Dear Natalie: Try The Outxe 3-in-1 Rugged Lantern

Ask Natalie Banner Dear Natalie: Who else does this?

By Natalie McCarthy

Dear Natalie,

What are your thoughts on the Outxe 3-in-1 Rugged Lantern?


You all, because you want to know about this!


Dear friends,

I have to admit something: I am not dainty. I know that’s probably shocking, so I’ll give you a minute to recompose yourselves.

(Patiently waiting.)

Okay. Now that we’ve established that, I’ll continue. Moving about the world like an ox means that I need gear that doesn’t require kid gloves and raised pinky fingers. Enter Outxe’s Rugged 3-in-1 Lantern. The folks at Outxe sent me a lantern to honestly review for you all, and I’m happy to report that it has, thus far, withstood my Sasquatch-like rough handling in the outdoors.

But let’s back up. Let me tell you a little more about this product. It is a flashlight, lantern, USB power bank, magnet, and emergency beacon, all packed into a unit just a tad bigger than my water purifier.

The package came with the lantern (fully charged!), a USB charging cable, and a lanyard. I found it too difficult to attach the lanyard with only my one nimble hand (yes, I’m still in a cast), but I’m sure you’d find it easy-peasy.



Beyond the lamp’s conveniently small size, the first thing I noticed was the nifty magnet on the bottom. I tested it out on my refrigerator, and sure enough, it stuck on there like a champ.



Then I realized the magnet is actually a water-tight cap that covers two USB outlets: one for an incoming charge, to power up the lamp, and the other for outgoing current – like to charge your phone or another device when you’re nowhere near an electrical outlet.



Using the lantern is rather straight forward. Press the large green button and the unit powers on in the “low light lantern” mode. Pressing the button again will take you through several other modes: high light lantern, flashlight, short red flashes, and a long red SOS. To power off, hold in the green button for a few seconds. Operation is user-friendly enough that I just guessed – and then confirmed with the user manual!

Here is a short demo of me going through these modes easily:


There is a lot to appreciate about this little lantern, with just a couple “meh…” factors.


  • I find it a bit too heavy and awkward for backpacking. Even on a day hike, if I needed illumination, I’d prefer my head lamp. That said, overall, it is not a heavy unit, and if you were boating, camping, canoeing, or fishing, it would be a useful and convenient item to bring along. I plan to put mine in my earthquake emergency kit, and I may get another to throw in with my car camping gear.
  • Exactly how waterproof is it? I’m a bit confused. The package says it is water resistant up to 30 meters. The website says it is water resistant up to 2 meters underwater – which is quite the difference in depth. To confuse matters more, the owner’s manual advises against throwing it into water to avoid explosions. Needless to say, I didn’t test out the water resistance; I thought, ya know, explosions aren’t great to experience. Clarification on that would be helpful!



  • I’ve found it to be rather rugged. It has withstood bangs, bumps, and drops with no decrease in function. I purposely drove up a mountain today and threw it on the ground, and if you just looked at the lantern, you’d have no idea it survived that trauma. Perhaps I have a touch of inanimate object-directed schadenfreude, but I was a little disappointed it didn’t sustain even a little scratch (which led me to wonder why I’m so weird).
  • I think it’s so cool that it can serve as a power bank for my phone and other devices. This will come in handy on my next camping trip!
  • It is the perfect size and shape to hang from your tent.
  • Despite the confusion on exact water resistance specs, I can tell you a splash of water or rain won’t cause this lantern to fritz out.
  • The magnet! That magnet is so convenient – who doesn’t appreciate hands-free lighting, especially outdoors?

Overall, I say this little lantern gets a thumbs-up. If you’d like to check out this or other Outxe products, head on over to Outxe’s website.

See you again soon,





5 Great Ways to Get Your Children to Sleep Easily While Camping

5 Great Ways to Get Your Children to Sleep Easily While Camping 1

By Margaret Smith

Camping is a fun and inexpensive activity that lets your kids spend time with you and the great outdoors. But as with all things when children are involved, there are some challenges that lay ahead when planning a family camping trip.

One of these is getting children to sleep well in their tents, especially when they aren’t so used to roughing it just yet. So whether you’re a pro-camper bringing your kids along for the very first time or just looking to try something new with your family, here are five great ways to get your children to sleep easily while camping.

5 Great Ways to Get Your Children to Sleep Easily While Camping 2Plan to sleep well

Invest in lightweight, durable, and comfortable sleeping pads for you and your family, and make sure to plan out sleeping arrangements. For families traveling with toddlers, the Travel Channel recommends bringing along a pack and play to serve as a familiar bed for sleeping and as a playpen during the day.

