Backpacking, Camping, climbing, Hiking, Kids, Parenting

The Ultimate checklist for hiking a 14er with your child

First off, ALL 14ers are hard, super hard. I don’t care if you’re an elite mountain athlete or 40 year old soccer mom. They are hard and in the worst of scenario’s can put you in dangerous situations. When hiking a 14er with your child, you need to be cautious, more cautious than normal, more cautious than EVER.

Last summer Carter (my 9 year old) and I summited Mt. Democrat. He was 8 years old and it was his first trip up a 14er. The entire experience took 5 hours. This summer, actually next weekend, we are tackling Mt. Quandary. I selected both 14ers because they offer great camping the night before and their relative ease of completion.

Pro Tips:
Age – I would not recommend taking a child under 8 years of age.

Camping – Carter and I camp at the trail-head the evening before. This allows us wake up early (around 4:30am) and to be on the trail by 5am. The old adage is to summit as early as possible. I like to be off the summit of most 14er’s by 8am. Lightning can ruin your day.

Breakfast – Eat food that you can digest easily. Remember you are already likely at 11,000 – 12,000 ft. We don’t eat a big breakfast but instead are constantly eating on the trail.

Elevation sickness  This can occur. If it does, scrap your plans for the day and head down to a lower elevation quickly. Take it seriously.

Weather – Never stop watching the weather. If the weather looks bad, turn around ASAP. The summit is not worth it, especially if your kiddo is with you.

Water – Drink lots of water the evening before and during the day. Even if it’s cool, drink water.

Layers – Dress with warm layers and bring a large enough pack to be able to take layers on and off. Plan on wind and cold in the morning and sun and wind in the afternoon.

Pushing your child – As a parent you are allowed to push your child but don’t forget to encourage also. Both go a long way at 14,000ft.

Celebrate – This was a HUGE accomplishment! Celebrate it with a fun meal, reward or occasion.

Pictures – Take lots of pictures. Bring a print out on a white sheet of paper of the peak you are summiting and the elevation and take a photo with it. It will make for great memories.

Gear for your kid:
Wind breaker/Rain Jacket (Carter’s Gear Choice)
Long underwear top and bottom
Convertible hiking pants
Beanie (Carter’s Gear Choice)
Boots or running shoes (Feet will get wet)
Extra socks
Trekking poles (Carter’s Gear Choice)
Headlamp (Carter’s Gear Choice)
Sandals or Crocs for post hike
Change of warm clothes for the car ride home

Gear for you:
Pocket knife
Rain jacket (I love the Men’s Cloud Cap Jacket from Eddie Bauer)
Beanie (Topo Designs make some fun beanies)
Long underwear top and bottom
Convertible hiking pants
Backpack with hydration bladder and at least 70 ML or water
Extra water in a Nalgene. I bring an excessive amount of water for emergency.
A water filter system. I use Clearly Filtered bottles. This is a just in case.
Trekking poles
Food and snacks (Mainly bars, trail mix with a fun item like Snickers for the summit)
Toilet paper
Several plastic baggies for trash
First aid kit
Matches (Just in case)
Beach towel in the car in case things get wet
Sandals for post hike
Change of warm clothes for the car ride home
Extra water and snacks for the drive home

Rain jacket selection:
I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains and selecting a rain jacket is been a big deal for me. I’ve been on the lookout for the last 6 months for the right product. The jacket must be…

Well fit
Freakin work and keep you dry

Based on research I landed on Men’s Cloud Cap Jacket from Eddie Bauer. I was able to try it on in size medium at my local store and found it to be the best selection. It’s been an exceptional addition to my 3 mountain adventures this July…

If you’re interested, Eddie Bauer has a 25% off sale right now placing my jacket at $75 when you use promo code “August“.


Photo above: The hot wife and I camping at Ranger Lakes before the Never Summer 100k sporting the new jacket.


Photo above: The homies and I camping at Ranger Lakes before the Never Summer 100k sporting the new jacket. I’m by far the slowest of the 3.


Photo above: A selfie because the gray in the beard looks so good.


