Mother Nature brings a lot to the table when it comes to performance. Synthetic fabrics like spandex, polyester, and nylon dominate the active wear marketplace, but plant-based fibers offer a lot of the same benefits with a fraction of the environmental costs. (Plus, nothing beats the feeling of plant-based fibers against your skin). Made from an eco-friendly eucalyptus wood pulp, Tencel® is perhaps our very favorite.
Tencel® starts with fine, water-loving fibers that quickly absorb and transport moisture away from the skin. Its cellulosic nature inhibits the growth of bacteria, which allows for stronger, longer lasting yarns. And softness. Like MEGA softness. Tencel® is akin to silk in both feel and drape, and it’s low pilling so you can wear it over and over again. Pure Tencel® fabrics are lightweight and airy (great for summer travel), while a Tencel® blend boasts excellent year-round performance (if you just can’t live without your polyester active-wear). Tencel® is 100% machine washable and won’t bag out or melt away in the dryer over time. #laundrywin
Last, and most importantly, we love Tencel® for its clean production process. The eucalyptus is grown in Europe and requires fewer pesticides and far less acreage and water than cotton. The raw eucalyptus is processed in an eco-award winning “closed loop” system that recovers and reuses 99.7% of the processing solvents. (Sidenote: the primary solvent is the nontoxic solvent amine oxide and is infinitely better than harsher solvents used in traditional viscose processes.)
Our Tencel® has been certified according to the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100, a rigorous testing, auditing, and certification system for environmentally friendly textiles. It’s also recognized by the European Union as both safe and sustainable. Can your activewear claim all that?
Forget what you thought you knew about crunchy, shiny performance fabrics – Mother Nature knows best. Shop our Men’s Tencel® and Women’s Tencel®styles and see for yourself.
There are few things we love more than a great weekend getaway to the mountains – outdoor adventures, cozy nights and long conversations with good company. And maybe a ShotSki here and there. Whether it’s the first run of the season or the last run of spring, we think a ShotSki is the perfect way to celebrate the good times. After all, friends don’t let friends shot ski alone. We’re digging back into the Toad archives to bring back a refresher on How To Build the Perfect Shot-Ski fromJeremy Benson at skinet.com:
1. Find the perfect ski The first step (and arguably most important) in creating the perfect shot-ski is finding the right ski. If you don’t have old skis, ski shops will often have some pairs lying around (especially if it’s nearing the end of ski season). Remember, the longer the ski is, the more shots you can fit on it. Most standard skis will fit 4 shots, but go for the gold and see how many you can fit comfortably.
2. Glued vs. Nested There are two basic types of shot-skis: The layman’s sit on top, where you simply measure out where to put your shot glasses then glue (or tape!) them down. Then there’s the nested shot-ski where shot glasses rest inside the ski and can be removable to facilitate the cleaning process. We went for the nested version, because go big or go skiing later.
3. Measuring While perfection isn’t absolutely necessary with a shot-ski (you are, after all, drinking liquor from a ski), equal spacing will allow for easier maneuvering. First, pick the number of shots you’d like to have on your ski. Four is a nice round number and a good starting loin, but by all means try to get more on. Ideally, shots are approximately 18 – 20 inches apart, enough room for folks to face the shot ski head on. Make marks that are centered in the ski width-wise and get ready to drill.
4. Drill For the nesting tactic, we used a hole saw to drill the holes (a large paddle drill bit may also work). Ideally all of your shot glasses will be the same size. Figure out what diameter your glasses are by measuring them and finding a comparable size hole saw or drill bit (we used a 1.5-inch diameter hole saw). Line it up with the marks you made earlier and drill, being careful not to drill all the way through the base. By stopping your holes just above the base you can remove the core samples, making perfect, countersunk holes for the glasses to sit in. A flathead screwdriver or a chisel work great for cleaning out the holes. It is important to note that many skis out there have fiberglass, wood, metal and plastic in them, so be careful not to breathe in any fumes and wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes.
5. Velcro After the holes are drilled and cleaned out, smooth out any imperfections with sandpaper. If you want the glasses to be permanently attached, super glue them into place. For removable glasses, use Velcro to hold them in place when the shot ski is in use. Having removable shot glasses makes cleaning your shot ski way easier (and promotes future shot-skis).
6. Deploy the Ski-shot Call on some good company, pick your favorite brand of whiskey (add some maple syrup to each shot to do it the Canadian way) and te it for a run! Take shots to thank the Snow Gods for fresh powder or to urge them to make it snow. Mount it above the fireplace, keep it in the garage, sleep with it under your pillow, keep it in your car, give it to a college kid… Whatever you do with your shot-ski hopefully it involves good times, deep snow and good friends. Bottoms up!
