Oct 25

Orange Screw Outdoor Product Review

Orange Screw Ground Anchor

ground anchor

Orange Screw

How many campers does it take to screw in a ground anchor? It’s not just a corny joke, and it’s not just for camping. Very few outdoor products are as versatile as the Orange Screw ground anchor. Not only can you use it for securing your tent to the ground but you can also use it for many other purposes throughout your outdoor adventure; and then, you can use it once you get home too!!

What is the Orange Screw Ground Anchor

Orange Screw

Ground Anchor

In case you’ve gotten this far in the post and still have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain. So for starters, if you still haven’t figured out what a ground anchor is, think about tent stakes. They are very rudimentary ground anchors used for one specific purpose. The Orange Screw can function as a tent stake… and so much more. It can be used to hold things down, secure them in place or even to tether animals such as dogs, horses or rowdy sloths. (If you decide to name your next rock band The Rowdy Sloths, please remember where you got the idea.) To help you visualize (in case the attached photos aren’t enough), the Orange Screw is (spoiler alert) orange, corkscrew-shaped, about a foot tall (comes in two sizes) and has an open eye at the top. Even the open eye has many uses.

How Can You Use the Orange Screw?

ground anchor

Bike Tether

Here are just some of the ways you can use the Orange Screw ground anchor:

  • secure your tent to the ground
  • tether an otherwise stray animal
  • lock your bicycles in place
  • secure tarps and other materials from blowing away
  • secure lawn/camping chairs
  • secure awnings at home or in campgrounds
  • secure a trampoline (I wish I would have had this six years ago before my daughter’s trampoline starred in Gone With the Wind.)


    Secure Bike to Ground

  • secure outdoor holiday decorations & those kitschy blow-up things that sprout in people’s yards around Halloween and Christmas time

Easy to Use Ground Anchor

If you’re a seasoned camper, you’ve had this experience. You set up your tent and needed to stake it down so that it didn’t blow away in the wind or get carried away by thieving chipmunks. So you pull out the standard aluminum stakes, attach them to your tent tethers (as in Tom ties tent tethers tautly.), then find a flat rock to pound the aluminum stakes into the solid granite slab known as the earth. Then nearby campers are treated to following sounds of nature:

ground anchor

Tent Anchor

  1. Whap!! The sound of rock hitting aluminum.
  2. Shkroich!!  The sound of aluminum hitting solid bedrock.
  3. Schkoing. The sound of aluminum bending.
  4. Splat. The sound of finger smashing between tent stake and rock.
  5. AyeCarribaPendooty!! The sound of you attempting to curse in a language you are .0015% fluent in so as not to soil the ears of your children who by now are hiding behind a tree due to both fear and embarrassment.
  6. Hee-chitter-haw-chatter-ho. The sound of thieving chipmunks laughing at you.

If only you had the Orange Screw ground anchor, you would have instead heard the satisfied sigh of a happy camper as he/she:

ground tether

Outdoor Furniture Tether

  1. Held the Orange Screw pointy end to the ground.
  2. Twisted in a clockwise direction.
  3. Inserted the clear plastic sleeve into the round eye at the top of the Orange Screw.
  4. Continued twisting until the screw was securely in the ground or you hit oil Jed-Clampett-style.
  5. Secured tether lines to Orange Screw in one of three handy openings at the top.
  6. Went for a bike ride.

What I Like About the Orange Screw

outdoor tether

Orange Screw Ground Anchor

As you can tell, I like lists. So here’s my final list of the things I like about the Orange Screw:

  • catchy name
  • made of recycled plastic
  • made in the good old U.S. of A.
  • easy to use
  • versatile
  • sturdy
  • lightweight
  • easy to pack and store
  • perfect color for securing outdoor Halloween decorations
Orange Screw ground anchor outdoor product review

Secure Holiday Decorations

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2016/10/25/orange-screw-outdoor-product-review/

Sep 30

Fenix CL30R Camping Lantern

Fenix CL30R Camping Lantern Review

camp light review

Fenix Camp Lantern

The Fenix CL30R Camping Lantern is one tough cookie… and, unlike other tough cookies, it’s also waterproof to IPX-7 standards. But the fun just begins there. Fenix camping lanterns are definitely made with the great outdoors in mind. With 650 lumens of lighting power, they provide ample illumination for your tent, camper or around the campground. And one of the most awesome camp lantern features is a USP charging port that allow you not only to recharge the lantern but also to charge your other electronic devices. So in addition to providing light around your campsite, this powerful camping lantern also allows you to keep your smart phone or tablet charged.

