5 Tips for Buying Snowboarding Gear Cheap!

It is no secret that many people, myself included, cannot resist a good deal. Saving money anywhere possible is important and that is no different when starting to accumulate gear for a new hobby. In my last post, I Guess I Snowboard Now, I talk about this year being pivotal in getting myself into snowboarding. Since shredding the gnar with my pals in the UP, I have started to gather my own snowboard with bindings, snowboarding boots, and helmet. As a newbie I have been looking for cheap ways to get myself on the slopes!

Charlie started snowboarding with a secondhand board when he was young!

Secondhand

I scoured secondhand shops and Facebook Market Place for cheap boards. This meant that I was looking at pre-loved boards from people growing out of the sport or just getting other specific gear. I also think it is important to consume second-hand items, you know, for the environmental impact (Sustaining Sara).

After looking through what felt like millions of 155 cm boards, a 145 cm came up from a pregnant woman whose husband was planning to buy her a new board to start her next shredding next season.

I lucked out because this woman obviously took care of this board and I was only out 75 bucks. Looking for second hand gear takes patients, but can be worth it to save out for nice gear at lower cost.

REI Garage Sale

I am the biggest advocate of becoming and REI member. I have gotten so many great, cheap pieces of gear for backpacking and snowboarding because someone had the nerve to take advantage of REI’s return policy. I am talking 40-60% off things like my jet boil, Nemo Hornet Elite 2 Tent, and now my Burton snowboarding boots with BOA system!

After adding on my REI Co-Op dividen, the boots were around $25. Seriously, these are the perks of a lifetime membership that cost me $20 to start with.

Grab End-of-Season Deals!

NOW IS THE TIME! I will admit I want the Smith Hoyt helmet because my husband has the Smith Hoyt helmet. Charlie got his helmet from the Smith website and used a coupon code (we are so proud!), but I was waiting for a bigger deal (and a different color). I finally got my deal on Facebook Marketplace when a company was getting rid of their stock now that the season is ending. I got a few more bucks off compared to Charlie’s deal and I will start next winter with a brand new helmet!

(it is important to note that at the time of publishing this article my helmet has not been shipped yet, it has been 12 days.)

Join Facebook Groups

I think this goes for any or your interests. I am in Facebook Groups for backpacking, camping in Northern Michigan, and now snowboarding to name a few. These niche groups often have different guidelines for selling items that one person no-longer needs but fits the interests of the group at large.

For example, I joined Girls That Board. Or the the group for this very blog; Sustaining Sara!

Talk about it

I have a lot of friends that snowboard. If I need a piece of gear I let them know and they will often have recommendations for me or even might have something to sell me. Even outside of snowboarding I have had friends tell me about something they want me to keep a lookout for just in case I come across their holy-grail item!

These are my tips for getting cheap gear. You may find different things work better for you or even get a chance to score brand new gear, that’s great! but on this blog, pre-loved gear and good deals are king,, so I hope this helped you out!

Love,

Sara

I Guess I Snowboard Now.

Hi all!

This winter I have had some amazing opportunities when it comes to winter sports. Thanks to a great friend group that came together for a snowboarding trip and a husband that already had a passion for the sport, I have now snowboarded for the second and third time ever and I do not want to stop!…which sucks because it is the end of the season, BUT WOOOO SNOWBOARDING!

Not a lot of people know this about my college experience, but in my senior year of college I learned that I was in a ”short major” and that while I had taken all my required credits, I needed to fluff my curriculum with electives. This lead to me taking over 20 credits my last semester of college and included a spring break snowboarding lesson! While this still seems like a joke to me, it was a great opportunity to get away for spring break and learn a new skill that I had hoped to fester into a hobby.

Charlie had let me borrow his childhood board and boots to help me lessen the financial sting of the trip, but they were definitely a little small on me. The lesson was great and I was decently successful at carving, falling, and getting up again, but after a week on the hill I was discouraged by my bruises and aches. Between rental costs, moving to SoCal (and not venturing up the mountains), and just being busy with other adventures, that lesson was my first and last snowboarding experience until 2022.