Try some of our other delicious drinking activities. We love a good game of Kings Cup which only requires that you drink beer. If you are in the mood to mix it up, try making some of these cold weather specialties.
With the storm clouds from the day’s rain still lingering, the setting sun ignited the sky in intense golden light and vibrant hues of pink. Maneuvering my rusty Sprinter van through curve after curve, descending deeper into the canyon that leads to Zion National Park, I felt like nothing could stop the good vibes that pulsed through me as I drove into the unknown.
A few hours earlier I had decided on a whim to leave St. George, Utah and continue pushing forward on my eastward journey from California to Tennessee. Since Zion was somewhere entirely new for me, my focus was split between taking in the views of sandstone spires jutting into the sky, and glancing at a map of dispersed camping areas that I could call home for the night. Bumping down an empty dirt road, I reached the fork that led to two free camping areas, only to find that the heavy rain had turned both roads into thick red clay that would be like quicksand for a loaded up van. With Plan A and Plan B now out of the question, I pulled over and started pondering my next move, one that I like to call “Plan C What Happens”. I turned to my travel partner, Rodi—a one-year-old Australian Cattle Dog—and asked him what we should do. No response.
Solo van trips often feel this way: moments of elation punctuated by moments of “oh, shit”. Coming from someone currently on the road, here’s what to consider when thinking about taking on a van trip alone.
FINDING THE BALANCE BETWEEN INTROVERTED AND OUTGOING
Van life comes with legit perks. Jenna Herzog
For anyone considering this type of trip, let me be the first to break it to you: you will inevitably spend a lot of time alone. Behind the wheel, making your morning coffee, finding a camping spot at dusk, and wandering through a new town are just some of the many times when you’ll find yourself sans company. Being comfortable with that is essential.
At the same time, traveling alone opens you up to meeting plenty of new and interesting folks along the way. I’ve found that while living in my van without a partner, I don’t have much choice but to be outgoing. Whether I’m walking up to a stranger at a full campground to see if I can park my van at their site, or asking a coffee shop owner where to find a shower in town, surviving and having fun on the road is only possible with the help of others.
Campgrounds, cafes, and outdoor gear shops are typically my go-to spots for meeting people when I arrive to a new place. Though constantly introducing myself can get exhausting, I find it well worth the effort as a way to meet people who I can chat, camp or rock climb with. While traveling solo, the random people that I strike up conversation with frequently shape my adventures and make for a good time on the road.
FIGHTING LONELINESS ON THE ROAD
Co-pilot’s are a necessity in van life. Jenna Herzog
Adventuring solo doesn’t necessarily mean feeling lonely all that often. My main piece of advice for solo van travelers would be to find a community that you can connect with wherever you go. The van life community is a surefire choice, so don’t be shy to chat up the other people you see cooking dinner out of a van in a parking lot. I’ve found the van life community to be rather far flung, including everything from twentysomethings living out of their vans as they work in one place, to retirees touring around in luxury rigs. Because of this, I’ve made easier and deeper connections with the rock climbing community, so I suggest looking to your passion as a way to find people.
Staying in touch with friends and family back home does wonders for making you feel like a semi-normal member of society. It can be challenging if you’re frequently in places without cell service or internet, but making the effort to call home during long drives or on rest days can do wonders to help you feel grounded. If possible, make plans to meet up friends along the way to break up your time spent talking to yourself. Reach out to the people you know wherever you visit, or invite along friends and family who may be willing to join in on the adventure for a week or two. Also, bring a dog. If you don’t have one, adopt one.
New day, new adventure in van life. Jenna Herzog
One of the first questions people ask me about my trip is how I can afford it financially. For one, life on the road is intrinsically less expensive than living stationary, thanks to no rent or utility bills and little need to buy new material items.
Among the many different ways to cover the expenses of van travel, two popular choices include working seasonal jobs along the way or saving up for a period of time beforehand. I chose the latter, working a full-time office job with the goal of converting my empty cargo van and hitting the road for wilder pastures. So far, I’ve driven through six states and I’ve spent less money on gas than I would have paid making my daily commute to the office.
General frugal living techniques—“dirtbagging” if you will—can help keep the costs of van travel to a minimum. Making an effort to find free camping or share campgrounds, partaking in the occasional dumpster dive behind a grocery store, and only shelling out for a $5 shower when absolutely necessary are some the keys to cheap living. At the same time, when traveling alone it’s worth it to cut yourself some slack and splurge on the things that will make for a better experience, whether it be making room in the budget for a drink at the local bar or springing for an Airbnb every once in a while.
