Author: Paul


We are a few enthusiasts who love to travel and reconnect with nature. What started out as a journal of our voyages has evolved into a log of opinions, ideas, and experiences. Here we discuss different National and State parks we visit, campgrounds & trails we spend our time in, and gear we use. Hope you enjoy our reviews as much as we enjoy making them!

Please use the links in the footer below to watch our videos and follow us on social media.


Allaire State Park Campgrounds (NJ) Review

When staying overnight

Allaire State Park Campgrounds

at this campground in April of 2013, I was a bit hesitant to do a review because of two things:
1) A lot of activities that the park offers were still unavailable due to off season time or were only offered on weekends.
2) Sandy damaged a lot of trees on the campgrounds and in the park, therefore some parts were still closed off to the public. (including damaged buildings).
Since I was there and there were some things that stood out, a review had to happen.

This is a small campground that offers

Allaire State Park CampgroundsAllaire State Park Campgrounds Yurts
45 campgrounds, 6 shelters (which are technically small cabins), and 4 yurts (which are basically large canvas teepee tents).  There are some spots that are decently apart from each other at one part of the campgrounds and other that are very close to each other at another part.  Both have their benefits and disadvantages.  It all depends how many sites you are booking at once.  I’d suggest give a call to the main office and ask for their recommendation which spots would suite you and your party best.

Allaire State Park Campgrounds Playground

Since this is a State Park in New Jersey, pets are not allowed.  However, this might change in a near future.  There are currently five State Parks that started to allow pets on the campgrounds as a trial run.  If all goes well, this campground will allow pets as well.

The park offers a lot of activities

Allaire State Park Historic Village

and if you get bored of them, there are even more things to do within an hour drive.
There is:
Boating, canoeing, kayaking
Charter/fishing boat
Horseback riding
Ocean beaches
Shopping/outlet malls
Six flags great adventure park

Let’s finally talk about the elephant in the room.

Allaire State Park Campgrounds Road & Highway

This campground is located a bit too close to a road, and a road that’s located even closer to a major highway.  Do expect hearing traffic nice and clear throughout your stay.  Even a Spring rain hitting the tarp of your tent won’t drown it out.   With this said, I’d suggest to skip the campgrounds and just do a day trip to the park and enjoy great nature, historic town, and activities.


Guide Gear TeePee Tent Review

When shopping for this product at first, I was hesitant.

The reviews for the tent sounded great but the lack of photos, videos, and more in depth specifications kept holding my purchase back.  After long consideration I bit the bullet and got it.

Guide Gear TeePee Tent

It is what it is – a TeePee tent.

Inside The TentOne pole in the middle and over a dozen of spokes gluing it to the ground.  Although it takes up as little of space as a 4-person tent (like Coleman Sunset Dune), on the inside it is very spacious.  With a little friction between the pole and the outer walls, you can fit up to 2 standard height queen size mattresses.  If your pump for the mattress only runs when plugged into your car, have no fear of inflating on the outside of the tent.  Even though the doors seem small, with a little pressure, you can squeeze the mattress right through.  Please keep in mind: any larger and/or higher mattresses will not fit through the doors.

This Tent can comfortably fit 4 adults,

a couple of medium size bags, and a medium to large size dog.  Being packed like that, do not worry about condensation because the tent offers 4 flaps that can be half or fully opened and 2 doors.  All of which are covered with bug screen.  For additional lighting, the tent has 4 windows made out of “plastic bags” providing not the clearest views but still allows just enough light to brighten the inside.

Tent Vents

This tent is a looker!

It definitely stands out at any campground.  It is very practical and a fun place to take shelter in.  Speaking of fun,  not quite sure if kids these day still play “cowboys and indians” but if they do, this tent is a perfect prop for the Native Americans hide out in.

TeePee Tent Pano

Overall, It’s a great product for the price.

However, please keep in mind that this is a 10′ x 10′ TeePee tent.  If you feel like it will be too small for you and your family, check out their larger size of 18′ x 18′.


Watch Hill Marina & Campgrounds (Fire Island, NY) Review

Solitude/privacy: 3.5
Environment & Nature: 5
Available Activities: 2
Staff & Park Officials: 4
Accessibility: 2

Only a 40 minute boat ride

from Long Island, Fire Island offers  miles of beautiful beaches, board walk trails through out conserved habitat, and wide range of animals and birds to observe.

