Happy Friday, friends! I started my new ‘Date Night’ blog series last month, because I thought it would be a fun way (especially during social distancing) to share date ideas that Emmett & I enjoy. We spent last weekend doing one of our favorite things… camping. Rather than a “date night” it was more of a weekend away, but I figured that still counts. After sharing a few photos from our remote weekend getaway, many of you requested favorite outdoor & camping gear… so your wish is my command! Click through for camping ideas for a fun date night or weekend, as well as sources for our favorite gear & equipment.
First of all, I should share- Emmett & I moved to Utah because of our love for the outdoors and the beautiful landscape here. Our state is SO varied. You can drive in one direction and end up in the woods on top of a mountain gazing at a lake, then drive the other direction and end up camping in the desert admiring beautiful red rock and slot canyons (all of the photos throughout this post were taken here in Utah). It’s a special place and we feel so happy with our decision to live here. We’re lucky to have access to multiple state & national parks, BLM land to play on, and any outdoor activity you could imagine. It’s really our version of paradise.
Anyway, this ‘Date Night’ post is not to convince you to come experience Utah (although you should someday!), but rather to encourage you to go camping, or get out in nature, with your S/O! Camping can be a safe social distancing activity as long as you choose a location away from other people. Although Utah has officially opened back up, I know many other states have not. I just enjoy spending time with Emmett outside. Whether that’s hiking, fishing, kayaking, camping, riding around in our side-by-side, or just admiring a sunset… getting out of your normal environment and comfort zone (safely) is really healthy and fun!
Last weekend was much needed for us. Since we’ve been spending SO much time at home, it was a relief to get away from our house projects, work, and our regular routine to experience something new and unplug (zero cell service is the icing on the cake). Our dogs were also VERY thrilled we decided to drive south a couple hours and get away.
Even if camping isn’t your jam, what outdoor features or landmarks is your state known for? Take a long drive, pack your camera, a picnic lunch, and take in a different scenic view. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I promise a change of pace will make you feel lighter and free of everything currently going on in the world.
On a side note, I sometimes get questions about my SUV because most of you didn’t expect me to drive this. Ha! My regular vehicle, pictured above, is a modified Toyota 4Runner (roof rack for camping, a winch, lifted, off road tires, etc) and Emmett drives a modified truck (it’s also lifted, off road tires, etc). We also have a RZR, so between the three vehicles, we can get pretty much anywhere remote and rock climb. In Utah, you really have to have 4WD if you want to do more extreme outdoor activities- roads close and are patrolled, allowing capable vehicles only (you even get ticketed). Anyway… that’s the story about my car. Someday I’d like to trade it in for something more luxurious, but for now- it does the job. I rarely drive anyway since I work from home.
Kayaking is another camping or outdoor activity Emmett and I both really enjoy. I just love being on the water! We’ll paddle around, taking in the views, and pull over for a picnic lunch.
Fun story… back in college Emmett convinced me to go on a cross country camping trip. We packed up and spent three(!) weeks on the road camping across the United States. Some nights were rough, cold (& even snowy), and at times it felt like such a challenge, but those are memories I will forever cherish. I think when you experience new things or even challenging situations with your S/O it can bring you closer. We’re both adventurous, but saying yes to adventure means making memories and pushing each other out of our comfort zones. That’s what I like most about being adventurous outdoors- growth and memories as a couple.
As for our pups, they enjoy camping and hiking with us when they can. Certain areas in Utah have strict dog restrictions, but if we’re able- we bring them along. I’ve also sprinkled our dog gear throughout this post for inquiring minds! Sometimes we’ll tether them and sometimes they’re allowed to free roam… it just depends on the environment and if we feel we can trust them in a specific area, for their own safety.
We mostly go car camping (instead of backpacking) these days and at this point, we have a really nice setup. Honestly, we eat our best food when we camp. We plan full meals, snacks, dessert, and even craft cocktails! Again- such a nice change of pace.
I’m always chasing the view, but Emmett reminds me to put away the camera and remember to take it in. I think that’s solid advice. I’m happy I have photos, but it’s also important to live in the moment when having fun outdoors! I feel like our personalities really come out when we try new things and explore new places together. It makes me appreciate him in ways I normally wouldn’t.
I have wonderful memories inside our home (especially renovating with Emmett), but you know what is interesting? I have more vivid, happy memories outside than I do indoors! Is that true for anyone else? Do you remember travel, vacations, camping trips, and hiking memories more than others spent inside? Just curious!
Once Covid-19 is done and over, let me know if you’d like me to pull together a Utah travel guide- I’d be happy to do that! It’s difficult to believe we’ve lived here for almost 5 years now.
In terms of where we like to camp, we’re not really campground kind of people. We don’t require running water or a toilet, and would rather get off the beaten path (at least during this stage of life). Luckily, Utah allows residents to camp basically anywhere on BLM land, so we treat the state like our playground and enjoy discovering hidden spots. This was a crazy concept to us upon moving here. Back in the midwest, you HAVE to camp in a designated spot and most of the land outside of state parks is private property.
