I’m always on the lookout for clothes that work in more than one situation so when Outdoor Research sent me the Growler Shirt, I was pretty excited.
First, I packed up and headed to Seoul, Korea. If you’ve never been to pretty much anywhere in Asia in the early summer, you need to know that it’s hot and humid. Oh, and it can also rain…and it did. I’m a light packer and this shirt does it all. I don’t think OR calls it wrinkle free (that’s for business clothes) but it’s that and more.
The Growler Shirt got stuffed in the bottom of a bag and five minutes after putting it on, it looked brand new.
This has been my spring, summer, and fall before work climbing and bouldering shirt. After scraping the rock and falling in the dirt, a quick brush off makes it look brand new again.
Every so often a product comes along that’s timeless in looks and functionality. In the case of Tom Bihn’s Guide’s Pack, they’ve brought that timelessness back and it’s just as useful as it’s always been.
At 31 liters the Guide’s Pack is the perfect size for just about every adventure and walking into town for afternoon ice cream with kids is just the beginning. Artists will love optional pockets that help organize any tool you can think of. Tom Bihn did a great job keeping the interior free of complication and the back panel support is perfect when you’re tossing in a bunch of water bottles.
Though it sounds (and feels) like a dream, this really happened. The good folks at Columbia Sportswear had a fun idea pop into their heads and somehow it still sounded like something they should actually do when it came out of their mouths.
My Omniten friends and I met up in Chicago a few months back for a quick reunion. We were all together just a few months prior, hanging out on dogsleds in a winter storm near Park City, UT for the Omnigames. If you’ve read that post consider yourself caught up.
A quick hop on Royal Jordanian Airlines landed us in Amman, the capital city of Jordan. What was I expecting? Nothing, honestly. Until a few weeks ago I didn’t even know where Jordan was. I mean, I’ve heard of it, but can you point to it on a map? Didn’t think so.
Columbia wanted to make a movie about real people (that’s me and my nine friends) hanging out and having fun in one of the coolest places in the world. The moment we stepped out of the airport and on to our bus, it began.
The unique part of this trip is that none of us outside of the film crew and Columbia reps knew what was happening. By that, I mean for the next 10 days, up to 12 hours before going back to the US, we never found out in advance what was about to happen. At first this was a little scary, but I’ve come to enjoy putting my life in Columbia’s hands and going with the flow. They’re great hosts.
We spent a few days touring the city and local ruins while taking pictures with the locals and adjusting to the middle eastern time difference.
The 10 of us could only handle so much time in the city before getting the itch to travel to some place wild.
After a short bus ride past the Dead Sea our bus seemed to be too wide for the road. We hopped out, loaded our gear in the back of a few trucks then jumped in, destination still unknown to us.
After watching the sunset while surrounded by gorgeous mountains we arrived at the Feynan Ecolodge, lit almost entirely by candlelight.
I’ve never experienced an ecolodge before, and I hope this isn’t my last. The people were extremely friendly and while I’m at it I should say that about the entire country. I’ve never been to a country where people have gone so far out of their way to make me feel welcomed.
At breakfast we were told to dress for sun and water. Huh? From what we could see we weren’t even close to a body of water, but we dressed and headed out anyway.
After a while we found a small stream, crossed it a number of times, and we were eventually swimming. Water never felt so refreshing.
We amused some of the locals with a bit of pass juggling, of course…
…then learned how to make bread on a river rock.
All in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
What followed was a lot of fatigue and a cold ride in the back of what felt like a World War II era jeep convoy, but we woke up to this.
I honestly didn’t think I’d see so much green in Jordan. I mean, it’s the Middle East!
The last surprise of the day was a good one: turning the corner of a narrow canyon to see Petra’s treasury lit up by candlelight.
What was impressive at night was equally overwhelming during the day. More than one building, we were told Petra is about the size of Manhattan.
Buildings were everywhere and we explored anything we could reach.
The next morning the bus dropped us off for another rendezvous with some trucks. As we watched the drivers letting air out of the tires we knew we were in for some adventure. This place was huge!
After lunch we found a bridge nearly 1,000′ off the ground. Scary and windy come to mind but you’ll have to watch the movie to see what really happened here.
