Happy Friday, friends! I started my new ‘Date Night’ blog series last month, because I thought it would be a fun way (especially during social distancing) to share date ideas that Emmett & I enjoy. We spent last weekend doing one of our favorite things… camping. Rather than a “date night” it was more of a weekend away, but I figured that still counts. After sharing a few photos from our remote weekend getaway, many of you requested favorite outdoor & camping gear… so your wish is my command! Click through for camping ideas for a fun date night or weekend, as well as sources for our favorite gear & equipment.
First of all, I should share- Emmett & I moved to Utah because of our love for the outdoors and the beautiful landscape here. Our state is SO varied. You can drive in one direction and end up in the woods on top of a mountain gazing at a lake, then drive the other direction and end up camping in the desert admiring beautiful red rock and slot canyons (all of the photos throughout this post were taken here in Utah). It’s a special place and we feel so happy with our decision to live here. We’re lucky to have access to multiple state & national parks, BLM land to play on, and any outdoor activity you could imagine. It’s really our version of paradise.
Anyway, this ‘Date Night’ post is not to convince you to come experience Utah (although you should someday!), but rather to encourage you to go camping, or get out in nature, with your S/O! Camping can be a safe social distancing activity as long as you choose a location away from other people. Although Utah has officially opened back up, I know many other states have not. I just enjoy spending time with Emmett outside. Whether that’s hiking, fishing, kayaking, camping, riding around in our side-by-side, or just admiring a sunset… getting out of your normal environment and comfort zone (safely) is really healthy and fun!
Last weekend was much needed for us. Since we’ve been spending SO much time at home, it was a relief to get away from our house projects, work, and our regular routine to experience something new and unplug (zero cell service is the icing on the cake). Our dogs were also VERY thrilled we decided to drive south a couple hours and get away.
Even if camping isn’t your jam, what outdoor features or landmarks is your state known for? Take a long drive, pack your camera, a picnic lunch, and take in a different scenic view. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I promise a change of pace will make you feel lighter and free of everything currently going on in the world.
On a side note, I sometimes get questions about my SUV because most of you didn’t expect me to drive this. Ha! My regular vehicle, pictured above, is a modified Toyota 4Runner (roof rack for camping, a winch, lifted, off road tires, etc) and Emmett drives a modified truck (it’s also lifted, off road tires, etc). We also have a RZR, so between the three vehicles, we can get pretty much anywhere remote and rock climb. In Utah, you really have to have 4WD if you want to do more extreme outdoor activities- roads close and are patrolled, allowing capable vehicles only (you even get ticketed). Anyway… that’s the story about my car. Someday I’d like to trade it in for something more luxurious, but for now- it does the job. I rarely drive anyway since I work from home.
Kayaking is another camping or outdoor activity Emmett and I both really enjoy. I just love being on the water! We’ll paddle around, taking in the views, and pull over for a picnic lunch.
Fun story… back in college Emmett convinced me to go on a cross country camping trip. We packed up and spent three(!) weeks on the road camping across the United States. Some nights were rough, cold (& even snowy), and at times it felt like such a challenge, but those are memories I will forever cherish. I think when you experience new things or even challenging situations with your S/O it can bring you closer. We’re both adventurous, but saying yes to adventure means making memories and pushing each other out of our comfort zones. That’s what I like most about being adventurous outdoors- growth and memories as a couple.
As for our pups, they enjoy camping and hiking with us when they can. Certain areas in Utah have strict dog restrictions, but if we’re able- we bring them along. I’ve also sprinkled our dog gear throughout this post for inquiring minds! Sometimes we’ll tether them and sometimes they’re allowed to free roam… it just depends on the environment and if we feel we can trust them in a specific area, for their own safety.
We mostly go car camping (instead of backpacking) these days and at this point, we have a really nice setup. Honestly, we eat our best food when we camp. We plan full meals, snacks, dessert, and even craft cocktails! Again- such a nice change of pace.
I’m always chasing the view, but Emmett reminds me to put away the camera and remember to take it in. I think that’s solid advice. I’m happy I have photos, but it’s also important to live in the moment when having fun outdoors! I feel like our personalities really come out when we try new things and explore new places together. It makes me appreciate him in ways I normally wouldn’t.
