Celebrate inclusivity and sustainability with these outdoor Pride activities

June 10, 2019 by  
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June is Pride month, and there are celebrations happening in major city centers all over the world. A small but growing number of activities is also happening throughout the most wild and natural corners of the U.S. and beyond. LGBTQ+-focused outdoor activities and safe spaces are increasing in number and visibility, and though there are more this month than ever, they are all part of a movement to promote inclusivity and representation among those who love the outdoors — and those who don’t know they love it yet. Where to find outdoor Pride activities The Venture Out Project This LGBTQ+-owned company has hosted queer-specific trips since 2014. This June, it is offering a Queer & Trans, Indigenous, People of Color Backpacking Trip in Vermont and a Queer Arctic Adventure in Canada. It also offers more low-key day hikes , family trips and youth service projects. Related: The ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Canyons River Company Based in Idaho, this company offers a River Pride Trip, a six-day rafting trip on the Salmon River that includes wine tasting . National Outdoor Leadership School This organization has an LGBTQ+ backpacking trip in Utah, which takes place over nine days and is led by queer instructors. Outdoor adventures for LGBTQ+ youth Learning in the outdoors has proven benefits for kids, including building skills and self-esteem as well as increasing performance in the classroom. A limited number of LGBTQ+-focused youth trips and activities allow youth to explore their identities and the outdoors in a safe, inclusive space. Out There Adventures is a Seattle-based company that offers trips led by queer instructors for LGBTQ+ youth. It is offering two Pride-focused events this summer: a rafting and service trip for teenagers in Oregon and a Yosemite trip in July. According to one young participant of an Out There Adventures trip, “I would get these overwhelming feelings of being at home and knowing that those were some of the only moments in my life where I was 100 percent sure that I was in the right place and 100 percent sure that it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I would be willing to do things to keep myself in good health and motivated and educated in order to achieve those feelings over and over and over.” Events in your own backyard If you don’t have the interest or ability to attend a far-flung trip to celebrate Pride, you can focus locally on ways to get outside and active. Many cities have 5K runs, walks or dance events as part of their Pride festivities. This can be a great way to get fresh air and exercise , especially for people who get their motivation from community members or a loud bass line instead of a babbling brook. Research your local gym and see if it is hosting any Pride events, like Homoclimbtastic in West Virginia. If the gyms near you are not hosting an event, speak up and ask why not. The more interest they hear, the more likely they are to consider adding something to the calendar next year. Check out MeetUp.com to find groups of like-minded people in your area. There might already be an LGBTQ+-focused outdoor group near you. If not, create one yourself! How to be eco-friendly at Pride parades The Seattle-based organization OUT For Sustainability aims to make Pride events around the country carbon-neutral and zero waste . Follow the organization’s Greener Pride tips for a more sustainable celebration: • Bring your own water bottle to the parade. • Bring a reusable bag to collect promotional items. • Make a colorful outfit from items you already own instead of buying a new outfit. Better yet, make a costume out of recycled materials.• Avoid balloons, glitter and beads. These plastic items are toxic for the environment and detrimental to marine species. Celebrate without them. Instead, try natural body paint, flowers and recycled art. • As a vendor, remove all trash at the end of the day. Do not serve food in plastic foam containers, and offer water for people with refillable bottles. • Reduce or refuse handouts and promotional items, especially plastic items. • Avoid handing out or taking cheap T-shirts that support the unsustainable and unethical fashion industry.• Run your Pride float with electric vehicles or human power instead of diesel fuel. Tips for outdoor companies to be more inclusive Visibility and representation matter LGBTQ+ folks often do not see themselves represented in outdoor brands or websites. Consider your staff and models , and come up with a specific plan about how you will incorporate more identities. Don’t promote people just for the sake of diversity — promote and hire LGBTQ+ staff, models and managers because they are qualified and will inspire a broader audience. “We need to put people from these communities out in the forefront, not because they represent diversity but because they’re great at what they do,” said Elyse Rylander , founder of Out There Adventures. “We don’t have enough roundtables with people who are not white, cisgender dudes talking about their badass outdoor experiences. But we should.” Host LGBTQ+ events If you host trips or events, consider adding LGBTQ+-focused activities. You might take for granted feeling safe and included on hiking trips, but discrimination excludes many people from participating. It’s great to host an event during Pride month, but this is something that matters year-round. Participate in a Pride parade Walk the route or make a float . It can be a great way to show that you care about and serve all types of customers and clients. Manufacture gender-neutral gear Active gear for all genders should come in all color palettes and target all body types. LGBTQ+ outdoor advocates to follow on social media There are many advocates and activists focusing on bridging the gaps between queer folks and the great outdoors. Here are a few amazing leaders to follow on social media : Pattie Gonia A play on the “Patagonia” brand name, @PattieGonia is the self-proclaimed first nature drag queen. Pattie advocates for a more inclusive outdoor industry and takes fabulous photos that combine drag fashion with outdoor gear and awe-inspiring locations. Pattie is also offering LGBTQ+ hikes in a few cities around the U.S. during the month of June. Queer Nature A non-binary duo in Colorado founded @queernature to educate people about deeper connections to nature using both queer and indigenous philosophy and leadership. Unlikely Hikers Jenny Bruso set out to change the stereotype of what an “outdoorsy” person looks like. @unlikelyhikers ’s posts promote diversity and inclusivity in all forms, focusing primarily on body diversity and queerness. Via New York Times Images via Yannis Papanastasopoulos , Nic , Levi Saunders , Pineapple Supply Co. and NeonBrand