Convenient Camping Light

The Fenix CL30R makes a great camping light for many different reasons:

review of camping lights

Great Outdoor Lighting

  • Size – At 5.4″ tall & 3.7″ in diameter, the Fenix CL30R Camping Lantern is small enough to easily fit into your camping gear without taking up too much room.
  • Power – With up to 650 lumens of light output, you won’t lack for illumination around your campsite.
  • Versatility – This may be my favorite feature of the Fenix CL30R Lantern. First, it can stand on its own on a picnic table or other (fairly) flat surface. But it also has a handle for hanging the lantern in your tent, camper or from a convenient hook or limb around your campsite.
  • Useful – The designers from Fenix Lighting pulled out all the stops when they planned the CL30R Camping Lantern. It has six different lighting modes to suit all of your
    review of camping lights

    Versatile Camp Lantern

    camping needs and to save power when necessary. The light modes include eco, low, medium, high, turbo and strobe/blinking. Depending on conditions, the eco mode provides 10 lumens of lighting power and can last up to 300 hours.

  • Durable- This Fenix camping light is both waterproof and cold-resistant, so it stands up to most inclement camping conditions.

Fenix Camping Lantern Passed the Trailsnet Camp Lighting Test

The Fenix CL30R Camping Lantern easily passed the Trailsnet Camp Light Testing Process. It provided ample lighting while also allowing for long battery life. The camp light illumination

camp light review

Passed the Lighting Test

was evenly distributed and sufficient for utilitarian campsite purposes and also for reading trail maps in even the darkest conditions. It was definitely rugged enough to stand up to high-altitude camping conditions while also being easy to stow and store. During the testing process, I had one question about the batteries, so I called the Fenix Lighting customer service team. My question was answered with professionalism and courtesy, thus passing the customer service test with flying colors. Fenix Lighting also carries a full line of other outdoor lights including flashlights, headlamps and bike lights. I look forward to testing their bicycle lights sometime soon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one Fenix CL30R Camping Lantern for free from Fenix Lighting in consideration for a gear review.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2016/09/30/fenix-cl30r-camping-lantern/

Sep 28

Trailsnet Light Testing Process

Testing for Outdoor Activity Lights

Trailsnet rigorously tests all backpacking, hiking, bicycling and camping lights that we review. We have a thorough process to determine light quality and functionality. Of course we look at factors such as size, weight, portability and durability. But we also look at how much light each product produces and the usefulness of that light. In other words, does it produce enough light and can that light be used for everyday (night) activities on the trail and around the campsite.

White Room Test for Camping Light

camp light review

White Room Test

As far as we know, this is a Trailsnet exclusive. We have a special “white room” to consistently check each light we review. Since conditions are different at each different site and at various times of the day and year, we wanted a way to compare lights in a stable and controlled environment; so we came up with the Trailsnet white room. It’s a place where we can test each light with absolutely no outside light to skew the results. And since we place all lights in the exact same spot in a room that is completely covered in white vapor barrier material, each testing situation is precisely the same so we can compare apples to apples.

review of camping lights

Campsite Light Test

Simulated Campsite Lantern Test

Our simulated campsite is the exact opposite of our White Room Light Test. It is outside, in a camp-like setting so we can test the functionality of lights at various times of day and in various real-life conditions. This is also were we test for durability and how waterproof each light is. It is not unusual for critters to wander by while we’re testing, so we try to include them in the photos just for the fun of it.

Strobe Test for Camping Lights

camp light review

Panoramic Strobe Light Test

Most camp lanterns now come with strobe functions as part of the light offerings. We’ve come up with a way to test the functionality and illumination of strobe lights. We utilize the white room and the pano setting on our camera to perform a controlled pan of the area while the strobe light is pulsing. By measuring the distance between light bars, checking for top/bottom evenness and brightness of the light at various distances from the center, we can determine the usefulness of each lantern when set to strobe function.

review of camping lights

Into the Swamp of Doom

Trail to Nowhere Test for Bicycle Light

It’s a bicyclists worst nightmare. To get caught out on the trail, at night, and then run into a treacherous trail hazard without time to stop. In an ideal world, all trails would be perfectly maintained and all of our rides would end before the sun sets. But as most avid bicyclists can attest, it isn’t a perfect world. So we found that worst case scenario. We discovered a section of trail that literally ends in the middle of nowhere and drops you right into the swamp of doom if you aren’t prepared to stop. This would truly be a nightmare scenario. So we are able to determine how close to the end of the trail we are before being able to see either the end of the concrete or the aforementioned “swamp of doom.” It truly is a real-life test for a real-life situation. Only the best bike lights need apply.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2016/09/28/trailsnet-light-testing-process/