Stay close to your usual bedtime routine

5 Great Ways to Get Your Children to Sleep Easily While Camping 3Kids tend to eat and sleep on a schedule, so be sure to stay close to their routines whenever you are camping. If they brush their teeth, get into pajamas, and read books while cuddling with you in their room before sleeping, make the necessary preparations so they can do the same when you are in your tents. Let them bring their favorite stuffed animal and blanket along to give them a sense of familiarity and make it easier for them to fall asleep.

Use white noise

Although some campers enjoy letting the music of nature lull them to sleep, young children and first-timers might not be as open to the sounds of Mother Nature’s critters in the dark. ParentMap Magazine suggests solving this issue by using a white noise app or music player to drown out unpleasant sounds and comfort your children as they try to sleep at unfamiliar spots. If possible, choose a campsite that’s well away from campsite entrances, loud gathering spots, or main roads to minimize noise.

5 Great Ways to Get Your Children to Sleep Easily While Camping 4

Wear them out

Sleeping in a tent can feel a lot more refreshing after a full day of hiking, swimming, and playing, as opposed to simply relaxing around the campsite all day. Enlist your children to help set up camp with easy tasks and give them fun activities to play and explore nature. Set up a rock tower activity or nature scavenger hunt like what Bryony Sumner did with her kids. These are a great way to get them to rest naturally in the evening after a fun-filled day.

5 Great Ways to Get Your Children to Sleep Easily While Camping 5

Have a fireside story time

Let your children wind down after the aforementioned activities by treating them to a fun campfire. Singing songs, sharing stories, and spending time simply gazing at the fire at the end of the day can help them relax and set the mood for sleep. To make the most of the evening and get better sleep, Leesa recommends keeping away all smartphones and tablets. Not only will this get them to be fully present during your family bonding hour, it also keeps them away from blue light that can mess up their body clock and keep them from sleeping later on.


Although camping with children can be daunting, kids can surprise you by how well they can adapt to their environment. With proper planning and the right attitude, your outdoor trip will be a success. And while you’re here, be sure to go through Camping For Women’s checklists for camping with children as well so you won’t forget anything!

5 Great Ways to Get Your Children to Sleep Easily While Camping 7

The Magical Waterfalls of the Havasupai Indian Reservation

By Ashley Barlow

As an avid waterfall chaser I have always dreamed of visiting the waterfalls of Havasupai. My dream became a reality when I was surprised with permits for my 25th Birthday!

Havasupai means people of the blue-green waters. The Havasupai people live on one of the most remote Native American Reservations in America. The Supai Village is located 8 miles deep into the Grand Canyon and can only be accessed by foot or helicopter. The waterfalls of Havasupai are by far the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen and definitely rank the list of must see waterfalls in the US. These waterfalls attract thousands of visitors each year and getting permits for the campground can be very difficult. It is recommended to reserve early. 

Reservations have changed this year and you no longer have to continuously call a phone line.
Permit reservations became available February 1st 2018 through their new online reservation system at

Campground Information:

Sites available for up to 350 campers per night
Available in campground, drinking water, restrooms, and picnic tables

Pricing for 2018 is as follows and includes all necessary permits, fees, and taxes:
One Person, 2 Days / 1 Night: $140.56
One Person, 3 Days / 2 Nights: $171.12
One Person, 4 Days / 3 Nights: $201.67

Weekend nights (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), Holiday weekday nights (February 19, May 28, July 4, September 3, October 8), and Spring Break weekday nights (March 5-8 and 19-22) are an additional $18.34 per night.

There is a requirement to make a reservation for a maximum stay of 4 Days / 3 Nights per reservation in an attempt to accommodate more visitors who desire to visit the canyon.

All reservations are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Reservations can be made here at:

The campground is located right along the water and we were fortunate to get a spot right next to the gorgeous blue water in this heavenly oasis!

Pack Horse & Saddle Horse Fees
$132.00 one way, $264.00 round trip per pack horse: RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

I highly recommend using a Pack horse and to stay for at least 3 nights. There is more than one waterfall to see. The Arizona desert heat can get VERY hot. We had most of our items carried in from a pack horse which made our hike that much easier since we had to hike 10 miles in the desert beating sun to the campground.
The trail into Supai begins at the Haulapai Hilltop
More info on the Havasupai Indian Reservation from the National Park Service

Trail Distances
(one way)
Miles Km
Hualapai Hilltop
to Supai
8 13
Supai to campground 2 3
Hualapai Hilltop
to campground
10 16
to Mooney Falls
0.5 0.8
Mooney Falls
to Colorado River
8 13

For those who don’t want to camp, there is a lodging option located in the Supai Village.

