Darin D.

Santa Cruz, CA

Joined June 2017

Ranger Review: Tredagain Hawthorne Shoes at New Brighton Beach

Campground Review: New Brighton State Park is a great beach campground, even though its on a bluff above the beach. It's just south of Santa Cruz, with lots of places to get supplies, beer, etc within a couple miles. It is a very well used campground, so reservations are a must for weekends, especially during the summer. The campsites are pricey, $35 a night for sites away from the bluffs, and $50 for sites right on the bluffs with ocean views. Each site has at least one storage locker, a picnic table, and firepit/grill combo. Some sites have two storage lockers. Firewood is available from the camp hosts, and the bathrooms and showers are very clean. Showers are $1 for 3 minutes, quarters only. The camp host and the ranger both warned us about theft, if you leave your campsite alone during the day, which is too bad, but Santa Cruz has a big meth problem, so be sure to lock your cars and keep your valuables locked up or bring them with you if you go to the beach during the day. Not a lot of hiking here, but there are some trails down to a beautiful beach for swimming or lounging. The weather and ocean in Santa Cruz is much warmer than the surrounding areas, so swimming is not a problem. If you do leave the park to get supplies or food, I would highly recommend Sno-White for burgers and Seacliff Plaza Store for booze, firewood, and beach gear. 4 out of 5 stars for the campground

Product Review: Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At New Brighton, I tested the Tredagain Hawthorne shoes https://tredagain.com/collections/mens/products/mens-hawthorne-olive

These shoes are super comfortable and durable, but I don't know how they would hold up if they got wet, or for moderate hiking trips, for sure they aren't for long hikes or backpacking. They have found a spot with my camping gear as a shoe I wear if it is too cold to wear sandals, or if the campground is rocky or has long walks to the bathrooms. For the old school folks, they are a lot like Vans Half Cab shoes, flat soles and no arch support. They get a 4 our of 5 review for their purpose, just don't expect to hike in these.

Great Family Friendly Cabins

Ripple Creek Cabins are located about an hour north of Weaverville, along the upper Trinity River. Each cabin is self contained and comes with cooking utensils, linens, towels, and full kitchens. There is also a picnic table and BBQ provided for each cabin. The property sits on the bank on the Trinity River, with easy river access for swimming and fishing. There is also a large grassy area for all to use that has bocce ball and horseshoes. There is easy access to the Trinity Alps Wilderness for hikers of all levels, as well as access to Trinity Lake about 20 minutes south for all that the lake has to offer. The cabins are pet friendly and wifi is available. There is no phone service or television. Each cabin has a wood burning stove, shower and toilet, but otherwise are a bit spartan compared to some cabins. But with all the easy access to outdoor activities, all you need is a place to cook, clean up, and sleep. Great to rent for couples, families, or large groups. It is a bit of a drive to Weaverville, so be sure you have all your supplies you need. The small towns of Coffee Creek and Trinity Center are closer, but may not have everything you need. Each town does have a couple of great places to eat during the Summer, specifically Trailhead Pizza in Trinity Center.

Fisherman's Paradise

The Trinity River Adventure Inn cabins are a group of three cabins located on the bank of the Trinity River. The closest town for supplies is Weaverville, about a 15 min drive west. The towns of Lewiston and Douglas City are closer, but hit and miss on when things are open and what they offer. All three cabins can be rented individually, and I am sure if you group needed the space, you could rent all three at the same time. The other cabins were occupied during our stay, but that wasn't an issue. Each cabin is different, there is a large A frame cabin for larger groups, a smaller fisherman's cabin closest to the river for one or two people, and a mid size cabin for groups of 3-4. The A frame and the mid size cabin both have patios to bbq (grills provided) and hang out on, full kitchens, and very comfortable living room and bedrooms. Everything is provided, from cooking utensils to bedding/towels. Just bring food/drink. There is even satellite tv and wifi. Firewood is provided for the wood burning stoves. There is a large grassy area that slopes down to the river for people staying in all three cabins to use. There is easy access to fishing right out the backdoor of the cabins, and you could put in and take out kayaks if the water level is high enough. Boat launching facilities are located a few miles away. It is a fantastic location central to Trinity Lake, Lewiston Lake, Whiskeytown reservoir, and the beautiful Trinity Alps, with plenty of boating, swimming, water skiing, hiking, backpacking adventures within 30-60 minutes.