STAYING WELL & KEEPING SAFE
Living the van life allows you to see things you might not normally. Jenna Herzog
Right after how I pay for my travels (okay, and “where do you go to the bathroom?”), the next question I frequently get asked is if I feel safe alone on the road. The answer is yes, but it comes with some effort and routine. I follow a set of basic guidelines to reduce risk, like taking frequent breaks when driving long distances, locking my van whenever I leave it and when sleeping inside it, minimizing the time I spend driving at night, and moving to another camping spot if I ever feel insecure where I am. Having previous travel experience is a big help in this regard, as developing that intuitive sense of the people and places you can trust is crucial.
Doing your best to stay healthy can save you the trouble of spending four days rethinking your life choices as you nurse a flu or a cold in your van. Though it can be tempting to chow down on chips and chocolate bars, taking the time to cook healthy meals certainly impacts how good you feel. Having a convenient kitchen setup in the van—with a cooler or fridge, stove, propane, water source, and cooking supplies—can make the difference between making a quality meal at camp or succumbing to snacks for sustenance.
Practical elements aside, taking a solo van trip creates a lifestyle of ultimate freedom, where embracing spontaneity is essential and chasing curiosities becomes the norm. I’ve learned to attain a sense of peace by living in that awkward space of the unknown, and to feel comfortable wherever I find myself. So long as you fill your days with what makes you truly happy, life becomes a lot bigger when you live in a tiny space.
No matter if you’re traveling alone, or with a gang of friends, you’ll want to be comfortable for those long sections of open road. Here’s what we’re wearing.
You know why we love St. Patrick’s Day? Because you gotta wear green – and not just the color, the ethos. We think “green” means sustainably sourced, responsibly made, eco-friendly clothing. Luckily, we’re chock full of it! Making a T-Shirt doesn’t seem too complicated. Source some fabric, sew it up, throw it in a package and off it goes. This “simple” process is repeated each day by clothing manufacturers all over the world. When you do it the responsible way, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Sustainable manufacturing techniques are few and far between. To keep costs low, clothing companies will source cheap materials and manufacture in unregulated facilities. These methods can have severe impacts on local environments and local communities. Choosing sustainability isn’t always the easy route, but for us it’s the only route. We call it eCo.
Look for our eCo tags to call out all products that get the sustainability stamp of approval.
For us, it all starts with sourcing good materials. We strive to use sustainable fibers, so you’ll see a lot of organic cotton, recycled polyester, Tencel® and Modal® in our products. We do our best to use bluesign® approved fabrics to trace the environmental impact of a fabric from sourcing to final production. bluesign® is a third party auditor that examines each step in the textile supply chain to approve processes and materials, ensuring they are safe for the environment and factory workers.
When we partner with a manufacturer, we look for manufacturers taking steps above and beyond to promote human rights, sustainability and community culture. Our partner in Turkey, for example, manages the entire manufacturing process, from organic cotton farming to making fabrics to assembling the final garments. Total processing within one country has many benefits: It dramatically reduces the environmental footprint associated with material transportation and increases traceability on all production platforms. They’ve taken their commitment to sustainability one step further by switching to solar energy at the factory – a transition that has reduced their carbon emissions by half. We are proud of the long-lasting relationships we have with many of our vendors and believe that you could visit any of our factories and leave not thinking less of Toad&Co or our products.
Just as orange is the new black, dirty is the new clean.
Sustainability starts with us, but it continues with you. That’s why you’ll find written in the care tag inside all Toad&Co garments the reminder to “Wear more, wash less. Wear it out or pass it on.” Studies suggest that 58% of the energy and 45% of the water that goes into a garment happens post-purchase, so we recommend that you wear your clothing multiple times before washing to conserve natural resources and prolong the life of your beloved Toad&Co clothing.
Our eCo products pair well with Red or White, smiles guaranteed.
Currently 90% of our line is considered eCo and there is always room for improvement. Every season we strive to improve our sustainability efforts and reduce our footprint even more. So when you wear Toad&Co clothing, you’re supporting ethical manufacturing and sustainable business. Together we are a force and together we can affect the future.
The best gifts are the one’s you’re excited to give. Like eco friendly gifts – things made of organic cotton or recycled wool. Or gifts that give twice – like Toad&Co products, where a portion from each sale goes directly toward creating opportunities for adults with disabilities. Whatever you gift, give it with gusto! Need some suggestions? Here’s our People Pleasin’ Gift Guide for Day 10 of our25 Days of Toad Advent Calendar. Check back tomorrow for a new goody as our advent nears the halfway point.