Lodge Fees

Room Rate $ 175.00* per night,
Rooms accommodates up to 4 persons.
Deposit $60.50 per room/ per night
Additional entrance fee of $90.00* per person will be charged upon arrival.

*All fees are subject to change without prior notice and are non-negotiable.

All fees are taxable by 10%.

Lobby Hours

Daily Hours: 8:00 am- 5:00 pm

Lodge Reservations

At this time, all reservations must be made via telephone.
To make reservations please call at:
1(928) 448-2111 or 1(928) 448-2201

Directions to the Havasupai Reservation & Supai

You will need to exit onto Historic Route 66 to Route Indian 18. You will travel 63 miles north to Hualapai Hilltop.

Reservations are required before entering the reservation. Guests can hike down 8 miles to the lodge and tourist office, then 2 more miles to the campground.


Navajo Falls

On your hike in towards the campsite, this waterfall is just off the path to the left. You can hear the rushing water as you walk past and I just had to explore around here to get a closer look.


Havasu Falls

As we were hiking towards the campground you start the notice the beautiful blue waters of Havasu as well as the famous Havasu Falls!

Havasu Falls tends to get more crowded compared to the other waterfalls due to its easier access and location.


Mooney Falls

About a half mile hike from the campground is the towering 200 foot Mooney Falls! Be warned, it is a bit of a treacherous hike down to the bottom requiring you to climb down through rocks and down a ladder.

On my 25th birthday I couldn’t believe I had this whole waterfall all to myself!

The most beautiful natural swimming pools I have ever seen! Happy Birthday to me! 8)


Beaver Falls

Beaver Falls is a 3 mile hike down from the campground and was by far the most tropical, amazing oasis hike I have ever seen!

The turquoise blue waters took my breath away to believe that a place like this existed deep in the desert of the Grand Canyon of America!

The magnificent Beaver Falls! There was so much to explore and see here! I even climbed up on some of the rocks and it made me feel like a kid again!

Havasupai is definitely a bucket list adventure that you have to add to your must do list! Craving an adventure or epic waterfall chase? Havasupai has it all! Excitement and adventure everywhere you look! A heavenly oasis you must see to believe! I promise you won’t be disappointed! So what are you waiting for? You better reserve early before tickets sell out!

Is Havasupai on your Bucket list!?


Dear Natalie: Told You So

Ask Natalie Banner Dear Natalie: Who else does this?

By Natalie McCarthy

Dear Natalie,

Seriously, didn’t we tell you it was dangerous out there?


Yourself, and society – again



Dear everyone,

So yeah, it happened.

My friend Inga and I, both aiming for a grand total of at least 52 hikes by 12/31/18, decided to go on a quick hike one Saturday in February. The sky was a bit overcast. Gray skies on our valley floor, a mere 1000 ft. in elevation, often mean snow storms at 4000 ft. We opted, then, to avoid a mountain trail. Instead, we decided to hike at lower elevation, closer to home.


Dear Natalie Told You So 1
Midway up, we were starting to see patches of snow


The trail started off damp and drizzly, but easily navigated. As we went higher in elevation, the rain got heavier, and by the time we reached our destination – a viewpoint at the summit of a foothill, maybe only 2000 feet in elevation – it was actively snowing.


Dear Natalie Told You So 2
Inga, about a mile from our turn-around point at the top of the hill. The trail was quite snowy by this point.


We tried to relax a bit and enjoy our accomplishment, but the skies were angry, and the snow was freezing. “We thought we were going to avoid this,” Inga reminded me, and after rolling our eyes and muttering a few choice curse words, we headed back.


Dear Natalie Told You So 3
Actively snowing at the top of the hill, looking out over the trees and a large lake. The lake is barely visible through the snowy air.


At some point during the hike, I told Inga the story of the first and only previous time I’d hiked this trail. On the descent, I stumbled on gravel and fell into a split, sliding a few yards down the trail and scraping up my legs. Luckily I was able to get up and dust myself off. Other than a couple sore spots and a few scratches on my shins, only my ego was bruised, and even that was minor; the only witness was my then-husband. “I learned my lesson,” I said, nodding to the fancy trekking poles I brought with me this time.