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Celebrate inclusivity and sustainability with these outdoor Pride activities

We tested the GoSun Go solar oven heres what we thought

April 22, 2019 by  
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The idea of cooking a delicious meal just by using the power of the sun is enticing, and GoSun Go is making it happen with its line of solar ovens. We’ve talked about the design before and checked them out at CES , but it wasn’t until recently that we were able to get our hands on one of these bad boys to test it out. From veggie burgers and baked sweet potato to mixed-berry muffins, coffee and oatmeal, we tried cooking a wide variety of foods in this portable, solar-powered oven. Here’s what happened . Setting up the GoSun Go When we removed the GoSun Go from the box, we were a little surprised by how simple it looked. It features a basic fabric case plus a plastic kickstand that admittedly felt a bit flimsy. The glass tube, however, was sturdy, and we liked the small silicone molds that hold food for easy clean-up. Cooking in the cold We scheduled to cook outside on what was supposed to be a warm, sunny day. In a surprising twist, especially for L.A. , we ended up with a chilly breeze and rain. Still, we trekked outside, solar oven tucked under an arm, and set up to boil water to make instant coffee and banana nut oatmeal. The trick to heating liquids in the GoSun Go is to stand the oven up vertically using the plastic kickstand attachment. It is also important to try to line the oven up with the sun, which was of course hard on a mostly cloudy day. During one of our rounds of gently rotating the oven for more light, the kickstand did give out — the plastic attachment is not very sturdy. Related: GoSun unveils solar cooker that lets you serve up some sizzling meals at night After about 100 or so minutes, condensation was visible on the glass and the water was nearly hot. Granted, we did this in cloudy, rainy weather, so it makes sense that it took so long. Still, it did make the water hot enough to make coffee and oatmeal that were both tolerable; the oatmeal was a bit chewy, but it did cook a little bit from the water we had warmed up in the solar cooker. If you were camping, hiking or participating in some other outdoor adventure, the GoSun Go is not your best bet in clouds and rain. While it does work, be ready to set an hour or more aside, as it takes a lot of time. Luckily, in optimal conditions, the GoSun Go is really impressive. Putting the solar oven through the ultimate tests Our next set of tests took place on a warm, sunny SoCal day. We had multiple ovens, so we decided to test as many foods as possible, from fresh and frozen veggies , to savory, plant-based proteins and sweet, berry-flavored muffins. In one oven, we tested a frozen veggie patty in one silicone mold, and fresh sweet potatoes and frozen broccoli and cauliflower in the other. In the second oven, to appease some of the meat-eaters with us, we tested ground beef in one mold and fresh broccoli and canned corn in another. For the last oven, we placed two silicone molds full of instant berry muffin mix (which just required water, an easy treat to make while camping ). Each oven can hold two of the silicone molds at once. After about 25 minutes, the muffins had risen considerably, and there was condensation on the inside of the ovens’ glass tubes. We also noticed around this time that the light breeze was enough to topple the ovens, knocking them away from the sun. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies At the 34-minute mark, the muffins were just about ready to eat. The frozen veggies were done cooking, and the sweet potato was close to being finished. The veggie patty needed a bit longer, and the beef was brown but not finished either. We also rotated the ovens at this point for more direct sunlight. We checked everything again at one hour, and it was all cooked! Some things, of course, were a bit overcooked at this point. There was some charring (the tasty kind), and it all smelled delicious. The gross part, though, is that the beef juices leaked out onto the cloth carrier, which was quite difficult to remove. Taste tests As far as taste goes, we were impressed. The veggies, whether frozen, fresh or canned, were all soft and delicious. Some of the broccoli and potatoes had nice charring for extra flavor, similar to roasting veggies in a standard oven. The veggie patty was a bit dry on the outside, likely from overcooking on our part, but the inside was a little wet. It didn’t seem to cook evenly in this regard. The muffins were pretty yummy despite being a little dry. Many of the items we tested were chosen based on the booklet included with the GoSun Go. This booklet offers expected cook times for many types of food, which we found were a tad optimistic, yet not completely off. Another claim of this solar oven is that it can hold six hot dogs. After getting a look at the GoSun Go, we thought, “No way! Too small!”…So naturally, we put it to the test. Guess what? You really can cook for a crowd, even with this small oven, because we were able to jam six hot dogs into it. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done. We placed the oven under a bright, full sun, and they should have taken 10 minutes to cook. After 30 minutes, they were darker, but our resident meat-eater found that they really could have stayed in for even longer. If you wanted to try just one or two hot dogs, they would probably cook in 10-15 minutes, but jamming six into the tube does require quite a bit more time. Final thoughts All in all, the GoSun Go is pretty impressive. If you have access to a traditional oven or a campfire, we’d recommend cooking through those means. But the solar oven is handy, especially for times when you are hiking, camping or boating and you cannot start a fire. We also plan to take it to the beach! If you need to cook a lot of food, you might try checking out a bigger solar oven, as this model can only make a small batch of food at a time. For $139 a pop, it also might not be practical to purchase multiple. For solo trips, this can cook some pretty complex, flavorful meals that you might not otherwise be able to enjoy. We say — give it a go! + GoSun Images via GoSun

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Guide to sustainable winter activities

