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

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

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

How to Prepare for a Backpacking Trip

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!

Hi all! Now that is it May, I need to start preparing for my second trip backpacking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Last year we were able to reserve a few backcountry sites to backpack the lakeshore, but this time around we prepared ahead of time (see Top 5 Things to Know Before Hiking Pictured Rocks) to reserve backcountry permits to make sure we hike from Grand Sable Visitor Center to Minors Castle (almost the whole lakeshore)!  There are a few things I am doing to make sure I am ready for this trip and I had better start now rather than later. Here are my tips to prepare for your backpacking trip!

  1. Get in shape

I was in a lot better shape last year and I was still tired after each day of hiking. This year…I need to start taking on more mileage before I hike 7.3 miles a day for fun. On top of just in general needing to get in shape, taking on so many miles consecutively and so soon can lead to injury if not properly prepared. Everyone is different, do your research and prepare your own body accordingly. I know that for myself, I need to do something to get in shape and prepare my body for my Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore trip.

If you are planning a longer hiking trip make sure your body can handle the work-load involved in your scenic hike!

  1. Get your gear together
The fellas use our gear as a bed is we leave it out for them to play with.
The Fellas cuddling with our backpacking gear when it’s not in storage.

If you are just starting out on your first backpacking trip you have A LOT to prepare for. Even if you are a seasoned backpacker you know how much planning it takes to make sure you are ready for comfort in the backcountry. You should do plenty of research on what others take into the backcountry and even think about additional things that would make yourself comfortable and happy! Here are things I take backpacking with me:

If you have your gear organized year round then this is not too much of a problem. Personally I use totes to put all my things in except my sleeping bag which I don’t want to squish. I keep my sleeping bag outside of storage because my dogs love cuddling it. People may use more, less, or liter gear but the above is what I take with me into the backcountry.

  1. Upgrade gear as needed

While I am loving my gear, there are a few things that we are upgrading/ changing based on different desires or needs:

  • Charlie is looking at getting a tent instead of bringing out his hammock setup again. He just decided that the hammock surrounded by the bug net and tarp was too constricting and did not provide enough privacy.
  • I am looking at changing or nixing my pillow. With my hammock I just don’t need it and I just wake up cuddling it like a teddy bear anyway.

Changing up your gear list is up to you and your preferences, don’t let anyone tell you different!

  1. Shakedown Hike

Now you have your gear together. You’re packed up and eager. Now it is time for a practice run. 

Hike with your bag. Overnight with your supplies. Is your bag too heavy for you? Did you pack some unnecessary items? Forget something you really need? Figure this out now and get rid of anything you don’t need. This is also a great way to practice wearing your backpack and make sure it is the right one for you! See Rachel’s How Not to Pack for A Pictured Rock Hiking Trip to really understand the importance of packing.

  1. Prepare a main point of contact 

I have said this before and I will say it again; make sure someone knows where you are and your itinerary! When Charlie and I leave for any type of trip we need to get a dog sitter and that is normally a family member. When we leave for a trip we know we may have limited cell service we make sure that this family member is prepared with our itinerary with notes on when we will be able to contact them and what to do if we do not contact them. A satellite phone would also help in these situation and hopefully by the time we do this trip we will have a Garmin InReach or InReach Mini. STILL, these phones are not always 100 percent reliable and your point of contact should be told that!

These tips for preparing for your backpacking trip are only the things primarily on my mind right now. Make sure to always do your own research and to make sure you are comfortable with your plans and your gear before isolating yourself in the backcountry. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you have so much fun!

Once on trail I will make sure to share as many photos and tips as possible! I will let you know how the trip went right here on the blog and don’t forget to read my first experience hiking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; Part 1 and Part 2. And follow my adventures on Instagram!

Love,

Sara

Sara’s Top 5 Summer 2021 Plans

Every month I write in my bullet journal three things I want to do that month. Some of these things are stuff that has to be done, but more often than not some of these things are left incomplete. However, there are a few things that I will definitely make sure to do this summer! Here we go, my top 5 Summer 2021 Plans!

  1. Kayaking

Last Summer Charlie and I were set on getting kayaks. However, I did not want to do much research OR buy a roof rack, so we did what any lazy person would do. We bought inflatable kayaks. We got a Intex Challenger K1 and a Intex Challenger K2. We got a single person and a two person so that we could take one out together or both kayaks and a friend or Jupiter in his little life jacket (at the time there was no Bingo in the picture).

Charlie has been looking at where we can kayak this year and it seems like there will be plenty of opportunities between the many lakes and rivers in Michigan’s Thumb. Last summer we only used the kayaks on a calm lake (Crego Park), but we will see if the inflatable kayaks will work on other bodies of water. So we will definitely be kayaking this summer!

  1. Gardening
Tomato and Squash Garden at the Lansing House.
Our old, crowded tomato and squash garden.

Our previous living situation was mine and Charlie’s first house we ever rented together, meaning this was our first yard we could start a vegetable garden in! We attempted to grow several vegetables, but the two that lasted (and THRIVED) were beef steak tomatoes and butternut squash. With these two vegetables we were able to prepare and store enough to have them through winter and it was awesome! We had the last of the tomato soup last week even!

Needless to say with only two types of plants fruiting last year out of a whole garden, we have done a little research and will be improving our garden this year. PLUS we have more room this year! I cannot wait to share our new garden with you!

  1. Up North Michigan/Upper Peninsula Vacation
Lake Superior at Au Sable Lighthouse
The rolling waves of Lake Superior (my favorite Great Lake) at Au Sable Light House

After spending so much time Up North last year between hiking and sight-seeing, I cannot wait to cross Mackinac Bridge again (is a Mac Pass in my future!?). I just want to have a beer at Ore Dock Brewery in Marquette, cliff jump at Black Rock, and finally explore Sault Ste Marie! We have plenty planned for this summer, as you will see on numbers 4 and 5!

  1. North Country Trail 100 Challenge

Have you heard about the North Country Trail Challenge? The North Country Trail actually goes across Picture Rocks National Lakshore and once finished will be the longest scenic trail from Vermont to Oregon (the current west terminus is North Dakota)! The North Country Trail 100 Challenge has been going since 2016 and challenges hikers to do 100 miles of the North Country Trail Challenge. After completion you get a cool patch! Check out the North Country Trail website for more information!

You can do multiple sections of the trail to reach your 100 miles or the same sections over and over! I will definitely be getting 35 miles done at Picture Rocks National Lakeshore this summer!

  1. Backpack Picture Rocks National Lakeshore (AGAIN!)
Picture Rocks Nation Lakeshore Chapel Beach
The turquoise water we say backpacking Picture RocKs National Lakeshore near Chapel Beach.

That’s right, 35 miles in 4-5 days on Picture Rocks National Lakeshore! Charlie and I will be doing this hike again and actually we plan to do it every year for as long as we can. This year we are making sure we do the whole lakeshore, but in the future we will be trying to do it faster and faster! It is just a beautiful and rewarding hike, I cannot wait to do it again.

And I cannot wait to tell y’all about our experiences again!

Thank you for checking in on my plans for Summer 2021. Please let me know of any cool plans you have for this summer in the comments! Thank you!

Love,

Sara