I have wonderful memories inside our home (especially renovating with Emmett), but you know what is interesting? I have more vivid, happy memories outside than I do indoors! Is that true for anyone else? Do you remember travel, vacations, camping trips, and hiking memories more than others spent inside? Just curious!
Once Covid-19 is done and over, let me know if you’d like me to pull together a Utah travel guide- I’d be happy to do that! It’s difficult to believe we’ve lived here for almost 5 years now.
In terms of where we like to camp, we’re not really campground kind of people. We don’t require running water or a toilet, and would rather get off the beaten path (at least during this stage of life). Luckily, Utah allows residents to camp basically anywhere on BLM land, so we treat the state like our playground and enjoy discovering hidden spots. This was a crazy concept to us upon moving here. Back in the midwest, you HAVE to camp in a designated spot and most of the land outside of state parks is private property.
Ok- ready for the big gear list (for those of you who asked)? Obviously the following items are not needed for your average camping date night, but if you’re really into the outdoors and activities, I promised people I’d share our spring & summer gear list (winter gear is a totally different ballgame)! It has taken us a LONG time to accumulate all of our outdoor gear and equipment. Our collection started over 10 years ago. Our philosophy has always been this… save up and buy the right, quality gear. Much like our home, we’d rather it last for a really long time and spend more, as opposed to buying something cheap on a whim. For everything we’ve purchased, we also spent a bunch of time researching, reading reviews, asking our friends for their opinion, and testing what works best for us. If you’re outdoorsy and are new to this, building your gear collection takes time and money… don’t stress about it!
I’m copying our gear list below…. at least everything I can think of:
- 2 Person Tent // I could put this tent up in my sleep, we’ve pitched this thing hundreds of times and it’s just quick, easy, and lightweight.
- 4 Person Tent // We usually pack this tent if the dogs are coming with us, for more space.
- Sleeping Pads // These sleeping pads are SO comfortable. We even use them indoors if we’re traveling and need a quick bed.
- Single Sleeping Bags // If I’m being totally honest- I don’t like mummy sleeping bags because I like to spread out at night. Argh. The struggle! These are warm though.
- 2 Person Sleeping Bag // I’d much rather sleep in our 2 person bag because we have more room and it’s warmer (shared body heat). I know that isn’t for everyone though.
- Loveseat Camp Chair // This chair is my favorite thing. We love lounging in it together- so comfortable and it gets more use than our single chairs.
- Individual Flipside Camping Chairs // These are great because they have cupholders and a tray… awesome spot to eat dinner with a view!
- Solar Lanterns // We have six of these we scatter throughout camp. We keep them in the dash, soaking up sunshine while driving to our destination to charge them up.
- Head Lamps // Head lamps are necessary at night so you can see.
- Water Bottles // We love these.
- Water Jugs // Again- another necessity… for drinking, doing dishes, watering the dogs, putting the fire out, cleaning up, etc.
- Fold-a-Flame // This is the charcoal grill you didn’t know you needed. It packs totally flat and is so easy to cook on.
- Camp Chef // If you prefer cooking with gas, this thing is awesome. We make a lot of breakfast on this baby- mostly breakfast burritos when camping!
- Cookware + Utensils // These collections are wonderful and easy to pack.
- Super Bright Propane Lantern // This thing gets super bright and is dimmable.
- Jet Boil + French Press // We can’t go without coffee, so these are necessary. Having a jet boil also comes in clutch for ramen and instant food.
- Eating Utensils // These are pretty standard.
- Camping Cups // We love these and use them for cocktails, coffee, whatever.
- Backpacking Seats // These are lightweight and comfy if you’re hiking or backpacking.
- Camping Wipes // Emmet discovered these and we love them… especially if we’re camping for more than a few days.
- Emergency Whistles // Another necessity… these have a compass on the top, too.
- Down Blankets // These are great for cuddling fireside. Cash also gets cold, so it makes an easy dog blanket. They fold up super small and lightweight.
- Kayaks // Such a nice way to explore the water.
- Dry Bags // Wonderful and necessary for water trips (rafting, kayaking, floating the river, etc).
- Paddles // We like these paddles.
- My PFD // Fun fact- I’m certified in white water rescue, so I’m picky about my PFD. This one fits great.
