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Cool Gear: Big Agnes Bald Mountain Sleeping Bag

Spring is finally in the air and it was just the motivation I needed to hit the trail and try out the new Big Agnes Bald Mountain sleeping bag. I've been looking for a new bag that could handle the chilly spring and fall evenings, but didn't want a big and bukly winter bag.  The Bald has delivered. Big Agnes unveiled a new synthetic fill called Pinneco Core®, and I'm all about trying anything that promises to be lighter, drier,  warmer, and more breathable. 

Pinneco-Core-Fill-Sleeping-Bag-Big-AgnesAccording to the scientists, Pinneco Core represents "a major breakthrough in insulation innovation through the combination of its revolutionary design, thermal efficiency and sustainability value. This new synthetic insulation technology features a breathable membrane and fiber layers capitalizing on multi-faceted and versatile performance capabilities as each layer offers its own unique benefit. Through a patent pending process; the insulation and the CoreScreen™ membrane are effectively transformed into a virtual air pump, actively drawing moisture away while retaining warmth within."

It was the "virtual air pump" that I was interested in testing. I wanted to see how dry and warm I would remain on a chilly, damp outing.  So I packed up and headed out for an overnight trek along the Appalachian Trail to one of my favorite spots, Tinker Cliffs.  I opted to sleep in a hammock so I could see how the bag and fill handled without the impediment of a tent.

The temperature got down to a low of 26° during the night, and when I woke the outside of the bag had not a bit of moisture on it and I was warm and toasty inside. The bag uses a Pinneco Core Screen on the outside to help it resist water, and a Core Fusion technology on the inside that seals in insulation...like an air pump actively drawing my sweat from the inside of the bag to the outside.  The bag packs small and light and will be with me the next time I head out on the trail.

Big-Agnes-Pinneco-Core-fill-Sleepig-Bag

Bag Features:

  • Fill weight: 28oz
  • Bag weight:  2lb 9oz
  • Stuff sack size:  9" x 20"
  • Compressed bag size:  8' x 10"
  • Fill type:  Pinneco Core
  • Contoured hood with draw cord
  • Mate together left and right zip bags
  • No-draft collar around neck
  • No-draft zipper

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received a Bald Mountain sleeping bag for free from Big Agnes and Pinneco Technologies as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication.

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Cool Gear: Teva Original Universal Sandal

Guest review by Dylan Spencer

Spring has finally arrived meaning it’s time to start putting away the boots and bringing out some warmer weather footwear. For those of us who have not embraced the barefoot craze but still want our feet to feel free, then sandals are a great option. Plus who wants to wear stuffy trail running shoes or more traditional hiking boots during the toasty upcoming warmer months? Now don’t get me wrong, shoes have a place on the trail, especially if you are hiking long distances, but sometimes it’s great to just free your feet of socks and shoes. teva-universal-original-sandal-review However, a typical flip-flop does not provide enough support for long days on your feet. A better sandal solution is the Teva Original Universal Sandal.

Despite some lingering cold spurts I have put these shoes strutted around in these sandals a lot. I even made a huge fashion no-no by wearing socks and sandals just so I could test these bad boys out more (sorry if this is part of your usual wardrobe). More power to you! During the first few days of wearing the sandals I had a concern that my heel may get a blister. There is a rear horizontal strap that goes right over the heel area which may be a cause of concern for some users. However, I was lucky and did not get a single raw spot or irritation from any of the straps on the sandal. The straps are constructed from smooth nylon and come in a variety of colors and designs; eleven from my count. Now, I do like the colors already offered but it would be cool if there was a custom design option on the Teva website. For only $40 bucks though I cannot complain. The price of these sandals is ridiculously low for the quality and comfort the sandal provided. After weeks of testing on various terrains and miles upon miles walked (no blisters), there are hardly any durability issues. Minor scrapes and scuffs have occurred in the toe area, but those are expected. The cushy top sole is contoured including an open toe design to allow maximum comfort and water runoff. While water may run easily off, sometime sticks get stuck in between straps but a simple flick of the foot usually takes care of that. One last awesome feature is the Microban® zinc-based anti-microbial treatment to keep the stink down. Even though it’s an open-air design, you better believe my feet still produce a foul smell on those warmer days.

The Teva Original Universals are the world’s first sport sandal created nearly 30 years ago. Originally fashioned by a Grand Canyon river guide they are now used for all kinds of outdoor activities the world over. I encourage you to try a pair out; remember the ridiculously low price ($40)? Take them down to the Roanoke River or have them as your festival shoes for this summer’s FloydFest or the Roanoke GoFest in October. Maybe even go back to the original waterways the Teva brand was crafted and float down the mighty Colorado.