Photo above: The Men’s Cloud Cap Jacket packs down perfectly and fits nice and snug into my running backpack. Extra points for the cute 9 year model…

Remember that each piece of gear you bring on your 14er adventure can potentially save your life. Choose your gear wisely and know it well.

I can not encourage you enough to make these types of memories with your kids. My 6 year old Landon is already looking forward to turning 8 so he can join his brother and I on a 14er adventure!

Hey friends! If you enjoyed this post, please add a comment below or share on Facebook and Twitter!

We’ll see you out there – Andy

Eddie Bauer: Extra 25% Off Your Entire Purchase + Free Shipping on Orders Over $99

Backpacking, Camping

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

One of my favorite books, if not my favorite book on the outdoors, is called A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. My good friend Rick Lawrence recommended it a few years back and I blazed thru it in a few days. Bill Bryson is funny, honest, adventurous and represents so well the weekend warrior inside all of us. The book inspired me to learn more backpacking and to plan my first trip. I haven’t looked back since.

The movie based on the book stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte and releases Labor Day Weekend 2015.

Really looking forward to the movie release.

Trail Running, Training

36 Mile Trail Run in Rocky Mountain National Park

On July 2 Mike, Jason, Kyle and I set out at 5:30pm from Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park on the adventure of a life-time. Our goal was a 36 mile loop from Estes Park to Grand Lake and back.

The route…
We ran Bear Lake to Flattop Mountain (12,400 ft) down the Tonahutu Creek Trail to the North Inlet Trail Head in Grand Lake. We left the trail head around 11:30pm on July 2 and ran up the Summerland Park/North Inlet Trail back up to Flattop Mountain. This was the longest sustained climb I’ve ever done in a single run. It pretty much killed me.

We arrived at the car in the Bear Lake lot around 4:30am on July 3. The route with water filter stops, rest and eating, sight-seeing, etc, took 11 hours and 10 minutes. 36 total miles with 8,000 ft of loss and gain. Epic.

As an aside, we brought 2 Clearly Filtered 24oz water bottles with us for water filtering. They worked perfectly for filtering and water storage. There was no need for a more complex filter system when using these bottles.


The route offered tremendous beauty and surprised us with elk, moose, deer, wildflowers plus some unknown critters staring at us in the dark. One interesting component was the amount of water on the trail. Our feet were soaked thru from mile 6 and on. This made crossing large snow fields in the dark quit chilling. Literally.

The weather for the evening was perfect. Besides a few small rain bursts the wind was mellow and the temperature was warm all night. Weather could have made this a miserable experience.

Mike, Kyle and I did this run in preparation for the Never Summer 100k on July 25. Jason did it because he’s awesome. I was the weak link in the crew for sure but grateful to my friends for helping me get thru it.

I pulled into my drive-way at 7am and slept from 7am to 11am. Out cold.

It’s easily the most beautiful trail run I’ve ever done. I’ve never been to Switzerland but it strikes me as what it may look and feel like. Trail running in Rocky Mountain National Park is truly amazing.


I used to love Lance Armstrong and I still do

Lance Armstrong changed my life. His book, It’s Not About The Bike, combined with my wife’s encouragement inspired me to begin taking my health serious in 2002. It launched me into an obsession with bikes that has kept me on a path to staying health ever since.

The news about Lance admitting he cheated didn’t impact me like it did everyone else. When you have a hero fall, I don’t think they fall as far in the minds of those that once really felt inspired by them. I can’t change the impact he had on me. I don’t want to.

Last week I discovered a new big screen movie coming out on his story called, The Program. It releases September 2015.

Regardless of what you think of Lance, I think the movie is going to be interesting…

Camping, climbing, Surfing

Denali: A Film about a Man and his dog

This short film has been making the rounds on social media this week. It’s a beautiful story about real-life. A life lived outdoors, surrounding yourself with the things you love. It’s only 7 minutes. I think you’ll enjoy it. I really did.

There’s no easy way to say goodbye to a friend, especially when they’ve supported you through your darkest times.

Denali from FELT SOUL MEDIA on Vimeo.