We found a camp, only to be greeted with more Jordanian hospitality from the Bedouins. Bedouin tea is their speciality. At home brew tea with 1 part water and 40 parts sugar and you’ll come close to replicating it.
We ate goat that was cooked underground, walked in the completely silent desert with nothing but moonlight, slept by the fire, then awoke to camels on the horizon. Turns out they’d be our ride to breakfast.
The Kingdom of Jordan is land of polarizing opposites. Within an hour’s drive of this massive desert lies the tranquility of the Red Sea. We took full advantage of the yacht that showed up to rest, soak of the sun and water, eat fresh seafood, and do some good old fashioned relaxing.
Yes, even us hardcore outdoorsy-type people are capable of relaxing. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time for that. After one night in an amazing hotel, we were off to an even more amazing hotel at the edge of the Dead Sea.
This is one of the few places where we stayed more than one night and boy was it amazing. The next day we found a canyon that was sure to provide even more fun. People like us tend to ignore signs.
Did I mention we were making a movie this entire time? It’s true; check out the trailer.
I’m pleased to announce you’ll be able to watch the first public showing right along with me. I’ll be online watching, chatting and answering questions while the video is playing. Mark your calendars for Thursday, September 18 at 7pm ET. Show up, press play on this page and be sure to say hi. I’m looking forward to sharing this with you.
Special thanks to an amazing film crew along with guidance from director Pedro Peraza. Without them this movie would never have happened. These guys lugged backpacks much heavier than mine over more miles than my feet saw and spent less time in bed than I did, just so you could watch this film and I’d have memories for a lifetime.
The Tourism Board of Jordan is composed of an amazing group of people who went well out of their way to make sure our group had a good time. Jordan blew away my expectations and I can’t wait to go back and experience it again, next time with my wife and kids. If you’re thinking of a trip, get off the beaten path and devote some time to this country. You’ll be glad you did.
Without the photo skills of Columbia’s Mark Going, this blog post would have been very boring and I wouldn’t have had good Facebook profile pictures for the last 1.5 years.
And without Columbia Sportswear, none of this would have taken place. Columbia believes in fueling adventure and trying stuff. I’ve never been on a trip with them where ideas were shot down, no matter how stupid they were. Remember that hot tub in Oregon, Daniel, Crystal and Aleya? #tryingstuff
If you want your mind blown, give Columbia’s Bahama Vent PFG shoes a try. I’ve worn them in the Middle East and Korea as well as multiple water excursions in the Midwest and mountains of the United States.
My first choice in water shoes is no shoes at all. They get in the way, don’t drain, and give you horrible tan lines. Or so I thought.
Turns out none of this is true, with the exception of the bad tan lines. My first outing in the Bahama Vents turned into a 10 day romp in The Kingdom of Jordan. Columbia took me and nine friends and made a movie so look for that soon.
At home in the desert (they keep your feet cool), on the town, oh, and in a fishing boat, these shoes do it all. I put them through some more testing on another week fishing and living on a lake in Wisconsin. It’s so great, the fish jump right in.
The shoe is comfy and sturdy enough for me to wear everywhere, including many mile on foot in Seoul, Korea. It’s classy styling let’s me wear it to the office and not worry about changing to hit the trail or the water.
Picture this, you’re out on a lake and it’s super bright and you are getting a headache because you’ve been squinting all day and all you need right now are sunglasses that work. These sunglasses are it. They are DARK but bring a certain clarity to everything you see. They take away the infamous glare that is every where, all while looking great!
One of the coolest parts about these sunglasses is that they are recyclable and made with a sustainable source, castor beans. There is 44% less Co2 emissions created during production than traditional plastic frame material. So really, you can’t beat these! Great for the environment, stylish and I am pretty sure your ability to catch fish will increase!
When I first opened the package to see the celery color of the Granite Creek shirt I was apprehensive. I have a tough time wearing shirts whose color is not my favorite. I will say I was surprised at how great this color is! It set really well against my skin tone. I was thrilled!
More importantly, it fit well and it was great for the humid warm of Seoul, Korea. The only issue I have with this shirt is that it is very tight when I try to roll the sleeves up to wear them just above my elbow. The material is stretchy so it eventually worked but it was not as comfortable as I had hoped. Maybe by muscles are just too big, who knows