Living in New England at the blossom of summer means lots of things: packing away your sweaters, weeknight trips to the ice cream stand, fumbling over rocks at your coastal beach, and meal-time decisions to go with the fried clams (again).
But living in this region during summertime, like most other parts of the country, also means...camping.
When Henry David Thoreau resigned himself to the woods of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts for two whole years in 1845, he was, in his own words, trying to “live deliberately.” In his mind, simple privileges like friendship or conversation (and even drinking coffee) were frivolous. Living in solitude, working to find the unity between nature and humanity, was what he considered to be the only life worth living.
The average outdoors enthusiast today doesn't come with that same cynicism toward the world, but what most of us do share with Thoreau is the sincere desire to – at least occasionally - remove ourselves from the daily hustles of society. To live among the wilderness. To live a more minimalist existence so we can enjoy the natural beauty of the world that sometimes disappears from our view when we get caught up in our everyday, urban lives.
Here at Boston General Store, we love spending time outdoors this time of year. The New England landscapes have so much to offer when it comes to outdoor activities, especially camping and hiking, and we like to take full advantage of that.
Today, some folks are opting for an upgraded kind of camping experience, called glamping, and while we understand lengthy stays out in the wild aren't everyone’s style, we definitely prefer to keep our excursions a little more unpolished. But, that also doesn’t mean we like heading into the woods empty handed.
We take what we need to get by and leave all the rest at home.
One new maker we're excited to introduce is UCO Gear. They're name stands for Utility, Comfort, and Originality, and they've been designing tools and accessories for outdoorsmen in the Seattle, Washington area for over 40 years. The wares they craft fit perfectly into our “Simple Survival” philosophy, so make sure to check out their entire collection.
The product that originally drew us to UCO Gear is their Original Candle Lantern, a functional, compact lantern that's lightweight and absolutely ideal for overnight trips in the wild. It also has a creative design that spring loads the candle into the base so that as it burns it's pushed upward to keep the flame alive.
Part of the camping experience that we appreciate so much is the quiet seclusion at night, inside your tent, listening to the bugs chatter and running streams. It's the perfect moment to reflect on what your time in the wilderness means. Grabbing your trusty memo pad, using UCO's Candle Lantern to light the way, and writing down some of those thoughts keeps us mindful of the powerful effect nature can have on the mind.
UCO also makes the most reliable Stormproof Matches we've ever come across. They light even after being submerged in water, which is crucial if you're ever in a situation where your gear gets unexpectedly wet and you need to start a fire for warmth or food. The larger match-head design also makes it easier to ignite in windy conditions.
We put these matches to the test, and trust us they work really well. Just don't follow in our footsteps and light one inside!
We've been carrying products from United by Blue since BGS first opened it's doors in 2015 and we've never let them go. Primarily because they are truly dedicated to their craft of making high-quality, sustainable outdoor apparel and accessories as well as their mission of ocean conservation and preservation.
One of our favorite set of wares from United by Blue are the Enamel Steel Mugs that are hand-made in Europe and among the most reliable enamel pieces on the market.
They're extremely durable and are campfire approved, meaning you can put them right over an open flame. We like boiling water right in the mug to make an easy cup of morning coffee after waking up surrounded by pine trees. The handle and rim are both double dipped in enamel to protect your hands and lips from extreme heat but you should still handle with caution.
One of the hardest parts of starting a fire can be acquiring the right tinder. Depending on where you are, gathering good, dry, easily ignitable tinder is sometimes a struggle. Especially if you find yourself in wet conditions, like in snowy mountains or in a damp forest after a rain storm.
Their tinder sticks are made of wasted stumps of felled pine trees that are sourced from a Maya Indian community in Guatemala, which Light My Fire founder, Michael Odqvist, stumbled upon by chance back in 1995. He worked with the community on a fair-trade deal to buy their leftover stumps of pine and in turn provided the group of 400 with higher living wages.
Tinder-on-a-Rope provides campers and hikers with a compact tinder stick, high in resin content, that ignites quickly and burns at high heat. The shaved tinder pieces light well even when exposed to moisture due to the natural resin element in the wood.
Light My Fire is also responsible for the extremely effective Firesteel Firestarter, a magnesium flint and steel originally designed for the Swedish Army that includes a built-in emergency whistle. It matches perfectly with Tinder-on-a-Rope for a seriously uncomplicated process of starting the classic campfire.
No matter what you're using to make your camping trip a success, the most important part is actually making it outdoors.
John Muir, one of America's earliest and most important conservationists, spent most of his life speaking about the freedom you can achieve by building a relationship with nature.
It's advice we believe in, and hope you will be able to find some time from your ordinary routines to follow it this year.
We'd love to see your experiences when you do find yourselves somewhere up on those mountains or in those woods, so make sure to tag us on Instagram @bostongeneralstore.
- The Boston General Store Team
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People who've followed along on our journey know how important makers are to Boston General Store.
When the shop first launched online, the idea was to create a small assortment of products from around the world featuring craftsmen who truly cared about their trade. Today, four years after opening the business, we still carry almost all of the items from that original collection, speaking to the significance these makers have had in the continued success of BGS.
Spring isn’t only a season of growth, it’s also a season of anticipation. It’s almost like a buffer zone between the long, dark, hostile winter and the bright, shining weather of the summer – at least that’s the story here in New England. The flowers start to bloom, birds are chirping, and thank goodness for clocks moving forward because this is about the time we start to beg for more sunshine.
So, with nature slowly getting us ready for all those lazy beach days and trips to the Cape, it’s time to start thinking about one thing and one thing only...the annual ritual of spring cleaning.
There comes a moment when keeping good news to yourself is impossible. And because we're ready to burst at the seams, literally and figuratively, we'll cut to the chase.
Boston General Store is growing.
Yes, this is our official announcement that we'll be opening a second permanent home in Dedham next month, made possible after a first-year success that wouldn't have happened without help from a lot of people.
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