Daniel B.
Boulder, CO
Joined July 2016
I like to camp, ski, backcountry, and road trip as much as I can. Usually it's w my dog, Sirius Black. Check out SiriusCamper.com for more
Ranger Review: Sun Sleeves from Eclipse at Walking Stick Adventure Farm

Campground Review

This place has a lot to offer. It’s great for solo and couples looking for some relaxation, and families looking for a fun excursion. The area of land you have with this booking is so impressive, and very private. I was able to have a fantastic time. I arrived and was welcomed by a lovely couple eager to show me around and how their tipi set up worked. You could sleep 4 to 6 people inside no problem. I loved the outhouse. I know that’s weird to say, but it was clean, and had this really cool hot water shower set up with some sinks and a curtain. I dunno– I just loved the feeling of showering comfortably, but still being outside and having running water on demand. This place’s intention is to have all the camping necessities on site, so all you have to do is show up with a sleeping bag and not much else, focus on your vacation, and take advantage of the amenities. I definitely felt like it was“easy” to have a good time here. There is potable water and an electric hook up. There was also a few storage bins loaded with pots and pans, dishware, and everything else you could need to make a really nice meal over a campfire or with your stove. There was also a BBQ loaded with charcoal and roasting sticks for hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire pit. Loads of wood for you to use as well. A big sell for me was how there were a few different boats to take out on the lake they have. I kayaked, and there were 2 of those to go along with a row boat and a canoe. There are life jackets provided. You can feed the fish in there, or use the lures and rods provided to catch-and-release the underwater critters. At night, enjoy the light show of fireflies and stoke the fire inside your tipi or out by the waterfront, and think/talk about when you’ll come back for your next visit.

Product Review

As part of the Dyrt Ranger program I am given camping gear to test from time to time, and today I was reviewing the Sun Sleeves from Eclipse Sun Products

Great product! I immediately ordered a second pair in a different color. There are just so many times when you want to protect yourself from the sun but don’t want to apply sunscreen or wear clothing that makes you hot. These are UPF 50+ sleeves that allow you to cover your hands and arms while leaving your fingers free, and the material is very lightweight and breathable. A lot of people kept asking me“aren’t you hot?” but I was comfy even with temps in the 90s. 

I’ve used these for the last three weeks on the golf course, on my bike, while boating, playing disc golf, walking my dog, for softball games, and really just about every activity when the sun is out– including beer festival drinking! The second pair I bought just lives in my car now, because it’s easily the best solve for road trips when the sun comes out during your travels. No more greasy sunscreened steering wheels!

They are super easy to put on, come in different sizes and colors, and are machine washable. The material is very thin and flexible, so when you roll the hand covers out of the way, it doesn’t create this elastic pressure point. Super happy with these sleeves and really excited to be supporting a local company from Boulder, CO.

Convenience off of highway

This is a very convenient place to stop while road tripping east west across Colorado off of the I-76 Highway. Looks a lot like most of the campsites are for RVs and most of those places are occupied during the summer. There wasn't much available in terms of tent sites, nor does this place really cater to the tent camper. Tent sites I did see were not very level were very small. They did have a picnic table and maybe a barbecue pit but they were pretty unkempt and no fire pits at sites I saw. It is pretty great that they have a pool and hot tub on site, but it has not been maintained and was closed for what looks like a while because I saw a lit of debris build up in the hot tub. Their bathrooms are open and available, and are an upgrade from a porta potty, but they are nothing special. There is a dump station with non-potable water available and also sites that were full electric hookups. Even though I tend to sleep in my roof top camper, I usually can book tent sites with that arrangement. This place was very cheap and allowed me to do so, but next time I need to road trip I'll look for a site with a few more working and available accommodations like a fire pit.

Ranger Review: Liquid IV at Chatfield State Park

Campground Review

This is a really big campground near Denver that is a fun excursion spot for city dwellers looking for a weekend camping trip not far from home. It’s also got boat loads of reservoir lake access to load up your boat for some water sports or fishing trips. There’s even a small beach to help you catch some rays and stay cool. The place is so large that it has a welcome center-type building that has info on more of the activities to be found around the area and in the campgrounds. There’s many bathrooms and showers, and all the ones I used were clean. There’s also some bathrooms that have laundry facilities. Quarter operated laundry and showers. I also notice ADA access sites and boat ramps. I stayed at a campsite with a group of 3 others at a tent site. We had a nice clean fire pit and plenty of space to spread out our tents. The plots are well spaced and although we were next to another group, neither felt like we were too close to each other. Don’t expect to gather much firewood so bring your own, but there’s pine needles around for kindling. I also remember seeing a variety of different birds and some bunnies, and when I awoke there were some dusty footprints on my car hood, so something was looking for scraps. There’s plenty of trash bins around, so it’s easy to leave no trace here. On a clear night, I imagine the star gazing would be pretty decent, and it’s great having some mountains and a lake as your background. Be aware you’re in a state park and there’s some fees for parking/day without the state pass, so bring petty cash.

Product Review

As part of the Dyrt Ranger program I am given camping gear to test from time to time, and during the Denver-based Cotopaxi Questival 24 hr scavenger hunt race, I was trying out Liquid I.V.’s multipack or drink mixes that are aimed to help you reenergize and replenish lost nutrients after bouts of high activity. 

Video review below

These drink mixes were such an X factor for me and I have switched to these as my go-to hydration solution over tabs and other powders. These flavors taste great, dissolve quickly in water, and most importantly work! When I was racing around with my team of Dyrt Rangers against the clock, I had to remind myself to keep snacking and drinking fluids to keep my energy up. I was driving the team around too, so I had every reason to be alert. I’d just rip open a tube of these things and add it to my water, shake up the bottle and wait a few seconds, and then start chugging the stuff down. It’s not like there’s this instant change like you are suddenly transformed into The Hulk, bursting with energy or anything like that, but you’re enjoying the taste and getting the right balance of electrolytes and sugar(and good sugars) to get you back to feeling better and rehydrated. I’m not an expert on the science part of their formula, but I can tell you it’s nice to have found an energy drink powder that’s got better ingredients, works effectively, and tastes great. They included one sampler in the mix pack that is their new lavender formula that is supposed to have the opposite effect: helping you sleep or wind down. I loved the flavor of that one too.

