Monday, December 1, 2014

Wild Opens December 5th!

Cheryl Strayed Wild Movie Poster

Honestly when I finished Cheryl Strayed's Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail I wouldn't have picked it to get its own movie.  But Reese Witherspoon thought differently and starting this Friday we all get the treat of watching the Oscar winning actress bring Cheryl Strayed's WILD to life on the silver screen.  Hopefully a week from now I'll be entertaining you with my review of the movie.

I pretty much like any backpacking movie so I may not be the best judge to rely on, but Rotten Tomatoes is giving Reese Witherspoon's Wild a 89% rating.  Given that the subject matter is not going to excite the masses these are pretty high marks.  As a fan of  Witherspoon's memorable performance in Walk the Line, I'm really hopeful. Some critics have already made this comparison so we could be in store for a Best Actress caliber performance.  

I think drama lovers will love Strayed's intense personal backstory.  But outfitters like me are going to be vicariously enjoying the challenges of a PCT thru-hike.  Although she only finished 1100 miles, many thru-hikers have had the same fate of needing to bypass the wintery conditions of the High Sierra in high snow pack years.  Cheryl Strayed definitely shows us that it doesn't take a ton of preparation--or even the right gear--to step off and live big.   A movie like this has the potential to inspire more folks to find solace in prolonged outdoors adventures to our country's great wild places.

I really want to compare Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild to Strayed/Witherspoon's Wild, but I'll save that for a later review.  (Or maybe wait at least until I see what Witherspoon has in store.)  The obvious difference is that Chris McCandless' battles with his personal demons ultimately led to his tragic death in the wilderness of Alaska.   Strayed's story of torment leads to personal triumph and an impressive achievement.

Reese Witherspoon on the PCT

Friday, November 21, 2014

How do I win in 104.7 FM The Point's Great Great Giveaway?

All you have to do is tune in to 104.7 THE POINT during the month of November and listen for the sound of the gift being unwrapped.  Then be 7th caller at 1-877-FM-POINT to qualify for the Great Gift Giveaway prize drawing.  Each day a gift worth over $350 will be awarded to one lucky listener.  Today-Friday, Novermber 21st is CC Outdoor Store's day to give away a pair of Black Diamond Cayenne Heated Gloves.

How do Black Diamond Cayenne Heated Gloves work exactly?   Three features will keep your fingers warm.  

First and most impressive is the rechargeable Therm-ic heating system that operates off a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery and has 3 heat settings.  The Black Diamond Cayenne lets you dial in the perfect amount of warmth. 

Second, a waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX XCR insert seals out snow and moisture, making these gloves 100% waterproof and 100% breathable.  (Comes with the Gore-Tex guarantee.

Third, is Cayenne's PrimaLoft One insulation to keep the warmth in...or to work alone on warmer days.  142g of of insulation combined with a woven nylon stretch shell and goat leather palms will protect you from the weather.  

The Cayenne comes with a universal adapter so you can plug these into any wall socket worldwide.  

Come find the Cayenne on clearance sale at CC before they're gone.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Can Zamberlan 760 Steeps Still Be Purchased?

The 2010 and 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Zamberlan 760 Steep has been discontinued. We only have a men's 9.5 and a women's 10 left in stock. There might be a few more out there, but worry not, Zamberlan has replaced them with a new boot, built on the same last, called the 750 Route.

Like the Steep, Zamberlan designed the Route to give superlative comfort to long-distance trekkers and backpackers. The boots, handmade in Italy, feature Gore-Tex waterproofing, a Vibram sole, and are comprised of leather and waxed suede to ensure durability and protection for expeditions of all kinds.

We just received our shipment, and as sad as we were to see the Steeps go, we're just as psyched to be able to hook people up with a pair of these awesome new Zamberlan Routes.

Are your old, beaten boots causing your feet or back to hurt? Have you been putting off replacing them? If you're answering yes, you deserve a pair of the 750 Routes.