Good River Campground

Tree of Heaven campground is located about 10 miles west of Interstate 5, on a bend in the Klamath River. The closest town for supplies is Yreka, and they should have just about everything you could think of there. The entire campground and day use area are located right on the Klamath River, however there is no direct river access from any of the campsites. You need to walk upstream to find the river access. There is also a trail that starts at campsite 19 that goes downstream for about a half mile, but there isn't river access from there either. The river itself is great to swim, float, or fish in. A number of groups drove upstream a couple miles and floated back down to the campground. You can also float downstream a couple of miles to a haul out point and get a ride back. There is enough room at the day use area to put in kayaks as well. Campsite 19 was great. It was at the end of the loop and had 3 flat areas that were terraced into the hillside. It would be great if you were setting up multiple tents, so you weren't right on top of each other. The restrooms were very clean, and there was drinking water all through the campground. The host sells firewood and rented inner tubes, but I imagine the inner tube thing would vary depending on the camp host at the time. No showers, but with the river right there, you don't really need any. There is some poison oak in the area, and we spotted a rattlesnake, so keep your eye out with pets or kids. As you can see in the photos below, it was really smokey from fires in the area during our visit, but I would love to go back again when it is clear. There is no light pollution nearby so I bet the star gazing would be fantastic.

Hiking and Waterfalls

Uvas Canyon County Park https://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/parkfinder/pages/uvascanyon.aspx is located about 15 miles west of Gilroy, on the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Get any supplies you will need before you head out, as it is a long, winding drive to the campground and there is no cell service (at least for ATT) when you are there. The ranger does sell firewood though. Each campsite has a picnic table, storage locker and firepit/grill combo, but some campsites are much larger and more private than others. There are also clean bathrooms and showers, and drinking water available throughout the campground. It is tucked back in a canyon so once the sun goes down it can get cold quickly. The website above has a link to a map of the campground, as well as the trail network that runs through the park. Generally, the campsites on the outside of the loop will be larger and more private. There are a number of trailheads that start in the campground, or close by, that lead you to a collection of waterfalls and streams, and I highly recommend doing at least the waterfall loop, if not taking a whole day and exploring all the trails. Only downside is you can't get in the streams. It is a great campground, and even though you aren't far from the madness of Silicon Valley, it is quiet, peaceful and very beautiful.

Absolutely Fantastic

Gold Bluffs Beach Campground http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=415 is possibly my favorite campground I have every visited. The sites are spacious, located in the sand dunes just below a large redwood bluff. The sites on the west of the loop also back up to the ocean. There isn't a ton of tree or bush coverage for privacy, but the sites are spaced out far enough that it isn't an issue and the sand dunes offer some privacy if you set up your tent in a hollow. Each site has a picnic table and firepit/grill combo. There is also a bear box for food, and the Rangers are very adamant that all food is to be kept in there, at all times, unless you are eating it. I didn't see any bears, just lots of elk and hawks. There are bathrooms and coin operated showers, as well as drinking water. All the facilities were very clean. It is a long, rough road to get out to the campground, but well worth it. Keep in mind that it is part of the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, so while the campground and beach is dog friendly, the hiking trails are not. The beauty of the campground and the surrounding redwoods, as well as Fern Canyon a couple miles past the campground, is amazing. The little town of Orick has a couple places to stock up on supplies, but don't expect to be able to run to a supermarket or REI while you are here. The remote location is part of what makes it such a spectacular place. I could go on and on about it, but I would fall short in describing it, so please check out the pictures below. Recommend it 100% to anyone. One tip though, since it is right on the ocean, it tends to get foggy at night. Put on your tent's rainfly even if it is bright and sunny all day and clear in the evening. Otherwise you will wake up wet.

