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Spring Camping Tips & Gear Checklist

spring camping tipsSpring is a fantastic time to go camping. Nature is waking up and transforming the bleak winter scenery into a lush and colorful landscape filled with gorgeous flowers, leafy trees, and active wildlife. In addition, daytime temperatures are typically mild and comfortable at this time of year, and the insect population is nowhere near summertime levels yet. Plus, this is still considered the off-season at most campgrounds, which means lower fees and fewer people to contend with.

As great as spring camping can be, you shouldn’t just load up the car, pile in the family members, and head out to your favorite spot without taking some preliminary steps first. So review some of these basic camping tips along with our partial gear checklist before you leave:

Basic tips

  • Inspect all tents and sleeping bags for rips, tears, and holes. Make sure all zippers and closures work as intended. Repair, patch, or add a touch of WD-40 where necessary.
  • Check that lanterns and flashlights are in working order. Replace batteries as needed.
  • Test your stove and other cooking equipment to confirm that fuel sources and igniters are fully operational.
  • Spray jackets, boots, and tents with a waterproofing product to help protect against unexpected rain and inclement weather.

Partial gear checklist

  • Sleeping bags rated for temperatures as low as 40ºF to keep you warm during the cool/cold spring nights.
  • Foam pads to place under sleeping bags and provide an extra barrier between your body and the cold ground.
  • Waterproof tents and tarps or pop-up shelters to cover them in case of rain.
  • Base, middle, and outer layers of clothing that can easily be added to or removed in response to sudden changes in temperature and weather. You might also consider bringing some battery-heated apparel for spring hiking excursions to guarantee warmth even at higher elevations.
  • Flashlights, lanterns, and other forms of lighting.
  • Cooking equipment, including adequate fuel and enough utensils for the entire family.
  • A fully stocked first-aid kit, along with an emergency radio and a paper map of the area.

Remember, these lists aren’t meant to be all-inclusive; your needs will vary depending on factors such as family size, camping style (e.g. minimalist or “glamping”), and the kind of equipment you own. But you can still use our tips as a starting point to help ensure your spring camping trip is safe and fun for all involved.

How to Keep Family and Pets Hydrated

Proper hydration is the foundation for a number of essential physiological processes such as temperature and heart rate regulation, joint lubrication, nutrition absorption, and more. This is true for both humans and animals, and is a constant requirement all year round.

That said, staying hydrated is particularly important in summer when sizzling temperatures and the scorching sun combine to quickly deplete the body of water and electrolytes. Add in some moderate to strenuous outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or playing sports, and it’s not long before dehydration (along with its accompanying symptoms of dizziness, headache, confusion, and excessive thirst) can set in.

Fortunately, keeping your family and pets hydrated is easy—especially when you follow these tips.

For people:

  • family pets hydratedBring plenty of bottled water for outdoor activities and sip liberally for the duration of the session. A general guideline to follow for adults is to drink approximately seven to 10 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exertion. Children may have lower requirements depending on relative size.
  • Even when staying at home or in the office, strive to consume at least 64 ounces of water daily.
  • Although water is the best for replenishing lost fluids and maintaining hydration, juice, coffee, tea, milk, and even soft drinks can also be helpful in this regard.
  • Don’t forget that certain foods, including broth, citrus fruits, yogurt, and many vegetables are high in water content and thus contribute to overall hydration.
  • Monitor hydration level by keeping an eye on your urine. A pale yellow color is most desirable, while dark yellow urine or significantly lower output could indicate dehydration.

For pets:

  • Cats subsisting on a diet of canned food should drink an additional two to four ounces of water per day. Cats on a diet of dry food need approximately two to three times the amount they eat (e.g. five ounces of dry food would translate to about 10 to 15 ounces of water).
  • The widely accepted rule of thumb for dogs is 8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds of bodyweight, meaning a 25-pound dog needs anywhere from 21 to 42 ounces per day.
  • Provide pets with constant access to clean water. A product such as the CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl at CozyWinters helps remove impurities and promote consumption.
  • When taking pets on extended car trips and outings, be sure to bring a portable water bowl and provide frequent opportunities for drinking.

Now that we’re edging into summer, the dangers of family members and pets becoming dehydrated are ever increasing. But you can keep your outings safe and fun for all involved by using our ideas to stay cool and hydrated.

