River.

Has clean facilities including showers, restrooms, small camp office with host. Some sites right on river with beach shore for fishing. Near town of Buffalo for any needs. Boat ramp, lots of parking.

Nice access to lake

Nice grassy sites near lake for fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing. Near Iowa Raptor Project that conducts raptor programs and site with walking tour and live raptors, and Macbride State Park as well.

Another good campground along Mississippi river

Great fishing, near Fairport Fish Hatchery, and Wild Cat Den State Park.

Nice campground along Mississippi River

Nice location to spend time fishing, watching sunsets, and paddle. Near Wild Cat Den State Park.

First to Review
Clean park along Mississippi River

Nice campground along Mississippi River with lots of fish to catch. Has playground for younger children, near Wild Cat Den State Park.

Excellent hiking and wildflowers

Small campground with access to great hiking to Devils Punch bowl and more. Excellent spring wildflowers, historical grist mill and schoolhouse. .

Park Terrace- Great county park and campground

Campground office with wood available, snacks, bait. Beach has kayak, paddle-boats, and fishing boat for rent. world class disc golf course, 4 lakes with good fishing, 2 large cabins sleeping 8 each! Greta staff.

Great campground, plenty to do.

Clean facilities with lots to do: beach, fishing, visitor center, fossil gorge, ice cream and bait shops near by, nearby Iowa Raptor Center at Macbride State Rec Area has live raptors to view and staff conducts programs throughout the year.

Good primitive campground

Clean, quieter than other modern campground on other side. Paddling rentals on other side of the lake. Cheap camping in nature including good fishing access.

Ranger Review: OOahh Sport Slide Sandal by OOFOS at West Overlook Campgroun

CAMPGROUND REVIEW - 4 stars

The West Overlook Campground at the Coralville Dam Complex north of Iowa City is run by the Army Corps of Engineers and has 89 sites. We've stayed at many of their campgrounds and have always been pleased with them; trees and grass are always appreciated. My only issue with this campground is that the sites are too visible and usually too close to each other for our liking.

FYI there are other campgrounds at the Dam Complex: https://corpslakes.erdc.dren.mil/visitors/projects.cfm?ID=B503910

Campground Basics

  • See the video of the campground for a view of 5 camping areas within West Overlook. There is a bathroom/shower house near sites 1-33 and a second bathroom/shower house near sites 39-60.

  • Dump station, drinking water, filling station, trash dumpsters and fish cleaning station are on the right just before the campground entrance.

  • Bathrooms are a bit old but fine. We were there mid-week when the campground wasn't busy so the bathrooms were quite clean. It's nice that there's a utility sink outside the bathroom.

  • Sites are all back in/pull in, and most are parallel to each other. Most parking pads are gravel but there are some concrete pads.

  • Each site has a picnic table and fire ring.

  • The price is right at $20 ($10 if you have an NPS Lifetime Senior Pass).

Activities In and Near the Campground

  • Horsehoe pits and 2 playgrounds in the campground

  • Boat launch site within the campground along with parking slots for boats in the camping area

  • Day use area with picnic tables, picnic shelter, volleyball court, beach and playground

  • Boating and fishing

  • Devonian Fossil Gorge and hiking trails near the campground

The lack of privacy and close proximity to other sites would probably prevent us from making this more than a one night stopover in the future. Our camping unit is a teardrop trailer so we spend most of our non-sleeping time outside, and we really don't like being in full view of another site less than 20 feet away. As you can see on a photo of the map, it's parallel parking at the sites. In some cases, they aren't too close to each other, but the tall trees do nothing to shelter you from having to view neighboring sites. It's a pretty area with all the trees and the lake.

PRODUCT REVIEW - 5 stars

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I will receive products to test from time to time. The OOahh Sport Slide Sandal by OOFOS is my first product review. And, yes, they are feeling great on my feet.

OOFOS advertises their products as 'recovery technology for your feet' with emphasis on absorbing shock on your feet, providing arch support, and reducing stress on your feet, knees and back:

https://www.oofos.com/pages/your-feet-earned-this

Here's what I noticed and what's important to me:

- Lightweight: I noticed this immediately when I opened the package and when I put them on.