When Charlie told me that some friends wanted to head north to the UP to shred the gnar, I was in! This avalanched (not literally) into buying new winter snowboarding gear, GREAT times, and a new appreciation for snowboarding.

First, I want to share the snow gear I got because a) you know I cannot resist a good gear list and b) your girl is always looking for the best bang for her buck and I think I found it in the jacket and snow pants I chose!

Gracefully getting off the lift

For my outer layers I wore a MOERDENG ski jacket (in pink camo, duh) and Arctix womens bibs (PINK) snow pants. Plus my Lisa Frank mittens Charlie got me for our first valentines day…they are old but stylish! I get so many compliments on those mittens!

I was on the slopes for under $150 with a new jacket and snow pants!

I also wore a good amount of merino wool. I am obsessed with merino wool. This means I wore a merino buff, smart wool merino socks, and smart wool merino leggings that I bought at the ski lodge. I was not planning on buying the leggings, but they were a great price compared to REI and DANG ARE THEY WARM!

My gear was great and kept me warm when used correctly. When I started pulling my buff up and down over my mouth, the moisture from breathing on it would freeze, making it very uncomfortable. Same for my goggles; they were awesome but condensation froze on them if I pulled them on and off my face. I am mentioning this to hopefully save a few people from the same fate, because once your gear starts freezing up it becomes useless for its intended purpose.

For these trips I rented my gear. While continuing this sport and renting every single time would become expensive, it just made sense to considering we were not sure if snowboarding was something I would continue to do. I have spent some time looking around for used gear now, but renting just made sense for the time being!

Picture from resortsandlodges.com

Once geared up, our first snowboarding trip of the season was at Ski Brule. From what I understand, this was better than any hills in our native southeast Michigan and I loved it! Ski Brule is family owned and I hope that that family and the locals are proud of this establishment. Ski Brule was so much fun and everyone that works there seems friendly and knowledgeable. However, even if the gnar was not gnarly (it was), we were up there with the best people and there was no way not to enjoy ourselves!

See more reels on the Sustaining Sara instagram

My second snowboarding adventure this year was a quick day-trip to Mt. Holly. I had entirely too much fun even after my rage-quitting breaks and Charlie took the above video of my progress! Since this last trip I have been acquiring new-to-me snowboarding gear, joining snowboarding groups on facebook, and in general consuming snowboarding content! I am falling in love with this sport and actually sad the season is already over in lower Michigan!

What about you, what are your favorite things to do in the winter? Do you snowboard or ski? Let me know in the comments!

Love,

Sara

2021 Faves!

I will never not say ”fave” when talking about my favorites. I do not care about how lazy or untrendy it sounds, I will always talk about my faves as “faves!” And while this post is months late and I have a great backlog of adventures to talk about, I will start my 2022 posting on Sustaining Sara with these faves:

Nemo Hornet Elite 2 Tent

I hope everyone followed my tent escapades when planning for last summer’s Pictured Rocks Backpacking adventure. After much thought and help from my sister Rachel, in Gear Shakedown #3, Charlie and I decided to borrow a real backpacking tent.

This tent was so easy to set up and carry! Charlie and I liked it so much that when we found one in the REI Garage Sale, we coped it for ourselves!

AreoPress

A very exciting thing I did in 2021 was become a barista! When I first started I wanted to learn everything I could about coffee and TRY ALL THE COFFEE DRINKS!

Since Charlie got me my AeroPress for my birthday, I have been making my at-home espresso with it. It is super-simple to use and there are so many instructional videos online to get you started!

My Toiletry Bag

Due to some life stuff, I was moving around a lot in 2021 and having the OMYSTYLE Cosmetics, Makeup and Toiletries Organizer came in so clutch. I always had what I want with me (as long as I had this bag packed lol).

Trello, these are my fave things from 2021. I hope you can see that these things are all useful based on the lifestyle I live. While I may not be using the tent everyday, the other two items are very important parts of my everyday life! Anyway, what has been your fav useful gadget? I would love to know what things make your life easier!

Love,

Sara

Best Outdoor Gear for Small Dogs

It is no secret that my dogs are small and spoiled with what we consider to be the best outdoor gear for small dogs. We try to take the fellas everywhere we can and that means that they join us on our hiking and camping adventures. Charlie and I try to be responsible dog parents and in order to achieve this our dogs have some nice gear to keep them both comfortable and clean. Let me share with you the best outdoor gear for small dogs.

