Where to Camp in Big Sur

With 90-miles of pristine coastline, Big Sur is just about the dreamiest place to cruise out of cell service and pitch a tent. There are redwoods and waterfalls, craggy alcoves and socked-in canyons, and on a clear, late summer day you can see whale spouts off in the distance.

Look up in the sky to spot a condor – you can’t miss them, they’re the ones with the 10-ft wingspan – or peek over the cliffs to watch the otters bob in the waves. From the birds to the bakery (THE Big Sur Bakery – get the brown butter cookie), the mossy rocks and the babbling brooks, the silent hikes to the crashing swells – here’s our guide to the best campsites in Big Sur. Don’t forget your long johns.

BLM & FOREST SERVICE ROADS  

The Los Padres National Forest is home to Big Sur and there are lots of places on the side of the road that you are allowed to camp for free. Big Sur campgrounds can fill up months in advance, so car camping on public BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) is a great back-up or last-minute trick. BUT — and this is a big but — be sure to check the LPNF website before going to check rules and restrictions. Please be cautious of changing weather and wildfires and always listen to officials. And always respect the no campfire rule and PACK IN, PACK OUT.

Nacimiento-Ferguson Road

Nacimiento-Ferguson Road is a windy, steep road a few miles south of Lucia. It’s got stunning views and many small “campsites,” aka flat spots off of the road where people have been setting up small tents and car camping for years.

Plaskett Ridge Road 

For the more rugged campers (or at least the ones with an AWD vehicle), this dirt “road” heads straight into the Big Sur interior. It flattens out toward the top of the hill and there are and grassy meadows and hillsides aplenty.

Prewitt Ridge

Another roadside attraction, what Prewitt lacks in toilets and running water it makes up for in sprawling ocean views. Get there early to watch the sun go from high in the sky to right into the Pacific. Make PB&Js and whiskey for dinner and call it a night.

BACK COUNTRY CAMPING

There are over 50 backcountry trails and “campsites” that will take you off the crowded tourist tracks of Big Sur. It’s a great way to connect with Big Sur’s wildlife, but if you plan to build a campfire or use a stove or barbecue outside of a developed campground area, you need a free campfire permit.

Sykes Hot Springs

A 10 mile hike in from the Ventana Wilderness visitor’s center (along the Pine Ridge Trail) are the stellar hot springs and even more stellar primitive camp sites. The hot springs may be a bit crowded in the day but come late afternoon the crowds clear and you have the Big Sur River and the 100° F pools to yourself. Get an early start on this hike-in so you can savor the waterfalls along the way – and get your pick of the best sites.

*Note: Sykes Hot Springs via Pine Ridge Trail may be closed so check beforehand

Cook Spring Camp 

Less of a commitment, the North Coast Trail hike to Cook Spring Camp is only a 5 miles hike in with sweeping views of the coast and mountains. This hike leads to a primitive backcountry camp under a canopy of sugar cone pine trees. 

CAMPGROUNDS

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

This is the Big Kahuna of campsites. With over 170+ camping and RV sites, this campground is where most people come when they come to Big Sur. Sure, it can be crowded sometimes, but if you get a spot next to the Big Sur River in the way back you’ll be none the wiser to the chaos (there are also some cute cabins if that’s your jam). Each spot has parking, a fire ring and access to bathrooms and showers, so it’s not exactly “roughing it.” But the site is friendly for families (and dogs!) and it’s centrally located so you’ll have your pick of all that Big Sur has to offer.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

If Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is the jumbo site, Julie Pfeiffer Burns State Park is the blue moon. With just 2 environmental (no showers, no running water) campsites available, these two sites have ocean views and a private 80ft waterfall. They are a HOT commodity and are almost always booked, but if you see an opening, seize it. You won’t be sorry when you’re drinking coffee with whales, dolphins, and sea lions.

Andrew Molera State Park 

This is the only real “first come, first served” campground in Big Sur, so prepare to get there early to snag one of the 24 sites. Set in a dreamy meadow, these hike-in campsites are about ⅓ mile from the parking area but still offer a lot of the typical campsite amenities (bathrooms, picnic tables, fire pit, etc.). It’s also surrounded by multiple hiking trails that wander through meadows, rolling bluffs, rocky beaches, and stunning hilltop views. We like the Andrew Molera Loop trail – a significant 8.8 mile loop with a 1100 ft elevation gain and a whole bushel of scenic switchbacks. 