- Light Weight Hiking Shoes // Emmett has had these for a couple years and bought me a pair for Christmas last year. I’m loving them.
- Heavy Duty Hiking Boots // These are my favorite hiking boots.
- Water Shoes // I’ve had these water / hiking shoes for over 13 years and they’re amazing.
- Dog Boots // These are the dog booties our boys use…. we received soooo many questions about them.
- LED Dog Collars // Great for keeping track of your dog once it’s dark outside.
- Kuranda Dog Bed // Both of our dogs have allergies and would rather lounge on this bed than in the sandy, prickly desert and get itchy (high maintenance, I know).
- Collapsible Dog Bowls // These are wonderful.
- Hydration Pack // Emmett has an Osprey brand hydration pack and mine is Cotopaxi, but they don’t make mine anymore.
- Folding Table // Amazing for car camping- folds flat, then in half.
- Yeti Tundra 45 / Tundra 110 / Hopper Flip / Can Ramblers / Rambler Mug // I’m kind of ashamed to admit how many Yeti products we own, but they really are the best.
- Go Girl // I’m usually a “squat in nature” kind of gal, but this is convenient for pulling over or if people are around. It’s discreet and allows women to pee standing up without pulling down your pants.
- Rain Jackets // We have a lot of matching gear (we’re THAT couple, argh)– this is another thing we both use and love.
- Camping Bin // We keep all of our camping necessities in here, so we can grab it and hit the road quickly.
- String Lights // String lights are another car camping must- they’re fast, easy, charming, and illuminate our campsite.
Obviously we don’t pack alllllll of this for a single outing- we pick and choose depending on where we’re going and what we’re doing. We also ALWAYS pack a first aid kit for humans and dogs. I’m sure I forgot things, but let me know if you have questions about something specific!
I’d love to hear your favorite outdoor activity or trip you’ve taken with your S/O in the comment section below! Are the two of you outdoorsy? Do you take advantage of your home state and the beauty it has to offer? If you’re itching to try something new and get out of the house… DO IT. Go on that hike, take the drive, pack up your tent, or go have a picnic in a pretty spot this weekend… safely, of course. I felt more normal last weekend than I have in awhile. I didn’t realize just how stressful or anxiety inducing these past couple months have been with everything going on. I hope you all can find a bright spot this weekend and do something new with your loved ones outside!
Kim BMay 15, 2020 at 3:56 am
You two are so cool and I love that you literally moved across the country and grabbed for yourself the lifestyle you wanted.
It’s fun to look at all this. You clearly have lots of incredible experiences. Love that picture of Emmett kicking back in the kayak.looks heavenly. And somehow I had not realized Crosby is SO BIG!!!! That is so cute that they have their hiking boots too!!
We are not very outdoorsy although I like an outside walk. I will never forget back when we were dating, my husband and I went to Etretat up in Normandy along the sea — there are white chalk cliffs there and Monet painted them, so you know it’s a beautiful sight. You have an easy walk up to the top of the cliffs and then you can just walk along. I was in heaven, seeing the ocean, walking in the grasses — when my then-boyfriend queried : “How long do we have to do this?” Hahahahaha ahaha haha
KarenMay 15, 2020 at 7:01 am
And LOL, re: “outside walk” – as opposed to walking from the sofa to the fridge ;)
SarahMay 15, 2020 at 8:26 am
Haha, I don’t know if we’re cool, but we definitely have fun together! Thanks Kim! Moving was a little scary, but we made it happen and I’m so happy where we landed. Crosby is definitely big! Our vet actually called him a “chunky dumpling” and put him on a bit of diet. Oops. Poor guy loves his treats! The hiking boots for the dogs are necessary in certain locations because of the hot sand, thorns, burrs, etc. We like walking outside in our neighborhood too! Your memory in Normandy sounds absolutely beautiful! That sounds like my kind of scene. I’m laughing at your boyfriend, HAHA!! I probably could’ve stayed there for hours. Hopefully Emmett & I can visit someday and experience it for ourselves. Thank you for sharing, have a great weekend :)
Maggie LMay 15, 2020 at 6:25 am
I live in Louisiana and while our landscape is vastly different from Utah, we have some great places to camp as well! Most are a bit of a drive from where I am but that’s ok! We love camping (although its been too long since our last trip), kayaking and hiking!