Ranger Review: GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station at Glen Isle Resort

Campground Review

Glen Isle has been a special place for friends and family for years, and it will be for you too. This place is one of my all time most favorite places to have gone camping because of the beautiful location, lovely owners, incredible history, and pleasant atmosphere. You can rent cabins that sleep a variety of different size groups and tent campers have the option of staying near the roaring river, or up the road to a set of sites a few hundred feet above that overlooks a valley and the property. What makes this place so special is the sense of community you get when you stay here. There is a main lodge where you can stock up on firewood(or they can bring it to you), get ice cream sandwiches, hang out by a roaring fire, and soak in the historical, eclectic, incredibly unique– and old– building. Built over around 1902, it also has rooms to stay in. They are decorated to be periodic and it had an eery sense of“grandma’s house” familiarity for me. The place is just so wild with history and unique stories, which the hosts are happy to tell you about when you get the chance to take a tour of the place! Most of the lodge and the surrounding cabins are going through a restoration period to have them modernized with toilets and bathrooms. There are a few buildings that have some washrooms to use but plan on using port-o-poties(they’re well maintained). In one of the buildings they hold a social thing every night from line dancing to BINGO and board game nights. It’s all“like I remember as a kid” as your host and owner Mary Ruth will tell you. Her husband Greg is also a real nice guy to talk with. For a great story, ask him about his restored Ford tractor. There are also nearby attractions and rec activities. Up the road there is a trail head for a hike, and there’s a lot of ample fishing opp nearby. There’s also a winery in the town, and a Coney Island style hot dog stand to visit if making your own over an open fire just isn’t your thing. I will absolutely be camping here again and look forward to the progress Greg and Mary Ruth have made in restoring the place. Bring your own water in or know how to collect it from the river and purify it. Bugs weren’t bad and plenty of trees around to hang a hammock.

Product Review

As a Dyrt Ranger I am given product to test and review from time to time, and I have been using the GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station. It’s become a great car camping accessory, especially when you are camping with a group. I’m usually tent camping, and most sites I stay have a picnic table, which becomes a‘home base’ of sorts for a site. You eat meals there a lot too. It’s what I use for my meal prep, but it’s now nice be able to cook away from where I eat. Plus, it’s more hygienic. 

I really liked the aluminum counter top because it wont melt when the stove unit you have sitting on it heats up, and it offers a place for you to rest a hot pot. I made breakfast burritos with sausage one morning, and chicken and beef fajitas another. Having four fold-out tray areas was the perfect amount of space to keep me organized and food separated. The indents on those trays to hold condiments and drinks was a nice touch. I think they could be bigger but then it would mean less counter space, so it’s a decent compromise there. Having hooks to hang garbage bags and utensils was nice too. It really felt like I had everything I needed to prep, cook, and serve meals all within arm’s reach. 

It was also super simple to unfold and pack away, and have found the surfaces to be really easy to clean from food debris when I get home. I love a product that is well thought out to save space, and it’s very easy for me to put this in my car in the backseat or in the trunk, because it has a real thin profile. It’s a little heavy at 19lbs, but it is easy to carry. I like the weight because when I set it up it feels solid and sturdy. It supported all my cooking stuff and when I was leaned over it using a cutting board. My goal now is to find a cooler the same size as the basket area so I can keep all my cold foods within arm’s reach. Great all-in-one solution!

Ranger Review: Morsel Spork XL at CanyonSide Campground

Campground Review

This campground is located in the Poudre Canyon area of Colorado. This is a private, 420-friendly campground. While many will be drawn to that allure, there is a lot of other features this campground offers that makes it a lovely place to stay. There’s communal fire pits, a jungle gym for kids, and hiking trails into and up the Poudre Canyon. It’s also a good place to bunk if you like to fish, with access into the rivers just across the road and so many other spots just a short drive away. Across the road is a general store for any last-minute camping supplies, munchies, booze, and ice. There’s also the Poudre Canyon Grille – a tiny, well-kept trailer serving up burgers, fries, and other fast food sandwiches. Near the office, there’s a large covered patio that has a cell and WiFi booster and in the summertime is a lounge area with a TV. There are two areas that have a bathroom with shower – both single use. When there are nearby music festivals, Canyonside has been known to shuttle festival goers to and from areas of greater access to help you enjoy the show. Speaking of shows, there are sometimes laser light shows where the hosts reflect their displays off the rocky canyon walls, and up the canyon there is also a small ampitheatre.

To learn more about what may be going on near the time of your stay, just call the campground. Which is also what I suggest you do before you book, especially if you’re interested in renting one of their really cool themed cabins (there’s a few, are different sizes, and each have a unique décor theme and were all incredibly clean). There are a few factors like the day of the week, amount of people, and amount of dogs you have that will affect your nightly rate. Ask about the dog policy when you call too, as not all sites allow for pets – like the tent sites – and there is a pet waiver that should be read.

One thing I noticed that was neat for tent dwellers was that one area of the tent sites (there are two sent site locations on either side of the park) had a hammock or swing chair and access to water to do dishes (there is also communal dishware) in addition to your typical flat plot, fire pit, and picnic table. There is also poured concrete sites for RVs with electric and water hookups, but I don’t remember seeing a dump station.

Not sure you want to go all the way in on a cabin but don’t want a tent site and you don’t own an RV? That’s OK as there’s also a pop up trailer on site that can be rented as a “glamping” option. It was a pretty neat little place, but due to the size and chance of trapping pet dander, dogs aren’t allowed in there either.

The hosts are very accommodating and want to help you enjoy your stay. They are approachable and can point you to resources to help you make your stay a 420-featured one, if that’s your thing. I understand they’re looking to add more tent sites and shaded areas and continue to tweak their internet to help it cover more of the grounds. I look forward to returning to see how the place evolves. I do like that there’s so many ways the hosts are there to accommodate you, and one thing that I would love to hear about is that they’ve added drinkable water access. Water is there for you but bring your own drinking water on site.

I want to give this place a 5 out of 5 because of how nice the hosts are, how well kept the grounds are, how many camping options there are, and how many activity options you have, but it gets a 4 out of 5 from me because of the water access, pet restrictions, and add-on fees (pet, extra guest), plus possible fines for any ‘dog infractions’. If you plan your trip ahead, you will have a great time here and really enjoy the atmosphere. 

Product Review

As part of the Dyrt Ranger program I am given camping gear to test from time to time, and today I was reviewing a new kind of spork, the Morsel Spork XL. This company makes 3 kinds: The regular sized spork, then the XL, and a spoon XL. I have the morsel XL spork. No better place to review a munchie-curing tool like a 420-friendly campground! I’ve used a lot of sporks over time, and there were three things about this one that I really liked. 

  • it is long. At first I was like, “Why do I want a spork this big?” until I started using it with my rehydrated meals. I eat those right out of the bag and when you get near the bottom, with other sporks being shorter your hand starts picking up the juices/sauces from the dish when you start to really dig deep into the bag. This spork kept the pasta sauce on the food and away from my hands. 
  • It had a flat edge end on the spoon side. I’ve seen this feature before and it’s an important one because it helps you dig down into the bottom of those bag meals better than a rounded spoon. May not seem like a big deal, but when you’re backpacking and those foods are your fuel, every morsel (see what I did there?) of food counts and a utensil that’s doing a better job than another is the one I’ll want to pack. 
  • The rubberized outer coating. This creates a spatula-like effect and – again – helps with getting the most food on your spork, but also now has an argument as to why it could be used when cooking. I wouldn’t want a plastic spork stirring my eggs in case that thing melts into my food, but I’ve been using this morsel one on the stove top to mix simple meals and it does the job better than my JetBoil folding spatula because its rubberized and not as flimsy. 