As we lost elevation, we navigated icy spots and chunks of accumulating snow. The faster we hiked downhill, the faster the snow turned to rain, and eventually we were walking between drizzle-drops on a muddy, soggy trail.

This is when it happened.

I was speaking, or maybe Inga was, but before I knew what was happening, I was in the air. I felt my right hand let go of one trekking pole, and as I noted the other still in my left hand, I heard the sound of a thin branch snapping. An explosion of pain shot up my left arm, and suddenly, the second trekking pole was gone. I was on the ground, right arm wrapped around the left, and I was sobbing.

It wasn’t a branch that snapped; it was some part of my left arm.

I tried to explain to Inga what happened, and though I was achingly inarticulate, she was right there, grabbing naproxen from my backpack. “The damn bottle won’t open!” she muttered, and as though possessed by Bear Grylls, I grabbed it with my teeth and opened it also with my teeth. As soon as the pill hit my tongue, Inga was tilting my canteen into my mouth, and I was back on my feet – still crying.

She took my trekking poles – one had flown six feet away, while the other had landed just next to where I had. She slowed her pace. I held my left forearm with my right hand, and we walked. Within minutes, it became clear that my wrist was broken; it looked like a pale, rubber prosthetic topped with a swollen hand-shaped water balloon that was tilted at a sick, unnatural angle.  Around this time, the trail crossed a forest service road, and we were able to bypass the trail and walk instead on more stable ground. A few miles later, we were back at the car, where Inga fashioned me a sling out of a blanket and began the drive to the hospital.


Dear Natalie Told You So 4
Selfie snapped en route to the car shortly after breaking my wrist. My face is wet with tears, melted snow, and rain.


I waited a few hours in the emergency department with Inga, and our friend Jessica brought me snacks and additional moral support. Eventually I left with painkillers, a splint and a sling, and x-ray confirmation that I had broken my wrist in two places. Several splints and casts, two surgeries, and multiple medical appointments later, and my left wrist and forearm are internally reinforced with small steel plates and screws. Externally, they have the support of a splint and a heavy wrap.


Dear Natalie Told You So 5
Me and my first (ugly) cast.


 If I hadn’t been hiking, this wouldn’t have happened.

For a few days, I was despondent about this. “Now I have to exercise in gyms,” I thought bitterly, screwing up my face at the thought of spandex and treadmills. “Now I’ll be scared to go up mountains,” I told myself, tears trailing down my cheeks at the thought of boring, flat, developed cityscapes. “Now I can’t hike alone,” I said, and that’s when I got angry with myself.

The fact is, my outcome would have been the same if I were solo. Yes, my friends offered me much-appreciated help and support – but if they hadn’t been there, I still would have ended up getting medical care. I still would have walked back to the car; after all, Inga didn’t carry me. I would have driven myself to the hospital, which, while painful and challenging, would not have been anywhere near impossible.

Another fact is that I’m also capable of getting injured at home alone, or shopping with friends, or running around the seven miles of hallways at my daily job.  There’s a legitimate argument that hiking is more dangerous than regular ol’ walking, but I would argue it’s safer than driving an automobile – something I do much more frequently.

I have fear that my injury – which is the most common bone break, statistically – will lend credence to the myth that outdoor adventure is an inherently super-dangerous activity, and certainly not a hobby one should pursue alone. Despite my initial tearful-fearfulness, I feel the same about walking in the woods as I did before.

In fact, I am moved to get outside even more. This injury has opened me up wider to the kindness and generosity people freely offer. My friends took shifts to care for me after surgery. My youngest brother re-routed his air travel to stay with me. My coworkers collected a generous sum of money to make sure I could order all the Thai take-out I wanted and would not need to cook while convalescing. They also signed two greeting cards with messages that entertained me for days. The computer gurus at my job fast-tracked dictation software for me, saving me from the time consuming task of typing with only my right hand. My friend brought by elastic, thread, and her seamstress skills to make my button-up pants easier to slide into. One of the psychiatrists at work even offered me his shoulder when I was required to elevate my cast.


Dear Natalie Told You So 6
Photographic evidence of using a psychiatric doctor as an armrest. I figured I’d protect his identity, lest anyone try to take advantage of his kindness.


When I am reminded of the goodness humanity has to offer, I yearn more strongly for the beautiful, pristine places where I feel most connected to that goodness. If that means slipping my rain jacket over my cast so I can hike to those places, so be it.

With Love,





P.S. – Have thoughts to share? Share via email at [email protected]

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