How Great Sponsors and Awesome Company Took Away My Camping Excuses
Hey there. It's been a while since I've posted anything to my space here on the Internet. How are you ?
If you've been keeping up with my on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, you might have figured out that I'd just completed a camping experience with James Smith, Michael Kwan, Stacey Robinsmith, and Dale Allen Berg. Signified by our last meal which is a Cantonese style hot pot, and in the great outdoors no less. I hope to see #CampingHotPot or some variation to trend.
Two of this group have never gone camping before as an adult. Two more of us were more seasoned and enthusiastic. And then there was me. Neither overly enthusiastic, nor dreadful of the experience. I mean, I would totally survive in the wilderness eating grubs if I had to. But, what I found was all my excuses were stupid, and I had a great time anyway. It just so happened that we had a lot of great sponsors that chipped away at them, and got me out the door. But why the hesitation?
You see, a younger me would have relished at the opportunity to get outside. But as I grew older, I found that my reasons for going outside simply weren't as strong as my excuses for staying inside. I just enjoy the luxuries of indoor living more than outdoor living. It didn't help that I am literally the center of attention for mosquitoes when I do go outside. But because of the time of year we chose for our inaugural #5DadsGoWild camping trip, even my major beef with bugs, were swatted away. And let's not forget, the great company that joined me for this experience. They might be the biggest reason why I might head off into the wilderness again.
So join me, as I recognize these great brands as they chipped at my silly excuses, and got me out there with four other dads, for an experience none of us will forget. And as a further full disclosure, yes, these are sponsors of the trip, so please don't mistake this for a review. Because I'm focusing on the warm fuzzy feelings, but I'm letting you know, I may be totally biased.
We Don't Have the Right Car For This!
I like having a clean car. I don't like having it covered in anything but the faint fragrance of new car smell. And with the warning of rain and snow, our trip was due to have any number of messes to haul home with me. So, when FORD Canada decided to 'go further' and loan us a shiny fire engine red F-150 Lariat edition, my transportation excuse was totally nullified. Not only would this be a perfect vehicle for a potentially muddy excursion, but it would also give us an easy way out of the campground, in case we have to pack up quickly and just toss it all in there.
Surprisingly, there was also plenty of room inside. In fact, I think the cabin was the same size as an entire 2018 FORD EcoSport. And while I do like to drive, very briskly, my experience with driving a truck this size was fairly limited. So it was great that James acted as my British limo driver, giving me that luxury that I'm partial to. Allowing me to snap photos and enjoy the ride to our campground in Manning Park, BC Canada. I'll touch on this great camping mobile a bit more in an upcoming post about my totally biased experience.
So yeah, my car excuse was destroyed. Next?
There Are No Power Outlets in the Wild!
I pack a lot of gadgets so heading out into the woods without sufficient power is worrying to me, and especially Michael, who's cell structure is practically maintained by WiFi fields. That's why it was such a relief to have Anker onboard supplying us not only with power banks, but also their PowerPort Solar 2 chargers. Power banks will eventually discharge, but thanks to the addition of the solar charger, we could charge up our gadgets at night, and recharge during the day. Each PowerPort Solar 2 charger has 2 USB ports for a total of 21 watts of output, which is able to charge a smartphone in a few hours, depending on weather and internal battery size. You can even hang it on your backpack as you explore the outdoors, thanks to built in grommets, weather proof construction, and durable design.
The Anker PowerCore 26800 was also part of our power kits, and being 26,800 mAh, are the largest you can bring on any commercial airline flight. So, when you're out of the woods, it'll supply enough power for any trans-Atlantic flight. And in the woods, the high quality cells and constructions held up to the -2C temperatures we experienced, while topping off our cameras, smartphones, flashlights, and more.
The power of the sun and huge power banks killed my no power excuse big time.
What Are We Going to Do About Snacks?
I do love my jerky. In fact, it's probably one of few acceptable snack items on my list that won't go bad, tastes great, and will actually give you sustained energy unlike so many other options out there. Plus, you can eat it in the car and it won't create an unbearable mess to clean up. My only 'beef' with it was that I'd need to much of it to survive in the potentially -2C weather that we'd be headed into.
Luckily, McSweeney's Premium Jerky and Meat Snacks, a proudly Canadian company, stepped up to help these dads out, and provided our excursion with a selection of their most popular products. This included their greatest hits like teriyaki beef (pictured above) to their 'L'il' Peps bite sized pepperoni sticks. While their cracked pepper beef jerky was tasty, and I didn't leave a single shred of it behind, I was quite partial to their hickory smoked bacon pork jerky. They had me at hickory smoked.
So snack excuses? What excuses?
We Can't Just Survive on Jerky!
Sure we could! But I like to enjoy a good solid meal no matter where I go. And for our first night, first time adult camper, Dale, stepped up to create an amazing meal with these completely bio-degradable products from Cassus Grill.
These amazing products take the clean up and environmental impact away from the camp cooking experience. Plus, right after you're done cooking, you can push them into the fire pit and they'll get that blaze going for those smores. They use bamboo based Quick Oxylite charcoal briquettes that reach a temperature of 400F in around 5 min. Just setup the grill and light the four corners, and you've got sustained heat for about an hour, depending on the environment.