These sporks are nowhere near the lightest sporks on the market, but their added weight gives them more durability. They aren’t indestructible, but they won’t snap when they get shoved in your pack either. It is technically also a knife because of the ribbed edges of the fork, but I didn’t have a lot of success cutting with this. I love how it’s dishwasher safe and BPA free! Their versatility for camping makes them a better all-around solution for satisfying your hunger than what you’re using now. 4.75/5 because of the whole knife thing not really working super great.

Ranger Review: Body Glove 3T Hero Water Shoe & PFD at Area One Campground

Campground Review

This campground isn't too far from I-80 and was a great spot to stop during a hot summer day during a road trip. While Nebraska can't do much about the 90+ temps, they sure do make their campgrounds fun to be around when there's water involved.

This place is located on Branched Oak Lake, which has some beachfront. The lake is plenty big for any boat, and what people like to do is reserve spots by the water, drive around to a nearby boat loading area, then drive their boat back to the campsite and anchor it just off shore.

There were a lot of people swimming, paddle boarding, and lazying in the water. There are picnic and day use areas. This place was also ADA friendly, equipped with coin operated showers (has change machines for $1 and $5 bills). There were hike in camp spots, electrical sites, RV sites, and LOTS of them. No matter the type of site you had, you were packed close together.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get product to test from time to time, and over the last few weeks I have been testing out the Body Glove 3T Hero Water Shoe and PFD.

  • You can watch a video review below

These water shoes have been an excellent addition to my water activities. I have been paddle boarding with them, canoeing, wading in branchy, heavy sand waters while I do work on a dock, and hiking on forest paths during portages. No matter the conditions, my feet are wet but comfortable, and feeling secure both with the fit and it’s grippy bottom. It has a comfortable inner material, vents on the side of the shoe to let loads of water out and keep your feet breathing, and a slip-in fit with some elastic.

The name 3T designates the shoe has a 3-Toe system. This does take some getting used to, and can take a little longer to get into them over a typical slip in shoe. It took me about three times wearing them to feel more used to the fit and comfort.

The grip on the bottom is great. Very durable and has a lot of flexion. This makes this shoe more like a well designed water sneaker. So, leave the other pair of shoes for the terrain between the car and the water at home! I have been treading over gravel, concrete, forest, and rocky hillsides and I don’t see much treadwear.

The PFD is hard to say much about other than it works as designed. I got the M-L and it was a little snug for me, so I would order a size up from that if you’re over 170 lbs. It is very easy to get in and out of with the easy latch buckles and the thick, well stitched zipper. I have a maniac of a step dad when he pilots the motorboat when we go tubing, so it’s only a matter of time before we are thrown off. This kept me alive during the 25mph launch off the wake into the deep.

Ranger Review: ICEMULE Pro XL Backpack Cooler at Eden Springs Park Camp

Campground Review

This campground is very unique. Whether it is the late 1800s, early 1900s buildings on site, or the rumor that this place is haunted, you’re going to have some kind of fun. You can walk around the campground and check out the restoration on these early buildings (and a flower bed shaped like a battle ship), take a train ride with the kids around part of the grounds, and hang out in a large beer garden area and get mesmerized by a fountain.

This place can accommodate a lot of people and a lot of different options. The RV sites are furthest from the amenities, but also the most shaded. There are smaller “amish cabins” for rent that have A/C, tent sites with electrical hook ups, and larger full-scale cabins that look to sleep 6+ comfortably. It’s a place close to the I-94 interstate, so it’s also convenient for road trippers. It was hard, but I could faintly hear the highway. Or maybe that was the ghosts!

There is play equipment and toys for kids, and this place is very well maintained. The landscapers and restoration artists are doing good work. The bathrooms were clean, and showers were hot. I liked that there was a separate area for dish washing – and that it was even provided!

They also have WiFi, but I wasn’t surprised it was pretty spotty. I had better cell coverage in my tent spot. I imagine by the office (or wherever the router is, maybe closer to the full timers in their RVs?) it is better. While I loved how the campground had a lot of dog baggie stations to help keep the place poop-free, I was really bummed to learn there was a $5 pet fee with this reservation. The $25 for the tent site seemed pricey enough, and it’s the first time I’ve encountered this fee while camping.

There’s a lot of interesting history here. It was a cult at one time, there used to be a vegan restaurant and an ice cream parlor, and there was a hotel here at one point as well. What I liked about it was you could walk around the campgrounds and learn about it from the signage. 

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time – and today I am testing the ICEMULE Pro XL Backpack Cooler

  • You can check out a video review below.

This is one amazing cooler for all the right reasons. First, and most importantly, it keeps things cold. I had this thing filled with 30 pounds of beer and ice and left it in out on a dock by the water, in the sun, for a day. I put it next to another transport-friendly cooler. There was still so much ice left over in the ICEMULE and the other cooler I used was only water. 36 hours later, there was still ice.

Secondly, it’s a backpack, and it is great at that too. The backpack straps are cushioned and come with a sternum strap for load dispersion – two things that were greatly appreciated when this thing had 30 pounds of beer + ice in it. There is also some padding for against your back that is a breathable mesh, to keep you cooler for longer while you’re lugging (mule-ing?) this thing around.

It has a roll down seal, very much the same as waterproof sacks, and this is very much waterproof. It floats in water, so I had no concerns when I went kayaking with this. I strapped it into the boat, paddled to an island, hiked to a spot with a view, and cracked a few brews, had a sandwich, and watched the day pass by.

I do like that there is some flexible bungee webbing on the outside front so I can stash something like a jacket or a pair of shoes or something. I can lash things to the top where it clips and seals, but I would have appreciated some more pockets. Thing is, this cooler packs away very small for it’s 33L size, and a pocket would – I guess – prevent it from being so travel-friendly. My solution was to pack a smaller waterproof bag inside it and that way I could still transport all my things in one bag. This proved useful when I wanted to keep the sandwiches from getting wet from the ice in the cooler.

It also has an integrated valve that lets air in and out in this layer of the bag nestled between its durable outside protective layer and its inner cooler material. Yes, this definitely helps with the packability I was just mentioning, as you can let a lot of air out to compress it, but it also aids in the cooling effect of your stuff. When you load this up with ice and your whatevers, if you let air in, then seal it, it will keep the air in the bag and that air will help keep the cooler colder for longer while the ice melts off. Not a lot of backpack coolers have a valve system.

This bag is the Pro XL size. 33L is a big bag. They make some other sizes, and other models that come with less or more features (like outside pockets) so as a brand, ICEMULE has you covered. There are a few companies out there doing backpack coolers now, but I haven’t seen a better value out there. These are a great price considering their performance. I love how cold things were staying and how tough the bag held up through the woods. I am definitely bringing ice cream with me the next time I go hiking.