DISCLOSURE: Roanoke Outside received a complementary pair of sandals for this review. The opinions stated above are our own and Roanoke Outside was not compensated for the review.

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Get Outside Weekend Update -- 4/24-4/27

Festivals, Events, & Outings

For even more events visit the Roanoke Outside calendar

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Pete's Pick: See You at the Finish Line

Finish LineWe've been working hard and know this year's Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon will definitely be the best yet. 

Not only that, but with G. Love & Special Sauce headlining the Down by Downtown Music Festival Saturday after the race, and the weather peaking at just the right time, this could be one of the biggest weekend's we have seen in the region in quite some time. 

We will be hosting runners from around the country and around the world to our beautiful part of Virginia, so help show them a good time. When we began working on the very first Blue Ridge Marathon four years ago, we were really focused on making Roanoke's marathon unique with its challenging terrain and breathtaking views. What suprised us is that while many do come back year after year for the challenge, the overwhelming feedback is often on the amazing spectators, supporters and volunteers they encounter along their 26.2-mile route. 

Get out on Saturday morning and help cheer on racers as they tackle the hills throughout Roanoke and become a part of the legacy that is the Blue Ridge Marathon by making a unique party atmosphere in your neighborhood. Offer special beverages, play some fun music, maybe set up the sprinkler, but most of all be a cheerleader for all the passerbys on race day. We are all a part of ensuring that every participant and spectator that comes to Roanoke leaves with a positive encounter that will have them coming back to eat, play and live in Roanoke for years to come. The marathon put nearly a half million dollars into the local economy last year, and we want that number to continue to grow. 

Elmwood Park is the place to be Saturday if you are not on the course. If you see a runner wearing their medal, congratulate them and ask about how they enjoyed the race and Roanoke. I'll be at the finish line shaking hands with runners as they cross the line, then I'll be at the at the G. Love concert in the evening. If you see me, feel free to buy me a drink and talk about the race - or just buy me a drink. 

See you at the finish line!

signature image
Pete Eshelman (friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter)
Director of Outdoor Branding
Roanoke Regional Partnership

Check out the Outdoor Calendar for upcoming events
you need to keep your eye on!

 
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Blue Ridge Marathon Race Weekend 2014!

2014 Blue Ridge Marathon It's finally here.

This weekend should prove to be the biggest in the Roanoke Region in some time with both the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon and the Down by Downtown Music Festival taking center stage in Downtown Roanoke. The weather is looking perfect for race-day (this Saturday, April 26th), so even if you are not participating in the race as a runner or volunteer, it is a great opportunity to get out and support your community.  

See all road closures and detours along the marathon route >>>

Runners are flocking in from all over the country and the world to race in "America's Toughest Road Marathon," and they need your encouragement. Sure, they will be drinking in the mountain views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, but they also need your support along the rest of the the course spanning the city and beyond including Roanoke Mountain, Mill Mountain, Peakwood Drive, Wasena Park, and Rivers Edge. Grab a cup of coffee - or maybe even a Bloody Mary! - make a sign, play some music, or just give runners an "atta boy" as they go by. Anything helps when you are running 26.2 miles with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. 

Check out the course map to see of the course runs past your front yard >>> 

The hub of activity will be at the downtown Start/Finish at Elmwood Park, where there will be live music from the Down by Downtown Music Festival, a beer garden, food vendors and more beginning at 9 a.m. and going until 8 p.m. At 5 p.m. gates open for the ticketed Down by Downtown headliner G. Love & Special Sauce (get tickets), with the show starting at 6 p.m.  

See the full schedule of events including Friday's race expo >>>

The Blue Ridge Marathon is not only a great community event, it puts a big spotlight on the Roanoke Region, our community atmosphere, and our amazing outdoor amenities. Last year's race poured nearly a half million dollars into the local economy, and we want to make sure the race keeps growing every year. You make it happen by participating in any way you can. 

So have fun this weekend, cheer on some runners, enjoy some free music, and get outside!

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Get Outside Weekend Update -- 4/17-4/20

Festivals, Events, & Outings

For even more events visit the Roanoke Outside calendar

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Pete's Pick: Nominate a Cox Conserves Hero

We all take advantage of the awesome outdoor amenities and infrastructure offered to us in the Roanoke Region. It is one of the great assets of living in the area and creates a very cool community of people focused on outdoor recreation. But have you ever thought about the people behind the scenes that make this happen on a daily basis? 