December 3, 2018 by  
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Just because the temperature plummets and the daylight runs short doesn’t mean your bustling days need to end. Instead of hibernating like a bear, wearing pajamas and watching Netflix day after day, put some fun on the schedule and look forward to a winter full of activities. Of course, consumption and waste are always a consideration here at Inhabitat so here’s our top choices for the best eco-friendly, sustainable activities for your winter calendar. Snow play Those who love winter often anticipate the arrival of snow. Even those who long for summer have to admit that there is much fun to be had in the snow. Besides the obvious snowboarding and skiing, think local. Drag a sled up and down a hill for the afternoon and follow it up with hot cocoa or cider back at home. Take those cross-country skis off the wall and head to a nearby field or back-country road. Make, rent, or purchase some snowshoes for an invigorating experience. No discussion of snow would be complete without recommending you build a snowman and enjoy the mandatory snowball fight that comes with it. Alternately, build an igloo or snow cave. If you’re really adventurous you could even camp out in it! Get into nature Many outdoor activities can roll over from fall into winter. If the weather is not too severe, keep up your nature hikes and monitor the changes in the landscape throughout the season. While you’re out, look for supplies that you could use in crafts, such as pine cones, leaves, rocks, curved bark, acorns, or colorful berries. In fact, make it a challenge with a scavenger hunt or look up geocaching in your area and see if you can find the prize. Have a picnic Yes, you can. Of course you can. Why not? Replace the summer Chablis with a thermos of heated goodness. Bring along some hearty favorites and a thick blanket or pop-up tent. Find cover at a nearby park and watch the river rush by or the birds forage for food. Have a war For those mild-weather regions or even those with snow on the ground, grab the kids or a group of friends and head to the woods for a paintball war. Just be sure to wear eye protection and choose eco-friendly paints for you guns. Of course, you can recreate the same fun at home with rubber band guns and they are even easy to make yourself with any shape of wood and a clothespin mounted on top to fire the rubber bands. Baking party As soon as the days begin to shorten, the baked goods are in high demand. Instead of spending hours alone in the kitchen, why not make it a party? Invite over a few friends and pool ingredients to maximize the eco-friendly advantages of bulk foods, reduced packaging, and minimal waste. At the end of the day you’ll each have a variety of baked goods to take to your family or give as gifts. Travel by train There’s something about traveling by train that is timeless and serene. Of course, it’s also nice that it’s one of the most earth-friendly forms of transport. So whether you’re traveling to reach a destination or simply to take a scenic tour, hop aboard the train as your first option. Local events Communities organize events during every season and winter is no exception. Check the local online pages and printed newspapers for sustainable events in your area. These might include taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or attending a tree lighting ceremony, fundraising event, or salmon education walk. Volunteer Wintertime is a rough season for the homeless and less fortunate. Take some time to help out at a soup kitchen or local food bank and feel good about your contribution. Craft party For an indoor activity, invite over some friends or plan a party for your kids. You can make any number of things as a group including wreaths, blankets, quilts, pick-me-up cards for seniors or veterans, etc. For the kids, make Play-doh, Flubber, fingerpaints, or paper snowflakes. Donate them if you like or use them as gifts during the holidays and beyond. Build a birdhouse Your feathered friends will enjoy a warm place to sleep too. Get together with friends and make birdhouses for your backyard sanctuary. Visit the library The library is a great place to spend a soggy winter afternoon. Learn something new or just enjoy some quiet time. Indoor herb garden Many plants will grow indoors, even during the winter. Take pleasure in planting an herb garden and watch it grow while you enjoy fresh herbs year round. Take an adventure There’s no need to wait for summer for your next adventure. Instead, hunt down eco-friendly winter options around you. Go ice skating on the lake, visit the local reindeer farm, or experience your first dog sled ride. Winter is waiting. Go get it! Images via Shutterstock, Andrew Ly , Ethan Hu , lukasbieri , rawpixel , skeeze , jill111 , Michael Mroczek , Susan Yin , pintando la luz

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Guide to sustainable winter activities

Veteran carpenter builds gorgeous tiny home that boasts impressive wood working and screened-in porch

December 3, 2018 by  
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Working in woodworking since he was 15 years old, Maine native Vince Marzilli knows a thing or two about carpentry. The Maine-native has now parlayed his wood crafting talents into the tiny home construction business, and the results are stunning. Clad in cedar shingles with an all-wood interior and inviting screened-in porch, Marzilli’s first tiny home, the Cumberland, gives off a soothing cabin-in-the-woods feel. Built on a custom wheeled trailer , the Cumberland is 15 feet long, clad in a mix of cedar shingles and black siding. The home’s screened-in front entrance is perhaps the first thing to stand out among the beautiful tiny home’s design. A short three steps leads into the warm space, complete with a small dinette set to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or late night glass of wine with friends. Related: Enjoy a mint julep on this tiny farmhouse’s charming front porch On the interior, Marzilli’s wood working talents are evident at just about every angle. The wood-clad living space boast a variety of wooden hues and grains, emitting a warm, soothing aesthetic. Poplar was the wood of choice for much of the interior, including the ceilings, whose Poplar planks contrast nicely with White Ash rafters and beams. The wooden interior is flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of large windows. The living space includes the seating area of the screened in porch, and a large kitchen with custom-made cabinets, doors and drawer fronts. Adjacent to the kitchen is another seating/dining area with an expandable dining table with two removable leaves that allows space for up to four people. The bedroom is located on a sleeping loft , which is accessed by ladder. The space is large enough for a queen size bed and also features a large skylight for stargazing before drifting off to sleep. + Evergreen Tiny Homes and Custom Woodworking Via Tiny House Talk Images via Evergreen Tiny Homes and Custom Woodworking