See you soon!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

"Should I Buy a Sleeping Pad with Horizontal or Vertical Baffles?"

That's a great question, and to answer it accurately, we have to ask you one more question. Will you be sleeping in a tent or hammock?  If you predominantly sleep in a tent, according to the research and testing I recently completed, I don't think you can make a wrong decision here. If you answered "hammock," skip the next two paragraphs (What is this, a choose your own adventure blog?).

It's true that in the past vertical-baffled sleeping pads were known to "taco," leaving the wannabe sleeper wedged or worse, too close to the edge and rolling off the pad. Big Agnes has taken that feedback to make improvements upon their popular Air Core and Insulated Air Core sleeping pads. I literally just got off of one, and the new design features a berm around the pad's perimeter which effectively cradles sleepers and largely reduces any issues with tex-mex cuisine. It also felt as if the vertical baffles gave alignment to my body as I laid on my back.  Plus, vertical baffles allow the pad to slide into Big Agnes sleeping bag sleeves better than pads with horizontal baffles.  .

Sleeping on ground with a horizontal-baffled pad is also a go. A few moments ago, I was atop Nemo's new Astro Air (nearly identical to the Astro Air Lite and Astro Air Insulated), and I enjoyed the level of comfort achieved from the contouring feeling which horizontal baffles give. The big benefit of this type of construction is its side-to-side stability.  The top baffle is also enlarged, to provide sleepers with a instant pillow.

If you mostly like to sleep in a hammock, that settles it; you want a sleeping pad with horizontal baffles. It alleviates any feeling of constriction by spreading out the material horizontally, rather than being wrapped up like an eggroll. Hammocks alone are rather comfortable, but when a sleeping pad featuring horizontal baffles is brought into the equation, the comfort level skyrockets (IMHO). It morphs regular hammocks from a floating coffin-esque sleep station to a hovering cocoon of cushion.

All in all, technology and gear companies are advancing at a rate which gives benefits to backpackers and campers they could've never dreamed of decades ago. You really can't go wrong nowadays.

But you can still come by and test them out for yourself :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Win a Rafting Trip for Four, Courtesy of The Point

whitewater rafting kennebec river maine
Want to experience some unforgettable recreation? Then stop by soon, because the generous folks at 104.7 The Point have a sweepstakes going that any outdoors-oriented person would be glad to win.

Entries can be made until July 13th to win and bring three friends on a free white water rafting trip at Northern Outdoors, along the Kennebec River in Maine. The package also includes two nights in a deluxe cabin.

Independent Radio has designated six places where entries can be submitted, and CCOutdoorStore is (our favorite) one of them. A single finalist will be chosen from each entry box, and then from the finalists, one ultimate winner will be selected. The effort it takes to enroll in the contest multiplied by luck could equal an extraordinary experience!!

The entry box is smack-dab between our expansive hiking boot section and our Julbo and Native Sunglasses display.

Here's a video Northern Outdoors published about a month ago; it looks pretty sweet:

See you at CC!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Welcome Summer Sale!

Summer is here...finally!  And so is CC Outdoor Store's Welcome Summer Sale.  Located in proximity to Little River State Park, Camel's Hump State Park, the Long Trail, and on the Internet,   CC Outdoor Store is your one stop shop for all things hiking, backpacking and camping.  Shoppers will find big discounts on big boot, backpacking, tent and sleeping bag brands like Vasque, Deuter, and Kelty.  Save 20-25% through Tuesday 6/24.  Locals can come in the store for big savings on sunglasses, sunshades and hammocks, now through Sat. 6/21.  For a complete list of brands on sale visit our promotions page

We are OPEN Monday-Saturday 9:30-5:30 at 438 US RT 2, Waterbury, VT 05676.  Look for us just off I-89  in the twin white silos, 3/4 mi. North of Exit 10.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

$1000 Gear Giveaway to Celebrate our 15th Anniversary

CC Outdoor Store is celebrating a big milestone this weekend: our 15th Anniversary.  Come celebrate with us in our retail store or our on-line store.  You'll save 20% in store or online with  Discount Code Happy15th.  You'll save 20% off your entire order now through April 13th.  No minimum purchase required.  Discount applies only on full-priced items. 