Rome wasn't built in a day, after all, and neither were our amazing trail systems, open spaces, greenways, and blueways. Here is your chance to recognize your local environmental volunteers in the Fourth Annual Cox Conserves Heroes program. Cox Conserves Heroes is a nation wide campaign by Cox Communications, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, honoring local volunteers who are creating, preserving, or enhancing outdoor spaces in their community. 

Here's how it works. Candidates are nominated by someone in the community and finalist are chosen from a panel of local civic and environmental leaders. Finalist are chosen from three areas in Virginia: Fairfax County/Fredericksburg, Hampton Roads, and Roanoke. The three finalists will then compete in an online vote. The winner of the online vote will receive $10,000 to donate to their selected nonprofit - the other two finalists will receive $2,500 for the nonprofit of their choice. 

More than $380,000 has been donated to local nonprofits and more than 100 volunteers have been honored through the Cox Conserves Heroes program. 

Last year's winner, Dr. Bill Gordge of Roanoke, donated his $10,000 prize to Pathfinders for Greenways. Read more and watch a video featuring Dr. Gordge.

If you know someone making a difference in the Roanoke Region, please nominate them. 

Nominate a candidate for the Cox Conserves Hero award >>>

P.S. The 16th Annual Blue Ridge Kite Festival is this Saturday, April 19, at Green Hill Park in Salem from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring free kite kits and free kids t-shirts (while supplies last). Grab the family and go fly a kite at this very oool, very fun event. 

P.P.S Break out a sweatshirt and a blanket on the night of April 22nd or 23rd for the peak of the Lyrids meteor shower, the oldest known meteor shower. Find out more and where to view >>>

Get Outside! 

signature image
Pete Eshelman (friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter)
Director of Outdoor Branding
Roanoke Regional Partnership

Check out the Outdoor Calendar for upcoming events
you need to keep your eye on!

 
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Urban Camping Open for Festival Weekends

Urban Camping RoanokeCamping is one of the all-time classic outdoor activities. Setting up a tent in the woods and sleeping under the stars is one of life's great pleasures, but also one of life's great challenges. The dirt, the bugs, the smoky fire, the breaking down of the site, the bear bag, etc.

It's a great time, but it can also get old fairly quickly if things don't go smoothly. 

This is where spin offs like car camping, and the recent hipster trend of "glamping" come into play, and Roanoke is getting into the game as well with its own take on traditional camping: urban camping. Starting this year, a parking lot in downtown Roanoke will be utilized as an urban campground where locals and visitors will be able to set up their RV or pop up trailer right next to Elmwood Park, the site of the upcoming Blue Ridge Marathon and Down by Downtown Music Festival on the weekend of April 25-27. 

In addition to being able to urban camp during the Down by Downtown Music Festival and Blue Ridge Marathon, three additional weekend festivals have been thrown into the mix as well: Festival in the Park (May 23-25), Microfestivus (August 8-10), and Oak Barrel Blues (October 3-5). You can also expect more weekends to be announced throughout the year. 

Urban Camping: just like the real thing, only way better. 

For more details and how to sign up, see the Urban Camping Roanoke Facebook Page >>>

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Hollins Hosts Whitewater Film Festival

Whitewater Film FestCan you feel it? Along with all the other fun outdoor activities to enjoy as the weather begins to transition from cold to hot, it's also whitewater paddling season! The only way to prepare for paddling is to get stoked and get inspired by some sweet whitewater action on the big screen.

Coming up on April 25, you can do just that at the Fourth Annual National Paddling Film Festival Roadshow at Hollins University. 

Hollins University is making quite the splash in the whitewater paddling scene this spring, having placed third at the American Canoe Association Collegiate Race Series National Championships in North Carolina this past March. Now, they are hosting one of the best collection of whitewater films from the past 25 years. The showing takes place on Friday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in Niederer Auditorium in the Wetherill Visual Arts Center (map). 

In addition to the films, the event will also feature raffle and door prizes from sponsors such as Mountain Khaki, Astral Designs, Watershed Drybags, Eagle's Nest Outfitters, and more. Representatives from local paddling clubs will also be on hand to share ways for you to get involved in your local whitewater scene. 

Find out more about the film fest and how to get tickets >>>

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Get Outside Weekend Update -- 4/10-4/13

Festivals, Events, & Outings

For even more events visit the Roanoke Outside calendar

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