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  • National Park Centennial Photo Contest

    photo contest announcement

    Instagram National Park Centennial Photo Contest

    Start Date: August 23
    End Date: August 31

    Winner will be chosen September 2, 2016.

    To celebrate the National Park Centennial, we invite you to enter your favorite images from our National Parks in a photo contest. Share your pictures on Instagram and tag with #FeatheredFriendsGear and #NPS100.

    The winner will receive a pair of Feathered Friends Down Booties!

    Feathered Friends will consider each photo submitted and will choose one winner based on whichever image best captures something special about a park. The winner will be notified via direct message on instagram, and must respond with size and color of chosen down booties within two days of initial notification.

    By entering, entrant agrees that Feathered Friends has the right to post and use all tagged and submitted content on public galleries on our blog, Instagram, Facebook, and/or website.

    Entrant (the person who posts/submits a picture) must be the owner of the photograph, or otherwise have the right to submit the photograph for consideration in the Competition.

    Instagram in no way sponsors, administers, endorses, or is associated with this contest. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram and Feathered Friends of responsibility, and agree to abide by Instagram's terms of use.

  • Join Our Team!

    Feather in the Store

    Customer Service Pro / Retail Sales Associate

    Feathered Friends is looking for a full time Retail Sales Associate to join the team at our Seattle store!

    QUALIFICATIONS:
    Must enjoy working with all types of customers
    Detailed knowledge of outdoor gear and equipment
    Passion for the outdoors and a desire to foster this in others
    Ability to stay on task and motivated
    Excellent communication skills and outgoing personality
    Retail experience preferred but not required
    Requires working 35-40 hours per week including most evenings and some weekends

    DUTIES:
    Opening and closing the retail store
    Counting down registers, bank deposits and point of sale usage
    Helping customers in their purchasing decisions by drawing on detailed product knowledge and personal experience
    Provide outstanding customer service in person, over the phone, and via email
    Sales floor maintenance and other duties as assigned

    TO APPLY:
    Email a cover letter and resume to neil@featheredfriends.com. Please reference “Retail Sales Associate” in subject.

  • Backpacking Hacks Part 2

    Part two is a smorgasbord of advice from the Feathered Friends staff on simple ways to maximize the fun while on a backpacking (or camping) adventure.

    clean socks hanging from a line Who doesn't love a good pair of clean socks? Photo: Claire Giordano

     

    1. Bring “Sacred Socks”

    Our feet take a beating on hikes, especially backpacking trips, when we wear the same pairs of socks for days on end. While some feet (and noses) don’t mind, others do not take kindly to the abuse and complain. Our solution; bring a pair of clean “sacred socks” that are only worn in the tent. Not only does this keep your bag clean and fresh, but it also gives you the opportunity to rinse the salt and dirt from your hiking pair to prevent salt rash and unhappy feet.

    2. Don’t skimp on your sleeping pad

    Campsite comfort matters. After a long day of hiking there is nothing better than sitting down for a good meal, and then crawling into a cozy tent and sleeping bag. Sadly, too often people forget about their sleeping pad, and end up tossing and turning all night trying to find a comfortable position.

    For some people, the simple foam layer will work well, but we are big fans of inflatable sleeping pads like those made by Therm-a-Rest, Exped, and Sea-to-Summit. While expensive to get a high quality one, when taken good care of these pads can last a long time. They are also not only more comfortable, but quite a bit warmer in cold conditions.

    3. Trekking poles

    Meet your new best hiking friend. Trekking poles are an incredibly useful piece of gear, that have a multitude of uses. First, they have a huge impact on the happiness of our knees and leg joints, especially on the descent. Second, they also help immensely with balance, especially on rocky trails and snow. Third, they are a useful tool around camp, from anchoring a tarp to defending your chocolate bar dessert from hungry fellow hikers.

    4. Find the right bug spray

    Mosquitos. Flies. Ticks. Oh my! There are many biting bugs that coexist in our favorite outdoor places, so it is important to find a bug spray that matches our needs. In some places, the mosquitoes are so bad that you have to use DEET, a strong chemical that is not great for us, and is worse for our plastic based gear. With prolonged use, DEET can discolor and eventually degrade a wide variety of gear, especially those that contain rayon, spandex, and vinyl. With this in mind, my personal favorite bug spray uses the chemical Picaridin. A synthetic chemical based on the compounds in black pepper plants, Picaridin is gear-safe and better for your skin.

    A typical campsite after a long day of hiking. Somewhere in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. A typical campsite after a long day of hiking. Somewhere in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Photo: Claire Giordano

     

    5. Make your own firestarter kit

    The ability to make a fire is not only a cool skill, but also a potentially life saving activity. In emergency circumstances, a fire helps rescuers find you and could provide warmth too. Starting the fire is the tricky part, however, and a firestarter kit makes it infinitely easier. While you can buy premade kits, one of the easiest and affordable options is to saturate a few cotton balls with vaseline, package them up in plastic, and put them in a ziploc bag with waterproof matches and a small flint. WIth these three tools, you stand a much better chance of starting that fire when you need it, especially in bad weather.