Pros

  • It floats in water
  • Contents stay cold 24-36 hours later
  • Adjustable shoulder and sternum straps help handle heavy loads
  • Built-in side valve for better packing and cooling.

Cons

  • Not much external storage/pocket options, but they have other models online with that feature.
Ranger Review: Matador Base Layer Camera Bag at Oregon Trail GC&C

Campground Review

Also known as Sutherland Reservoir North Shore Recreation Area, I found this place in Nebraska not long after a terrible thunderstorm came rolling in along I-80. The golf gods we're with me on this one, because I didn't even know until I got there that there was even a golf course. The storm was bad, but not bad enough from keeping me playing 9 holes the next day!

This place is surprisingly popular given how basic the amenities are. As a golfer, sure, it's a plus there's a course but this place is also on a huge reservoir lake and has a launch point nearby. Lots of people staying here had some sort of boat or jetski for fishing or recreation. As a tent camper my toilet options were two port-o poties on one end of the grounds (it's not a big campground) or a toilet with a sink attached to the golf course clubhouse. No showers. The staff at the place were very nice and even though they were full, they gave me a spot just on the grass somewhere so I could spend the night. It was cheap - only $10 all-in. You can also buy snacks and refreshments from the clubhouse.

The camp spots were tightly packed in and not a lot of space to roam around that wouldn't be on someone's campsite. Best enjoyed it seemed by big groups.

Ranger Review

As a Dyrt Ranger I am given products to test from time to time. I photograph a lot on my adventures with a DLSR and noticed the Matador Base Layer, and a lightweight, protective case for my camera would be GREAT. I was a big fan of the built-in rain fly as well. Matador makes a few products friendly for wet weather and conditions, and this is no exception.

  • Video Test of the Matador base layer in a rainstorm below

The bag is easy to take on and off your camera, and its 'base layer' fabric is very reminiscent of a base layer jacket. It's well stitched so the insulated padding doesn't clump up in one area and keeps it well placed for protection.

Speaking of protection - yes it is a great bag for weather protection (rain,dust). No, it is not the best for high impact situations. It is a light case, and by default of that, it's protection is going to be limited. I wouldn't use this to wrap my DSLR + lens in if I was going to then put the camera in a larger bag and carrying/transport that around, but I would use it in situations where my camera would be out a lot and the impact risk is low.

Proc/Cons

When you need to use the camera, simply unclip the buckle and pull from the bottom. Very easy, very fast. One issue then is now you have a bag in your hand and you want to use your hands to take a photo. It's a little awkward trying to find a pocket big enough to stuff it. if you clip it back to the camera strap, it is awkward to then try and use your camera. You can clip it to a bag, sure, but what if you're not carrying a bag? I don't always and just hike with my camera and a water bottle.

I have enjoyed using this on day hikes in Colorado in Rocky Mountain National Park on easy trails, but would be worried about this as it swung from my neck/shoulder and then slipped on some trail and as I regain my balance (hopefully), it's swinging from my neck and knocks into some side wall or rock/tree. When you hold it in your hands you can tell it is super well made immediately, but I do wish the material was a bit thicker.

Version 2.0?

In a future iteration, I would love to see a camera sling bag made out of the same materials and buckle + rain fly system. Just a little thicker for more padded protection for higher impacts. Also, an integrated shoulder sling strap. On that strap there could even be a hidden pocket or inlet to clip camera lens covers to or something multi-purpose, like a stash cloth to wipe off lenses. Your NanoDry fabrics are pretty cool, perhaps some integration there would lead people to want to test out other products if they liked the base layer, like the towels or teardrop bags. That all-in one bag would still be lightweight and still have water/dust protection, but could then stay slung over my shoulder, leaving me hands- free for taking shots.

Ranger Review: Matador NanoDry Shower Towel & FlatPak Toiletry Bottle @ SRA

Campground Review

I stayed in this Louisville Rec area a few nights, moving around to three different areas of this HUGE campground are nestled in Nebraska. My plan was to spend a few days taking advantage of the many amenities and activity options this area appeared to have, and I since this is a popular destination option many are considering, I sought to provide a review of the grounds from the perspective of someone who is considering staying in the west, central, or east area of the grounds. This review is for the east area.

General Info on this overall campground

This is a state-funded park, so non-Nebraska plated cars have an additional fee. A HUGE campground with around 250 total sites, with options ranging from walk-in camping tent-only sites to RV areas. There is a 3 decent-size lakes spread evenly across the grounds. Near the central lake ("Lake 2") there is a small shop which has a market where basic kick knacks and firewood are available. This is also where you can rent boats like canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards for hrs, half and daily rates. There is a trail in the woods running parallel to the North Platte River. The path is in a heavily wooded area, so no lakeside views, just a nice, quiet hike with the very occasional hummm of a mosquito. There is a swim area along the beach of Lake 2. There is canoe access at the far west side of the park. In summer, it was common to see people wading across the river as it was neither a fast moving current nor deep. This is a Rec area, so day use is also an option. There are numerous locations for picnics, including Grills, and for fishing in the lakes from some roof-covered docks. Coin-operated showers (takes quarters, change machines take $1 and $5 bills) and full-service, ADA-friendly bathrooms scatter the park as well. There is a play area in the center which has a basic jungle gym. Each site has at least a picnic table and a fire pit. All tent sites are park and walk. If you want to have your car next to your picnic table, you need a padded spot. Each area of the park has these options, as well as electrical, then RV. Most sites are reservable and there are some allocated for first come, first serve. Gates will close at 10pm so make sure your road trip stops before they do. Also, packing earplugs is a must, but it won't completely help you. There is a train that goes very near the grounds - the track basically borders the south side of the campgrounds - and it needs to use its horn while passing through, which happens A LOT.

Central location-specific Info

I personally this this area has the best spots on the grounds. I was loving campsite 11. I had a river-side view to a nice sunset and sat at my picnic table and watched fireworks go off on the other side of the river (4th of July long weekend). These sites are also furthest from the train, which isn't really helping all too much because it's loud anyway, but you're also away from all the noise of the main rec area and central market. Less kids in this area for that reason as well.

Ranger Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I am sometimes given products to test and this time I am testing the FlatPak Toiletry Bottle and the NanoDry Shower Towel (large).

The NanoDry Shower Towel

I have other travel towels, but nothing this size that is this light, this packable, and this quick drying. It's a total keeper. Well, I actually forgot it at a different campground a few days later, but it's something I am happy to pay to replace. I would wake up, have a shower, lay out the towel on the picnic table, and 10 min later it was dry. Speaking of really cool, let me take a sec to talk about the carry case. It's this silicone thing that comes with a carabiner, so I can hook it outside my bag if it's still wet to keep it away from other stuff but also let it air dry a bit.