Limekiln State Park

Limekiln feels like you stepped into Fern Gully. With 33 campsites that span the coast to the redwoods, the best part of Limekiln is the hike back through the redwoods up to the old late 19th century limekilns and Limekiln Falls (100ft waterfall). Snag a spot that overlooks the creek and stay for a few days – no need to go anywhere else.

Kirk Creek Campground

If Julia Pfeiffer is filled up (which is likely), check out the oceanside Kirk Creek Campground. This site has 34 spots that sit between Highway 1 and the Pacific – so it’s literally jutting out into the ocean. This may be the best view camping view in all of Big Sur (when the fog lifts) but be wary of Poison oak – it is EVERYWHERE. If you bring a dog, keep it on the leash. You’ll thank us later.

Even if you have a reservation, always check with the campgrounds and the Forest Service for any updates regulations or guidelines before you show up. California is often affected by Natural Disasters so you need to be aware of Mother Nature’s many mood swings. And crazy weather or not, always enjoy campfires in designated pits and be sure to snuff out every ember before bed (and we mean EVERY ember). Pack in, pack out, and leave not trace. Oh, and have fun!

Lesser Known National Parks to Visit

104 years and still going strong! On August 25th, 2020 the National Park Service celebrates 104 years as “America’s best idea.” We couldn’t agree more. And as a party favor, the NPS is opening all of their national parks and monuments free of charge! So load up your pandemic pod, grab your masks, and get out there. Here’s our list of some of our favorite, lesser-known National Parks and forests – the gems off the beaten path, the less crowded but equally as pleasing trails, the grand vistas with ne’er a selfie in sight. Give the popular spots a rest and try these national treasures on for size. 

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Just across the Colorado border from the popular Mesa Verde National Park is Bandelier National Monument – an equally intriguing example of Ancestral Pueblo culture. This park monument is 33,000 acres of canyons and mesa country with gorgeous hiking trails (some easy, come difficult) and views of ancient ruins and petroglyphs. Archaeology and history buffs are sure to love it.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Deep in the heart of Texas is another “El Capitan” that’s equally as impressive as the more popular face in Yosemite. You can find this larger-than-life Captain in Guadalupe Mountains National Park halfway between El Paso and Carlsbad New Mexico (also the home of an epic National Park). The Guadalupe Mountains were formed millions of years ago when a vast tropical sea covered the region; today, fossilized reefs stand as tall as the mountains – and El Capitan is the chief. There are more than 80 miles of trails and the best (and only) way to view these natural specimens is on foot. Bring a lot of water and binoculars – the park is also home to more than 300 bird species.

Cuyahoga Valley National Monument, Ohio

Love waterfalls and lush, verdant valleys? Cuyahoga is the place for you. In between Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga is a quieter version of Great Smokey Mountains National Park (easily the most-visited national park). The park is filled with forests, hills, creeks and the namesake Cuyahoga River, as well as historical canals that played a key role in the American settlement of the 1800’s. Another bonus: The historical Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad that winds through the park. Hike in, train out.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

Ok, the Grand Canyon is obviously mind blowing (the word “grand” is part of the name), but what Black Canyon lacks in width, it makes up for in depth. The great cliffs of Black Canyon plunge into the Gunnison River, some place more than 2,700 ft down. This results in some stellar echoes and even more stellar rock climbing opportunities. Deep in the canyons there are some radical Class V rapids if you are a skilled paddler (NOT recommended for beginners!) as well as some rewarding but complicated hikes (also recommended for a more intermediate or advanced hiker). For the beginners, there are ample scenic hikes along the South and North rims as well as world-class trout fishing in the Gunnison River.

Congaree National Park, South Carolina 

One of the newest parks in the system, Congaree National Park is like Texas’ Big Bend but without the crowds and coolers of Lone Star. Tucked along the mystical Congaree River near Columbia, South Carolina, this national park boasts 27,000 acres of old growth floodplain forests dropping with biodiversity. The park has more than 25 miles of hiking trails and offers gorgeous boardwalks for great accessibility. You can also explore via kayak or canoe (yours or rented) or camp along hiking or canoe trails (permits are required but free). Bring a harmonica, a dram of whiskey, and harmonize with the bullfrogs.