    6. The easy way to stuff a sleeping bag

    It is 6 am, you have a big day of hiking ahead of you, the horizon steadily lightens, and you are still packing up camp. To speed the camp-breakdown process, a simple tip is to stuff your sleeping bag inside out. The outer face fabric holds in heat and air well, resuling in the balloon of downy sleeping bag that refueses to go inside the sack. By stuffing inside out, the air can escape through the thinner inner lining of the bag, eliminating the frustration of hte morning stuffing ritual.

    7. Don’t forget a towel for the dogs

    Hike with four legged companions? Then d stash a few dry towels in the car! After a long day (or days) of hiking, our furry companions are often a little damp and dirty. Once you are back at the car, the fluffy dry towels make loading and cleaning up for the car easy.

    8. Bandanas: they do everything.

    It is amazing that a simple piece of fabric could do so much. Sweatband. Washcloth. Knee wrap. Pack decoration. Hankerchief. Necktie. Sun shield a la Lawrence of Arabia hat style. Headband. Compress…. The possibilities are endless, limited only by your imagination.

    9. Always bring extra batteries for your flashlight.

    Keep a set in your pack, at all times. They are so small, and easily forgotten, and always seem to run out at the least opportune time.  Having a spare set is critical for your safety, especially if something unexpected happens.

  • Section Hiker Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag Review

    Philip Werner, the adventurer behind the Section Hiker blog, wrote a review of the Flicker Sleeping bag. Here is his summary:

    Image of the Flicker bag by Section Hiker

    When I first received the Feather Friends Flicker 40 UL, I wondered if was a bit overbuilt for three-season backpacking. Was an insulated draft collar really necessary or a full length zipper? While highly desirable, you don’t find these features on other ultralight quilts or hoodless sleeping bags.

    Then I started using the Flicker UL 40 on backpacking and camping trips and became a complete convert to the design philosophy behind this bag. If you’re the kind of person who likes to switch between different tents, tarps, or hammocks as the seasons change, it’s nice to have a sleep system that can be reconfigured for different temperatures and in different ways to complement them. Especially, if there’s no weight penalty or price premium for the added flexibility. I’d rather own one product that can be used in several different ways than buying several products that only have one purpose.

    If you’re looking for a new lightweight sleep system, I’d encourage you to include the Flicker 40 in your search. Do the price and weight comparisons and consider the benefit of the added versatility that the Flicker provides. I can tell you that I’m seriously considering selling my top quilt and hammock underquilt and replacing them with a Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag. Consider me a convert.

    Click here to read the full review!

  • Art in the Mountains

    Behind the work of Artist and Alpinist Nikki Frumkin.

    Sloan Peak painting by Nikki Frumkin

    This week our Seattle store just got even cooler with the addition of an art installation showcasing the work of local artist, Nikki Frumkin. We are hosting a little reception tonight (6/23/16 at 6:00PM), and her work will be on display through July 20th. If you can't swing by in person, here is an interview with Nikki about her art, Seattle, and her awesome adventures. .

    Mountains, Volcanoes and other high places. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, don’t be surprised to find Nikki sitting on her backpack surrounded by the snowy cascades and drawing in her sketchbook.

    What inspired you to start painting?

    I have been painting since I was a small kid. There is something inside of me that needs to represent my ideas about the world on drawing paper. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest three years ago, I found myself in the midst of the most stunning landscapes and mountains. They just begged me to climb and paint outside.

    I am lucky to have found what I love and do. A professor in college once told me my art would never go anywhere, but I’ve always know drawing and painting is part of who I am.

    How did you end up in Seattle, and how has this place influenced your work?

    I actually grew up in New York State which is so different than Washington. When I left New Paltz, NY I ended up in Seattle on a whim. I had no idea I would fall so hard for Washington. I like to joke that Seattle is like a mini Switzerland, embraced by the Cascades and Olympics. I feel really at home here.

    My art tries to capture the wonder I feel when I am in our mountains. Because our landscapes are so unique and beautiful it is really easy to feel connected to the wild here. I am so inspired by people who say my work speaks to their relationship with a mountain I have painted. Hearing that I have captured the magic of what makes someone’s favorite mountain unique is so awesome to me.

    Nikki Frumkin painting in the swiss alps

    Your paintings and sketches have gained a strong following on social media. How did that start, and how has the online community impacted your art?

    Social media (and instagram specifically) is a really powerful visual storytelling tool. It allows me and other painters, photographers, writers and artists to tell a unique story that might not otherwise be heard.