Overall Positives

  • Towel has a loop near the middle to hang in shower stalls or hang dry
  • Very absorbent fabric. 2.3x it's own weight in water, to be exact. I didn't think the large size (47 x 24 inches, 142 grams) was going to be enough material to dry me after a soak, but it was.
  • NanoDry fabric dries soooo fast.
  • Antimicrobial coating so there's no mildew build up
  • Silicone case clips to anything and keeps it away from your other items in case it's not quite dry

Overall Negatives

  • I forgot it at a campground a few days later

The FlatPak Toiletry Bottle

I decided to get a few of these guys to solve a few pain points. Usually 'travel size' anything is a little pricier compared to the 'economy size' option, so now I just leave bigger bottles of things like shampoo at home and fill up one of these. Secondly, it's a case that's crazy light so you're pretty much taking whatever liquids, gels, and pastes you use with you with as little added weight possible. It's a travel accessory, so it should be TSA approved, and it is.

Overall Positives

  • Snap loop makes it easy to attach these to toiletry and day use bags for outdoor adventures, weekend trips, or a gym session.
  • The screw top opening is easy to remove and wide enough to make it easy to fill
  • There's a place to write a note about the contents of the bag so you don't wind up brushing your teeth with hand lotion.
  • It's waterproof, so go ahead and use it in the shower

Overall Negatives

  • Because of it's compact size and weight design, it's going to be near impossible to clean out completely after use, so get enough for each category of your liquids, gels, and pastes. Sure, one sunscreen vs another is totally reasonable when it comes time for a refill, so all I'm saying is get the 3 pack because you'll like these things and you'll want one for your toothpaste, another for sunscreen, one for shampoo, another for conditioner, maybe you use shower gel, and maybe everyone else you camp with is going to need them now too.
  • I didn't buy enough
  • Only comes in 1 color
Ranger Review: Midland X-Talker T51VP3 Radios at Louisville Lakes SRA

Campground Review

I stayed in this Louisville Rec area a few nights, moving around to three different areas of this HUGE campground are nestled in Nebraska. My plan was to spend a few days taking advantage of the many amenities and activity options this area appeared to have, and I since this is a popular destination option many are considering, I sought to provide a review of the grounds from the perspective of someone who is considering staying in the west, central, or east area of the grounds. This review is for the west area.

General Info on this overall campground

This is a state-funded park, so non-Nebraska plated cars have an additional fee. A HUGE campground with around 250 total sites, with options ranging from walk-in camping tent-only sites to RV areas. There is a 3 decent-size lakes spread evenly across the grounds. Near the central lake ("Lake 2") there is a small shop which has a market where basic kick knacks and firewood are available. This is also where you can rent boats like canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards for hrs, half and daily rates. There is a trail in the woods running parallel to the North Platte River. The path is in a heavily wooded area, so no lakeside views, just a nice, quiet hike with the very occasional hummm of a mosquito. There is a swim area along the beach of Lake 2. There is canoe access at the far west side of the park. In summer, it was common to see people wading across the river as it was neither a fast moving current nor deep. This is a Rec area, so day use is also an option. There are numerous locations for picnics, including Grills, and for fishing in the lakes from some roof-covered docks. Coin-operated showers (takes quarters, change machines take $1 and $5 bills) and full-service, ADA-friendly bathrooms scatter the park as well. There is a play area in the center which has a basic jungle gym. Each site has at least a picnic table and a fire pit. All tent sites are park and walk. If you want to have your car next to your picnic table, you need a padded spot. Each area of the park has these options, as well as electrical, then RV. Most sites are reservable and there are some allocated for first come, first serve. Gates will close at 10pm so make sure your road trip stops before they do. Also, packing earplugs is a must, but it won't completely help you. There is a train that goes very near the grounds - the track basically borders the south side of the campgrounds - and it needs to use its horn while passing through, which happens A LOT.

Central location-specific Info

The harsh part of being located here is if you are looking for any kind of spot that accommodates a flat plot, like sites 206 - 236, you are butted up against the train tracks and that train is LOUD! You will have no chance of a solid night's sleep since the train uses its horn very often. I was in campsite 11 another night, literally as far away from the tracks as possible and wore ear plugs and there was no avoiding it - I was waking up at 5am no matter what. This is the place you want to camp if you are tent camping. The reserve sites or tucked away from a lot of the more family-friendly activities, so you'll get some reprieve from that energy, plus can have some spots that are very close to the N Platte river's edge.

Ranger Review

I was given a pair of the Midland X-TALKER TV1P3 Walkie Talkies to test out from Midland. Since they come with a hands-free option with a compatible accessory, I also got a pair of the AVPH3 Surveillance headsets.

These came in handy (pardon the pun) when I was biking with a friend and skiing. By hooking in the headset to the side of the radio it allowed me to leave the radio in the bag, run a wire and clip a little mic with a talk on/off button to my jacket, then put a little earpiece in around my ear that was out of the way of my helmet. This also protected the radio from debris, as water is easy to collect on electronics when skiing and dust when biking.

  • Watch the video review below

These radios aren't big, but they're packed with a lot of features. I personally love the weather scan capability. It locks into the NOAA weather broadcasts to deliver you a forecast. This is very useful while you are on a backpacking trip or in my case doing some kayaking because it helps me plan my routes and assess risk for my activities. They also charge through micro USB if you don't want to pack the included charging cradle (AC powered), so recharging them on the go is pretty simple since you already pack those cables and a portable USB power bank for other electronics.

The 28 mile range is a bit of a stretch (pardon the pun) but this is up to 28 miles. It worked fine for me over some densely forested lakes 2 miles away and even further over open water. I had these up at my cottage in Northern Ontario with me and I was able to get reception on these when I kayaked from one family friend's cottage from ours 8 miles away. It was getting crackly at that point but there is A LOT of interference over that distance so I was shocked they worked at all.

They have 22 channels and 38 privacy codes, so it's easy to create your own network and stay uninterrupted. I also got these working with another pair of radios I had, so they work with other brands. There are some other features, and the product support on their site is great. hey have a reference guide and a user manual to learn how to operate things like the quiet mode - if so inclined.

Overall Pros

  • Weather Alert channel
  • 28 mile range
  • Clips included
  • Clips included, help with Hands-Free option
  • Long battery life
  • 22 channels & 28 privacy codes. Can work with other radio brands.
  • Silent operation

Overall Cons

  • None really. It has so many features so to avoid getting lost in the technical stuff, I recommend downloading the product spec sheet to get the gist. It covers nearly everything. The real techies may want to check out the user manual.
Ranger Review: Wild Zora Foods at A C Nelson Campground

Campground Review

I stayed in this Louisville Rec area a few nights, moving around to three different areas of this HUGE campground are nestled in Nebraska. My plan was to spend a few days taking advantage of the many amenities and activity options this area appeared to have, and I since this is a popular destination option many are considering, I sought to provide a review of the grounds from the perspective of someone who is considering staying in the west, central, or east area of the grounds. This review is for the central area.