Muir Woods National Monument, California

Just across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is Muir Woods National Park – a big-time redwood experience nestled along the coastline of northern California. President Teddy Roosevelt declared the land a National Monument in 1908 to preserve the redwood forests, so lose yourself among these giants and marvel at the fantastic views along the way – look out at the wide pacific or across at the sparkling city on the bay. Make a weekend of it and explore adjacent Marin County for more hikes, beach walks, and oyster dinners.

North Cascades National Park, Washington

Glaciers around the globe are quickly melting, so Montana’s Glacier National Park is certainly worthy of your “Must Visit” list (especially since some scientist think the GNP glaciers will be gone by 2030!) In the meantime, get yourself to North Cascades National Park – 3 hours north of Seattle and home to more than 300 glaciers and impressive mountain peaks and cascading waterfalls. You can hike and camp in the park and even explore by boat via numerous lakes and rivers. Just be sure to bring some warm socks!

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

In the middle of Lake Superior (the largest freshwater lake in the world!), Isle Royale National Park is just about the dreamiest island escape we can think of. This park is a series of over 450 islands (most very small!) that make up an archipelago of 132,000 acres of crystal blue waters and dramatic, craggy cliffs. What it lacks in transportation (there are no cars on the islands) it makes up for in adventure. When you get there (by boat or sea plane), explore the many lakes and trails by foot, paddle board, or kayak (you can rent one there). If you are a scuba diver, look into some of the organized trips that you can take.  It’s well worth the trek to this remote slice of paradise.

With more than 400 national parks, forests, and monuments, there are plenty of places to check out. For more information, visit www.nationalparks.org.

Robolights, Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a kaleidoscope of spectacle plopped between the highways and wind farms. It’s a place where pool parties kick off at 8am, drag brunch margaritas are a breakfast staple, and colorful art installations peacock on every corner. If you haven’t made your way to Robolights, here’s why it’s a must-see. 

Robolights is a sprawling residential plot that’s about as eye-popping as they come. And each year, artist Kenny Irwin Jr. tears down his masterpiece and starts anew. Using scavenged and gifted trash items, he constructs a mental wonderland of robots, tunnels, bridges, trolls, whosits and whatsits, giant chairs, aliens, creatures from the deep, interactive arcades – whatever comes to mind. 

It’s the definition of controlled chaos. It’s 4 acres of upcycled paint cans, phone chords, plastic bottles, tires, hubcaps, cages, garden hoes, 8 million Christmas lights, disco balls, giant Christmas blow-ups, busted electronics, patched up bouncy houses, car parts, unwanted toys … imagine the Wall-E junkyard then blasted with paint. It’s kinda like that. 

To visit this fun house (it’s actually the artist’s residence), check the website first – it’s closed during parts of the year so the Irwin can work on his masterpiece. Bring a few bucks for a suggested donation (it takes money to keep those lights on!) and your walking shoes – it takes about 45 minutes to walk through the whole thing. 

If you’re in the Palm Springs area, take time to explore Joshua Tree National Park, Pioneertown, and the Integratron. And obviously brunch with the Desert Divas… 

Best Places to Travel in 2020

2020 just sounds like a year for epic trips. While we adjust back to office life, we’re slowly re-entering with a healthy dose of wanderlust and electrolytes (because you have to prep that immune system for international travel). According to the Toads, here’s what tops our list for the best places to visit in 2020. 

LAKE TAHOE 

“I’m taking the little groms to the snow! My youngest hasn’t been yet so we’re getting her on some mini skis. It’s the best place in the world to learn to ski because when you fall at least you got a million dollar view!” – Neil, Operations 

VIETNAM 

“I took a DNA test last year and turns out I’m 91% Vietnamese, so I’m headed back to the Motherland! I’m doing an epic solo motorcycle trip through the countryside. I’ve never been to Vietnam. I’m so pumped.” – Anthony, Graphic Design 

TURKEY 

“I’m going on my honeymoon this year and I think we settled on Turkey! I want that balance of adventure and relaxing, but we also like amazing food and coffee and culture…Turkey seemed like the perfect place. I hear Cappadocia is where the hot air balloons float over these ancient cities built around rock formations. Sounds pretty amazing.” – Tessa, Production 