Jul 17

Crosskix Granite 2.0 Footwear

Crosskix Granite 2.0 Footwear for Trail Versatility

Crosskix 2.0 on the Trail

Crosskix 2.0 on the Trail

First off, Crosskix was not created specifically as a trail shoe, but after thoroughly reviewing the Crosskix 2.0 lightweight sporty Foamposite footwear, I can tell you that you may add them to your list of must-haves on your hiking, biking and backpacking lists. Let’s start by taking a quick look at the positive features of the Crosskix footwear:

  • They are extremely lightweight.
  • They are fully submersible in water without affecting their performance, fit or functionality.
  • They are reasonably priced.
  • They pack easily in your backpack, duffle bag or suitcase.
  • They are comfortable after a hard day on your feet.

    Walking the Dog w/ Crosskix 2.0

    Walking the Dog w/ Crosskix

Crosskix: The Perfect Outdoor Footwear

Crosskix are incredibly durable and versatile. Let’s check out at all the potential uses for Crosskix footwear. You’ll see that they are good for both trail activities & for everyday home uses. You can wear Crosskix for:

  • On the trail – Crosskix are great for short hikes, strolls & walks.
  • Walking the dog – They’re especially great for those times when you’re in a hurry & need something you can quickly slip on & head out the door.
  • Apres trail – Crosskix are wonderful for relaxing after a long hike.
  • Lounging around the house, tent or camper – After a hard day in the great outdoors, Crosskix are lightweight & comfy for hanging around camp.

    Crosskix 2.0 Fording a Stream

    Crosskix 2.0 Fording a Stream

  • Water activities – Since Crosskix are designed to be submersible, they make a perfect shoe for fun in the creek, lake or river.

Crosskix on the Trail

Let’s take a look at some specific activities and see how Crosskix can be of benefit:

  • Backpacking – You probably won’t wear Crosskix on the trail with a heavy backpack; but Crosskix footwear is absolutely fantastic as a creek fording shoe and as campsite footwear. When you come to a stream, you’ve normally got two choices: Go barefoot & risk falling in the stream or wearing your hiking shoes & getting them (& your socks) wet. A better choice is to remove your hiking shoes and put on a pair of Crosskix while crossing the stream. And once you get to camp, it feels great to take off your stinky, sweaty hiking boots and put on a lightweight pair of Crosskix.

    Crosskix 2.0 in the Water

    Crosskix 2.0 in the Water

  • Trail biking – After a long ride, it’s traditional for bicyclists to either gather in the parking lot for beverages or visit a local watering hole for food & braggadocio. Get out of your uncomfortable biking shoes and throw on a pair of Crosskix. You’ll be the envy of your gathering.
  • Dayhiking – Throw a pair of Crosskix into your daypack or hydration pack. They make a great back-up shoe, water shoe or relaxation footwear. It’s like wearing slippers in the great outdoors… comfy, lightweight and water submersible.

I love the look, comfort, price, durability and versatility of Crosskix Footwear. I can only think of one minor change that I would make if I had my druthers. I’d love to see just a bit more arch support. Other than that, I think Crosskix are about to take the outdoor footwear world by storm. I feel completely confident to recommend Crosskix for outdoor enthusiasts and trail-loving folks worldwide!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Crosskix Granite 2.0 for free from Cosskix footwear in consideration for a gear review.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2016/07/17/crosskix-trail-product-review/

Jun 24

Montana Cabin Near Trails & Skiing

Montana Cabin For Sale – Near Trails & Ski Area

If you are looking for the best mountain cabin, look no further. This wonderful Pipe Creek luxury cabin is near Libby, Montana and many hiking, biking & cross-country ski trails, plus it is near a wonderful local ski area and very close to a year-round recreational creek. It’s even fairly close (couple miles) to the famous Red Dog Saloon for those nights you want to grab a burger, pizza and/or cold beverage. If you’ve always wanted a Montana cabin to call your very own, now’s the time, and this is the cabin. You can decide what you want to do with the rest of the 24+ acres that make up your very own slice of Montana paradise. Then enjoy the world’s best recreation area near Turner Mountain Ski Area, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Lake Koocanusa, The Yaak, and so much more…

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 4.36.23 PM

Montana Cabin & Property For Sale

Link to this Montana property and beautiful home

View information about this Montana cabin & Montana property here.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2016/06/24/montana-cabin/