General Info on this overall campground

This is a state-funded park, so non-Nebraska plated cars have an additional fee. A HUGE campground with around 250 total sites, with options ranging from walk-in camping tent-only sites to RV areas. There is a 3 decent-size lakes spread evenly across the grounds. Near the central lake ("Lake 2") there is a small shop which has a market where basic kick knacks and firewood are available. This is also where you can rent boats like canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards for hrs, half and daily rates. There is a trail in the woods running parallel to the North Platte River. The path is in a heavily wooded area, so no lakeside views, just a nice, quiet hike with the very occasional hummm of a mosquito. There is a swim area along the beach of Lake 2. There is canoe access at the far west side of the park. In summer, it was common to see people wading across the river as it was neither a fast moving current nor deep. This is a Rec area, so day use is also an option. There are numerous locations for picnics, including Grills, and for fishing in the lakes from some roof-covered docks. Coin-operated showers (takes quarters, change machines take $1 and $5 bills) and full-service, ADA-friendly bathrooms scatter the park as well. There is a play area in the center which has a basic jungle gym. Each site has at least a picnic table and a fire pit. All tent sites are park and walk. If you want to have your car next to your picnic table, you need a padded spot. Each area of the park has these options, as well as electrical, then RV. Most sites are reservable and there are some allocated for first come, first serve. Gates will close at 10pm so make sure your road trip stops before they do. Also, packing earplugs is a must, but it won't completely help you. There is a train that goes very near the grounds - the track basically borders the south side of the campgrounds - and it needs to use its horn while passing through, which happens A LOT.

Central location-specific Info

I would avoid this area if you are tent camping and look to the east/west grounds. The park managers called tent sites 260-267 "bug alley". If there's any rain this area this area is highly susceptible to pooling, which brings out the bugs! There was a storm the night before I arrived and people were being relocated. This area has closest access to the most amenities in the park. The jungle gym is here, as well as the market, and the biggest lake with the beach and swim area.

Ranger Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I am given product to test from time to time. For the better part of 2 weeks I've been snacking on products from Wild Zora. I bought the meat and veggie bar sample pack and some Paleo-Friendly To-Go Meals.

  • You can watch the video review below.

This company specializes in making healthy, allergen-friendly food for the outdoors. I found their meat bars delicious and so far have loved the Caldera Chicken Curry dinner and Butte Cacao Banana breakfast. Really good food!

The freeze dried meals weren't chalky and the ingredients are so healthy. By being paleo-friendly, they are gluten, grain, milk, soy free and shelf stable, and protein-rich. Most are also nut free. These ingredients will raise the cost up to a price above conventional free-dried meals, but the taste is well worth the upgrade.

I found the veggie bars to be delicious as well. I had some while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and some more while just sitting in my car along a road trip. Either way, it was curbing my hunger, gave me an energy boost, and I wasn't left with any digestive issues. I am lactose intolerant and have a tree nut allergy, and these bars are allergen friendly. They contain no added sugar, hormones, antibiotics or chemical additives. Easily compare to price to the tough, nitrate-rich jerky so I HIGHLY recommend this as a healthier alternative.

Overall Pros:

  • Lots of flavor options
  • Everything tasted really good
  • Great ingredients make this brand a healthy, allergy-friendly food option

Overall Cons:

  • None really. Their packaging and menu are being updated with the freeze dried to-go meals so some of the flavors may get discontinued
Ranger Review: Renogy Multi-Functional Solar Backpack at Horsetooth Resevoir

Campground Review

My friends and I live in Boulder and this spot is a nice retreat about 90 minutes away near Fort Collins and is a good place to enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities.

The campground is quite spacious and offers a lot of staying options. RV, car, cabins, tent – all of those kinds of sites are available. They opened a newly renovated information center about a year ago, and it’s a great place to stop in to plan out your activities in the area and make sure you have any questions answered by park ranger staff. You could very well just show up here to camp without much of a plan and after a visit to the center have more than a few ideas. They have maps.

This area has boat ramps, rock climbing nearby, and even some caves to explore. You could find some bike and hike trails too without much effort. We were there as part of a large group, so we rented three cabins near the water. Each cabin comes with a bunk bed and a double. A basic, summer camp-like mattress for each. They also have combined A/C Heater unit. I didn’t see showers here, but there were primitive toilets with TP. I noticed even the basic tent campsites came with a fire pit and picnic table.

We opted for some hikes near the campsite while some others went climbing.

Ranger Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I am given product to test from time to time. For the last 2 months I've been testing out the Renogy Multi-Functional Solar Backpack. You can watch the video review here.

This is a 20L backpack with a lot of compartments best suited for those needing a daily activity/commuter bag. If you're looking for a true hiking/backpacking pack with solar panels, I recommend checking out Renogy's stand-alone panels.

How does it work?

The solar panel is slightly larger than a regular piece of paper (11.3" x 9.7") and can be configured to face inward when not in use for protection from abrasions. When in use, it provides a USB port to charge from (max output 1.2A and can charge a phone in 2.5 hrs.

Here's the thing: Renogy recommends you use the set up to charge to a power-bank, rather than directly to devices and I completely agree. This is because even in the best light, directly connected to my phone I was only able to maintain my power level, not improve it. I found out the panel is pretty sensitive because in partially cloudy conditions I could hear my phone beep when it would go on/off charge. Sometimes it would beep at me a few times a minute. With a power bank, you can still charge devices but also build up reserve power so at night you can recharge your electronics.

Who should buy this bag?

Anyone who wants a comfortable day pack with lots of storage options and loves the idea you can grab free energy to recharge your devices. I use it for all my media projects as it carries all my cameras, cables, and tripods plus in compartments so they aren't knocking into each other and the weight stays distributed evenly. Just check out the amount of stuff I put in this thing! It has pockets everywhere, and includes an option to slide this through larger luggage's extendable handles, making it a great carry on bag if you need to travel by a plane. You will need a different bag for long expeditions because you need more than a 20L pack for that, plus this bag lacks chest and hip straps.

Verdict?

If you're in the market for a 15-20L day pack and want something that provides power, buy this. Especially if you're outside a lot. The bag is lasting very well, the panel is going strong even after I spilled beer on it (it's waterproof and obviously it was an accident as I would never waste beer), it's comfortable, and I like how versatile I can configure it for all my stuff. In some social or business settings the solar panel isn't the greatest thing to be showing off, so it's great you can hide that away. Last I checked electricity isn't coming from a magic bean field, and I love how I'm able to go greener now by getting energy for my devices from the sun.