Not my favorite campsite

Basalt campground is part of the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=558 however it is not located on the reservoir. It is about a mile away, up the hills above the reservoir. It can be hot, dusty, and windy, especially in the afternoons. There are plenty of boat ramps and parking areas nearby along the lake for people to use to boat, swim, fish, etc. We stayed in May and it was very dry, hot, and a windy at night. The bathrooms were not very clean and there were no showers, but the website says they have upgraded the facilities recently, and added showers, so they should be a lot better. Santa Nella is close by to stock up on supplies. Each campsite has a picnic table and a firepit/grill combo. The grill at our site had seen better days. The campsites themselves are very large, but there isn't many trees or bushes to offer privacy from your neighbors. You can reserve online, but it doesn't let you pick a specific campsite. Once you get there, the ranger assigns you a spot, which is a little disappointing. I would prefer to choose my spot if I am reserving online.

Fun campground - can get loud

Acorn campground https://www.recreation.gov/camping/acorn-campground/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=73494 is a great campground for boaters, or anyone looking to camp near a lake. Located on New Hogan Reservoir, there are multiple boat ramps, and large sites, many of them right on the lake. Each site has a firepit, grill, picnic table, and a pole to hang lanterns on. The lake level varies wildly throughout the year, sites that are right on the lake can end up being hundreds of feet from the lake if the water level is low. Early summer is the best time to go for high lake levels. There is boating, fishing, water skiing, jet skiing, swimming etc available in the lake. Not much in the way of hiking in the immediate area, but there are some good hikes nearby outside of the campground. The restrooms and showers were very clean, although some campsites are located quite a long walk from them. Since it is so close to the Central Valley and easy to get to, it can get crowded and noisy, but otherwise it is a great site. The gold rush towns in the foothills are close by too, so that opens up more day time activities. There is a great little store called the Zippy Mart, located just outside the campground that sells bait, food, beer, firewood, etc, so if you forget something its easy to run there and pick it up.

River adventure close to civilization

Arroyo Seco Campground https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lpnf/recarea/?recid=10906 is located about 60 minutes south of Salinas in the Los Padres National Forest. The Arroyo Seco river runs close by the campground and there is a day use area right on the river with picnic areas, grills, and a playground. In the summer it gets very hot here, so the river is a nice way to cool off. There is also great hiking up the Arroyo Seco gorge with plenty of swimming holes along the way. There is also a small lake nearby for fishing, but swimming in the lake is not allowed. Big Sur looks to be close by, but it is actually about an hour and a half drive along a winding road to get there. For $30, the sites are a little on the expensive side, but there is plenty to do when camping there. The campsites are on the small side and some of them can be stacked right on top of each other, with little privacy, so be sure to look at the map if you reserve online. All of them have a picnic table, firepit, and grill. There are also some more primitive campsites located above the main campground that they hold for first come/first serve campers if you can't reserve one online. This is a very popular campground in the summer and sites get reserved quickly. There are very clean toilets and coin operated showers, which are handicap accessible. Be warned, sometimes there are issues with the drinking water, signs are posted that it is not drinkable. If that is the case, it is a long drive out to get drinking water in Greenfield.

Ranger Review: Renogy Portable Outdoor Water Filter at High Bridge

High Bridge Campground is located in the Lassen National Forest, about 10-15 minutes outside of Chester. Chester is a good town to fill up your gas tank, get supplies, etc. There are lots of small places to eat, a great grocery store called the Holiday Market, and quite a few outdoor equipment stores. It is also a good jumping off point to explore the Caribou Wilderness, Lassen National Park, or the Lake Almanor area. There are plenty of lakes and streams in the area as well.