Camping, Checklists, Downloads, Kids

The Ultimate Car Camping Checklist

Everything about camping is awesome…unless you forget something in the garage. Then it can be miserable. The car camping check list below is a great starting point for kick butt adventures outdoors, with or without kids. I know the list can feel overwhelming, but don’t worry, you can acquire your gear over time.  Our family has 2 large grey tubs that we store all of our camping items in. This makes prepping for weekend camping trips easy, with all items in a central location. I would not recommend storing your gear in different locations as items will get misplaced and you will end up forgetting something.

Download the Ultimate Car Camping Checklist: Microsoft Word Version | PDF Version

For Function:

Pocket knife
Fire wood
Newspaper or other fire starter
Tent tarp
First Aid Kit
Camp chairs
Table cloth for the camp table
Sleeping bags rated to the weather conditions
Flash lights
Plastic bags for trash
Ziplock bags for extra storage
Paper towels
Oversize water storage (fresh water may not be available)
Cooking stove
Extra stove propane
Pot and Pan
Reusable plastic utensils
Metal spatula
Bowl for everyone
Plate for everyone
Lip balm with SPF
Permit (if needed)
Your campsite receipt/registration
Extra cash for the camp store and extra firewood
Toliet paper
Bear canister (optional)
Metal cooking skewers
 Cooler with ice


For the Kids:

 Water bottles (1 for everyone)
Flip flops or Crocs (something to walk in the water)
Extra shoes
Their own head lamps
Books for reading (you may get rain and be stuck in your tent)
Board games or cards
Cough medicine or general medications for the just in case moments
Chocolate Bars


For Comfort:

Tent door mat
Sleeping pads
Beach towels
Extra socks
Swim trunks
Puffy jacket
Rain jacket
Hand sanitizer
Bug spray or bug wipes
Long underwear (it can get cold at night)
More beer
A great attitude
Sleep clothes



Plan a hike or excursion
Stand up paddle board
Camp on a lake or river
Scavenger hunt (See suggestions via link)


Download the Ultimate Car Camping Checklist: Microsoft Word Version | PDF Version

Hey friends! If you enjoyed this post and the free Car Camping Checklist download, please add a comment below or share on Facebook and Twitter!

We’ll see you out there – Andy



Kids, Parenting

Tips to get your kids drinking water

Photo: Morning coffee in the backyard.

A few years back I was addicted to soda. When I was stressed at work the diet Pepsi would flow freely. The soda was also keeping me from losing weight. My wife was constantly on me to quit my soda habit. I knew I had a problem but didn’t know the solution.  It wasn’t until I found the We Drink Water website that something changed. The site is run by 2 professional snowboarders (Austin & Bryan) that passed up six figured energy drink contracts as an opportunity to tell kids how nasty soda is and to place a special emphasis on drinking water.

Within our family we’ve officially established the habit of drinking water. My kids know the difference between good and bad decisions in this context.

Tips for Adults:

  • It will be challenging but cut the soda.
  • Leave a water bottle you enjoy drinking from at your office. Last weekend I picked up a basic but fun to drink from bottle from Topo Designs.
  • Set a daily water goal, my daily goal is around 80oz. I bring water to all of my meetings. I’m constantly peeing, but I’m constantly drinking water.
  • Last year I purchased everyone on my team a stainless steal cup. It worked, people used them, brought them to meetings and started drinking more water.
  • Start your morning, before your coffee by shotgunning a tall glass of water. It will kickstart your body.
  • Drink more coffee. This is a fake tip but one that I live by.

Tips for kids to drink water:

  • Talk about how bad soda and sugar is for their bodies. They don’t know, educate them.
  • Set an example. Be intentional and drink water around your kids.
  • Reward them for making a good choice when they choose water.
  • Introduce them to a fun water alternative like LaCroix.
  • Let them pick out a water bottle or something fun to drink from. They will lose it, who cares, buy another one. There is a bigger picture in mind.
  • Surprise them with a hydration backpack made for them, then go use it on a hike!

It’s a long process but developing this habit at a young age can be a lifesaver.

Don’t miss a post!

Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll get every post from, directly in your inbox. No spam. Only epic content. We promise.