Keep Your Cool During Hot Flashes

cool padHot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Characterized by sudden flushing of the face, sweating, rapid heart beat, and/or tingling in the fingers and toes, hot flashes range in intensity and duration. For some pre-menopausal and menopausal women, they occur only occasionally and are considered little more than an inconvenience. For others, however, hot flashes occur daily and are severe enough to cause dizziness, nausea, or even blackouts.

Regardless of the degree to which hot flashes affect your life, it’s worth knowing how to deal with them when they strike. Towards that end, here are some ideas to help you keep your cool during hot flashes:

  • In colder weather, dress in layers that you can remove when you feel a hot flash coming on. In warmer weather, opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that pull sweat away from your skin and allow you to cool down faster.
  • Try to avoid known hot flash triggers, including alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, spicy foods, and stress.
  • Sip ice water throughout the day and keep cool washcloths available to place on your forehead or neck when required.
  • Purchase a cooling mattress pad, cool gel pillow cover, and other cooling bedding products from CozyWinters to make nighttime hot flashes a lot more bearable.
  • Consider using natural remedies, such as a few drops of peppermint oil applied to the inside of your wrists and elbows or supplements containing evening primrose, to keep hot flash symptoms under control.
  • Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and make other positive lifestyle changes to improve overall health and wellbeing.
  • For extreme cases, talk to your healthcare provider about using prescription medication or hormone replacement therapy to reduce the severity of hot flash symptoms.

If you’re nearing menopause age or are already there, chances are you’ll soon experience the discomfort associated with hot flashes. When that happens, use the suggestions above to help keep your cool so you can get back to the daily demands of your life.

How to Recuperate After Skiing

Whenever you engage in vigorous exercise or sports such as skiing and snowboarding, you run the risk of suffering from pain and stiffness after the activity. Known as delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS), this is not a serious condition; however, it can interfere with your ability to walk, climb stairs, or even sit comfortably for the next few days.

While there is no surefire way to prevent DOMS—even the most highly conditioned athletes can experience soreness depending on how hard or how long they go—you can reduce the associated pain and speed up recovery time by trying one or more of these treatment options:

  • ski snowboard sore musclesTake an over-the-counter medication such as Advil (ibuprofen), naproxen sodium (Aleve), or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to reduce swelling and provide temporary pain relief.
  • Gently stretch or foam roll any sore spots in your calves, quads, hamstrings, or IT band. You can find general stretching and foam rolling instructional videos on YouTube, as well as routines designed especially for skiers.
  • Soak in a hot bath or jacuzzi or sit in a sauna to loosen tight muscles, promote circulation, and promote recovery.
  • Replenish your body’s energy stores by eating balanced, nutritious meals and drinking lots of water in the days following your ski run. Fruits (especially cherries, bananas, melons, and pineapple), complex carbs (rolled oats, brown rice), and lean protein (poultry, fish) have been shown to have positive effects on DOMS, while adequate hydration is always a key to recovery.
  • Follow the RICE treatment protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation) for muscle soreness that persists for more than three days. If you suspect that your pain is being caused by something more serious than DOMS, stop all strenuous activity and see a doctor as soon as you can.

Skiing and snowboarding are tough on your body, so don’t be surprised if you need to spend a few days recuperating after each session on the mountain. Just be sure to use some of the above treatment ideas to relieve your exercise induced muscle soreness and help you get back on the slopes as soon as possible.

Dealing with Spring Colds

april 2While getting a cold is never any fun, it’s particularly annoying in the springtime. Instead of being able to go out and bask in the mild weather and sunshine, you’ll be stuck indoors trying to treat your runny nose, cough, sore throat, and general fatigue. These symptoms can linger for anywhere from a few days to up to two weeks, depending on different factors such as the type of virus that initially caused the illness and the strength of your immune system. To help speed recovery, follow these tips for dealing with spring colds:

  • Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids, including juice, tea with lemon and honey, and clear broth.
  • Run a humidifier—such as one of the quiet ultrasonic models available at CozyWinters—in your home or office to moisturize the air, relieve congestion, and ease breathing. Change the water in the humidifier daily and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations to prevent the buildup and discharge of mold and mildew.
  • Supplement the effects of your new humidifier with the use of a decongestant nasal spray or decongestant tablets. Just be sure not to use any nasal spray for more than three consecutive days, as doing so can lead to further congestion.
  • Gargle with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of table salt dissolved in a cup of warm water several times a day to soothe a sore throat.
  • Fill up on chicken soup to take advantage of its anti-inflammatory properties and natural decongesting action.
  • Use over-the-counter cough syrups or cold medicines to provide temporary relief for various cold symptoms.

