Category Archives: Reviews

Life in Motion Hiking Poles – It’s local

Life in Motion poles

You can start your business with just one product. And if it’s a good product and it’s well marketed and distributed, your business will move on to create the next product and the next …

So it was with more than mild curiosity that I looked at Rodney Bailey’s email from Life in Motion. Was I interested in reviewing his company’s hiking poles? And oh yes, they were local in Simpsonville, SC, south of Greenville. That’s certainly closer than where I’ve been getting my poles from.

Hiking poles are necessary for stability and for crossing streams without bridges. We have plenty of those around the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Poles also reduce impact on my knees and encourages me to walk faster with less effort when I go uphill. Most important, when you’re an habitual hiker like me – day after day after day – of any age, it will keep you hiking until the grave.

When I received my poles, meticulously packed in a large box, they seemed like, well, hiking poles. Then I looked more closely. Their handler collar extents so much longer than most hiking poles. I can grab them lower down, if I want shorter poles for some situations. I’m thinking when scrambling uphill on rocks.

At Bent Creek

They’re lighter than most poles and come with mud baskets and snow baskets. Who knew that all these accessories were necessary? Most important, their website shows that so many accessories are available separately. Let’s face it. You’re going to lose your pole tips or snow basket.

Their website has an extremely well-written section on how to get started with poles – and I judge a product partly on their website.

It shows you how to adjust the height of your poles so your arms can form a 90 degree angle.

You can learn how to pack poles and adjust the straps, if needed. But most experienced hikers don’t put their hands through the straps. If you fall, you won’t be able to get your wrists out of the poles fast enough and might break a wrist. We’ve seen this happen in Carolina Mountain Club. Straps are fine for hanging poles but not for wrists.

At this point, the hiking poles are only available online. Look at their very reasonable price.

And I’m sure, like Johnny Cash’s song, you might be able to pick them up at the factory.

Choose Gifts with Expertly Chosen

If you’re like me, the last thing you want to think about now is buying more gifts. But what if your sister has a birthday next week? If she’s an expert foodie, you don’t want to get her a gift card for her local supermarket. How about a mushroom growing kit or a rolling pin with embossed dinosaurs rolling pin?

Trust me! I didn’t think of these gifts but Expertly Chosen did.

With the Expertly Chosen website, users select a range of interests and personality traits for their recipient. They also choose a price range. The website then collates gift ideas from experts in each of these areas, resulting in a list of suggestions unique to that recipient. Again it avoids that desperate all-purpose gift card.

The owners asked me to look at their website and pick something to review. Their main categories run the gamut from Entertainment to Travel and Adventure. From the latter, I chose Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders. It’s a hefty book, not a book to take on a trip, but a fantastic book to plan your travels. I tested the book out just as I would test out a pair of boots.

Where am I going next, I thought? Tucson for some spring hiking and culture. Atlas Obscura  (AO) suggested the Titan Missile Museum, which displays the remnants of cold war missiles. Never heard of it – one point for AO.

Next, I think I know North Carolina well. What did they suggest? Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in Wilmington full of pitcher plants and Venus flytraps.

This book reminds me of a travel Dream Book. It’s $18 on the Expertly Chosen site and $21 on the supposed cheap giant online book site. How do they do it? Of course, I could have gotten the book in other places but I didn’t know about it until I saw it on ExpertlyChosen.

Subject matter experts choose the gifts. I keep looking at their York bamboo trekking poles and wonder if they need testing as well.

Expertly Chosen is a useful site and fun to browse as well.

Best Outdoor Books of the Year (or so).

If you need a gift quickly, you can’t do better than a book about the outdoors. Here’s a quick wrap-up of what I enjoyed this year.

North Carolina Waterfalls

North Carolina Waterfalls by Kevin Adams documents 1,000 waterfalls in the state. Adams is a photographer by trade and his photos are beautiful. In addition, his information is accurate and complete. He describes how to find the waterfall, how to photograph it and gives it a beauty rating.

For children, you can’t go wrong with When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike by Michelle Houts, illustrated by Erica Magnus. Yes, even boys will want to read about the Appalachian Trail.

If your giftee wants a novel, try Boar Island by Nevada Barr. All her mysteries are set around a national park and this one focuses on Acadia National Park.

I haven’t yet reviewed Women of the Smokies by Courtney Lix but it looks good. From Margaret Stevenson to Dolly Parton, many women have influenced Great Smoky Mountains National Park – and some still do.

Of course, you can buy the books online.

But why not try your independent bookstore?

Or for many outdoor books, look at the Great Smoky Mountains Association(GSMA) bookstores. They manage the bookstores in the Smokies. If you don’t live close to the Smokies, you can get the books from the GSMA website.

I can’t end this column without mentioning that you can buy Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South from GSMA as well. The national park service centennial may be over but our parks are ready for the second century.

Get out there!