Grant posing next to cairn on Mt. Katahdin, 2012
To celebrate this milestone our vendors have sponsored lots of door prizes and our  
$1000 Grand Gear Giveaway: 

* Lowa Renegade Mid Hiking Boots
* Vasque Breeze Hiking Boots
* Darn Tough Socks
* Camelbak Hydration Pack
* Osprey Daypack
*  Momentum Watch
* Big Agnes Sleeping Pad
* Nemo Sleeping Pad
* Leki Poles
* Julbo Sunglasses

There are three ways to enter:

1. Submit a Milestone photo of your own on our Facebook page.2. Enter our in     store drawing.3. Comment on this post about which prize you'd want and why.  Include your name and email. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to Make a Healthy Smoothie

Everyone knows how to make a smoothie including my 9 year old son.  And it's easy enough to make them taste great.  But how do you make a healthy smoothie?  Mastering the art of smoothie making comes down to dialing in high doses of nutrition, with long lasting energy, AND still have them come out tasting great.  
I've been on a smoothie kick since the beginning of the year; which may have a lot to do with two good friends who started their second 30 day dietary "cleanse" which relies on a LOT of smoothie consumption.  But it really has more to do with wanting to kick start my 46 year old body into a healthier gear.  As we age the odds just keep going up that we'll encounter one of those nasty life changing health crises.  I'll save those fears for another blog.  
At the crux of my new found smoothie prowess is ultra-runner Scott Jurek's book Eat and Run where he espouses multiple smoothie recipes for ultra-performance.  I'll save my review of Jurek's book--which I couldn't put down--for another time too.  His recipe for a green smoothie made with spirulina is a real winner.  Turns out the spirulina smoothie is a great way to get that superfood into my diet.  Yeah, spirulina is that green, dried health food powder made from a green algae that smells pretty earthy.  Jurek even has a recipe that utilizes edamame--a.k.a. cooked soybeans--for a green protein punch.  I'm still perfecting my green smoothie recipes as I look for ways to optimize my health.   And I just came across another green pre-race smoothie on Outside Magazine on-line that uses spinach for a nutrient punch.  This suggestion definitely further stretched my capacities as a smoothie maker.  
Adding green to your smoothies raises the nutritional bar higher than simply replacing electrolytes like potassium with the standard banana.  Most smoothie lovers are also familiar with other ways to boost the protein intake.  Yogurt and protein powders like those available at General Nutrition Center make it easy.  But plant based protein like silken tofu nicely create a neutral foundation for most any smoothie.  I've started using raw chia seed regularly which acts both as a thickener and nutritional supplement.  A good source of protein and healthy fat, chia seed also adds interesting texture to your glass; although my kids would generally not agree.  I've found that plant-based smoothie components are easier on my stomach and leave me feeling ready to head right out on the trail without the normal wait times recommended between eating and exercising. 
I've discovered lots of great new smoothie components in the past 3 months.  Coconut in it's varied forms--milk, butter, even oil--is right there in the top five on my list.  Coconut makes for a great way to build your smoothies' flavor profile while getting all the benefits of a well rounded nutrition supplement.  Other additives like ginger, papaya, and tumeric can add distinctive flavor while contributing digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits.  The list goes on and so should you as you look for great new smoothie combinations to spice up your palate and your performance.  

And since this is an outdoor gear blog after all, we should note that the route to the highest state of smoothie bliss can be found by blending your beverage under your own power with GSI's hand-cranked Vortex blender.  If nothing else the Vortex allows you to take your smoothies to the campground or other outdoor venue. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Care for Hiking Boots.