Ok- ready for the big gear list (for those of you who asked)? Obviously the following items are not needed for your average camping date night, but if you’re really into the outdoors and activities, I promised people I’d share our spring & summer gear list (winter gear is a totally different ballgame)! It has taken us a LONG time to accumulate all of our outdoor gear and equipment. Our collection started over 10 years ago. Our philosophy has always been this… save up and buy the right, quality gear. Much like our home, we’d rather it last for a really long time and spend more, as opposed to buying something cheap on a whim. For everything we’ve purchased, we also spent a bunch of time researching, reading reviews, asking our friends for their opinion, and testing what works best for us. If you’re outdoorsy and are new to this, building your gear collection takes time and money… don’t stress about it!
I’m copying our gear list below…. at least everything I can think of:
- 2 Person Tent // I could put this tent up in my sleep, we’ve pitched this thing hundreds of times and it’s just quick, easy, and lightweight.
- 4 Person Tent // We usually pack this tent if the dogs are coming with us, for more space.
- Sleeping Pads // These sleeping pads are SO comfortable. We even use them indoors if we’re traveling and need a quick bed.
- Single Sleeping Bags // If I’m being totally honest- I don’t like mummy sleeping bags because I like to spread out at night. Argh. The struggle! These are warm though.
- 2 Person Sleeping Bag // I’d much rather sleep in our 2 person bag because we have more room and it’s warmer (shared body heat). I know that isn’t for everyone though.
- Loveseat Camp Chair // This chair is my favorite thing. We love lounging in it together- so comfortable and it gets more use than our single chairs.
- Individual Flipside Camping Chairs // These are great because they have cupholders and a tray… awesome spot to eat dinner with a view!
- Solar Lanterns // We have six of these we scatter throughout camp. We keep them in the dash, soaking up sunshine while driving to our destination to charge them up.
- Head Lamps // Head lamps are necessary at night so you can see.
- Water Bottles // We love these.
- Water Jugs // Again- another necessity… for drinking, doing dishes, watering the dogs, putting the fire out, cleaning up, etc.
- Fold-a-Flame // This is the charcoal grill you didn’t know you needed. It packs totally flat and is so easy to cook on.
- Camp Chef // If you prefer cooking with gas, this thing is awesome. We make a lot of breakfast on this baby- mostly breakfast burritos when camping!
- Cookware + Utensils // These collections are wonderful and easy to pack.
- Super Bright Propane Lantern // This thing gets super bright and is dimmable.
- Jet Boil + French Press // We can’t go without coffee, so these are necessary. Having a jet boil also comes in clutch for ramen and instant food.
- Eating Utensils // These are pretty standard.
- Camping Cups // We love these and use them for cocktails, coffee, whatever.
- Backpacking Seats // These are lightweight and comfy if you’re hiking or backpacking.
- Camping Wipes // Emmet discovered these and we love them… especially if we’re camping for more than a few days.
- Emergency Whistles // Another necessity… these have a compass on the top, too.
- Down Blankets // These are great for cuddling fireside. Cash also gets cold, so it makes an easy dog blanket. They fold up super small and lightweight.
- Kayaks // Such a nice way to explore the water.
- Dry Bags // Wonderful and necessary for water trips (rafting, kayaking, floating the river, etc).
- Paddles // We like these paddles.
- My PFD // Fun fact- I’m certified in white water rescue, so I’m picky about my PFD. This one fits great.
- Light Weight Hiking Shoes // Emmett has had these for a couple years and bought me a pair for Christmas last year. I’m loving them.
- Heavy Duty Hiking Boots // These are my favorite hiking boots.
- Water Shoes // I’ve had these water / hiking shoes for over 13 years and they’re amazing.
- Dog Boots // These are the dog booties our boys use…. we received soooo many questions about them.
- LED Dog Collars // Great for keeping track of your dog once it’s dark outside.
- Kuranda Dog Bed // Both of our dogs have allergies and would rather lounge on this bed than in the sandy, prickly desert and get itchy (high maintenance, I know).
- Collapsible Dog Bowls // These are wonderful.
- Hydration Pack // Emmett has an Osprey brand hydration pack and mine is Cotopaxi, but they don’t make mine anymore.
- Folding Table // Amazing for car camping- folds flat, then in half.
- Yeti Tundra 45 / Tundra 110 / Hopper Flip / Can Ramblers / Rambler Mug // I’m kind of ashamed to admit how many Yeti products we own, but they really are the best.
- Go Girl // I’m usually a “squat in nature” kind of gal, but this is convenient for pulling over or if people are around. It’s discreet and allows women to pee standing up without pulling down your pants.
- Rain Jackets // We have a lot of matching gear (we’re THAT couple, argh)– this is another thing we both use and love.
- Camping Bin // We keep all of our camping necessities in here, so we can grab it and hit the road quickly.
- String Lights // String lights are another car camping must- they’re fast, easy, charming, and illuminate our campsite.
Obviously we don’t pack alllllll of this for a single outing- we pick and choose depending on where we’re going and what we’re doing. We also ALWAYS pack a first aid kit for humans and dogs. I’m sure I forgot things, but let me know if you have questions about something specific!
I’d love to hear your favorite outdoor activity or trip you’ve taken with your S/O in the comment section below! Are the two of you outdoorsy? Do you take advantage of your home state and the beauty it has to offer? If you’re itching to try something new and get out of the house… DO IT. Go on that hike, take the drive, pack up your tent, or go have a picnic in a pretty spot this weekend… safely, of course. I felt more normal last weekend than I have in awhile. I didn’t realize just how stressful or anxiety inducing these past couple months have been with everything going on. I hope you all can find a bright spot this weekend and do something new with your loved ones outside!