- Arch Support: OOahh is a good name for the arch support I felt when I slipped them on. Other slides and flip flops I've worn have had a flat footbed.

- Sizing: At first, I thought they might be a bit large. My feet are 9.5 US, and the instructions indicated women should order up a half size while men order down a half size. I ordered a women's size 10. The size is working out well; they didn't feel too large despite my initial impression.

- Just Walking Around: I've tried flip flops, slides and Crocs as my 'hanging around camp' shoes which double as shower shoes. The flat flip flops make my Achilles tendons tight if I wear them too much, and Crocs cut into the tops of my bony feet. Slides fit my feet better, and the addition of arch support along with a cushy sole is great. The tops are not causing any hot spots on the top of my feet. I'm already wearing these other places than the campground.

- Shower Shoes and Safety: These are a 'must have' for me at the campground shower or my preferred Planet Fitness showers on the road because I'm not showering at any of these places in bare feet! This slide has to handle the moisture. Water collects a bit in the footbed due to the curviness, but I just shook it out. Most importantly, I haven't had the sandal slide or stick to any floor; sticking or sliding could be a disaster for a knee.

In addition to the blue slide (Wave) that I chose, the OOahh Sport Slide Sandal is available in many colors for women: https://www.oofos.com/collections/womens-ooahh-sport-slide-sandal

and men: https://www.oofos.com/collections/mens-ooahh-sport-slide-sandal

A note about sizing: The packing slip indicated the slides are a women's 10/men's 8. The OOahh Sport Slide is unisex sizing with a medium width, but be aware that not all OOFOS products are unisex sizing. Kudos to OOFOS for the comprehensive list of FAQs that I found helpful: https://www.oofos.com/pages/common-questions

Average

It’s an average campground. Parts are more like an open field. It’s nice, on a popular lake with a resteraunt near by. The people are friendly and it’s close to town. It’s a great place to just come relax and maybe swim.

Great little campground

Beautiful facilities. Pleasant camp hosts. The only problem is it's first come first serve. Hard to get a site

This is a beautiful Federally maintained campground.

It is best to make a reservation especially on the 3 major summer holidays

Great place

Nice, quiet and affordable. Saw lots of deer and rabbits right outside our door. Shower rooms are very nice.

Primitive Campground

Great shady area to set up a tent or camper. Close to the lake and costs only $9!

Woods

Quiet usually

Find your zen

beautiful park, spacious campsite, $20 for electric hookups. Love this park!!

First to Review
very nice

it has full hookups, tent site swim beach, fishing, canoes,and f, playgrounds also cabins a stone lodge for family get togethers some sites just have electric and water on site and there are some full hookups also a shower house and modern restrooms, fire wood for sale We go at least 3 times a year . So nice and quiet the lake is clean they also have a dump station

Lots of exploring!

My family enjoyed this campground. Even though some of the campground was slightly flooded during our stay, we still had fun!

Great Experience for our first trip!

We had a great stay. Lots of things for the kids to do. Full hookups and nice shower houses and bathrooms! My kids loved exploring and fishing.

First to Review
Great place to stay!

We stayed here when my son had a baseball tournament close. The shower house and bathrooms are new and super nice. There are two playgrounds for the kids to play on, and a pond we were able to put some kayaks in! Only downfall is there is no dumping station. Didn’t stop us though and can’t wait to go back.

Ranger Review: VivoBarefoot Primus Trail SG Womens at Saulsbury Bridge

Campground Review:

Saulsbury Bridge Recreation Area is 675 acres, nestled between rolling fields of corn, dairy farms, native prairie, and the Cedar River. Located in Muscatine County in southeast Iowa, this rec area offers well-maintained campgrounds, hiking trails, fishing, kayaking/canoeing and seasonal hunting.

There are three separate campgrounds. The main campground has electrical hookups, picnic benches, fire rings, modern restroom facilities including showers, a dump station, playground, and firewood for purchase. There are 24 sites, and they run $20 per night.

The primitive campground area sits along Chicken Creek and offers four, tent-only sites, and is just off the main campground. The sites are well spaced and surrounded by large trees. These are walk in sites with parking in the main campground. It’s a short hike in from the parking area, and within walking distance of the restrooms and firewood. Primitive sites are $10 per night.