Caring for your hiking boots is quite simple.  If you've made a substantial investment, you'll want to get the most from it.  Here are some things you should DO...and NOT DO when enjoying your boots.  Get the answers you need for your boot care questions.  What's the best way to clean my boots after using them?  When should I waterproof my boots? How do I take care of leather boots?  Remember whatever you do, keep your boots away from high heat like that from a campfire, a hair dryer, and even direct sunlight when they're not in use.  We adapted the following guidelines from our Caring for Lowa Boots page which relies on some great manufacturer's tips and graphics from Lowa. 

What's the best way to clean my dusty or muddy leather boots? Lowa Boot Care 

Air your boots and dry them out after every use.  Remove the laces and insoles. Gently rinse your boots under lukewarm water for normal levels of dirtiness. Soap suds can be used instead of specialty cleaning products for light- to medium- soiled boots but beware soap and other detergents will "open" the leather's pores so if you go this route you'll need to waterproof your boots again after they dry.  For this reason I usually just use light pressure from a garden hose and a circular finger rub to get even heavier mud off.  Clean the insoles and laces with a small amount of soil suds.  Your insoles will also benefit from a product like McNett's Rank Away an enzyme based odor control agent.  Those specialized cleaning products are best used on extremely dirty boots or after a long period of neglect.

After cleaning my hiking boots, how do I waterproof them? Lowa Boot Care Lowa Boot Care                                              

Thoroughly dry your boots.  Be patient.  It is tempting to apply heat to speed this up...but you risk damaging your boots.  Using a wax-cream, gently rub or polish (with a brush) into the wax. The proprietary blend made by your boot's manufacturer works best as it should exactly match the treatment applied to the leather when you boots were crafted.  (If your manufacturer doesn't have their own product you might ask yourself if they've made the boots to last.)  This keeps the leather moisturized and prevents it from dryness, cracking, and hardening.   If you do use a hair-dryer to accelerate drying only use it on low, and NEVER leave your boots on a radiator, close to an oven, or in a car trunk. If your boots dry too quickly or are exposed to extremely dry air it can permanently damage the leather and there is no going back.

Waterproofing will take 24 hours after application to achieve its full effect. After a month of use, you'll start to see the waterproofing lose some of it's effect.  If you are planning a trip or need to be sure they are waterproof treat your boots just before your departure.  For simplicity sake consider a treatment at the beginning of each season of use.  You can decide how often the treat your boots, but generally more is better.

My boots have a Gore-Tex lining so why do I need to waterproof my boots at all?

True, Gore-Tex will keep your feet dry.  But regular conditioning of your boots will help them last longer and look better.  The wax or waterproofing layer helps to prevent sharp stones or rock faces from damaging the leather.  Dried out leather is more easily scuffed and wears faster. 

Are animal fats and oils good for my leather boots?

Before specialized creams were developed, animal fats and oils were used to treat and waterproof leather boots. Unfortunately they can also fill in the leather pores entirely making your boots less breathable. Not such a bad thing if you're mountaineering in cold climates, but exactly the opposite of why you paid extra for that Gore-Tex lining.  If you do use a fat or oil,  rub the leather with a soft brush afterwards.  Also know,  fat/oil has a greater tendency to darken the color of the boot. 

How can I keep my boots looking good? Lowa Boot Care 

Regular use of waterproof conditioning cream on your leather boots, rubbed in with a soft rag is the key.  It's especially hard to keep Nubuk or Suede looking new once it has become smoother, more shiny, and darker.  One trick is to use a wire suede brush to lift the pile again. A gentle brushing will freshen up Nubuk and Suede that has been clogged by wax. But don't use a stiff bristled brush on smooth leather!

How can I tell if I've properly waterproofed my boots? Lowa Boot Care Dribble a bit of water onto your treated and dried boots. If the water forms droplets, you've done everything properly! If the water doesn't form droplets, dry off and apply another layer.

How should I store my boots? Lowa Boot Care   

Store leather boots a dry, well-aired place.  Basements, garages, car trunks spell MOLD!  Boot trees can help them maintain their shape. If your boots are still damp, we recommend you stuff some newspaper into the toe box. The newspaper will absorb them moisture and also helps keep the shape. The newspaper should then be changed every day until the boots have dried out.