(By clicking links you may be supporting Sustaining Sara monetarily and at not cost to you!)

  1. Puppia Harness

This is my favorite harness I have ever had for my dogs. The Puppia harness is easy to put on and seems to be more comfortable than other buckle harnesses. It is durable if the dogs pulland help protect from sticker plants during rough hikes!

I will say, the harnesses seem to run a little small and both my guys wear size “medium.”

2. Carhartt Jacket

Between snow sticking to Jupiter’s long hair and Bingo violently shivering, the fellas each need a jacket in the snowy Michigan winter. We first got Jupiter a Carharttt jacket after a very wet trip to Big Bear Lake in December and after we adopted Bingo we decided he was always too cold not to match. The fellas are always warm and everyone agrees they are stylin!

3. Clip-On Collar Light

These are a new edition to our dog-gear box and are good for any dog! On night walks or especially while camping I want myself and anyone around to be able to see my dogs. The Nite Ize SpotLit LED Collare Light is bright enough for my fellas to be seen on a night walk, but not offensive enough to bother a neighboring campsite. I highly recommend you add these to your dog’s collar or harness!

4. Poo Bags!

I cannot stress enough how important it is to clean up after your dog and a great way to start is with a poo-bag dispenser attached to your dog’s leash. I have one on both Jupiter and Bingo’s leashes and even clip a hand sanitizer keychain to them.

Reminder, if in the backcountry without a poo bag, you should dispose of dog waste just like you would your own according to Leave No Trace Principals. Check out this link for more information and guidance!

Thank you for taking the time to check out the best outdoor gear for small dogs! Please let me know what your favorite gear for your furry friend is in the comments and have a great end of October!

Love,

Sara

The Best Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Backcountry Campsites

Finally, Charlie and I are ready to share our route and campsites from our 2021 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore hike. Charlie and I hiked Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in June 2021 and it was one of my favorite experiences to date. We hiked part of the trail a year before (see Part 1/Day 1 and Part 2/Day 2). Now that we have completed our 2021 hike, in my opinion, these are the best Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Backcountry Campsites.

Campsite water view
View of Lake Superior from the Au Sable East Campsite entrance

Night 1: Au Sable East

For our first leg of the trip we hiked from the Grand Marias Visitor Center to the Au Sable East backcountry campground. Our permits assigned us the site furthest from the trailhead. As you enter the camp there is a fork in the trail, the right side leading to the group sites and the toilet, and the left to the other sites.

What we loved about this site:

  • easy water access from trail (see above picture)!
  • easy walk to Au Sable Lighthouse (great site, but also potable water and a porta-potty)!

Things we got over:

  • Two sites were very close to fire pit and one of them you had to walk through to get back onto the trail. Fortunately, no one in those sites seemed to mind.

Night 2: Seven Mile Creek

A creek dark in tannins rolls over rocks and logs. This is Seven Mile Creek!
A bridge over Seven Mile Creek welcomes you into the Seven Mile Creek Campground

Our second night was spent with great company at Seven Mile Creek backcountry campground! If you are going westbound like we were, a lovely bridge leads you over Seven Mile Creek and into the campground. The individual campsites are spaced out and allow a minuet amount of privacy with the communal fire pit bringing everyone together.

What we loved about this site:

  • Easy access to water! You can take a swim in Lake Superior or roll out of bed and walk around Seven Mile Creek. Water collecting was easiest at this site!
  • Each site was plenty spaced out from others

Things we got over:

  • No vault toilet. As a backpacker you have to be prepared to do your business in the woods and know best practice for leave-no-trace. However, having a vault toilet at a site is a little luxury.

Night 3: Coves

If I could only camp at one of these backcountry sites again, it would be Coves. I had a hard time finding our assigned site due to the original site marker not being there, but once we checked the map at the bear box and identified the trails leading to the site, we were settled in! We had to climb down some sandy cliffs to get to Lake Superior, but it was so worth it. Coves basically has its own private beach and we took advantage with a swim and laying out on warm sand.