AMSTERDAM 

“Amsterdam has some incredible art museums. The Van Gogh, the Foam, the Moco, and of course the Rijksmusuem that’s been closed for years and just re-opened after a mega remodel – I hear it’s spectacular. I just want to go to all of the museums and eat all of the snacks and go biking through the tulips!” – Helena, Women’s Design

SENEGAL 

“My buddy just came back from a surf trip in Senegal and now I’m frothin’. There are some great breaks just outside of Dakar like the legendary point break, Ngor Right (the one they surfed in Endless Summer!), and apparently down the coast is a little town called Ouakam where you’re just supposed to barrel all. day. long.” – Dr. Drew, Customer Service 

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA 

“I’ve always wanted to walk the Camino. It’s a beautiful, historic pilgrimage route that winds through the hills of France and ends at this beautiful city, Santiago de Compostela, in Northwest Spain. After you’ve made your trek (I’d start in Léon so it wasn’t too long…), you end at the Cathedral where all the pilgrims pack in for a church service (all in Latin, of course). It just sounds divine.” – Lucinda, Production 

YELLOWSTONE 

“This summer we’re taking a road trip all throughout the Western US with the goal to hit as many National Parks as we can. Last fall we took my 5 year old, Lily, to her first national park and she loved it. She asked for a park pass for Christmas. So we’re going to put it to work! Our goal is to do a big circle – Yellowstone, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Saguaro, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Zion, Great Basin… ok, if we make it to half it would be amazing. But Yellowstone is at the TOP of the must-see list!” – Lucas, Brand & Marketing 

JAPAN 

“I really want to go to Japan and hit some links! People are shocked when I tell them that Japan has great golf courses, but why wouldn’t they? It’s a country known for  epic views and beautiful gardens. Makes sense to me!” – Guin, Women’s Design 

ANDALUCIA 

“We’re going to visit my mother-in-law in Switzerland, but then after that we’re going to check out Southern Spain (or Andalucia). It’s been on our bucket list for years. We’re thinking Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada…just give me all the tapas and Moorish architecture. I hear the Alhambra is mind blowing.” – Steve, Marketing 

VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK 

“I am SO excited to go to Volcano National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island! Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are active volcanoes so you can actually watch the lava flow, AND you can go see the Thurston lava tube that’s so big you can walk through it….AHHHH NATURE IS SO COOL!” – SARAH, Culture & Giving (and our resident geologist)  

ICELAND 

“Seeing the Northern lights is HIGH on my list of things to see with my own eyes. I hear Iceland is just the coolest and my dream is to surf off the coast of a glacier, while the Northern Lights are above, then get into the natural hot springs. Can you make that happen, Iceland?” – Natalie, Materials 

COSTA RICA 

“Give me mountains and jungle and ocean and sky and I’m a happy camper. Usually I love to explore cities, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the vibe and the people and the food…. I know I haven’t been there, but I think Costa Rica is a place you find your soul. Sounds like a good place to clock some hours.” – Daisy, Brand & Marketing 

How to Stay Sane During the Holidays

Blame it on the weather, but the holidays can be stressful (like when you plan a dinner for 10 and it turns into 16…or your flight gets delayed AGAIN…or you have to make 60 cookies for the holiday class party). But remember: every day (even the trying ones) is an adventure! Here are 7 tips for how to stay sane during the holidays—and beyond. 

Checkbox HYDRATE 

Staying hydrated will do wonders for your mind and body. Keep a reusable bottle on hand and never forget the party rule: for every libation, chug a glass of water. 

Checkbox PEOPLE WATCH 

Stuck at the airport or standing in the longest check-out line of your life? Avoid the temptation to look at your phone and watch your fellow human beings. It’ll restore your faith in humanity…or at least be entertaining. 

Checkbox  BREATHE

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. When you’ve just about had it to HERE, close your eyes and take 3 or 4 deep, slow breaths. The rush of oxygen triggers a dopamine release in your brain which makes you calmer. 

Checkbox FORGET THE PRESENTS 

Ah, gift anxiety—not knowing what size to get, dealing with shipping, dealing with timing, spending lots of money—just don’t do it. Instead you can donate to causes in people’s names, write poems or heartfelt letters, or commit to an adventure in the spring. It really is the thought that counts. 