    I like to think people feel the joy of the mountains when they look at my paintings. I really appreciate all the encouragement I am getting when people leave kind words or buy art. It is such a joy to be able to make art and adventure in the wild.

    With so many beautiful things in nature that you could paint, why are mountains your primary focus?

    Mountain lines really captivate me. There is a powerful and calm energy in the mountains. I just can’t stop.

    Mount Rainier Painting by Nikki Frumkin

    When you make a new piece, what does the creative process usually look like?

    My favorite way to make a new painting is at camp, in the mountains! When everyone drops their packs for a lunch break, I usually pull out my sketchbook too. It is these moments in high places that drive me to keep painting and exploring.

    I almost always bring my sketchbook and watercolors with me into the mountains, even if it is only one piece of paper and a pen. The best times to paint are on lunch breaks or at camp. Then I like to wrap myself in my puffiest jacket and start drawing. I use strong black lines to capture the movement and energy of the mountains. If I am painting, I bring a water brush because it has a reservoir of water in the handle that allows me to paint without needing a cup of water. In this way following leave no trace principles is super easy.

    How do you balance outdoor adventure, art, and work?

    It takes a lot of energy! I usually adventure on the weekends because I am a preschool teacher at a play based program in Seattle that shares my values of learning through play and in nature. Luckily, I get to take time off preschool to go to the mountains and paint. I also make and sell prints and original paintings. I love to do commissions for people based on their favorite mountains and landscapes.

    Nikki Painting at Artists Point, Mount Baker

    What advice do you have for someone interested in painting outside?

    Just do it! Pull some pens out of that messy drawer in your kitchen and stick ‘em in your pack. If you can, get a friend to go with you so you can draw together!

    I wrote an article for The Outbound about how I got started trail painting. You can read it here: The Out Bound: How I took My Painting to the Trail

    What are you currently working on?

    I am working on a bigger painting on Mount Adams based on a ski tour we did earlier in the year! It was an awesome summit! The moment when you reach the summit and can see to the other side is humbling. On that trip I found the time to make 3 drawings in just two days of climbing and skiing.

    I am also have a few commissions in progress that I am excited about. Some from mountains I have climbed and others not.

    Head over to my instagram: @drawntohighplaces and my website www.drawntohighplaces.com/prints.

    Nikki Frumkin stretch at mount rainier

  • Roadtrip Reports: Escalante

    Escalante, Boulder Airport sign with Eos jacket

    A bright blue fuselage sticks out of the sand and sagebrush, adorned with the words “Boulder Airport and UFO Landing site.”

    After hiking through sagebrush, stunted pines, and a light drizzle I finally arrived at the blue structure I spotted in the distance miles before. The man-made monolith is one of the many gems waiting to be found by intrepid visitors to the Escalante National Monument in Utah.

    The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was created in 1996 by Bill Clinton and encompasses 1.9 million acres of land. To put that in perspective, the monument is slightly larger than the entire state of Delaware. As a National Monument, the land is managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and is protected from many forms of development and use (but not all) and is open to more recreational activities than National Parks.

    There are a few things that make exploring Escalante an adventure, no matter where you are going.

    First, the road signs that say “high clearance vehicles only” are not kidding...my Subaru lost some paint along the way. Many of the access roads to hikes are unpaved, and a high clearance vehicle would increase the probability of getting where you want to. There were also some roads with such bad washboards I worried the car would shake apart then and there, but the rewards were worth it (and I guess a good test for the car’s durability).

    Second, finding the trailhead is an adventure in itself. Trailhead markers exist, but are not always easy to find and are rarely next to the road. Unlike National Parks where signs lead you everywhere and the best attractions are easy to locate, in Escalante the best hikes and trips require a lot of effort, time, and a willingness to go out in the middle of nowhere.

    With this in mind, the most accessible day hike is fortunately also one of the most beautiful. Lower Calf Creek falls gives a little taste of everything, starting with an incredible drive from Escalante. Leaving town, the road winds its way across a plateau of stunted pine trees, and then drops down into a magnificent and vast expanse of slickrock. The road continues through white, red, pink, yellow, and everything in-between shades of rock that are swept and contorted into flowing patterns and convoluted cracks. The best is yet to come, however, as the road takes you over a hogback…

    This part of the road is not for the faint of heart. At one point, the narrow two lane highway is a white knuckle traverse of a spine of rock, with big airy cliffs on either side. Get your most confident driver behind the wheel, enjoy the views, and marvel at the gumption of Utah road builders.