Monday, March 24, 2014

CC's Outdoor Gear Blog

Our Outdoor Gear Blog started 4 years ago to share info we learned on our first visit to the Outdoor Industry's big Outdoor Retailer Show.  Since then we've blogged on gear awards, gear we've used, gear specials in our store, and even movies and books we've enjoyed...about the outdoors.  While we're still striving to master the art of blogging, we've had a lot of fun in the process.  Hey, we love outdoor gear so it's fun to write and talk about it.  After all that's how we got putting our love of the outdoors together with our love of gear and going into the outdooor gear business.
Who are we?  Well, the C & C come from the last name of the brothers who started CC Outdoor Store 15 years ago.  When they weren't out climbing 14'ers they were selling outdoor gear from Boulder, Colorado.  We're not in Boulder anymore and the brothers are no longer with us, but our bloggers are still hikers, backpackers and gear afficionados who staff our store in Waterbury, Vermont.   We've been big fans of Backpacker Magazine and Outside Magazine for decades and often look to these great resources for content ideas especially when it comes to identifying gear trends.   After all their reviewers and testers are devoted professionals who are lucky enough to spend most of their time outdoors putting gear through rigorous use.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a job like that, where instead of being indoors at work finding the time to read this blog--and write in our case write it--you could be enjoying outdoor adventures with the latest gear. 
You may have noticed that our blog posts have gotten a little slow of late...but Spring always energizes us, and this is our big kickoff.  We figure if we commit our intention to become better bloggers to the public domain...then we'll be motivated to follow-through.  So go ahead and subscribe to our blog feed and we promise to give you some great content.  Sometimes it's hard to generate content week after week, but now that we're rested there's a healthy backlog waiting to come to a screen near you.  Follow our outdoor gear blog and you can expect more blogging on great new innovations in hiking and backpacking gear, great upcoming store specials, and even some training and nutrition tips. 
So apologizes go out to those of you who may have followed our blogs in the past if we'd let you down of late.  We expect we'll shed some of that laziness in the weeks and months to come and reinvigorate our outdoor gear blog with more info about gear that you might want to learn more about before buying and more ideas for how to get outside to enjoy it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Photochromatic or Interchangeable Lens Ski Goggles?

While I stock ski goggles and help customers learn about them, I have plenty of time to wonder about people's gear choices.   And I'm constantly bewildered in this day and age by how people can even still ask the question "Goggles with changeable lenses or photochromic lens?"  Ever since I started skiing with Julbo's Revolution Goggle with Zebra Photochromatic Lenses 3 years ago, I've been a total convert to photochromatic goggle lenses.  (You'll sometimes see these referred to as photochromic, but it would seem that photochromatic is the more widely accepted term; in the optometrist's office you'd hear them being called transition lenses.  This makes plain sense.)  Julbo's Zebra lenses change from 42% to 7% visible light transmission in 28 seconds or less.(Their Camel and Falcon lenses offer variations on the same theme but with polarized capability.)
Julbo Revolution Photochromatic Goggles

I started writing this post shortly after trying to track down Zeal Optics photochromatic goggle technical specifications.  But even for one of their retailers,  Zeal ski goggle lenses specs are so hard to come by that you might think they're trade secrets.  I think the folks in Zeal's marketing department are so image conscious that they don't want gear geeks like you and me to look beyond the "cool" factor in their frame styles.  So I'm taking it upon myself to shout out how awesome Zeal's automatic lens are.  I suspect that since the other big market players don't have comparable technology, photochromatic lenses just haven't caught on yet.  As a result I'm guessing that the folks at Zeal don't want to take away from the mainstream appeal of their other lenses by pointing out how much better their high performance lenses are.  Of course the added cost of photochromatic lenses prices many consumers out of the market, but come on.  If you can spend $85 on a lift ticket --or $900 on a season pass--an extra $80-100 spent on better goggles is a small price to improve your skiing experience and stay safe.  Be that as it may, my intention is to give you as much information as I can so you can see why I'm so stoked by Zeal's Automatic lens.