Campground Review: High Bridge Campground is run by the Forest Service https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lassen/recarea/?recid=11318 and cost $14 per night. There was nobody there to collect payment when we visited, just drop you money into the payment slot by the information board at the entrance. There may or may not be campground hosts there. The campground itself is separated into two loops. The first is directly in front of you as you drive in and the sites are located on, or close to, Warner Creek. The second is up and over a slight ridge, where the sites are located on, or close to, the North Fork of the Feather River. Both loops have water and vault toilets. Be sure to check the second loop before you set up, as I think the better sites are on the loop on the Feather River. We had set up camp before realizing the other loop was there, and although our site was wonderful, some people may prefer one loop to the other. Each campsite has a table and firepit, some sites are larger than others. The campsite was pretty buggy in Late May, there may be less bugs later in the season. We had campsite #6, at the end of the first loop. There were no sites close by, it was a massive campsite, very private and backed on to Warner Creek which is great to take a dip in or fish. There are trout in both Warner Creek and North Fork Feather River. There were no signs of bears while we were there, however the information board had warnings about them. Our stay was very peaceful, as we were the only people on our loop. Just lots of birds, deer, and the sound of the river. An absolutely fantastic 5 star campsite.

Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At High Bridge Campground, I tested the Renogy Portable Outdoor Water Filter https://www.renogy.com/renogy-portable-outdoor-water-filter/ . The website provided has more of the technical specs for those who are interested.

Overall, the filter worked great. It is very simple to use, filled up a 1.5 liter Nalgene bottle in about 3-5 minutes. I filled up the Nalgene bottle 4 times while I was there and that was the average. The website claims a 3000 liter or 1 year lifespan for the filter, so that should be plenty unless you are going on a months long thru hike. If you were in a rush for some reason, you could really start pumping and fill it faster if you wanted to, the website claims a flow rate of 600ml per minute, but I was never in a rush and took my time filling up my bottle while i soaked my feet in the river. The input water hose has a small gasket that attaches over one end to keep sand, silt, bugs out of the hose when pumping, as well as a foam floater to put around the hose to keep it off the bottom of your water source. Once pumped through the filter, it outputs via another small hose. Purely as a device to filter water, it is a total success. It is fairly lightweight (8 or 9 ounces), it is compact (not much bigger than an iPhone, although about 1 1/2 inches thick), comes with a stuff sack, backflush syringe, hoses, etc, and gets the job done perfectly. Also, the price is a reasonable $40. It has found a home in my car camping gear box and will be traveling with us from now on.

But, I can't give it a full 5 star rating when compared to something like the Sawyer Squeeze or other competitors. First, it has a lower flow rate than many other water filters on the market. Second, the filter needs to be replaced after 3000 liters or a year of use. Third, it can't be hooked up easily to any type of water carrying system/bladders etc. Fourth, there are multiple parts to the filter - see pictures - (Filter/Case, two separate hoses, floater, gasket, backflush syringe) that could get lost of broken while backpacking, making it more difficult to use, or useless.

It gets a 3.75 out of 5 stars. It is great for car camping or emergency preparedness, but I would not recommend it for backpacking or thru hiking, based on my reasons above.

Ranger Review: Midland Radio X-Talker Extreme Dual Pack at Silver Bowl Camp

Silver Bowl campground is located in the Caribou Wilderness of Lassen National Forest outside of Lassen National Park. It is about 35 miles from Susanville and 30 miles from Chester. The last 6 miles of which will be on some pretty rough road, especially early in the season. There are cabins around Silver Lake and people tow boats up for the summer, so I'm sure as the season goes on the road gets easier. Chester is a great place to go for supplies, the Holiday food market has a everything you would need. Best to fill up on gas there too if you decide you want to explore the area.

Campground Review: Even though the FS website https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lassen/recarea/?recid=11368 said it was open, the campground was not yet open for the season on May 26. In big snow years, it may not open until July. The adjacent Rocky Knoll campground had a gate and was closed. There are private cabins encircling Silver Lake, which is a short walk from the Silver Bowl campground, which I assume is why it had no gate. The information board was blank, and there was no payment envelopes ($12 a night during the season). Off to a rocky start to our Memorial Day weekend, we decided to make a loop of the campsite anyway. There was one other person there, in a camper who was there to fish. We jumped out to see if the bathroom was open, and thankfully one of the vault toilets was open. We decided we would stay for the night, since we were already here. So glad we made that decision, as we ended up staying three nights and it turned out to be a fantastic campground with lots of things to do during the day. Most of the sites are enormous. Site 8, where we stayed, could have easily been a 40 person group site and not felt crowded. There is a well pump for drinking water, however the pump arm wasn't on the well since the campground was closed. The Susan river is nearby for water if you have a water filer (which we did). There is trout fishing in the lakes close by, the Caribou Trailhead is close to the camp, which leads you into the Caribou Wilderness for backpacking or day hikes, and there is a network of fire/logging roads that you can use to explore other parts of the Caribou Wilderness. Dispersed camping is also allowed in the area, so if you drive up and the campgrounds are full, you are free to find a place to camp. You would need a campfire permit to operate stoves or have fires if you are dispersed camping, so check with the local ranger district for that. I would highly recommend this campground. Bring a fishing pole, a kayak to put on the lake, a hammock to put up in the trees surrounding the campsites, hiking shoes, or just do nothing. You can't really go wrong at Silver Bowl campground. 5 stars all the way.

Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At Silver Bowl campground, I tested the Midland Radio X-Talker Extreme Dual Pack - https://midlandusa.com/product/x-talker-t77vp5/ - aside from a couple issues, which I will detail later, they worked great. The radios come self contained in a hard plastic carrying case, with all the accessories included. I will let the Midland website above go into more details and technical specs for anyone interested. On to the review.

When hiking in remote areas without cell service, or wandering around lakes fishing, it is a good idea to have some type of communication in case an emergency arises, or you just want to keep in contact with others in your group. These radios do exactly that. I took one with me, and left the other in camp with my girlfriend, and was able to communicate with her easily. Before going, I had familiarized myself with the radios and there various abilities. There are 36 channels, security codes to keep communication private in high use areas, high/low power settings to extend batter life, an NOAA weather alert mode that scans 10 channels and provides weather alerts and updates for your area. The radios have very clear, crisp sound. I didn't get out of range once, probably about 3-4 miles apart at most on various hikes or while fishing. I charged them up before leaving and with light use on the high power setting over 3 days, the battery was still showing two bars. the included hands free headsets worked great. A wireless option would be nice, however that would increase the cost, and for ~ $100 retail, they offer great value. These would be great to use hunting, boating, off-roading, at festivals, etc. They served every purpose I needed them to on this trip, with two exceptions:

  • The NOAA channels didn't work at the campsite, which is likely a function of where we were located. They have worked every time I used them before, and since. The remote location made it so the radios couldn't receive the signal from the NOAA stations. But, being in a remote location in the mountains is the exact spot I would need the weather alerts the most. Around town or places with cell reception, most of us would just default to checking weather on our phones. That is a big downside in my eyes.
  • The advertised reception of 38 miles must only be able to be accomplished in a dead flat desert with no trees, or on open ocean. I tested them around town at various distances and without direct line of sight, the best I was able to get out of them was 10-12 miles. I know that trees, buildings, hills, valleys, all affect the line of sight and account for the lower numbers, but to me this is an under-promise/over-deliver situation where I would stay on the more conservative side of the mileage range and if people get more out of it, it is a pleasant surprise.

Overall the range is a small nitpick and I won't downgrade them too bad for that, however the lack of access to the NOAA weather alert stations in remote areas is a big issue for me. I would give them 3.75 stars. They worked great, feel like they will hold up well over time, and come in a case that holds all the accessories needed, so all you have to do it toss them in the car and not worry about forgetting chargers, ear pieces, etc. They will be a fixture in our camping gear going forward.

Ranger Review: Cotopaxi Uyuni 46L Duffel from Roanline.com at Mt. Madonna County Park

Mount Madonna County Park is located in the redwood covered hills between Gilroy and Watsonville. The towns Watsonville/Freedom are both located a short drive away for supplies, as well as many restaurants, fruit stands, and gas stations. It feels very rural when you are in the campground, however civilization isn't far away.