    Escalante-Calf-Creek-Falls-Sketch-SEO

    The hike starts a little farther along the road, and is well marked (for once) with a good sized parking lot that fills up quickly. I have done this hike three times now, and it never gets old. The trail meanders next to the creek, and I am always surprised at the verdant oasis of startlingly green plants nestled between slickrock cliffs coated in streaks of desert varnish. Keep your eyes out for petroglyphs on the distant walls and granaries perched high above the creek floor. The ultimate reward, however, is the tall waterfall at the end. The cool air is welcome after the sunny hike, and in the past the more intrepid members of my group have gone for a cold swim.

    Escalante has many other gems, from the boulder airport fuselage marker to slot canyons and crazy mountain roads with names like “Hell’s Backbone.” With the right sense of adventure and navigation, you can get to scenery as remote and stunning as you wish.

  • Spring Hiking in the Southwest: 5 Pro Tips

    Escalante Twisty Road

    Last month one of our staff members road tripped through the southwest. Here are five of her tips on how to make the most of your adventure.

    1. Layer, layer, layer.

    Springtime means unpredictable weather. When the sun was out I happily stolled along in short sleeves and sunglasses. When clouds, rain, snow, or nightfall rolled in, however, I had to be ready to layer up quickly. My go-to pieces of gear were a thin pair of wool gloves, a wind shirt, a hooded quarter-zip base layer (I now want hoods on everything), and my down Eos jacket.

    2. Hike in the morning or evening for the best light.

    This held true no matter where we went, from Bryce to Arches. The low light of dawn and dusk has long been praised as the “golden hour” by photographers, and I can see why. In the southwest, the red, pink, yellow, and white rocks become incredibly vibrant and even more spectacular. Plus, there are usually fewer people around.

    Bryce Canyon at Sunrise

    3. Have a backup plan

    In the early spring, the parks are waking up after a slower winter season. This means that campgrounds may not be open yet, trails can be blocked or closed, and operating hours can be different. And of course we can't forget about the weather, which went from sunny and bluebird to snow within less than a day. It also rains in the Southwest, and when it does it can be extremely dangerous. Always check flood risk at the local ranger station or land management office. With this in mind, I had a backup hike and hotel in mind at each park if conditions turned for the worse.

    4. Go stargazing

    Some of the clearest nights I have witnessed were in the southwest. The combination of few clouds, expansive views unhindered by big peaks or forest, and the silhouettes of rock formations in front of the milky way make for an incredible experience. Bring along a flashlight with a red light setting to preserve your night vision as you move to or from your chosen stargazing locations. It is also worthwhile to check in with local astronomical societies to see if they are having any events in the National Parks. I encountered one in Arches, and the astronomers kindly gave me a tour of the night sky, from seeing the rings of saturn to multi colored stars and galaxies. If you do find these groups, be respectful and ask nicely, as they are usually more than happy to show you the sky, but sometimes have specific stars they are following and do not want to be disturbed.

    Arches National Park, Hiking in Devil's Garden

    5. Explore lesser known trails

    National Parks get extremely crowded, and it can sometimes feel like an amusement park when a trail is filled with a constant stream of people going up and down. To avoid this, hit the most popular trails early (and on weekdays), and then explore other trails in the afternoon. Some examples include the rim trails in Zion, longer loops in Bryce that link the rim and canyon trails, and Devil’s garden in Arches. Before you head out on these adventures, however, carefully assess your group’s fitness level, preparedness, and comfort with slickrock.

    Bonus Tip: The Southwestern landscape captures the imagination like no other landscape I’ve visited. Take your time when exploring these parks to take it all in.

  • Throwback Thursday: The Feathered Friends Photo Archives

    Feathered-Friends-Archive-Photo-Throwback-Thursday-Everest-web
    A dusty green binder lay in the corner of the office, a forgotten treasure trove of images from the early adventures of Feathered Friends on big mountains.

    The binder is a jumble of slides, negatives, and faded prints. Holding slides up to the light of my computer monitor, I discovered pictures of ice falls and blue skies. Upon further inspection, handwritten labels revealed words like “Everest, K2, and 8,000” hinting at the big adventures documented in the tiny images.

    Starting in the 1970’s, the pictures recount ascents in the local Cascade Mountains to expeditions across the world in Nepal and Pakistan.

    Keep your eyes out over the coming months for more pictures and longer stories recounting the journeys behind our favorite archived pictures.

  • Congratulations to Kristin Gates!

    Kristin Gates completes her journey in Kotzbue, Alaska, after nearly two months of traversing the Brooks Range solo Kristin Gates completes her journey in Kotzbue, Alaska, after nearly two months of traversing the Brooks Range solo

    A huge congratulations is in order for Feathered Friends athlete Kristin Gates after she completed her epic journey, traversing the Brooks Range in Alaska. She traveled solo, backpacking and rafting her way from the Yukon border to the Chukchi Sea. We can't wait to see more photos and hear more about this tremendous feat!

    Be sure to check out Kristin's Eating Miles for Breakfast blog

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