Checkbox RE-GIFT

Okay okay, we just said don’t do presents. But if you must, feel free to re-gift wine you’ve gotten, jewelry you’ve never worn, your own personal copy of a book that you love… no shame in taking the sustainable route (PS—if you need to wrap, here’s how to avoid the wrapping paper)! 

Checkbox WALK IT OFF  

We can’t stress this enough: Exercise makes you happy. Get your blood pumping at least a few times a week and you’ll be happy every day (trust us, we are scientists). Stuck inside? Turn on your favorite tunes and dance it out.  If you need a playlist, here’s our Rock the Holidays playlist

Checkbox PRACTICE GRATITUDE   

The key word is PRACTICE. It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well. It’s when things have fallen apart—the pies burned, the traffic is horrendous, you’re on your second hour of the annual Smith Family political debate—that’s when you practice gratitude and find something (ANYTHING!) to be grateful for. You’ll find that it is, indeed, an imperfect but happy holiday! 

BTS in Acadia National Park

Here’s the thing about photoshoots: they’re not always the glamorous, linen soirees they’re made out to be. When we went to Acadia National Park on the eastern shores of Maine for our Fall photoshoot, we got rain, snow, ice, stuck cars, closed roads, and an emergency drill. It was a far cry from blow dryers and lemon water – so naturally, we were stoked. 

Protruding into the Atlantic, Acadia National Park takes up the better half of Mount Desert Island (pronounced “dessert”, it’s a Maine thing) on the Schoodic Peninsula. It’s home to ragged cliffs, precarious lighthouses, bucolic lakes, and Cadillac Mountain — the tallest mountain on the eastern coastline and  first place in the USA to see the sunrise. Of course, the road to Cadillac Mountain is closed during the winter (news to us), so we changed the plans and started back at the beginning. 

The main entrance to Acadia NP is through Bar Harbor, ME – a shingled seaside town that ebbs and flows with tourists and the tides. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, it’s a sea of baseball caps and tail lights. In the winter, you can have it all to yourselves (and a few hearty locals). 

Just outside of Bar Harbor we picked up the 27-mile Park Loop Road, a one-way “best of” tour of the park. Driving slowly and with our Kodaks at the ready, we hopped out to explore when the mood struck us: a jaunt up Precipice Trailhead, scrambling to unnamed overlooks, and a heated debate over whether to take the plunge at Sand Beach or not (we settled for a toe dip – and yes, it was freezing). 

Just short of Otter Cove we stopped off at Thunder Hole, a formation named for the cacophony of sound emitted from waves crashing against rocks. It did not disappoint. 

Likewise, Otter Cliff coaxed a few holy mackerels from our lips. These 110-foot granite cliffs are dotted with evergreens and icy waterfalls that quietly spill down into crystal green waters, beckoning you to take a plunge… I mean, if the otters can do it… 

When we rounded the corner to Jordan Pond our excursion came to an abrupt end due to a Park Ranger safety drill. So we did some calisthenics and picked up Route 3 back to Bar Harbor, in search or the one joint still serving cold brews and hot chowder. 

 

Local’s Guide to Peaks Island

4,600. That’s the number of islands that belong to the state of Maine. Somewhere in there is Peaks Island – a busy little suburb off the coast of Portland and home to one of our all-time favorite Toads, Ponch. He’s our National Retail Development Manager and has been heading up our flagship store in Freeport since 2001. A few things you should know about Ponch: he’s part polar bear, can fix literally anything, and he’s the greatest pizza chef in the state of Maine (unconfirmed, but trust us on this). He’s got every skill you need to live on a tiny Maine island for 365 days a year (which he does with his wife, 2 daughters, and 2 pups). When were out there for our photoshoot this fall, we sat around Ponch’s kitchen and got the local’s take on Peaks Island living.

380b68aa-893f-11e9-b399-a0369f103266

How many years have you lived on Peaks?

This stint is 13 years, but Jess and I did a previous 3 year stint.

What’s the easiest way to get there?

Casco Bay Lines Ferries out of the Portland harbor – same spot they’ve been running out of since 1880! It’s a 17 minute ferry through the bay, and you pass the old Fort Scammel, can see lighthouses and the Portland skyline. It’s really pretty (You can always take a water Taxi if you plan a late night out on the town).

What’s your last stop before the mainland?

Standard Baking Co. for incredible bread and Old Port Spirits and Cigars for libations.