Jun 18

Trails in England

Lots of Footpaths in England…

Cotswolds Footpath

Footpath to Broadway


Cotswold Footpath

England is a hikers paradise. For someone from the United States or just about any other country, the mass profusion of walking trails in England is unbelievable. It is no exaggeration to say that they’re everywhere. Whether you’re looking at a local map or driving on one of the roads, you will see public footpaths scattered (in the immortal words of my grandmother) from hell to breakfast. It is so easy to find great trails in England, I won’t even try giving suggestions. It would be like standing on a bleak deserted island in the middle of the night, looking skyward and asking, which is your favorite star? There are just too many choices. Instead, I will provide you with the four most important pieces of equipment/clothing to take on your British footpath holiday:

  • a decent map is a must – Remember, the good news is… there are a lot of trails. The bad news is… there are a lot
    Hiking England

    Hiking England

    of trails. Yes, most of them are well marked… most of the time. But even the most seasoned local can get turned around & end up on the wrong footpath.

  • sturdy walking shoes – The vast majority of trails in England are NOT technical. But the terrain can be tricky and slicky; so have good shoes with good traction.
  • raingear – From my experience (four trips) in England, the whole rain thing is a little overblown. I have had wonderful weather on every trip. But I’ve also only visited in the summer. And even at that, I did encounter some rainy days. From what I’ve heard, the winter can be pretty darned soggy. So it’s best to be prepared for the famous England rain. Pack both a rain jacket and rain pants. Make sure you’ve got a decent waterproof hood on your jacket as well. Plus, you may also want some sort of rain gator for your hiking boots/shoes.
  • Plenty of water – This has nothing to do with England and everything to do with staying hydrated. No matter what

    Cotswold Hiking Trail

    the weather, you will need plenty of fluids to keep you happy and healthy. And water is still the best fluid for active travelers.

  • a camera – Even if it’s just your cell phone camera (also known as the only camera I ever use these days) you should be prepared to take lots of memorable shots. Whether it’s an adorable flock of sheep, a flower strewn field or a breathtaking seascape, you will never run out of scenic photo opportunities.

Now of course you will have plenty of other personal needs, depending on your own experience and preferences. Some of you wouldn’t leave home without hiking poles, specific trail snacks and maybe even little extras like a shirt and some underwear. But I’m going to assume you already have those bases covered.


Footpaths in England often cross scenic bridges & visit small villages.


Trails Near Ludlow, UK

Few Bike Paths in England…

A bike trail by any other name would smell as sweet. It may be a horrible Shakespeare paraphrase, but it brings up an interesting & frustrating point. Before you visit England looking for bike trails, it’s important to know that it’s nearly impossible to determine what is actually a bike path. For example, none of the following necessarily mean you will be riding on a dedicated bicycle trail: bike route, cycle route, bike path, cycle path or greenway; in fact even the phrase traffic fee cycle route is seldom really traffic free. England has a great organization, called Sustains, that promotes alternative transportation including safe bicycle routes. Last year, when  I was in England, I picked up a book entitled Sustrans Traffic Free Cycle Rides. Once I got the book home and started browsing through it, I

realized that few of the Traffic Free Rides were actually and completely traffic free.

On my most recent trip to England earlier this month, the only two dedicated, traffic-free bike paths I was able to ride while in England were both near Stratford-Upon-Avon. One of them was the Stratford Greenway path and the other was the Stratford-Upon-Avon Canal Cycle Route. The longest of these two cycle paths is only five miles long, so neither one can be considered a long-distance bike path by any means. However, after spending three weeks cycling on narrow British roads, I was happy for whatever bike trails I could find.

England bike trail

England Bike Path

It’s a bit of a mystery to me why England (Great Britain, UK) doesn’t have more bike paths. Many British people are avid cyclists and there are plenty of potential bike paths. Take a look at any detailed countryside map, and you’ll discover the place is crawling with abandoned (they say disused) railroad lines and canal towpaths. That along with the wonderfully communal property laws in England and the potential for oodles and boodles of awesome multiuse bike paths is tremendous. But for some reason, the bike trails are few and far between. And long-distance bike paths are nearly non-existent. That is truly a great loss for both citizens of the UK and her visitors. I wonder if British officials realize all the potential commerce they could generate if they developed more bike paths. Keep in mind, bicyclists need to eat, sleep somewhere, rent bikes, hire tour guide, buy souvenirs, etc.

I will be discussing more about British trails in a future Trailsnet blog post. But for now, a brief summary is as follows:

  • Public Footpaths – the best and most abundant in the world
  • Traffic-Free Bike Paths – so much potential, so little follow-through

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2016/06/18/trails-in-england/

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