Ranger Review—Matador NanoDry Shower Towel & Nature’s Coffee Kettle

Campground Review

Loon Lake is a large reservoir in El Dorado county located in the Crystal basin. Boasting a large 52 site campground, Loon Lake is a great option for large groups, horses and boating. While the campground is large, it was quiet and peaceful-you’d never guess it was as large as it is!

Late July had the ground pretty dusty so be prepared for that but overall great campsites with decent fire rings. The picnic tables are a little worse for wear, so bring a table cloth. Water faucets for drinking/cooking water are plentiful and the water is cold!! The pit toilet bathrooms have definitely seen better days, so practice your hover stance and being hand sanitizer. Bear boxes at each site for food and large bear proof trash cans.

Product Review

I spent the hot afternoons out on my SUP and lounging around on the rocks and when it was time to dry off, I grabbed my Matador NanoDry Shower Towel—I opted for the large size and I’m glad I did because when I wasn’t using it as a towel, it made the perfect sarong! The fabric is buttery soft and dries you off like the most plush cotton bath towel would. When I was done with my towel I simply hung it up to from my hammock strap and it was dry within minutes (it was pretty hot with a breeze). This towel packs down so small into a little case that actually allows for the towel to dry if you don’t have time to hang it up. I’m so impressed with this towel, I’m going to take it on my next backpacking trip!

www.matadorup.com. Put Yourself Out There

Nature’s Coffee Kettle

We all know how important that first cup of coffee is in the morning, especially when camping. I was stoked to try out Nature’s Coffee Kettle for a few reasons: ease of brewing, no mess, quick clean up and reusable “kettle.” Sadly, when I went to pour my first bit of hot water into the “kettle” there was a gash in the side of the kettle and my precious coffee spilled out onto the ground. So unfortunately, I can’t speak to the functionality of Nature’s Coffee brewing method, but let me tell you-they make some damn fine coffee. Quickly, I threw the prepackaged coffee filter into my pot of hot water and let it boil away for a good 5 minutes and then let it “steep” for another 10. Great tasting cup of joe! The rest of the coffee pouches I’d received I decided to do a cold brew test on—threw the pouch into a mason jar and filled it with cold water and let it sit at room temp overnight—another great tasting cup of joe! And iced coffee definitely hits the spot when it’s 3pm and you’ve been playing all day! https://www.naturescoffeekettle.com/

Ranger Review—Matador Pocket Blanket

Felt like absolute royalty at this backcountry campsite i the Sawtooth Mountains! Backpackers looking for the money spot, this is your jam. One must be willing to hike 9 miles to get this spot. It it is absolutely worth it, views across Middle Cramer Lake and the waterfall flowing down from upper Cramer lake. Tent sites a plenty, trees galore for hammocking, a fire pit in place and some downed logs to make seats for everyone to kick back and take a load off after the long hike.

Take the shuttle across Redfish Lake for $18 RT per person or it’ll be 11 miles!

Brought along my new Matador Pocket Blanket and let me tell you, I doubt I will ever backpack without it. Such a tiny little package that upped my backpacking game SO much. I set my blanket up right outside my tent and found myself sitting there a ton during my trip. I used it to keep my gear clean (instead of everything sitting in the dirt), for standing on while changing, and I sat there and drank my morning coffee while taking in the beautiful views. When it was time to break camp, I laid out all my gear on the blanket which made repacking my bag so much easier than normal. The Matador pocket blanket has earned a spot in one of my front pockets on my pack so I can easily access it at any time! In fact, this little pocket blanket is going to stay in my truck in the camping “off season” (is there such a thing???) because it is so useful.

www.matadorup.com. Put Yourself Out There

Inlet Campground

If you’re looking to stay away from the crowds of Redfish Lake, grab a spot at Inlet campground! While this isn’t always the easiest—no reservations, first come, first serve—it always ends up being my favorite place to camp in the Stanley area. Sites right on the water with incredible views over the glassy lake, looking up at McGown peak.

Hidden gem in Idaho

Another amazing April camping trip down at City of Rocks. Spent four glorious days hanging out with the old rocks. Head down to the City if you’re looking for some wide open space and solitude, the campground is SO spread out you will never notice if it’s full. City of Rocks is…well rocky, so definitely be prepared to use rocks or other heavy things to help stake out your tents/ezups, which trust me, you’ll want to—the wind and lack of shade make those extra shelters a must! They have water and bathrooms spread throughout the reserve, we were about .25 miles away from the bathroom and .50 from water-no big deal. They have trash and recycling by the bathrooms (which are pit toilets but were clean and stocked while we visited!)

Sleep amongst the pines, not the tourists!

Just a short drive down a forest service dirt road and you'll find yourself at Soldier Meadows---a gem of a campground! Located just 15 minutes from the oh so popular Lake Almanor, Soldier Meadows is a peaceful campground nestled among towering pines and a babbling brook. The campsites are huge, with lots of room to spread out. There is no water at this campsite, but if you bring your filtration system you can get water just steps away from your campsite. One pit toilet is located at the front of the campground. My mom and I camped here for a couple of nights as we were doing so day hikes on the PCT, great base camp. You are only 20 minutes from the town of Chester if you need to run in for a milkshake or more beer, you know the essentials! This is not a fancy campground by any means, but with no camp host there, it all seems a bit more peaceful ;)

Better than Bryce!

Red Canyon can't be beat for it location, a quick 20 minutes away from Bryce but plenty of miles away from all the crowds! Stayed in site 13 for 4 nights and throughly enjoyed all the amenities the campground had to offer. Nice clean restrooms, hot showers (just make sure to bring quarters!), water at almost every campsite and a cement of under the table and fire pit. My friends and I took off hiking from the campground and hiked the buckhorn loop, exploring all the incredible hoodoos in the canyon. This spot is not to be missed!

Hidden gem

If you've ever gone up to Stanley and don't believe in having to reserve a campsite on line (it's against my religion) this is your spot. About 20 minutes away from the "hussle and bustle" of tiny mountain town, Stanley, Blind Creek is situated in the Yankee fork of the Salmon River. If you're looking for amenities, don't come here--there's a out toilet, but that's it, no water or trash service. But with the river running right by camp you can easily filter your own water and there's a large dumpster at the Sunbeam pullout right before turning off the highway. Blind Creek only has 5 spots but I've never not been able to camp there, and at $5 a night you can afford to drive a little further to get into the Sawtooths or make the drive over to Challis. Beat for tent camping, though they do have two good sights you could back a trailer into, just do us all a favor, if you're going to run your generator, camp somewhere else. Keep this place quiet!