It was a challenge for us to keep the temperature up, but thanks to a lot of foil, good cooking vessels, and Dale's year's of experience as a professional chef, we had some of the best burgers and peach cobbler ever.
Thanks to the momentum of this meal, the rest of the weekend brought out the inner chefs in all of us as we were also supported by House of Knives, who gave us their new Fusion Classic kitchen knives to try out. Their 8 inch chef knife and their 3.5 inch paring knife to be exact. These knives represent a great Canadian designed alternative to more expensive brands, featuring German steel, perfect balance, and some of the sharpest edges possible on any production knife. But most importantly, they were designed with affordability in mind, which means that that more people can get great tools in their kitchen.
House of Knives also provided the 5 Dads Go Wild squad with honing steels so we can maintain those edges, and sharpening stones, so we can re-sharpen when needed. All of this was placed in a Kussi knife roll, which they hope would encourage us to bring the means to create healthier meals, wherever we went. In fact, Dale and I tutored Stacey in the art of breaking down an entire whole chicken. Now guess who's going to be making broth and buying whole chickens to break down from now on? In fact, he just tackled butter chicken.
House of Knives also gave us their straight edge Kussi peeler to try out, which are so sharp, they take just the right amount of peel off your vegetables, leading to less food waste.
So the excuse that we won't have a good meal? Destroyed!
How Are We Going to Deal With the Darkness?
On the first night, it would have been a tent setup disaster had it not been for the FavourLight Headlights that House of Knives supplied the squad. Not only did they help get camp setup in the dwindling daylight, but they also helped Dale keep his hands free while preparing that amazing first night meal. And for the rest of us, it let us get up and go the outhouses in the middle of the night without issue. Plus, the light is rechargeable so there's no need to fumble for batteries. The 200 lumens of output turns night to day fairly quickly on the trail. There's even a 'red' mode for when we want to see where we're going, without disturbing others. They are truly a retailer that is more than just knives.
And to calm our nerves about potential bear attacks each night, it was great to have Sumac Ridge Estate Winery along for the trip. Most people think camping is for breaking out the beer and only the beer. But I have to say, Sumac Ridge Winery was so smart to partner with us on this. There's definitely a place in my heart for wine after this trip. It definitely took the edge off our long, but enjoyable, days of exploring the outdoors. Because wine is fancy, there was less chance of us over indulging because that would be totally uncivilized. Try their Gewurztraminer. It's awesome. Actually, all their wine was awesome. Not a drop left.
So it's going to be too dark? Excuses nullified. No good drinks. Pfft.
What Am I Going to Wear?
Well, Ben Sherman and Filson had a few ideas. And while my first choice wouldn't be a mustard yellow jumper with a duck on it, or really skinny legged stretch trousers, I have to admit, the British inspired Ben Sherman styles really started to grow on me. No one looks as good in a Ben Sherman's "Geo Duck" jumper. Nobody. The clothing was also extremely comfortable and according to our resident Ben Sherman fan, James, it apparently lasts forever.
A little more weather and environment appropriate, Filson, who's American designs are made for rugged outdoor wear, provided us fashions that promote the growth of facial hair. What says the great outdoors more than flannel? But I'm not talking any flannel. I'm talking super thick and long wearing flannel work shirts that are made so well, they can be worn as jackets. And let's not forget about the Watch Cap "Beanie" made of virgin USA wool. These guys kind of make Mark's Work Wearhouse look...preppy.
While neither of these company's were on my radar before, they definitely are on my radar now. I have to admit, I do know how to dress appropriately for the weather. But it was fun getting some new styles to play with.
I Can't Live Without Good Coffee!
No truer words can be said, where four of the five dads would literally be zombies without the sweet smell of the life bringing coffee bean. And three of us were total coffee snobs. OK, maybe two of us. But nonetheless, a grave concern that would turn the trip into success or crushing defeat. But luckily, thanks to Blue Moose Coffee House in Hope, BC, our caffeinated needs were met with ease. Every morning, we woke up to the fresh smell of ethical bean coffee in a variety of flavours, and sprung to life, ready to tackle the great outdoors.
This is not an excuse. This is a fact of life.
We Had Plenty of Excuses
Whether they are legitimate one or not, we all have excuses for not doing something. And I know that if it wasn't for the fierce excitement of the other dads, and the unexpected support of great brand sponsors, I probably would have been home watching Netflix, while 4 other dads had an amazing bonding experience. I'm so glad that I went on this trip, and I'm equally 'chuffed', as James would say, about meeting four other people that are in the same boat as I am, dealing with fatherhood, life, and needing people to share that with.
I'd like to thank James of SocialDad for working overtime for putting in the work to make this happen. Make sure you also check out stories from Michael, Stacey and Dale as well. And don't forget to pick up the story as we unpack our experiences on Instagram and Twitter under the hashtag #5DadsGoWild.
Full Disclosure: Again, I'm making it absolutely crystal clear that this event was sponsored by all the aforementioned companies in this piece and I totally received cool product, food, and coffee from them. I'm totally biased regarding their support, but I standby my opinions because these are brands that align with my taste and values. And they gave me the extra encouragement I needed to to get me to go camping. But I do hope you check them out because they support dads and cool events like this.