What we loved about the site:

  • Private beach feel
  • Amble bench seating around fire pit (at least when we were there)

Things we got over:

  • Descending sandy trails to access water (but honestly we were fine and had the best time with our beach time)!

Night 4: Mosquito River

Backpack laying on at tree at Mosquito River Backcountry Campsite
Our heavy backpacks leaning on a tree at Mosquito River Backcountry Campground.

If you know about our 2020 Pictured Rocks adventure, you know that we have the most experience with Mosquito River. We were warned by other hikers of bear sitings around this area, but we never saw any bears. We were cautious as always and locking up food and trash. Unfortunately, the day we got to Mosquito River we also noticed a lot of annoyance from black flies. Those things aside, access to the campsite is right off the trail and beautiful views of lake superior allow for easy water access. However, the popular Chapel Basin/Mosquito Loop goes through this site leading to a lot of traffic before the sun sets.

What we love about this site:

  • Beautiful views of Lake Superior and the ability to wave to kayakers and other boat tours (we love that kind of thing)

Things we got over:

  • Directing day-hikers to how to continue on their loop trip in between setting up camp and dinner.
  • Bugs. Who would have thought we’d have a bug problem at Mosquito River!?

Charlie and I agree that these are the best Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore backcountry campsites and we look forward to being able to explore more campsites on the NCT and Pictured Rocks in the future. Do you have a favorite backcountry campsite? Please comment below!

Love,

Sara

Gear Shakedown #3…Tent and Food!

You would not believe it, but we have acquired another, lighter tent! Plus, I have prepared the food I will be taking on trail and explaining how it pertains to my anxiety. Finally, here is my Gear Shakedown #3…Tent and Food.

I know what you might be thinking, wasn’t there already a Gear Shakedown about what tent we are carrying? Why yes, Gear Shakedown…#1? However, while our Coleman 2 person sundome is a great tent, it is heavy and bulky. My sister, Rachel (you met here in her point of view backpacking Pictured Rocks for the first time), sent us her new backpacking tent and it is a darn game changer!

I have sought out advice when deciding to carry our 7lb Coleman tent and decided to go with the people telling me “hike your own hike” and “pack what you have.” And what we had was a heavy, bulky tent. However, in an amazing sale, Rachel got her hands on a Nemo Hornet Elite. Rachel and I are always hyping each other up when it comes to our outdoor adventures and are not shy about sharing our gear. Rachel was even the person that introduced me to the idea of hammock camping! When discussing my tent dilemma, Rachel offered too send me her brand-spanking-new tent!

Rachel’s backpacking tent
Our first practice setting up Rachel’s tent

The Nemo Hornet Elite Ultralight Backpacking tent is 3lbs and packs smaller than our sleeping bags! On top of being so much liter, Charlie agreed that he will carry the tent body and rain fly, while I will carry the poles and stakes. SO CONVEINENT. We have practiced setting up the tent and it is a darn dream. If you can get your hands on this tent I really encourage it!

On top of acquiring an amazing backspacing tent, we are to the point where we have packed our food bags!…a few different times! This is a big deal from me because backpackers are known to “pack their fears” and my fear is being hungry. Originally this meant that I had 2-3 days of extra food including too many snacks.

Backpacking food
Before

This might look like not a lot of food to some people, but I was definitely overcompensating for a four day trip. While a day before our hike I removed food, I did buy one backpacking meal while in Marquette at Downwind Sports that made a huge difference in how I cooked all my dinners.

Revised food packed for backpacking
After

In my after picture you can see that I added the Good to Go – kale and white bean stew and removed the mushroom Marsala meals. This made a huge difference for weight and cooking/cleaning. The mushroom Marsala meals were the heaviest things in my food bag, removing these and one ramen meal made my bag lighter. The addition of the backpacking meal gave me a vessel to hot soak my ramen meals that was lite and compact – plus, no dishes since I was just boiling water in our one pot!

