Hi there. Great question! A smartwatch is a great way to enhance your adventures, track your fitness, and stay connected throughout the day. Garmin has some excellent options and certainly a lot, which can make it very hard to choose. Without knowing more of your priorities for a watch, here are some good, general recommendations. Garmin's Vivoactive Series is a great, all-around smartwatch. Its ideal for general fitness, hiking, travel, etc. It has some really cool features like Pulse Ox, Body Battery, and has apps for yoga, running, swimming, etc. You can even store music on it and use Garmin Pay. Its a pretty feature packed watch! If you want a little more in terms of analytics and features for training, multi-sport, navigation, etc, you might want to explore the Fenix Series . These watches are more rugged and much more feature rich. Not only are they designed for multisport activities (triathlons, etc) they also have features like enhanced navigation and topo maps. You can also use Garmin's LiveTrack feature, do interval training, and generally get a TON of training metrics. I hope this helps. If you have more questions about certain features, let us know.
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Although I live in San Diego, Austin will always be my home. So great to hear you have an upcoming trip there. A few recommendations. Carlsbad Caverns NP is amazing! https://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm Also, Guadalupe Mountains NP is awesome. https://www.nps.gov/gumo/index.htm Interesting fact...Guadalupe Peak, which is the highest peak in Texas, is actually a Permian reef, so you can find marine fossils all along the trail. Pretty amazing! Both have camping and are great areas to explore. Looks like the visitor centers are currently closed and the elevators at the caverns, but the parks seem to be open, as of now and great for exploring and camping. Hope you have a safe trip.
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Hey @MrDave . Just to chime in and build on @REI-EllisB excellent response…it is an interesting observation of yours that there is not a lot of specific information about the scale of the topo maps preloaded on the 66st. With that said, I am pretty confident it is the 100K maps that come preloaded on the 66st. One clue is that in the specs list on Garmin’s site, it notes: “Provides detailed digital topographic maps of U.S. & Canada (includes Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Contour lines at 75’ in U.S. and 30 meters in Canada),” which would indicate 100K maps (24K maps tend to have contour intervals closer to 20’ depending on terrain). As Ellis pointed out, if you want the higher resolution 24K maps, the best way would be to buy the on the preloaded SD card. So, if you are trying to decide between the two, and you really want the higher resolution maps, you might save $50 on the unit and go with the 66s and buy the 24K map card(s) separately. Keep in mind, though, that the 24K cards are regional, so if you travel to different parts of the country, you might need to buy additional cards, which can get expensive. If you do travel a lot and are not super concerned with the higher resolution, the 66st is a solid choice and ready to go out of the box. Have fun out there!
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@REI-ShanaT made an awesome recommendation! I just wanted to throw this one in there as well. While it doesn’t meet all of your criteria, it is a great family backpacking trip near you. I just did it a few weeks ago with my 11 year old son. It was a 3 day, 15 mile trip up to San Jacinto Peak near Palm Springs. The basic rundown. Day 1 we drove to Palm Springs and took the Aerial Tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto State Wilderness. A great way to start off the trip! We then hiked to the Round Valley Campground (about 4 miles), where we found a great site and set-up camp. Water is available nearby and there are some enclosed toilets. The next day, we got up and hiked (with day packs) the 7 miles (round trip) up to San Jacinto Peak. The following day, we packed up and hiked the rest of the Round Valley Loop back to the Mountain Station (another 4 miles). We then stopped for some refreshments in Palm Springs before heading home. It was an awesome trip, super easy from where you are located! While not the Eastern Sierras and no lake, it is still a trip worth considering. You will need a wilderness permit to camp, and they only do it by mail…you just have to fill out this form and include a check and SASE. They are pretty quick, we got ours in less than 2 weeks. Here is more info on the State Park and about the hike up to San Jacinto Peak. Hope you have an awesome trip, where ever you end up going.
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That's awesome you are going on a safari! As far as duffel size, one question to consider is density of what you are packing. If you are packing denser, heavier items, you can scale down on the size of the duffel. If you are primarily packing clothing and want to have a bit of space flexibility, I would recommend the Big Haul 60. It is only 3 oz heavier than the Big Haul 40, but has quite a bit more space. One great thing about this duffel is that it has compression straps on the sides, so you can cinch down your load if you have extra space in the bag. This also makes packing and unpacking a little easier, since you don't feel like you have to stuff everything in. Hope you have a great trip!