Although the common cold is considered a minor illness, it can cause major disruptions in your life by keeping you away from work, school, or the outdoor activities you love. To get back on track faster, follow the tips listed here as soon as you detect any telltale symptoms.

Battery Storage & Care

In our last post, we talked about how you should wash your battery heated jacket, gloves, and liners before storing them for the summer to help ensure they’re ready for action as soon as you need them again. This time around, we’re going to focus on battery care for those same products.

Most of the battery heated clothing we sell at CozyWinters is powered by lithium ion (Li-ion) battery packs. These battery packs are consumable, meaning they have a limited shelf life, and are designed to last anywhere from 300 to 500 discharge cycles. With proper storage and care, lithium ion battery packs will consistently hit the upper end of their lifespan, so we suggest that you follow these tips:

lithium battery• Never store a lithium ion battery pack in a completely discharged state. Instead, a 25% to 60% charge is recommended prior to storage.
• Disconnect the battery pack from its connectors and remove it from the device before placing it into long-term storage.
• Store lithium ion battery packs in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme changes in temperature.
• Recharge the battery pack at least once every three to six months regardless of whether or not you intend to use the garment it powers. This will help improve performance and extend battery life in the long run.

The batteries in your CozyWinters heated apparel require special care to keep them operating at peak performance levels and promote overall longevity, so make it a point to follow these guidelines for summer and offseason storage.

Please keep in mind that different manufacturers may have different storage protocols for their batteries, so the above tips are simply intended to be general guidelines rather than specific instructions. 

Can I Wash Heated Apparel?

Immagini 008With spring taking hold across most of the country, it’s just about time to store your CozyWinters heated apparel and electric blankets until next year. Before you do so, however, it would be a good idea to wash the items to rid them of a season’s worth of sweat, dirt, and funk. That way everything will be clean and ready to use at the first sign of winter’s return.

Of course, the obvious question here is, “Can I safely wash heated apparel?” For a majority of products sold at the CozyWinters online store, the answer is yes—but we recommend that you check the manufacturer’s care instructions first. These can typically be found on the inside label of the garment or at the manufacturer’s website, and should always supersede any other advice for washing that particular item. If the garment or blanket doesn’t have care instructions, you can follow these general guidelines:

  • Disconnect battery pack and store connectors in battery compartment
  • Ensure garment pockets are empty prior to washing
  • Apply stain remover or spot treatment products to heavily soiled areas to improve chances of getting the garment clean on the first try
  • Set washing machine to the gentlest cycle and use only cold or warm water
  • Whenever possible use a mesh washing bag to wash your heated apparel in, especially if it’s provided with the garment
  • When the wash cycle is done, immediately remove items from machine
  • Hang dry on hangers or a clothesline only
  • Do not twist or wring out the garments, as this can damage the heating elements and connection points
  • Battery-heated gloves and 12V heated insoles should be spot-cleaned only
  • Always store heated apparel with batteries removed and cables disconnected

The heated apparel and electric warming products you’ve purchased from CozyWinters are designed to withstand occasional, gentle wash cycles and line drying. As long as you avoid dry cleaning, twisting, and wringing the items, they should emerge from your washing machine in good working order.

Tips to Get Your Pet to Love Their New Bed

heated dog bedYou’ve just purchased a soft and cuddly heated pet bed from CozyWinters to replace the one your dog or cat recently wore out. You’re sure your pet will eventually come to love the new bed because of its temperature controlled warming pad and three-walled design, but for now the trick is getting him to try it. Fortunately, you don’t have to call in a professional dog whisperer to solve this problem; just give the following ideas a shot instead:

  • Place the new bed in the same location as the old one, or, alternatively, put it where you would like your dog to sleep from now on. Then let your dog discover and explore it on his own, and reward him with treats whenever he climbs in.
  • If your dog is wholly uninterested in the new bed or refuses to stay in it for more than a couple of minutes, resist the temptation to physically force him by pushing, dragging, or picking him up and setting him in. This will make the bed seem like an area for punishment rather than a safe haven.
  • To make the bed more comforting and inviting, place favorite toys, blankets, and other familiar objects in it. As an added enticement and to provide an extra sense of security, try putting one of your unlaundered t-shirts in the bed too.
  • If after a few days your dog still hasn’t taken to his new bed, it might be time to dispense with the subtlety and lure him in by putting treats or snacks directly on the cushion.