Best place to get a pizza on the island?

My house! There aren’t any pizza joints on the island, but I like Portland’s Flatbread Pizza, or Micucci’s for a Sicilian Slab.

What’s the best way to get around on the island?

When you get off the ferry, walk up the hill, take the first left, walk a few blocks and visit Brad’s Recycled Bike Shop – you can rent all sorts of 80’s and 90’s bikes, plus some old Schwinn tandems and even kid carriers – great for your beer and lobsters, or dog, if not your kid. Walking is also great as is unicycling.

FW19_08_Rocky_Coastline_0166_1066x696

Best place to watch the sunrise?

Picnic Point – I recommend walking out past the rope swing.

Best place to watch the sunset?

Picnic Point is still a great spot, or the front of the island to watch the sun set over Portland.  

Best spot to the get creative juices flowing?

The Illustration Institute cabins. The Illustration Institute is a non-profit based in Portland that allows artists to spend a few weeks off the grid, living in quiet cabins on the island just working on their craft.

Best spot for a cocktail?

Make your own in advance or pack the ingredients, put it in a thermos, and go hang out on the rocks.

FW19_08_Rocky_Coastline_0430_1066x696

Best place to pitch a tent: 

It’s not necessarily legal, but can’t say it doesn’t happen… Best advice is to be friendly, and don’t make a mess, but know that most of the land is private and the rest of the island is Portland City property.

Best piece of advice for living on an island: 

A friend of mine had recently moved to the Great State of Maine and was considering buying a house but didn’t know where. He asked me about Peaks but had heard that it was a pain. My response to him was “It’s only a pain if you don’t like boats.” You have to know that you can’t get home without a boat and you can’t come and go on your own schedule. You have to share transportation with a whole bunch of people – some you know and some you don’t, some you like and some you don’t care for. BUT it’s a very pleasant way to start a commute or end a long day or week. 

FW19_05_Ferry_0384_1066x696

For more local tips about Maine, catch up with Ponch and the rest of the Toads at our Toad&Co Freeport store at 11 Bow Street in Freeport, ME.

Our Favorite Camping Hacks

If you tuned into our most recent episode of Toad Hacks on Instagram, you saw Toads Lindsay and Drew share a few of their most tried and true camping hacks. Because this is prime camping season (changing leaves and fall sunsets, yes please), and we want you all to enjoy it as much as we do, here are those hacks plus a few more.

Bring The Heat

A good central fire is key to any campout. Store charcoal briquettes in a cardboard egg crate before you get to your site, then light it to start your fire easily when you get there. You can also save dryer lint and put it in the middle of old toilet paper rolls.

Camp Kitchen Essentials (aka all the amazing things from home you can reuse)

We’d be lying if we said mealtime around said fire wasn’t one of the main highlights of every camping trip we take. So we mean business when it comes to our camp kitchen setup.

Breakfast – An unexpected plot twist for your condiment bottles: Save them to reuse on your next camping trip. Before you head out, fill them with pancake batter or eggs (shells off and pre-whisked) and pop them in the cooler. Come breakfast at the campsite, you’re ready to go with an easy meal (and impressive too, if that’s what you’re going for).

Lunch and Dinner – We love a meal in a cast iron pan because the possibilities are literally limitless. You can use it on the camp stove or over the fire, and you can cook virtually anything in it.  And anything that’s sturdy, durable, and lasts a lifetime is a win in our book.

Pantry Essentials  – On one of our Toad campouts, someone realized that an old toolbox makes the perfect camp kitchen kit. Who knew? It’s the ideal size for spices, utensils, bottle openers, and mini bottles of booze. Cheers!

toolbox

Cleanup – Take an empty laundry detergent dispenser, fill it with water, flip it upside down, and you have a hand and dish-washing station right at the campsite. Put a bucket below to catch runoff water. Whoever’s on dishes duty will thank you.