Ranger Review: OOFOS OOahh Sport Slide Sandal at Iceberg Lake

Campground Review:

Unbelievable backcountry reward for the experienced hikers. This is about as much as I can handle in a day: 6 miles in, with a 30lb pack, hiking 3,000 ft elevation gain that starts at 9,200 ft. If you can make it, wow are you in for some outstanding sights. This place is my Colorado oasis. You can fish, explore the wildflowers, and even say hi to thru hikers of the Continental Divide Trail. When you're done enjoying the photos, definitely check out this site to ensure you can handle the hike. I went as far as downloading the hike's GPS coordinates so I would have them on my wayfinding watch. You can't mess around with backcountry hikes - if you're going solo like me, make sure to tell friends about your plans.

Alright with that said, I had an unreal time. I saw a guy hike in an inflatable boat so he could do some fly fishing at a nearby lake, and when I got to the campsite there was a guy with a frickin llama. This guy was my hero.

  1. Figure out how to rent a llama
  2. Use a llama to carry your pack
  3. Win at life

The trail is a leg burner, so allow yourself plenty of time for breaks and to get to your site before daylight runs out. If you've got hiking poles, bring em. You also would be best served to do this at a time when it hasn't rained recently, because the trail is mostly rock and hard packed sloped earth, and would be a lot more slippery when wet. You're going to be tempted to make camp when you get to Heart Lake, and if there's spots, by all means grab em because that place is equally serene plus saves you "the final push from hell" which is the last 400 ft up to the first Iceberg Lake (where I stayed for a little more privacy). No matter where you camp, at some point definitely get up to the 12,115' Iceberg Lakes overlook. You will not be disappointed. Pics or it didn't happen? CHECK EM OUT!!!

When I went, there was a fire ban, so check ahead. Obviously you're not going to hike in wood because of the added weight, and so if there's no fire ban you'll be tempted to use the wood around you to make a fire. I just ask you respect the area - there's not much wood around and most of it is living, and using that is a big no-no. A good alternative is a portable stove for cooking meals and a heat lamp powered by the same type of stove gas for warmth if you have run out of pack space for layers.

Ranger Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. For the last two months I've been wearing the OOFOS OOahh Sport Slide Sandals and boy are they comfortable. Watch the video review here. I started wearing them only at times they were mainly advertised and intended: A recovery sandal to wear after exercise (runners love these). I was wearing them after playing hockey, and as my post-hiking footwear. They're fine in showers and are crazy cushiony because of their arch support and foam material. I wear them all the time now, just because I like the amount of impact absorption these puppies can handle, which saves some stress in my knees and back, and that's always good even when you don't have back problems like me. Get the Project Pink edition ones so $10 of your purchase goes towards breast cancer research. After 2 months of solid use logging around 100 miles over every realistic terrain (loose gavel, pavement, indoors, locker room showers, grass, backcountry campsites, etc. etc.) the tread is finally showing signs of wear down. If they get smelly you can machine wash them (still haven't needed to) and the OOfoam has some moisture and bacteria resistant properties to keep the bad smells from sinking in. Get your feet a pair of these people, they're so light and comfortable.

winter hike and overnight for the experienced

Winter season review. Check the weather, then check it again. The only way winter camping appeals to me is if i am skiing or going to a hot spring. This trip did neither. The mission was a 17 mile round trip hike to Conundrum Hot Springs. 2,457' elevation gain to 11,000'. The hike in was great most of the way. The crampons switched to snow shoes a few miles in, we were all by ourselves, and the trail was amazingly scenic. The elevation climbs, but its gradual. Only a few steep sections. I highly recommend having a map or a phone app w the trail and GPS. It was sometimes a bit tricky to pick up the trail, since there was snow on the ground. There's a parking lot before the trail, but it may be inaccessible if there's a lot of snow bc the road in is plowed but the lot isnt. We had to park another .5 mile away. The snow started falling softly by midday, and the temps stayed around 35F until late afternoon. As we approached the dispersed campground area just before the hot spring, the trail simply disappeared. We were only .25 miles from our reward: private hot spring and whisky. Maybe it was because hiking this last uphill part was in knee deep snow (bc we were now off trail). Maybe it was the 7 hrs of having this 45lb pack on, or maybe it was both, but we had to stop, rest, and make camp in the campground area. There was little daylight left at this point. We popped up our tents, insulated like crazy, and settled in for the night while the snow fell around us. Next morning, despite yesterday's ambitions, we abandoned the idea of sitting in hot water and opted to put on our frozen boots and get the hell outta there. It was a much easier hike back…until the open meadows where the snow from the night before had filled in our trail. Or those parts where the snow was blowing in your face. Ah, the ice beard. My buddy is a great person to lead in those situations. Has a few years on me. We made it out, alive, all with the sense of "Ok now i know i can do that and yep i know my limit" and a LOT of trail cred. Bring a shovel to help u make an even ground for your tent. You won't have any trouble finding a spot in winter. Only the crazies do this kinda thing.

Neat place, great rec lake, spots limited

The Gross Resevoir outside Boulder is a great place for people to go for some recreation just outside the city. People commonly drop in a paddleboard or kayak. I sadly don't have either, but I do have hiking boots and the hike from the nearby Forsythe Canyon Trail (moderate difficulty, one tricky section 3/4 of the way) which leaves from the parking lot area. It is a great 1 mile loop that ends at the north west side of the lake. I took a hammock with me and planted myself on one side of the lake's perimeter, overlooking a nice section of the resevoir.

Campsites are best accessed with a 4WD vehicle. There is a schematic map near the entrance to help you with the designated camping plots. This is also your last look at a bathroom - there are none located within the campgrounds. Bring in your own water as well.

If you're OK with primitive, this place has sites well dispersed for some privacy in off peak seasons. Since it is so close to Boulder, it is a common spot to see a lot of campers.

Good size campground for your backcountry adventures!

I was here for a weekend to do some fishing, biking, and exploring, as there's a trailhead right off the campground to explore the Sourdough and Buchanan Pass trails. I grabbed my fly fishing pole and headed in with the bike and hung out on St Vrain Creek trying to catch fish for most of the afternoon.

You have to pass through Peaceful Valley Campground on your way in, and there is a road to do some 4WD offroading on if you need more options besides what is available from the parking lot here at this camp.

There were a few bathrooms on site, and there's drinking water access. All sites come with your typical fire pit and picnic table, with a few also having a BBQ grill area. There are about 40 sites, some can accommodate RVs, but they don't offer any of the hookups. There is a dump area for garbage. Sites are reservable.

Nice spot for hiking and off roading fun

Stayed here overnight for some hiking in the nearby foothills. There are reservable sites, which I would recommend since it's a popular place nearby Boulder for some fishing, hiking and off roading and it only has 17 sites. It looked like about half those could accommodate and RV. The sounds around camp are going to be a mix of some wind in the trees, water running in the streams, and motorbike motors.

There are 2 washroom areas, no showers, and dumpsters. You can buy firewood from the camp host, who I assume is also servicing the other nearby campsite (Camp Dick). Each campsite has your typical fire pit and picnic table. Inot a big campground, but you're is this quiet valley surrounded by mountains and the stars at night were superb. There's an over spill parking lot for your recreational vehicles or extra camp mates.