In this post, we are focusing on one particular part of the island called Watch Hill Marina and Campgrounds.  Located a short ferry (or by private yacht/boat) ride from Patchogue Ferry (Davis Park), Marina offers over 50 spots to dock your pirate ship (with proper paper work of course) and 25 campgrounds.  Just half a mile away from the pier, these beautiful campgrounds come in three types: secluded, open, and 1 group.  Secluded campgrounds are surrounded by thick bush and trees with one direction facing the entrance/exit: the boardwalk.  Open camp sight are basically a few spots clustered together in a large patch of land.  And 1 group camp sight is just an area with 2 or 3 picnic tables and opening for a few tents completely separated from other campgrounds.

Since there are only

25 camp sights,  reserving one spot might force you to do some planning and re-planning.  In other words they are a bit tough to get.  When coming out to camp out during peak warm season (late May – late September), it will be to your benefit to stack up on Tiki Candles, OFF sprays, and full body bug netting.  The amount of mosquitoes you will encounter through out camp groudns and other areas will make you swim after the last ferry to get back to mainland.

Car? What Car?

The ferry you take to access the Fire Island is half the size one would take across the Hudson River.  It’s passenger only.  With this said, carrying all of your camping equipment such as tents, air mattress, cooler with food and drinks will force you to re-think if the trip is even worth making.   And in all honesty, it isn’t!

– No open fires allowed (only grills – that’s not camping, that’s BBQ in a backyard).
– The bugs (mosquitoes and ticks) are unbearable.
– Camp store is stocked with absolutely useless junk.
– Snack Bar is highly overpriced (4 mozzarella sticks cost almost $7.00).

But if you do brave yourself and decide to come out, the easiest way to transport all of your stuff from the ferry to the camp sight would be by a cart.  Yup!  The same ones you see elderly Chinese women transporting cans they stole from your recycling bin.  If you are a minimalist and keep everything in your trail bag, speak to one of the park officials (if you can find one) about camping out on the beach.  It’s allowed as long as you still pay the same fee you would for the camp sight, register with them in person, and hike at least a mile (on the beach) away from entrance.

Make it a day trip!

Get there early, bring a beach umbrella, a towel, and a cooler full of beers!  The beach is clean and the water is nice.  See if you can spot a dolphin or two.. we did!  Overall, if coming out camping, I would recommend to do so in off season when bugs disappear.  Unfortunately this means the beach is too cold to enjoy.  But that’s OK!  Instead take a long hike through out the island and do some bird watching or see how many deer, hares, and foxes you can spot.

Columbia Titanium Mobex Backpack REVIEW

What a bag!

I am in love with the way it is designed.  It is by far the best looking bag on the market.  At first, it may seem unpractical but in farther investigation, the amount of “hidden” pockets it has will blow your mind.  On the outside the bag has 2 zipper compartments (on top and bottom) and 2 mesh compartments on its “face”.  Peaking inside, the bag has space for a 3 liter water bladder (with opening for a hydration tube of-course), 1 large pocket with a separator, 2 hidden pockets, and a detachable pouch.  On the waist strap you will find a nicely sized pouch and a very useless bottle holder.

Useless Bottle Holder?

Yup!  As with Nissan Cube, the outside design is beautifully thought out & executed but the interior seems like the designers either ran out of money or talent.  It stinks!  Same goes with the bottle holder for this bag.  It’s impractical and your canteen will be in a way of your arm movement while hiking.  Check out the video below to see just how awful it is!

It’s a bit feminine.

We randomly stumbled upon this bag while exploring Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and I immediately had to have it.  Priced at $80 I was a bit hesitant but couldn’t get it out of my head and ended up buying it.  It turned to cost $60 at the end.  Today you can find it online for about $40 which is a great bargain.  Right.. went off track for a bit.  Just look at it!  Doesn’t it scream out Hello Kitty?.. even when it’s in black.  Maybe it’s just me.  Personally, I don’t care.  The bag is comfortable & lightweight, and at the end of a long hike these are one of many very important factors.

For day hike you say?

Even though it’s small and most of the compartments can only fit a pair of socks, with smart packing this bag can be used for at least an overnight hike (if not 2 or 3 nights).  It all depends on the amount of hiking, terrain, and the weather you are facing.  With proper rationing of water (don’t forget the terrible canteen holder), you’ve got room for some dehydrated food and clothing.  You can attach your sleeping bag, mat, hammock/tent on the outside of the bag and you are ready to hit the trails.