In the end this is what I packed in my food bag:

  • 4 ramen meals
  • 4 packets of dinosaur oatmeal
  • 4 packets of single-serve instant coffee
  • 1 resealable snack bag of powdered milk
  • 5 packs of gushers (never enough gushers)
  • 5 cliff bars
  • 5 little Debbie oatmeal cream pies (another item i wished I had more of)
  • Pack of 10 tortillas
  • 1 reusable squeeze pouch of peanut butter (should have also packed jelly!)
  • 8 single-serve bags of Jerquee
  • 1 Good to Go – Kale and White Bean Stew

Thank you for sharing my excitement as we plan our 2021 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore backpacking trip. We are getting down to the wire and next I will sharing our 2021 Pictured Rocks Backpacking trip!

Love,

Sara

4 Sustainable Alternatives for Backpacking Gear

Please be aware that clicking any links or purchasing from links may result in Sara receiving compensation. This is at no cost to you and helps Sara continue to share on Sustaining Sara. Thank you!

When obtaining backpacking gear it is important to consider quality, weight, and cost. While I do my best to avoid creating additional waste in my everyday life, it is just as hard to do so on backpacking trips. I want my gear to be lite when possible, but if that means excessive trash or that items may break sooner than later, then I want to find a sustainable alternative. Here are my 4 Sustainable Alternatives for Backpacking Gear!

#1
Alternative: Reusable Food Pouches
Replacing: Single-use nut butter pouches

I love taking peanut or almond butter on the trail, but a full jar is too heavy and single-use pouches and containers create a lot of [unnecessary] waste. Instead I use these pouches and even add my own mix-ins to the nut butter!

#2
Alternative: Camping Spork
Replacing: Single-use plastic cutlery

The Humangear GoBites Duo is a deep-reach spoon/fork alternative to bringing single-use plastic or your [heavier] metal spoons and forks. Honestly, a lot of backpackers already use specific cutlery, so pat yourself on the back!

#3
Alternative: Pee Cloth
Replacing: Extra toilet paper

A reusable pee cloth is an alternative to toilet paper for urination ONLY. They dry quick and most have anti-bacterial properties.

#4
Alternative: Reusable water bottle/bladder
Replacing: Singleiuse plastic water bottle

Now some people (I will tease and call them “gram weenies”) may tell me that reusable water bottles are “too heavy” and there are benefits to using single-use plastic, but I say too bad! A single-use water bottle will always end in a landfill and we can do our best to keep reusable water bottles with us for years and years.

These are just 4 sustainable alternatives for backpacking gear, and I hope that these items inspire you to make more sustainable choices for your next backpacking trip and in your everyday life. Make sure ou comment your favorite sustainable alternatives below and thank you for checking out my list!

Love,

Sara

Gear Shakedown #2 and My Gear Checklist

Please be aware that clicking any links or purchasing from links may result in Sara receiving compensation. This is at no cost to you and helps Sara continue to share on Sustaining Sara. Thank you!

There are two things in backpacking that can make your trip miserable; forgetting something or packing too much! A great way to make sure you avoid either of those scenarios is to have a Backpacking Gear Checklist! This is my personal gear checklist I have created for backpacking the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. You can write down your gear checklist, create an online sheet like I did, or even use specific sites to track your gear and base weight. Furthermore, as I have checked items off my list, I have also recently changed my water-system and thought I would share with you what I am doing to filter my water!

Checklist of backpacking items and their weight
Sample of my Backpacking Gear Checklist, click the link above to see everything I am packing!

Last year Charlie and I used the Sawyer One Gallon Gravity System, but have decided that the bag that comes with it is difficult to catch water from the waves of Lake Superior and that the tubing was just annoying and took up space. THIS YEAR we are using the filter and hookup from the gravity set up and collecting water with the CNOC 3 liter water bag.

With this system we will collect water with the CNOC bag, filter through the Sawyer Mini, and into the Platypus 3 liter bladder that we drink our water from. This is still a gravity process of filtering, but just will a better collection bag and no extra tubing. Below is a picture of what the filtering process will look like!

Gravity-fed water filtration
Our gravity-fed, water filtration system!

We are still “perfecting” our gear checklist, but I am very happy with how far along we have come. Thank you for taking part in our journey as we get ready for our backpacking adventure! Make sure to check back every Saturday for seeing how we prepare for and backpack Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Love,

Sara

Top 3 Things to See and Do at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

I am going to be frank with you, while these are very popular things I will be listing, I am definitely listing my favorites at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. While these are things that are popular all around, these are my Top3 3 Things to See and Do at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore based on my hiking experiences.