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James Whitaker unveils modular prefab home system that can be ‘daisy-chained together’

December 3, 2018 by  
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From crystalline-inspired homes to funky cargotecture office spaces , James Whitaker ‘s unique shipping container designs have taken the world by storm. However, the prolific architect is now branching out to design modular homes that not only add more versatility to home design, but can withstand various climates. Whitaker has just unveiled the Anywhere House, a lakeside residence comprised of multiple prefabricated modular units . Slated for completion in 2019, the home will be the first property built using Whitaker’s prefabricated modular system. Known for his unique designs that include building with shipping containers, Whitaker has now developed his own prefabricated modular system , which can be used for a number of purposes. After receiving numerous requests to build the “starburst home” design in various regions, Whitaker realized that he needed to develop a new system that could be adapted to different climates. His new prefab modular system’s resilience will be tested with the Anywhere Home, which will be built lakeside in Alberta, Canada. Related: Starburst shipping container home to rise in the California desert The Anywhere Home will contain a number of separate volumes, either clad in patinated steel, or finished in stainless steel. On the interior, timber paneling will be used on the walls and ceilings and marble flooring will run throughout the living space. Large sliding glass doors and multiple windows will flood the interior with natural light. The design of the modular structure is meant to offer optimal flexibility and versatility. The modular system is comprised of individual, but connected volumes that differ in shape and size. The units would be adjoined through two or more openings or closed off to  be used as a singular space. The modules range in size from one to two levels and have slanted roofs that jut out at various angles. According to the architect, his inspiration for the home design was to create a design that could withstand various climates, but also provide a unique design that could be configured depending on the use. The modular prefab system could be adapted into a home, a hotel, social center, etc.  The Anywhere house will feature modules that are fabricated off site and small enough to be easily transported. + James Whitaker Via Dezeen All renders and drawings by Whitaker Studio

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James Whitaker unveils modular prefab home system that can be ‘daisy-chained together’

Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials

September 17, 2018 by  
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Lace up your hiking boots and trod into places inaccessible via horse, quad or car. Backpacking allows you to explore the outdoors while enjoying a little distance from the crowds squished together at the state campgrounds. There’s just something about planning for and carrying all the supplies you need for backwoods camping that is empowering and exciting. Once you’ve decided to give backpacking a try, make sure you’ve got the essentials covered. You will find that you can survive with very few comforts while backpacking, but there are some “must-haves” on the list. Here’s a backpacking checklist to ensure a successful start to your adventure! Sleeping and Camp Supplies Backpack — Choose a bag with either an internal or external frame, with the capacity to hold your necessities. Aim for the size that will hold the maximum weight you’re comfortable carrying, even though the goal will always be to avoid filling it completely. The capacity is measured in liters, so look for indicators like 60L or 90L in the product description. It’s best to get fitted by a professional at an outfitter such as REI for the most comfortable experience with your backpack. A 45L is adequate for overnight trips, while a 60L will meet the needs of most multi-day trips. Sleeping bag — Be sure to bring one rated for your weather conditions to ensure that you stay warm and dry. Also consider the weight and packability of the sleeping bag you choose. Roll pad or inflatable backpacking mattress — This is a welcome addition for both comfort and insulation from the cold ground. Tent — This is optional but recommended for protection from bugs and other critters that scurry in the night as well as rain. Some backpackers opt for a hammock instead of a tent . If this is your plan, seek out a lightweight one with a bug net and sturdy straps. Backpacker’s pillow — This is a comfort item. A rolled-up sweatshirt will do the job if needed. Related: Six tents perfect for camping this summer Cooking and Food Supplies Cookstove and fuel — These are lightweight and offer different gas options. A JetBoil or similar device quickly boils water (in less than two minutes) for your morning brew, oatmeal or dehydrated chicken fettuccine. White gas stoves work well at lower temperatures, and gas is easy to find. There are now stoves that heat with sticks and pine cones with the added luxury of a recharging attachment for electronics , too. Any variety will do the job. Just make sure you have the right gas and give it a trial run at home before you go. Food — The lightest and easiest food for backpacking is the pre-packaged, easy-to-find dehydrated meals such as Mountain House, Backpacker’s Pantry or AlpineAire. However, these meals are typically high in salt and can lead to dehydration and puffiness. In my opinion, most of them are only moderately palatable. There are harder-to-find brands, like Food for the Sole, that offer a shorter shelf life but higher quality ingredients and less processing. Because they are cooked in their own bags with the addition of only water, dehydrated meals eliminate the need for pots, pans or additional ingredients. They are a great place to start, but with a little experience, you’ll soon find many alternatives to add to your cooking repertoire. In addition to dehydrated meals, pack snacks with high protein and a combination of carbs and sugar, such as trail mix or protein bars. Jerky, dried fruit and durable fig bars are other good options. Supplies — Pack a pot and/or skillet for cooking and a cup, a plate and silverware for dining. Related: Camping kitchen checklist Water Supplies Access to water is the most essential portion of your planning process. If you are hiking along a river or will camp at a lake, you can plan to sterilize water. Otherwise, you will need to pack in all of your water. The average person will use around one liter of water per hour of hiking. Plus, meals require a lot more water than you might realize. With the weight of water