Across the road from these two campgrounds is the main boat access and fishing dock for Chicken Creek. Only non-motorized boats are allowed here. If you don’t have your own, you can rent kayaks and canoes through the Muscatine County Conservation office. There is also a large shelter, which is reservable along with day use picnic areas, playgrounds, a sand volleyball court, and vault toilets. There’s large, open expanses of grassy fields and oak shade trees; perfect for relaxing on a hot summer day.

The river campground sits right along the Cedar River and allows easy access to fishing along with a boat ramp. This campground is a short hike to the old Saulsbury Bridge and Lodge. The bridge has a small gazebo-like structure and bench which provides a nice view of the river. There are vault toilets in this campground, but the modern restrooms are within walking distance as well. There are 10 sites in this campground and run $17 per night.

All campsites are self-registration and are on a first come, first served basis. There is a campground host on duty in the main campground and the park officer lives on site. Dogs are allowed, but must be on leash in the campgrounds and on trails. However, they are allowed to run in the designated hunting areas. These areas are marked with signs. If you plan to hike during hunting season, it’s a good idea to wear bright colors/blaze orange so you are visible to hunters and not mistaken for a deer or other wildlife.

This park also has prairie/natural habitat restoration areas that, in spring and summer, attract Monarch butterflies, and an abundance of birds including indigo bunting, red headed woodpecker, and goldfinch. In the colder months you can spot bald eagles flying along the river. There are also deer, wild turkey, and pheasants. While there, we walked around the campground areas that were open and over to the day use area along Chicken Creek to roast marshmallows. We hiked the short distance out to the Saulsbury Bridge to watch the Cedar River flow by and caught a beautiful sunset.

The one downfall to this park is the possibility for flooding. When the Cedar River is high, it pushes Chicken Creek out of its banks which can mean potential closure of campgrounds.

A call ahead to the conservation office to check on closures is a good idea. We had hoped to camp at a primitive site, but learned the trail leading into the campground was under water, which also meant the river campground was closed as well. Though there was some water over the road in the main campground, it was minimal and we were able to choose an electrical site. We opted to car camp as we were only staying one night. Only about a third of the campground was filled and we had no one on either side of us which meant for a more quiet camping experience.

This is one of my favorite local areas to hike and camp that’s close to home. It offers a full picture of Iowa’s varied landscapes and outdoor activity opportunities.

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. On this camping trip, I tried out VivoBarefoot Primus Trail SG Womens sneakers. VivoBarefoot’s goal is to provide an environment that allows the feet to remain in their natural state while providing a protective shoe. https://www.vivobarefoot.com/us/womens/off-road/primus-trail-sg-womens?colour=Olive

  1. Anytime I purchase a new pair of shoes, whether for daily use or outdoor recreation, I make sure to break them in as much as possible as I’m prone to blisters. I did wear the Primus around the house a few times and on my daily walks before taking them camping. Though they have a snug fit, they’re not uncomfortable. They also include a pair of removable inserts and extra laces. The laces are adjustable which allowed me to either loosen or tighten the shoe. Bonus; no socks needed. As someone who would opt to wear sandals year round if possible, I liked the fact I didn’t have to put an extra layer on my feet.
  2. The timing couldn’t have been better for testing out these sneakers; Saulsbury was experiencing minor flooding while we were there. Not only do they have rugged soles for gripping in wet and rocky terrain, the mesh material allows for quick drying if they do get wet, and provided easy clean up of mud and other debris.
  3. Honestly, I was really pleased with the fact that many of the women’s shoes came in neutral and earth tone colors (I absolutely checked out other shoe options on their website). While I don’t mind the brighter colors that seem to be the trend for women’s trail runners, I really prefer something a little more low key.
  4. One of the best things about these shoes was the ease of slipping them on and off, say in the middle of the night when nature called.
  5. All in all, I feel this shoe is a good match for the outdoor activities I enjoy; camping, hiking, bicycling, and kayaking. I’m looking forward to seeing how they hold up while hiking in the mountains out West this summer.