The Sweet Stuff

We recently learned an epic tip that will flip your S’mores world upside down (thanks to Toad Lindsay’s Mother-in-Law and everyone’s favorite Toad mom Kathy). Put the piece of chocolate in the middle of your marshmallow before roasting. It’s gooey and delicious and trust us, you’ll never look at a S’more the same way again.

fire

The Every Campout Checklist

Keep your checklist by your camping gear so you never forget the essentials. We don’t leave home without our headlamps – key for keeping your hands free for more fun things than holding a flashlight (see: S’mores and whipping up a stellar breakfast). Also important to the checklist: Mini first aid kit, microfiber towels (compact, quick-drying, and lightweight), and reusable cups and utensils. 

reusable cup

What We’re Wearing

Lindsay’s favorite is the Telluride Sherpa Jacket – “Not only is it two jackets in one, but it also makes a perfect pillow. The triple threat of eco-friendly jackets.”

telluride sherpa jacket

Drew’s loving the Epiq Jogger – “Fitted ankles keep the critters out and the Hemp and Organic Cotton blend makes them cozy enough to double as jammies.”

Epiq Jogger

Travel Packing Tips and Tricks

If you’ve been following along with our Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable tour, you know all about our buddy Drew (AKA Dr. Drew) – Toad Customer Service Sorcerer, and leader of our first leg of the tour. Fresh off the road, we couldn’t think of a better expert on summer packing. So our Superstar Web Merchant Lindsay sat down with Drew on our most recent episode of Toad Hacks (check out today’s Insta Story to see their chat IRL) to talk packing tips. Here are the highlights, plus some bonus tips ’cause we love ya.

Summer Packing header

BEFORE YOU GO

There are a couple of things Drew suggests you do before you head out to keep it simple and keep it sustainable once you Bon Voyage.

  • •Pre-trip recycling – If I buy something before a trip that comes in a wrapper or box (like a new phone charger or stick of deodorant), I make sure to recycle the packaging before I head out. Not everywhere has a streamlined recycling system, and this guarantees it makes it in the bin.
  • •Unplug before you…unplug – Before I leave for an epic adventure or a little R&R, I unplug the electronics in my house. It helps with my electricity bill and cuts down on energy usage, because did you know that electronics can steal power even when they’re turned off? Those sneaky little things…

 

Summer Packing 1

THE CHECKLIST

Check it once, check it twice. Drew never hits the road without these essentials.

  • •Headlamp – It’s second nature to remember socks and underwear, but you never know when an extra light will come in handy.
  • •Power converters – It’s so easy to forget that you might need adapters depending on where you’re traveling. I keep these close to my passport to remind me when I pack.
  • •Layer it up – When it comes to clothes, it’s all about finding the right layers to get you through any situation. Plus, choose versatile options that work as well hiking and exploring as they will going out to dinner.
  • •Shoe bags – Bring shoe bags (or better yet, recycled shopping bags) to keep clothes from mingling with dirty soles.
  • •Stay organized – I don’t go anywhere these days without these packing cubes (genius invention). They’re great for separating groups of clothes when packing, but I appreciate them most when they double as dirty clothes hampers to keep the stinky clothes from going AWOL all over my good ones. Plus, the 3 cubes weigh less than 2.2 oz total, so no stress about packing extra weight.

 

ALWAYS KEEP IT ECO

As a master of eco-conscious living, Drew always keeps these tips in mind.

  • •Utensils – Nothing bums me out more than a bunch of single-use plastic. At the minimum, I keep a spork on hand but when I’m feeling extra I’ll travel with my whole utensil set.
  • •Water bottle and beer mug/coffee cup – I’m a thirsty guy, but I’m not going to sacrifice the planet to wet my whistle. A reusable water bottle’s a must, and my beer mug easily doubles as a coffee cup.
  • •Pack light – Not only will your back thank you from saving it from major suitcase schlepping, but going easy on your bag weight is way better for the environment. The more weight a plane (or a train, or a car) carries, the more fuel it uses, so keep that bag lean.

 

Summer packing 3

FAVORITE TRAVEL PIECES

We asked Drew and Lindsay to share which Toad pieces are on their summer packing lists.

  • •Drew – I lived in the Rover Short while I was on the road. I love these shorts because they clean up well, but they’re also super durable, quick-drying, and retain their shape.
  • •Lindsay – I love the Liv Dress for travel. You can take it from a hike to dinner super easily, plus it won’t wrinkle, no matter how rumpled your packing gets. Plus, it’s quick-drying, AND has pockets, so it really has everything you need for any sort of adventure.

 

For more hacks from the man, the myth, the doctor, check out Drew’s tips for car camping.

 

drew_blog crop