coming in around 2.20 pounds per liter, you can easily tack 10 pounds onto your pack weight. It is essential to map out your water sources and plan accordingly. Water filtration system, Steripen or iodine (affects taste and is really only used for emergency situations) — These items ensure the water you drink is safe. Water bladder (2L or 3L) and collapsible water bottles — Each item will make it more convenient and efficient to grab a drink of water. Clothing Supplies Moisture is not your friend on the trail, so select your clothing carefully. When choosing clothing for your outdoor adventures, consider fabric performance. Avoid cotton, because it does not have good wicking abilities. Instead, pack wool-blend socks, shirts and long Johns. Opt for polyester/nylon options that wick away sweat and dry quickly. Depending on the weather, you can expect to bring several articles of clothing: at least two pairs of socks, underwear, shorts or convertible pants, long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, a jacket or sweater, rain gear, lightweight sandals, sturdy trail shoes or boots and a stocking cap, neck gaiter and gloves if necessary. Safety Supplies Map and compass — Make sure you know where you’re headed. Leave your itinerary with someone at home and avoid backpacking alone. For an added level of safety, consider a portable GPS device such as the SPOT or Garmin eTrex. Multi-tool or Knife — It’s amazing how handy a multi-tool can be thanks to having small screwdrivers, pliers, an opener and a knife in one small device. Paracord — This can be used for a clothesline, to make repairs, to hang a hammock or anything else for which you would generally use rope. Matches — A lighter is great, but also bring some waterproof matches. You can make your own by dipping strike-anywhere matches in melted wax. Store in a small mint tin. Flint and steel — Once you learn to use it, the flint and steel works great for backpacking and is also a basic survival supply. Bring a few cotton balls rolled in petroleum jelly or melted wax for an easy fire starter. First-aid kit — Include ibuprofen for sprains and stings, Benadryl for allergic reactions, bandages, gauze, tape, tongue depressors (they can be used as a small splint) and moleskin for blisters. Bathroom items — Don’t forget to pack toilet paper, hand sanitizer, medications, a toothbrush, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. Light trowel — This is helpful for burying waste (6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from any water source), and bring a resealable bag to carry out garbage at the end of your trip. Camp soap (biodegradable) — This can be used to wash your body, hair, dishes and more. Other essential items include several pieces that can come in handy for safety reasons: a flashlight or headlamp, bug spray, sunscreen , sunglasses and/or a hat, lip balm, heavy-duty tape for repairs, a needle and thread, pen and paper, a small amount of cash, personal identification, a backcountry access permit (if needed) and trekking poles (optional). Related: 4 must-have camping essentials Packing Tips With each item you pack, think about weight and size. Focus on putting the heaviest items at hip level with lighter supplies above and below it. Although many packs are set up for the sleeping bag at the bottom, we recommend putting it into a waterproof bag in case your water bladder leaks (we’ve seen it happen too many times!). Alternatively, pack your sleeping bag at the top of your backpack. Also look for ways you can minimize the size of supplies, such as wrapping the paracord around the bug spray container or taking tape wrapped around the tongue depressors. Use compression sacks to reduce the size of clothing and your sleeping bag. Place first-aid or food items in resealable bags, which can be used as a garbage bag on the trail. Once you’ve worked your way through this backpacking supply checklist, you should have everything you need to head out and enjoy the backcountry. Images via Ted Bryan Yu , Wilson Ye , Kevin Schmid , Colton Strickland , Emma Van Sant , Simon Migaj and Josiah Weiss