I have a dear friend that lives in Grantsville. Utah is absolutely stunning!
SarahMay 15, 2020 at 8:22 am
Louisiana is definitely beautiful!! I hope you’re able to get out and camp, hike, or kayak soon Maggie :) xo
PeggiMay 15, 2020 at 6:34 am
Such amazing photos! You guys really are intrepid. I confess that, while we both love the outdoors, we’re guilty of allowing busy-ness (laziness?) to keep us at home. We’ve definitely left camping in our distant past, but we do love to hike. (All of the scenery, much less gear!) (Speaking of gear-Go Girl?🤣🤣🤣)
My most magical outdoor memory might freak you out. When we first moved to this area years ago, local friends took us on an amazing hike in the Idaho mountains with their pack goats. We got caught in a hail and thunderstorm, stuck in the mud and gashed on barbed wire; that’s not the part I remember. We had hiked up a mountain and down into a a small meadow by a stream. I was apart from the group, probably looking at wildflowers, when I suddenly found myself in a fluttering swirl of monarch butterflies! I mean dozens and dozens. I felt like a forest fairy!
Thanks for the reminder to have some adventure! And…happy Pizza Friday!🍕🦋
SarahMay 15, 2020 at 8:21 am
Thank you, Peggi! Hiking is equally as fun and you’re right- much less gear. Ha! You still get the stellar views too. Ahh yes, the trusty Go Girl has come in handy more than once. I actually keep one in my car too (for emergency situations, lol). We were once stuck in a canyon during a crazy snowstorm for 4 hours and while women were squatting alongside the road, I was able to pee standing up and I’m pretty sure nobody in traffic noticed, haha. TMI? You remembered!! Your memory sounds magical, wonderful, and so adventurous… but I would’ve full on panicked if dozens of butterflies were swirling around me. Whew! I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. lol! What an awesome memory though! Happy Pizza Friday :) Have a wonderful weekend!! xo
AnneMay 15, 2020 at 8:32 am
I would love a Utah travel guide! I actually live in Utah but I don’t get out into nature nearly as much as I’d like. I want to get into kayaking but don’t know of a good place to go. I’d love to know your suggestions.
By the way, that picture of your dogs sitting on the dog bed together is so cute! Dogs are just the best!
RebeccaMay 15, 2020 at 12:10 pm
You are already my favorite home style account, but this makes me love you even more!
Thanks for the recommendations and for being yourself!
SarahMay 16, 2020 at 9:28 am
Aw thank you, Rebecca! You made my day with this comment :) Hope you have a beautiful weekend! xo
BrendaMay 15, 2020 at 1:17 pm
My husband and I got married at sunrise on the summer solstice at the top of the Moki Dugway in southern Utah. I would love a Utah travel guide! Utah is one of our favorite places!
SarahMay 16, 2020 at 9:26 am
That is so beautiful!! What a special and magical place to be married, Brenda! I’ll work on a travel guide :)
DannaMay 15, 2020 at 1:49 pm
I just saved this post under vacations on my pinterest board! We are ready to plan a trip or two once this covid pandemic subsides. The end of April we celebrated our 25th anniversary and gave each other a trip (somewhere) in September/October.
Girl, what a thorough and well done list of gear. I have Keens that I still wear after 10 years. Love them. Do you have hiking tennis shoes that you recommend or did I miss on your list? Can we talk about the Go Girl…needed that several times stuck on interstate traveling to see in laws. Yes, we have highways that when there’s an accident, traffic stops for hours. Its the worst!
We want to go to Big Bend and the Grand Canyon some day soon! I daydream about fixing up an airstream or camper and going camping when our youngest goes to college this fall.
I love that you both made the decision to move to Utah for your love of the outdoors. Kudos for you on being brave to go on a 3 week camping trip. I don’t think I could do that. Time spent together is the best. We love to travel and it makes our relationship stronger.
Happy pizza (Mexican food) Friday! I’ll toast to you both tonight while sitting on our patio dreaming of traveling!