Depending on your dog’s personality and preferences, it could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days or more to get him to love his new heated pet bed from CozyWinters. But with some patience and strategic use of the tips listed here, you can help him reach that point sooner rather than later—to the benefit of both of you.

How to Minimize Slips and Falls this Winter

icy-sidewalk-caution-signThe calendar now says March, but that doesn’t mean the dangers associated with winter weather have suddenly vanished. Many parts of the country remain covered by snow and ice, so the risks of slip and fall accidents are still out there.

In fact, this time of year could be even more dangerous for pedestrians than the middle of January or February. That’s because people tend to let down their guard when they think spring is on the way, thus leaving themselves vulnerable to ice-induced tumbles. In addition, property owners might not be as attentive to sidewalks and parking lots in March as they are during the height of winter, so ice and snow are often left on the ground for longer periods.

To help minimize your own risk of slipping and falling in the coming weeks before spring sets in for good, keep these useful tips in mind whenever you’re walking outside:

  • Walk slowly across uneven pavement or on surfaces covered with snow and ice. Use handrails where available, particularly when going up or down stairs.
  • When crossing treacherous ground, maintain a low center of gravity by keeping your hands out of your pockets, bending your knees a bit, and positioning your torso over your feet. Take very short steps and be sure to stop periodically to prevent momentum from carrying you too fast.
  • As frequently as possible, try to wear nonslip shoes or boots that have some kind of traction on their soles. When dress shoes or other smooth-soled footwear is required, consider using an easy on/off traction device like the WinterGrips Ice Cleats from CozyWinters for extra grip and stability.
  • Avoid loading both arms with heavy bags, packages, or other bulky items. Doing so not only throws off your balance, but also prevents you from grabbing onto handrails or breaking your fall if you slip.
  • Use extra caution when climbing in and out of vehicles, as the spaces between parked cars are often left untouched by snow shovels and plows.
  • If you feel yourself falling, make an effort to land on “softer” parts of your body (such as your side or butt) instead of your wrists, knees, or other bony areas.

Winter is not over just yet, so walking outdoors requires that you be extra aware of the potential dangers around you. Take these precautions to minimize the chances of slipping and falling in the late stages of the season.

Most Underrated Ski Resorts in America

You don’t have to be a snow enthusiast to know that Aspen, Jackson Hole, Park City, and Lake Tahoe are home to some of the most popular ski resorts in the country. These are the kinds of places that host the Winter X-Games every year and have A-list celebrities posing for pics on every slope.

Unsurprisingly, they’re also outrageously expensive and always teeming with people, which can make your skiing or snowboarding experience less than ideal. Rather than put yourself through that kind of hassle, check out these underrated ski resorts instead:

Black Mountain – Jackson, NH

Black Mountain is a family friendly resort located about 150 miles north of Boston. It receives plenty of fresh powder every year, caters to all ages and ability levels, and offers tremendous value for price-conscious skiers. With lift ticket and rental packages as low as $41, it’s hard to find a better bargain for similar terrain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGrand Targhee Resort – Alta, WY

With Jackson Hole in the neighborhood, Grand Targhee doesn’t get nearly as much traffic as it deserves. The resort lays claim to a vertical drop of 2,270 feet, groomed Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails, and unbeatable views of the western Tetons every step of the way. And if you can’t make it this winter, don’t worry. Grand Targhee has a summer season that spans from June to September.

Bridger Bowl – Bozeman, MT

An annual snowfall of 350 inches ensures that the 2,000-acre Bridger Bowl resort remains a skier or snowboarder’s paradise all winter long. Reasonable pricing, the variety of terrain, friendly locals, and the college town atmosphere of Bozeman (home to Montana State University) make this a great destination for your next getaway.

Silverton Mountain – Silverton, CO

Calling all experts: if you haven’t spent a day at Silverton Mountain yet, you’re really missing out! This resort limits the number of visitors to 100 daily, which means you’ll have its 1,800 acres of prime powder practically to yourself. But you won’t find any groomed runs or cut trails among those acres, so your ability level must be up to snuff. Guided, unguided, and heli-ski packages are available through advanced reservations only.

While these resorts might not have the same widespread cachet as their more luxurious counterparts, the quality snow, underpopulated slopes, and budget-friendly pricing make them attractive alternatives, so consider them for your next outing.

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