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Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials

SLA unveils year-round ski slope to cap Copenhagens massive trash incinerator

January 4, 2018 by  
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Architecture firm SLA has unveiled final designs for the much-anticipated park and ski slope that will top the currently operational Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen, Denmark. BIG , which masterplanned the incredible project, is also behind some of the ski slope designs. The all-weather green roof will be open throughout the year with a variety of programming from hiking trails and climbing walls to ski slopes and viewing platform for taking in the city skyline. The 170,000-square-foot park is essentially a massive green roof , a plant-covered building system that SLA has won numerous accolades for, including the 2017 Scandinavian Green Roof Award for Copenhagen’s Mærsk Tower and SUND Nature Park. Challenges for the Amager Bakke’s multipurpose green roof include steep slopes, safety concerns, and the facility’s byproduct heat that can reach as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit in certain areas. “The project to create an attractive and green activity rooftop park on top of Amager Bakke has been very challenging,” said SLA partner Rasmus Astrup, according to ArchDaily . “Not only because of the extreme natural – and unnatural – conditions of the site and the rooftop itself, which put severe stress on plants, trees and landscape . But also because we’ve had to ensure that the rooftop’s many activities are realized in an accessible, intuitive and inviting manner. The goal is to ensure that Amager Bakke will become an eventful recreational public space with a strong aesthetic and sensuous city nature that gives value for all Copenhageners – all year round.” Related: Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year The rooftop park is designed to become a lush environment welcoming to a great diversity of flora and fauna. Visitors will also be able to help seed the park with seed bombs . Construction has broken ground on the Amager Bakke Rooftop Park, which is slated for completion in September 2018. + SLA Via ArchDaily Images via SLA , except where noted

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SLA unveils year-round ski slope to cap Copenhagens massive trash incinerator