Ranger Review [UPDATE]: Saris Freedom Superclamp 2-Bike bike rack at Lafayette Park Campground

Campsite Review

I was looking for a place to stay close to I-80 as I made a drive from Chicago back home to Boulder. This place seemed close enough to the highway to give a look, and I was not disappointed. I rolled in to the campgrounds around sunset and saw some people using the nearby lake to do some fishing.

I woke up, and there was a horse grazing across the road, and I discovered this really large, open space park next to the grounds also had a disc golf course. My campsite had a fire pit and a picnic table, there were others with electrical hookups, and sites that could easily accommodate RVs. There was a dump station and dumpsters for waste.

There were some playground areas, a place for firewood purchase, and a horse shoe play area adjacent to a rec building.

Product Review (update)

A few weeks ago I was awarded the Saris Freedom Superclamp 2-Bike bike rack from a contest run through TheDyrt's Facebook page. I have been able to use the bike rack for about 2 months, and taken it through a lot of different road conditions. You can read about the initial review here.

My overall impressions now that I've had the rack for a while longer is that it's a winner. You can watch a video of my overall impressions. While I still wish the rack offered some kind of way to get into my trunk without having to take the bike(s) off, it's just hard to argue it's a nuisance since it doesn't take that long to take the bike(s) on and off the rack. I've also changed my mind about the built-in bike locks. While I initially thought longer bike cable locks could be useful to lock up your bikes frame and front wheel (since most bikes have a front wheel quick-release option), I realized I had my own bike lock for my bike already that I just used, and I imagine most - if not all - people who will buy a bike rack for their bikes have locks for them too. A longer cable lock would require a larger place for it to be stored when not in use, which adds to the weight of the rack, which in the end isn't necessary.

In the city of Chicago, when I took the bike off during city commuting, I noticed it would have been nice to have the ability to fold the rack up closer to the end of my car, since there's so much city parking that's parallel parking, and the space added to the end of the car no longer made me a candidate for some spots.

Overall, this Saris bike rack is so easy to use, is super secure for my bikes, and was very durable - holding up to all kinds of 4WD-only roads. Definitely recommend.

The Sun Sets on Another Road Trip

Well, this 2,900 mile round trip Colorado-Toronto road trip has finally come to a close, and it's been a lot of fun. It certainly couldn't compete with my Rocky Mountain trip in late June up to Jasper National Park in Alberta on a scenery scale, but it had it's moments of solitude and a lot more lake time. To have been able to use TheDyrt to help plan out a few days on the road like my time in Land Between the Lakes, using info to figure out things like which campgrounds would be good for biking and canoeing, was a real plus.

I tried to avoid the corn fields of Iowa and Nebraska both directions, and don't regret doing the eastbound portion along I-70 and through Kansas and Missouri, but it was more of the same when it came to fields and fields of crops and prairies. My bigger regret is not giving myself enough time to explore more parts of Tennesse and Kentucky like the fun city of Nashville or the distilleries. Then again, I loved every minute of my time spent in Toronto up north in cottage country with my family, and would've regretted skimming days off that experience. With only so many days off, it's pretty easy to prioritize family. It just means I'll be back to Kentucky, derby time or camping season.

Ranger Review: Beard Born Beard Comb at Big Bone Lick State Park

Campground Review

When it’s the height of summer and there’s a campground that offers mini golf and has a pool, it’s usually a good place to stop in for the night. There’s also some hiking and biking trails accessible from the main turnoff from the highway, so there’s plenty to do in the area if you’re stopping on through or staying a few days. I even noticed a root cellar to explore, and there’s a camp store near the main entrance to stock up on basic supplies and munchies. They sell ice and firewood. There’s a playground and the shower facilities also offer laundry services. The campground itself has 59 spots, separated into a large section surrounding the amenities like the pool and showers, and then a back area with about 15 spots. I chose the more secluded area for some privacy and break from a lot of the families camping nearer the main entrance. All the facilities were clean, and the pool was open until 8pm. The camping price was a little high ($23) compared to normal state parks ($15-20) but good value considering the activities available like swimming and mini golf. I recommend a spot near campsite 59, since it has a huge fire pit and seating area behind it. The rec area on site is nice for large groups to do meals or activities, and near it there’s an entryway to the lake.

Product Review

As a Ranger on TheDyrt, I get products to test from time to time, and with Beard Born, I was given a discount coupon to purchase their beard comb and try it out. I've had the comb with me on this road trip, seeing how it would handle my beard and the growth along the trip. Overall, it's a very good comb. You can check out the unboxing video and the video review here. The wood it's made from is Argentine sandalwood, and it smells great. It also is very sturdy, so you don't worry about the teeth getting caught in your gnarly facemask and pulling your hair along for the ride. It gets the job done, and with teeth of two different sizes you're face and head are in good hands (or is it teeth?). It's great to use to help with grooming, if you're someone who's looking to keep your beard trimmed as it grows, since it can highlight stray hairs after a few brushes. I use beard oil and am finding after a few weeks now the oils have seeped into the wood, giving it a great finish and smell.

The carry case is a nice touch. I didn't think I would wind up carrying this thing around with me, but once your beard get's pretty thick it's nice it's something that you can carry in your pocket, protected, and with another pouch for your wallet belongings. I don't think I'll use it to replace my wallet, but I see how if you wanted to keep this comb is a bag with your other toiletries, the case keeps it protected from other stuff in your bag. You don't want toothpaste getting on your comb's teeth - that's not how toothpaste works.

Road Trip Update - Time for the passport!

After a few days of sweating without showering and talking more to my dog than to other humans, this was a great spot to cap off the road trip. It was nice to have only a 4 hour drive from Land Between the Lakes to Big Bone Lick as well so when I arrived I still had the daylight with me to go for a hike and try for the new low score at the on-site mini golf course. Tennessee and Kentucky has been an interesting experience and states I need to spend more time in. I missed out on Jack Daniels, horse racing, and all of Nashville. I had a deadline to keep and I’m certainly looking forward to the family time up in Canada, but to drive all these miles and hours and not have enough time to check out the music or liquor seems a little sacrilege. Whether it’s a Kentucky Derby or another camping expedition, I’ll certainly be back.

Much better spots within LBL to set up camp

Nickell Branch was a miss. It has one set of bathrooms, but they’re not centrally located. There are campsites close to the water, but not a lot of flat ground close to it, so you’re camping higher up and away from the shoreline, and even then the ground wasn’t very flat – so not a good place if you want to sleep in a tent. The sites were primitive – a picnic table and a fire pit, but not all sites had both. The nicest thing about this place was the road in and out which was nicely paved and allowed for some enjoyable biking, but given the options of campsites in the park area, I would look elsewhere before considering this place.