Overall, this bag is

awesome!  I would  highly recommend it for day hikes (and overnight hikes too!), bike rides, or morning commutes.  Please check out some additional information in the video below.

Intex Seahawk II Boat Set Review

What’s awesome: 

This raft comes with two ores, manual pump, 2 pouches (1 for motor battery, the-other for whatever floats your boat.. heh, get it?), and two blow up seats.  Although this raft is for 3 people I would only recommend it for 2. This way you get plenty of room for your fishing equipment and even room for a large dog. Since the raft is so rugged, having a dog in it is no problem…. Don’t worry about the dog’s nails, it’ll handle it!

If you plan to use this raft on a lake, I highly recommend you to get an electric motor.  The raft has special hooks and a place for a battery. If you plan to use it as a safety raft for you yacht or just for rafting down the river, than no worries, don’t bother with the motor.

Why a motor? Due to the rafts’ size and shape it gets exhausting to constantly keep rowing every time the current sends you back to land.

What’s not so awesome:

It’s white, the ores suck, and folding it back into the bag is a time consuming & strength draining task.  Can somebody please tell me whose bright idea was it to make this raft in white? Between the dirt, mud, sand, pebbles, and everything else, this raft is now between yellow and brown color.  It’s as if the designers though this will be used in a nice, clean, chlorine treated pool….. seriously?

If you decide to

ignore my idea of additionally purchasing electric motor, do yourself a favor and at least get additional oars.  The ores that come with the raft are the definition of “cheap junk”.   There are many reviews on amazon that say exactly the same thing – the ores that come with the raft will break.  Mine did during second time using them!

Check out SailboatsToGo and raft like a sir with a sail.

Folding the raft back

into the bag is a really annoying task.  Unfortunately I do not have luxury of a yacht, backyard, or a shed to keep this thing inflated all the time…  This means I must fold it back after each use and this can take up to good 20 minutes. Take your time and take care of it.

Elkmont Campground (TN) Review

Solitude/privacy: 1
Environment & Nature: 5
Available Activities: 5
Staff & Park Officials: 4
Accessibility: 5


This Campground is

one of the 3 most popular campgrounds in The Great Smoky Mountains.  It contains 208 platformed sites that are positioned pretty close to each other.  It’s great when a large group of friends camp out together and not so great when you are just their neighbor.. not a friend.


Platforms you say?

Yes-yes I say!  The cool things about platforms:  no worries about uneven, slope-like spots, tree roots, medium sized half submerged rocks, and other “awesome” nature things thrusting against your tent floor.  The not-so cool things about platforms: can’t fit more than one tent on it.  Let’s face it, very few of us travel with a 1 or 2-person tent to campgrounds.  We tend to schlep our 6, 8, or even 10-person tent with us and unfortunately only one large tent can fit on the platform.  The campground allows 2 tents per spot but because of the platforms, there is little room left for the second tent without being too close to the neighbor, eating area, your auto, or the fire.

You’ve set up your camp and

had the celebratory light beer (got to watch the weight and everything) with not so light burger… what’s next?   Since it’s the Smoky’s, time to burn those calories with hiking. The park offers many awesome trails to choose from.  Please keep in mind that even though pets are allowed on the campgrounds, they are NOT allowed on trails due to large population of bears and irresponsible dog owners.  Got Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license?  Go to the river and catch some dinner!   The park also offers horse rental, horseback riding and trails, interpretive programs and trails, and many other things you can check out here.

So you’ve done all the activities

and it’s time to wash off all the sweat, dirt, and deer ticks.  Sorry friend, you are out of luck.  Although this is a pretty large and very popular campground, it still pretends to be hidden somewhere on the path of back country trails.  There are absolutely no showers in the campground!  I was told there are some paid* showers at Lazy Dayz… where ever that is.

Camp by the river…

… if you can get a spot.  There a few spots available by the rive for tent and RV camping which has it’s ups and downs.  The ups are that you have quick access to wash bacon grease off of your frying pan after which take a dip in to cool off and go Rambo on the fish…. or just dip your feet in and spend some quality time with the kids catching diner.  The downs are that the river noise tends to mute the sound of your neighbors generator and who wants that?  Oh ye, also mosquitoes.  They like shade and water, so keep that in mind!

There is no camp store at this particular campground.  There is however a camp booth with a few vending machines.

Although alcohol is allowed at this campground, driving while drinking isn’t (just like everywhere!), so don’t do it.  The park officials are very keen on taking your license away and throwing your belly full of bud light in jail!

Check out our video review!