6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

December 26, 2017 by  
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Unless you are from Denmark or Norway, the concept of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) was likely foreign to you until the past few years when this idea of “cozying around” began gaining serious traction. In this big, loud, harsh world, many of us desire a return to good company, simple pleasures, and mindfulness in the moment, and hygge embodies these ideas and more. We’re sharing six ways to help you create this restorative state of mind beloved for centuries in Denmark (by way of Norway ). Image © @quizzically_yours 1. Host a low-key and intimate get-together Small hang-outs with friends are an ideal hygge-promoting gathering. Hygge get-togethers aren’t pretentious: think board game night , card night, or a bagel brunch in the comfort of your own home. The focus of these gatherings is on togetherness, not on spending five hours baking fussy hors d’oeuvres or desserts, so they are perfect for throwing together at a moment’s notice and are super potluck-friendly . An event that gets people absorbed in each other’s company and a low-tech activity that encourages them to detach from their phones is definitely high on the hygge scale. Linked to the concept of hygge is an appreciation of the outdoors, and Danes are known for prizing their open-air time from a young age: babies in Denmark and all over Scandinavia even take their naps outside . Take your gathering outdoors (weather permitting) to bring together the best of both worlds: huddling around an outdoor fire pit definitely fits the bill as does taking a dip in a hot tub. Image © Maria via Unsplash 2. Or make your own solo hygge experience Although hygge is often associated with cozy, candlelit get-togethers with dear friends, you can create your own hygge vibe when you are by yourself. Fredagsmys , a word from Denmark’s Nordic neighbor Sweden , is an actual term used for curling up indoors on a Friday night. So watch a movie, sit on the sofa, or make yourself some hot chocolate or tea and relax with a book (perhaps in front of a fire). Hygge is focused on the idea of enjoying and being aware of simple moments and experiences, so everything doesn’t have to be “just so”: partaking in a free flowing  yoga  practice or a nourishing  soup making  session applies. Image © Alisa Anton via Unsplash 3. Create hygge-friendly spaces in your home While it may be tempting to get caught up in the hygge-buying fever and feel the desire to suddenly possess a plethora of knit throws, cushy pillows, an array of scented candles, and more items, there’s no financial obligation required for creating a warm, comfortable, friendly space. Putting your favorite vintage and reclaimed  knickknacks on display creates a sociable, lived-in vibe. Ditto for items picked up during memorable vacations and roadtrips. If you have a home with large open spaces, consider arranging the furniture that you already own in configurations that encourage intimate tête à têtes. Even a small side table or an ottoman can be a place to gather around, set down your mug, or put your feet up. Interior designer Dani Arps for TaskRabbit suggests, “Texture and natural materials always add warmth; think chunky or nubby blankets stored in a mesh basket that sits next to a reclaimed coffee table.” Related: DIY Meditation Temple Built from Salvaged Materials Photo © Aaron Burden via Unsplash 4. Make space for quiet/meditation Mindfulness and gratitude are definitely components of a hygge mentality, and they dovetail nicely with many people’s goals of having a regular meditation practice. If sitting cross-legged and reciting a mantra isn’t your cup of tea, then consider making your cup of tea the meditation itself. Give yourself permission to really savor and enjoy your morning beverage  without feeling the need to check social media. Or take an invigorating walk with your dog by your side, soak in the tub , journal or even make a phone call to a friend or family member who you can’t connect with in person-these all align with the idea of creating a soothing and reflective practice. Since mindfulness is the goal, avoid multitasking while you are doing whatever activity you choose. Image via Inhabitots 5. Make comforting and nourishing food and drink If you were to scan Instagram, many of the images hashtagged with hygge would start to resemble each other: hands around a warm mug of something, a table laid out with humble but hearty fare, like this mushroom quinoa risotto , a bowl of oatmeal, or fruit and nut-studded granola. Another central tenet in Danish culture is spending time with family , so pulling out a favorite recipe that has been shared over generations for a family gathering is a great way to honor tradition (not to mention the fact that commonly beloved food seems to have a way of smoothing over many family riffs). A super hygge-friendly activity: create an intimate  multigenerational family cooking class with a matriarch or patriarch of the family teaching the younger set how to make a traditional family dish. A few other ideas to get you started include apple cider served in apple cups , a homemade vegan nutella-like spread , one pot sun-dried tomato and basil pasta , and a decadent vegan chocolate cake made with veggies . Image © Antonia Bukowska via Unsplash 6. Put hygge concepts to work year-round Although the idea of cozying around a fire or snuggled up on the couch with our favorites makes winter the season most associated with hygge, the concept of hygge can be employed throughout the year. After all, hygge is a mindset for making “ essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful ”. To that end, going for a midsummer midnight swim, having a backyard BBQ with a few friends, taking a hike in the spring rain, or organizing a pumpkin picking and carving session could all embody this mind/body/soul-nourishing concept. Lead image ©  Worthy of Elegance via Unsplash

Original post: 
6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

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