Campground Review: Part of the Santa Clara County Parks system, this year round campground is available to reserve online - https://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/parkfinder/pages/mtmadonna.aspx - sites are a bit on the expensive side at $34 per night when I booked, but the amenities sort of justify the cost. The park itself contains miles of hiking trails that wind through the redwoods and along the ridgetops, RV hookups and a dumping station, group campgrounds, an amphitheater, horse back riding, showers (free), day use picnic/bbq areas, and multiple campground areas. We stayed in Valley View 3 - site 325. Initially, the plan was to camp the weekend before, but bad weather made us change our plans last minute. The parks service was helpful in getting the reservation changed to the next weekend, and the weekend went off without a hitch. When booking campsites here, I recommend taking some time to research the campsites as they vary in size and privacy. I would recommend 301, 320, 323, 324 in the Valley View 3 area. They offer large sites and privacy. Road noise is minimal, as the park gates are shut at 8pm, so there is no through traffic coming through at all hours. Campsite 325 was right next to the bathroom, which was convenient but made things noisy around bed time and in the morning. Wouldn't recommend this site if you like to sleep in while camping. All the campsites had the basics, table, firepit/grill, food storage locker and potable water was spaced out about every third or fourth campsite. They are some critters here, I saw a few skunks and one wandered right into our campsite at night, so keep an eye out for them. The facilities were very clean and it was pretty dog friendly. In the summer it might get a bit too hot and there are no rivers or lakes to jump in to cool off. The ocean is about a 30 min drive away. Overall it was a great trip, with only the various campsite sizes and privacy being an issue. If you get a good sized site away from the bathrooms it is a wonderful experience. Overall the campground/park as a whole gets 4 stars with cost and varying campsite sizes being the only cons.

Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At Mt. Maddona Park I tested the Cotopaxi Uyuni 46L Duffle from Roanline.com - https://www.roanline.com/cotopaxi-uyuni-46l-duffel-in-del-dia/ - Overall this duffel bag worked great, although it may not be as much of a camping duffel, as more of a weekend travel/flying or work/gym duffel. It worked just fine as a camping bag however. It has multiple spaces to stash gear, one pocket on the front that could fit phones, sunglasses, etc, a padded laptop sleeve, and two large inner pockets separated by a nylon barrier so you can keep clean and dirty clothing separate. It easily held two days worth of camping clothes as well as sweatpants and a large jacket, so space isn't an issue on a long weekend trip. The fabric is tough and any spills or dirt can be wiped away easily. It only has one strap so carrying it while hiking is cumbersome. I see it more as a travel bag than a camping bag. If it isn't fully stuffed, you can easily get away with using it as a carry-on when flying. The materials and multiple separate pockets make it great to keep you gym clothes away from your laptop, other clothes, work stuff or to use as a beach bag to keep things from getting sandy while also being easy to clean. Hands down the best feature of the bag is the one of a kind color scheme. It really stands out, so your bag will be easy to identify in crowded areas or at the baggage claim. I would give the bag 4 stars as a car camping bag, but I don't think that is really its designed purpose. It gets 5 stars as a duffel for short trips or to use going to and from the office/gym.

Ranger Review: Renogy ELumne Multi-Functional Flashlight at Henson's Hideaway, Trinity Lake, CA

Henson's Hideaway is located between Weaverville, CA and Trinity Center, CA, along Highway 3 on the west side of Trinity Lake. It is centrally located to a number of the Trinity Alps trails, as well as boat access to the lake. Also, it is an easy drive to get food, supplies, beer, etc in either town. The road is plowed year round and the cabin is only a few minutes off of Highway 3.

Cabin Review: Henson's Hideaway is bookable on VRBO https://www.vrbo.com/300244) and Michelle is very easy to deal with, and very accommodating. Prices vary depending on the time of year and holiday weekends, so check with the listing page linked above for up to date info. The cabin itself is fantastic. There is a large deck downstairs that opens into a garage that has been converted into a bonus room with TV/Satellite, a pool table, extra full bathroom, and additional sleeping areas. The pool table was a fantastic unexpected bonus for a cabin in the woods. Upstairs is a very comfortable main living area with a bathroom, bedroom, full kitchen, dining/living room and a deck outside with seating for at least 4 adults. It was a very comfortable cabin with plenty of creature comforts, the kitchen was well stocked with cooking/cleaning/silverware etc. It was plenty of room for two couples, two toddlers, and two labs. The only downside was that it doesn't have a bbq. They don't keep one around because it attracts mountain critters, but people are allowed to bring their own if they would like. As always though, check with the owners for the latest info. I have posted a few pictures I took, there are more at the link above.

Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At the Henson's Hideaway, I tested the Renogy ELumen Multi-funtionial Flashlight (https://www.renogy.com/renogy-e-lumen-multi-functional-flashlight/.)

The flashlight comes equipped with a flashlight (obviously) with three settings (high, low, strobe), a recessed seatbelt cutter, a glass shattering hammer, a compass embedded in the butt of the grip, a solar charging panel built into the flashlight handle (here is where you can insert the old joke about solar powered flashlights, but it does work thanks to a built in lithium ion battery), LED side lighting (both red and white lights, including a strobe function), a magnet for mounting/storage and USB input/output to charge the flashlight or charge electronic devices off the flashlight's battery. Enough of the specs, on to the review. This flashlight rocks. It is plenty light for nighttime wandering around a camp/cabin. The LED side lighting is great for illuminating a small space without blinding anyone, similar to a lantern, the red strobe LED side lighting is great for roadside emergencies or to use as a beacon. I haven't had to test the glass shattering hammer or seatbelt cutter, knock on wood, but they both look like they will do the trick, and the flashlight is living in the center console of my truck for just such emergencies. It charges quickly via USB and seemed to charge quickly enough from a fully dead battery to work fine, I just set it on the dash of my truck while I drove to the cabin and when we got there it worked all weekend. The only downside is the compass, I have tested it a few different times and places and it is always a few degrees off from my other compass and the one on my smart phone. Close enough to be useful in general, but I wouldn't trust it trying to route-find.

Henson's Hideaway receives 5 stars and the Renogy Flashlight receives 4 1/2 stars due to the minor issue with the compass. Overall it is a fantastic item that is light enough to backpack with, especially given the multi functionality of the product. I highly recommend car campers and backpackers alike get one for their travels, especially given the very reasonable price of $25.

Ranger Review: Boost Oxygen 22 Oz Supplemental Oxygen at Alpine View Campground

Alpine View Campground on Trinity Lake, CA is centrally located to the small towns nearby (Coffee Creek, Trinity Center, Weaverville) as well as located a short drive to Bowerman Boat Ramp for boat launching. Though the website says year round availability, it was closed during our planned trip. Recreation.gov and the Trinity Alps Wilderness Forest Service website both contain information, however it is best to call the ranger station in Weaverville for the most up to date information.

Campground Review:

Given that Alpine View was closed when we arrived, to our dismay, I still spent time wandering around the campground, adjacent boat launch area, and the lake access area from the campground itself. There are three loops, each with access to potable water and flush toilets, as well as lake access. Some sites are located very close to the water, most have water views through the trees, and some are more private than others. The maps available when reserving your site give a good idea of privacy and lake access. All sites have picnic tables and fire rings/grills. Although it says that bear lockers are provided at all sites, that wasn't the case when I visited. This could have been due to the campground being closed however. There are also ADA sites. The campground is set among a pine forest along the banks of the lake, and no two sites are alike. Lots of character in the individual campsites that may not show up when reserving. Cost is $20-$35 depending on the time of year, with the high season between May-Sept. I can't wait to get back and spend some time here, it seems to have something for everyone. Easy access to the lake, easy boat ramp access, convenient to the multitude of hikes in the Trinity Alps, swimming, fishing, etc. Pets welcome.

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At Alpine View Campground, and a nearby hike to Mt. Eddy and the Deadfall Lakes, I tested the Boost Oxygen 22 oz Supplemental Oxygen - Original product - https://www.boostoxygen.com/product/natural/. Both the campground and the supplemental oxygen get 4 stars.