  1. Au Sable Lighthouse
Took this picture on a girls trip in fall 2020

I LOVE lighthouses and this one is gorgeous! You can reach this beauty from the Hurricane River campground along a short 1.5 mile hike. Just make sure to park in a day-use spot and not in a campsite!

This is an amazing landmark, but what makes it so special for me is that I have not seen it on my Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore hiking trips yet. I have hiked from Hurricane River campground to see it, but since last year we had to start our hike at Chapel Beach parking we missed this beauty (see my Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore hiking experience in Part 1 and Part 2). I am so excited that this year we will be starting our trip at Au Sable Visitor center and will be marveling at this light station on day 2!

  1. Chapel Beach
Lake Superior beach
How we were welcomed to Chapel beach

I had never seen true beauty until I had seen the beautiful Chapel beach waters and cliff views. The water is so blue and clear.

We celebrated our first break at Chapel beach and it quickly became our favorite spot after a sweaty hike. If you can only hike one area of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore make sure it is the Chapel Loop!…just make sure to get to the parking area before 8am to get a good spot! This is a popular loop since the sights and beach are so worth it!

  1. Miner’s Castle

Miner’s Castle is just cool! The Miner’s Castle Rock is awesome and one of the only things on the lakeshore that are accessible from the parking lot. Not to mention there are bathrooms and educational materials for curious families and sea kayakers!

While you will appreciate the majesty of this rock formation, you know I have a selfish and personal reason for liking Miner’s Castle best. It’s the end for me. Minor’s Castle is where we park the car and celebrate completing the trail. While I look forward to being on trail, ending the trail is a great feeling of accomplishment and I love that feeling just as much as the journey to get there!

I hope you enjoyed my Top 3 Things to See and Do at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Let me know which one location you want to visit the most and please check out the links below as I prepare for my second Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore hiking trip!

Love,

Sara

Gear Shakedown….#1?

Please be aware that clicking any links or purchasing from links may result in Sara receiving compensation. This is at no cost to you and helps Sara continue to share on Sustaining Sara. Thank you!

Last time I spoke to you on the blog I talked about starting to prepare your backpacking trip (see post here) and I talked about the gear I am taking with me for my Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore trip. I even talked about some items I may switch around, and if you follow the Sustaining Sara socials (see above), then you already know an item I have been pondering over.

Charlie and I have decided to move away from our hammock shelters and move toward a tent shelter. I have heard from many sources that your tent should be under 3.5 lbs and there are so many tents available in that range. However, I will be the first to say that I do not want to spend that much money and I’d prefer to work with what we have, and what we have is a Coleman 2 Person Dome Tent. In the 2 person model this entire tent system is 7 lbs. and I dare say no one wants to add a 7 lb. shelter to their pack. HOWEVER, Charlie and I can split the weight together AND save money.

Tent in backyard
Our Coleman 2 Person Dome Tent!

Now I went to some Facebook hiking and backpacking groups to see what they thought about this plan and the perspectives were mixed to say the least. One person told me that taking this tent into the back country was “a terrible idea” with no other context. Others said it is a great idea to work with what we have and some agreed but also offered better options. I am happy I got perspectives for people but I have figured that this comes down to three main points in our case:

  1. Availability – we already have this tent. I already set it up once this season to make sure all pieces are accounted for and in good working order!
  2. Cost – there is no extra cost to us to use a tent we already have. We may even use some money we would have used on a new tent on getting better sleeping pads (yes, now I need to add “sleeping pad” to my updated gear list).
  3. Splitting Weight – yes, this tent would be way too heavy for one person to carry. However, since Charlie and I can split the weight together we should be at a reasonable ~3.5 lbs.! There is nothing wrong with that!

So Charlie and I are pretty set on using our heavy tent, no matter what others say. I am very happy that we have this opportunity and can see how our shelter system evolves as we continue our backcountry journeys! Make sure to check out my socials below to see our Pictured Rocks Trip as it rolls out!

Thank you!

Sara