SarahMay 16, 2020 at 9:25 am
Yay!! That makes my day. We’re also ready to travel once it’s safe again. Happy belated 25th anniversary- that’s amazing! We are supposed to celebrate our anniversary in Hawaii this September, depending on what’s going on with the pandemic. It’s all booked though… fingers crossed, but not hopeful. I LOVE my Keens, which are also 7 or 8 years old. The Go Girl is definitely handy for road trip traveling / side of the road situations. I thought Big Bend was cool and the Grand Canyon was meh (in my unpopular opinion). It felt so crowded and touristy when you can basically see the same thing here in Utah with zero people crowding around. Just my takeaway- Emmett disagrees. We’d also love to buy a camper someday! What a fun adventure that would be for you and your husband when your youngest goes off to college… talk about a fun adventure! It really does make a relationship stronger. Hope you enjoyed your Mexican food last night and are having a happy Saturday :) xo
DannaMay 15, 2020 at 1:55 pm
I did overlook them…Solomon shoes. By the way, I just saw that Amazon had a wool comforter back in stock. Since you know way more about wool, where were you looking to buy? Here’s the one I am looking at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01C90ZYUE/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_6?smid=A3DIETQPGLQG1N&psc=1
SarahMay 16, 2020 at 9:20 am
They’re my favorite! Both Emmett and I love those shoes. THANK YOU for sharing the wool comforter- I was also looking at Amazon. This one seems very nice!
Anne HMay 15, 2020 at 3:01 pm
Ahhhh….thanks to this post, I almost feel like I got to get out in the beautiful, great outdoors! What a lovely, and much needed, respite from the torture that is unpacking, especially when you’re downsizing. (YES, we’re FINALLY in our condo and yes, we definitely brought too much! Gotta go Kondo on it all.) We love car camping (preferably not in a campground and with a beautiful view), but you’re right about how long and how much $$ it can take to build up your gear and we just haven’t been dedicated to doing so. Terrible I know given that we’re in gorgeous, Colorful Colorado!
My favorite outdoor memory is when B and I were in the early stages of dating, we did a road trip down Route 1 in CA and stayed in a rustic cabin that looked like it hadn’t been decorated since 1962, but it was right next to a river so we could hear the rushing water with open windows. I remember getting up in the middle of the night to use the 1962 facilities and couldn’t believe my stars when I looked out the window. There were SO many stars in the sky, more than this city girl had ever thought possible outside an observatory. I woke B up and we stood on the front steps of the cabin in awe. It was so dark, we literally couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. For all we know Yogi &. Boo-Boo were taking in the glorious sight with us. 😂
Yes, please to a UT travel guide, too! Now, if y’all don’t mind, please pass alllll the breakfast burritos. :) Oh, and in honor of Pizza Friday, have you ever “grilled” pizza while camping? Totally clueless if that could work, but also totally curious.
Happy weekend, friends!
SarahMay 16, 2020 at 9:20 am
I love that, Anne! How is unpacking and settling going?! I bet you’re just happy to be in. You should definitely take advantage of your GORGEOUS state. Colorado is one of my favorites. We also did a road trip down Route 1!! I loved hearing your story about the cabin and the stars- that sounds absolutely magical… one you’ll cherish forever. I’ll definitely work on a Utah travel guide, but probably won’t push it live until everything is “normal” again. We’re all about those breakfast burritos. We haven’t grilled pizza before, but now I’m intrigued and want to try it. Have an awesome weekend!! xo
Anne HMay 19, 2020 at 6:07 pm
Sorry I missed this, Sarah! I signed up for comments, but don’t think I got an email notice. We’re getting settled slowly, but surely, but downsizing is no joke! When we moved into our last home it was bigger than our place previous to that and it was heaven having so much space for stuff. Of course, since we had somewhere for everything, we didn’t get rid of anything and then filled what empty space we had left over the years, too! You know, as one does. Ha ha!
Hope you have a great week ahead!