The elevation at the campground was ~2500 feet, and after exploring the campground and surrounding area, chasing after two crazy labradors, I didn't notice much of a difference when using it. The canister is extremely light, I would have no problem adding it in to my pack for a backpacking trip, and simple to use. Put the mouthpiece over your nose and mouth, squeeze the trigger and inhale 95% pure oxygen. At this elevation, in clean, crisp mountain air, there wasn't much to be noticed. In hot air, humidity, or smog I could see it being useful. Where the product really shined, however, was on our hike up to the Deadfall Lakes. The trailhead began at 6200 feet or so, our destination of Middle Deadfall Lake was at about 7200-7300 feet of elevation, depending on which map you are looking at. After gaining ~1000 feet in elevation in a little over a mile, while hiking through meadows, stream crossings, and ultimately snow, in 35* weather, a couple pulls off of the oxygen canister was welcome relief. There is no lightheaded feeling, you just notice you are no longer panting or breathing all that heavy. The size, weight, and usefulness of this product make it a no brainer for hiking, skiing, climbing, etc at altitude. My only negative is that it wasn't useful at lower elevations for me. Perhaps it would be useful after long runs, or strenuous weight lifting at lower elevations. But it did work more than as advertised after hiking at higher elevations. I would recommend it, and will be using it again in the future for any outdoor activity at higher elevations, especially because of it's small size and the fact it weighs next to nothing. You won't even notice it is in your pack.

Please don't mind the two crazy labs that kept photobombing.

Easy hikes

Lots of really good hikes, waterfalls, but cold water if you want to swim.

A boater's paradise

Again with most of our trip in Central Oregon, late August/early September, it was very smoky. But the campground was very central to a lot of cool adventures, including Peter Skene State Park, Smith Rock State Park, and Cove Palisades (obviously). Its not too far off the highway, but the road there goes through some small towns and farm land, so be careful to pay attention to the signs. And the road down to the campground and the marina is not fun for people that have vertigo. Bungee jumping at Peter Skene, rock climbing at Smith Rock, fishing and cliff jumping into the Deschutes River nearby. Campsites are close together, which is the only downside, and it was full, or near full when we were there in September. Terrebone, Redmond, Prinville, and Bend are an easy drive to get supplies (beer). Its hot and in the high desert so days are really hot but it can be cold at night. I would love to stay there again when its not covered in smoke as you can see in the photos.


I assume the scenery is wonderful, however on our visit it was smoky from nearby forest fires and had limited visibility. Crater Lake National Park is only a 15 mile drive away and Diamond Lake resort nearby has a marina, restaurant, and general store. The lakeside sites are the ones to get, but most sites are large and private. Clean toilets and drinking water are conveniently located throughout the campground. A bike trail leads along the lake and up into the surrounding hills. The lake offers good swimming and fishing, and boat ramps are nearby.


Absolutely amazing. Little crater lake is spectacular, and only a 5 min walk from the campsites. Clean vault toilets, large campsites pretty well spaced out. Very quite, 10 miles or so from the highway. Pump your own cold spring water to drink. Timothy lake and the Pacific Crest Trail are less than a mile from camp. Timothy lake has good Kokanee fishing and is an easy walk even with fishing gear. Mount Hood is nearby, although not visible from the campground. An alpine meadow nearby makes things a little buggy, but the good far outweighs the bad here. One of the best, if not the best, campgrounds I have visited.

Excellent spot for adventures

Eagle Creek is a small campground (something like 20 sites) located high above the Columbia River. The sites offer good privacy and are quite large. Drinking water available, the restrooms were out of order so there were porta pottys located throughout the loop, but they were very clean. Great jumping off point for the various hikes and falls located in the gorge. Multnomah Falls, Larch Mountain, Eagle Creek Trail among others are all located nearby. Easy highway access. Only downside is the train noise a few times during the night. Was here right before the massive fire in September. Not sure how the campground fared and a number of hikes/site seeing options are closed until spring.

Close Campsites/Great Location

Forested campsites, some of them are pretty close together, but overall a pretty good spot. Easy beach access, lots of points of interest nearby including Cape Perpetua, Waldport, Siuslaw National Forest. Good facilities, clean restrooms, drinking water conveniently located throughout the campgrounds. It was busy while we visited and even though the sites were close together, it never felt crowded. Lots of trees, bushes between sites that make it feel more secluded. Some highway noise, but nothing too bad and it quiets down at night.