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Well said @REI-BryanV . @Friday Great question. I don't know of any grips that are split to allow installation on the top of a road bike handlebar. The big problem would be that the grip would not hold very well due to the split. If you are experienicing discomfort or numbing of your hands while riding on the trainer, making some adjustments (as Bryan shared) to the height of the bars or angle of your seat might help alleviate some of the pressure on your hands, resulting in less discomfort. An REI employee or shop technician should be able to help with this. If these adjustments don't work, you can try a few things. One option is to "build up" the tape. You can do this a few ways. You can cut some strips of tape and lay them across the top of the handle bar and then tape over them, creating a padded, flat spot on the top of the bars. Another option would be to add 2-3 additional layers of padded tape around the top of the bar. While the second option isn't as ergonomic, it does provide a lot of padding and comfortable grip, especially when on a trainer. Both options may be just enough to help you out. Taping road bike bars is not difficult if you know how, but can be challenging. If you are not comfortable trying it yourself, you could bring your bike to your local REI and a shop technician could work with you to tape the bars in a way that provides the padding and some ergonimics as I described above. I hope this helps.
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One of the best ways to get advanced notice of our sales and what will be included is to subscribe to REI emails. Once you get subscribed, you can customize the emails based on your location and get updates and advanced notice not just on national events, but also local workshops, classes, and garage sales. Since the sale started on Friday, you can go here to see the complete offering: https://www.rei.com/h/labor-day-sale Hope this helps and we hope you find some awesome deals at this years sale!
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Great question! While both tents are a lot alike, there are a few key differences. While they have very similar floor space, the big difference is weight. This is part of the design. The SL1 is designed to be lighter weight...sub 2 lbs trail weight (tent, poles, fly) than the Quarter Dome. This weight savings does come with a caveat...the SL1 is only "semifreestanding," which means that you will need to stake or anchor it to achieve the most stability in wind and rain. While we always recommend staking out or anchoring tents, the Quarter Dome can be pitched without stakes if needed.
So, if you are looking to save as much weight as possible, the SL1 is a good choice as you save about 1/2 lb!
Hope this helps and best of luck in your search for a tent.
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Hi @Joey ! Thanks for your great question and awesome to see you expanding your quiver of bikes and exploring getting a road bike.
There are some great options that will fit your needs. The challenge is that there tends to be a bit of a trade-off between comfort and performance, especially if you are not putting in a lot of miles. The performance focused bikes tend to have a more aero body position (especially compared with mountain bikes), which can be uncomfortable for some. They also have narrower tires, which don’t provide as much cushion as larger tires. Since you have a few bikes, you can go with a more performance focused bike without feeling you are compromising comfort all the time. With that said, if you like mountain biking, you might consider getting a bike that can do road and gravel. Gravel is growing and lots of fun!
A few recommendations for bikes:
CAAD12 Disc 105
This is a light weight, performance focused road bike at the top of your range. Fast, but comfortable enough for longer rides. With that said, it is performance focused, so may not be as comfortable as some other options.
Cannonade Synapse AL 105 Disc
Solid choice. Comfortable ride with the wider tires, but also still light and agile. More comfortable than the CAAD12, but not as quick and agile. You can even hit some gravel with it if you are interested, but a great all around road bike.
Co-op Cycles ARD 1.4
Another great choice and on sale! It’s got disc brakes and a carbon frame. It can do it all. It will not be quite as fast as the CAAD12, but fast enough and comfortable for longer rides. It can also do gravel, so you have a lot more options when finding fun rides.
I suggest you go into your local REI and get fit and test ride some of these options.
To your other question about building leg size. I can be done on either bike.
The most important thing to improve your riding performance is to build strength without adding too much bulk. Speed comes from a good balance of leg strength and core strength. The key is to embrace your body type and focus on building strength and endurance. Skinny legs when cycling is not a bad thing.
To increase your strength, a good balanced training plan is important. Work with a coach or find some online training guides to build a plan that has a good balance of longer, slow rides (to build endurance – this is where road bikes can really help) and short interval work (to build quickness and speed – this can be done on a road bike or mountain bike).
Don’t forget work off the bike. Focus on your core, which will help both speed and endurance (exercises like planks really make a difference). Also focus on lunges and squats (but with low weight and high reps). You will find your power and endurance will increase quickly through a good balanced training plan that includes work on and off the bike. Consistency is also key… even if you are just getting on the bike for an hour or choose the gym over a short ride, being active as often as possible can dramatically impact your fitness and speed.
Best of luck!
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When it comes to saving weight, finding peices of gear that serve more than one purpose can be a great strategy, allowing you to eliminate extra gear you have to carry. What's your favorite piece of gear that serves more than one purpose (i.e Duct Tape for gear repair as well as preventing blisters)? Bonus points for one piece of gear with 3+ different uses.
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I have been with the co-op for nearly 25 years. I grew up cycling and camping in Texas and have had the pleasure of living in Texas, California, Utah, and Colorado. I love spending time outside with my wife and 2 boys (11 and 14). As a family, we like to say that we are "solar powered" as we love the energy and inspiration we get from the sun and the outdoors.