LaurenMay 15, 2020 at 5:14 pm
This post has me scheming the next vacay! We LOVE camping! Jeff because he never got to experience that as a kid, and me because I got to experience ALL of it as a kid. My fondest memories are of being outdoors hiking with my Dad and my brother. As a kid I remember hiking around Lake Shasta, through Bryce Canyon, in the Tetons in the middle of summer with snow all around us; we spent one Christmas vacation in Idaho and did some hiking around the ski lodge when the lifts were closed that day. I remember hiking around June and Twin lakes when my grandpa took me fishing, up in Mammoth on ski and summer trips, and in Big Bear. That’s only a few of the ones that stand out. We have a ton of hiking trails around us because we’re at the foothills of three major mountain ranges; the kids are finally getting to the age where it’s enjoyable to take them along. Two years ago we spent a week and a half camping and hiking through Sequioa and Kings Canyon. Last spring we took them out to the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon. This coming year we want to visit Utah; I’d love to take them to all of the places I remember and experience that with my sister and their cousins. The Go Girl is SUCH a life saver!!! I have never known anyone else that has one, but it sure comes in handy for when we’re out dirt bike riding! It was a gag gift from a friend years ago, but joke’s on her because that has been the handiest tool by far!! I love that it ended up on your list. We have a ton of gear, and have done the same as you and Emmett in terms of saving to get high quality items that will last for years. Thanks for rounding up all of this! I saved quite a few things that we need to either replace or upgrade! Ahhhh…now for this pandemic to officially end! I’ll be dreaming of hiking until then. Happy pizza Friday!!
SarahMay 16, 2020 at 9:17 am
Yay!! Love hearing that, Lauren :) I also have very fond outdoor adventure memories with my dad. Bryce Canyon is my favorite- I love, love, love it there. Christmas and skiing in Idaho? Your family sounds like our kind of people, haha! Yes… you’ll have to let me know when you make it out to Utah next year- happy to share some new spots for you guys to discover too! Whoa whoa… you ride dirt bikes?! I grew up with dirt bikes and 4wheelers, but these days we typically cruise around in our RZR. So much fun! And yes- super ready for this pandemic to be over. I miss traveling. I think camping last weekend gave me the itch to travel even more, but for now- we’ve got to be responsible and safe. Hope you had an awesome pizza Friday and are having a wonderful Saturday so far! xo
LaurenMay 16, 2020 at 10:21 am
Dirt bikes are my jam! I used to ride quads, and love sand rails and razrs, but there is nothing quite like a dirt bike! Haha! 😉
SarahMay 18, 2020 at 10:29 am
Ok, THIS IS AMAZING. You are way too cool, Lauren! :)
LaurenMay 18, 2020 at 10:43 am
Lol, thank you Sarah! Sounds like we have a lot in common!
ToddMay 16, 2020 at 6:25 am
I think that is awesome that you drive Toyota 4runner! Looks like a fun vehicle!
SarahMay 16, 2020 at 9:13 am
Thank you, Todd! It’s definitely super practical for outdoor adventures and navigating Utah terrain :)
LexieMay 16, 2020 at 6:31 am
I grew up a few minutes away from Oak Openings, a beautiful metropark in Ohio. I live in Michigan now, which has plenty of gorgeous scenery, but I miss Oak Openings all the time. There are no parks nearly as large where I live now. I memorized many of the trails there. Sometimes I’m tempted to go and visit my Mom but go to the park by myself (I like solo walks), but that feels rude!
As far as S/O trips go, just yesterday my husband was telling me we should buy a second kayak so we can do that together while everything is shut down.
SarahMay 16, 2020 at 9:12 am
That’s awesome, Lexie! We actually used to live in Ohio (Dayton area). I definitely miss the walking trails and trees there. I second buying another kayak- it’s just a fun activity! Have a great weekend :)
Sarah GJuly 5, 2020 at 7:03 pm
I just relocated this and read again, as I’m going kayaking for the first time in a week. I was going to utilize a soft cooler for one to pack lunch, but I’m worried even that is perhaps too bulky to take with? I don’t know what the storage situation is like. Do you have any suggestions?
SarahJuly 6, 2020 at 6:31 pm
Yay! Congrats on relocating, Sarah. My soft cooler can get really small (as long as I don’t pack it super full). You just have to twist the nozzle to let out some air, so you can roll it tight (the small Ice Mule). The storage situation depends on the kayak you have. Mine has storage in the front and water-proof storage in the rear, but it is a ride-IN kayak. If you have a sit-ON kayak, you won’t have any closed storage and will want to take a dry bag, a rope, and a carabiner to attach your things or cooler. Hope this is helpful :) Have fun!