Zeal Eclipse Photochromatic Goggles
For lack of Zeal's own professionally done demo video, I refer you to this homemade Zeal Automatic Lens YouTube video that will show you how sweet photochromatic goggles are.    Unless you're an elite competitor with sponsors providing different goggles for every possible condition are you really going to change your goggles or lenses multiple times/day as light conditions change.  Is it even worth debating how much time and effort it is to change the lens?  So you carry the lens in your pocket--or pack--and you stop mid-run to change out the lens as the light conditions differ at the top and bottom of the mountain?  And how much would it suck to drop a lens off the chairlift?  Pre-photo- chromatic lens maybe this made sense...but it's time to adapt. 

OK, so you ski out West somewhere like California or Utah and only see bluebird clear skies all season--I'd like to point out that it rained the last time I skied in UT--then these probably aren't worth your money.  But if you're used to changing mountain weather conditions, especially like those here on the East Coast, one pair of goggles with one lens is definitely the way to go.  Am I missing something?  If you've got other ideas on this--maybe the different tint options are superior or something?  comment on my post below and enlighten me.  The 2014 Outside Buyer's Guide picked goggles with interchangeable lenses.  Huh?  Why would anyone NOT want a goggle lens that changes by itself as needed.  Don't clouds form on top of the mountain?  Isn't it darker in the glades?  Doesn't the sun go down late on mid-winter afternoons?  Photochromatic goggles start to adjust immediately as light conditions change.  The sun goes into hiding as the storm front arrives with lots of POW...BAM! you're ready because your automatic lenses changed in less than 30 seconds.  You didn't have to go in to the lodge to fish out your light lens. 

I hear folks in the shop say "but I ski mostly in the glades".  And light conditions there aren't different from the main trail?  Again I can't figure out why everybody isn't wearing photochromatic ski goggles.  You invest in your ski gear...paid for that nice vacation...why not pay $80 more for a pair of goggles that is perfect for every snowboarding and ski condition.  (OK, they're not perfect for night skiing...and I'll concede this one advantage to the interchangeable goggle crowd.)  But even if you can't afford Zeal or Julbo's top of the line goggles,  you can find more affordable versions like Bolle's Modulator Vermillion lens available in most of their top frame styles like the Gravity. 

By now you might be wondering why I'm still wearing Julbo Zebra goggles when I'm so in love with Zeal's Automatic Goggles.  I could say the answer is that Julbo's technology is every bit as good and maybe even better than Zeal's but that wouldn't be truthful.  The folks at Julbo have just been too good to me, even setting me up with their new Orbiter Goggles with Zebra Lens after I smashed my Revolutions in a crash.  Of course, Julbo's technology probably is better, but my eyes aren't sensitive enough to gauge the difference in transition speed and as I noted before I just can find anywhere that has this Zeal spec published. 

So why aren't their a ton of reviews out there that give you the same answer as mine on the question of "Goggles with changeable lenses or photochromic lenses?"  Maybe the answer to why interchangeable lenses are still the industry standard when there are great photochromatic goggle options out there comes down to marketing money.  While companies like Julbo and Zeal Goggles don't have enough resources to get their own specs and demo videos out there, the big boys with the big marketing budgets are regularly putting down $30 to $40 grand for spreads in our favorite gear magazines.  And just like it's in my interests to be spending time at work to tell you about how great photochromatic lenses's in the publisher's interests to make sure their big advertisers' products are getting positive reviews.  (Here's the link if you are curious what the Outside Gear Guy thinks are the best photochromatic goggles.   Note: he doesn't call them the BEST goggles PERIOD.)  So be wary...but you owe it to yourself to check out a pair of photochromatic ski/snowboard goggles before you buy another pair.